Category: Georgia Politics

8
Sep

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

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

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

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

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

Pogo Enemy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Ports are closing ahead of Hurricane Irma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaigns and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qualifying has been set for the following Special Elections:

HD 42 (formerly Stacey Evans)

HD 89 (formerly Stacey Abrams)

HD 117 (formerly Regina Quick)

HD 119 (formerly Chuck Williams)

SD 6 (formerly Hunter Hill)

SD 39 (formerly Vincent Fort)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary election will take place May 22.

6
Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5
Sep

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

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

heartofatlanta.digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus asked the GBI to investigate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1
Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two candidates for Mayor of Columbus in 2018 have announced.

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

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

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

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

Facebook was the preferred medium for newbie Charles Roberts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health care needs to addressed, he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31
Aug

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal outlined the state response to Hurricane Harvey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gwinnett County has 147 vacancies in law enforcement jobs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tybee Island set a new record for sea turtle nests.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four candidates for Columbus City Council filed paperwork to run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30
Aug

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29
Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From Gov. Deal’s press release:

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

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

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

From USNews.com:

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

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

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

Two prominent Confederate monuments are in downtown Macon.

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

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

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

The Athens Banner-Herald discusses the political implications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Savannah Morning News covers candidate qualifying for Effingham County municipalities.

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

28
Aug

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

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

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

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

Old Newt Pic

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

Click here to watch the unveiling live at 10 AM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Council Post 5
Keith Goeke
Matthew C. Tyser

City Council Post 6
Matt Judy
Karen Parrish
Gus Hadorn

Shafer Steamrolls Straw Polls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuke Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25
Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

David Perdue Sandy Springs Chamber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carmen will make us proud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

24
Aug

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

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

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

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

FDR Warm Springs

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canton will host two contested City Council elections in November.

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

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

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

An Alpharetta City Council open seat drew two candidates.

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

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

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

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

Milton City Council member Karen Thurman is not seeking reelection.

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

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

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

Northwest Georgia has a number of contested municipal elections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthcare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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