GaPundit http://gapundit.com Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:20:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.7 Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 31, 2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/31/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-31-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-31-2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/31/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-31-2015/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:55:39 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51464 GaPundit:

Georgia and American History On July 31, 1777, the Marquis de LaFayette was commissioned a Major General in the Continental Army, serving without pay. The cornerstone for the first United States Mint was laid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1792, becoming the first building constructed by the federal government under the Constitution. Former President

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Georgia and American History

On July 31, 1777, the Marquis de LaFayette was commissioned a Major General in the Continental Army, serving without pay.

The cornerstone for the first United States Mint was laid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1792, becoming the first building constructed by the federal government under the Constitution.

Former President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded President Lincoln upon his assassination and oversaw much of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, died of a stroke in Tennessee on July 31, 1875.

On July 31, 1906, a bill to create place a Constitutional Amendment on the November election for voters to decide whether to create an intermediate-level Georgia Court of Appeals was approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

On July 31, 1962, the one-millionth immigrant was welcomed into Israel.

Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, won his 300th career game on July 31, 1990. During eight innings, Ryan threw 146 pitches, while today, many pitchers are pulled at around the 100-pitch count.

“In the old days throwing that many pitches was a normal game,” said Nolan Ryan, who tossed a record seven no-hitters and is the all-time leader in strikeouts, fifth in innings pitched.

Ryan, currently the Rangers’ team president, is an outspoken detractor of the recent trend toward monitoring pitch counts. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Ryan expressed his belief that today’s pitchers are “pampered” and that there is no reason why today’s pitchers cannot pitch as much as he and his colleagues did back in the day. As a result, Ryan is pushing his team’s pitchers to throw deeper into games and extend their arms further, emphasizing conditioning over what some would call coddling.

As Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux told SI: “This generation of players has become a creature of the pitch count. Their ceiling has been lowered. It’s up to us to jack it back up.”

Georgia Politics

A fire destroyed the Monroe County home of Brian and Janea Cox, the parents of Haleigh, who became the poster child for medical cannabis in Georgia.

Six-year-old Haleigh Cox and her parents, Janea and Brian Cox, appear to have lost everything and are awaiting an insurance assessment. The fire occurred just days before Janea Cox and Haleigh were set to return home, after spending the past year in Colorado. There, the girl has been on a therapeutic regimen that includes an extract of cannabis.

Her family has said a liquid form of the drug has helped reduce her seizures.

Janea Cox said by telephone that her family is grateful for all the love and support from friends, family and the community.

“We will get through this storm and hopefully come out stronger,” she said.

Donations for the Coxes are being collected by Northway Church. Pastor Kevin Mills said the church does not yet have a list of the family’s immediate needs. Donations can be made via the church website or by calling 478-476-1971.

From their church’s website:

To Donate Via Check To The Haleigh Cox Family

  • Make checks payable to Northway Church with General Memorial Fund written on the memo line.
  • For donations mailed to Northway Church please include this information:

Northway Church
Attn: Haleigh Cox Family
5915 Zebulon Road
Macon, GA 31210

To Make A Donation Online

  1. Click here
  2. Fill out your information
  3. In the drop down box select General Memorial Fund
  4. IMPORTANT: Email kcaffarelli@northwaychurch.net with your name and gift amount.

Pretty funny campaign ad, and I think it’ll be effective. I don’t know anything about it other than that it popped up in my Facebook feed.

The Georgia Sales Tax Holiday is now in effect, just in time for back-to-school.

The holiday began this morning and extends through midnight on Saturday.

During those days, buyers won’t have to pay sales tax on several back-to-school items. Exempt items are:

• Clothing and footwear with a sales price of $100 or less per item

• Computers, computer components and pre-written computer software purchased for noncommercial home or personal use with a sales price of $1,000 or less per item

• School supplies, including art and computer supplies or instructional materials purchased for non-commercial use with a sales price of $20 or less per item

DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez has been nominated for a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

The White House has nominated DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez, a Republican, to fill the final open slot on the federal bench in the Northern District of Georgia.

The White House made the announcement Thursday afternoon. Lopez has been a state court judge since 2010. When Georgia Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Lopez to the DeKalb bench, he was 34—the youngest judge on the county’s state court bench and only the second Latino judge in the state.

He was born in Puerto Rico and moved with his family to Augusta when he was 6 years old.

Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

The AJC has statements from Georgia’s two United States Senators; federal judicial appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Said Perdue:

“I congratulate Judge Dax Lopez of DeKalb County on his nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I look forward to meeting Judge Lopez and exploring his judicial philosophy during the confirmation process.”

Added Isakson:

“I welcome the nomination and look forward to meeting with Judge López during the confirmation process.”

The slot on the Northern District of Georgia bench remains unfilled after last year’s battle over Judge Michael Boggs, who was blocked by Democrats because of his past views on abortion, gay rights and keeping the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag.

Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies are receiving training on the use of body cams, in advance of their rollout.

In addition to learning policy details, deputies in a class Wednesday were able to ask questions on how their activities will play out while wearing the cameras.

“Do not let this camera replace what you do as an officer,” said Cpl. Michelle Thomas, who led the class. She advised officers that even though the camera added a visual element to police work, it should not replace good policing or report writing.

Deputy Billy Jones, who has worn one of the 15 test cameras for the past six months, was able to provide some firsthand feedback.

“I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for a long time,” Jones said. “People generally like to pop off (verbally at officers) … but the camera almost takes the want to be belligerent away.”

I have some concerns about the use of body cams, including how stored footage will be used and the application of the “plain view” standard for searches. But the de-escalation of bad behavior when citizens know they’re being recorded might be an unintended good consequence that prevents routine matters from getting out of hand.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-14) will hold a series of public meetings in his district.

August 12th – Ringgold
11am to 12pm
Location: The Depot
155 Depot St
Ringgold, GA

August 19th – Dallas
11am to 12pm
Location: Watson Government Complex, Lower Level Meeting Space
240 Constitution Blvd.
Dallas, GA

August 19th – Rome
2pm to 3pm
Location: The Forum, Riverwalk Ballroom
301 Tribune Street
Rome, GA

August 20th – Dalton
1:30pm – 2:30pm
Location: Dalton City Hall
300 West Waugh Street
Dalton, GA

Bartow County is seeing a significant rise in local manufacuring and new jobs, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

A Gwinnett County grand jury will hear a presentation of charges against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill after he accidentally shot a friend.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said Thursday afternoon he had just met with county solicitor Rosanna Szabo, and they agreed that the grand jury should weigh the case. But Porter said he doesn’t necessarily expect a change in the charge against Hill in the May 3 shooting of 43-year-old Gwenevere McCord.

Previously, the case had been presumed to move forward without the grand jury, because the reckless conduct charge against Hill is a misdemeanor. Porter’s office handles felony cases, which typically require the grand jury; Szabo’s officials handles misdemeanors, which often don’t.

The decision to shift gears in protocol is because of Hill’s position in law enforcement and question about whether he was technically on or off duty, Porter said. Given Hill’s position, the law allows him a chance to make a “sworn statement not subject to cross examination” for the grand jury.

A Gwinnett-based charity delivers supplies to people with disabilities in Liberia.

[Florence A. Tolbert and the Disabled Advocates Inc.] has delivered more than $800,000 worth of devices to the country since 2008, with plans to ship at least another $55,000 worth this year.

The nonprofit has received donations from several other agencies, including carts and wheelchairs from PET International, mobility devices from Joni and Friends in California and glasses and white canes for the blind from the Lawrenceville Lions Club. This year, FATDA will ship 26 crates full of supplies to Liberia.

In addition to providing needed devices for the disabled, Dean hopes to expand the nonprofit’s capabilities to provide disability education and retrofit buildings to provide easier access. Most of all, he wants to change people’s misconceptions about disabilities.

“Disability is not due to witchcraft or divine retribution,” Dean said. “It can happen and does happen to everybody.”

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Adoptable Georgia Dogs for July 31, 2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/31/adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-31-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-31-2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/31/adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-31-2015/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:00:57 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51465 GaPundit:

McLovin is a 3 month old Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is looking for his first and forever home! Animal control facilities are no place to call home, but that is the only home he has ever had, so he is happy and thankful to have what he does have. He is very playful with

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McLovin

McLovin is a 3 month old Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is looking for his first and forever home! Animal control facilities are no place to call home, but that is the only home he has ever had, so he is happy and thankful to have what he does have. He is very playful with other dogs and puppies, is great with kids and is slowly learning how to walk on a leash. He and his 1 brother and 1 sister were brought here by a woman who found them after they had been dumped in front of her house.

McLovin is available for adoption from Meriwether County Animal Shelter in Greenville, GA.

Tamarind

Tamarind is a young female Redbone Coonhound/Labrador Retriever mix who is looking for a new home. She is somewhat timid, but very sweet and would love to be a lap dog. Tamarind is available for adoption from Meriwether County Animal Shelter in Greenville, GA.

Cass

“Cass” is a young female shepherd mix who needs a new home. She is doing great living in a kennel with another dog. They have become good friends. Cass is available for adoption from Meriwether County Animal Shelter in Greenville, GA.

DeKalb Littles

DeKalb County Animal Services wants you to know that they have a number of small dogs that are available for adoption.

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Georgia judicial investigations become prosecutions | www.myajc.com http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/georgia-judicial-investigations-become-prosecutions-www-myajc-com/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=georgia-judicial-investigations-become-prosecutions-www-myajc-com http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/georgia-judicial-investigations-become-prosecutions-www-myajc-com/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:59:35 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51462 GaPundit:

More than five dozen Georgia judges have stepped down from the bench in disgrace since the state’s judicial watchdog agency began aggressively policing ethical conduct eight years ago. More lately, however, the jurists aren’t just leaving the court in disgrace. Some are leaving in handcuffs. via Georgia judicial investigations become prosecutions | www.myajc.com.

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More than five dozen Georgia judges have stepped down from the bench in disgrace since the state’s judicial watchdog agency began aggressively policing ethical conduct eight years ago.

More lately, however, the jurists aren’t just leaving the court in disgrace. Some are leaving in handcuffs.

via Georgia judicial investigations become prosecutions | www.myajc.com.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 30, 2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-30-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-30-2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-30-2015/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 11:00:54 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51443 GaPundit:

July 30th could be celebrated as the birthday of democracy in America, as the Virginia House of Burgesses became the first legislative body in the New World on July 30, 1619.  Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least

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July 30th could be celebrated as the birthday of democracy in America, as the Virginia House of Burgesses became the first legislative body in the New World on July 30, 1619.

 Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

On July 30, 1931, Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. signed legislation merging Milton and Fulton Counties if voters in each county approved a referendum. Fulton had earlier merged with Campbell County, to the south.

Actor Laurence Fishburn was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare, for seniors, and Medicaid for some low-income people on July 30, 1965.

Georgia Politics

Ammon Williams, the 17-year old son of Republican State Senator Michael Williams (R-Cumming) is hospitalized in an induced coma after a skateboarding accident. We’re praying for the Williams family.

As you’ll no doubt be reminded dozens of times over the next couple days, Georgia’s Sales Tax Holiday runs July 31 through August 1. Click here for a flyer from the Georgia Department of Revenue on which items are not subject to sales tax this weekend.

Yesterday, Gov. Deal announced the formation of the State Steering Committee for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), including juvenile court judges and individuals from relevant state organizations, who will work to expand this juvenile reform to counties.

“Georgia leads the nation in meaningful justice reforms,” said Deal. “We rely on evidence while embracing innovations, and this latest move continues that pattern.”

A national initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, JDAI works on a county-by-county basis to encourage appropriate community support for low-risk juvenile offenders to enhance public safety, help misguided youth and conserve taxpayer dollars. According to the foundation, communities participating in JDAI have lowered the number of youth in detention by 44 percent.

Clayton County adopted the initiative in 2003, ultimately resulting in an 80 percent decrease in its average daily detention population: less than 1 percent of the county’s youth felony offenders that benefit from detention alternatives are re-arrested for a felony charge. The initial Georgia expansion will take place in multiple counties, which will be determined through a collaboration with the Casey Foundation.

“As Clayton County proves, Georgia communities can use JDAI to keep our youth out of detention and in the running for a better life,” said Deal.

Governor Deal’s press spokesman Brian Robinson will be leaving his office on the first floor of the Georgia State Capitol to seek treasure in the private sector. Greg Bluestein of the AJC has a compendium of quotes, which leads us to wonder what the auditions will be like for a successor.

Hall County legislators spoke to the Gainesville Times about their expectations for the 2016 Session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, is part of a group of lawmakers reviewing how cannabis oil might be manufactured, sold and purchased in the state.

While it is legal to possess the oil to treat eight medical conditions, including seizure disorders and cancer, access to medical cannabis remains an obstacle for most patients.

Made up of physicians, attorneys, state legislators and law enforcement representatives, the Commission on Medical Cannabis will help set Georgia’s policies on medical marijuana and will make recommendations regarding access and availability to cannabis oil to the governor and General Assembly later this year.

Miller has also said he expects to see legislation addressing the flag, one way or another.

[State Rep. Emory] Dunahoo also said he also hopes the state will address the Supreme Court’s decision in June to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, ending a ban here in Georgia approved by voters in 2004.

“I still have a problem when the Supreme Court, who does not write law, states that by law we have to have gay marriage,” Dunahoo said. “It’ll be interesting to see where we go with that.”

Valdosta City Council elections in November look to be competitive, as a number of candidates throw their hats in the ring, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A number of candidates have thrown their hats in the ring early for city council seats, including five running for the at-large district seat.

“It is unusual to have that many candidates looking at it,” [elections official Tiffany] Linkswiler said.

Four candidates in the at-large race have filed Declaration of Intent papers with the Board of Elections. As an incumbent, Norton is not required to file these papers.

In addition, two candidates have filed DOI papers with the Board of Elections for the District 1 seat, currently held by Councilman James Wright.

Wright has not indicated if he will run in the 2015 election.

The qualifying period for the city council election is the first week of September. The city election is Nov. 3.

Former Republican State Senator Seth Harp was among those speaking against the “property tax freeze thaw” proposed by Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

Former state Sen. Seth Harp and former state Rep. Gary Cason both spoke in opposition to the mayor’s proposal during Wednesday evening’s forum at the Columbus Public Library.

Under the freeze the property taxes of homes under a homestead exemption are based on the value of the home at the time it is purchased. That value is fixed until the property is substantially altered or sold, at which time the value of the home is reassessed and then frozen again at the new value.

Harp, who said he was “instrumental” in the passage of the freeze in 1982, said he “respectfully disagrees” with Tomlinson’s proposal.

“The property tax freeze is fine because it protects homeowners,” Harp said. “I know you and I disagree on that. But if I buy a home today, I know what my property taxes are going to be next year, and 20 years from now.”

Harp said the freeze was a protection from the hyper-inflation occuring in the early ‘80s, which he said could return under current economic circumstances.

If you work as a Probate Clerk and end up assaulting a lawyer in court, while we sympathize, you may be doing your job wrong. But that allegedly happened in Effingham County, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Francys Johnson, who is president of the Georgia NAACP, said he asked for a copy of the tape recording that was made during a five-hour hearing on Monday and that Probate Court Clerk Susan Dobson grabbed his arm and snatched the recorder from his hands.

He said she scratched him but did not leave a mark.

An Effingham sheriff’s deputy working in the courtroom took a report about the alleged assault and told Johnson he could pursue charges in Magistrate Court.

The report quoted Dobson as saying her thumb touched the side of Johnson’s hand when she took the recorder. She said the recorder had other, sensitive proceedings on it and that Johnson could not have a copy of everything on the device.

Johnson said he wanted a copy of what was on the tape recorder because he was concerned that the information on it could be altered. He asked that the recorder be put under lock and key until a transcript could be made of the proceedings and said Court Clerk Elizabeth Hursey granted his request.

Dalton, Georgia will participate in the the national Communities that Work Partnership.

“The Communities that Work Partnership (CTW Partnership) is an effort to strengthen regional economies by equipping American workers with the skills needed for 21st century jobs and accelerating industry-led workforce development and training efforts,” according to a press release from the Commerce Department.

Louis Fordham, corporate vice president for resources and facilities at J+J, says Dalton’s selection is testament to both its manufacturing heritage and its focus on the future.

“The objective is to bring together communities and regions that are working on workforce development and allow them to network and to share and learn from one another,” he said. “The concept is to bring leadership together and people together to talk about these issues  and to benchmark and establish best practices. We will meet in September (with representatives from the other areas) in Baltimore. We will have a second meeting that I don’t have the details on, and the rest of the communication will be Internet-based.”

Decatur County Commissioners voted to hire Alan Thomas as the new County Administrator.

The Decatur County Board of Education rolled back the millage rate and will collect less tax revenues this year.

An injured Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was taken to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for veterinary care and is resting up.

Congratulations to James Lyles of Ringgold, named 2015 Farmer of the Year, who advances the the SEC Primary Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards.

Political Football

The FC United major league soccer franchise is considering locating offices and practice fields in DeKalb County.

Kim Shreckengost, spokesperson for Atlanta United FC, said team officials are in negotiations with DeKalb County to reach a potential agreement.

“Our discussions with DeKalb leaders to date have been positive and cooperative, and we are encouraged by their interest and excited to potentially become part of the future of ‘Downtown DeKalb’ and the revitalization of Memorial Drive,” she said. “We look forward to continuing these discussions; no definitive agreement is in place at this time.”

The team will play in the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium when it begins its first season in 2017. Both teams are owned by [billionaire Arthur] Blank.

The cost to DeKalb taxpayers would be significant, according to the AJC.

DeKalb County would spend roughly $12 million and hand over 41 acres of government land as part of a proposed deal for Atlanta United FC to build a $30 million soccer complex near Interstate 285, according to details revealed Wednesday.

The team, owned by Arthur Blank, would build a 3,500-seat stadium, three outdoor practice fields and a two-story corporate headquarters on land behind the DeKalb jail near Memorial Drive, according to a pending memorandum of understanding with the county. Four additional fields and an indoor training facility could be built later. Ownership of the land and facilities would revert to the county after 30 years.

The DeKalb Commission is scheduled to vote on the incentive package Tuesday.

Of the $12 million the county would pay, an estimated $7 million goes to Blank so the county could locate its parks department in new offices in the stadium. Under the proposal, an estimated $5 million would be used for demolition and land preparation, including irrigation, sod installation and environmental remediation.

In addition, Blank won’t have to pay property taxes, and all permitting fees for the soccer complex would be waived. The county would pursue funding for a pedestrian walkway from the complex to the Kensington MARTA station.

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester (R-Dunwoody) raised questions about the financial impact of the proposal.

Commissioner Nancy Jester said she doesn’t oppose the deal but is not ready to vote for it either. She still has questions about the funding mechanisms and if the soccer bang is worth the taxpayer bucks.

“While I understand it will be a lovely facility, I’m concerned about what are the economic impacts,” said Jester. “What economic benefits will it actually bring to DeKalb County and to that area?”

Perhaps there’s an analogous development done earlier in DeKalb County that could shed some light on how this will help economic development? The Stone Mountain Tennis Center was built for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and has fallen on hard times. According to a new article in the Dalton Daily Citizen,

he Stone Mountain Tennis Center, where U.S. teams won three gold medals in the summer of 1996, has been closed since 2007.

The center was one of the “world-class facilities” poised to “serve the community well into the 21st century,” according to an economic impact study published the year before the Olympics.

Now, the organization responsible for the facility, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, is waiting until it has the $2.4 million needed to raze it.

While there is a proposal to revitalize the Stone Mountain Tennis Center, it’s an apt cautionary tale.

Presidential Politics

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will join the other Presidential hopefuls at the Red State Gathering in Atlanta next weekend.

Ted Cruz Georgia Tour 07302015

After three events in Georgia, Senator Ted Cruz will continue to tour the SEC Primary states with an excursion to Alabama, according to Yellowhammer News.

The Shelby County Republican Party announced Wednesday they will be hosting a “Southern Social” with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) and moon pies as part of a series of events the presidential candidate has scheduled that day in Alabama.

Cruz will be meeting voters and speaking at the Pelham Civic Complex on Sunday August 9 from 2pm-4pm. The event is casual and open to the public. Yellowhammer’s Cliff Sims will also be in attendance and will be introducing the senator at the event.

Campaign sources say Senator Cruz may also attend a service that morning at Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

Cruz is also planning to visit the Rocket City later that evening for a town hall meeting at the Jackson Center in Cummings Research Park at 7 p.m. The Republican Women of Huntsville are hosting the event and Sen. Cruz will be joined by Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL5), who praised the senator on Yellowhammer Radio saying, “I believe Ted Cruz would be an excellent president. The parallels between Ted Cruz and the way he conducts himself, his belief system, and Ronald Reagan are uncanny.”

Later in August, Cruz will return to Alabama to deliver the keynote address at the Tuscaloosa Republican Party’s annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner.

2016 Presidential candidates are giving the State of Alabama more attention than ever before. In the past few months, Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Ben Carson have already visited, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will speak in Talladega on August 22.

Many believe the increased attention to Alabama has been created by the “SEC Primary.” The Yellowhammer State will join Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia to hold its presidential primary election on March 1st. Electoral heavy hitter Florida will also have its primary in March, waiting until two weeks after its neighbors for March 15th.

For the record, we will give any other Presidential candidates coming to Georgia the same kind of coverage we’re giving Cruz, but he’s the first candidate to make a serious commitment to multiple events across Georgia.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has a brief review of Presidential Primary debates and history’s lessons as we head into the GOP debate season. According to their data, Georgia has hosted five Presidential Primary debates – 3 for Democrats, 2 for Republicans, all of them in Atlanta.

Last year, the Republican National Committee made rule changes designed to limit the number of primary debates in the 2016 Presidential cycle, but the Crystal Ball says that the number of debate participants for the GOP may set a record this year.

Most striking is the fact that no debate for either party has ever had more than 10 participants. Republicans had debates in 1996 and 2008 with 10, and Democrats joined them in 2004. Given the 10-candidate limit imposed by the cable networks for the initial primetime Republican debates this cycle, the record high will not be broken, for the moment. Should any network prove brave enough, the large GOP field could fill a debate stage with more than 10 participants.

 

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Adoptable Georgia Dogs for July 30, 2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-30-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-30-2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-30-2015/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:52:19 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51444 GaPundit:

These two young brothers are in urgent need of adoptive or foster homes at the Gwinnett County Shelter. Brother #45849 is in Pen #186 while brother #45850 is in Pen #209 across the aisle. This gorgeous Setter or Retriever (what I’d call simply a bird dog) is male, four years old and will be available

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Gwinnett Brothers

These two young brothers are in urgent need of adoptive or foster homes at the Gwinnett County Shelter.

Gwinnett 45849

Brother #45849 is in Pen #186 while brother #45850 is in Pen #209 across the aisle.

Pen 45850

Gwinnett 46057

This gorgeous Setter or Retriever (what I’d call simply a bird dog) is male, four years old and will be available for adoption beginning tomorrow, July 31, 2015 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. If you’ve got your heart set on a bird dog, go ahead and get your paperwork in as soon as you can.

Gwinnett Rabbits

Gwinnett County Animal Shelter has had a large number of rabbits come into Animal Control from a hoarding or commercial situation and they’re desperately seeking homes for the bunnies. If you’re interested in helping, perhaps you could touch base with a local rabbit rescue group and ask to be part of their foster program.

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Deal launches juvenile justice committee | Governor Nathan Deal Office of the Governor http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/deal-launches-juvenile-justice-committee-governor-nathan-deal-office-of-the-governor/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=deal-launches-juvenile-justice-committee-governor-nathan-deal-office-of-the-governor http://gapundit.com/2015/07/30/deal-launches-juvenile-justice-committee-governor-nathan-deal-office-of-the-governor/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:02:44 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51447 GaPundit:

Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council today announced the formation of the State Steering Committee for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). The committee, which will consist of juvenile court judges and individuals from relevant state organizations, will work to expand this reform effort to counties throughout Georgia. “Georgia leads the

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GaPundit:

Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council today announced the formation of the State Steering Committee for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). The committee, which will consist of juvenile court judges and individuals from relevant state organizations, will work to expand this reform effort to counties throughout Georgia.

“Georgia leads the nation in meaningful justice reforms,” said Deal. “We rely on evidence while embracing innovations, and this latest move continues that pattern.”

A national initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, JDAI works on a county-by-county basis to encourage appropriate community support for low-risk juvenile offenders to enhance public safety, help misguided youth and conserve taxpayer dollars. According to the foundation, communities participating in JDAI have lowered the number of youth in detention by 44 percent.

Clayton County adopted the initiative in 2003, ultimately resulting in an 80 percent decrease in its average daily detention population: less than 1 percent of the county’s youth felony offenders that benefit from detention alternatives are re-arrested for a felony charge. The initial Georgia expansion will take place in multiple counties, which will be determined through a collaboration with the Casey Foundation.

“As Clayton County proves, Georgia communities can use JDAI to keep our youth out of detention and in the running for a better life,” said Deal.

The steering committee will operate under the authority of the Criminal Justice Reform Council and will work with communities to provide the council’s members with recommendations for potential policy and legislative changes. Suggested improvements will aim to reduce the volume of young people requiring detention. They will work to redirect low-risk troubled youth into effective alternatives to traditional detainment and modify other juvenile justice practices to achieve better outcomes.

In partnership with Georgia, the Casey Foundation will also fund a state coordinator position to assist with the effort. This individual will work under the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia and the JDAI Steering Committee to help formulate a plan to take the JDAI model to additional sites; assist local groups with the development and implementation of viable alternatives to detention; and provide the council and steering committee with progress updates, periodic reports and other support.

Counties spanning 40 states are participating in this initiative. Members of the steering committee will attend a JDAI Intersite Conference in Phoenix this September to gain further insight into the process.

JDAI Steering Committee Membership:

Judge Steven Teske, chairman and Criminal Justice Reform Council member

Judge Brad Boyd, Fulton County Juvenile Court chief

Judge John Sumner, president of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges

Judge Leroy Burke, III, presiding Chatham County Juvenile Court judge

Eric John, executive director of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges

Avery Niles, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice

Joe Hood, division director of public safety for the Office of Planning and Budget

Carey Miller, policy adviser for the Governor’s Office

Colin Slay, chief of staff for Clayton County Juvenile Court

Adolphus Graves, chief probation officer for Fulton County Juvenile Court

Joe Vignati, deputy commissioner for community services for the Department of Juvenile Justice

via Deal launches juvenile justice committee | Governor Nathan Deal Office of the Governor.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 29, 2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/29/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-29-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-29-2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/29/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-29-2015/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:01:26 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51431 GaPundit:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his eighth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on July 29, 1927. Congress passed legislation establishing the National Aeronautic and Space Admininistration (NASA) on July 29, 1958. The Doors’ “Light My Fire” became their first #1 hit on July 29, 1967. Carl Lewis won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his eighth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on July 29, 1927.

Congress passed legislation establishing the National Aeronautic and Space Admininistration (NASA) on July 29, 1958.

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” became their first #1 hit on July 29, 1967.

Carl Lewis won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the long jump at the Atlanta Olympics on July 29, 1996.

Yesterday, the last active M35 “Deuce and a Half” truck in service at Robins Air Force Base was moved to the Museum of Aviation and into the history books.

Georgia Politics

Republican J. Max Davis and Democrat Taylor Bennett will meet August 6th for a candidate forum at Oglethorpe University.

The Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce announced July 27 that it would host the forum on Aug. 6 at Lupton Hall on the Oglethorpe University campus. The forum is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Democrat Taylor Bennett, a lawyer and former Georgia Tech football player, and J.Max Davis, a lawyer and the former mayor of Brookhaven, collected the most votes in the four-candidate field seeking the post in the July 14 runoff. Under Georgia law, when no candidate collects more than half the votes cast in an election, the top two finishers face one another in a runoff.

Davis and Bennett meet in the runoff election Aug. 11. During the forum, the candidates will answer only questions submitted in advance and presented through a moderator. To submit a question, go here.

In the runoff election for House District 155, Clay Pirkle has taken to Facebook to remind voters that early voting has begun.

Clay Pirkle Early Voting

Meanwhile, his opponent, Horace Hudgins is holding meet-and-greets for voters.

Horace Hudgins

Macon has won the award for best-tasting water from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals.

The Augusta City Commission passed an ordinance levying a stormwater fee to be added to water bills.

Debated by the commission since February, the fee is projected to generate some $14 million annually for maintenance and upkeep of Augusta’s aging storm drainage system.

The proposed fee for a typical household is $6.40 a month, although large property owners will be subject to a higher fee based on their square footage of non-draining surface.

Engineering Director Abie Ladson said residents will receive a pilot bill within 30 to 60 days that includes their estimated fee. More information about the fee will be posted on a Web site, or customers can call Engineering to find out their fee amounts, he said.

Stormwater foes, meanwhile, vowed to fight the fee. Former commissioner Moses Todd unveiled an “Ax the Tax” advertising campaign Tuesday seeking signatures for a petition to repeal the ordinance.

Claiming the fee is “a tax against the church, the poor and schools,” one version of the ad includes the direct telephone numbers of all 10 commissioners.

The Gwinnett County Commission made Alan Chapman the permanent Transportation Director, while the county prepares for public hearings on changes to the comprehensive transportation plan.

County leaders recently embarked on a major, 18-month comprehensive transportation plan overhaul that will require public input before a final plan is put into place. Commissioners approved a $1.25 million contract last week with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. to serve as a consultant on the comprehensive plan re-write.

Transportation Director Alan Chapman sat down with the Daily Post on Tuesday and explained that a time line for the beginning of the public feedback process has not been finalized. He hoped to have the first steps needed before it can begin — a project management plan and a public involvement plan — in place by the end of the year, however.

“We’ve got to beat the holidays because people are going to be busy from around the middle of November through the end of the year,” Chapman said.

The county’s original transportation plan was developed in 2001 and there have been two updates since then. The last update was done around 2007 when the economy was on the verge of a long recession.

“This is going to be our first major reworking of the entire plan,” Chapman said.

Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division has developed a draft plan for wildlife mangement, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“It’s a plan of action for conserving wildlife before it becomes too rare or too costly to conserve,” said Mary Pfaffko, assistant chief of non-game conservation within the Wildlife Resources Division of Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources. “It’s a guide that helps us focus conservation efforts where they’re needed the most.”

The 248-page plan, now in draft form, was organized by DNR with input from more than 100 conservation partners, including other agencies, nonprofits, universities, businesses, landowners and the public. More than two years in the making, the plan identifies climate change as an “emerging issue” for the state, one that particularly affects coastal habitats because of the associated sea level rise.

“While much of the coast of Georgia is well situated for the next 30 years due to the predominance of high elevations, the vast expanses of salt marsh will begin fragmenting substantially over that period, and will be followed by marsh drowning on a large scale,” the plan states.

Henry County has closed two dog parks for 30 days to prevent the spread of canine flu in the county.

Because DeKalb

After an Ethics Board hearing that was to hear charges against County Commissioner Stan Watson was cancelled for lack of a quorum, iCEO Lee May nominated two new members, bringing the Ethics Board back to its full seven members and making it easier to get a quorum of four members.

May appointed Attorney Christopher E. Bruce who is a DeKalb County resident and a Workers’ Compensation Associate with Speed, Seta, Martin and Trivett in Lawrenceville. He previously worked in the office of the DeKalb Solicitor General and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Nikki Forman, a DeKalb County resident and a Marketing Communications Coordinator for DeKalb Regional Health System in Decatur, was also appointed. She was previously a Communications Specialist with the South Georgia Medical center in Valdosta and earned her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

“These appointments bring a wealth of experience and perspective to the DeKalb Board of Ethics and restore the panel to full membership,” said Interim CEO May in a release. “The Ethics Board can proceed with the myriad of important issues before it.”

After a vendor hit a fire hydrant and knocked the entire county’s water system out of commission for the weekend, Republican candidate for State House J. Max Davis is calling for an audit of DeKalb County’s water management.

“The recent threat to the health and safety of DeKalb citizens is a continuing issue that we are all facing,” said Davis. Many businesses were forced to close for the weekend and heading into the week due to the “boil water” notice issued by the county. “It was stunning that DeKalb County businesses and residents experienced 3rd world conditions the past few days as they were denied access to clean water. This is completely unacceptable.”

“Not only can they not handle the basics of water safety,” continued Davis. “But as Mayor of Brookhaven, I responded to hundreds of calls and emails from people who were being wildly overcharged for water service. I was able to help many citizens resolve these outrageous overbilling issues yet problems still persist for many. We need to hold these bureaucrats responsible for their mismanagement.”

Davis is calling for a comprehensive audit that would address maintenance, infrastructure, management and finance within the DeKalb Department of Watershed Management. Contingent upon the results of the audit, he would propose private sector competition to government monopolies like DeKalb Watershed to increase accountability and cut costs to taxpayers.

DeKalb County canceled the contract with USA Management, which provided lifeguard services to Brown’s Mill Aquatic Center after the company could not prove all lifeguard were certified.

“The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted this morning (July 28) to cancel the contract with USA Management, the company providing lifeguard service for the Browns Mill facility,” a press release from the county says. “The termination of the contract follows USA Management’s failure to provide proof of certified lifeguards. DeKalb Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs is working to provide staffing at the location.”

11Alive reports that at least 16 lifeguards at Brown’s Mill could not provide proof of certification as required by the contract.

In June, a child nearly drowned at Brown’s Mill Aquatic Center after a lifeguard called 911 and did not provide CPR.

Deal signed for new inland port

Georgia will team up with Murray County and CSX Corporation to create a second inland port in Chatsworth, Georgia.

The so-called inland port in this small, mountain community is the second in what is planned to be a statewide network of terminals designed to make rail more convenient to shippers. The first is in Cordele. Besides providing an alternative to existing freight, the network is also envisioned as a lure to manufacturers.

Gov. Nathan Deal said the Chatsworth terminal and the potential jobs it could bring is part of the payoff that legislators were promised when they voted to appropriate $266 million in bonds to fund the state’s share of deepening the shipping channel of the Savannah River.

“The message we delivered to legislators who really did not, perhaps, know what the port of Savannah did for our state was this: The port of Savannah is the key to prosperity for the entire state of Georgia,” he told the dignitaries assembled for the ceremony. “Today’s step is a further ratification of that vision and that goal.”

Chambers of commerce and other industry recruiters in the area have already been talking up the terminal as a way to entice manufacturers to bring jobs to the state. And executives from the Volkswagen assembly plant in nearby Chattanooga, Tenn., were interested enough to attend Tuesday’s ceremony.

State taxpayers will put $10 million into development of the Chatsworth project. The Georgia Ports Authority, which will operate it, is putting in another $7.5 million it has earned from port fees. Murray County is investing $1 million in the 42-acre site, and CSX Corporation is putting in $5.5 million.

Once in operation, the Appalachian Regional Port is expected to remove 50,000 semi truckloads yearly from Georgia’s roads between Chatsworth and the Port of Savannah.

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Adoptable Georgia Dogs for July 29, 2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/29/adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-29-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-29-2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/29/adoptable-georgia-dogs-for-july-29-2015/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:03:25 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51432 GaPundit:

Aliya is a young pug a was born with a defect that left her blind in one eye. Then her other eye was injured – no one knows how – and had to be removed. A rescue group is prepared to take her in, but she needs donations to pay for her surgery, vetting, and

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Aliya Pug

Aliya is a young pug a was born with a defect that left her blind in one eye. Then her other eye was injured – no one knows how – and had to be removed. A rescue group is prepared to take her in, but she needs donations to pay for her surgery, vetting, and transportation. You can make a pledge on Facebook in the thread about her surgery or contact ferretfarm56@gmail.com if you’re interested in adopting her.

Erik

Erik is a sweet middle-age to senior teddy bear dog who loves to hold hands with his people. He has some scars on his ears that are healing, but he’s a friendly and gentle giant who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Control in Decatur, GA. Please email rescue@dekalbanimalservices.com if you’re interested in Erik.

Huckleberry

Huckleberry is a goofy 5-year old Bull Terrier mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Decatur, GA.

Huckleberry’s motto is two toys is always better than one! This goofy 5 year old American Staffordshire Terrier LOVES toys and will pick up as many as he can carry and trot around happily. He is a super friendly boy who can’t wait to have a home (and toys) of his very own! His adoption fee includes his neuter, vaccinations, microchip, and more! To adopt: adoption@dekalbanimalservices.com To foster: volunteer@dekalbanimalservices.com To rescue: rescue@dekalbanimalservices.com.

Remember: all dogs over 25 pounds at DeKalb County Animal Services are adoptable for $17.76 during the month of July.

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State lawmakers expecting contentious 2016 session | GainesvilleTimes.com http://gapundit.com/2015/07/28/state-lawmakers-expecting-contentious-2016-session-gainesvilletimes-com/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=state-lawmakers-expecting-contentious-2016-session-gainesvilletimes-com http://gapundit.com/2015/07/28/state-lawmakers-expecting-contentious-2016-session-gainesvilletimes-com/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:40:13 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51429 GaPundit:

It’s still the dog days of summer, but state lawmakers are already anticipating a heated session of the Georgia General Assembly beginning in January 2016. A few national debates have stirred the pot of controversy in recent weeks — for example, the Confederate battle flag’s place in the public arena — and representatives from Hall

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GaPundit:

It’s still the dog days of summer, but state lawmakers are already anticipating a heated session of the Georgia General Assembly beginning in January 2016.

A few national debates have stirred the pot of controversy in recent weeks — for example, the Confederate battle flag’s place in the public arena — and representatives from Hall County said they expect these issues to flare up next year.

With major transportation funding in the bag, and medical cannabis now legal for eligible patients, it’s time to start thinking about what comes next.

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said he has been keeping busy speaking to professional dental, psychologist and medical groups lately.

Health care has long been a passion for Hawkins.

And it’s an issue Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, is taking up as a current member of a House study committee on life insurance consumer disclosures.

Meanwhile, Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, is part of a group of lawmakers reviewing how cannabis oil might be manufactured, sold and purchased in the state.

While it is legal to possess the oil to treat eight medical conditions, including seizure disorders and cancer, access to medical cannabis remains an obstacle for most patients.

Made up of physicians, attorneys, state legislators and law enforcement representatives, the Commission on Medical Cannabis will help set Georgia’s policies on medical marijuana and will make recommendations regarding access and availability to cannabis oil to the governor and General Assembly later this year.

Previous commission meetings have addressed how Georgia’s policies and enforcement measures regarding cannabis oil compare with other states that have legalized some form of medical marijuana.

The commission will meet next in late August or early September, according to Miller.

via State lawmakers expecting contentious 2016 session.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 28, 2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/28/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-28-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-28-2015 http://gapundit.com/2015/07/28/georgia-politics-campaigns-and-elections-for-july-28-2015/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:04:04 +0000 http://gapundit.com/?p=51418 GaPundit:

On July 28, 1868, United States Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified and was now part of the Constitution. The first section of the 14th Amendment often forms the basis for litigation and reads: All persons born or naturalized in the United States,

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GaPundit:

On July 28, 1868, United States Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified and was now part of the Constitution. The first section of the 14th Amendment often forms the basis for litigation and reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Georgia at first rejected the 14th Amendment in 1866, later ratifying it on July 21, 1868 as a condition for readmission.

On July 28, 1978, Animal House was released, instantly becoming one of the greatest films of all time. In case you’ve never seen the film, there is some adult language in the following clip. +1 for Otter’s plaid pants.

On July 28, 1994, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating “The General” locomotive, which was stolen in 1862 during the Great Locomotive Chase. Today, The General may be viewed at The Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

Georgia Politics

Longtime Republican activist Betty Voyles died on Friday at the age of 84. From the obituary,

Betty was deeply committed and involved with the Republican Party, locally and nationally. She was proud to promote conservative causes long before Georgia became a Red State.

Betty was a Goldwater Girl. She volunteered countless hours over the years for prominent politicians including managing Senator Johnny Isakson’s very first state office campaign and staying on his campaign for every election thereafter. One of her most favorite memories was flying up with Johnny Isakson for his federal Congressional Inauguration. She had a double thrill when she was able to witness his Senatorial Inauguration in 2005.

Other friends for whom she worked hard were Newt Gingrich, Congressman Tom Price, and a slew of others who are indebted to her victorious efforts.

Her smiling face could always be seen at County and State Conventions, usually registering countless numbers of delegates and alternates. She was also a willing volunteer at fundraising dinners for the GAGOP and serving on the State Committee since 2000.

She earned the GAGOP State Volunteer Award in 1998. Her energy was only surpassed by her humility. Betty was totally surprised to be awarded the 2005 Connie Russell Midura Volunteer Legacy Award from the Fulton County Republican Party. She was a longtime member of the Fulton County GOP Circle R Club and was an active member and volunteer with the North Fulton Republican Women’s Club.

Governor Nathan Deal said that concern over the carving on Stone Mountain is misplaced,

I would ask those who think this is such a big issue, if they would exert the same amount of influence and time and effort to try to make sure that the children in our school systems in this state who are in failing schools get a good education, it will erase any of the things that they think the memorials symbolize. I would hope they see that in the same light in which I do.

The 2016 election for Cherokee County Sheriff is already well underway, and the first disclosures are in, according to CherokeeTribune.com.

Campaign disclosures were submitted to the Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration on June 30 and candidates Frank Reynolds, David Waters, Jeff Donley and James “Chip” McCarthy are showing contributions to their respective campaigns.

Cagle’s Family Farm in Canton will host a candidate forum tonight.

The Cherokee County Farm Bureau, the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and Cagle’s Family Farm are hosting a candidate forum and meet and greet at 6:30 p.m. at Cagle’s Family Farm, 362 Stringer Road, Canton.

Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor Rebecca Johnston and Mike Searcy of WLJA radio will emcee the event.

Shirley Pahl of the farm bureau said more than 425 people attended last year’s event and she is expecting a big crowd again this year.

All local, state and national candidates running for office in both 2015 and 2016 have been invited to attend.

So far, Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood, State Court Judge Michelle Homier, Probate Court Judge Keith Wood, Chief Judge of Magistrate Court James Drane III, candidates for Cherokee County sheriff Frank Reynolds and Chip McCarthy, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, Burton Fronebarger, candidate for tax commissioner and Ward 3 Canton City Councilman Farris Yawn have indicated they are attending.

Pahl said she is expecting more to call in and some to just show up Tuesday night.

“If any candidates would like to attend, they can call (770) 479-1481 ext. 0 or they can just show up on Tuesday night,” she said. “They are welcome to bring signs and political materials to distribute at forum.”

A Cherokee County Superior Court judge rejected a motion for a new trial by former Cherokee School Board member Kelly Marlow Trim and political consultant Robert Trim, according to LedgerNews.com.

Former school board member Kelly Marlow Trim and her former political adviser and now-husband Robert Trim filed a joint motion for a new trial in May.

Kelly Trim, Robert Trim and a third defendant were found guilty in 2014 of lying to police for falsely accusing Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo of trying to run them over after a heated school board meeting on June 13, 2013.

A Canton Police investigator determined after a several-week investigation that those claims were false. Events captured on a surveillance video also did not match up with the defendants’ statements, police said.

Following their convictions, Kelly Trim resigned from her District 1 seat on the Cherokee school board, Robert Trim resigned from his post as a precinct chairman in the local Republican Party and Knowles resigned from her position as secretary for the local Republican Party.

All three defendants were required to pay a $10,000 bond for each conviction, but will not have to serve jail time or perform community service until the appeal process is complete.

All other conditions of the trio’s probation were ordered to continue, including, but not limited to: no contact with witnesses in the case, remaining 500 yards away from Petruzielo, not attending school board meetings, not seeking or accepting any leadership role for political groups nor offering service of any kind to a political organization.

The Marietta City Council has kept its property tax millage rate the same as last year, but will raise an additional $500,000 in tax revenue due to higher assessments, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Bibb and Houston Counties have combined to issue more than 30 licenses for same sex marriages, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The bulk of the applications — about 20 — were taken in Bibb County, with another 10 or so in Houston County.

Probate courts in Bibb and Houston counties don’t keep track of applicants’ genders though, court officials said. The Telegraph analyzed the names of applicants for the figures used in this story.

Although courts soon will be required to record gender data at some point, the requirement isn’t in place yet, said Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, the state agency that keeps vital statistics.

Many county Probate Court offices use third-party software that doesn’t include a space to indicate an applicant’s gender. The requirement won’t come into play until after the software is updated or counties swap to free state software that includes a drop-down box to record gender, Nydam said.

Court officials in Crawford, Monroe, Peach and Twiggs counties said no same-sex applications had been submitted in their offices during the first month after the ruling. Three applications have been taken in Jones County.

The website for the Gwinnett County Clerk of Courts won a Top 10 award from the National Association of Court Management.

The award follows the launch of a new and improved website, www.gwinnettcourts.com, which was completed in April.

“The website was transformed by the Clerk’s Technical Services web developer, Ming Li,” [Clerk of Court Richard] Alexander said. “This award recognizes the hard work our CTS team puts into improving communication and electronic services via the website.”

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will hold the final town hall meeting on her proposal to “thaw the property tax assessment freeze.”

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will hold the final of four summer forums espousing her effort to “thaw” the city’s’ property tax assessment freeze Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Columbus Public Library on Macon Road.

Under the city’s property tax assessment freeze, which was implemented in 1982, the property taxes of homes receiving a homestead exemption are based upon the value of the home at the time it is purchased. That value is then “frozen” or fixed until the property is substantially altered or sold, at which time the value of the home is reassessed and then frozen again at the new value.

The freeze creates significant dispatities among homeowners, depending on how long they’ve owned their homes. Long-time owners can pay a fraction of the taxes that a more recent homeowner pays for an identical house next door. It also costs the city millions in potential revenue every year.

Past efforts to lift the freeze at the ballot box and in the courts have failed, but Tomlinson said her plan is different because it does not involve removing the freeze. Under her plan, anyone currently under the freeze would be able to stay on it for as long as they desire. When their house changes hands through a sale or when they die, it would then come out from under the freeze.

Students in Georgia public schools will see less standardized testing as State School Superintendent Richard Wood moves to reduce overall testing.

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, students will take fewer tests due to a reduction of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) required for schools to administer.

“I have always believed that we test our students too much,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Eliminating some of the Student Learning Objectives is a step toward reducing the overall number of tests given to students, which will give our teachers more time for instruction and help our students focus on learning instead of testing. This change is another step toward a more responsible accountability model.”

Superintendent Woods added, “We have to get back to the business of personalizing, not standardizing, education for our students, and the fewer standardized tests we have in place, the more our teachers can do what they do best – teach.”

 

Ethics

The extended failure to appoint two new members of the DeKalb County Ethics Board meant that a quorum could be maintained only if 4 out of 5 currently-appointed members showed to a meeting. Lack of a quorum caused the board chair to cancel a meeting to address ethics charges against Commissioner Stan Watson, according to the AJC.

Board Chairman John Ernst canceled a scheduled meeting Monday because too few board members could attend. The board lacked the required quorum of four out of seven members needed to do business.

The board had been scheduled to hold a final hearing involving Commissioner Stan Watson, who voted twice to award a $1.5 million contract to a company that was paying him for consulting. A preliminary hearing was planned to determine whether there was probable cause to move forward with a complaint that Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton allegedly misused her county purchasing card for personal gain.

The irony is that the same iCEO Lee May who complained about the Board of Commissioners failing to fill the vacancy caused by May’s ascent to iCEO failed to name new members of the Ethics Board for months until yesterday, after the AJC published that story.

Yesterday, a complaint was filed with the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, alleging that Democrat Taylor Bennett failed to file his required Personal Financial Disclosure Statement.

Taylor Bennett Ethics Complaint

Attorney Mark Dehler resigned as the Special Master overseeing the State Bar complaint against House Speaker David Ralston, as Dehler has now taken a job as Executive Director of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, according to the AJC.

The Brookhaven City Council continues to tie itself in knots over its response to Open Records Requests. From the AJC,

Tom Kurrie, the former city attorney who lost his position because of the subterfuge, has asked the city council to waive attorney-client privilege on the issue. Presumably, he would be free to explain why he altered a city email and put misleading statements in a press release…

Council members would have to vote on it, but interim City Attorney Christopher Balch says he’s not putting the option in front of them until Kurrie narrows his request.

The state Attorney General’s office has since ruled that withholding the email, and holding closed city council sessions to talk about whether to release it, violated Georgia’s sunshine laws.

Georgia Ports Hit New Records

The Georgia Ports Authority moved a record 3.66 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in Fiscal Year 2015, an increase of more than half a million TEUs.

“The deepwater ports of Savannah and Brunswick are cornerstones of Georgia’s success, and major factors in creating new jobs and prosperity across the state,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “The wave of economic impact created by our logistics network supports virtually every industry, from manufacturing and agriculture to mining, distribution, technology and transportation.”

Strong performances across business sectors also led to records in total tonnage and roll-on/roll-off cargo in the year ending June 30.

“Georgia’s ports have seen phenomenal growth over the past fiscal year, due to a combination of West Coast cargo diversions, U.S. economic recovery and regional gateway shifts placing more demands on Georgia’s terminals,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “Our people and our infrastructure rose to meet that demand flawlessly, handling record volumes while maintaining world-class customer service.”

The 3.66 million TEUs crossing Savannah’s docks in FY2015 constitutes a 17 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal year. FY2014 was the first year in which GPA moved more than 3 million TEUs.

“Part of ensuring reliability is investing in port infrastructure,” GPA Board Chairman James Walters said. “Our development plans will follow our current practice of maintaining capacity at least 20 percent above demand – not only in Brunswick, but in Savannah, where we are buying four new ship-to-shore cranes and 30 more gantry cranes. Investments such as these will enable GPA to handle expanding cargo volumes both now and in the future.”

Total tonnage in FY2015, reached a record 31.69 million tons, up 7.8 percent or 2.29 million tons. Of that amount, containerized cargo accounted for 25.89 million tons, also up 7.8 percent or 1.86 million tons more than in FY2014.

Fiscal 2015 also saw the highest-ever volume of intermodal rail moves. The Port of Savannah moved 369,347 containers by rail in FY2015, up from the previous record of 332,996 containers set in FY2014. The growing volumes moved by rail resulted in an increase of 10.9 percent or 36,351 containers for the year.

In other cargo sectors, the GPA achieved an 8.1 percent improvement in bulk cargo tonnage for a total of 2.95 million tons, an increase of 221,601 tons. GPA terminals moved 7.6 percent (200,875 tons) more breakbulk cargo in FY2015 than in the previous year. Total breakbulk, which includes commodities such as paper, rubber and steel, reached 2.83 million tons.

The GPA moved more autos and machinery than ever in the year just ended. Combined, Brunswick and Savannah moved 714,021 units of roll-on/roll-off cargo, an improvement of 13,313 units or 1.9 percent. Of the total, Brunswick handled 680,427 units.

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