Category: Georgia Politics


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

The Trustees of the Georgia colony learned on April 17, 1737 that Spain had 4000 soliders and two warships in Havana, Cuba and was planning on invading Georgia or South Carolina. Thus began the rivalry between then-Spanish occupied Florida and Georgia. Floridians would have to wait until after the 1873 invention of blue jeans by Levi Strauss to develop their modern uniform of jean shorts.

On April 17, 1944, a fifteen-year old Martin Luther King, Jr., a junior at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, traveled to Dublin, Georgia to give a speech in a contest sponsored by the local black Elks club. During the bus ride to Dublin, King and his teacher had to give up their seats to white riders and stand for much of the ride. King won the contest, delivering his oration, “The Negro and the Constitution.”

On April 17, 1950, the United States Supreme Court dismissed South v. Peters, a complaint against Georgia’s County Unit System of elections.

Each county is allotted a number of unit votes, ranging from six for the eight most populous counties, to two for most of the counties. The candidate who receives the highest popular vote in the county is awarded the appropriate number of unit votes. Appellants, residents of the most populous county in the State, contend that their votes and those of all other voters in that county have on the average but one-tenth the weight of those in the other counties. Urging that this amounts to an unconstitutional discrimination against them, appellants brought this suit to restrain adherence to the statute in the forthcoming Democratic Party primary for United States Senator, Governor and other state offices. The court below dismissed appellants’ petition. We affirm.

On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang debuted at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. The world has been a better, if somewhat louder, place ever since.

The Gwinnett Daily Post looks at contributions by Gwinnettians to the WWI effort.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump must have Georgia on his mind. After tweeting Friday about greeting Atlanta first responders, he tweeted last night:

Trump KS GA Tweet

President Trump will address the National Rifle Association convention on April 28, 2017 in Atlanta.

Trump’s appearance at the show will mark the first time a sitting president has appeared at the event since Ronald Reagan.

The NRA was one of the few mainstream organizations to endorse Trump for president. The group’s leaders named Trump over other Republican candidates during primary elections at last year’s meeting. The group would go on to spend more than $30 million last year supporting the billionaire businessman’s campaign.

At last year’s NRA convention, Trump vowed to abolish gun-free zones. Yet, this year there’s been growing support in Congress for measures that would allow for national carry reciprocity and silencer deregulation.

Trump will appear alongside other political leaders and speakers at the organization’s Leadership Forum on April 27 during the NRA convention in Atlanta.

Candidates in the Sixth District kicked out all the jams this weekend in their quest for votes.

As yet another sign that the race continues to attract national attention, actor Samuel L. Jackson has recorded a radio ad, urging people to vote for a Democrat in the 6th district, a district that has been held by Republicans since 1978.

On the GOP side, Karen Giorno, a former senior advisor for the Donald Trump campaign, is making her second day of appearances with Bob Gray, a former Johns Creek city councilman who is battling for a runoff spot with another Republican, Karen Handel.

Karen Handel, who, along with Gray, are vying for the No. 2 spot behind Ossoff, also picked up a national endorsement late last week. Maggie’s List, a federal political action committee dedicated to electing conservative women to federal office, endorsed Georgia’s former secretary of state.

Handel has also been endorsed by dozens of mostly local elected officials, as well as former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Low-polling GOP contender Amy Kremer was endorsed last week by national conservative talk show host Sean Hannity and Katrina Pierson, a former spokesperson and top aide to President Trump.

“Listen, you have been a champion out there hitting the pavement for all these years,” Hannity said. “It’s people like you that I’d love to see in Congress and think you would do a great job … I hope you win!”

“I fully support and endorse my friend Amy Kremer in her bid for Congress,” Pierson said. “Everyone claims to be #teamtrump but I know who actually was!”

More on the Samuel L. Jackson radio ad, from The Hill:

“Your vote goes a long way towards setting things right in this country. Vote for the Democratic Party. Stop Donald Trump, the man who encourages racial and religious discrimination and sexism,” Jackson says in the ad, which was created by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

“Remember what happened the last time people stayed home: we got stuck with Trump.”

Jackson calls on voters to “channel the great vengeance and furious anger” they have for Trump — referencing Ezekiel 25:17, the Bible passage his “Pulp Fiction” character recites multiple times in the film.

Note that Ezekiel 25:17 doesn’t actually say quite what the Pulp Fiction script says it does.

Former President Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro came to Georgia to campaign for Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Castro is backing Jon Ossoff, the leading Democratic candidate to fill the seat of former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who became the Trump administration’s secretary of Health and Human Services.

Castro, who also served as a mayor of San Antonio, Texas, before joining the Obama administration, greeted volunteers at Ossoff’s office on Saturday as Democrats try to flip the red seat.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich recorded a robocall for Judson Hill.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made a late push for Republican Judson Hill in the race to represent a suburban Atlanta district, declaring in a robo-call sent to thousands of voters that the former state senator the “only one who has proven he will fight for us.”

Gingrich endorsed Hill weeks ago, but this is the first time he’s been deployed in robo-calls for the campaign.

“If we’re going to seize on this opportunity to move America in a bold new direction and reverse the last eight years of decline,” he said, “we must vote for the only person with the proven record who can defeat Nancy Pelosi’s candidate, Jon Ossoff.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio also boosted Judson Hill’s campaign with a robocall.

Rubio, who easily won the suburban Atlanta district in last year’s primrary, endorsed Hill in early March but the robo-call sent to thousands of household on Monday was his most public intervention in the race.

“He can provide the leadership we need to defeat radical terror and repeal and replace Obamacare,” Rubio said in the recording. “Judson is the only trusted conservative in the race.”

The Georgia Republican Party will hold a press conference today at 1 PM outside of the American Legion 201 Building, 201 Wills Road in Alpharetta, with veterans who oppose Jon Ossoff.

From Patricia Murphy, writing for The Daily Beast,

“It’s crazy, it’s a true jungle primary,” said Kerwin Swint, the chair of the political science department at Kennesaw State University, which sits just beyond the district’s current lines. “This is one of the headaches behind the way that Georgia does special elections, but it’s usually not this complex and it’s presenting some difficulties Republicans clearly didn’t anticipate.”

Chip Lake, a longtime Republican consultant in Georgia, described Ossoff’s fundraising as an alarming possible glimpse into the future for Republican candidates in a Trump era.

“I’ve been in this business for over 25 years and I have never seen anything like what Job Ossoff has been able to do,” Lake said. “That doesn’t mean he can win, but he is a shoe-in to make the runoff and two or three weeks ago we were worried he could get to 50 percent. They say money can’t buy you love, but it can buy a lot of votes.”

“Democrats see an opportunity. They’ve galvanized, they’ve organized, they’ve raised a ton of money, they’re going all out,” Kennesaw State’s Kerwin Swint said. “But just looking at the numbers, if Ossoff doesn’t win Tuesday, I just don’t see how he can win. What are you going to do, bus a lot of people in from California?”

“We really are in no-man’s land when it comes to campaigns and elections at the federal level,” Lake said. “Any Republican would be lying to you if they told you they weren’t deeply concerned about the damage Donald Trump could cause our party over the four years he’s in office.”

 A Pro-Trump SuperPAC is targeting Republican Bob Gray in the special election.

The 45 Committee — founded by GOP mega-donors Sheldon Adelson and Todd Ricketts — is hitting Republican Bob Gray in a new ad for his endorsement from the Club for Growth, which opposed the House GOP’s healthcare bill that Trump embraced.

“The D.C. special interest group Club for Growth is spending big to prop up Bob Gray’s failing campaign,” the ad’s narrator says. “More government-run healthcare, spending and gridlock.”

“If Bob Gray stands with the Club for Growth, how can we trust him to fight for us?”

Club for Growth vocally opposed Trump during the 2016 presidential election and joined other conservative groups in opposition to the House GOP’s healthcare bill, arguing it didn’t go far enough and offered new government entitlements. The American Health Care Act ended up getting pulled from a House floor vote after the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party took issue with parts of the legislation.

The Club for Growth has also gotten involved in Tuesday’s special election, attacking former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel for being a “career politician.”

Early voting numbers are in, though the vote results will not be counted until election night.

[T]he split between those pulling GOP ballots and those pulling Democratic ballots is a tie until the second decimal: 33.89 percent requested a Republican ballot and 33.81 percent requested a Democratic one.

74.1 percent — Nearly three out of every four early voters is white. That has outpaced the district, since only 66 percent of its registered voters are white.

11.5 percent — Millennials only make up about one-ninth of early voters, despite accounting for about one-quarter of the district’s electorate. Voters we call baby boomers plus, those age 52 and older, make up nearly 67 percent of those casting early ballots — even though they only make up about 42 percent of the district’s registered voters.

State Senate District 32 candidates are profiled by the AJC:

Of the eight Senate candidates, three are physicians: Democrat Bob Wiskind and Republicans Roy Daniels and Kay Kirkpatrick.

Along with Gus Makris, a Republican and tax attorney, Wiskind, Daniels and Kirkpatrick round out the top fundraisers in the race and dwarf the other competition. This is no coincidence.

The Senate candidates are focusing on health care at the state level. After Republicans in the U.S. House failed to agree on a repeal and replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, the attention turned to the future of insurance exchanges in the state and potential changes to Georgia’s Medicaid program.

Nearly 4000 acres of federal land could cross the auction block if legislation passes Congress.

Thirty parcels of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest would be sold if a bill from Georgia lawmakers introduced this legislative session clears Congress.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, have restarted a years-old effort to sell 30 isolated parcels of the forest, almost 4,000 acres of federal land spotting the area around the national forest in Northeast Georgia, to willing buyers.

Legislation from the lawmakers would require the U.S. Forest Service to use any cash from property sales to purchase more appropriate land in or around the existing national forest, which proponents argue make the land sale a wash for the Georgia-Tennessee forest.

Most of the tracts identified for the potential sale are fewer than 100 acres — specks compared to the 867,510 acres of national forest in Georgia.

Hall County voters have approved seven Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes over the last 32 years.

A Hall County official says he’s confident voters will continue to back a revenue-generating 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax, commonly known as SPLOST.

Today, approaching the midway mark of SPLOST VII approved by voters in 2015, Tim Sims — the SPLOST and purchasing manager for the county — said Hall officials will soon start discussing needs and the prospect of pursuing the next penny-per-dollar sales tax as early as 2019. By his calculations, Sims predicts that if voters continue to vote for the sale tax, the county could top $1 billion in SPLOST revenues by 2030.

Hall County has a 7 percent sales tax, same as 107 of Georgia’s 159 counties, according to the state Department of Revenue. The sales tax includes the state’s fixed 4 percent sales tax and 1 cent each for an added local option tax, the county SPLOST and education SPLOST.

Another 45 counties have an 8 percent sales tax because they’ve added another penny per dollar for transportation, DOR data shows. The remaining counties have a 6 percent sales tax.

April is Lineman Appreciation Month and the General Assembly recently passed legislation creating a new license plate to honor linemen.

This year, Lineman Appreciation Month is particularly meaningful. During the 2017 legislative session, Georgia lawmakers passed House Bill 260, a legislation that creates a specialty vehicle license plate to honor linemen.

Proceeds from the plates will benefit the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, which provides assistance to families of burn patients at the JMS Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. An event will be held late this summer to reveal the new license plate.

The notion of lineman appreciation began several years ago as a national one-day celebration. However, over time, Georgia utilities expanded the celebration to take place over the course of one month rather than one day. Doing so allows electric membership cooperatives (EMCs), Electric Cities of Georgia, Georgia Power, MEAG Power and municipal systems to celebrate within their local communities at a date and time suitable for each provider.


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

On April 15, 1741, the Georgia colony was divided into two counties – Savannah County and Frederica County.


The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.

On April 15, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress issued “Rules and Regulations,” which would serve as an interim state Constitution until the Constitution of 1777 was adopted.

On April 15, 1783, the United States Congress ratified a preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain, which was signed in November 1782.

George Washington, recently elected President, left his Mount Vernon home on April 16, 1789 for his inauguration in New York.

“I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.”

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House; Lincoln survived nine hours before dying the next day.

On April 16, 1865, Columbus, Georgia fell to Union forces. The Battle of Columbus is widely considered to be the last battle of the Civil War. Though it is not unanimously held to be, a 1935 Act of the Georgia General Assembly declared it the war’s last battle.

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”

“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”

“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”

“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”

RMS Titanic sunk at 2:20 AM on April 15,1912.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw his first no-hitter on April 16, 1940 against the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park.

Jackie Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, became the first African-American professional baseball player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson scored the winning run in that game.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Augusta, Georgia on a campaign stop this week in 1964.

He came with Gov. Carl Sanders, an Augusta native, as well as U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge, an influential state leader.

Johnson’s national election over Republican Barry Goldwater appeared certain, and a week later he would easily trounce the Arizona Republican.

Lyndon Johnson, however, would not carry Richmond County on Election Day 1964, and he probably got a hint of things to come during his speech before a crowd gathered in front of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

He was heckled.

At least four times during a routine stump speech, calls from the crowd interrupted the former vice president who had taken office less than a year before with John Kennedy’s assassination.

“We want Barry!” people would shout.

Johnson didn’t carry The Peach State because he had become unpopular among whites in the Deep South for his civil rights initiatives, according to Merle Black, an Emory University professor who has spoken and written on Southern politics over the years.

Black recalled the Augusta incident in his 1992 book The Vital South: How Presidents Are Elected, which he wrote with Earl Black. He also described Johnson gaining the crowd’s support with the anecdote about his earlier abuse by hostile crowds.

“Earl Black and I wrote in The Vital South that, ‘There was no more booing from the young Goldwaterites after he finished his story,’” Merle Black wrote in an e-mail from Atlanta. “President Johnson’s leadership in passage of the civil rights bill was the main reason he lost Georgia that year.”

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1965. On April 16, 2006, a new, larger portrait of Dr. King was unveiled in the Georgia State Capitol.

The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed on April 15, 1966 to assist and honor Confederate veterans. One of its most well-known projects was the “Lion of the Confederacy” memorial in Oakland Cemetery.

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.

By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus

A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.

On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and intellectuals in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, mourned the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaoban, considered a liberal reformer.

DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta and known for playing Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Star Trek series, was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 15, 1992.

On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.

Three years ago today, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.

Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves David Justice and Greg Maddux, who were both born on this date in 1966.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Trump I_85 Responders

President Trump met yesterday with representatives of the first responders to the I-85 bridge fire and collapse.Continue Reading..


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

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

On April 13, 1861, Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter after 33 hours of bombardment by Confederates.

At the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, a restored F-100D Super Sabre was unveiled yesterday.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections


President Trump will host an Oval Office meeting and commend first responders to the I-85 bridge collapse today.

The White House said the president will host a group of 15 officers from the Atlanta Police, the city Fire Rescue Department and the Georgia State Patrol for a 30-minute Oval Office meeting beginning at 2 p.m. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will also be there.

Trump plans to praise the group for ensuring there were no deaths from the March 30 collapse, which occurred during rush hour.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is offering a $3.1 million dollar bonus for early completion of the I-85 bridge rebuild.

David Perdue I85

Senator David Perdue toured the construction sight where the I-85 bridge is being repaired yesterday.

“I am grateful that no Georgians were injured during the I-85 bridge collapse,” said Senator Perdue. “A special thank you goes out to our first responders for their swift action to protect everyone in the vicinity of the incident. After surveying the damage first hand on the ground, I am confident we will continue to work closely to coordinate our state and federal entities to get I-85 up and running again as soon as humanly possible.”

“It’s really great to have you here today, Senator, pledging your federal support, and all the help that you’ve afforded Georgia is just outstanding,” said [Georgia DOT] Commissioner [Russell] McMurry. “From President Trump to Secretary Chao to you and our whole delegation, everyone has been so helpful throughout this process. It’s been really important since we are all hands on deck to get this interstate open as soon as possible.”


Fourteen million dollars is the current running total for ad spending in the Sixth District.

An analysis of the advertising obtained by the AJC shows the biggest spender by far is Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former Congressional aide who is eyeing a historic upset in next week’s vote.

His campaign has spent more than $5.3 million on radio, TV and cable ads since late February. He can afford it: He’s raised more than $8.3 million and spent the bulk of it on advertisements introducing himself, vowing he’ll stand up to Donald Trump and countering attack ads.

No Republican candidate can match his financial firepower, though Dan Moody came the closest. One of 11 GOP contenders in the race, the former state senator pumped about $2 million into campaign ads, including spots with an endorsement from Sen. David Perdue and an attack on GOP rival Karen Handel.

Other GOP contenders trailed in ad spending. Judson Hill spent nearly $400,000 on ads – including a recent one that also targeted Handel – and Bob Gray has pumped another $240,000 into cable and broadcast spots. Handel, who leads the GOP field in most polls, has spent less than $100,000 on ads.

Two major outside groups have provided two of the candidates with a major boost. Club for Growth, which backs Gray, has spent roughly $500,000. And Ending Spending, a super PAC that endorsed Handel, reserved more than $700,000 in ads – and said it expects the spend about $1.5 million through Tuesday.

California liberals donating to Jon Ossoff star in one of the best pieces I’ve read about Georgia’s Sixth District from The Mercury News in San Jose, California.

California political donors disgusted with President Donald Trump have found an unlikely standard bearer: a 30-year-old Georgia congressional candidate with no electoral experience.

“Right now, there isn’t a whole lot we can do,” said Amy Rao, a Palo Alto tech executive who last year hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, just months after inviting then-President Barack Obama into her home for a Democratic fundraiser. “This is one of those things that’s very tangible, that could have a tremendous impact, because every seat matters if we can win it.”

Rao gave Ossoff $1,000 after reading about him on Facebook. She said she thought social media was the key to his financial success: She shared stories about his campaign with Bay Area friends who wanted to do something to fight Trump.

“I want to send a message to Trump that his positions are not popular,” said Roy Kaplan, 71, a retired physician in Oakland who has made 25 online donations to Ossoff over the past three months. In total, he’s given $818, spurred by repeated emails from the campaign.

Reporter Casey Tolan also looks at the politics of the 6th.

“His opponents are already trying to reinforce this idea that he doesn’t live here, he’s too liberal, he gets all of his money from people who not only don’t have physical connections to the district but whose values are diametrically opposed to the district,” said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. (Ossoff lives just south of the district he’s campaigning in.)

[Trey Hood, a political science professor at the University of Georgia,] said Ossoff has run a “very slick campaign,” with an avalanche of TV advertising. His ads tend not to mention he’s a Democrat, instead talking up his plans to cut wasteful spending and hitting Trump for impulsive decision making and embarrassing America.

But even as he tries to appeal to conservative voters, Ossoff has quietly courted donors in America’s most liberal enclaves. He’s even hosted video chats with big-dollar contributors thousands of miles away in Sonoma County.

Kyle Kondik of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball writes about why the results of the Sixth District aren’t necessarily predictive:

•  The format for this election is different than most other races: It is an all-party primary where there will be a runoff unless one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. That means all of the candidates regardless of party run together in the same election.

•  There are a whopping 18 candidates in this election, and 11 of them are Republicans.

•  This district is open, which won’t be the case in the lion’s share of House elections next year.

Kristina Torres of the AJC updates the early voting totals:

According to the latest early-voting numbers available Wednesday from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office:

• Number of ballots cast: 32,363
• Number of ballots voted in person: 28,498
• Number of mail-in ballots returned: 3,865
• Number of mail-in ballots outstanding: 5,306

Running the numbers myself on Thursday, the total ballots cast in the Sixth District stands at 39,467.

And a breakdown by County for the 6th:

Cobb             9,851
DeKalb         7,469
Fulton        22,055

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) says outsiders are largely driving perception in the Sixth.

“The liberal machine in D.C. is running this operation,” Collins said in an interview Wednesday evening. “This is not a Georgia operation at all … I think the Georgia Democrats are complicit in this. I think Stacey Abrams, John Lewis and Hank Johnson, they’re all complicit in this because they have agreed to it.”

Collins cited the influx of staffers from the Washington-based Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, that have streamed into the suburban congressional district in recent weeks, as well as the record-setting fundraising reported by Democrat Jon Ossoff, much of which came from out of state.

He also said the party was being “authoritarian” by lining up its resources behind Ossoff, the race’s front-runner, rather than letting the process play out with the four other Democrats in the race.

“They don’t care if they have long-term members of their party work hard and have been elected before, they just threw them to the side” and backed Ossoff, Collins said.

In the State Senate District 32 Special Election to replace Judson Hill, 10,261 ballots have been cast.

The liberal Georgia Budget & Policy Institute ran some numbers on what they call the “cost” of tax breaks enacted in the 2018 Georgia General Assembly.

Added together, 10 bills would reduce state tax revenues by $483 million over five years, according to an analysis the public policy research organization released Wednesday.

The biggest impact by far would come from legislation lowering taxes on leased vehicles, which would cost the state almost $227 million in lost revenue. The bill also would impose a $161 million hit on local governments.

All of the tax bills are on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. He has until May 9 – 40 days after the end of this year’s General Assembly session – to act on them.

RealClearPolitics also takes a look at the Sixth.

the GOP electorate there consists of “the kind of Republicans that Trump does the worst with,” says Brian Robinson, a strategist who served as chief of staff for former Gov. Nathan Deal. “A lot of them didn’t vote for him, but now think he’s doing OK. That’s why you’re seeing Republicans say, ‘I’m going to be his willing partner.’”

Even some Democrats allow that a special election held just before the 100-day mark of the new presidency is a little early to be holding referendums. “I think people are willing to give him a pretty long leash,” says veteran Atlanta-based Democratic strategist Keith Mason. “It may be some time in the fall before they really form opinions.”

While Ossoff’s campaign slogan is “Make Trump Furious,” his team is downplaying the notion that the race is a referendum on the new administration. “What this race is really about is an intense political engagement and activism led by community leaders trying to make a statement about the kind of representation they want,” says Campaign Manager Keenan Pontoni. “It’s not a district where people want to send someone to Washington who is going to oppose everything that’s being done. … Folks are willing to vote for who they think is best.”

“This is Tom Price’s district. Tom Price is not a moderate,” says Robinson, the Republican strategist who is consulting for Hill’s campaign. “What message does this send to Republicans in the suburbs of Philly about what the atmosphere is out there? It shouldn’t be happening.”

Professor Michael McDonald updates the stats for 6th District early voting, showing previous GOP voters pulling closer to parity with Democrats.

Elect Project 4_12

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville) is quickly putting together his team for his 2018 campaign for Governor.

Cagle’s campaign is led by Chairman Charles Tarbutton, an influential GOP powerbroker and an assistant vice president at Sandersville Rail Co., and treasurer Tommy Gay, another Gainesville native and co-owner of pet food maker Big Creek Foods.

Scott Binkley, former Washington D.C.-based executive director of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, has been hired as Cagle’s campaign manager.

Tarbutton has been a close friend of Cagle since 2005, Tarbutton told the Times on Wednesday. Tarbutton was the chairman of Cagle’s 2010 and 2014 re-election campaigns and said he has “an enormous amount of confidence” in Cagle.

“Good jobs, safe neighborhoods, good schools — those are the things that families are concerned about,” Tarbutton said. “Those are the things that government can really impact, and he has proven a leader over his time in service to the people of Georgia and is prepared to continue to lead at the next level.”

Cagle’s campaign committee, Cagle for Georgia, has set up an office on Chamblee Tucker Road in the Embry Hills neighborhood of Atlanta.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will consider running for statewide office in 2018.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is considering a possible run for statewide office in 2018, she confirmed Wednesday morning.

Tomlinson, 52, has been approached by state officials and those affiliated with the national Democratic Party and asked to consider runs for governor, attorney general and secretary of state as a Democrat. She did not release the names of those she has spoken with about the offices.

She has taken attorney general off the table and is considering runs for governor and secretary of state. Both of those offices will likely be vacant at the end of the term. Gov. Nathan Deal is finishing his second term and is not eligible to seek re-election. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle have both created campaign committees for a run for governor. Both men are Republicans.

Tomlinson expects to make a decision in the next week or two, she said.

Qualifying is set for March 5-9, 2018. The primary is scheduled for May 22, 2018, and the General Election is in November 2018.

State Senate District 32 candidate Kay Kirkpatrick faces a hearing about her voter registration.

The Georgia Secretary of State Office received a complaint Monday against Kirkpatrick that alleges she used a different name other than her legal name to run for office.

The case, now under investigation, alleges a problem with Kirkpatrick’s voter registration status in Cobb County. According to online records, Kirkpatrick previously used the name Kay Kirkpatrick Haltom, and sometimes Kay K. Haltom, but when she filed for office, she dropped Haltom.

The Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration will hear the case four days before Tuesday’s special election.

The Dalton Board of Education will roll out its draft FY 2018 budget.

“We will have a PowerPoint presentation,” said Superintendent Jim Hawkins. “People will be able to look into the process. We aren’t going to have a final budget on Tuesday. What we will have is the latest draft, and the public will have a chance to make comments.”

One key item the board members decided is to limit the amount of the school system’s fund balance that will be drawn down to cover any budget deficit. Board members suggested a range of $966,000 to about $1.5 million as the maximum amount they would like to see drawn from the fund balance.

Chief Financial Officer Theresa Perry says both would leave the school system with a fund balance of about $11 million at the end of fiscal 2018. Officials have said they need to keep a fund balance of at least $10 million to cover any cash flow issues and to handle any unexpected spending needs.

Perry said anticipated revenue for 2018 is $73.3 million, with $43.5 million of that coming from the state and federal governments and the rest from local property taxes, tuition and other fees. Spending for this fiscal year is budgeted at $71.2 million.

Byron City Council set rates for the new stormwater management utility.

Produce Section

Vidalia onions started shipping early this year.

Shipments of the Vidalia onion started moving Wednesday, which was the first day farmers could push the state’s most famous vegetable out the door.

“You probably won’t see any Vidalias on the shelves until Friday or even Saturday,” said John Williams, director of sales and marketing at L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms in Lyons.

Multiple varieties grown in a 20-county region can claim the trademarked Vidalia label — but only if they are packaged after a date set by the state’s commissioner of agriculture, Gary Black.

This year, that date was April 12, which was the earliest start in five years.

Georgia blueberry farmers may faces losses up to $400 million this year due to freezing conditions.

The losses to Georgia’s blueberry crop from the mid-March freeze aren’t as bad as anticipated, but some in the industry still call it terrible.

In the days after March 15 and 16 when temperatures dropped into the lower 20s across the region while blueberries were in full bloom or had already set fruit, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black estimated up to 80 percent of the crop had been lost.

Steve Mullis, who packs fresh and frozen blueberries at Farmer John Berries, said the crop will actually be better but only slightly.

“It’s probably going to push the 70 percent mark,” and that will likely mean a loss of $300 million to $400 million, he said.

Statewide referendums are being held for pecan farmers and beef producers.

Georgia pecan growers and beef producers will vote in separate referendums this spring to decide if their respective grower assessments, which fund the Georgia Pecan Commission and the Georgia Beef Commission, will continue.

The pecan referendum is being held through April 30. Producers growing 30 or more acres of pecans are eligible to vote in the statewide referendum. Growers should receive a ballot in the mail from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Eligible producers who have not received a ballot should contact the GDA at 404-586-1405. Ballots must be signed and postmarked by April 30 to be counted.

The beef referendum will be held May 1-30. Growers should receive a ballot in the mail from the Georgia Department of Agriculture by May 10. Eligible producers who don’t receive a ballot should contact the GDA at 404-586-1405. Ballots must be signed and postmarked by May 30 to be counted.


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

On April 12, 1861, Confederates in Charleston, SC opened fire on Federal-held Fort Sumter opening the Civil War.

During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincolnissued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

“The General” Locomotive was hijacked at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia on April 12, 1862, leading to “The Great Locomotive Chase.” The locomotive is now housed in the Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.

On April 12, 1961, Russian Commienaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to go to outer space and the first to orbit earth.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963; while there he would write his famed, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The Braves played their first home game in Atlanta on April 12, 1966.

The Space Shuttle Columbia became the first reusable orbital vehicle when it launched on April 12, 1981.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Some voters headed to the polls to vote early, but learned once they got to the elections office that they aren’t in the district.

Lynn and Sheila Keeney made the five-minute drive to Cobb County’s main elections office in Marietta only to sheepishly turn around without voting.

The nationally watched race to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Price has drawn 18 candidates in what many have described as an early barometer on the presidency of Donald Trump. The Keeneys, both in their early 70s, can’t watch television without seeing the political advertisements blanketing the airwaves in a final push before Election Day on Tuesday.

But while the district covers parts of three of the metro area’s core counties — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — neither of the Keeneys realized that their Cobb County home wasn’t within the boundaries. And they weren’t alone. Scores of voters showed up at the Cobb elections office during the early-voting period without realizing it, either.

“We see the ads,” said Lynn Keeney, who said he had gotten more politically active after retirement. “So we’ve decided to put as much or much more conscious effort to look into the local people and in particular the congressional elections. We feel like we can make more of a difference in Congress than we can in president.”

Kansas Republican John Estes won a narrow special election victory last night over a Democrat in a district that Trump carried by a 27-point margin in November.

“If Jon Ossoff’s fundraising numbers weren’t enough of a wakeup call for Republicans, the election results in Kansas should be,” said Georgia GOP strategist Chip Lake.

Key dynamics in the race are certainly different: While national GOP groups rushed in to the state over the last week to play defense, they have been pouring millions into attack ads against Ossoff for months. And Estes’ struggles were also seen as a rebuke to unpopular Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

“Those states don’t have a highly unpopular governor that is going to have the proverbial millstone around the candidate’s neck,” Michael O’Donnell, a Kansas GOP commissioner, told the Wichita Eagle on whether the vote signals trouble for Republicans in Georgia.

But Lake said the Kansas race shows more broadly how Republicans running textbook campaigns in seemingly safe districts have good reason to be antsy.

“It was a close race,” he said, “and it shouldn’t have been.”

Governor Nathan Deal is unlikely to cause drag on GOP candidates in the Sixth District, if the news from a massive nationwide poll is an indicator.

Deal was ranked the tenth-most popular Governor in the nation with 63% of respondents saying they approve of his job performance and 25% disapproving.

My personal analysis: I’m not as worried about Ossoff winning outright as I was when he first announced an $8.3 million dollar fundraising haul.

Yesterday, I was told by a DC-based reporter that the Ossoff campaign told them they had knocked on 100,000 doors, which sounds impressive, but really isn’t.

I live in both the Sixth Congressional District and the 80th State House District; our State House District has seen the two most-competitive elections at that level in 2015 and 2016. I know what a winning campaign in this area looks like and Ossoff is not doing it. And HD 80 and 81, two of the most-competitive in the state, are exactly the areas Ossoff needs to drive big numbers to the polls in order to pull off a win on Tuesday.

In 2015, the J. Max Davis campaign knocked on 16,000 doors in HD 80 during the runoff – that’s three weeks. A Congressional District is roughly equal to 13 state house districts, so an equivalent number for a Congressional District is 208,000. Ossoff’s campaign hit about half of that over the course of several months. Ossoff’s ground game is not an “A” game. is where the cranky old folks in my neighborhood hang out online and complain about youngsters on their yard. During the last two state house campaigns, the site lit up with complaint about “suspicious” people walking the streets, knocking on doors. “Suspicious” is code for people wearing campaign shirts, carrying campaign materials. No complaints during the election leads me to believe Ossoff hasn’t really been hitting the streets in this vital area.

A neighbor of mine is the prototypical swing voter that Democratic campaigns search for. She’s female and has voted in both Democratic and Republican primary campaigns, including regular early voting, though she hasn’t yet voted this year.

She told me during the state house campaigns that she was visited at her door by the Democratic campaign at east three times, and she showed me all the early voting mail they sent her. Zero contact from the Ossoff campaign. No calls, no mail, no door visits. Until this morning, when someone woke the neighborhood (and my dogs) at o’dark thirty putting Ossoff flyers on front doors. If the campaign is counting that as direct voter contact, they’re fooling themselves.

Then there are a couple of self-inflicted wounds by Ossoff – earning a Washington Post Pinocchio for puffing his resume at best, lying to the voters at worst. And then fabricating a quote for a fundraising email and getting called out publicly.

As for the polling, here’s the issue: SurveyUSA, which polls for 11Alive, writes in their report:

Polling Congressional Districts is challenging even under ideal circumstances. Polling for a special election, where nothing else is on the ballot, and where turnout could be a fraction of what it was in the 2016 general election, is even more challenging. Some news reports indicate that Republicans have started to spend money in GA-06 only in the past couple of days. If Republicans make a significant media buy in the remaining 2 weeks, Ossoff’s support may be overstated here, and his chances of winning the seat outright on 04/18/17 would be reduced. To the extent that Democrats see Ossoff and 04/18/17 as their best shot at flipping the seat, and spend dollars accordingly, the fight will be to the finish.

I also think the demographics of the district will work against Ossoff. From the 11Alive polling breakdown:

•  Younger voters went solidly for Ossoff: 71% compared to 14% for Handel. After that, no candidate was able to gain double digits in the 18-34 age group.

•  Older voters, 65+, showed only a slight preference for Ossoff at 29% compared to Handel’s 24%.

But voter turnout among millennials declined from 2012 to 2016, and I expect it to be significantly lower in Tuesday’s election than in a general election. In contrast, older voters are the bread-and-butter of special elections and are likely to vote at significantly higher rates than other voters.

I’m somewhat apprehensive still, especially after the Kansas election results, but Ossoff, despite his funding advantage, has not put on a winning campaign.

Before you head to the polls, you can check to make sure you’re eligible to vote and familiarize yourself with the ballot by visiting the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle filed paperwork with the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to run for Governor in 2018.

The Republican has plotted for years to run for the state’s highest office, and a formal announcement is expected within a month.

Cagle is the presumptive Republican front-runner in what could be a crowded field to succeed a term-limited Nathan Deal. Secretary of State Brian Kemp is already in the race, and a cast of current and former lawmakers – along with an “outsider” or two – are considering entering the contest.

His campaign is to be chaired by Charles Tarbutton, a Sandersville rail executive whose family has ties to Deal, Zell Miller and other successful gubernatorial candidates stretching back the last half-century. It’s a sign that Cagle’s bid has early support from one of the most well-connected political networks in the state.

When the AJC says “an announcement is expected within a month,” I think they mean May 1st. Pencil that in on your calendar.

Georgia Health News writes that the combination of the “Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law”  and more widespread availability of Naloxone appear to be helping with opioid overdoses.

Under the amnesty law, if you call 911 to get medical treatment for yourself or for somebody who currently needs medical attention, you can’t be held criminally liable for anything on the property, anything on the premises,” said Officer David Ian, an Athens-Clarke County police officer.

The amnesty law also makes it easier for first responders to carry naloxone – a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose – and to administer it to a person who has overdosed. Under its provisions, emergency personnel won’t be liable if the person doesn’t respond or has an adverse reaction.

Police officers and other emergency medical workers say they want to save people in this life-threatening situation, not put them in jail.

“If you think you’ve overdosed on something or a loved one has overdosed on something and they’re having problems, then they should call an ambulance,” said Horst, the ER doctor. “The longer you wait, the more detriment or harm is going to be caused to the patient.”

Officer Ian agreed. “From a law enforcement perspective, our main priority is the value of life,’’ he said. “Our ultimate priority is making sure people are taken care of, people are safe.”

Senator Johnny Isakson joined 56 of his colleagues in signing a letter to the FCC Chairman urging better rural broadband.

“Rural Georgians have been waiting too long for the FCC to address this issue,” Isakson said in a statement. “Standalone Internet services should be available to all Americans at this point, and dependable rural access to broadband services are a necessity in this day and age, not a luxury.”

Cobb County Commissioners voted to issue $27.4 million in bonds to buy land for parks.

The county originally anticipated issuing $24.7 million in bonds, but when the county received the bids from financial companies looking to issue the bonds, the county’s triple AAA bond rating and low interest rates led to a premium of more than $2.7 million, according to Bill Volckmann, the county’s interim finance director.

The county will pay about $160,000 in bond issuance costs out of the bond proceeds, ultimately leaving about $27.4 million for its efforts to purchase land to be used for parks and green space.

Cobb residents likely will see an increase in property taxes to allow the county to repay the bonds.

According to previous county estimates, repaying the bonds would require an increase by 0.13 mills in the county’s property tax rate, which would add about $10.40 a year on the tax bill for $200,000 home.

Commissioners approved the execution of the increased parks bond after hearing from several residents who urged the county to fully fund the parks bond approved by voters nearly nine years ago. Though two-thirds of Cobb voters approved a $40 million bond back in November 2008, the bonds were never issued by then-county Chairman Sam Olens due to a tanking economy and a tax increase he said would come as a result of the bonds’ issuance.

Kerry Minervini was sworn in as the Ward 6 member of the Marietta Board of Education.

Minervini won the March 21 special election and has lived in Marietta for 11 years. The seat was left vacant after Tom Cheater resigned his seat in September. The seat is up for reelection in November.

The Augusta City Commission voted to borrow $12 million to finance a parking deck for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

Mayor Hardie Davis called the vote “generational and transformational” as Augusta puts its money toward the state of Georgia’s plan to invest $50 million in the cyber innovation center on the city’s riverfront.

Gwinnett County Board of Education members adopted a $2.092 billion budget for FY 2018.

Much of the increase is tied to an additional 1,972 students expected in August to raise the overall enrollment to more than 180,000, and raises for teachers and all other employees.

“All of us have wish lists, but this is a very good budget considering the funds that we have available,” said Wilbanks, the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ CEO/superintendent at a meeting held inside the media center at Collins Hill High School.

As part of GCPS’ new performance-based compensation system for teachers, the average teacher will receive a 3.72 percent salary increase, which includes a 2 percent cost-of-living bump. The average teacher in GCPS, which equates to having a masters degree and at performance step 13, makes $60,716 and accounts for $85,923 including benefits.

Hall County School Board members were presented with a proposed budget for FY 2018.

Preliminary estimates for Hall County Schools’ 2018 fiscal year budget calls for $12.8 million in additional expenditures, most of which would pay for 2 percent pay raises for all of the approximately 3,400 employees and the corresponding benefit increases.

Superintendent Will Schofield presented the early numbers at a school board work session Monday night. The figures would raise total expenditures for 2018 to $239,345,073, up from $226,510,741.02 in budgeted expenditures in the current budget.

“This is strictly a draft at this point,” Schofield told board members. “We haven’t even gone line by line to make sure we’ve got the right expenditures, but this gives you an idea of where we are. The local digest is the amount of property that is on the tax records … Every year we wait to see what the assessments are and how much it goes up or down because that greatly affects our ability to fund our local public schools.”

Schofield said the state legislature recently required a 2 percent pay raise for all teachers, but he wants to see all of the district’s 3,400 employees get the same increase.

Bibb County school employees could see bounses instead of raises in FY 2018.

Full-time employees for the Bibb County school district could get up to a 2 percent bonus next year. The Board of Education discussed a one-time bonus during a work session Tuesday night.

A 3 percent bonus had initially been suggested during the first 2017-18 budget work session in March. Ron Collier, chief financial officer, said the adjusted, 2 percent rate is in line with a recommendation from Gov. Nathan Deal. The district implemented a 3 percent raise last year, funded through a 2 mill increase in property taxes.

“It is aligned to our strategic goals and plans,” Collier said. “The idea is that hopefully this … will motivate our employees. They can earn up to the 2 percent bonus based on achieving those levels.”

Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams spoke to the Augusta Chronicle about his first 100 days in office.

The Floyd County Commission plans to name members to the 2017 SPLOST Committee at their April 25th meeting.

Backyard chickens are running into opposition in Columbus.

A proposed ordinance that would make backyard chickens legal on quarter-acre lots throughout Columbus received a negative assessment from the city’s special enforcement manager on Tuesday.

Chickens are good for eggs, soil fertilization and pest control, but they can also be a health and safety hazard, Short said. The health concerns she mentioned included bacterial diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter; a respiratory disease called Histoplasmosis and Avian Influenza. Chickens also attract rodents and predators such as foxes, snakes and coyotes, she said.

If chickens were allowed on quarter-acre lots, the city would need to hire two additional full-time field animal control officers, at a cost of $63,648. The amendment would also require the purchase of two additional field trucks, costing $50,000 each.

In the end, she recommended that Columbus Council make no changes to the ordinance, which currently allows chickens to be kept on any lot two or more acres in size.

Right whales, the official marine mammal of Georgia, have produced far fewer calves this year than usual.

It was a dismal calving season for the north Atlantic right whale, with only three births recorded off Georgia and Florida, their only known calving area. The 20-year average is 17 calves.

“That’s the second-worst calving season since right whale research began in the 1980s,” said Clay George, right whale research leader with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.


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

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist. This is what his lobbyist badge looked like:

Benjamin Franklin Lobbyist Card2

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate troops surrendered Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island off Savannah, on April 11, 1862. Part of the construction of Fort Pulaski was overseen by a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army named Robert E. Lee.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

On April 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House. In the finest tradition of Georgia Democrats, Carter added a circus to the event.

Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

Thrift Store Green Jacket

Congratulations also to whomever found an Augusta National green jacket in a thrift store for $5. The jacket sold at auction earlier this week for nearly $140k.

Sitting in a stack of previously-worn blazers at a Toronto thrift store was the unthinkable – an original Masters Tournament Green Jacket with a price tag of $5. The familiar green color of the jacket, and its iconic breast patch, went unnoticed by consignment shop workers and customers. That is, until an avid golfer saw this piece of clothing and knew exactly what it was – not just a green jacket, but The Green Jacket.

When the so-called “Thrift Store Green Jacket” was first discovered in 1994, the speculation was rampant. Was it real, and if so, where did it come from? The jacket itself revealed few clues. The internal tagging definitively dates the jacket to the early 1950s – one of the earliest green jackets in existence. But the original owner’s name was tantalizingly cut out of the jacket. Augusta National Golf Club may have unintentionally fanned the flames of speculation, as they confirmed the jacket’s authenticity but then refused to answer any questions as to the identity of its original owner. Could it be the long lost green jacket of a Masters Tournament Champion? Did a member mistakenly, or intentionally, remove the green jacket from the club’s grounds many years ago?

This authentic green jacket dates to the early 1950s (possibly as late as the mid 1950s). Its internal tagging from Cullum’s department store in Augusta unquestionably predates the Cullum’s tags inside 1957 Champion Doug Ford’s Green Jacket.

Georgia Politics

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that March tax revenues were up 2.5% over March 2016.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr spoke to the Atlanta Press Club yesterday.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2017

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

On April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American professional major league baseball player when the Brooklyn Dodgers bought his contract.

Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005).

Byron, Georgia once hosted nuclear missiles.

Q: Not everyone’s aware there were nuclear missiles in Byron. Was it a secret?

A: It wasn’t secret we were there but the site was classified as to how the missiles and radars worked. My clearance was top secret. But the site wasn’t common knowledge. When I came in 1962, I stopped at a barber shop on Main Street to ask directions to the missile base and they told me, “There aren’t any missiles around here.” I said, “Yes sir, there are, that’s where I’m going.” So he said, “We’ll you must mean that place up the road — there’s a lot of soldiers around there.” So I guess they did a good job of being there but keeping what was going on low key.

Q: Where was “up the road?”

A: Just north of Byron on Boy Scout Road. The site was there from 1960 to 1966.

Q: What missiles would you have launched if needed? And why were missiles located in Byron?

A: We were in Byron for general defense but our big role was to protect Robins Air Force Base and the Strategic Air Command wing stationed there in those days. It was mostly to protect them from Soviet bombers. With its strategic planes and big bombs, SAC was instrumental and the most powerful defense we had in the Cold War. We were in Byron and had a sister site on the other side of Robins over in Twiggs County. They were Battery A and we were Battery B. We had the base well covered.

Q: And the missiles?

A: Nike-Hercules nuclear warhead missiles. They were really, really fast, accurate and powerful missiles.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Sixth District race appears to be drawing more out-of-town media to Georgia than anything since the 2016 Presidential Primary. From the Chicago Tribune:

In the first 10 days of early voting, 17,871 ballots have been cast and self-identified Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by a 19-point margin. On Friday, however, the Democratic margin was just five points.

Meanwhile, Ossoff’s rivals had their arms full defending the Republican record in the Trump era. Karen Handel, a near-miss candidate in two statewide races – currently polling highest to make the runoff’s second spot – repeatedly rejected the House GOP’s health-care proposal and the negotiations to strip “essential health benefits” from the current system.

“That’s not Tom Price’s plan,” said Handel. “Not every single time do we have a mandate that is horrible.” Moments later, longtime tea party activist and candidate Amy Kremer said that she, too, opposed the bill; Ossoff deflected one of her attacks by praising her “bipartisanship” for criticizing both parties.

Republicans hope that in a runoff, with Ossoff facing just one Republican, he won’t be able to zoom around the partisan differences.

From the New York Times:

The shifting conservative fault lines are on display in the affluent and mall-dotted northern suburbs of Atlanta, which were at the front end of the South’s political realignment in the 1970s when they turned away from their Democratic roots and elected a loquacious young college professor named Newt Gingrich to Congress.

The special election on April 18 has drawn substantial attention because one of the Democrats running, Jon Ossoff, has raised a remarkable $8 million, and his success in a Republican-leaning district could presage a midterm backlash against Mr. Trump. (Voters will pick from candidates of both parties on a single ballot; if no one clears 50 percent, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election.)

One of the leading Republican candidates, Karen Handel, even wore her practicality as a badge of honor, citing not just Reagan but also Margaret Thatcher’s “relentless incrementalism” credo.

“Republican voters are expecting that we get down to business and deliver and do the job,” said Ms. Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, failed Senate candidate and failed candidate for governor. This time around, she said, the expectations from the party base have shifted.

Bob Gray, who calls himself an outsider and is a businessman supported by the conservative Club for Growth, played to type at the forum as he twice criticized Speaker Paul D. Ryan for having “failed” on the health care legislation. But in an interview, Mr. Gray allowed that he would have backed the House-drafted bill (which the Club for Growth opposed), shied away from the Tea Party label and sounded more like a furrowed-brow centrist than a fire-breathing conservative.

“This is the problem with D.C.,” he said. “Everybody has retreated to their political corners with a jersey on. We need people like President Trump who want to go to D.C. and change the way they do business. The American people are tired of the bickering.”

“For eight years, the heroes in this movement were the Freedom Caucus members, and now they’re suddenly in the bad camp?” asked the Republican strategist Chip Lake, a touch of wonder in his voice. “It’s really confusing right now as a Republican to figure out who’s on first.”

That’s at least the second time I’ve seen a reference to Newt Gingrich being elected from Atlanta’s northern suburbs in the 1970s, but it isn’t correct.

Gingrich was elected from the 6th for the first time in 1978, but at that time, it stretched from Haralson, Carrol, and Heard counties along the Alabama border, through Douglas, Heard, Coweta, south Fulton, Fayette, Clayton, Henry, Spalding, Pike, Butts, Lamar, and Jasper Counties, mostly south of Atlanta. It wasn’t until 1992 that Gingrich’s district moved to where it currently lies, in the northern suburbs. At that time, then-Speaker Tom Murphy renumbered that northern suburban district with the number of Gingrich’s district, and Gingrich ran there, nearly losing the Republican Primary to challenger Herman Clark.

State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) stars in radio ads designed to boost GOP turnout in her husband’s former district.

The ads are the latest salvo from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to House leadership that has spent $2.2 million on ads – and $3 million overall – trying to rev up GOP voters and deflate Democrat Jon Ossoff’s candidacy.

Betty Price, who like her husband is a physician, has not endorsed any of the 11 Republicans in the 18-candidate contest but urged conservatives to elect a “proven Republican.” She also considered joining the field, before announcing about an hour before qualifying ended that she would not mount a campaign.

The Marietta Daily Journal looks at the 8 candidates running in a Special Election in Senate District 32.

Cobb County Democrats have their eyes on flipping the seat, said Michael Owens, chairman of the Cobb Democratic Party.

“District 32 sits firmly within the 6th District, and while they have not been getting as much publicity — the congressional candidates have been getting all the media attention — some of the candidates that we have for the 32nd District have been working just as hard as well,” Owens said. “They’re doing the same things, they’re trying to reach out to voters, but there’s no doubt that as Democrats, we have to energize, to turn out the vote and canvas.”

Sue Everhart, former chair of the Georgia Republican Party, said hanging onto the seat is a big deal for the Georgia GOP.

“The 32nd District is very important,” Everhart said. “Of course, all the districts are, but I think the 32nd has shown a lot of leadership through the years… We’ve had good representation with Judson Hill, and I hope that continues.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-2d District) writes that President Trump’s proposed federal budget is bad for residents of his district.

[W]hen analyzing President Trump’s 2018 Budget Blueprint with this metric, I am led to the inescapable conclusion that the President’s budget would be a recipe for disaster for our country and for the people of the Second Congressional District of Georgia.

Budgets reflect values. They reflect a prioritization of scarce resources. Although a president’s proposed budget is just the beginning of a lengthy negotiating process with Congress, it is nonetheless a signal of what that administration does and does not care about.

Unfortunately, this administration’s 2018 Budget Blueprint speaks loud and clear that it does not value rural communities nor their contributions to the United States. This budget seeks to eliminate vital programs and reduce resources for our workers, our farmers, our students and teachers, and our seniors. This budget would inhibit our nation’s ability to innovate in an increasingly competitive world, and would drastically curtail vital safety nets for our most vulnerable populations.

By proposing a cut of over 20 percent to the USDA, it is clear that the current administration does not appreciate the role our agriculture sector plays in sustaining our quality of life, nor the vital role USDA plays in supporting both rural communities and the nation more broadly.

The president’s budget seeks to eliminate funding for rural infrastructure, cut staffing at USDA Service Centers, and reduce rural business assistance. Instead of creating efficiencies, such cuts would simply make it harder for everyone, and ultimately more difficult for our country to continue to produce the highest quality, safest, most abundant, and most economical food and fiber in the industrialized world.

Savannah is looking to become a yachting center after passage of a sales tax break for major repairs.

The president and CEO of Colonial Group is so sure of that potential that he is putting up some $50 million to convert the former Intermarine shipbuilding yard on Lathrop Avenue into a world-class yacht repair and refit facility capable of competing with Florida and possibly even Europe.

The only potential stumbling block – the need for legislation giving yacht owners the same tax incentives they now get in Florida — was eliminated when the Georgia General Assembly passed such legislation on the last day of its 2017 session.

With that regulatory framework in place, Colonial is ready to begin work on the facility, acquired in a bankruptcy sale in 2010, in the hopes that Savannah Yacht Center will be ready to serve its first customers either late this year or early next year.

SYC is ready to begin letting construction contracts as soon as the bill is signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Bryan County News looks at the priorities of the Georgia School Board Association.

“We think the GSBA’s work really played a major part in helping bring out the vote against the Opportunity School District,” [Bryan County School Board Chair Eddie] Warren said. “And I know the Georgia School Board Association did a lot of work at the capitol pointing out OSD’s weaknesses and that woke up a couple of legislators, I believe.”

According to an email from GSBA Executive Director Valerie Wilson, the committee considers “legislative positions submitted by local boards of education for recommendation to the delegate assembly. The committee will also review annually all standing legislative positions. Any revisions or deletions will also be submitted to the Delegate Assembly.”

A look at some of the GSBA’s 2016 legislative positions included such things as protecting the sovereign immunity of local school systems, opposition to a voucher system and “a tax system that yields adequate funding, is fair, is stable and is transparent,” according to a 2016 GSBA handbook.

Another likely legislative priority for GSBA members will be [to]  “maintain the integrity of the teacher retirement system,” Warren said. “That one has been targeted the last few years as the state tries to figure out how to save money. It’s always a topic.”

Getting the legislature to come up with the money for such things as school nurses and counselors is also frequently listed by GSBA members as a priority when it comes to dealing with lawmakers.

“Those types of things seem to get nixed by legislators at times,” Warren said. “They tend to want to put the burden for nurses or counselors back on the local school system to fund it if they want it.”

Grantville City Council Member Mark King will not yet face an ethics board meeting over a complaint against him because of vacancies on the board.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will consider a revised ordinance designed to lessen the impact of film production on local residents.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the city’s rainy day fund is up to $175 million.

Augusta is home to a commercial drone company seeking to bring the technology to agriculture.

“I can say that I worked on drone systems in the military,” he said, but could not be more specific. Over the past couple of years, as federal regulations on UAV and drones have become better defined, he has been looking into practical applications for the technology he loves and discovered there is huge growth potential for drone use in agriculture.

Information was recently released by the University of Georgia Extension Service about a team of crop scientists and engineers from the school who are developing all-terrain rovers and aerial drones to collect data on crop health.

Scheiner said these devices can be outfitted with multi-spectral and thermal cameras, as well as other technologies, to help researchers and farmers measure stress tolerance, growth patterns, soil temperature, water distribution in fields and even nitrogen levels in individual plants.

“What that means is we can look at crops and see that there’s not enough water here,” he said. “There’s too much water there. Soil temperature is too hot or too cold. You have possible pests, possible disease. These plants seem to be stunted. This way we can help farmers react to these threats. They can go out and say, we need to add more fertilizer or we need to add more pesticide, that sort of thing.”

Forty million dollars from the recently-passed SPLOST will fund a new Bibb County courthouse annex and parking deck.

With many proposed projects and the county expecting to collect about $30 million in sales tax funds annually, commissioners created a priority list for projects at their planning retreat in January. Using that list and the shovel-ready status of some projects as a starting point, Macon-Bibb’s sales tax project manager consulted with county departments and created a prospective timeline, Floore said.

Commissioners are set to discuss — and may vote on — the timeline and budget for the projects Tuesday.

Camden County is considering a rezoning more than 1000 privately-owned acres on Cumberland Island.

In December, Camden County officials approved a variance to allow Lumar LLC, made up of Coca-Cola heirs including the Rev. Sam Candler, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, to divide an 88-acre tract near the park’s Sea Camp into 10 lots. The request and decision set off a storm of protest from legions of campers and day visitors across the country who argue that development will ruin the wilderness experience on Georgia’s largest barrier island.

Two appeals were filed, but before the scheduled April 4 hearing both Lumar and the appellants requested time to negotiate a compromise solution.

Savannah-Chatham County School Board has received about 700 applications for the next school superintendent.


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

On April 7, 1776, the United States warship Lexington captured a British warship, HMS Edward, for the first time.


On April 7, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation authorizing negotiations between three representatives of Georgia and three Presidential appointees over Georgia’s claim to land west of what is now the Georgia-Alabama state lines. Georgia would continue to claim most of what is currently Alabama and Mississippi until 1802.

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA.

Georgia Map 1795

Above: a 1795 map showing Georgia extending west to Louisiana. “These Parts are little known.”

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM on April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he holds to this day.

On April 7, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing the peach as the official state fruit of Georgia.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

The Masters Tournament was won on this date by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012.

The Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville will host a doll wedding on Saturday.

From 2 to 4 p.m. the mansion is holding its fourth annual doll wedding modeled after a actual life event held on the property as a callback to the time when Milledgeville was the capital city of Georgia.

“In 1859 Gov. [Joseph] Brown’s daughter, Mary Virginia Brown, married her two dolls on the mansion lawn,” said Molly Randolph, curator of the mansion. “They hired the local Baptist minister to officiate the marriage, they invited everyone in town, and it was basically hailed as the event of the year. So we decided a few years ago to bring back this event.”

The reenactment features replicas of dolls Jack Jones and Sue paired together by young Mary Brown and an ordained minister, curator of education at Georgia College Kierstin Veldkamp, who received her license online. The nuptials will be held in the rose garden adjacent to the mansion, and at the conclusion of the ceremony attendees may bring their dolls forward to also be joined in matrimony.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flags at state buildings were at half-staff yesterday in honor of the memory of John Glenn, astronaut and United States Senator.

Senator David Perdue released a statement on US airstrikes against Syria.

“Assad is a tyrant and his chemical weapon attack against innocent civilians this week was beyond inhumane. This will not be tolerated. After six years of inaction by the Obama Administration, I am glad to see that President Trump is willing to stand up for these innocent victims and stop those responsible for this violence. I commend our brave servicewomen and men who are carrying out this vital mission.”

Senator Johnny Isakson also released a statement on missile strikes against Syria.

“I salute the brave men and women of the U.S. military who conducted these operations tonight. President Trump’s decision to strike the Assad regime’s air base where chemical weapons were deployed against the innocent people of Syria earlier this week sends a clear signal to the world that war crimes such as these will not be tolerated. I support the president’s swift and decisive action to punish this dictatorship for the atrocities committed.”

Two earthquakes near Sparta, Georgia, and at least five tornadoes, possibly as many as 21, hit middle Georgia this week.

The Best Ranger Competition is underway at Fort Benning.

Long before sunrise early Friday, the boots of 53 Ranger teams hit the road at Camp Rogers to start the 34th Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning to determine the best team in the U.S. Army.

“Of those 53 teams, we have representatives from the Ranger Regiment, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade and from every unit across the Army,” [Lt. Col. Jim] Hathaway said Thursday. “This is the best of the best. These are some incredible soldiers.”

Over the next three days, soldiers cover more than 60 miles with a series of events that include running, shooting, 20-mile road march, maneuvering through a 4-mile obstacle course, swimming and other events. The contest has been compared to the Ironman and Eco-Challenge because Rangers get very little sleep or food during a competition that’s physically and mentally challenging.

 In Attapulgus, GA, south of Bainbridge, an 800-acre elephant sanctuary is being developed.

Elephant Refuge North America, Buckley’s site in Attapulgus, is the second site that Buckley’s organization, Elephant Aid International, has opened. The first site is located in Tennessee.

The site will be the new home for elephants from zoo and circus situations, according to Buckley. Only one elephant from the Tennessee location will be moving to the new site in Georgia.

“This 850 acre piece of land, this one right here, will be heaven for 7-10 elephants,” said Buckley. “You could have more, but the reason you wouldn’t is that the herd dynamics are affected when you bring in more elephants. Our goal is to create a healthy environment for elephants, and what’s healthy is when they act like a family.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield is reportedly considering dropping ACA/Obamacare coverage in some markets.

Blue Cross is the largest insurer in Georgia. It is also currently the only exchange health insurer in 96 of the state’s 159 counties. Those counties cover the rural southern reaches of the state as well as Augusta. Even a partial pullout by Anthem, would create a vacuum in those areas.

Competition in the metro Atlanta exchange is fairly strong, but a Blue Cross pullout in other areas “would have a profound effect on the market,” Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University, said Tuesday.

At Emory yesterday, former President Jimmy Carter said he hopes the Trump administration reinvigorates the women’s movement.

Legislation & Local Issues

The Georgia General Assembly failed to pass legislation that would have flattened state income tax rates, but its sponsor, Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) will try again.

Georgia has had a graduated income tax structure, which means a lower rate for the poor and a higher rate for the rich.

Powell thought he had that balance in House Bill 329, a plan that stripped the state tax code of its various levels and replaced it with a single 5.4 percent rate. That’s a nice cut for top earners but it represents a huge increase for people at the bottom.

Powell’s plan would have everybody pay 5.4 percent starting at the first dollar. So that’s a large increase for someone making a little bit of money, but it’s a healthy cut for someone who makes a lot.

To balance it out, the bill created an earned income tax credit that would allow lower-income Georgians to roll back much of the increase. Estimates of the cost of the plan ranged from $78 million to $154 million, with most of the savings going to the wealthy.

Part of Powell’s interest in flattening the income tax is to make it easier to reduce the rates later. Right now, the income tax is complicated, but a single rate would fix that. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex idea, the state would have a single lever to pull to lower or even raise the rate as needs may occur.

The bill passed the Republican-dominated House easily, but bogged down in the also Republican-dominated Senate. A Senate version of the bill gave across-the-board tax breaks but did not eliminate the graduated system. That more costly version of tax relief likely would have earned a veto from Gov. Nathan Deal, who worried about the bill’s effect on state revenue.

“I don’t know until after the elections are over next year if there is any point in trying to make that effort,” [Powell] said. “What I saw this year was more politics than rational study.”

We heard complaints about the General Assembly being a “do-nothing” legislature this year, but I’d say that it’s performing as it was designed to.

When talking about the bicameral Congress, and by extension, the 49 state legislatures whose two chambers are modeled on the federal House and Senate structure, many historians focus on the need to balance the idea of each state having equal voting strength in the Senate, with a House that gives more weight to population.

But that’s not the only reason for the bicameral legislature.

The Federalist number 51 makes clear that this structure was also intended to limit the legislature’s ability to “get things done” as a check on the legislative power.

In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions.

Federalist 62 make clear that the two-chambers are partly designed as an impediment to legislation.

Another advantage accruing from this ingredient in the constitution of the Senate is, the additional impediment it must prove against improper acts of legislation….

It is a misfortune incident to republican government, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust. In this point of view, a senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power with, a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government. It doubles the security to the people, by requiring the concurrence of two distinct bodies in schemes of usurpation or perfidy, where the ambition or corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient.

This is a precaution founded on such clear principles, and now so well understood in the United States, that it would be more than superfluous to enlarge on it. I will barely remark, that as the improbability of sinister combinations will be in proportion to the dissimilarity in the genius of the two bodies, it must be politic to distinguish them from each other by every circumstance which will consist with a due harmony in all proper measures, and with the genuine principles of republican government.

The necessity of a senate is not less indicated by the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions.

Looking at the historic reasons for a bicameral legislature, it is clear that when the House and Senate disagree, Georgia’s General Assembly is functioning as designed.

New legislation sent to Governor Deal would require private health insurance plans to cover hearing aids for children.

Under the bill, which is still awaiting the governor’s signature, insurers would have to cover up to $3,000 in hearing aid-related costs every four years for those 18 years and younger.

Proponents argued that the change would only cost a few cents per insured person every month, because that’s what it cost the state health benefit plan after Gov. Nathan Deal increased hearing aid coverage in 2015.

“You can’t find a Georgian who wouldn’t reach into their pocket and give this little bit of money to a child,” said Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, who carried the bill in the House. “It just gives them a chance.”

Houston urged her colleagues to compare that small cost to the state’s expense when children do not receive early intervention, fall behind in their development and wind up in special education throughout school. That can cost the state $420,000, she said.

The bill only applies to those covered by private insurers, which accounts for about 17 percent of policies. Jenkins noted that about 280 babies every year are identified as having hearing loss in Georgia.

Legislation to expand the use of dental hygienists passed this session and may result in more poor and elderly Georgians receiving dental care.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 154, a pet project of Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta and Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, in the final hours of the 2017 session. It is now on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for his consideration.

Under the legislation, dental hygienists would be allowed to do basic cleaning and preventive care at so-called “safety-net settings, ” qualified health centers, school-based health clinics and dental offices without a dentist present.

The work would have to be authorized by a dentist. Currently, Georgia law requires that a dentist actually be present in the facility for a hygienist to do such work.

The Albany Herald asks whether Governor Deal is likely to sign this year’s campus carry legislation.

The House passed a similar bill last year (HB 859), but it was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The bill that is on Deal’s desk now (HB 280) is essentially the same as 859, but with an added exemption for on-campus child care centers.

The final bill passed the House 96-70 with the four Albany-area members of the House split with one “no” vote from Winfred Dukes, D-Albany, a “yes” vote from Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert and two “did not votes” from Darrel Ealum, D-Albany, and Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg.

Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson, voted “no” in the Senate.

“Governor Deal issued a fervent and detailed explanation with his veto of the campus carry bill last year. In my opinion, this year’s revised bill (HB 280) addressed some but not all issues raised from last year’s bill,” Ealum said. “HB 280 was one of the most contentious bills passed in this 2017 House Session. Even if the governor chooses to sign HB 280 with its added restrictions, many areas on college campuses will still be off limits.”

“All areas where high school students may possibly attend will still be restricted; therefore, my prediction is that, with the huge influx of high school students on college campuses attending college and career academies, dual enrollment classes, move-on-when-ready classes, etc., the bill will not be near as far sweeping as originally believed.”

Former Ambassador John Bolton sent out a press release trashing Democrat Jon Ossoff.

“In these critical times, America needs serious, national security-minded Members of Congress who have the experience and expertise to enact policies that will protect our country,” said Ambassador John Bolton. “Despite his many claims to the contrary, Jon Ossoff is not serious. He has wrongfully inflated his resume, touting five years of national security experience and top-secret national security clearance — before backtracking and saying his clearance only lasted 5 months — deceiving many Georgians in the process.”

Ambassador Bolton continued, “experience aside, Georgians in the 6th Congressional District deserve a representative who will be honest and open at all times.”

Ambassador Bolton has not endorsed a candidate in Georgia’s 6th Congressional Special Election, but he is closely monitoring the race and may give a contribution from the Bolton PAC as the election draws near.

Sandy Springs City Council member Gabriel Sterling announced he will run for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission.

Sandy Springs City Councilman Gabriel Sterling announced today that he will be running for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission. The current Chairman, John Eaves, has announced he will resign the seat to run for Mayor of Atlanta. This will require a special election, likely to be held on November 7th.

“I’ve spent most of my life working to bring conservative, effective government to all parts of Georgia,” said Sterling. “There’s a real opportunity to build on the effective reforms that have been led by the three Republican Commissioners, Ellis, Morris, and Hausmann – this chance to make meaningful change for all of the people Fulton is too important to ignore.”

“With nearly all of Fulton County incorporated into cities, now is the time to rightsize our Fulton government, reduce spending, cut taxes, and focus on the core responsibilities of the county,” continued Sterling who played a role in creating many of Fulton’s new cities. “We can enhance the quality of life for everyone who lives, works, prays, and plays here.”

“Sandy Springs is run efficiently, providing quality, responsive service, and I want to see that kind of smart government and competition brought to bear in Fulton County,” Sterling stated. “We can’t afford to go back to the dysfunction and divisiveness that defined Fulton for so long. We need fresh ideas like we’ve implemented in Sandy Springs and a steady hand in the Chairmanship. I think my record shows that I can help lead this large and diverse county successfully.”

Early voting in City of South Fulton and Roswell special runoff elections will be held next week.

Steve Shaw resigned his seat on the Eton, Georgia City Council and it will be filled in November’s election.

The remaining three council members and Mayor Billy Cantrell accepted Shaw’s resignation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, according to Kim Hall, city clerk. Shaw notified the mayor’s office of his resignation last Friday, a week after being arrested by the Murray County Sheriff’s Office on two felony counts related to an arranged illegal prescription drug buy. He is charged with conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act and use of a communication facility in a drug transaction.

The seat he held is up for election on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. Rather than call for a special election to fill out the term, Hall said the council members decided to leave the seat vacant until the next election cycle.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, qualifying for the election will be open Aug. 21-25.

Andrew Niquette will run against State Rep. Winfred Dukes (D-Albany) in the 2018 Democratic Primary.

Five Georgia companies are bidding on projects related to building a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

The City of College Park is holding public sessions to discuss the FY2017-18 budget.

The Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce will host a pancake breakfast with local legislators next week.

Coweta delegation members – Sen. Matt Brass, Rep. Lynn Smith, Rep. Josh Bonner, Rep. David Stover, and Rep. Bob Trammell – will discuss what happened during the legislative session, which began in January and ended late March.

The Coweta delegation will participate in a moderated panel. Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, will provide legislative insights from the session as well as moderate the panel.

The event will be held from 7:30-9 a.m. Reservations are due by Monday. The cost is $20 for chamber members and their guests and $50 for general admission.

Qualifying for a special election to Clarkesville City Council will be held April 24-26, 2017.

The at-large election will determine the person who will serve the balance of a four-year term, beginning on or about June 21, 2017, and continuing through Dec. 31, 2019.

The Clarkesville Special Election will be held Tuesday, June 20, at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center, 120 Paul Franklin Road, Clarkesville. Deadline to register to vote in the Special Election is May 22, Ellison said.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 6, 2017

These four dogs at Barrow County Animal Control were scheduled to be euthanized this morning, but have been given a reprieve to noon on Friday because of yesterday’s weather.

Code Red Barrow


Petunia is a female Boxer and Whippet mix puppy who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

She was born around September of 2016 and is quite the unique combination – Boxer/Whippet mix! Basically, at only 22 lbs, we’re going to call her a mini boxer with some stilts for legs. Because she is still a puppy, our best guess is that she’ll top out in the high 30’s or low 40’s.

April Athenspets

April is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Athenspets in Athens, GA.

April is a classic lab mix puppy – full of kisses and fun. When you kneel down and call her she runs right into your arms and flips over for a bellyrub. She seems to have a great temperament – wants to be friends with everybody, human and canine, and is submissive without being at all fearful. She hasn’t had much training yet so she jumps up, but she isn’t wild or hyper about it. She wants to please, so training her shouldn’t be hard.


Hershel is a young male Terrier and Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Athens, GA.

Hershel and his siblings, Rosita, Rick, Daryl, Maggie and Michonne were abandoned on the side of a busy road. They were starving and in bad shape. They were the real life Walking Dead puppies.

Hershel is a 8 month old Terrier/Shepherd/Hound(?) mix. He is a very sweet and sensitive boy. He loves attention and wants to sit in your lap. He loves his toys and lots of play time. Hershel is very good with other dogs, cats and children. Hershel is crate and house trained.

Hershel can be a little timid of some men due to previous harsh treatment but he does warm up with a little patience. Then he will be your buddy. :)

He will be about 40 to 50lbs full grown.


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

On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that all ports in America would be open to trade with other countries not ruled by the British. The action was taken several months after Britain passed the American Prohibitory Act which forbade trade with the colonies and was intended to punish colonists for the growing rebellion.

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896.

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, when the US House of Representatives voted 373-50 on a declaration of war that passed the Senate two days earlier.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released on April 6, 1968.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal signed an Executive Order creating a Court Reform Council on March 30, 2017.

Whereas: A trusted an modernized judiciary is a vital component of society; and

Whereas: Proposals to amend the judicial process and the administrative law hearing process in Georgia require a thorough analysis; and

Whereas: A study of best practices would be a required aspect of the analysis,

Now, therefore, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Georgia, it is hereby

Ordered: That the Court Reform Council is hereby created to review current practices and procedures within the judicial court system and the administrative law hearing system and make recommendations to improve efficiencies and achieve best practices for the administration of justice.

It is further

Ordered: The following individuals are hereby appointed to serve on the Court Reform Council:

The Honorable Chris Carr – Attorney General of Georgia

The Honorable Bill Cowsert – Majority Leader, Georgia State Senate

The Honorable Christian Commer – Majority Whip, Georgia House of Representatives

The Honorable Stacey Abrams – Minority Leader, Georgia House of Representatives

The Honorable Nels Peterson – Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia

The Honorable Charlie Bethel – Judge, Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia

The Honorable Trent Brown – Judge, Superior Court of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit

The Honorable Michael Malihi – Chief Judge, Office of State Administrative Hearings

David Werner – Executive Counsel, Office of the Governor

Dennis T. Cathey – member, Cathey & Strain, LLC

Chris Cummiskey – Executive Vice President of External Affairs, Georgia Power

Ordered: That Attorney General Chris Carr shall serve as Chairman of the Court Reform Council

It is further

Ordered: That the Court Reform Council shall submit a final report of their findings and recommendations to me on or before December 1, 2017.

Continue Reading..


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

President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.

The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.

The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.

On April 5, 1968, amid racial tension following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., musician James Brown helped keep the peace in Boston.

On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the late Paul Coverdell.

On April 5, 1980, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. played their first show as Twisted Kites in Athens, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Department of Transportation said yesterday that the collapsed section of I-85 will reopen by mid-June.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) said the Interstate 85 overpass will be rebuilt by June 15th, about 10 weeks from now.

GDOT said it has hired contractor CW Matthews to handle the reconstruction. The company helped rebuild a portion of I-285 in 2001, when a gasoline tanker truck collided with two small cars and shut down four lanes of the elevated bypass. Because the company helped with that project years ago, GDOT said they have confidence CW Matthews will be helpful with this project as well.

They’ll pay bonuses to the contractor to finish construction quickly, according to GDOT’s Director of Construction Mark Mastronardi.

The transportation agency could also penalize the contractor for not finishing the work on time. Though details on how they’ll do that have not been released, they have assembled a 30-person team to monitor demolition and construction around the clock to make sure shortcuts aren’t taken that could compromise the safety of the repairs.

Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue released a joint statement on the I-85 repairs.

“We appreciate the swift action taken by Governor Deal and our state officials, local first responders and community volunteers during this very difficult disruption,” Isakson said in the statement. “In addition, President Trump and his administration stepped in immediately to offer assistance to Georgia and help make sure initial recovery efforts were able to get underway as quickly as possible.

“As federal partners, Senator Perdue and I continue to stand ready to help expedite efforts to ensure a quick and successful long term recovery.”

Perdue added, “Georgians stepped up to the plate and immediately responded to the devastating bridge collapse we witnessed last week. From Governor Deal to our brave first responders and local leaders, there is no doubt our state’s swift action saved lives in this situation.

“President Trump and his team also took action to make federal support available to Georgia immediately. We are all hands on deck to expedite any regulatory requirements and we stand shoulder to shoulder to make sure we get Georgians traveling safely again as fast as humanly possible.”

State Representative Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) is running for Secretary of State in 2018.

Georgia Republican State Representative Brad Raffensperger of Johns Creek announced Monday that he is a candidate for the Office of Georgia Secretary of State. The incumbent, Brian Kemp, is not running for reelection and instead is running for governor.

“As an engineer, a general contractor and as the owner of a manufacturing business, I’ve worked and built projects in more than 30 states across the country. I have seen first-hand just how easy some states make it to do business, while other states make it hard,” said Raffensperger. “As Secretary of State, I will work to ensure Georgia is a friendly place to bring new business.”

Raffensperger is CEO of Tendon Systems, LLC. The firm is a specialty contracting and engineering firm with 200,000 square feet of office space and manufacturing facilities in Columbus, GA and Forsyth County. Tendon employs more than 100 Georgians.

“I’m running for Georgia Secretary of State because I’m a conservative who wants to keep streamlining government in Georgia to prevent it from getting in the way of job creation and opportunity.”

“As our Georgia Secretary of State, I will work with our Governor to limit the size of government, cut wasteful regulations that impede growth, and will work to keep Georgia moving forward to bring new businesses here,” said Raffensperger. “I’m a strong believer in putting taxpayers first.”

Raffensperger represents House District 50 in the legislature. He is a registered professional engineer in over 25 states. He and his wife, Tricia, have been married for 40 years and have three adult sons and two grandchildren. Brad and Tricia worship at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta.

The general election for Secretary of State will be held in November 2018. The date of the Republican primary is yet to be announced.

Raffensperger joins fellow Republican State Rep. Buzz Brockway (Lawrenceville) in the field for Secretary of State.

Governor Nathan Deal endorsed Republican Gus Makris in the Special Election for Senate District 32.

“Gus Makris is the Republican Leader and Conservative Reformer that Senate District 32 deserves. His desire to use conservative principles in order to reduce poverty, improve our schools, reduce traffic, and improve pay for our state public safety employees is exactly what we need. His thoughtfulness in the State Senate will be appreciated,” said Governor Deal.

“Governor Deal’s endorsement is an honor, and I think a recognition of how our ideas will help this district and the State of Georgia,” Makris said. “Under Governor Deal’s leadership, we became the #1 State in which to do business, we reformed our criminal justice system, and created a thriving film industry that adds billions to our State economy.”

Makris added that his campaign has been focused on issues that the other Republican campaigns have failed to address. This includes being the only Republican to offer plans on reducing class sizes and reforming the State funding formula for education to put more money in classrooms. Additionally, he is the only candidate thus far to address our crippling traffic and reform our budget to prioritize core services.

“I have knocked on thousands of doors across this district, and the message is largely the same. Voters want a conservative and capable State Senator who will actually listen and represent them. I am proud to have Governor Deal’s endorsement, just like I am proud to have the personal endorsement of thousands of voters across State Senate District 32.”

Fifteen of the Sixth District candidates met in a forum hosted by the Cobb County League of Women Voters.

State Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners) joined Gov. Deal and several other legislators to celebrate Georgia Down Syndrome Day on March 21st.

The governor’s proclamation highlights the fact that about 6,000 babies in the U.S. are born with Down syndrome annually, and more than 400,000 Americans have it.

“I am a father of a child with Down syndrome, and I am grateful to Governor Deal for bringing recognition to our community,” Hilton said in a statement. “As a state representative, it is an honor to serve as a champion and voice for families across the state with special needs.”

Columbus Memory Center is working on a project to screen all local senior citizens for Alzhemier’s disease.

[Dr. Jonathan] Liss and Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will hold a news conference 4 p.m., Tuesday, in the mayor’s office. Columbus Council is expected to issue a proclamation in support of the effort during a meeting at the Citizens Services Center, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

As part of the initiative, called the “Columbus Memory Project,” every resident 65 or older will be offered a free test designed to give them a “memory number” as a baseline understanding of his/her memory health. Additionally, individuals 55-75 years of age will be able to submit a confidential DNA sample, via free cheek swab kits, through GeneMatch, a program of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry.

Lawsuits against Columbus over the city budget are nearing an end as the judge overseeing the action granted the city’s motion for summary judgment.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Al Tillman rescinded an earlier resignation and intends to remain on the Commission.

Days after Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Al Tillman said he would resign, he reversed course and says he will remain on the commission.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Tillman said he posted a message on Facebook this weekend that he would step down because of frustration, including criticism leveled at his family. Tillman, who is several months into his second term on the commission, cited in the Facebook message a lack of satisfaction he said he receives from some people in the community.

Savannah-Chatham County’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) has raised $23 million more than expected, and city officials are trying to decide how to spend it.

Hall County Board of Elections voted to start offering election materials in Spanish and English.

In a 2-1 vote, the board approved the motion Tuesday afternoon. Democrats Gala Sheats and Kim Copeland voted in favor of the measure, while Republican Ken Cochran cast the only dissenting vote.

Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), said in a statement that it is an “important step forward to ensure all voters in Hall County would be able to exercise their right to vote, regardless of language barriers that existed before.”