Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2017

Roswell King was born on May 3, 1765 in Windsor, Connecticut. King was a caretaker at Pierce Butler’s Hampton Point Plantation on St. Simons, where he may have played a role in Aaron Burr’s travels after Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. King and his son built a mill in north Georgia and founded there the town of Roswell.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

Jefferson Davis arrived in Savannah for a six-day visit beginning on May 3, 1886.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal signed 35 bills and resolutions into law yesterday.

Gov. Deal held a bill-signing for Senate Bill 102 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) in Gainesville at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Gov. Nathan Deal traveled to Gainesville Tuesday to sign a bill designating three levels of cardiac care, which officials said will help patients and emergency responders better understand where to transport those who have had a heart attack.

“Even without this legislation, this has been the No. 1 heart center in the state of Georgia,” Deal told the crowd before signing Senate Bill 102 into law at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville’s Walters Auditorium. “We believe this is an appropriate piece of legislation, one that hopefully will give the public a better understanding of where the really top quality hospitals are located.”

The bill is similar to designations created previously for strokes and trauma centers. It gives each hospital that provides cardiac care one of three levels, identifying the type of care provided. The Gainesville hospital is a Level 1 center under the law, meaning it can provide all levels of care, including open-heart surgery. Level 2 hospitals can do cardiac catheterizations, and Level 3 facilities are designated to stabilize patients who are having or have had a heart attack. The bill also creates the Office of Cardiac Care in the state Department of Public Health.

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, credited Gainesville hospital employees with making him aware of the need for the legislation.

“The very best ideas that we get come from people who are closest to the problems,” Miller said. “That is exactly what happened here. Northeast Georgia Health System was instrumental in making this a reality.”

State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said the important part of legislation is that it will save time for patients who need critical care.

“Time is our enemy and, with these leveling systems, we can get the patient to the right hospital in the amount of time that makes a big difference,” he said.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said her experience a cardiac care nurse made her a supporter of the bill.

“I have been in medicine my whole life. And I understand the importance of cardiac care, and I understand that minutes matter,” she said.

Earlier this week, the Governor signed legislation reconstituting the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission was created by a constitutional amendment in 1972 as an independent agency to investigate ethics complaints against judges and recommend disciplinary action if needed. But Georgia voters in November voted overwhelmingly to approve a constitutional amendment that abolished the agency and instructed state lawmakers to recreate it.

In addition to expanding the number of commission members from seven to 10, the legislation sponsored by Rep. Wendell Willard, a Republican from Sandy Springs, also creates separate investigative and hearing panels. It gives legislative leaders power they didn’t previously have to appoint members of the commission and strips appointments from the Georgia State Bar.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue, now serving in the Trump Admininstration as Secretary of Agriculture, announced the Department will relax rules on school lunches. The press release announcing the changes is titled “Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again”.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said.  “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program.”

“I was talking to some folks in Washington about this, and they said that the current program is working.  ‘How do you know?’ I asked.  They said it’s because 99 percent of schools are at least partially compliant.  Well, only in Washington can that be considered proof that the system is working as it was intended,” Perdue said.  “A perfect example is in the south, where the schools want to serve grits.  But the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it, and the kids won’t eat it.  The school is compliant with the whole grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits.  That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I’ve got 14 grandchildren, and there is no way that I would propose something if I didn’t think it was good, healthful, and the right thing to do,” Perdue said.  “And here’s the thing about local control: it means that this new flexibility will give schools and states the option of doing what we’re laying out here today.  These are not mandates on schools.”

“The hard work and dedication of the people who prepare nutritious meals for our children should serve as an example to all, and we will continue to support them,” Perdue said.  “We also have a responsibility to our shareholders and our customers – the American taxpayers – to provide our school children with healthful and nutritious meals in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.”

I support legislation outlawing instant grits.



Clarkston City Council voted unanimously to limit the municipality’s cooperation with federal immigration officials.

The new policy, which took effect immediately, says city authorities shall not arrest or detain anyone based on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests called “detainers” or “administrative immigration warrants.”

“It’s more of a symbolic measure,” Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry said in an interview after the vote. “Practically speaking, we are not going to hold anyone for longer than a couple of hours in a holding cell before they get transferred to the DeKalb jail. But people in the community were fearful, and there were lots of very moving stories.”

Forsyth County Clerk of Courts Greg G. Allen warns citizens of a scam in which residents are told a warrant has been issued for failure to report for jury duty.

the callers tell them that in order to avoid arrest and incarceration the fine can be paid by a “green dot card” purchased from a local drug store, typically a national chain. Green Dot cards, and other similar cards, are prepaid MasterCard and Visa cards available at stores throughout the United States.

Augusta Commission members voted to develop a dress policy for city facilities.

Augusta city leaders stopped short of a ban on saggy pants Tuesday and instead voted unanimously to establish a “comprehensive dress policy” for all city facilities.

Several Georgia cities have enacted laws against residents exposing themselves by wearing pants below the waist, and Commissioner Marion Williams was leading a charge to outlaw the practice in Augusta.

Commissioner Andrew Jefferson said he asks young men to raise their pants, but didn’t think the practice warranted commission involvement.

“We have more pertinent issues to talk about. I don’t think the taxpayers are paying us to be the fashion police,” Jefferson said. “We have an ordinance addressing decency; let’s enforce it.”

Mayor Hardie Davis said the sheriff’s and marshal’s offices had not been “engaged” and that Augusta has “no enforcement mechanism” for a saggy pants ban.

“I have also not heard this governing body… address issues of rampant and pervasive poverty,” Davis said. “We still have not said a single word about how we’re going to put a single person to work. We have not said a single one of those things.”

A record-size 440-pound Mako shark was caught and landed off the coast of Bryan County, Georgia, nearly doubling the prior state record.

2018 Elections

Georgia State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams has filed paperwork to raise funds for a 2018 campaign for Governor.

Abrams, the top Democrat in the Georgia House, is widely expected to run and has built a profile in the national party, including an appearance at last year’s Democratic National Convention. Several other Democrats, including state Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna and Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, still are considering bids.

While she often says the Democratic minority must provide alternatives to plans proposed by the GOP majority, Abrams has worked with Deal and Republican legislative leaders on contentious issues, including changes to the state’s HOPE Scholarship program when lottery funds failed to keep up with demand.

She made voting registration a signature issue, founding an effort called the New Georgia Project in 2014 that focused on registering minorities to vote. The move has earned Abrams frequent mentions in national media outlets, a speaking slot at the DNC and made her a top surrogate for Hillary Clinton in Georgia during the 2016 presidential race.

“In the Trump era, we need state leaders who understand that a governor must serve every resident and face each challenge head on,” Jennifer Granholm, a former governor of Michigan, said in a statement. “Stacey has a model and a track record that cannot be beat.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continued his statewide tour yesterday in Macon.

Tuesday morning, about two dozen supporters joined Cagle for a tour of the new South Macon-Bibb County Recreation Center being built on Houston Road.

The Gainesville Republican pledged to create a half-million jobs in four years, focus on workforce development and enact tax reform with a $100 million tax cut in his first 100 days in office.

Luring new technology to the Peach State is part of his strategy.

“We’ve been successful being the ‘Hollywood of the South’ now it is my goal to make Georgia the ‘Silicon Valley of the South,’ ” Cagle said.

He wants to expand bandwidth in rural areas so that students have reliable internet connections.

Cagle’s campaign soldiered on to the next stop at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA.

The Republican from Gainesville told about 40 business and community leaders that he will work to make sure that military and civilian personnel at Fort Benning have what they need to get their jobs done during a 2:30 p.m. stop in Heritage Hall at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center. Cagle, 51, is expected to face a crowded field before the Nov. 6, 2018 election to fill the seat held by Gov. Nathan Deal, who is not allowed to run for a third term.

“It’s refreshing to me that this community always comes together to support military issues,” Cagle said after a briefing from Gary Jones, vice president of Governmental and Military Affairs for the chamber.

Cagle said the chamber is ready for what might come from the next Base Realignment and Closure Commission. “We’ve got to continue to be steadfast in our support,” he said.

Public school choice was an issue for soldiers during his last visit to the area. The Legislature passed a bill to give military personnel the ability to choose their school. “They have that right,” Cagle said. “ Giving them those options is the right thing to do.”


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

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games.

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry announced that the seciton of I-85 that collapsed in a fire will be reopened by Memorial Day.

“It will open the minute it’s ready to open, no matter what time of day,” McMurry said following a press conference atop a stretch of the closed highway in Buckhead.

The new timeline — nearly three weeks ahead of the original June 15 projected opening — would be a tremendous relief for hundreds of thousands of commuters. Driving in parts of Atlanta has been unusually awful since March 30, when a fire destroyed a portion of I-85 near Piedmont Road in Buckhead and shuttered one of the main highways into the heart of the city.

Governor Nathan Deal went on a bill-signing spree yesterday, signing 34 bills into law.

House Bill 44, the FY 2018 budget was among them, though he sent a letter announcing his intention to disregard one section.

From the press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today held budget signing ceremonies across the state for next year’s $25 billion state budget. The legislation, HB 44, will support Georgia citizens by funding initiatives in education, human services, public safety, state infrastructure and other key areas. This budget is based on a 3.5 percent increase in general fund revenues over FY 2017, reflecting Georgia’s sustained economic growth.

“The FY 2018 budget maintains Georgia’s position as a national leader in conservative fiscal management and further strengthens our top priorities: quality education for all children, public safety in our communities, an economy that continues to generate jobs and an infrastructure system that supports a growing population,” said Deal. “With this budget, we are working to make Georgia a better place to live, work and play by investing in public safety personnel, teachers and others responsible for ensuring the safety of Georgia’s children. Georgia has enjoyed sustained economic growth and this budget lays the foundation for continued short-term and long-term success. I commend the General Assembly for working with me once again to balance the budget while addressing the issues that matter most to Georgia’s citizens.”

HB 44 invests more than $516 million in new funding for K-12 education, including allocations of more than $156.8 million for enrollment growth, training and experience, and $85.8 million for the Quality Basic Education Equalization program to assist low-wealth school systems. Also included is $160.1 million in funding to provide a 2 percent increase to the state base salary schedule for certified personnel, school bus drivers and school nurses. The budget also provides additional funding for the Teachers Retirement System to ensure teachers’ pensions maintain strong financial footing.

The FY 2018 budget also invests more than $96 million in the Department of Human Services child welfare services programs to ensure that those who care for our most vulnerable citizens have the resources necessary to provide safe, caring environments for children in need. Of this funding, $25.9 million will provide 19 percent pay increases for child protective services employees to assist the department in recruiting and retaining staff, and $31 million will provide per diem rate increases for foster parents and relatives caring for children.

The budget includes $55.2 million in addition to funding allocated in the Amended FY 2017 budget to provide a 20 percent salary increase for law enforcement personnel, as well as salary increases for criminal investigators and public safety trainers. This increase has already had a significant impact in recruiting new officers for the Department of Public Safety, as the Department has received twice as many trooper applications as usual since the increase was announced in September.

As a result of continued revenue growth from HB 170, the Georgia Department of Transportation will receive an additional infusion of $162.6 million to help maintain the state’s roads and bridges. This is in addition to the $100 million already included in this year’s capital funding package to supplement bridge repairs and improvements. To date, HB 170 has generated more than $1 billion in new funding each year to expand and maintain Georgia’s road and bridge network.

Additional FY 2018 budget highlights include:

  • $115.4 million for performance incentives for high-performing employees or for employee recruitment and retention initiatives.
  • $222.5 million to meet actuarially determined employer contributions to the Teachers Retirement System.
  • $20.8 million for autism services for children served by Medicaid and $17.9 million for primary care and OB/GYN Medicaid providers.
  • $11.8 million to annualize a provider rate increase for the Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program.
  • $25.9 million for 500 additional NOW and Comprehensive waivers, bridge funding and housing vouchers.
  • $79.4 million for the University System of Georgia for resident instruction.
  • $20.5 million for the Move on When Ready program.
  • $11.3 million in bond funds for the Technical College System of Georgia to purchase world-class lab equipment.
  • $36.4 million to construct and equip a new crime lab for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Savannah.

The fiscal year begins July 1.

School teachers may not all get that promised 2 percent raise.

Some metro Atlanta district officials say the state funding tied to the promised 2 percent raise was based on a state teacher’s salary schedule that is significantly lower than theirs. So the money from the state doesn’t add up to 2 percent locally.

“The state simply pays less on their schedule and we pay more,” Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen said.

Most districts have yet to complete their budgets for the coming school year. But in metro Atlanta, at least three districts do not intend to give teachers 2 percent raises — Cobb, Atlanta and DeKalb.

House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, said he’d heard rumblings about some districts not giving the full pay raise.

“I am disappointed that systems are not choosing to follow the intentions of the General Assembly that teachers get a 2 percent pay raise,” England said.

Gov. Deal will give the keynote address at Valdosta State University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday.

“Graduation is a defining moment in every student’s life,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, VSU president. “We are excited that the governor of this great state will help us pay tribute to the outstanding efforts of our spring graduates and celebrate education as the foundation upon which success is built. These students have had to overcome any number of challenges to reach this point in their life’s journey.”

“It is that very perseverance that protects and nurtures Blazer Nation’s 100-plus-year-old tradition of academic, creative, athletic, research and service excellence. This weekend we celebrate not an ending but the beginning of many great things to come.”

More than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students will be recognized during Valdosta State University’s 223rd commencement ceremonies Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle began the morning in Augusta this morning on a statewide campaign tour and is speaking at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA later today.

Casey Tweet Columbia County

The Gainesville Times writes that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is striking a populist tone in his campaign for Governor.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is striking a populist tone in his 2018 run for governor, touting his record as a small business owner, prioritizing rural Georgia and adopting a “Georgians first” attitude to state spending and illegal immigrants.

The seven-year secretary of state sat down with The Times on Monday to discuss these issues and others involved in his campaign to be Georgia’s third Republican governor.

“I’ve been a small business owner for 30 years,” he said. “I’ve been working with working Georgians every day, and that includes today. I think that’s one of the values that I’ve had — I’ve never lost touch with what’s going on in the real world.”

“I think people are very frustrated with it seeming like the government is always doing something for the special interests or those that are here illegally and not really helping our own citizens,” Kemp said. “When you think to our rural areas, we’ve got kids who can’t get on the internet to do their homework at night.”

Kemp’s platform includes a cap to state spending, refunds for taxpayers and the reduction of Georgia’s bureaucratic corps.

Warner Robins City Council is considering moving to hire a City Administrator.

Councilman Tim Thomas began the discussion by stating there had been a lot of talk in the community about what the council was considering and he wanted to clear it up.

He said the council is not looking at reducing the power or the salary of Mayor Randy Toms, but he said the city has grown too large not to have a city administrator. He explained that unlike a city manager form of government, which does take power away from the mayor, a city administrator form of government would provide a full-time person to assist the mayor in running the city.

“We are not reducing anybody’s powers,” he said.

Augusta Commission is considering doing away with the city personnel manual.

Augusta Planning Commission is working on a zoning ordinance to allow smaller alcohol brewers and distillers outside of industrial areas.

In the meantime, board members will tour two local microbreweries, seek public feedback and study various aspects of the proposed ordinance, such as how much alcohol a brewer or distiller can manufacture under the new special exception, Planning Director Melanie Wilson said.

The Augusta code already allowed brewpubs, where homemade beer is sold in restaurants with food, and allows breweries in industrial zones.

But new definitions under consideration include the “nano-brewery,” which would allow the retail sale of up to 3,000 barrels per year, and the “pico-brewery,” permitting the sale of up to 500 barrels.

“Everybody has been talking about microbreweries,” Wilson said. “The discussion should have been nano-breweries and pico-breweries.”

The Gainesville City Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Dr. Jeremy Williams as Superintendent, beginning July 1.

Savannah is moving forward with a “sales fee” to fund increased services in the historic district.

The 25-cent fee would be applied to sales of $10 or more to cover the costs of the Savannah Serves program that consists of uniformed ambassadors, maintenance workers and Savannah-Chatham police officers. Groceries, gas and prescription medications would be exempt from the fee, and businesses would retain 3 percent of the revenue to cover administrative costs.

The city estimates the fee will generate $2.5 million, although the amount is considered conservative since the program is new and there is no history to work from. As a result, the city will only implement the program in stages so that the costs do not exceed the revenue, said Marty Johnston, deputy assistant to the city manager. After the program has been in effect for a couple of months, the city will review the proceeds and address any concerns, Johnston said.


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

In Memoriam

First Lieutenant Weston C. Lee was killed in Iraq this past weekend.

According to a Facebook post by the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Lieutenant Lee died in Iraq when an IED detonated during a patrol outside Mosul.

The post said Lee, a platoon leader, was “an extraordinary young man and officer.”

The post also said Lee has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Georgia and American History

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.


On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

On May 1, 1971, “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night was the #1 song in the nation.

On May 1, 1991, Rickey Henderson broke the major league baseball stolen base record on the same day that Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball, recorded his seventh no-hitter.

The official state tartan of Georgia was designated on May 1, 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump headlined a high-dollar fundraiser for Karen Handel on Friday.

At the Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta, the president appeared at a Friday afternoon fundraiser for Handel that invited some of the biggest GOP donors in the state. Trump helped the former Secretary of State raise about $750,000, her campaign announced.

“I am honored to have President Trump’s support in this election,” Handel said. “Like President Trump, I too have a record of shaking things up and if elected to Congress I hope to work with him to get things done. It is time we stop the talking in Washington and start to look towards governing.”

Trump addressed 40,000 people at the NRA convention, trumpeting his accomplishments in an hour-long speech that touched on gun rights, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Sessions and, yes, the political dogfight the Republicans have found themselves in in the 6th District race.

“I’d like to congratulate Karen Handel for her incredible fight in Georgia 6,” Trump said. He added that Handel was “totally for the NRA, totally for gun rights.” He then went on to criticize the fact that Ossoff, a 30-year-old investigative filmmaker, doesn’t reside in the 6th District.He also chided the Georgia Republican Party for having 11 candidates in the April 18 special election running for one 6th District seat. He said “let’s not have” that again … “it’s too nerve-shattering.”

National Democrats have figured out why Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. Wait for it….

[N]ew information shows that Clinton had a much bigger problem with voters who had supported President Barack Obama in 2012 but backed Trump four years later.

Those Obama-Trump voters effectively accounted for more than two-thirds of the reason Clinton lost, according to Matt Canter, a senior vice president of the Democratic political firm Global Strategy Group. In his group’s analysis, about 70 percent of Clinton’s failure to reach Obama’s vote total in 2012 was because she lost these voters.

Much of the debate over how to proceed has centered on whether the party should try to win back working-class white voters — who make up most of the Obama-Trump voters — or focus instead on mobilizing its base.

Turning out the base is not good enough, the data suggest.

“This idea that Democrats can somehow ignore this constituency and just turn out more of our voters, the math doesn’t work,” Canter said. “We have to do both.”

Democrats are quick to acknowledge that even if voters switching allegiance had been Clinton’s biggest problem, in such a close election she still could have defeated Trump with better turnout. For example, she could have won if African-American turnout in Michigan and Florida matched 2012′s.

Rural Georgia, which largely backed Donald Trump for the presidency, faces major economic challenges.

Georgia State University’s Center for State and Local Finance issued a report this week that detailed a grim fiscal future for rural Georgia:

• Rural Georgia lost 6.9 percent of its jobs from 2007 to 2014; that compares to a loss of 0.3 percent in metro Atlanta, and a loss of 2.7 percent in hub cities;

• Rural Georgia has the lowest job growth relative to its population growth; jobs losses of 6.9 percent occurred during a population growth rate of 12.7 percent;

In August, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce issued a white paper that portrays a grim case for rural health care. According to the report:

• Four rural hospitals have closed since 2013;

• Rural hospitals are scaling back services; this sets the stage for a vicious cycle of health care shortage because physicians won’t move to places with limited hospital privileges;

• Rural patients tend to utilize emergency rooms, where care is the most costly to provide.

Duluth dedicated a patriotic statue on its Town Green, bringing in much of Georgia’s political establishment.

After years of talking about it, the sculpture — which is an adaptation of Kathy Fincher’s 9/11-themed painting of children by the same name — was unveiled to the public. It includes separate bronze sculptures of seven children painting an American flag on a pane of glass while an eighth child sings “God Bless America.”

“It shows everybody, the United States and the rest of the world, that we really think our children are special, that our children can succeed and that we want them to grow up and succeed,” Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal told the hundreds of people who gathered for the unveiling.

The unveiling was a big affair for Duluth. The first lady and her husband, Gov. Nathan Deal, joined Fincher, sculptor Martin Dawe, city leaders, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, former U.S. Rep. John Linder, former Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity director Melvin Everson, officials from the Duluth Fine Arts League and President Rodney Mims Cook Jr. for the unveiling.

Deal also praised the sculpture. The governor owns a copy of the Dream Keepers painting — his staff bought it for him as a birthday present because he was drawn to it often when it was on loan to the governor’s office — and has it hangs in his office at the state Capitol.

“It’s certainly nice to see Kathy here tonight and to see her art translated into this monument,” Deal said.

Plant Vogtle

Westinghouse, the lead contractor at Plant Voglte, declared bankruptcy a month ago, while Georgia Power and its partners have continued construction during an assessment period. The parties agreed to extend the assessment period by two weeks.

With little more than two hours until it expired, representatives from Georgia Power and Westinghouse agreed to extend the interim agreement keeping construction moving forward at the beleaugered Plant Vogtle expansion near Waynesboro.

“During this time, the parties will continue to work on finalizing a new service agreement which would, if necessary, assure that Westinghouse continues to provide design, engineering and procurement services to Southern Nuclear as a part of their assumption of control over construction management,” Georgia Power said in a press release.

Georgia Power representatives said the company will continue to fight to ensure Westinghouse honors its financial obligations. During the interim agreement, the utility company is preparing a full analysis and potential options to present to the Georgia Public Service Commission. According to PSC vice-chairman Tim Echols, those options include considerations to convert the units to natural gas generators.

Vogtle is years beyond deadline, originally scheduled to begin operations this year, and billions over budget. Individual Georgia Power ratepayers have already paid as much as $500 each to fund the expansion project. It is not yet clear how costs currently borne by Georgia Power post-bankruptcy will be passed on to consumers or how the Public Service Commission will vote to proceed once the utility company brings the future options to the table.

Georgia Power has objected to $800 million in financing for Westinghouse because the agreement collateralizes intellectual property that may be necessary to continuing work on the new Vogtle reactors.

Westinghouse filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of March and wants to borrow money to keep its other businesses healthy, while it contends with the fallout of nuclear construction projects that are years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

If Westinghouse’s bankruptcy loan goes through as planned, the company’s lenders would be in position to “foreclose on the intellectual property, which could seriously disrupt or even potentially halt construction,” lawyers for Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Co., warned in a court filing.

Georgia Power’s objection to the massive bankruptcy loan is the first flexing of major creditor muscle in a chapter 11 proceeding that has serious implications for Westinghouse parent Toshiba Corp., as well as for utility operators in the southern U.S. states where Westinghouse has been building reactors.

A Georgia Public Service Commission staffer told the AJC that the Commission is not required to allow Georgia Power to pass on additional costs related to Vogtle construction to ratepayers.

Under the current process, the Company is not entitled to a higher approved cost as a condition to finishing the project. Unless the Commission affirmatively decides to cancel the project under O.C.G.A. 46-3A-6, the Company is obligated to finish it under the terms of the Prudency Review Stipulation. (The Company could still cancel the project, but it would lose the right to collect the costs from ratepayers).

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols meanwhile hand-delivered a note to Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Tim Echols, PSC Vice-chairman, hand delivered a letter last week to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, saying the opportunity to deliver a message to the federal government regarding the seriousness of Georgia’s situation couldn’t be passed up.

The possibility of federal assistance was a topic in a recent SCANA earnings teleconference, in which COO Steve Byrne outlined three avenues for federal help. According to Coyle, Byrne said assistance could be written into the pending Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill, it could be added to the comprehensive tax reform bill, or it could be introduced as an independent bill.

Echols said a number of options will be considered when Southern Company brings its analysis to the table. He said several crucial financial elements will be under consideration, including the potential cost to convert the expansion units to natural gas generators.

“I can’t speak for the other commissioners, but Georgia Power will be giving us a cost to complete the plant as well as a cost for other options including the cost to convert,” he said.

Casey Cagle Kicks Off 2018 Campaign for Governor

The Gwinnett Daily Post covered Casey Cagle’s campaign kickoff with greater depth than most.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle made his bid for governor official at the Infinite Energy Theater in Duluth on Sunday by making some big promises.

Cagle pledged to create 500,000 new jobs in four years, and to get a $100 million tax cut passed in the 2019 General Assembly session. They are big numbers, but they are also goals that the lieutenant governor asserted can be attainable.

Cagle also said he wants to bring state transportation agencies together to work on a 10-year strategic plan for Georgia’s transportation infrastructure.

He committing to having a transit needs assessment done for metro Atlanta to look at where transit expansion is needed.

After the announcement, Cagle explained the tax cuts would include a $12,000 tax exemption for families of four and indexing the personal exemption and standard deduction to inflation.

“It will serve as putting government on a diet as well to where we live within our means just like every other Georgian has to do,” Cagle said. “So we will be committed obviously to fiscal stewardship (and) protecting the Triple-A bond rating as we have over the years.”

Cagle was joined on the stage by several supporters, including some state officials who represent Gwinnett. Those officials included Sens. Renee Unterman and Fran Millar, former Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity Executive Director and former Snellville city councilman Melvin Everson and Board of Regents member Richard Tucker.

From the Gainesville Times:

“It’s time for us to be big. It’s time for us to be bold as a state. I mean, Georgia is the capital of the South,” Cagle said after his campaign launch. “And I’m going to be a governor that’s going to lead with passion, with clarity and a decisive mind.”

Cagle has the largest number of statewide elections under his belt and, as lieutenant governor, occupies the office historically used as the launch pad for gubernatorial runs — putting a target on his back among the rest of the GOP contenders.

Looking to the fight ahead, Cagle took an early stance against negative campaigning on Sunday.

“I can tell you I’m not going to be running a campaign …  that’s going to tear someone else down,” he said. “I think most people are tired of negative campaigns, and if all you’ve got is a campaign that’s going to tear others down in order to make yourself look good, you don’t have much of a campaign.”

From the AJC:

The lieutenant governor’s speech Sunday to 800 supporters at a concert-turned-rally echoed many of the same policy platforms that he rolled out in an AJC interview a few days earlier. But the tone and the style of the campaign roll-out also sent a signal about how he’ll orchestrate his bid to succeed a term-limited Nathan Deal.

“I am not going to be running a campaign that’s going to tear someone else down,” he said, adding that candidates who focus on attacks “don’t have much.”

In an interview, he said he supports the president’s agenda – but stressed his independence. And at his campaign kickoff speech, he avoided mention of  Trump. Instead, he heaped praise on another Republican: Gov. Deal.

“I’ve been able to partner with him to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business,” he said.

Kathleen Foody of the Associated Press spoke to Cagle before the campaign kickoff.

Cagle told the AP that meeting the jobs commitment will be his central focus if elected, and that he can meet the target by focusing on a combination of existing business expansions, new companies wooed away from other states and startup incubator programs at regional universities.

“I’m confident that we can do it,” Cagle said. “I’m going to be a governor who’s going to work day and night to create the environment, but also make the ask and be the state’s No. 1 champion for meeting with companies and requesting them to locate here in Georgia.”

It’s a high bar. State Department of Labor data shows Georgia has added a net total of 267,100 jobs in the last decade, accounting for the enormous job losses that followed the recession that began in 2008. In the last six years, employers added nearly 518,000 jobs to help the state dig out from a deep hole.

Cagle said he also wants to overhaul the state’s method of planning maintenance on roads and other infrastructure, increase Georgia’s high school graduation rate and lower taxes on individuals and small businesses by adjusting income tax exemptions and deductions.

A Deeper Look at Allen Peake

Ezra Kaplan of the Associated Press has a fascinating piece about State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

Once a month, a cardboard box from Colorado appears at the office of a conservative Christian lawmaker in central Georgia, filled with derivatives of marijuana, to be distributed around the state in the shadows of the law.

Operating in ways he hopes will avoid felony charges of drug trafficking, state Rep. Allen Peake is taking matters into his own hands. He’s shepherding cannabis oil to hundreds of sick people who are now allowed by the state to possess marijuana, but have no legal way of obtaining it.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to be able to help get product to these families, these citizens who have debilitating illnesses,” Peake said. He spoke with The Associated Press in his Macon office, where he runs his business, his campaign operation and his underground medical marijuana network.

Each time one of the nondescript boxes arrives, Peake makes a significant donation to a foundation in Colorado that supports research of medical cannabis. He can’t make a direct payment, because that would be illegal. But with his donations of about $100,000 a year, he and his wife are able to supply the oil to hundreds of patients across Georgia.

“I’ll never recover that money,” but the satisfaction of helping people makes it all worthwhile, he said.

Erratum: on Friday, I mistakenly attributed a Marietta City Council member’s calling a colleague lazy to Kennesaw. I apologize to the City of Kennesaw and all of her fine gun-owning citizens.


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

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

In 1787, McIntosh was a Commissioner representing Georgia in a series of three boundary disputes with South Carolina, two which were resolved on April 28, 1787 with the Convention of Beaufort.

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it has become custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis stopped in LaGrange, Georgia en route to Atlanta for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill. On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump speaks today at the NRA Convention at the World Congress Center at 12:30 PM. At 1 PM, a fundraiser featuring the President and benefiting Karen Handel’s congressional campaign begins, with the program at 2:30. Expect traffic delays in downtown all afternoon. Bigly.

Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott told the MDJ he’ll be attending the event.

“It’s exciting because any time you have the opportunity to meet the president of the United States, it’s a big deal,” Ott said. “The fact that the president is taking time out of his busy schedule to be involved in the 6th District race shows the national significance of the race.”

Governor Deal was in a bill-signing mode, yesterday, inking ten pieces of legislation from this year’s General Assembly.

HB 139 – Education; provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 198 – Elementary and secondary education; influenza vaccine; provide information; signed April 27, 2017
HB 224 – Quality Basic Education Act; military student may attend any school in local system; provide; signed April 27, 2017
HB 237 – Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation; receive private donations for grants to public schools; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 338 – Education; system of supports and assistance for low-performing schools in the greatest need; provisions; signed April 27, 2017
HB 37 – Education; private postsecondary institutions in Georgia shall not adopt sanctuary policies; provide; signed April 27, 2017
HB 430 – Governor’s Education Reform Commission; charter schools; implement recommendations; signed April 27, 2017
HB 437 – Agricultural Education Advisory Commission; recreate; signed April 27, 2017
SB 186 – Education; HOPE; students who earned high school diploma through dual coursework are eligible; associate degree; clarify; signed April 27, 2017
SB 211 – Student Assessments;consideration of local reading programs; research based formative assessments; summative component; provide; signed April 27, 2017

From the Governor’s press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed HB 338, legislation sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner, which aims to improve education outcomes for Georgia’s students. This critical and bipartisan bill provides a method for identifying low-performing schools and establishes a multiyear, multifaceted turnaround plan to assist them. Deal also signed legislation addressing sanctuary policies, increased school choice opportunities for military children, testing standards, and governance and funding of charter schools.

“Georgia remains committed to improving our state’s education system by increasing student access to high-performing schools and learning environments conducive to today’s academic standards,” said Deal. “To that end, Rep. Tanner has worked tirelessly with my office, members of the General Assembly and other stakeholders on HB 338. By focusing improvement efforts and education resources on our lowest-performing schools, our most vulnerable students will have greater opportunities for success. The educational investments in this legislation will produce long-term benefits for students, families and communities by ensuring education outcome is not hindered by zip code, but rather enhanced by state support and local accountability. I want to thank Rep. Tanner, members of the General Assembly and many others who worked together for the benefit of Georgia’s current and future students.”

“It has been a true honor to work closely with Gov. Deal and his incredible team on HB 338,” said Tanner. “I believe that working to improve our state’s low-performing schools can have a greater impact on the future of our state than any other issue we could address as a General Assembly. I appreciate Gov. Deal’s leadership in this area, and I look forward to continuing to work with his staff and the State Board of Education to put this plan into real action.”

In addition to HB 338, signed legislation includes:
• HB 37, sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart
• HB 139, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton
• HB 198, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey
• HB 224, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton
• HB 237, sponsored by Rep. Brooks Coleman
• HB 430, sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockway
• HB 437, sponsored by Rep. Robert Dickey
• SB 186, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins
• SB 211, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins

State Senator Michael Williams, determined not to be left out of any news cycle discussing possible 2018 candidates for Governor, has launched a new splash page suggesting a statewide run is imminent.

The Cumming Republican has unveiled a new website (“Williams for Georgia 2018”) that includes an attack on “career politicians pushing us further down the road to less freedom and more government!” Not that he has Cagle in mind.

Williams, a businessman who once owned a chain of Sport Clips barber shops, has hinted repeatedly he would run for governor in 2018 after Donald Trump’s victory.

His strategist, Seth Weathers, said Williams has been encouraged by people “looking for a viable candidate for governor other than the same career politicians.”

“As the first Republican elected official in Georgia to endorse Trump, a lot of that core Trump base is looking to Williams as someone who can carry that mantle at the state level,” said Weathers. “He’s leaving all options open.”

Kennesaw City Council member Andy Morris called his colleague Philip Goldstein “lazy.”

The sparring match took place during the council’s Judicial and Legislative Committee.

It’s actually an interesting debate on the role of elected city council members versus appointed board members.



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

German scientist Johannes Kepler dated the creation of the universe to April 27, 4977 BC(E).

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

Richard B. Russell, Sr. was born on April 27, 1861 near Marietta, Georgia. Russell served in the Georgia House of Representatives, on the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and ran for Governor, Congress, and United States Senate. His son, Richard B. Russell, Jr. served in the Georgia State House, including a stint as Speaker, as Governor of Georgia, and in the United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Ron “Big D” Daniels, the official Court Jester Legal Counsel and Poet Laureate for is running for Secretary of the Georgia Bar Young Lawyers Division. Click here to vote for him today if you’re a YLD member.

House Bill 196, signed this week by Governor Deal, was titled as a bill dealing with tax exemptions for the music industry, and that’s how it started its legislative life.

The version that passed and was signed into law was gutted and became a “Christmas tree” bill carrying a number of other non-controversial tax measures, including “to revise the criteria used by tax assessors to determine the fair market value of real property; to allow certain business corporations to participate in the indirect ownership of a home for the mentally disabled for financing purposes;…. to provide that certain disabled veterans shall be issued refunds of certain ad valorem taxes paid during certain periods of time when such disabled veterans receive final determinations of disability containing retroactiveperiods of eligibility.”

Consider this both a clarification without an admission of fault, and a cautionary tale about the nature of the legislative process.

Governor Deal will sign House Bill 338 today, creating a system to help “turnaround” failing school systems.

The bill is an alternative to Deal’s preferred strategy for low-performing schools: A constitutional amendment seeking to let the state take over some schools. Voters rejected that in November.

Lawmakers instead proposed a “chief turnaround officer” to work with struggling schools. Schools selected by the new official will sign contracts with the state, creating a plan to improve student performance. Deal’s signature will begin work to implement the plan, including a national search for the new position.

Deal’s office says he plans to sign nine other education bills on Thursday.

The AJC’s Get Schooled blog has information on some of the other bills the Governor will sign today.

The Special Election for the Sixth Congressional District will likely end up the most-expensive house race ever.

Right now the record is held by the 2012 election in the 18th congressional district of Florida, pitting wild-man incumbent Republican Allen West against Democrat Patrick Murphy. West, being a wild man, had a national fundraising base, and he and his allies spent close to $20 million. Murphy and his allies spent enough to push the total to a reported $29,279,964. Murphy narrowly won.

Runoff candidates Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff aren’t there yet, but are off to a blazing start in fundraising and spending after a combined $14 million was deployed for the first round.

Ossoff and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved three-quarters of a million dollars in ads almost instantly after the April 18 returns. With the Democratic candidate coming so close to a knockout, there is no reason to think his amazing fundraising will slack off significantly. And whether or not he remains highly competitive in the ad wars, his investment in field operations (costing $2 million before the first round) is impressive….

On the GOP side, it’s not Handel (who will supposedly benefit from a fundraiser headlined by Donald Trump himself) who’s burning money, but the outside GOP groups that may have actually outspent Ossoff in the first round. Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC spent a reported $3 million in the first round, and has already committed $2.5 million for ads and another cool million for field operations. You can expect the National Republican Congressional Committee (the DCCC’s counterpart), which spent $2 million the first time around, to stay engaged, along with the Ricketts family’s Ending Spending PAC, which was unique in backing Handel from the get-go. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also expected to spend some dough backing Handel.

The West-Murphy spending record might have been safe if the runoff campaign in sixth congressional district wasn’t a nine-week marathon. As it is, the money will keep rolling in like the ocean tides.

A fundraiser featuring President Donald Trump in support of Republican Karen Handel will certainly add to the spending total.

[T]he June 20 must-win runoff for Republicans has fast become a circle-the-wagons moment. Bitter rivals from Handel’s past races — including a 2010 bid for governor and a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate — have quickly endorsed her. And a raft of Washington-based super PACs have pledged their support.

That could help neutralize one of her most glaring weaknesses. She’s long struggled to keep pace with rivals in the race for campaign cash, and her last fundraising haul was about 20 times smaller than Ossoff’s unprecedented $8.3 million take.

New donors have buoyed her campaign with more than $1 million since last week’s vote, and Trump’s Atlanta fundraiser will add another tide of cash. Tickets start at $2,700 a person or $5,400 a couple. A hosting sponsorship will cost $25,000.

She’ll have reinforcements from outside groups ready to pour money and resources into what could wind up being the most expensive House race ever. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Handel on Tuesday, and the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC with ties to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — said Wednesday that it will pump an additional $3.5 million into the contest.

The Congressional Leadership Fund’s $3.5 million spend will include $2.5 million in TV ads beginning May 10 along with a door-to-door canvassing program, direct mail, and digital ads.

Democrats, meanwhile, are using the Trump-Handel fundraiser as fodder for more fundraising of their own.

“Trump’s SO scared of losing that he’s leaving work early to crush our historic momentum,” said an email solicitation sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The organization said it had created an “Emergency Response Fund to match the piles of cash Trump will rake in” for Republican Karen Handel.

Floyd County Commissioners named six members to the committee planning a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum.

The Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging held a listening session in Hall County for input into a comprehensive plan on addressing senior hunger.

Uptown Macon will loan $800k to a private business in downtown Macon.

When a Macon-Bibb County Commission committee agreed Tuesday to help NewTown Macon with revenue bond funding for a downtown business, a TV media report caused some confusion.

[NewTown President/CEO Josh] Rogers wrote in a statement posted on his group’s website that “13WMAZ inaccurately said that the County approved use of its money to provide the loan to the Downtown business, and we want to be very clear that at no time was taxpayer money allocated to this project nor to this Fund.” The station has since posted a correction on its website.

A commission committee approved an $800,000 loan to NewTown Macon for City Ventures LLC, which is the company that owns Crazy Bull, a nightclub at 473 Second St.

NewTown created its Real Estate Development Loan Fund in 2012, which consists of bond funds issued by the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority and backed by the “full faith and credit of the Macon-Bibb government,” Rogers said. The fund provides loans to help develop the downtown area and businesses downtown. If a loan is more than 40 percent of the total project cost, NewTown must notify the commission, which is what happened Tuesday.

“Even if all we ended up with is the real estate, it will be more than sufficient to cover the outstanding debt,” Rogers said.

Roswell City Admininstrator Kay Love submitted her resignation and will start a new job with the Georgia Municipal Association.

2018 Campaigns

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will conduct a tour of Georgia next week, including a stop at Nonami Plantation in Albany on Nonami Plantation in Albany on Wednesday, May 3rd.

Cagle will also speak at the Georgia Southern graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 6th.

The Lieutenant Governor is holding a free event in Gwinnett County on Sunday.

Casey Cagle Event


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

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.

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.

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.

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’. Bono would later be elected to Congress as a Republican in 1994 and served from 1995 until his death in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will headline a fundraiser on Friday, April 28th for Karen Handel’s congressional campaign.

The fundraiser is scheduled for an Atlanta site after Trump’s keynote speech at a National Rifle Association convention at the Georgia World Congress Center, and it’s likely to bring a tide of cash for Handel’s campaign. A ticket starts at $2,700 and a host sponsorship will cost $25,000.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also supporting Handel in the Special Runoff Election.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirmed Tuesday it will put its muscle behind Handel ahead of a June 20 runoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District that covers northern suburbs of Atlanta.

Chamber officials didn’t say how much they’ll spend on Handel’s behalf, but the organization’s endorsement usually precedes a heavy media blitz. The race is widely viewed as a potential preview of the 2018 midterm elections.

Governor Nathan Deal signed five bills yesterday.

HB 196 – Income tax; exemption for royalties paid to musical artists; provide, signed April 25, 2017
HB 199 – Income tax credit; interactive entertainment companies; change certain provisions, signed April 25, 2017
HB 208 – Game and fish; boat registration fees and additional methods for reporting the sale of boats; revise, signed April 25, 2017
HB 265 – Income tax; credit for establishing or relocating quality jobs; revise provisions, signed April 25, 2017
HB 342 – Enterprise zones; certain urban redevelopment zones; provide designation, signed April 25, 2017

The Atlanta Business Chronicle discusses two of the bills Gov. Deal signed.

House Bill 199 will provide a 20 percent tax credit for post-production companies with at least a $250,000 payroll in Georgia. The companies must also spend at least $500,000 per tax year to qualify.

While the state has offered generous tax credits to the film industry since 2008, the post-production portion of the business has been left out until now.

The new credit for post-production work will be capped at $5 million next year, $10 million in 2019 and $15 million from 2020 through 2022. No single company can get more than 20 percent of the total statewide credit available in a given year.

House Bill 265 exempts from state and local sales taxes building materials used for renovating or expanding performance arts venues run by a nonprofit organization containing an art museum, symphonic hall and theater. While the Woodruff Arts Center is not mentioned in the legislation by name, that definition matches the center.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was sworn in yesterday as Secretary of Agriculture.

Perdue was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who also is a native of Georgia.

“The only legacy that I seek is the only one that any grandparent or parent seeks – to be good stewards, and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Perdue said.

“Making sure that Americans who make their livelihoods in the agriculture industry have the ability to thrive will be one of my top priorities. I am committed to serving the customers of USDA, and I will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

As ag chief, Perdue will oversee the nation’s nutrition, farm and forestry programs and will play a major role in shaping the upcoming U.S. farm bill and in U.S. ag trade negotiations. He said he plans to be guided by four principles: maximizing the ability of farmers and agribusiness to produce, create jobs and sell their goods; prioritize customer service in the USDA; ensure a safe and secure U.S. food supply, and stewardship of the land.

“As secretary, I will champion the concerns of farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers, and will work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families,” Perdue said. “I am proud to have been given this opportunity and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work as we continue to move the USDA and our nation forward.”

Perdue launched his official Twitter handle Tuesday: @SecretarySonny.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is not only ineligible to vote for himself because he doesn’t live in the Sixth District, he also has never voted in a runoff election.

Voting records reveal that the 30-year-old Ossoff, who has been an eligible Georgia voter for over a decade, has never voted in one of the state’s many runoff elections, according to information obtained through the Georgia secretary of state.

Ossoff’s campaign did not return a request for comment on his decision to ignore runoff elections in the past.

Dick Williams with the Dunwoody Crier, write about Ossoff’s family wealth.

At 30, courtesy of an inheritance and a wealthy family, he shows a net worth of $1.7 million. That includes a town house on Capitol Hill in Washington purchased by his family. He is a good investor, favoring Apple and Warren Buffett.

His family has a yacht and a Cessna, the latter purchased through a limited liability company using a relative’s address in New Hampshire, one of a handful of states that don’t charge sales taxes on airplane purchases. In Georgia it would have been a taxable event.

Ossoff researchers point to a family that uses multiple LLCs in many states to avoid taxes and shield personal assets.

DeKalb County is considering opening multiple early voting locations ahead of the runoff. Jon Ossoff won’t be able to vote at any of them.

The Georgia NAACP filed suit against the state, claiming a 2015 redistricting violates the Voting Rights Act.

The Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law filed the federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia on behalf of the state chapter of the NAACP and five residents of the affected districts. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s top elections official, also is named in the suit.

“Lawmakers firmly placed their thumb on the scale by redrawing district boundaries in ways that would preserve their incumbency and freeze the status quo in place,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “They seek to disregard the demographic changes occurring across Georgia by putting pen to paper mid-decade.”

The changes in 2015 affected more than a dozen of the House of Representatives’ 180 districts, but the lawsuit focuses on the 105th District represented by Republican Joyce Chandler in Gwinnett County and the 111th in Henry County represented by Republican Brian Strickland.

The lawsuit says the changes increased the percentage of white voters in Chandler’s district to about 53 percent in 2016 elections, compared to 48 percent. Black voters went from 32 percent to 30 percent. The suit says the changes increased the percentage of white voters in Strickland’s district to 58 percent in 2016 elections, compared to 56 percent. Black voters went from 33 percent to 31 percent.

Both Republicans were re-elected to their seats last year over black Democrats.


This is the second federal lawsuit related to voting rights violations filed in Georgia in the past week.

On April 20, five civil rights organizations filed a complaint alleging that a Georgia law requiring voters to register three months prior to participating in federal elections violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

If left in place, the statute determines who can vote in the upcoming, high-profile runoff election for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District seat.

Augusta Commissioners are set to vote on a ban of sagging pants.

Augusta commissioners remain divided on whether to ban saggy pants and a committee referred a vote to draft an ordinance to the full commission Tuesday.

“Your belt ought to be around your waist, not around your legs,” said Commissioner Marion Williams, who has pushed to outlaw wearing pants so low they expose the skin or underwear. “The belt is around their knees in most cases, and in their hand.”

General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said he’d explored ways of expanding Augusta’s indecent exposure law to include the practice, with “progressive discipline” for violators to start with community service, then a fine.

But Commissioner Bill Fennoy said he wished others such as the school system and businesses would deliver the message instead.

Critics have said a ban will increase encounters between law enforcement and young black men.


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

James Oglethorpe won reelection to the British Parliament while in America on April 25, 1734.

The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

On April 25, 1996, Georgia Governor Zell Miller signed Senate Bill 519 designating English the official language of Georgia.

An extremely rare 18th-century parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence has been located and authenticated in southern England.

The researchers dated the manuscript, known as “The Sussex Declaration,” to the 1780s based on handwriting, spelling errors and analysis of parchment style and preparation. The document likely once belonged to the Third Duke of Richmond, the so-called “Radical Duke” who supported the Americans during the Revolution, according to the experts.

The parchment was likely produced in New York or Philadelphia. Researchers think that it may have been commissioned by Founding Father James Wilson, or one of his political allies, as part of his advocacy efforts on behalf of the Federal Constitution.

Unlike other 18th century versions of the Declaration, the list of signatories on The Sussex Declaration is not grouped by states. Allen and Sneff think that this detail may reflect efforts by Wilson and his allies during the Constitutional Convention and ratification process, to argue that the Declaration’s authority rested on a unitary national people, not on a federation of states.

On the Sussex Declaration, the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” is followed by a dash, not a period. However, the phrase “consent of the governed” is followed by a period.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation worked with Gwinnett County Police and other law enforcement agencies in “Operation Spring Cleaning,” resulting in 23 arrests.

They came from all over metro Atlanta and beyond to meet children they’d groomed online for sex in Gwinnett County.

They were men of all different backgrounds ranging in age from 19 to 48. They worked as electricians, construction workers and janitors. Others were unemployed. One was a member of the United States Air Force.

“I guess it’s just a cultural thing with us here in the United States. You know, spring time means cleaning,” said Detective David Smiths with the Gwinnett County Police Special Victims Unit. “We’re cleaning out the offenders in Gwinnett County.”

The Gwinnett County Police Department joined with the GBI, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to plan “Operation Spring Cleaning,” which officially began April 20.

“Gwinnett is a huge hub because (Interstate) 85 runs through here,” Smiths said. “So, we knew we’d get a lot of people traveling from all over metro Atlanta who’d be willing to drive to Gwinnett because it’s so central.”

As of Monday afternoon, all 23 of the suspects arrested during “Operation Spring Cleaning” have been charged with violating child pornography laws. But Smiths said further charges are likely, including sexual exploitation of a child and child molestation.

Governor Nathan Deal will sign House Bill 208 today, raising prices for hunting and fishing licenses to fund conservation programs.

HB 208 increases the cost of resident annual hunting licenses to $15 from $10 and annual fishing licenses to $15 from $9. The sportsman’s license, which covers most hunting and fishing privileges in the state from big game to trout, will increase to $65 a year from $55. Similar increases are scheduled for the majority of the hunting and fishing licenses in the state, including those offered to seniors and for children.

Costs won’t increase until the beginning of the next fiscal year, which means hunters and anglers can purchase annual, multiyear and lifetime licenses at the cheaper rate until the end of June.

HB 208 was sponsored by Rep. Trey Rhodes, R-Greensboro, and came after a state audit in 2016 found that Georgia’s license fees are lower than most of the southeastern United States.

Several years in the making, the increases are estimated to raise more than $11 million each year for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, according to department spokesman Wes Robinson, with the extra money to pay for more game wardens, infrastructure and maintenance.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) spoke to FetchYourNews about issues in rural Georgia.

Cobb County government buildings will fly the flag at half-staff today in honor of the late firefighter and EMT Ron Herens.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is supporting Democrat Jon Ossoff in the 6th District runoff.

“Let me be very clear. It is imperative that Jon Ossoff be elected congressman from Georgia’s 6th District and that Democrats take back the U.S. House,” Sanders said in statement. “I applaud the energy and grassroots activism in Jon’s campaign. His victory would be an important step forward in fighting back against Trump’s reactionary agenda.”

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture by the United States Senate on an 87-11 vote.

A source close to the process told The Albany Herald that Perdue is to be sworn in as secretary early Tuesday at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Perdue’s appointment was announced by his cousin, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who was presiding over the Senate for the vote. Sen. Perdue said that 87 senators had supported the secretary, 11 had opposed and one had voted present — Sen. Perdue.

As ag secretary, Gov. Perdue will oversee the nation’s farm and forestry programs, as well as the U.S. nutrition programs. He’ll also be take the lead in the upcoming U.S. farm bill and farm trade work.

“Tonight, he has been confirmed as our next secretary of agriculture and I could not be more proud for him, for our family, but most importantly for our country,” Sen. Perdue said. “I want to be the first in this august body to call my cousin, Sonny Perdue, by his new title, Mr. Secretary. I believe he is an outstanding candidate.”

“As secretary of agriculture, my cousin has a big job,” the senator said. “He’s got a big responsibility. I look forward to working with him as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee to make our agriculture, farming, and ranching industries vigorous and strong now, and for future generations.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who spoke in favor of Gov. Perdue before the vote, said he was proud to cast his vote for Perdue, who he noted served as Georgia Senate president pro tem as a Democrat before moving to the Republican Party and winning the governorship.

“Sonny’s experience and leadership in public service, business and agriculture will benefit our nation as he takes the reins as secretary of agriculture,” Isakson said. “Agriculture remains Georgia’s number one industry, and our state is fortunate to have him in this important leadership position. I was proud to cast my vote today in support of Sonny Perdue.”

Candidates for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party met in a forum sponsored by the CSRA Republican Women’s Club.

On Monday, the four candidates – Alex Johnson, Michael McNeely, John Watson and Mike Welsh – debated numerous topics at the CSRA Republican Women’s Club monthly meeting. The event was held at Jones Creek Golf Club.

“As a local, I’d like to welcome my opponents to Columbia County,” said Welsh, the only candidate from the 12th district.

In all, more than 100 guests attended the event, while candidates were given a minute to answer pre-selected questions.

Former Attorney General Sam Olens said he’s working to make Kennesaw State University more transparent.

“My goal is for everyone to feel vested and engaged in the process, so that we can continue to move this university forward,” said Olens during his first State of the University address Monday morning at KSU’s Marietta campus. “Together, we’ve made great strides over the past six months.”

Olens said he has tasked KSU Provost Ken Harmon with overseeing the university’s academics while he focuses on the university’s operations and fundraising — the major areas of concern from the Board of Regents’ audit.

The audits were released last summer and accused a handful of KSU officials — including former President Dan Papp and former Auxiliary Services Vice President Randy Shelton — of financial improprieties, and the audit enforced new regulations, such as more legal oversight for contracts.

Monday, Olens said KSU is moving forward and reviewing its policies.

“We have made many improvements in these areas, but we still have much work to do to safeguard against further ethical lapses,” he said.

The Dougherty County Commission is moving forward on eminent domain proceedings to take property owned by State Rep. Darrel Ealum (R-Albany).

The land is adjacent to county-owned property at what was once the Radium Country Club and Golf Course, and County Attorney Spencer Lee said the vote by the commission will allow him to “start negotiating” with Ealum on a purchase price before the county moves forward with eminent domain proceedings.

“The land has been appraised, and it is valued at $40,000,” Lee told commissioners. “This property has been on the county’s radar since around 2009. The structure on the property is an eyesore that has considerable damage, and it’s not damage caused by the storms (of Jan. 2 and Jan. 22).

Ealum said after the meeting that he had no idea the matter would be discussed Monday by the commission.

“I didn’t know the item was on the commission’s agenda,” he said. “I haven’t seen the entire thing, so I don’t know what was voted on. Other than that, I have no comment at this time.”

Macon-Bibb County Manager Dale Walker resigned after more than 30 years in government service.

Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias wants to hire additional Animal Services employees and raise the pay for other department employees.

The revised city animal ordinance, which requires owners to register their pets, “has strained our animal services department to the breaking point,” Sias said in the agenda item going before the city’s Public Safety committee Tuesday.

Muscogee County parents spoke in opposition to a proposal to hired a private, for-profit company to run alternative education programs.

Elections 2018

State Senator Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) announced that he is running for Governor in the 2018 election.

Today conservative businessman, Army Ranger, and State Senator Hunter Hill announced his candidacy for Governor of Georgia.

Georgia needs bold, conservative leadership to move our state forward. Hunter Hill’s many years of diverse leadership experience in military combat, business, and politics provides a unique perspective that will guide Georgia to reach its full potential.

Senator Hill said: “I am running to cast a bold vision for Georgia that can only come about with true, conservative leadership. Republicans have an opportunity to bring about sweeping change in Georgia, and I refuse to stand by and simply mark time. Georgians expect and demand results, and I am ready to deliver.”

“In the coming months, I’m going to take my message directly to Georgians. I am dedicated to America’s founding values and principles of God-given rights, limited government, free enterprise and expanded liberty. I have fought to defend these values in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the Georgia Senate.”

“I would be honored to earn your vote and support to be the Governor of our great state.”


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

The Library of Congress was founded on April 24, 1800 and is the largest library in the world today.

On April 24, 1945, President Harry Truman was briefed on the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb.

Jack Kingston was born on April 24, 1955. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1984 and served four terms and in 1992 was elected to the United States Congress.

“Georgia On My Mind” became the official state song on April 24, 1979, when Governor George Busbee signed legislation designating it.

IBM introduced the Personal Computer Model 5150 on April 24, 1981, though some authorities date the introduction to April 12. It sported an Intel 8088 processor at 4.77 Mhz, a whopping 16k of RAM, which was expandable to 256k, and a clicky keyboard. The initial price tag was $1565, equivalent to more than $4000 today.

Creepy wax figures from a Warm Springs museum will be sold at auction.

About 60 life-size wax figures, including a one-of-a-kind figure of Albert Einstein that was signed and inscribed by Einstein himself, will headline an auction of items owned by Preston Evans, the Cowetan who operated the museum for more than four years. The auction is set for May 13 at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center in Gettysburg, Pa.

These include figures of 10 U.S. presidents and four first ladies, civil rights leaders –including Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Bunche, entertainers Rudolf Valentino and Dolly Parton, military figures such as Patton and MacArthur, cowboys and Indians including Geronimo.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Governor Sonny Perdue is expected to win confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture in a vote of the full United States Senate today.

Perdue would be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades. He’s the son of a farmer and has owned several agricultural companies. The Senate plans to vote on his nomination Monday.

At his confirmation hearing in March, Perdue assured nervous farm-state senators that he will advocate for rural America, even as President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed deep cuts to some farm programs. He promised to reach out to Democrats, and several Democratic senators have said they will vote for him.

Perdue may also find himself in the uncomfortable position of defending agriculture in an administration that has given the issue very little attention, despite Trump’s strong support in rural areas. Trump has proposed a 21 percent cut in USDA programs and has harshly criticized some international trade deals, saying they have killed American jobs. But farmers who produce more than they can sell in the United States have heavily profited from some of those deals, and are hoping his anti-trade policies will include some exceptions for agriculture.

Tamar Hallerman of the AJC writes about what Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue could mean for Georgia.

 “He knows the struggles that farmers deal with on a day-to-day basis,” [Bonaire farmer Matt] Coley said of Perdue. “Having that perspective in D.C. would certainly be a benefit when decisions are having to be made.”

“When he was governor, he spent a large amount of his time traveling the world selling Georgia and selling Georgia ag products,” said Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark, who served as natural resources commissioner in the Perdue administration.

Perdue’s expected confirmation, he said, gives “us, our farmers, our forestry an opportunity to grow our brand.”

Perdue would be the first ever agriculture head to hail from Georgia, and the first southerner in more than two decades.

“The voices of Southeastern agriculture are going to be heard and that’s exciting,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

Democrats claim that Georgia’s requirement that special runoff election voters were registered in time to vote in the initial special election suppresses voters in violation of federal law.

The Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and other organizations said Secretary of State Brian Kemp is violating the National Voter Registration ACT by prohibiting voters from registering for the upcoming June runoff election. The lawsuit indicates federal elections, including runoff elections, allow for voter registration up until 30 days before the election.

“Georgia has a sordid history of discouraging voter participation. We ask they follow the federal guidelines, 30 days prior to the election should be when the registration period should ends,” Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose said.

But Kemp said the June runoff is a continuation of Tuesday’s election and Georgia law said if you were not registered for the initial election, then you cannot register now.

“For us to have to stop and have our local election officials and registrars stop what they are doing in this process and implement something like this, it would be a nightmare that would really effect the integrity of the election,” Kemp said.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson weighed in on the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election.

Tomlinson likes Ossoff’s chances, stating that Ossoff carried 200 precincts and Handel just eight. Tomlinson said “that is a pretty heavy lift for her.”

The mayor said while Republicans did get 52 percent of the vote in the special election, she wanted to point out 81 percent of those coming to the polls voted against Handel.

Tomlinson said while it is historically true that the district is predominately Republican, there are a lot of “business Republicans” who are moderate.

“It is not a heavy ideological district,” said Tomlinson, 52, who was raised in the district and has family there.

She said there is obviously a lot of interest in the race, with about 193,000 voters coming to the polls.

“For a special election, that is extraordinary,” she said.

Washington-based Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) said it will file an ethics complaint against Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia), alleging improper use of his official website to boost the election of Jon Ossoff.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols will serve as vice chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’  Nuclear Issues-Waste Disposal Subcommittee.

“The wise disposition of nuclear waste continues to be one of the most important issues of our day,” Echols said. “If we don’t come up with a solution soon, we’ll need nine Yucca Mountain repositories by the end of the century, and that would be impossible to bring about.”

Houston County Commissioners face a tough budget process this year.

Tax revenues are expected to have slow growth this year in Houston County, which means another tough budget year.

The county is just now starting the process for formulating its budget for the upcoming fiscal year to begin July 1. Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker, who always issues words of caution as the budget year starts, gave an especially stark assessment last week.

“I am more concerned this year than I’ve ever been before in putting this budget together,” he said at the end of Tuesday’s commission meeting. “I’ve never felt the way I do this year going to this budget cycle. It is going to be gruesome.”

Rep. Ed Rynders (R-Leesburg ) is enthusiastic about the House Rural Development Council.

“HR 389 is chiefly Speaker David Ralston’s initiative,” Rynders said. “I don’t know if any speaker has visited more communities than Speaker Ralston. In his travels he has listened to the people throughout rural Georgia who are seeking meaningful economic development.

“I appreciate the speaker’s commitment to rural Georgia and look forward to trying to improve the quality of life for all Georgians. But keep in mind that one size doesn’t fit all even in rural Georgia. This council will look for solutions for job creation while addressing the unique challenges facing our communities.”

2018 Elections

State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) is considering a run for statewide office in 2018.

Even though two well-known politicians already have announced their intentions to seek the seat of governor in 2018, Jones’ name continues to surface in political circles as a possible third GOP candidate. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp are already campaigning for the seat currently held by Gov. Nathan Deal, now in his second term as the state’s top political leader.

“Probably the biggest problem I have is that I actually enjoy what I’m doing right now,” Jones said with a laugh, as he talked about his political aspirations with The Union-Recorder. “I really do enjoy what I’m doing, because of the fact that I can still run my business and I’ve got a very flexible schedule with family and everything. And that’s important to me.”

“Right now, I’m weighing all of my options, and looking to see if there is an opportunity lying out there in the pits,” said Jones, an insurance executive in his family’s business in Jackson, who is in his fifth year as a state senator. “You can make up all kinds of reasons not to do something, but the biggest issue for me would be that I get a good comfort level, and that this is something my family allows me to take on, and then I’ll make a decision.”

Jones said he plans to make a decision about his political future within the next couple of months.

“I’m looking at all the parameters of what it would cost, and what kind of team I could put together, etc.,” Jones said of possibly becoming the third Republican incumbent state office holder to run for governor.

“If, and that’s the big word, if, I would announce my intentions at some sort of an event,” said Jones, noting that it could happen at a political fundraising rally at an area venue.

Liberal Daily Kos says this about the timing of the Governor’s race.

If Jones does get in, he does have one potentially strong selling point to voters. Jones was the co-captain of the University of Georgia’s football team when they won the 2003 Sugar Bowl, which came just after the Bulldogs won their first SEC championship in 20 years. However, Secretary of State Brian Kemp is already running while Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is raising money for his likely bid, and a number of other Peach State Republicans are considering. By the time Jones makes up his mind, other campaigns may have a huge organizational head start.

Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle will announce today that he is running for Secretary of State in 2018.

Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle said Friday he plans to enter the race for Georgia Secretary of State in 2018.

Belle Isle, 42, became mayor in 2012 and is in the last half of his second and final term.

A formal announcement will take place Monday.

“I love the city of Alpharetta and want to keep serving it,” Belle Isle said Friday. “I think this is an opportunity to do for Georgia what we’ve done for Alpharetta.”

“I want to make Georgia the best at what it does,” he said. “Technology is one of those things, but also the moving of people and goods from our ports … and the marketing of crops and livestock.”

Belle Isle will join previously announced candidates for Secretary of State Buzz Brockway, Geoff Duncan, and Brad Raffensperger, all current State House members.


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

According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Rome was founded. The one in Italy, not the one in Floyd County.

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

On April 21, 1732, King George II signed the royal charter creating the colony of Georgia. The King’s signature did not make the charter effective as several additional steps were required.

On April 21, 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first Vice President of the United States.

On April 22, 1891, Asa Candler bought the recipe for Coca-Cola for $2300 and eventually turned its marketing from a “brain tonic” into a plain old tasty beverage.

Lucius D. Clay was born in Marietta, Georgia on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

On April 21, 1904, Ty Cobb made his debut in professional baseball for the Augusta (Georgia) Tourists in the South Atlantic League in center field; Cobb hit an inside-the-field home run and a double.

Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron,” was killed in action on April 21, 1918, shot by either an Australian gunner or a Canadian. At the time of his death, Richthofen has shot down 80 aircraft in aerial combat.

Adolf Hitler admitted defeat in World War II on April 22, 1945.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Atlanta Braves won their first home game in Atlanta Stadium on April 22, 1966. The Braves beat the New York Mets 8-4. It’s interesting to look back at how the Braves landed in Atlanta.

During his 1961 campaign for mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen, Jr. promised to build a sports facility to attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington–Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways. Allen, along with Atlanta Journal sports editor Furman Bisher, attempted to persuade Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, to move his team to Atlanta. Finley was receptive and began discussing stadium design plans with Allen. The deal, however, ended in July 1963 when the American League did not approve the move.

In 1964, Mayor Allen announced that an unidentified team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one last season.

The Blues Brothers made their worldwide debut on Saturday Night Live on April 22, 1978. Two prominent Georgia musicians, Ray Charles (born Albany) and James Brown (died Atlanta) would co-star in The Blues Brothers movie.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

Former President Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

Former President Jimmy Carter was appointed Distinguished Professor at Emory University on April 21, 1982. Carter holds an annual Town Hall in which he takes questions from students.

On April 21, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Israel. From the press statement released that day,

The MOA reiterates for the public record our long-standing relationship of strategic cooperation with Israel. Strategic cooperation can only succeed when there are shared interests, including the commitment to building peace and stability in the region. It reflects the enduring U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. That commitment will never flag. The U.S. commitment to peace will also not flag. The President knows that a strong Israel is necessary if peace is to be possible. He also knows that Israel can never be truly secure without peace.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday signed HB 573 – Cook County; Probate Court; judge shall have jurisdiction to try misdemeanor cases where defendant waives jury trial and pleads guilty; provide.

Jeremy Berry will trade in private practice at Dentons to become Atlanta’s City Attorney.

“I am excited to name Jeremy Berry as the new City Attorney,” said Mayor Reed. “Over the last decade, I’ve gotten to know Jeremy as a talented attorney and as an active, dedicated member of his community. I believe he will bring his unique insight and valuable experience to this role, and will serve the people of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council and my Administration in an exemplary fashion.”

“I am honored that Mayor Reed has offered me the opportunity to serve as City Attorney,” Berry said. “For the past fourteen years, I have focused my career on working with governments and elected officials, and working at the intersection of law, politics, and business. I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve the public, the Atlanta City Council, and of course Mayor Reed. I know I have very big shoes to fill, and look forward to working with each member of the City’s Law Department.”

Berry graduated from Emory University School of Law in 2003. Prior to graduating law school, Berry served as the assistant director of federal affairs for Emory University. In 2014, Emory College honored Berry for his distinguished community and public service with its Young Alumni Service Award.

Berry is alumnus of Leadership DeKalb. He is active in the community, serving on the Board of Directors and Civil Rights Committee of the Anti-Defamation League. Berry is also active with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family and Career Services of Greater Atlanta, and Red Clay Democrats.

Speaker David Ralston has appointed members of the House Rural Development Council, created during this year’s legislative session by House Resolution 389 to work with rural communities to find ways to encourage economic growth.

“Georgia is a growing and prosperous state, and we are thankful for that,” said Speaker Ralston.  “But that prosperity isn’t being felt in every community across Georgia. Some of our rural areas are still struggling, and we must do everything we can to help private businesses grow jobs in every corner of our state.”

Speaker Ralston has previously announced that the council will be co-chaired by Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) and Ways & Means Chairman Jay Powell (R-Camilla). Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), who chairs the House Rural Caucus, will serve as vice chair of the council.

The other members of the House Rural Development Council are:

  • Patty Bentley (D-Butler)
  • John Corbett (R-Lake Park)
  • Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin)
  • Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville)
  • Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas)
  • Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee)
  • Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear)
  • Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn)
  • Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville)
  • Ed Rynders (R-Albany)
  • Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville)
  • Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville)

In addition, Speaker Ralston has named the following committee chairmen to serve as ex-officio members of the House Rural Development Council based on their subject-area expertise:

  • Brooks Coleman – Chairman of Education
  • Sharon Cooper – Chairman of Health & Human Services
  • Robert Dickey – Chairman of K-12 Education (Appropriations)
  • Penny Houston – Chairman of Economic Development (Appropriations)
  • Rick Jasperse – Chairman of Higher Education
  • Tom McCall – Chairman of Agriculture & Consumer Affairs
  • Butch Parrish – Chairman of Healthcare (Appropriations)
  • Don Parsons – Chairman of Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications
  • Jason Shaw – Chairman of Transportation & Infrastructure (Appropriations)
  • Ron Stephens – Chairman of Economic Development
  • Kevin Tanner – Chairman of Transportation

The House Rural Development Council will host its first meeting next month. More details on that meeting will be announced soon.

Green Power EMC brought a 52 megawatt solar installation near Hazlehurst, Georgia online.

The new 52-megawatt solar facility in Hazlehurst is expected to generate more than 134 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually for customers of Green Power EMC for the next 30 years, according to a news release.

Green Power EMC was the first green energy provider in the state. It was created by Georgia’s EMCs in 2001 and has been selling green energy since 2003. Green Power EMC obtains green power from renewable energy facilities throughout Georgia, including solar power, low-impact hydroelectric, landfill gas and biomass from wood waste.

Cobb County Commissioners will consider applying for $6.8 million in federal funding for transit on Sundays.

Hospital Corporation of America will buy Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah for a package valued at $710 million dollars.

“This will essentially be a sale of the hospital,” said J. Curtis Lewis III, board chairman of Memorial Health. “I think it’s a very positive thing for the community.”

HCA will now have a 60-day period to conduct due diligence, Lewis said, adding, “Our next step is to keep the place going.”

The deal is valued at $710 million. Included in the $710 million purchase fee is $430 million, which will pay off bonds and other debts as well as $280 million over the next 10 years to fund capital improvements — $100 million for non-routine capital expenditures and $180 million for routine capital expenditures.

All other proceeds of the sale will go to the Chatham County Hospital Authority for creation of an indigent care trust fund.

He said the authority insisted and got guarantees that, as part of the deal, HCA will maintain core services including Level 1 trauma care, the Level 3 neo-natal ICU and Mercer University School of Medicine Savannah Campus at Memorial.

Coweta County held a Town Hall meeting to discuss Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) priorities, but few showed up.

Just four members of the public attended the meeting, which was for the 2nd District, represented by Commissioner Tim Lassetter. It’s the largest of Coweta’s five districts, covering nearly half of the county – almost everything west of Carrollton Highway on the north side, and everything west of U.S. Highway 29 on the south side, as well as Moreland and nearly to Sharpsburg.

The primary focus of the meetings is to discuss SPLOST and to ask Cowetans what important projects they would like to see funded with the 1 percent sales tax. Cowetans will go to the polls in November to decide whether to extend the tax, which expires at the end of 2018, until 2025. The SPLOST vote will coincide with municipal elections.

Senoia City Council members heard from the City Manager about priorities for the city’s SPLOST portion.

A vote on the six-year extension of the 1 percent sales tax is set for November, though the current tax doesn’t expire until the end of 2018. Before the vote, Coweta County and all its municipalities must put together a list of projects to be funded with the tax. That process is getting started.

Senoia City Manager Harold Simmons told the Senoia City Council about his priorities at Monday’s council meeting.

Sixth District Congressional Runoff Election

United States Senator David Perdue has endorsed Karen Handel in the Runoff Election for the Sixth Congressional District.

“Republicans are at our best when we are united. In Georgia’s 6th District, our work is not over. We now have nine weeks for an all-hands on deck effort to reveal the true choice in this race. National liberal groups are spending millions to mislead the people of the 6th District. We all know Jon Ossoff will not be a moderate if he gets to Congress. It’s time for Republicans to come together. I not only endorse Karen Handel, but pledge my full support in the coming weeks to make sure Nancy Pelosi doesn’t get one more vote in the United States House of Representatives.” – Senator David Perdue

House Speaker Paul Ryan is making plans to campaign for Handel.

Patricia Ryan writes in The Hill about how Democrat Jon Ossoff became the focus of nationwide liberal angst over President Trump.

In the days after Donald Trump was inaugurated in January, liberals in America were depressed, despondent, and asking themselves what to do next. David Nir, the political director of the liberal blog Daily Kos, had an answer and that answer was Jon Ossoff.

Nir and the Daily Kos team had been crunching the numbers from Trump’s election since the day after it happened. Which districts did Trump underperform in? Where were the opportunities for Democrats? They quickly noticed that in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which Mitt Romney won by 23 points in 2012, Trump had won by just a point and a half. Could Rep. Tom Price be vulnerable the next time around?

But within weeks, the Price seat was not just a target for 2018, it became the prize in a 2017 special election, after Trump tapped Price as his secretary of Health and Human Services to oversee the dismantling of Obamacare. In the minds of progressives, the Price seat was not just open, it was ground zero for the Trump resistance.

“No one wants to wait until 2018 — or 2020 — to fight back against Donald Trump,” Nir wrote in a post on Daily Kos at the end of January. “The good news is, we don’t have to.”

Nir then went on to introduce the site’s 3 million readers to Ossoff, a then-29-year-old former congressional staffer who had jumped into the special election in early January.

The most interesting issue to me in the 6th District race is how Ossoff consolidated all the national organizations behind him despite a number of other credible-looking candidates. Patricia Murphy’s story is the best I’ve seen on that and is worth reading in its entirety.


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

Yesterday, I mistakenly included the history items from today, so now I’m making up yesterday’s history lesson.

On April 19, 1775, British troops entered Lexington, Massachusetts, encountering 77 armed Minute Men.

British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

Two hours later, another confrontation between the British and American patriots took place in Concord, Massachusetts.

On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the blockade of ports in “Rebellious States.”

Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue can not be effectually executed therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States; and


Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned and to the protection of the public peace and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States and of the law of nations in such case provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid.

Union forces skirmished against The Worrill Grays, a Georgia Reserve Militia, at the Battle of Culloden, 30 miles west of Macon on a date generally believed to have been April 19, 1865, though it may have occurred later.

On April 19, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation declaring the peanut the Official State Crop.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal signed three bills on Tuesday:

HB 264 Georgia World Congress Center Authority; revenue bond capacity; increase April 18, 2017

SB 121 “Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr., Act” April 18, 2017

SB 18 Georgia Public Safety Training Center; any member of security police force; retain his/her weapon and badge under certain conditions April 18, 2017

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich writes for FoxNews about the Sixth Congressional District.

Tuesday, after spending more than $8 million, the Democrats failed to win the special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

I had a personal interest in this vote since I represented the Sixth District in Congress for 20 years – however my daughter, Jackie Cushman, likes to note for historical accuracy that the district was originally south and west of Atlanta and was gerrymandered by the Georgia Democrats into the northern suburbs for the 1992 election. That effort backfired spectacularly and cost the Democrats four congressional seats as every part of my old district elected a Republican.

The race was close enough that President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Price (who had won the district by 23 points last year) all made robocalls. Voters were bombarded with vote messages.

Republicans staved off defeat – but by a surprisingly narrow margin.

Now Democrats must decide if they want to pour another $8 million into the runoff in June.

The Democrats have now spent a lot of money to almost win two special elections.

“Almost” doesn’t win elections.

The New York Times looks at what a runoff election means for the Sixth District.

“I think we could be facing all-out war here for the next two months,” Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., said Wednesday.

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, believes that Mr. Ossoff’s supporters will remain motivated enough to return to the polls, and considers the race a “true tossup.” He noted that the conservative Tea Party movement, which bubbled up in early 2009, was still going strong enough to have a significant impact on the midterm elections in late 2010.

“The anti-Trump sentiment, we’ve seen that persist now since the election,” he said. “All the indications are that it is still present, and I don’t think it’s going to fade that quickly.”

CBS46 has an idea what a runoff will be like on the ground.

Just hours after the District 6 congressional race was forced into a runoff, the Republican campaign committee had already begun running attack ads against Democrat Jon Ossoff. Voters say they’re already getting tired.

We have fatigue of all the robocalls, it’s just horrible,” said voter Anna Hunter.

While voters may be tired, the Handel and Ossoff campaigns say they’re ready and refreshed for round two. Ossoff’s campaign manager Keenan Pontoni, says their ads are still running and so are staffers.

“We are talking to voters.  We have over 100 field staffers still doing field work,” said Pontoni.

Dr. Andra Gillespie, an associate political science professor at Emory University, says the ground game will be the key.

“This all comes down to infrastructure and turnout and organization. So both sides have to be mindful of this,” said Gillespie.

Tamar Hallerman writes in the AJC Political Insider about DC plans for the 6th District.

 Corry Bliss, the Leadership Fund’s executive director, said there are plans in the works to scale up their field work – they’d like to knock on 200,000 doors between now and election day on June 20 – and place plenty more media spots attacking Ossoff’s credentials. They unveiled their latest Wednesday.

“We’ll continue to be aggressive in exposing and defining the real Jon Ossoff to the people of Georgia,” Bliss said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve just begun on that education, and there’s a lot more research that we’ve saved and will be using soon.”

Not to be outdone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ political arm, moved Wednesday to reserve $450,000 worth of ad time on Atlanta television stations. They’re aiming to run those in conjunction with Ossoff’s campaign, which made a similar $300,000 buy, the Washington Examiner reported.

Corry Bliss, the Leadership Fund’s executive director, said there are plans in the works to scale up their field work – they’d like to knock on 200,000 doors between now and election day on June 20 – and place plenty more media spots attacking Ossoff’s credentials. They unveiled their latest Wednesday.

“We’ll continue to be aggressive in exposing and defining the real Jon Ossoff to the people of Georgia,” Bliss said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve just begun on that education, and there’s a lot more research that we’ve saved and will be using soon.”

Not to be outdone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ political arm, moved Wednesday to reserve $450,000 worth of ad time on Atlanta television stations. They’re aiming to run those in conjunction with Ossoff’s campaign, which made a similar $300,000 buy, the Washington Examiner reported.

The DCCC’s GOP counterpart, the National Republican Campaign Committee, laid down nearly $2 million in the first round of the race. It’s also gearing up for a new round of fights. Along with other GOP-aligned organizations such as the opposition group America Rising, they’re planning to double down on arguments they think stuck in the media the final days of the campaign: that Ossoff is inexperienced and doesn’t live in the 6th District.

From Elena Schneider at Politico:

“It’s probably going to be the most expensive House seat in U.S. history by the time it’s over,” said Rob Simms, a senior adviser to Handel and former National Republican Congressional Committee executive director, predicting that it will also be even more competitive and hard-fought than the primary.

This is a hard district — period. [But] Ossoff’s got a huge fundraising list, a huge volunteer list and a strong infrastructure already in place. He’s in a strong position to put up this fight,” said Martha McKenna, a Democratic consultant.

“Handel wants to have everyone’s help, and that certainly includes President Trump,” Simms said. “It’s clear that in the response over the past 12 hours that the party is aligning with her, galvanizing and uniting around her. That’s going to be important in June because of the resources that we are going to face on the Democratic side behind Ossoff.”

“Ossoff’s team will continue to do what they’ve done — maximize Democratic turnout in every way they can,” said David Mermin, a Democratic pollster who worked with the Ossoff campaign before the primary and is now helping independent-expenditure efforts in the district. “They’ve identified voters who don’t normally turn out for specials, but they will for Ossoff and for this race.”

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (D-Dacula) and Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) spoke to the Gwinnett Chamber about this year’s legislative session.

The pair split the topics, so Shafer talked about statewide issues, such as renewing the hospital bed tax, while Efstration talked about what Gwinnett got in the state budget.

And Gwinnett got a good bit in the budget, ranging from a juvenile justice transition center to an expanded GRTA Xpress Park and ride facility at Sugarloaf Mills that were in the budget.

A lot of the news about what Gwinnett got in the state budget may be familiar to people who follow state politics, but a big item awarded to the county in the budget was the juvenile transition center. The county’s legislators have been kicking around the idea of getting a new regional youth detention center in Gwinnett since the old one closed a few years ago.

“The juvenile transition center is a first of its kind facility in this state to allow more efficient utilization of state resources, Efstration said. “What it will allow for is a detention facility that gives law enforcement officers a drop off point for those juvenile offender so that the officer is not spending an extended period of time taking them to a neighboring county.”

Sandy Springs City Council Member Gabriel Sterling wants to fix the Fulton County elections office that kept political junkies up late Tuesday night, as their reporting of election results was predictably slow.

“We wake up to a newspaper headline that we’ve all gotten accustomed to seeing… ‘6th District Vote: Fulton extends polling hours; DeKalb and Cobb smooth’” noted Fulton Commission Chairman candidate Gabriel Sterling. “I get this question every year, from Democrats and Republicans alike, ‘What the heck is wrong with Fulton elections?’”

In yesterday’s election, a judge had to intervene to extend hours at some Fulton precincts. Also, the final numbers for Fulton were reported several hours after DeKalb and Cobb had reported their final returns due to “technical difficulties”.

“After years of failure, it will take a revolutionary way of thinking to fix the very real, and systemic, problems. I will work with anyone and everyone, Democrat or Republican, willing to admit there are serious issues here,” continued Sandy Springs Councilman Sterling. “Yes, we are a large county. That shouldn’t stop us from doing a great job in conducting our elections. If we fail in that core area, it undermines our credibility across the board.”

“It’s ridiculous and unfair that Ossoff and Handel supporters, as well as every other campaign, had to wait for hours with no updates. It’s not acceptable anymore,” Sterling concluded. “As Chairman, I’ll fix our elections office. We should never have to have judges come in to correct issues that should never exist in the first place. It’s now time to truly fix it.”

2018 Elections

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the Georgia 2018 Gubernatorial race as “Likely Republican.”

Trump carried the Peach State by five points, and it’s pretty clear that the GOP bench is much deeper than the Democratic one in the race to replace outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal (R). Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) is already in, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) is almost certain to run. Campaign guru Nick Ayers (R), a protégé of former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), might also run, as could former Reps. Jack Kingston (R) and Lynn Westmoreland (R). The Democrats may wind up nominating state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), state Rep. Stacey Evans (D), or perhaps 2014 nominee and ex-state Sen. Jason Carter (D). Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates (D) also gets mentioned, but no one really knows if she would run. Likely Republican

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) is reportedly being urged by his legislative colleagues to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2018.

Rep. Chuck Efstration told the Gwinnett Chamber during its legislative recap luncheon at the Sonesta Hotel on Wednesday that Duluth-based Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer is being sought out as a candidate for lieutenant governor for next year. The seat looks to be open with current Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle making moves to run for governor.

“I’m very excited right now that as discussions about statewide races for constitutional officers takes place, I know Sen. Shafer is being encouraged by many people, including myself, to consider running for lieutenant governor,” Efstration said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had the kinds of opportunities that we do right now for additional influence in Atlanta.”

For his part, Shafer — who also addressed the chamber during the luncheon — was somewhat tight lipped about whether he would run for lieutenant governor next year. He would only offer a tease that something could happen in the next couple of weeks.

Although that is not quite a confirmation that he will announce plans to run for lieutenant governor, it’s not a denial that he’s considering it either.