Category: Georgia Politics

25
Oct

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

On October 25, 1774, the First Continental Congress addressed a petition to King George III raising concerns about the Coercive Acts passed by Parliament and asserting its loyalty to the monarch.

The wooden keel of USS Monitor was laid at Continental Iron Works at Greenpoint, New York on October 25, 1861.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the keynote address at a legislative luncheon in Valdosta on December 6th.

The partnership of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Valdosta, Valdosta North Rotary Club, Home Builders Association of South Georgia and Valdosta Board of Realtors host the annual state legislative lunch, Dec. 6, at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center.

“It’s really significant that Gov. Deal has chosen to come to Valdosta as we make preparations for the final legislative session of his governorship,” state Sen. Ellis Black said. “His presence here shows his concern for South Georgia and his commitment to rural Georgia as the agenda for the next legislation is developed.”

During his gubernatorial campaign, Deal listed as his four top priorities: public safety, education, transportation infrastructure improvements and finding a solution to the controversial issue of health care.

“Our chamber very much appreciates Gov. Deal coming to Valdosta to inform us of the activities and opportunities that the State of Georgia leaders are focusing on and supporting,” Chamber Chairman James McGahee said. “We want him to see what Valdosta is doing to attract new business and to grow existing business. We will have the opportunity to show the governor some of the areas we need the state’s support.”

Georgia Public Service Commission Chair Stan Wise (R-Cobb) wrote Governor Deal that he will resign before his term ends, giving the Governor an appointment to the five-member board.

In a letter to Deal on Oct. 17, Wise wrote: “My announcement was silent on whether I intend to serve out my current term. After careful thought, I have decided that early next year, I will resign, creating a vacancy mid-term.”

Wise told the governor he has “unfinished business” at the PSC. He said the commission has a “critical vote” in February as part of the body’s determination whether to continue or cancel the Plant Vogtle project.

“As an unabashed supporter of nuclear power,” Wise wrote, “I intend to be present for that vote and will resign shortly thereafter so that you may appoint my successor prior to the (candidate) qualifying period for the 2018 elections.”

Among the names being floated for Wise’s seat, which covers a stretch of territory west of metro Atlanta, are Republican activists Tricia Pridemore and Justin Tomczak. Political insiders have also said some Georgia state senators are looking at the race.

The skids are greased for a successor.

The DeKalb County Commission voted 6-1 to seek a legal way to remove an obelisk on the old courthouse grounds.

The resolution, approved on an 6-1 vote, orders the county’s attorneys to find a legal way to remove or relocate the 30-foot obelisk located outside the former county courthouse in Decatur.

State law prohibits such monuments from being “relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion,” but governments are allowed to take action to preserve or protect monuments. The resolution notes that the monument has been recently vandalized twice.

The county government will try to determine if it actually owns the monument, then explore how it can be moved.

The monument glorifies the Confederacy and says its soldiers “were of a covenant keeping race,” according to the resolution.

DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester cast the only vote against the resolution. She said monuments should be put in their historical context instead of being moved.

The Georgia Conservancy and other environmental groups are seeking more funds for parks and greenspace.

A coalition of environmental groups is pushing for the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act to land on state ballots in 2018. It would shift 75 percent of the existing sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to a conservation fund to purchase new parkland and improve existing greenspace.

The measure, House Bill 332, didn’t gain much traction during this year’s legislative session, but supporters hope to win over some high-profile allies. Robert Ramsay of the Georgia Conservancy met with Deal chief of staff Chris Riley on Tuesday to pitch the idea.

“It’s not a red or blue issue,” Ramsay said. “This would give the state new advantages because you’d have the ability to plan long-term to acquire this land. This would be a real game-changer.”

The governor, who is approaching his final legislative session in office, said through a spokeswoman he is “receptive” to the idea.

It would need two-thirds support in the Legislature and approval by a majority of voters to get baked into Georgia’s law. Ramsay said the new funding would finance land acquisitions, new roads and improvements for existing parks and matching funds for regional and local greenspace initiatives.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved 4 percent pay raises for county law enforcement workers.

Gwinnett County commissioners voted to give 4 percent raises to sworn police officers, sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers and E-911 communications officers. That is on top of a 3 percent market adjustment for eligible employees that was approved by commissioners.

“County employees went without a pay raise for four years during the recession,” County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said in a statement after the meeting. “While this board was able to reinstate increases starting in 2014 with a market adjustment and each year thereafter with annual raises tied to performance, a further adjustment is needed to address hiring and retention issues.

“Our competitors are granting pay increases, too, and frankly we have to keep up or risk losing talented employees to other agencies.”

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) won the Gwinnett County GOP straw poll for Lt. Governor with 56 percent of votes cast.

Alcohol sales is the hot issue in the upcoming Clermont municipal elections.

The town of about 1,000 residents with deep-rooted conservative values has resisted pressure in recent years from a few business owners who have been clamoring for Clermont to lift its ban on alcohol sales. They claim they can’t compete with other businesses that are able to sell alcohol throughout most of Hall County.

Fielding questions related to the controversial issue were incumbent Mayor James Nix and his challenger Steve Reeves; and Ward 4 council rivals Donna Reeves and James Castleberry Jr. Sharing the stage with them was Marcia Kesler, a former Clermont council member who is running uncontested for the Ward 3 seat.

“This is the hot topic,” Donna Reeves, who is married to Steve Reeves, said when asked about alcohol sales right off the bat. She said the same issue cropped up in Gainesville where she owns a restaurant along with a massage therapy establishment.

Donna Reeves and her husband said they were glad to see that the issue is being placed on the Nov. 7 ballot by way of a straw poll.

Everyone except Castleberry was OK with letting the residents decide the matter in the straw poll.

“My whole issue about beer and wine sales in Clermont has to do with the quality of life in Clermont,” Castleberry said. “This is where I live, this is where I hope my children and my grandchildren will live someday and I hope the generations after us will have a nice town to live in.”

Thunderbolt may lose its library branch, planned to close this week.

Last week, during a forum at Thunderbolt Town Hall, each candidate for mayor and Town Council vowed to fight for the library’s survival, with several of the candidates saying they would entertain opening a town-run library if other options are exhausted. Still, staff answering the phone at the library Tuesday said it will close this week. Plans are to relocate staff and reading material to Islands Library, about 2.8 miles away on Johnny Mercer Boulevard.

On Sept. 26, the Live Oak Public Libraries Regional Board, acting on recommendations from interim executive director Stephen Whigham, voted to close the branch out of concern the library system did not have the money to maintain the facility.

The town of Thunderbolt owns the property, something Live Oak’s legal counsel said during the board meeting meant the town was responsible for maintenance. In his report to the board, Whigham said the building was in need of an estimated $100,000-$200,000 in repairs, and that operating costs are roughly $147,000 each year.

“It’s the primary responsibility of the Board of Library Trustees to be conscientious of how our funding is spent throughout the library system,” board chair Charlotte Welch said in a prepared statement. “Our largest funding agent is Chatham County and its taxpayers, and we must make difficult decisions in order to best serve the community.”

Columbus police are targeting distracted driving for enforcement, according to The Ledger-Enquirer.

Police issued more than 102 citations Oct. 18 in three hours of patrolling between North Lumpkin and South Lumpkin roads. Of that, 29 were for distracted driving, which includes texting or manipulating a cellphone.

It was the third such operation since June 1.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is successfully raising money for his reelection campaign, according to the Brunswick News.

As the 2018 election cycle crests the horizon, the Pooler Republican is in an even more-secure position ahead of a contested general election effort in what is known as a safe Republican seat.

Carter raised more than $210,000 during the third quarter of 2017, besting his 2015 numbers by more than $32,000.

And despite spending slightly more during this cycle, the two years in-between were good for the Carter campaign coffers — he shows more than $793,000 on hand, besting the mark of more than $393,000 two years ago.

And, that happened while cutting his campaign debt from just over $500,000 in October 2015 to $250,000 today. The debt represents the hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal money Carter loaned to the campaign during his initial run for the seat in 2014.

The Banks County Commission voted to move forward with plans to place a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the ballot.

The commission acted on a formal request from the Development Authority of Banks County, whose members suggested the 1-cent sales tax would bring the county’s roads up to the level needed for sustained economic development and related residential growth.

Scott Ledford, chairman of the Development Authority of Banks County, told commissioners and those in the audience the proposed 1-cent tax would raise about $3 million per year over its five-year term.

If approved by the voters of Banks County, the current 7-cent sales tax would become 8 cents on each dollar purchased.

Tuesday night’s decision was to begin the process of getting the 1-cent LOST on an upcoming ballot so the voters of Banks County can decide the issue. During that process, there will be an education and public input phase where residents will have the opportunity to learn specifics of the proposed tax, its impact on Banks County households and individuals, and how the proceeds would be used by the county.

24
Oct

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

On October 24, 1733, the Georgia trustees ordered a ship to Rotterdam to pick up a group of Lutherans expelled from Salzburg, Austria, and then send the Salzburgers to Georgia.

On October 24, 1775, Lord John Murray Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia, ordered the British fleet to attack Norfolk, VA.

On October 24, 1790, the Rev. John Wesley wrote the last entry in his journal, which he began keeping on October 14, 1735.

The first American “Unknown Soldier” was chosen on October 24, 1921 in Chalons-sur-Marne, France.

Bearing the inscription “An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War,” the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

The Charter of the United Nations took effect on October 24, 1945.

On October 24, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged the United States’ support for the South Vietnam government led by President Ngo Dinh Diem.

On October 24, 1976, Newsweek released a poll showing Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter leading President Gerald Ford in 24 states, with a combined 308 electoral voters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Elaine Myers, who spent more years at the Georgia State Capitol than most legislators, has died.

The state Capitol is mourning the death of Elaine Myers, a longtime House employee.

The Sharpsburg resident retired from the General Assembly in 2014, but returned to work part time in the House majority leader’s office during the 2015 session. She then worked as one of the page desk supervisors in the 2016 session, but illness prevented her from returning to the page desk in the 2017 session.

Myers was diagnosed with ALS in February and died on Saturday. She was 73.

“Elaine Myers was an institution at the state capitol. She was a beacon of joy in an environment that can sometimes get caught up in political conflict and tension. She served this state with a cheerful heart and with grace,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed William J. Edgar as State Court Judge for Bacon County, replacing Judge Kenneth E. Futch, who resigned.

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Frank J. Jordan announced he will retire effective December 31, 2017.

Deal will appoint Jordan’s successor. If Jordan had remained in the judgeship, he would have been up for re-election in May.

Jordan, 70, said the decision to retire after a more than 45-year legal career was made after lengthy conversations with his wife, Pamela.

“My wife and I are both still working, and we have talked about this,” Jordan said. “The timing just felt right.”

Jordan said he is most proud of starting a drug court in Columbus 10 years ago. The accountability court allows those accused of drug-related offenses to enter counseling and rehabilitation programs with the goal to end the addiction.

He saw a drug court in action in 2002, while attending a conference in Reno, Nev. It took almost five years before he could, with the help of others in and out of the court system, activate such a court in Muscogee County.

The Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit serves Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot, and Taylor Counties.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), who chairs the House Transportation Committee, is turning his attention to transit funding.

At a panel discussion on mass transit in Georgia Monday, Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, said he’s “confident we’re going to see some good things happen” on mass transit – in part because the Peach State has the right political leadership. Among those he cited were some of his fellow panelists – state Sen. Brandon Beach, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and MARTA Board of Directors Chairman Robbie Ashe.

“We have the right group of people to take a giant leap forward when it comes to transit,” Tanner said during the discussion at the American Public Transportation Association exposition at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Tanner is in a better position than most to know what’s possible. He’s chairing the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, a group put together by Speaker David Ralston earlier this year. Its mission is clear from its title – to study how public transportation should be paid for, and what governing structures would be needed if the state were to devote regular funding to transit.

“If you’re going to be competitive for economic development in the future, if you want Amazon or companies like Amazon, you have to have transit,” he said.

State Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) will introduce legislation to preempt local governments from regulating short term rentals through services like AirBNB.

State Rep. Matt Dollar said since the industry is not going away, legislators need to define a statewide framework for how the businesses should operate.

Earlier this year, Dollar introduced legislation that would keep local governments from banning the short-term rental businesses.

Savannah already has restrictions in place for short-term rentals, which the city defines as renting a home for less than 30 days at a time. The regulations include, among other things, only allowing the rentals in certain parts of the city and ensuring that no more than 20 percent of the homes in areas such as the historic district are available for rent at a time.

As written, Dollar’s legislation would repeal the laws Savannah has in place.

“As this becomes a bigger issue, I believe that more locals are going to start putting forth guidelines, restrictions (or) bans,” the Republican said.

I’ve been predicting such legislation since at least July 20, 2017.

Steve Bannon came to Georgia to pitch his anti-establishment efforts to Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus.

A Home Depot co-founder who’s been one of the most prolific givers to Senate Republicans, Marcus fumed to Bannon for hours about the lack of return on his investment. In the past six months alone, Marcus has funneled $2 million to a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and tens of thousands more to the National Republican Senatorial Committee — only to watch the Senate fail again and again.

Marcus is thinking about joining Bannon. An adviser, Steve Hantler, said the billionaire intends to give his party until the end of the year to pass legislation and then would weigh his options.

“Like many donors, if the gridlock continues in Washington, Mr. Marcus will consider new approaches to breaking the gridlock, including those proposed by Steve Bannon and others,” he said.

Asked whether Marcus is open to funding primary challenges to Republican incumbents, Hantler responded: “You will have to draw your own conclusion.”

Georgia has seen the largest price decrease for gasoline as the delivery system recovers from hurricanes and disruption.

The average price per gallon of unleaded regular has fallen 29 cents to $2.38, compared to $2.67 cents in September, according to AAA. The price per gallon is eight cents cheaper than the national average of $2.46.

“The national average gas price is lower for the sixth straight week, the longest such decline since the summer of 2016,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, a technology company that tracks gas prices. “Perhaps even more wild is that the national average has now remained under $3 per gallon for nearly 3 years, or 1,087 days as the days of cheap oil have continued. While recent actions from OPEC may cause oil prices to hold above the key $50 per barrel level, there is no threat of a quick return to the $3 per gallon days. In fact, the national average may continue to decline for a few weeks before leveling off as gasoline inventories continue to heal after Harvey.”

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs recognized Perry as a PlanFirst Community, recognizing its efforts to develop and implement community planning.

Grantville City Council candidates met voters in a public forum last week.

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce is concerned with drug abuse and resulting crimes and their affect on economic development.

“We know — at least what I’ve heard from people in the community — is that much of the crime is to support drug issues, whether it be the use or the trade of drugs,” said Chamber CEO Brian Anderson.

It’s a big concern for the entire city, he explained, and could negatively impact efforts for more job creation.

“We just had a group of site selection consultants in town to kind of grade us on how we do in the economical development arena,” said Anderson. “… They gave us all good, high marks in many, many areas, and then turned around and basically said, ‘Your crime numbers, if anybody does research on your community based on what they can get off the Internet, you could get d-listed for projects because your crime number is so high.

“That was a wake-up call for the business community, that not only is this hurting families, hurting individuals, creating law enforcement and cost-to-city type of concerns, now we also know the numbers themselves could negatively impact our ability to recruit companies and more jobs to the community,” he said. “So we have to work on it if we’re going to be competitive.”

Anderson provided data that the Chamber collected as part of its Regional Prosperity Initiative, the precursor to Columbus 2025. The information was derived from FBI uniform crime reports for the year 2015.

“The overall crime rate in Columbus, GA is 79 percent higher than the average of crimes committed in Georgia,” according to the information. “It is also 113 percent higher than the national average. When it comes to violent crimes, Columbus, GA shows a crime rate that is 47 percent higher than the Georgia average. The crime rate is also 49 percent higher than the national average. When it comes to property crimes, Columbus, GA is shown to be 83 percent higher than the Georgia average and 123 percent higher than the national average.”

The Harris County Chamber of Commerce released its legislative priorities for 2018.

The five items on the 2018 State and Local Legislative Agenda are:

1. We support SB 232 – Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) – which would assist Harris County in its economic and workforce development efforts through enhanced broadband access for residents and businesses.

2. We support streamlining government regulatory processes and support incentives for companies investing in critical infrastructure upgrades.

3. We support increased funding for tourism marketing to make Georgia competitive with other southeastern states.

4. We support legislation and initiatives, such as HOPE, Move-On-When-Ready Apprenticeships, Georgia College & Career Academies and other efforts, that address early childhood, pre-K-12 and higher education to effectively prepare all students for the careers of the future and to provide a skilled workforce to support the region’s employers.

5. We support policies that increase the retention of Georgia’s post-secondary graduates and attract talent in high demand fields.

The AJC reports that DeKalb County is seeing slightly elevated early voting turnout.

As of Friday afternoon, the latest numbers available, 766 people had cast ballots in early voting. Early voting opened last Monday at select locations.

Erica Hamilton, who’s at the helm of the DeKalb elections office following the retirement of the director last month, described the numbers as more or less normal.

The reason for the slight uptick, she said, is that DeKalb is taking ballots for the DeKalb County portion of the city of Atlanta (about 10 percent of the city). Normally, Fulton County has been over the city’s entire elections, Hamilton said.

Mark Niesse at the AJC looks at the effects of proposed tax changes in DeKalb County.

Everyone in DeKalb County will pay higher sales taxes and lower property taxes if voters approve on Election Day. But the total cost of the tax proposals varies widely depending on where you live.

Some homeowners in cities will actually make money if the referendums pass. That’s because the property tax break is larger than the cost of the sales tax hike for those residents.

Meanwhile, most residents in unincorporated DeKalb would face higher costs. They would receive a smaller increase in their property tax refund after years of higher tax breaks than city residents.

On average, the tax proposals would cost roughly $80 to $100 per person annually to fund road repaving, fire station repairs and other infrastructure.

A new inland container port in Chatsworth could reduce the number of tractor-trailers on Georgia’s roads by as many as 50,000 per year.

A new inland port opening next year will take 50,000 trucks off the road in Atlanta annually, according to the state Port Authority. The port is expected to shift all that truck traffic to freight trains.

The Port of Savannah dispatches thousands of trucks throughout the state. Many of them use highways connecting Savannah to Atlanta and points north. The new port is expected to divert much of that truck traffic by sending freight on railroad lines from Savannah, through Atlanta and on to Chatsworth.

State officials say that freight will get dispatched by truck from Chatsworth, eliminating 50,000 trucks per year from Atlanta’s highways. Do the math, it comes to about six fewer trucks per hour on Atlanta highways.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is showing off a mobile telemedicine unit that could improve healthcare delivery across Georgia.

The Telehealth Education Delivered mobile unit stopped by the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta to show off telemedicine technology that the national VA is using to reach out to provide greater access, particularly through its 700 outpatient clinics. The Augusta VA has seen 2,500 telehealth visits in the last year, primarily through its community clinics in Athens, Aiken and Statesboro, said April Harris, facility telehealth coordinator. And it is looking to do more with what it calls clinical video telehealth, she said.

“We’re really looking to expand in our (video visits) into the home where veterans do not have to travel, do not have to come in, where it is more convenient, patient- and family-centered for the veteran,” Harris said. The provider back at the medical center has a camera and the VA provides patients with a tablet device to create the video link, she sad.

“Now it is more convenient because we are able to send a device into the home,” Harris said.

The technology can also be used to check on patients after a procedure. VA patient Robert Thompson of Augusta said he has not yet signed up for telehealth but is considering it and actually thinks it should have come sooner.

“We should have had this process a long time ago to save time and money,” he said. Thompson recently had stents placed in his heart and he would like to use telehealth to find out more about his condition.

23
Oct

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

On the Presidential campaign trail, Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrived in Atlanta on October 23, 1932, speaking to 10,000, and continued on to his “second home” at Warm Springs, Georgia.

smFDR Atlanta 1932

FDR campaigning in Atlanta and Georgia in 1932.

FDR Georgia

When he arrived at Warm Springs, FDR gave a short speech:

“Two more weeks to go. . . . First, let me say this: this old hat, a lot of you people have seen it before. It’s the same hat. But I don’t think it is going to last much longer after the 8th of November. I have a superstition about hats in campaigns, and I am going to wear it until midnight of the 8th of November. . . . Well, it’s fine to see, and I’m looking forward to coming down here for the usual Thanksgiving party at Warm Springs, and having a real old-fashioned Thanksgiving with my neighbors again. I thank you!”

On October 23, 1971, the Coca-Cola Company launched the advertising campaign “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 23, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Quote of the Week is a tough contest between former President Jimmy Carter and State Rep. Betty Price. Via The New York Times, Carter’s offering:

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter replied. “I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) certainly spiced-up an otherwise routine off-season House Study Committee meeting last week.

During a Tuesday study committee meeting, State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV epidemiology section, “Is there an ability, since I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread … Are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread?

“I don’t want to say the quarantine word — but I guess I just said it.”

Price immediately came under fire from Price’s comments drew rebukes from human rights and LGBTQ groups, with some calling for her immediate resignation.

“I made a provocative and rhetorical comment as part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context,” Price said in her statement. “I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients.”

“I do, however, wish to light a fire under all of us with responsibility in the public health arena – a fire that will result in resolve and commitment to ensure that all of our fellow citizens with HIV will receive, and adhere to, a treatment regimen that will enhance their quality of life and protect the health of the public.”

In 2015, only four states had more adults and adolescents living with HIV than Georgia, according to a fact sheet on the state’s Department of Public Health website. The total number of people living with HIV infection in Georgia on Dec. 31 of that year was 54,574, and nearly two-thirds of them lived in the Atlanta metro area.

Conyers voters give high marks to experimental voting machines in use for local elections as a pilot program.

With the system being used in the pilot program, called the ExpressVote Universal Voting System, voters are issued a paper ballot that they insert into a touch-screen voting machine, prints their choices onto the ballot.

Voters can then review their selections on the paper ballot before inserting it into a tabulation machine, which scans the ballots and secures them in a locked box. If there’s a mistake, the voter is issued a new ballot.

“Our voters are spoiled now,” Cynthia Welch, supervisor of elections in Rockdale County, said in an interview on Thursday after four days of voting. “My poll workers and my voters are saying, ‘Do we have to go back to the old system next year?’ And my answer is, ‘Yes, unfortunately, we will have to go back.’

“It’s like test driving a new car for a whole week. You get used to it and then you have to take it back,” she added.

Georgia is likely still years away from replacing its voting machines. Lawmakers last overhauled the state’s election system in 2002 when they agreed to spend $54 million on what is called direct recording electronic equipment, which is what voters now see at the polls.

“As the existing system approaches the end of its life-cycle, it is appropriate to start exploring future options,” said Jared Thomas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office.

It would likely cost more than $100 million to buy a new system, train officials in all 159 counties and securely dispose of the now 15-year-old equipment, Thomas said.

Candidates for House District 117 and 119 in the Athens area will be at a forum tonight at the Athens-Clarke County Library, 2025 Baxter Street in Athens.

Three Republicans and one Democratic candidate are in the running to fill the unexpired term of Chuck Williams in House District 119, which spans parts of Clarke and Oconee counties.

One Democrat and one Republican are in the running to replace Regina Quick in District 117, which includes parts of Oconee, Clarke, Barrow and Jackson counties.

Quick and Williams, both Republicans, resigned from their seats this fall — Quick after she was appointed to a vacant Superior Court judgeship by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and Williams after being tapped to become director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

In Monday’s forum, first up will be the two District 117 candidates — Republican Houston Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez. After a 15-minute intermission beginning at 6:45 p.m., the four District 119 candidates will make their cases. They are Democrat software engineer and entrepreneur Jonathan Wallace, and three Republicans — funeral home owner Tom Lord, homebuilder Marcus Wiedower and communications executive Steven Strickland.

The University of Georgia College Republicans endorsed Houston Gaines for HD 117.

“Gaines’ youth and energy present a unique perspective and will contribute a fresh voice to the Georgia General Assembly,” the release reads. “His invaluable experience in the public sector and dedication to the people of the 117th District make him exceptionally qualified to be their next state representative.”

Chairman of UGACR Ben Grayson added his thoughts on Gaines to the press release.

“Houston has been a long-time friend of the UGA College Republicans, and he is a champion for higher education,” Grayson said. “We proudly support his candidacy, and we encourage everyone in the district to do the same.”

Other elections in Athens-Clarke County include a countywide T-SPLOST.

Early voting has started for the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which is slated to raise $109.5 million for transportation and infrastructure improvements in Athens over the course of five years if approved.

The referendum, if successful, would add an additional 1 percent to the sales tax in Athens and fund 19 projects chosen by the Athens-Clarke County Commission and a TSPLOST Citizen Advisory Committee.

The collection of the TSPLOST tax would begin on April 1, 2018, if approved, and would bring the sales tax in Athens-Clarke County up to 8 percent.

Voters will decide the fate of the tax during the Nov. 7 election.

Registered voters in Athens can cast their ballots in advance on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the ACC Board of Elections on 155 E. Washington St. Early voting polls will also be open Saturday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the same location.

Watkinsville and Winterville also host contested elections for City Council.

Early voting ends Nov. 3.

The Marietta Daily Journal looks at the three candidates for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission.

Political veterans Robb Pitts, Gabriel Sterling and Keisha Waites are battling for the District 7 (chair) seat on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in the Nov. 7 special election. They seek to replace incumbent John Eaves, who resigned in August to run for Atlanta mayor. The District 7 post is countywide.

Pitts, a Buckhead resident and Democrat, is running for the chair’s seat for the second time in three years.

Pitts said his top three issues are property taxes, transportation improvements and criminal justice reform. He said his political experience, including as Atlanta council president, is one reason he stands out as a candidate.

Sterling, a Sandy Springs resident and Republican, is the District 4 Sandy Springs City Council member, a post he has held since being elected in 2011 and reelected two years later. But as far back as 1990, Sterling has volunteered or worked on several political campaigns. In 2005, he negotiated for the new city of Sandy Springs with the county on assets being transferred from Fulton to the new city.

“With nearly all of Fulton County being incorporated into one of 15 cities, we have to reinvent the role of the county,” Sterling said. “It is an amazing opportunity. When we launched Sandy Springs we had a clean sheet. The next chair needs to be someone not tied to the dysfunctional functioning of Fulton’s past. I want to introduce innovative ideas to better run the county at lower costs to taxpayers.”

He said his top three issues are to protect homeowners from skyrocketing property tax assessments, reform Fulton government and partner with cities and neighboring governments to bring traffic relief.

Waites, a southwest Atlanta resident (Sylvan Hills community) and Democrat, served as the District 60 Georgia House of Representatives member from her 2012 election until resigning in September to run for this seat. She previously unsuccessfully ran for a Fulton commission district seat in 2010 and for county chair in 2006.

“As a homeowner and small business owner, I know firsthand the experiences and difficulties that taxpayers are facing with respect to navigating a flawed system,” Waites said of why she’s running this year.

Seven Gwinnett County municipalities agreed with the county on how to divide revenues from the 2017 SPLOST.

Senator David Perdue (R) introduced the Promoting Responsible Oversight of Transactions and Examinations of Credit Technology Act of 2017 (PROTECT Act).

National security freezes of protected consumers’ files and credit records would also be allowed under the legislation.

By the end of the decade, credit reporting agencies would also be barred from using Social Security numbers as a way to identify someone under the bill, which is also referred to as the PROTECT Act. The bill comes in the wake of a data breach at Equifax.

“In today’s economy, technology and banking are intertwined,” Perdue said in a statement. “It’s critical the credit bureaus and federal agencies that collect sensitive consumer data store this information properly. If not, the consequence could be severe as we’ve just seen.

“Millions of Americans were recently impacted by a massive cybersecurity breach at one of our nation’s largest credit bureaus. We cannot afford for something like this to happen again. These simple steps will protect Americans’ credit history and they should’ve been in place long ago.”

Lineman Car Tag

A new car tag honors utility line workers and raises funds for the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation.

“It is your shoulders that we all stand on,” [Fran] Forehand, vice president of the East Region office for Georgia Power, said Wednesday. “I could not be more proud of the utility work that you do every single day on behalf of us.”

“One of our contract lineman had received a burn and was treated at this center in Augusta,” Forehand said during the special tribute to the workers at the burn foundation.“During storms you get out of bed, you leave your families and you hope and pray that they’re going to be okay for the sake of others, and I can’t think of any other selfless act than that.”

The plate was part of a two year effort that led to House Bill 260. The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), carried in the Senate by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in May.

“Those are the kinds of things that we like to do because it puts a lot of emphasis and attention on those men and women that work across the state and put their lives on the line every day and night just like the firemen, EMS and police officiers,” Gooch said Wednesday. “You’re the first responders that come out in the middle of the night after a storm. While everyone else runs for shelter you and all of our other first responders run into the danger.”

All proceeds from the plate will benefit the foundation in Augusta to provide assistance to burn patients and their families at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctor’s Hospital. Electric Cities of Georgia, Georgia EMC and Georgia Power worked together on the new license plate.

The City of Milton says that a council member misused a public email list for his fundraiser.

The incumbent running in a contested race on the Milton City Council used a database of emails collected as part of the city’s veterans memorial recognition program to inform those residents about an upcoming fundraiser for his re-election campaign. That’s according to the city of Milton, which sounded the alarm late Thursday evening to residents.

Bill Lusk, who is running for an additional four-year term for the District 2, Post 1 seat, is in hot water after he used personal emails provided for the city’s annual veterans marker program — an initiative he’s been instrumental in promoting — to inform residents about the fundraiser he was hosting in his bid to defeat challenger Laura Bentley.

In a statement emailed Friday afternoon, Lusk said the distribution was an “honest oversight on my part resulting from my efforts” with the program.

“I began that program more than 10 years ago, solely at my expense,” he said. “Over time, some people applied to the city of Milton for inclusion in the program. The city forwarded those applications to me. I contacted the applicants during the course of fabricating the crosses and as a result, accumulated email addresses which I included in my contacts. I used my complete contact list to send out invitations to my campaign events. I did not use a city email list. I have removed all applicable names from my contact list.”

For its part, the city in its message sent Thursday said that it’s taken “immediate steps” to inform program participants of the situation and to “ensure that these email addresses will no longer be used for any purpose other than for their intended purpose.”

A Sandy Springs Council candidate has rescinded a claim of a third-party endorsement.

One of two women running for the District 4 seat on the Sandy Springs City Council has retracted a quote she claimed was provided the Georgia Stonewall Democrats in the organization’s endorsement of her campaign.

In a press release issued last week, Le’Dor Milteer claimed Stonewall Democrats Secretary Juliana Illari said the following about her bid to win the Nov. 7 election:

“Le’Dor’s commitment to LGBTQ equality is clear, she is running a diverse campaign that is leading the way on addressing issues facing all residents in Sandy Springs, and has a passion for serving her community. Le’Dor will be an ally to the LGBTQ community in Sandy Springs.”

The problem? Illari said that statement was not provided to Milteer’s campaign when it announced its endorsements for the upcoming municipal elections. With this in mind, the organization asked the candidate’s campaign to rescind their initial press release and send out a new announcement.

“There were no individual quotes given,” Illari told Patch.

Steen Kirby of Bold Blue Campaigns, which is working with Milteer on her bid for the City Council, said the candidate “did not have anything to do with” the quote that appeared in her press release.

Kirby notes an “inexperienced staffer,” brought on as a volunteer with the campaign, compiled the information — including the quote — and distributed the news in a form of a press release. The issue, Kirby states, has been dealt with and that volunteer will no longer be in charge of the communications component of Milteer’s campaign.

Despite the fabricated quote’s circulation, Kirby reiterated that the Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement of Milteer remains valid and that Milteer is proud of the organization’s support of her campaign.

Representatives Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) and Karen Handel (R-Roswell) spoke to the MDJ about the possibility of passenger rail from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

U.S. Reps. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville and Karen Handel, R-Roswell, weighed in on the latest study by the Federal Railroad Association concerning a proposed $8.76 billion high-speed rail service from Atlanta to Chattanooga.

Loudermilk said he’s been aware of the idea since his days in the Statehouse when they considered using maglev technology. He said it wasn’t financially viable at the time.

Loudermilk was far more positive about the idea of placing passenger cars on the CSX line, as state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-west Cobb, has suggested.

“That is more viable. (State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) actually proposed that when I was in the Statehouse, and the rail line is already there. It’s already used. At the time, we were talking about a line from maybe Kennesaw into Atlanta. I thought that was a good idea, at least worth studying because that’s something I would have used at the time going to the state Capitol. Instead of leaving the house at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to beat the traffic, I could get to Kennesaw and read legislation on the way down instead of having to drive. And also you’re talking about a portion of the cost because it’s already there.”

Handel said she knew very little about the Atlanta to Chattanooga proposal, but questioned whether it would do that much to ease congestion.

“What we do have to do is really rethink where we are in the metro region and how we can move forward, and I take my lead on what’s going to happen from a transportation standpoint from the local governments. My job is to be a partner to them when they have come to the conclusion — with input from the citizens — about ‘the what,’ and then I’m the partner on ‘the how.’”

Augusta-area officials are stepping up their monitoring of opioid-related overdoses.

Sgt. Joel Danko, with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division, said overdoses from opioids that are cut with drugs have increased from 45 over the first 10 months in both 2015 and 2016 to 63 so far this year.

“I can’t say if these people all survived but there are already 18 more (overdoses) and this is only October,” Danko said.

The Richmond County Coroner’s Office averaged 20 deaths in relation to drug overdose. A portion of those deaths are a result of a newly introduced drug known as U-47700, coroner Mark Bowen said.

“It seems to me like we’re getting them just about every week,” Bowen said. “It’s more than it has been in the past and it makes it so much harder to have to sit down and tell family members that they’ve lost a loved one to drugs.”

Staff Sgt. Michael Williamson, with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, reported 14 arrests in 2014 and 2015, five in 2016, and 14 to date in relation to heroin cases.

“It might come up a little this year but if you go further than that you’d see we didn’t have it for so long so yes, it’s coming back,” Williams said. “So we’re monitoring the traffic of the drug and making the appropriate arrests.”

20
Oct

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

General James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, signed a treaty with the Spanish government of Florida on October 22, 1736.

USS Constitution, named by President George Washington, was launched in Boston Harbor on October 21, 1791.

During the War of 1812, the Constitution won its enduring nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British warship Guerriére in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shots merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. The success of the Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous morale boost for the young American republic.

Today, Constitution serves as a museum ship, and has sailed under her own power as recently as 2012. Southern live oak, harvested and milled on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a primary construction material for Constitution.

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 22, 1832, the Cherokee Land Lottery began in Milledgeville, with more than 200,000 Georgians competing for 53,309 lots of land.

Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation on October 22, 1887 that increased the number of justices on the Georgia Supreme Court from 3 to 5.

President Grover Cleveland arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States and International Exposition on October 22, 1895.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina.

President Warren G. Harding spoke in Alabama on October 21, 1921, and publicly condemned the practice of lynching.

Harding was a progressive Republican politician who advocated full civil rights for African Americans and suffrage for women. He supported the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill in 1920. As a presidential candidate that year, he gained support for his views on women’s suffrage, but faced intense opposition on civil rights for blacks. The 1920s was a period of intense racism in the American South, characterized by frequent lynchings. In fact, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 21, 1976, Billy Carter spoke to an audience in Albany, Georgia, about his brother’s campaign for President.

On his brother Jimmy’s drinking habits, Billy said, “Jimmy used to drink liquor. Now he’s running for president he drinks Scotch, and I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” Billy preferred the alcohol choice of his brother’s running mate, Walter Mondale – “I liked him the best of all the ones who came to Plains. He’s from a small town and he’s a beer drinker.”

Today, Billy Carter’s service station is preserved as a museum in Plains, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

On October 22, 1991, the Braves played Minnesota in the first World Series game in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves won the first game of the 1995 World Series on October 21, 1995, as Greg Maddux dominated the Cleveland Indians, allowing only two hits. Native American groups protested the names of both teams.

The Atlanta Braves won Game 2 of the 1995 World Series, beating Cleveland 4-3, on October 22, 1995.

Georgia artist Howard Finster died on October 22, 2001.

Emory University Library has acquired nine letters hand-written by Barack Obama dating to 1982-84.

Hall County will celebrate its 200th anniversary next year.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump invited 7-year old Dalton resident Mackenzie Koger and her family to tour the White House.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read Mackenzie’s letter during the daily press briefing, inviting the 7-year-old and her family for a personal tour of the White House, lunch at the Navy Mess and to meet Trump — if he’s in town.

“She was just blown away,” Laura Koger said of her daughter, adding she checked her out of school so they could watch the briefing together. “You could just see it. Mouth dropped, she stood still and watched it. She said ‘Momma, we get to go!’ I said ‘We get to go!’ I think me and her both were equally excited. I just love it.”

Mackenzie wrote the letter “because I wanted to tell President Trump how much I appreciate him.” When she listened to Huckabee Sanders read the letter, Mackenzie said “I just thought it was amazing.”

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) read to pre-K students on Thursday.

Congressman Rick Allen had pre-kindergarten students at The Childcare Network on Wrightsboro Road in the mood for food and reading Thursday morning.

The Augusta native read “The Very Hungry Catepillar” to students and talked about their favorite fruits and vegetables— after all, Allen serves on the House Committee on Agriculture.

Last week was Pre-K Week in the state of Georgia, marking the 25th birthday of the state’s early learning program. Georgia’s Pre-K program has helped put nearly 1.6 million children on track to read at grade level by the end of third grade, and achieve academic excellence and future success.

“By the time you finish the third grade, if you’re not reading at or above a third grade level, it’s likely you’re not going to graduate from high school,” Allen told the students.

Conyers voters will have more hours for early voting using proposed new voting machines.

Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch said her office is extending hours, 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., the last two days of the early voting period. Extended hours will be available on Thursday, Nov. 2, and Friday, Nov. 3, to attract more voters to use the new machines Rockdale is piloting for the state of Georgia.

Welch said 96 voters had cast ballots in person, while 16 ballots had been issued by mail.

Rockdale was selected to pilot the Voter Express machines to gauge how well a small pool of voters could navigate the new system, said Welch, who projects a 12 percent turnout for Conyers elections. The new system allows voters to review a printed ballot before it is then placed in a tabulator. If a voter makes a mistake on a selection, he or she may turn in the ballot, receive a new one and start over.

Early voting for the Conyers elections is only available at 1400 Parker Road.

To confirm voter registration and for more information, Rockdale voters may call 770-278-7333.

Georgia Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) writes about state revenues and expenses in the Savannah Morning News. Here are a couple tidbits.

With revenues reaching $2.1 billion for September, the state returned to positive territory with a 3.1 percent increase. Individual income taxes grew 3.6 percent for the month and net sales taxes grew 3 percent. Corporate income taxes were up 8.8 percent and title ad valorem taxes were down -11.3 percent. Title and tag fees were up slightly at 0.4 percent.

Motor fuel taxes were up 3.9 percent with impact fees negative at -15.7 percent, but hotel/motel fees were up 3.9 percent. Altogether, taxes and fees dedicated to transportation were up $6.3 million or 3.82 percent. Tobacco taxes were negative at -4.5 percent and alcoholic beverage taxes grew 3.6 percent.

After three months of the FY 2018 fiscal year, state revenues have taken in $5.5 billion, showing an increase of $171.4 million ahead of the same three months last year with a percentage growth of 3.2 percent. Compared to the budget passed this March, the state is $44.6 million ahead in collections to this point.

Savannah’s port is the largest trading partner of the Panama Canal and has had some 20 post-Panamax ships call on the port. Savannah’s port is the No. 1 port in the country for the number of ship calls per week. The port handles 8.2 percent of the total U.S. containerized cargo and 10.5 percent of the total U.S. containerized exports.

Warner Robins City Council candidates spoke to the Macon Telegraph.

Cartersville City Council candidates spoke to WBHF Radio.

Port Wentworth City Council candidates addressed a forum sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce.

Thunderbolt voters heard from eleven candidates for Mayor and City Council.

The Red & Black looks at campaign contributions in local State House special election campaigns.

As for the District 117’s candidates, Republican Houston Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, have reported their campaign contributions. Both were required to report contributions to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission in July.

In Gaines’ corner, there is a contribution total of $66,136.33 supports his efforts, whereas Gonzalez’s total rests at $7,451.25.

Gaines’ support comes from donors both within Athens beyond.

He has received donations from University of Georgia professors, the assistant Athletic Director of marketing for the Georgia Athletic Association John Bateman Jr., Vice President of Student Affairs Victor Wilson and Athens Mayor Nancy Denson.

Beyond that, Edward John Flythe, the Superior Court Judge in Augusta has donated to Gaines campaign, as well as Paul Amos, the president of Aflac.

The majority of Gonzalez’s donors tend to remain in Athens, with support coming from UGA professors and locals.

Gwinnett County Transit buses will feature wi-fi after the commission approved spending $318k on installation.

The DeKalb County Republican Party will host Lt. Gov. candidate David Shafer at their October breakfast at Wright’s Gourmet tomorrow from 8:30 to 10 AM. On Sunday the DeKalb GOP will host a fundraiser for Rep. Karen Handel.

Look, Up In the Sky!

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will perform at the Wings over North Georgia air show in Rome this weekend.

The unit has a decidedly Peach State flavor this year.

Cmdr. Frank Weisser USN, a native of Atlanta, pilots Blue Angel Five, the lead solo; and Lt. Tyler Davies USN of Kennesaw, pilots Blue Angel Six, the other solo performer.

Maj. Mark Montgomery of Cartersville, USMC, pilots the C-130 ‘Fat Albert’ airlift craft; however, it will not be in Rome this year, having been grounded as part of the investigation into the crash of a similar aircraft that took the lives of 16 Marines in Mississippi in July.

The Blue Angels support squad includes four other Georgians, including AD1 Shane Miller from Woodbine, AM2 Demaude Prescott from Atlanta, AM1 Daniel Yater from Dacula and AM2 Michael McDuffie from Blackshear.

19
Oct

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

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781,  ending the American Revolution.

On October 19, 1790, Lyman Hall, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, died in Burke County, GA. Hall was elected Governor of Georgia in 1783, holding the position for one year, and was an early advocate for the chartering of the University of Georgia.

On October 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. The House passed the King holiday bill, sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), by a vote of 338-90 in August. President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation on November 3, 1983.

Gwinnett County will host the Ninth Annual Frontier Faire this Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Fort Daniel Historic Monument, 2505 Braselton Highway in Buford.

The faire is staged each year by the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society.

“You get a chance to see archaeology, or the rediscovery of history, in action,” Frontier Faire publicity official Eli Stancel said. “It’s more than just a sign on the side of the road. You actually get to touch and feel, and see how we go through the process of discovering things.”

This year’s event will feature a special ribbon cutting — or more likely a “rope cutting” to be more true to the period — that will be held at 10 a.m., on the spot where the original gate for the War of 1812 era fort was located.

Fort Daniel, which sat on Hog Mountain, predated Gwinnett County by about four years and became the staging ground for a road that went to another fort at Standing Peachtree, known as Fort Peachtree. That road, according to officials from the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Society, was the original Peachtree Road.

The opening of the replica gate marks the second year in a row that the faire has included the opening for some new feature for the site. Last year’s event featured the opening of the blacksmith’s shop, which is now fully operational and will be open for this year’s festival.

In addition to the ribbon (or rope) cutting, this weekend’s Frontier Faire will also feature many of the event’s traditional hallmarks, such as opportunities for attendees to participate in archaeological excavations, War of 1812 reenactors giving flintlock musket demonstrations, presentations by local members of the Sons of the American Revolution, frontier life demonstrations and Native American food preparation and hominy demonstrations.

Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge J. Wade Padgett received an award from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council for his book on the history of the circuit.

The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council selected Padgett’s book, “From Court in the Wilderness to Court in the Metropolis: A History of the Augusta Judicial Circuit,” as this year’s recipient for the award. Padgett is to receive the award at a ceremony in Morrow, Ga.

“When I was sworn in as a Superior Court judge, Judge (Bernard) Mulherin gave me a ‘scroll’ with the names of all the judges who had served as Superior Court judges since 1870. I was flattered to be among that number,” and it sparked his interest to learn about those who preceded him on the bench, Padgett wrote in an email.

Padgett started in 2012 with his research from newspaper archives at the Georgia Archives in Atlanta. He focused his project on developing biographical descriptions for every judge, clerk and prosecutor for the Superior, State, Civil and Magistrate, Probate and Juvenile courts in the Augusta Judicial Circuit, which is composed of Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voter registration for federal elections must remain open until no fewer than 30 days before an election, even for runoffs, under a federal court decree.

A federal judge says Georgia cannot close voter registration for any federal election, including runoff contests, more than 30 days before the election.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten in May ordered the registration deadline extended to 30 days before the June runoff election. The consent decree filed Tuesday applies that to all federal elections and runoffs.

Liberty Plaza across from the Georgia State Capitol will be reworked under an RFQ issued this week.

The plan is to demolish a parking deck and utility bridge located between Liberty Plaza and the Downtown Connector and replace those structures with an extension of Capitol Square to the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, according to an RFQ released by the Georgia State Financing & Investment Commission (GSFIC).

The extension may create a four-lane street with two lanes in each direction and sidewalk improvements along the east edge of Liberty Plaza. Other upgrades to existing intersections at the site would include traffic signals, crosswalks and pedestrian refuge islands.

The main purpose of the project is to provide an alternate route around Liberty Plaza, allowing traffic to be routed around the plaza during large events when Capitol Police may want to close Capitol Avenue.

Kennesaw State University President Sam Olens came under pressure from a local State Representative and the Cobb County Sheriff, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.Continue Reading..

18
Oct

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

The Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania from Maryland was established on October 18, 1767.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human chattel. This period, which historians consider the era of “The New Republic,” drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed.

On October 18, 1867, the United States took over Alaska from Russia and ran up Old Glory there for the first time.

Separated from the far eastern edge of the Russian empire by only the narrow Bering Strait, the Russians had been the first Europeans to significantly explore and develop Alaska.

Seeing the giant Alaska territory as a chance to cheaply expand the size of the nation, William H. Seward, President Andrew Johnson‘s secretary of state, moved to arrange the purchase of Alaska. Agreeing to pay a mere $7 million for some 591,000 square miles of land-a territory twice the size of Texas and equal to nearly a fifth of the continental United States-Seward secured the purchase of Alaska at the ridiculously low rate of less than 2¢ an acre.

On October 18, 1870, Rockdale and McDuffie Counties were created when Georgia Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating them.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) will kick off his campaign for Lieutenant Governor this Sunday from 2-4 PM at the Atlanta Coliseum, (formerly Wild Bill’s). Click here to R.s.v.p.

Shafer Campaign Kick Off Website

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Virginia Pryor as Interim Director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, as current Director Bobby Cagle will leave the post.

“We have no greater responsibility than caring for Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Deal. “It is imperative that we work to ensure that each child is safe and has the best possible opportunity for a good life. Virginia Pryor has been a longtime advocate for the wellbeing of children and she has already played a vital role in the administration of DFCS. I am confident that she will serve our state well as interim director. I am grateful for Director Cagle’s efforts as he helped move DFCS forward in a number of ways while protecting the interests of many young Georgians. I wish him well in his next endeavor to serve Los Angeles County.”

Former Georgia Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller will no longer appear in public, according to the AJC Political Insider.

The 85-year-old former Georgia governor and U.S. senator, though frail, rests comfortably in the rock house on Miller Street that his widowed mother built in the mountain town of Young Harris. Shirley Miller, his wife of 63 years, is there — as always.

But his family has declared that the former governor’s public life is at an end. There will be no more speeches, no more appearances. Visitations are restricted to close family members.

“Zell is not experiencing a lot of the tremors, but he is experiencing the cognitive symptoms that are associated with this type of Parkinson’s,” said grandson Bryan Miller, who heads up the Miller Institute – a public policy and leadership organization intended to carry on the legacy of the governor who gave Georgia the HOPE scholarship and pre-k education.

The Miller Institute is now handling all of Governor Miller’s official business, and on Tuesday sent along these thoughts from Shirley Miller:

“We want other families with loved ones suffering from Parkinson’s to know they are not alone,” said Georgia’s former first lady. “We understand the daily challenges that are associated with a disease that has no cure. In times like these, we lean on our faith and believe that there is no challenge too great that we cannot overcome with God’s grace.”

Hall County is in the early stages of considering a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

A change to state law means Hall County became eligible to create a local sales tax of up to 1 percent to fund transportation projects in addition to existing special purpose local option sales taxes.

A five-year TSPLOST could be spent on resurfacing, rights of way, utility relocation, road, sidewalk and bike path construction, public transit and airports, drainage, patching and shoulder work, culvert repair and stormwater management. The tax revenue could also be used to pay down debt related to any of the other uses.

If commissioners support the idea, the county would be one of nine counties considering the tax. Athens has a popular vote set on a TSPLOST for November, and Bulloch County has a vote in May.

Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala said Tuesday that the county has 12 to 16 months of work ahead of it if commissioners hope to get a referendum on the ballot. The earliest a vote could occur is 2018, if not 2019, he said.

“The county is not looking at any solid referendum date. There’s a lot of additional (work) that needs to happen between now and when the board wants to take that route,” Yamala said. “… The county and cities at some point need to come to the table and see if this is something that we even want to consider (doing).”

Gainesville Police are working to deploy drones.

“I believe the goal for the department is to have one officer on shift that will have the ability to deploy it where it’s needed,” [Gainesville Police Department Officer Doug] Whiddon said.

The Federal Aviation Administration certified Whiddon as a small unmanned aircraft flyer at the beginning of October, as the department is in its infancy with unmanned aircraft.

Whiddon said its main function will be for personnel safety, but it has enormous potential in terms of search-and-rescue missions.

“Missing children and things of that nature, we’re able to put this in the air quickly and see a greater distance,” Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said.

The drone can be airborne in four minutes, a fraction of the time to get a boat in Lake Lanier or walking out in Chicopee.

“Obviously we’re going to be very careful with flying over residential type airspace in terms of privacy, but in general, unless we’re near a controlled airspace … if it’s Class G [airspace], it’s fair game,” Whiddon said.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash endorsed Republican Matt Reeves for Senate in District 48.

Reeves’ campaign announced that Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash endorsed the political newcomer Sunday during a fundraiser at Sugarloaf Country Club. Nash was listed as a headliner at the fundraiser.

“Nash expressed to Reeves’ Sugarloaf and Peachtree Ridge area supporters the need to have a proven, local leader who understands the issues important to Gwinnett like Matt Reeves at the State Capitol to continue to move our community forward,” the campaign said in a statement.

Reeves also announced he had picked up endorsements from Johns Creek City Councilman Jay Lin, Gwinnett County Solicitor General Rosanna Szabo, Duluth City Councilman Greg Whitlock, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, state reps. Brooks Coleman and Scott Hilton and former state Sen. Dan Moody.

The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and Muscogee County Superior Court decision on whether a retirement community qualifies for a property tax exemption.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts.

“We are still trying to study the opinion and get a grip on what will happen next,” said Randy Lomax, an attorney for the Board of Tax Assessors. “It is not over.”

Though it is not over, it was the first battle victory recorded in the ongoing legal war for the Board of Tax Assessors in its bid to get the property on the city tax rolls.

Andrew A. Rothschild, who represents the Medical Center Hospital Authority, agreed that the case is not over. Though the Supreme Court appeared to send the case back to the Appeals Court, Rothschild in a prepared statement said it would be removed back to Muscogee County Superior Court.

“The Georgia Supreme Court has returned the case to the Superior Court for additional findings,” Rothschild said. “The Georgia Supreme Court has absolutely not ruled that any property taxes are owed by the Medical Center Hospital Authority. We are firm in our position on this matter, and it would be unwise to comment further on this pending litigation.”

Superior Court Judge Art Smith ruled in favor of the Hospital Authority, stating that its “property interest in the facilities and improvements constituting Spring Harbor qualifies as public property, and therefore, it is exempt from ad valorem property taxation,” according to the news release from the Supreme Court. Specifically, the trial court ruled that, “the validity of Plaintiff Hospital Authority’s property interest in Spring Harbor under the ground lease, and the validity of the ground lease itself, has been established by the Superior Court of Muscogee County in two separate bond validation orders, one in 2004 and another in 2007.”

Eric Thomas has been chosen as the top candidate for Chief Turnaround Officer for the Georgia Department of Education.

They were interviewing in downtown Atlanta because of House Bill 338, which passed along bipartisan lines during this year’s legislative session. Gov. Nathan Deal readily signed it, after backing the bill as a comeback from a political miscalculation. Last year, he hoped voters would let him create a statewide “Opportunity School District” with authority to take over schools deemed “chronically failing,” but they rejected his constitutional amendment in November, preferring to keep schools under local control.

HB 338 requires a more collaborative approach, though school districts could still lose control of schools that do not improve. That puts the turnaround chief in a delicate position, as both the person targeting schools for state intervention and an ally coaching them to improve enough to avoid that fate.

Thomas, is chief support officer of the University of Virginia’s turnaround program, and works with schools across the country.

People who interviewed him said he possessed a winning combination of expertise and the ability to articulate a vision to different audiences.

Glynn County Commissioners heard a proposal for ferry service between St Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

The Glynn County Board of Elections announced the hiring of Monica Couch as Director of Elections.

Dalton State College students heard from local candidates in a public forum.

Macon-Bibb County will hire Troutman Sanders to advise the county on a proposed sales tax referendum to rollback property tax millage rates and freeze property tax values.

Commissioners are proposing the new tax after the millage rate increased 3-mills this year. The amount of revenue taken in from the local option sales tax would determine the extent of the property tax rollback.

“In looking for ways to provide additional property tax relief to its citizens, the Macon-Bibb County Commission is interested in learning more about the legal requirements for implementing (the new sales tax) in Macon-Bibb County,” the resolution said.

The County Commission would still need to request that state legislators OK a tax referendum, which would go before Bibb voters in November 2018.

The new tax would go into effect in 2019, and a millage rate rollback would occur in 2020.

17
Oct

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

Five thousand British and Hessian troops surrendered to patriot militia on October 17, 1777, ending the Second Battle of Saratoga, and leading to France recognizing American independence and sending military aid.

An editorial published pseudononymously by Alexander Hamilton on October 17, 1796, accused Thomas Jefferson, then a Presidential candidate, of having an affair with a slave.

Happy birthday to the Texas Rangers, created on October 17, 1835.

In the midst of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed a semi-official force of armed men who would defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana’s soldiers and hostile Indians; the Texas Rangers filled this role. But after winning their revolutionary war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Rangers, both to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier.

Paul Anderson, known as the “World’s Strongest Man,” was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17, 1932. From his New York Times obituary:

As the unknown substitute for the injured American champion at the first Soviet-American dual athletic competition, in Moscow in 1955, the 5-foot-9-inch Anderson was scorned by his hosts.

The scorn turned to snickers when Anderson called for a weight of 402.4 pounds, more than 20 pounds above the world record. The snickers stopped when the 340-pound Anderson lifted the weight. By the time he set another record, in the clean and jerk, he was being hailed by Soviet fans.

The stunning achievement at the height of the Cold War made Anderson an instant American hero, and it was largely an anticlimax when he set three more world records at the world championships in Munich, Germany, later that year.

Although virtually conceded the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Anderson was stricken with a severe inner-ear infection.

Competing at 304 pounds and with a 103-degree fever, he fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt he asked God for a little extra help and got it.

“It wasn’t making a bargain,” he said later, “I needed help.”

Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa is a private park supported by a 501(c)(3) organization.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County will extend voting by one hour on November 7.

The Fulton County Superior Court has granted a petition filed by the county to extend Election Day voting by one hour at its polls. The petition was filed by the Fulton County Attorney’s Office on behalf of the county’s Board of Registration and Elections.

The petition allows the county to match the voting time frame provided to the city of Atlanta for its municipal elections, meaning all county polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron said the office requested to change the hours of operations in an effort to have all polls open and close on a consistent basis.

New voting machines being demoed in Conyers made it through the first day of early voting.

More than a dozen voters have used new paper-ballot voting machines in Conyers with no reported problems, the first step of a new pilot program to test the machines in Georgia.

“It’s fair to say we’re excited to get the ball rolling and partner with a good elections office and give voters a preview of what the future of voting may look like,” said Chris Harvey, Georgia’s elections director.

The National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia dedicated a memorial to the Global War on Terrorism.

Gen. John Abizaid, a retired four-star general who was the longest serving commander of the U.S. Central Command and directed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a driving force behind the planning and fundraising for the $2 million memorial.

“How fitting that this living memorial is dedicated here at Fort Benning and in the city of Columbus, where for so many years so many of these soldiers have ventured forth to fight our nation’s wars,” Abizaid said. “Some of us have seen the carnage of war and understand how devastating the cost can be. Yet all of us understand that our freedoms are not free and the courage, commitment and dedication are necessary to secure the common good.”

Abizaid asked a profound question Monday during his keynote address at the dedication, which was attended by about 3,000 people, many of them uniformed Fort Benning soldiers.

“What would our country be without such men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation?” the general asked. “All of us can answer in different ways, for we are citizens of a nation that admires diversity of thought, thrives on individual freedoms, that seeks many answers for even the most simple of problems. Yet all of us must admit, except for those who fight for such rights, none of us could expect to enjoy them.”

The detail in the memorial, which is in a plaza on the side of the National Infantry Museum, is what struck many on Monday. It incorporates a piece of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

The Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by two Cartersville doctors to the state’s Certificate of Need program.

The high court held that the Certificate of Need (CON) law serves a legitimate state interest in ensuring that health care services are distributed reasonably and economically. It also said the law does not violate the Georgia Constitution’s “Anti-Competitive Contracts Clause.”

The court upheld rulings by a Fulton County judge who first refused to dismiss the case on the administrative appeals grounds, then several months later tossed it, ruling that the law is not unconstitutional.

As detailed in court filings and Melton’s order, the case began in 2014, when Drs. Hugo Ribot Jr. and Malcolm Barfield wanted to add a second operating room to their business, which does business as Georgia Advanced Surgery Center for Women in Cartersville.

Georgia’s CON law, first passed in 1979, requires hospitals and certain other medical providers to obtain the clearance before opening a new facility, expanding or adding certain medical equipment.

The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief, asking that the CON law be declared unconstitutional, arguing that it restrained competition and limited patient choice.

But the center’s claims that the CON law violates the due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions and the state’s Anti-Competitive Contracts clause “are without merit,” Melton wrote.

From the AJC:

“Georgia’s certificate of need laws play a critical role in ensuring access to quality care, including emergency services, for all Georgians by providing for a statewide distribution of hospitals and other medical facilities,” said Monty Veazey, the president and CEO of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

Disclosure: I work on communications issues for the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

A Georgia Senate Study Committee met in Augusta yesterday to discuss how to increase the number of health care providers in Georgia.

With a lack of health care providers in Georgia, the state could increase access by turning out more advanced practice nurses and using them in more innovative ways, a Georgia Senate Study Committee heard Monday. But the state’s physician association is still strongly opposed to nurses doing more, a resistance that may finally be overcome in the next legislative session, a key state senator said.

The Senate Study Committee on Barriers to Georgians’ Access to Adequate Healthcare held a session at Augusta University to hear about the role of advanced practice nurses in the state in meeting many of those gaps of care and where more could be done.

Medical Association of Georgia opposes expanding their scope of practice and one member said it is for the good of the patients, particularly the rural patients he sees.

“These patients are very complex,” said Dr. Scott Bohlke of Brooklet, Ga., a past president of the group. “We want the best care for these patients and I think a team approach (with the nurse practitioner) is the best way to do it.”

But Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, chair of the study committee and chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, was not buying it.

“If you want to provide care to more people, why don’t you allow the people who are taught and educated to practice at their highest level?” she said. “If you have more people practicing medicine, then it allows more access to care. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.”

The College of Nursing also has a proposal, in concert with Medical College of Georgia, to take highly trained nurse practitioners and train them alongside Emergency Medicine residents and also provide training in telemedicine. Those nurse practitioners could then staff rural Emergency Departments with the ability to consult by telemedicine with colleagues in Emergency Medicine when needed, said Dr. Beth NeSmith, chair of the Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing.

The project is looking for $260,000 to fund a pilot program but projects it could save a hospital $500,000, NeSmith said. She is hoping the legislature will take a look at it.

“That’s a great suggestion,” Unterman said.

“Rural hospitals in Georgia really struggle to provide urgent and emergent care to the citizens they serve,” NeSmith said.

Sixteen thousand Northwest Georgia residents buy their health insurance through the federal exchange.

More than 3,500 Floyd County residents buy their insurance through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Another 12,800 are enrolled in the six surrounding Northwest Georgia counties of Chattooga, Polk, Bartow, Gordon, Catoosa and Walker.

President Donald Trump announced last week that he would stop making key subsidy payments to insurers — although the full effect on the 2018 ACA coverage that starts Nov. 1 remains unclear.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgen’s office has approved rate hikes of more than 50 percent for three of the state’s four insurers, in anticipation of losing the CSR payments, Georgia Health News is reporting. Kaiser Foundation Health sought a 30-percent increase but officials there are now weighing their options.

Southern Company sold several local natural gas companies in New Jersey for $1.7 billion.

A surveyor has been ordered to testify in a border dispute between Macon-Bibb County and Monroe County.

Sprint will provide wireless internet to 500 students in Richmond County public schools.

The school system is among 118 school districts to receive devices from Sprint to assist high school students in need of internet access in their homes. Fort the next five years, students who lack access will receive a free tablet device and wireless service as part of 1Million.

Sprint created the initiative to help close the homework gap by providing 1 million free devices and wireless service to high school students. Richmond County was selected as one of three school systems statewide and is expected to receive up to 600 devices.

“All high schools in the county were submitted on the basis of need,” said James Lunsford, the district’s director of information and technology . “So if they don’t have internet at home or a computer at home Sprint will accommodate (the need).”

The Augusta Commission is working on a 2018 budget that includes raises for some law enforcement officers.

Several commissioners reported they heard a radio promotion several times over the last few days in which a spokesman describes the heavy workload and low salaries endured by sheriff’s deputies, followed by a demand that Jackson include the raises in the budget.

Commissioner Marion Williams said the radio spot admonishes “the administrator” to “do the right thing” by including the raises.

[Sheriff Richard] Roundtree pitched two plans for increasing his staff’s pay in August. One cost $2.8 million, gives all certified and sworn deputies 10 percent raises and increases a starting deputy’s salary from $34,629 to $40,292. A second option costs $2.7 million and gives most certified personnel eight percent raises, with a starting salary of $39,500.

The City of Valdosta held its second annual Affordable Housing Summit and Town Hall.

Charlie Daniels Band will play the Macon Auditorium on March 22, 2018.

Candidates for Dalton City Council and Board of Education discussed diversity issues at a candidate forum.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics now make up 47.9 percent of the city’s population and blacks 8 percent of the population. And several questions at the forum — hosted by the Concerned Citizens of Dalton, the Coalition of Latino Leaders, the Dalton-Whitfield NAACP and the Woman’s Community Club — focused on how candidates in the Nov. 7 races for the board of education and City Council would help the city deal with this diversity.

Savannah City Alderman Van Johnson proposed reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

On Monday, Alderman Van Johnson announced his intention to reduce the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It is his intention, Johnson said, to present an ordinance within 45 days to the Savannah City Council to eliminate jail time and and reduce the maximum fine from $1,000 to $150 for those caught with less than one ounce of marijuana in the city limits. He proposed that 20 percent of the fines collected be earmarked to offset the cost of drug treatment for those who seek it.

The proposal does not minimize the fact that marijuana is still illegal in Georgia and does not decriminalize it, which is not allowed under the state law, Johnson said.

“It’s still illegal and will remain illegal,” he said. “The question is how it is handled locally.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he is open to discussing the proposal with Johnson and the rest of the council, but that his support for the change would depend on the recommendation of local law enforcement officials such as the police chief, sheriff and district attorney.

“I do trust their judgment,” DeLoach said.

16
Oct

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

The Pennsylvania Gazette published a criticism against the British Tea Act on October 16, 1773.

The Tea Act of 1773 was a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny. In response, the “Philadelphia Resolutions” called the British tax upon America unfair and said that it introduced “arbitrary government and slavery” upon the American citizens. The resolutions urged all Americans to oppose the British tax and stated that anyone who transported, sold or consumed the taxed tea would be considered “an enemy to his country.”

On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for Congress, spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and called the practice of slavery “immoral.”

Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans in Illinois and attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He denounced members of the Democratic Party for backing a law that “assumes there can be moral right in the enslaving of one man by another.” He believed that the law went against the founding American principle that “all men are created equal.”

On October 16, 1918, visitors to the Southeastern Fair at the Lakewood Fairgrounds were required by the Georgia State Board of Health to don face masks in order to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

Maynard Jackson was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 16, 1973. Jackson was the first African-Amercian Mayor of Atlanta; he served eight years, and was elected for a third, non-consecutive term in 1990.

On October 16, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned in Youngstown, Ohio.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the opening of early voting in some municipalities in Georgia. Click here to find early voting information for your county.

Conyers voters will cast their ballots on new machines that create a paper trail.Continue Reading..

13
Oct

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

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

On October 14, 1735, John and Charles Wesley sailed with James Oglethorpe from Gravesend, England, for Georgiaand John Wesley wrote the first entry in his journal that would eventually cover 55 years. On that date, John Wesley wrote,

Our end in leaving our native country, was not to avoid want, (God having given us plenty of temporal blessings,) nor to gain the dung or dross of riches or honour; but singly this, to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God.

The First Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Colonial Rights in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1774.

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capitol, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

On October 13, 1870, Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Education.

On October 13, 1885, Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation authorizing the creation of a state school of technology as a branch of the University of Georgia; the school would open in Atlanta in October 1888, and in 1948 was renamed the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Then-former President Theodore Roosevelt was shot before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912.

Roosevelt, who suffered only a flesh wound from the attack, went on to deliver his scheduled speech with the bullet still in his body. After a few words, the former “Rough Rider” pulled the torn and bloodstained manuscript from his breast pocket and declared, “You see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose.” He spoke for nearly an hour and then was rushed to the hospital.

On October 13, 1918, the ban on public gatherings in Atlanta to prevent spread of the Spanish flu, was extended an additional week.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution took effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

The War Department renamed Wellston Air Depot to Warner Robins Air Force Depot to honor Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins on October 14, 1942.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming Georgia’s first native-born winner.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

On December 13, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter received a post-debate bump against President Gerald Ford, with polls showing Carter at 50%-40% over the incumbent, up from 47%-45% before the debate.

On October 14, 1980, Republican candidate for President Ronald Reagan announced he would name a woman to the Supreme Court if elected.

To achieve those ends, we need the best people possible at the highest levels of Government regardless of sex, race or religion. I am also acutely aware, however, that within the guidelines of excellence, appointments can carry enormous symbolic significance. This permits us to guide by example, to show how deep our commitment is and to give meaning to what we profess.

One way I intend to live up to that commitment is to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court. I am announcing today that one of the first Supreme Court vacancies in my administration will be filled by the most qualified woman I can find, one who meets the high standards I will demand for all my appointments.

It is time for a woman to sit among our highest jurists. I will also seek out women to appoint to other Federal courts in an effort to bring about a better balance on the Federal bench.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990.

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

On October 15, 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to Georgia to support Gov. Nathan Deal’s reelection.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has ordered flags on state properties to be flown at half-staff today in honor of United States Army Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright of Lyons, Georgia, who lost his life in the service of our country on October 4, 2017.

Gov. Deal said in Savannah that the federal government should step up with more funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

“We need the federal government to step up and do their share of what it takes to deepen our harbor,” Deal told about 1,400 people as he introduced the Georgia Ports Authority’s chief executive to give his annual “State of the Ports” speech. Deal said the state wants “more money from the federal government to go ahead and allow us to complete this project in a timely fashion.”

Deal’s renewed plea for federal dollars — he made similar statements when President Barack Obama was in office — comes after a year of explosive growth at the Port of Savannah, the nation’s fourth-busiest seaport for metal containers used to ship retail goods from consumer electronics to frozen chickens.

Trump’s request of $50 million for the Savannah project is about 17 percent more than Obama secured in his last budget. But [Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff] Lynch said he fears delays starting in 2019 if the project doesn’t see a substantial funding increase.

“We’re going to need $80 to $100 million (annually) or we’re going to start having shortfalls,” Lynch said.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue criticized allowing able-bodied people to receive food stamps.

Speaking at the WSJ Global Food Forum on Tuesday, Mr. Perdue said that relying on food stamps has become a “lifestyle” for some able-bodied adults.

“We want the people who need the help to get it,” said Mr. Perdue, adding that the benefit shouldn’t be “the whole enchilada” of a family’s food security.

He suggested that enrollment in the program would fall if individuals who are able to work are restricted from using it.

State Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) has resigned from his job at the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce to start a new job as executive director of the North Fulton Community Improvement District.

Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones is accused of bullying by a political opponent.

Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones is standing behind a politically charged Facebook post he called “exposure” of two candidates running for city council, prompting one to say she felt bullied by him.

The post, which has since been removed from Jones’ Facebook page, accuses incumbent Vickie Cook and candidate Deborah Fisher of “teaming up,” to unseat the historical swing vote on the council, Sylvia Martin, who is also seeking re-election. There are two open seats on the four-member council.

Fisher expressed disappointment and surprise at the comment in an email Thursday and said she has never been bullied, but felt she was now. Fisher said she has no connection with Cook and has only met Jones at a city council meeting and at Tuesday’s candidate forum.

Candidates for Braselton Town Council Post 4 agree that public safety should be a focus.

“There’s not a lot of patrol at night,” said Robert Clark. “And we’ve had a lot of issues with theft of trucks … and a lot of kids have been vandalizing.”

“I’m definitely for more cops and (a bigger) budget for the police station. If we can tax some of these bigger companies coming in, it’ll really help out and maybe we can spend that (extra revenue) toward patrols and safety.”

Hardy Johnson said that “when you have growth, crimes rates naturally increase, and we want to create an environment in Braselton where you can live, work and play.”

“It’s important to support the police department. They need adequate training, adequate equipment (and) adequate staffing levels.”

The Macon Telegraph writes about early voting in Middle Georgia municipal elections.

Early voting begins Monday in several Middle Georgia cities holding elections.

It will run Monday through Friday until Nov. 3 at each location. The election is Nov. 7.

In Warner Robins, which has contested races for mayor and two council seats on the ballot, early voting will be at City Hall at 700 Watson Blvd. in the pre-council meeting room, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Early voting also begins Monday for Thomas County voters.

In Thomas County, folks in Boston, Barwick, Coolidge, Meigs, Ochlocknee, Pavo, and Thomasville all have an important decision to make, who will be the next leaders in their community.

Folks in Boston, Barwick, Coolidge, and Meigs are voting for council members and mayor.

Ochlocknee, Pavo, and Thomasville residents are voting for several new council members.

Ringgold voters may begin casting early ballots for City Council on Monday

The Rome News-Tribune profiles candidates for the Rome Board of Education.

The Valdosta Board of Education is considering a solar proposal.

The three possible solar-array locations presented were at Pinevale Elementary, the Transportation Center and at the new Valdosta High School. However, Dr. Todd Cason, superintendent, said the location at the new high school was most likely not an option but the other two locations would be considered.

Radiance Solar’s proposed 840-kilowatt solar array at Pinevale would provide VCS $16,800 each year during the 25-year lease. Connell said the STEM students at Pinevale could benefit academically from the solar array.

“I think it would be a wonderful learning opportunity for the children of the school to see solar working right there at their school,” Connell said.

The 2.4-megawatt solar array recommendation at the Transportation Center would provide VCS with $50,000 each year during the 25-year lease, Connell said.

12
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 12, 2016

Former Confederate President Alexander Stephens was released from federal prison on October 12, 1865 and returned to Georgia.

1929 UGA vs Yale Tix

The first game in Sanford Stadium was played on October 12, 1929, with the University of Georgia Bulldogs beating the Yale Bulldogs. Here is ten minutes of the game.

1929_Georgia_vs_Yale

On October 12, 1958, The Temple was bombed after a phone call to WSB warned that Black churches and Jewish temples would be blown up.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order naming a commission to review charges against Snellville Mayor Tom Witts and yesterday suspended Witts from office.

Gov. Deal lauded Gwinnett County’s water management programs.Continue Reading..