The blog.

22
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2017

On May 22, 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with his cane. Brooks used the cane as the result of injury sustained in a previous duel, and found Sumner at his desk in the Senate Chamber. In the course of a two-day Senate speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery, Sumner had criticized three legislators, including a cousin of Rep. Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

On May 22, 1819, the steamship Savannah left the port of Savannah for Liverpool, England. After 29 days, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. On May 22, 1944, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the voyage of the Savannah.

On May 22, 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the commencement address for Oglethorpe University at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Florida archaeologists found remains thought to be from the first decade of European settlement in the United States.

According to FirstCoast, last October hurricane Matthew damaged a wine shop on St. Augustine’s plaza. After the hurricane, building owner David White decided to renovate the space. According to a press release from the city, the floor of the building was built on a joist system constructed in 1888, which left the soil below relatively intact. White offered the city archeologist Carl Hibert a chance to take a peek under the floor before the repairs began.

During the first week of digging in February, archeologists first discovered an intact adult skeleton and an adult skull nearby. According to Susan Parker at The St. Augustine Register, the bodies have been preliminarily identified as a relatively young white European woman and a man of African ancestry. Outside of the wine shop, they found a leg bone and another skull from two other graves. Last week, they discovered the remains of the children.

Pottery fragments found with the skeletons date the burials between 1572 and 1586, a few years after St. Augustine, known as America’s oldest city, was founded.

The History Blog reports that Hibert believes the burials may come from the floor of the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Remedios, the parish church built in St. Augustine soon after the colony was established by conquistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, 42 years before the Jamestown Colony was established by the English and 55 years before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Karen Handel hosted an event this weekend with Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Will Hurd, (R-TX).

“It was a great honor to have both Congressman Brian Mast and Congressman Will Hurd in Georgia today as we honored those who have served and are still serving in our nation’s military,” said Handel in a statement released by her campaign.

“These men understand the difference between talk and commitment, between intention and results. They were tested and they continued to persevere and it would be an honor to serve side by side with them in Congress.”

On Thursday, Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader will host “Gwinnett Connects,” a summit on community resources for fighting mental illness and opioid addiction.

Unterman and Schrader will host a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Summit at 6 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, in Lawrenceville. The summit is being called Gwinnett Connects.

The goal of the summit is to foster a discussion between mental health stakeholders on community-based therapy services provided to those people who need it. A Facebook page created to promote the event says participants will “seek positive solutions, understanding, and … unite our community on mental health and substance abuse.”

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald is expected to participate in the summit, along with other state and local leaders, and collaborative stakeholders.

In addition to mental health and the broader topic of substance abuse, the issues of opioid addiction and the way in which governmental and non-governmental agencies respond to these issues is expected to be discussed.

Newly-registered voters in the Sixth District are being relied on to keep Democratic hopes alive.

To [win, Ossoff will] likely need to find new voters and turn them out to the polls.

So when federal district court judge Timothy Batten extended the voter registration deadline from March 20 to May 21, he breathed new life into Ossoff’s campaign. Outside groups have rushed into the district to find eligible but unregistered voters—most of them young people and minorities—who are more likely to vote for Ossoff than his Republican opponent, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.

“It was a game-changer,” says Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist based in Atlanta. “The extension of the deadline presents a tremendous opportunity for the Ossoff campaign to expand the electorate and bring a lot of new registered voters to the polls.”

One of the groups that quickly ramped up their efforts in the district was the New Georgia Project, which was launched by state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in 2013 to enroll minorities under the Affordable Care Act. It soon became apparent that many people of color in Georgia were not registered to vote. “We dug into the numbers,” says Nse Ufot, the executive director of the New Georgia Project, and it turned out there were more than 800,000 eligible but unregistered people of color in Georgia. Since 2014, she says, the group has registered nearly 210,000 minority voters in the state.

By overlaying voter registration information from the secretary of state’s office with the latest census data, the group concluded that there are nearly 27,000 unregistered African Americans in the 6th Congressional District. Voter registration rates in the 6th District—a historically white, wealthy, and educated suburb—are the highest in the state. But like the rest of Georgia, it’s becoming more ethnically and economically diverse. To reach these new residents, Ufot says, staff and volunteers are knocking on 1,200 to 1,400 doors a day and setting up voter registration booths at malls and grocery stores on the weekends. Several other groups are actively registering voters, as is the Ossoff campaign itself, which says it is registering about 100 people per day.

As organizers and the campaign are aware, registering new voters is the easy part. Making sure they get to the polls is harder. “It’s a combination of knocking on doors and helping people get voter IDs, and identifying people who need help getting rides to the polls,” says Ufot.

The Gainesville Times profiles a Latino member of the Hall County Republican Party.

From standing shoulder to shoulder with the faithful at the recent National Day of Prayer event in downtown Gainesville, and offering a bilingual prayer this week at the start of a Gainesville City Council meeting, Art Gallegos Jr. is quickly making his name known.

Gallegos’ unabashed pro-life convictions, strong family values, firm stand for law and order and unflinching support of President Donald Trump, have endeared him to local Republicans.

“They are just trying to reach out to everybody,” Gallegos said of the GOP. “When they were pursuing me, they said, ‘Hey, you know you can become a member…’ They were just pulling me in, pulling me in. I felt intrigued by it. This is the change (Republicans) need.”

Gallegos is making the most of the GOP’s welcome mat. In March, during the County Convention at party headquarters in Gainesville, he became the first Latino elected to the party’s executive board as assistant treasurer.

To help fan the cause of conservatism among Hispanics in the area, Gallegos and his young Puerto Rican friend, Angel Rosario, joined forces to form LCO — Latinos Conservative Organization.

Gallegos said that when a position opens up on the Gainesville City Council, he intends to run for public office.

“One thing that really sets me aside from a lot of leaders is my willingness to take on challenges, but also the passion that I have for people,” said Gallegos, who is active with Impact Ministries, a faith-based organization focused on the needs of the homeless and impoverished. “I don’t think I would be in ministry if I wouldn’t love people and serve people.”

Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) speaks to the Buckhead Business Lunch hosted by the Fulton County Republican Party at Maggiano’s in Buckhead.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) may see increasing competition for his seat.

The next potential battleground could be Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, which slices through much of Gwinnett County.

Washington analysts still consider the seat safely Republican, in part because it’s been held by the GOP for more than 20 years. Seismic demographic forces, though, are transforming the region.

Once one of the richest sources of Republican votes in the state, Gwinnett for the first time in 2016 no longer had a majority-white voting population. Hillary Clinton swept the county in November, flipping it blue for the first time in decades.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report now estimates the 7th District is one of the top Democratic-trending areas in the nation.

[Woodall]’s quick to acknowledge that the district’s design has helped insulate him from more electoral pressure.

“It’s gerrymandering that makes these things noncompetitive, right?” Woodall said in an interview. “Gwinnett County, if it was one district, it would be an incredibly competitive district.”

C.W. Matthews, the contractor who completed the I-85 bridge replacement, has donated $10,000 to a camp for children with special needs.

The funds are part of the company’s financial incentives received from the Georgia Department of Transportation for recently completing repairs to the Interstate 85 bridge in northeast Atlanta that collapsed on March 30.

The camp was founded by Athens-based Extra Special People, which has plans ranging from allowing kids in wheelchairs to sleep on the top bunk and individuals with autism to safely and intentionally wander.

For more information, visit www.camphooray.com.

The Marietta Daily Journal profiles the company.

C.W. Matthews has placed more tons of asphalt on Georgia roads than any other company and has developed a network of asphalt plants throughout the state.

Garcia said the company’s experience and engineering expertise helped them complete the construction of the I-85 bridge, which was destroyed in a fire in March, ahead of schedule.

“On the concrete that was utilized, there were some additives utilized to speed the process and gain strength, so instead of having to wait somewhere around 14 days, we were able to get strength within three days,” Garcia said.

He said they were called by the Georgia Department of Transportation within 30 minutes of the collapse. He believes C.W. Matthews was chosen because they were working on another project nearby and because they had done similar bridge work in the past.

“First and foremost, it’s working together with the DOT,” he said. “They were critical in getting the plans to us to begin within three days of the fire. Of course the weather was a big factor, we had great weather during the whole event but I would say mainly it was due to the employees and their hard work and sacrifice.”

Garcia said C.W. Matthews is currently working on 30 to 40 projects as far south as Dooly County west to Columbus, up I-75 to the Tennessee state line and up I-85 to the South Carolina line.

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport  is showing strong growth, in part due to more flights from more carriers.

April numbers are up 11 percent over the same month last year, with nearly a quarter-million passengers using the airport in that month alone. Total passengers for 2017 through April number more than 730,000, an increase of 13 percent over the same period last year.

The number of available seats in April also grew by double digits.

Greg Kelly, airport executive director, attributed the continued passenger growth to the addition of flight options from seven airlines — Air Canada, Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Sun Country and United — offering nonstop service to a variety of major cities including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and, most recently, Toronto .

“In 2013, our enplanements were approximately 840,000. Last year, our enplanements were just under 1.1 million. This year we are on track to hit 1.2 million,” he said, adding that he attributes the growth to the collective efforts of an air service development partnership established in 2013 and consisting of the Savannah Airport Commission, the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, Visit Savannah, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

Locust Grove transportation blogger Clayton Carte is being credited for convincing the Henry County Commission with moving forward on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

“The state of Georgia is doing its part to help Henry County citizens, and we the citizens can do our part by enacting the transportation sales tax or the T-SPLOST,” said Carte.

The additional 1-percent sales tax could be used to complete major projects not funded by the state, Carte said. Based on current SPLOST revenues, Carte estimated that an additional $165 million can be generated from 2018 to 2023, if enacted in November by voters.

The T-SPLOST could also be used for sidewalks and intersection improvements.

“I believe with a T-SPLOST we could fund the projects in full and not be dependent on the prospect of federal funding to move these forward,” said Carte.

The BOC voted to move forward with staff gathering information to present to each of Henry County’s cities to support a T-SPLOST.

19
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 19, 2017

Tulip

Tulip is a female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County in Hamilton, GA.

Baby Bear

Baby Bear is a female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County in Hamilton, GA.

Harley

Harley is a female Beagle mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County in Hamilton, GA.

19
May

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

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

On May 19-20, 1791, George Washington spent his second and third days in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy. Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791 to go to Columbia, South Carolina.

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

Blue jeans with copper rivets were patented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis on May 20, 1873.

On May 20, 1916, more than 20,000 visited Stone Mountain for the dedication ceremony to mark the beginning of a Confederate memorial on the north face.

On May 19, 1933, the Atlanta City Council voted to allow beer sales in the city.

On May 21, 1936, FDR signed the Rural Electrification Act, attributing it to events that occurred when he visited Georgia in 1924.

The Rubik’s Cube is 43 years old today.

When, in the spring of 1974, Ernő Rubik, a Hungarian professor of design, invented his eponymous cube, he had no idea that it would become one of the world’s best-selling toys. Nor did he envision that it would impact fields as diverse as science, art, and design – the subject of “Beyond Rubik’s Cube”, an exhibit at the Liberty Science Center, in Jersey City, New Jersey, that opened 26 April to celebrate the puzzle’s 40th anniversary. And he certainly couldn’t have imagined that, one day, his puzzle would be at the center of a competitive sport in which the top performers can re-solve it in less time than it takes to read this sentence aloud.

The first Rubik’s Cube competitions began in the early 1980s and were largely a promotional affair that vanished with the collapse of the initial fad for the puzzle. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet allowed hobbyists around the world to find each other and run competitions of their own. More than 1,700 competitions have taken place in 66 countries since the 2004 founding of the World Cube Association, a governing body modeled after FIFA, the arbiter of international soccer. (Unlike, soccer, however, there is no qualification for any of these tourneys, including the World Championship: anyone can sign up.)

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

On May 20, 1995, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to automotive traffic.

The 400th episode of The Simpsons aired on May 20, 2007.

Herman Cain announced his candidacy for President of the United States on May 21, 2011.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Three years ago today, Georgia voters went to the polls in the earliest Primary elections in modern history. In the Republican Primary, 605,355 ballots were cast in the Senate contest, while the Democratic Primary for Senate saw 328,710 ballots.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the re-opening of the collapsed section of I-85 in Atlanta yesterday.

“When this portion of I-85 collapsed on March 30, Georgia residents and motorists from around the Southeast were confronted by an unexpected and tremendous challenge,” said Deal. “The Georgia Department of Transportation, employees of C.W. Matthews and the people of Georgia responded remarkably by overcoming this challenge in just six short weeks. Georgia’s success is largely the result of strong partnerships that we enjoy, and the same can be said of this particular chapter in our unfolding story. In Georgia, we get things done, and this is a prime example of multiple levels of government, the private sector and the general public working together for the best possible result. I commend the efforts of everyone who worked to make the early reopening of I-85 possible.”

This high-traffic section of I-85 carries nearly 243,000 vehicles each day under normal circumstances. GDOT worked around the clock, totaling 54,000 hours of manpower, to rebuild and replace the 700-foot section of roadway quickly and safely, saving motorists an estimated $27 million by reopening the corridor ahead of original projections. In total, crews removed 13 million pounds of debris, and replaced 13 columns, 61 beams and four caps.

First Lady Sandra Deal will dedicate a garden at the Governor’s Mansion featuring camellias named after Georgia first ladies.

Two years ago, The Tifton Garden Club named a camellia Sandra Deal, after the state’s first lady. The camellia was provided by [camellia expert Mark] Crawford, according to a press release.

The first lady wanted other camellias named for previous first ladies planted in a separate garden at the mansion. Other camellias provided by Crawford have been named for Rosalynn Carter, Mary Perdue and Marie Barnes.

The camellia Betty Foy Sanders was named in 1965 by a grower in Statesboro and has been commercially available for several years.

Plans are to name a camellia for each of the other first ladies within the next year while Sandra Deal lives in the Governor’s Mansion.

The Democratic National Committee will hire 10 new field directors in the Sixth District Special Runoff Election.

The push will allow the state party to hire 10 new field organizers who will target voters that did not cast a ballot in the April 18 election. The field team will mainly aim at inclusivity to gain the support of minority groups, including outreach in multiple languages.

“The emerging coalition of African American, Latino, and AAPI voters in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District have been at the heart of the resistance and will be at the heart of Jon Ossoff’s victory in June,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

I probably wouldn’t complain if they sent Alyssa Milano back to the district.

From TheHill.com:

Minutes after the DNC announcement, the House Majority PAC — a super PAC tied to House Democratic leadership — announced that it would sink $700,000 in the district.

The majority of that will be in the form of a half-million dollar ad buy in partnership with the non-profit Patriot Majority. The remaining $200,000 will go toward turning out Democratic votes.

Special Runoff Election voters in Senate District 32 may have set a new state record for turnout.

The 32,673 people who voted in this week’s state Senate runoff may have just broken a turnout record for special legislative runoffs in Georgia.

No other similar legislative runoff has had more voters, according to state records going back to 1996.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education adopted a $2 billion, yes, billion with a “b,” dollar FY 2018 budget.

After the superintendent called it an “investment portfolio” for the students and community, the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Thursday adopted a $2 billion budget for the coming year.

“You do with what you have and try to prioritize those things and spend our money wisely,” CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said during a fourth meeting discussing the budget in public.

Thursday was the second public hearing where citizens could address the Board, but none did. Only one resident spoke at a similar meeting last week. The School Board and senior district staff previously had two other meetings beginning in March to outline the budget.

Overall, the budget is $2.092 billion, an increase of about $37 million or 1.8 percent from last year. Much of the increase is tied to an additional 1,972 students expected in August to raise the overall enrollment to more than 180,000, and raises for teachers and all other employees.

DeKalb County Police rescued more sex trafficking victims than any other agency in Georgia last year.

The report said the Internet Crimes Against Children/Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Unit worked 34 sex trafficking cases last year. They resulted in 15 victims rescued.

The unit also received a “Certificate of Excellence” from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 2016.

The unit also investigated 45 cases of online child exploitation, executed 44 search warrants and made more than 30 arrests.

Hall County’s planning efforts revolve around population growth and the traffic issues that results.

Former Warner Robins city council member John Williams attended the most recent council meeting after being released from federal prison.

Muscogee County schools Assistant Superintendent Rebecca Braaten has resigned.

Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn Kurilla is leaving her position after six years.

Dusty Nix of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer lauds U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for influencing President Trump’s position on NAFTA.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton with the public endorsement of every living former president, was one of candidate Donald Trump’s prime targets. Calling it “the worst trade deal ever,” the GOP nominee said scrapping NAFTA would be a top priority.

According to WSJ, the president planned on moving full speed ahead to show action on some of his top agenda items, including NAFTA, in the first 100 days of his administration. But Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian President Justin Trudeau urged him to reconsider, and Trump said he’d think about it. Then, according to the Times, “the former Georgia governor and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross persuaded the president to stay his decision to scrap NAFTA by showing him a map of places in the country that would be hard-hit in the event of its demise.”

Perdue has also announced that the USDA is creating a new position of undersecretary for international trade, about which he said in a video presentation for the department, “I want someone who wakes up every morning and asks the question, ‘Where can I sell more U.S. products today, and what are the barriers to trade that we can take down today?’”

The previous Georgia governor appears to have provided the Trump administration with some wise counsel on international trade, at least with regard to agricultural products. If only his successor, the incumbent Georgia governor, could do the same with regard to criminal justice reform.

18
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 18, 2017

BettyOF

Betty is a young female Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Old Fella Burke County Animal Rescue in Waynesboro, GA.

Betty was rescued by law enforcement in rural Georgia after she and her two puppies were found subsisting in criminal conditions. Her puppies have been adopted but Betty waits. Despite the treatment she received at the hands of humans, she is incredibly gentle and loving. She is great with people, kids and other dogs. When she was rescued, she had heart worms and has since been treated. Betty is a survivor and she deserves to survive even longer – in the loving arms of a good, compassionate person of her very own.

PatsyOF

Patsy is a young female American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from Old Fella Burke County Animal Rescue in Waynesboro, GA.

Patsy is a deserving young female American Bulldog mix. She was the victim of criminal neglect for the first 8 months of her life. Law enforcement rescued her and charged her owner. She came into foster the summer of 2015 where she lives with other dogs. She is shy at first, but once she warms up, she is gregarious.

Patsy has also been working with a professional behaviorist to help her learn to trust human beings. Her capacity for love is enormous. She is a goofball, wanting nothing more than to plop her bowling ball body down into your lap or to wiggle her butt around town on leash. She loves to walk. She is a survivor and she deserves happily every after.

CodyOF

Cody is a young male Pit Bull Terrier and Hound mix who is available for adoption from Old Fella Burke County Animal Rescue in Waynesboro, GA.

Cody is a very sweet young boy who was recently found at a dumpster in Burke County, Ga. He was easily rescued and has been a most grateful dog. Cody gets along with young kids and loves to be a couch pup. He is just the sweetest and would make a wonderful attention to any family.

18
May

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

George Washington departed Waynesboro, Georgia on May 18, 1791, headed to Augusta.

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Sixth District

The normally-liberal Politifact found that Democrats stepped over the line in 6th District attacks on Republican Karen Handel, rating an ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as “Mostly False.”

Daily Kos, which gave Jon Ossoff much of his early fundraising momentum, says that Republican Kay Kirkpatrick’s 14-point drubbing of Democrat Christine Triebsch is somehow a positive for Democrats and liberals in Georgia.

While you might think Republicans, who have good reason to fret about the June 20 runoff in the 6th, are breathing a sigh of relief, a closer look at the numbers in the 32nd should only worry them.

For starters, in the primary, which took place on the same day as the congressional primary, the five Republican candidates on the ballot combined for 60 percent of the vote while the three Democrats took 40 percent. (As with the race for the 6th, all candidates ran together on a single ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing.) This means that the GOP saw its overall margin slip from 20 points to just 14, a drop of 6 points. Needless to say, a similar shift in the 6th District would be lights out for Republican Karen Handel.

While this is just one data point, it’s a key one, because it shows that Democrats can hope to hang onto the gains they made in areas like Georgia’s 32nd Senate District. If that same pattern holds true for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which is similar—but less Republican—turf, then that’ll be good news for Ossoff.

I’d offer two suggestions here. First, if you start a piece about elections by wrongly calling a Special Election a “Primary,” you’ve just proven you don’t know of which you speak. Second, it’s probably not correct to call the 6th District “less Republican,” as Tom Price routinely trounced opponents by 20 points or more. It may be less likely to support President Trump, but that doesn’t make it less Republican overall.

San Francisco officials have demanded that the Congressional Leadership Fund remove images of the iconic Bay City trolleys from an ad spoofing Jon Ossoff’s California campaign financing.

San Francisco’s cable cars have long been used in commercials, but there is one ad that the SFMTA wants to go away.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose said, “It looks like that cable car depiction was doctored or photo shopped and they imposed a picture of the Congressman.”

And real or put on with special effects, Muni says it violates their no political ad rule.

Rose said, “We don’t want to get involved in political campaigns.”

Once again proving they don’t know what they’re talking about, this time, by referring to Jon Ossoff as “the Congressman.”

State and Local Government Operations

CobbLINC employees represented by a transit union are threatening to strike over payroll problems.

Ken Howell, a local representative of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, said some employees have had to wait an additional two weeks to receive their correct pay due to payroll issues with Cincinnati-based First Transit, which took over as CobbLinc’s operator in late March.

Other pay issues have involved employees being given their pay on debit cards, and when the cards were taken to their bank, they would not activate.

Howell says the operator has also not paid some employees correct amounts on their regular pay rates, overtime and “spread time,” the latter involving workdays that span more than 11.5 hours. A driver who drives four hours in the morning, four hours in the evening with four hours in between those shifts, for example, is supposed to be paid at half-time for the four hours between the driving periods.

“Since March, none of the checks have been correct,” Howell said, adding that while the number of affected employees has varied each pay period, 20 workers affected per period was a fair estimate.

Hall County homeowners are appealing their property tax assessments at a quicker rate than in previous years.

With a jump in property values expected this year, there are 100 more appeals of property tax assessments rolling into Hall County government than there were at this time in 2016.

The Hall County Tax Assessor’s Office has approximately 915 appeals already filed, according to Deputy Chief Appraiser Kelly McCormick.

“If the pace kept the same we’d be just over 2,000, in the 2,100 to 2,200 range, but these last two weeks will tell the story,” McCormick told the Hall County Board of Tax Assessors on Wednesday. “We’ll get more in the last week than we probably did in the entire rest of this process.”

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms presented City Council with a proposed budget that foregoes tax hikes but dips into reserve funds to the tune of $2.7 million for FY 2018.

Toms defended using reserve fund money to balance the budget, which the city also did last year. Toms said he expects revenues to grow beyond the current projections and it may be that the city won’t need the reserve fund money, or at least not as much as the budget projects.

“The truth is in the past we’ve taken money from the reserve funds, put it in there to balance the budget and then it doesn’t get used,” he said. “It goes right back into the reserve fund.”

Augusta has fired its Equal Employment Opportunity officer, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Department is stretched thin by rising jail populations.

[T]he inmate population at the county jail has risen to 580, compared to around 450 last year. In the past four to five months, the jail staff has had several vacancies, Robinson said.

“We are continuing to look for outstanding qualified applicants to fill those vacancies and we are continuing to make progress on that,” said Robinson. “Being fully staffed will always be a plus but what we would like to do is hire personnel in the jail. We are looking for employees there to apply and go to peace officer school which will then allow us to bring them into the law enforcement section of the office.”

Carroll County is setting up a transit system, with some service available as soon as this July.

[County Commissioner Michelle] Morgan said the transit service will be a “demand service model” that will go door to door.

“So there will be no planned bus stop under the currently proposed service model,” she said. “Designated bus stops are done under urban transit grants, Section 5307, and that service would require a detailed transit study before being considered. Generally, though, the destination point for the transit service will be in or around the municipal areas where people work or receive various types of services. The committee will closely monitor the services to determine demand, assess gaps, and make recommendations to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners as needed. This will be a key component of the committee … to educate and inform the public of when it is up and running and how to reserve or request a ride.”

Richard McIntosh and Thomas Wallace are running for Temple City Council in a July 20 Special Election.

Both men, neither of whom have ever held political office, will face each other during a special election to be held on June 20, the earliest date available on the state’s election calendar. Although the winner will represent Ward 4, all registered voters in the city will be able to cast ballots. The registration deadline is May 22.

Early voting for the post will begin on June 5 and close on June 16, and will be held at the Carroll County Elections and Registration Office, 423 College St., Carrollton. The polling place for election day will be the Temple Senior Center, 280 Rome St.

the special election may well become a referendum on a controversial proposal to lower marijuana fines in the city.

McIntosh favors a three-strike punishment for those found possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, with first offenders having a chance to pay a $100 fine with no jail time. Third-time offenders would face a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail. Wallace, however, opposes any change in the current law. Both men, however, say the council should focus on other matters.

Nevertheless, the marijuana issue has become one of the most contentious issues in city politics, roiling public controversy ever since an ordinance to reduce the penalty for possessing small amounts of the drug was first proposed in March by Ward 1 council member Penny Ransom.

When the matter came up to a vote on May 1, it failed on a tie vote among the four council members, with the Ward 4 post vacant after Simmons’ death. Ransom has vowed to introduce the matter again sometime after the election, so whoever fills the fifth council seat will be in a position to cast a deciding vote on the issue.

Neither McIntosh nor Wallace appeared willing to make the matter the defining issue of the race.

2018 Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp continues to sound populist themes as he tours South Georgia.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he and the President share a large commonality, namely they both are focused on fighting for the “everyday Georgians” who have felt largely forgotten by politicians in recent years.

“I think (Donald Trump) struck a chord with working Georgians and with small business people that are literally … just fed up with government. They are ready for somebody to fight for them. I’m going to … be leading that fight,” Kemp said Tuesday when he stopped by Valdosta as part of a whirlwind tour of southwest Georgia, the latest move in his campaign for governor.
He wants to give rural Georgia the best and fastest Internet.

“If we’re going to do this, we need to go big, we need to go bold. (Internet) is the next interstate, if you will. It’s the next rail line,” Kemp said.

“That will open a lot of doors to a lot of problems in rural Georgia, like getting better paying jobs (and) more opportunities where people’s children can actually stay in their local community versus having to leave to go find a good paying job.”

Like Trump, Kemp has taken a hard-line stance against illegal immigration.

But many farmers in Georgia have said they need undocumented workers to fill the jobs that no one else wants, and they’re worried massive deportation would cause a crash in the farming industry.

Kemp said he understands the needs of farmers and that his main frustration is not with field workers but rather the illegals flocking to sanctuary cities.

Part of running a modern Democratic campaign is rolling out your message in national progressive circles, building name-ID (and SEO value) in the leftosphere and courting progressive would be-kingmakers on sites like Daily Kos, which helped Jon Ossoff immensely in raising his $8.3 million dollar special election war chest.

So take the article at The Nation, which touts likely Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, notably at the expense of her fellow State House Democrat Stacey Evans.

It’s no accident that Barack Obama’s historic candidacy inspired record high turnout among African-American voters, propelling him into the White House by a near-landslide margin. In Georgia, Obama received 47 percent of the vote in 2008, a higher percentage than any Democratic presidential candidate since native son Jimmy Carter’s 1980 campaign (Bill Clinton won Georgia in 1992, but he received only 43.5 percent of the vote in a race where third-party candidate Ross Perot siphoned off significant Republican support).

Abrams is poised to ride the same sort of wave that carried Obama to victory. In the 241-year history of the United States, there has never been an African-American woman elected governor of a state—any state. As one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Georgia, Abrams represents the best opportunity to finally smash that glass ceiling. A majority of all voters in the Democratic primary will be black, making her the odds-on favorite to win the nomination. In a state that is rapidly approaching “majority-minority” status (whites currently comprise 53.9 percent of the population), the electoral calculus for Democrats is increasingly favorable.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution article reported that the rationale for getting behind Evans is that she could perform better with white voters. That approach, however, was tried—and failed—in the last midterm election. In 2014, the Democratic nominees for governor and senator had two of the most famous last names in Georgia politics—Carter and Nunn. Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason was the gubernatorial standard-bearer, and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle Nunn ran for the Senate. They both lost by slightly more than 200,000 votes, receiving the standard 23 percent of the white vote that Democratic candidates in Georgia have received since 2008.

Why would lesser-known candidates from less-beloved families do better? There is simply no empirical evidence that a Georgia Democrat can do much better than 23 percent of the white vote. The greatest upside and clearest path to victory in that state lies in expanding the number of voters of color—the most Democratic voters of all.

It is rare when the stars line up as they have for Abrams’s campaign in Georgia, and the moment of truth will be whether the state and national Democratic power players can see the light. Will Emily’s List, the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic National Committee, and progressive activist groups embrace this dark-skinned black woman the way they have other progressive candidates? Will progressive donors step up and make massive, multimillion-dollar investments in inspiring and organizing the 1.3 million voters of color who have not previously been motivated to participate in Georgia elections?

17
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 17, 2017

WilsonFOSA

Wilson is a 2-year old, 65-pound male Cattle Dog and Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Wilson is a sweet boy. He stays quiet in his run but he has lots of energy once he’s outside. He would make a great running partner. Or he would love a fenced in back yard to play in.

Wilson is in Run 79 and his ID is 595798.

TeddyFOSA

Teddy is a 4-year old, 10-pound male Chihuahua and Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

He wants a home with a lap to sleep on or someone to carry him around with them. He does walk well on a leash so he does not have to be carried, he just likes it.

Teddy is waiting to meet you in cage T-4 and his ID# is 595878.

AgathaFOSA

Agatha is a 4-year old, 64-pound female German Shorthaired Pointer & Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Agatha and Christie (below) are sisters, who would love to find a home together, but either one can be adopted alone.

Both girls are very sweet, but Agatha is a little more shy and Christie is more outgoing. They both sit and stay when asked and walk well on a leash. Overall they seem like really well behaved girls.

Agatha’s ID # is 595519 and they can be found together in cage 76.

ChristieFOSA

Christie is a 5-year old, 62-pound female Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Christie’s ID # is 595518 and they can be found together in cage 76.

17
May

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

Georgia and American History

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick (R) was elected to the Georgia State Senate from the 32d District with 56.98% of votes cast; Democrat Christine Triebsch took 43.02%.

Speaking to the MDJ before the final results were tallied, Kirkpatrick said her campaign’s biggest strength has been its organization.

“I think that I’ve run a very organized and positive campaign, and we’ve done all of the things that we’ve needed to do as far as grassroots efforts and getting name recognition and getting the word out,” she said. “I also think I’ve had a pretty positive message, and I’ve tried to stay on that positive message throughout.”

Also speaking before the final results, Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said a Kirkpatrick win would not be unexpected because of District 32’s history of going red.

“That’s the kind of situation sort of like the 6th (Congressional District) where Democrats normally can’t compete in an election,” Swint said. “Also similar to the 6th, you have a special election where you have all the candidates on the same ballot, so I think that the nature of special election offered an opportunity for Democrats to be more competitive than normal.”

From Kristina Torres at the AJC:

Turnout hovered above 20 percent among eligible voters. The outcome appeared to confirm Kirkpatrick’s belief that dedicated GOP supporters would show up at the polls and Republicans will see it as an encouraging sign for the 6th District race.

“This is a fairly good indicator for Karen Handel that Cobb County’s Republican base is still energized to vote for Republicans,” said Brian Robinson, a Republican strategist and former aide to Gov. Nathan Deal, referring to his party’s congressional candidate who has been locked in a battle with Democrat Jon Ossoff. “As I said to Republican leaders in this state, I wasn’t concerned that Dr. Kirkpatrick wouldn’t win. I was concerned that an overly close showing would really throw gas on the fire for Ossoff. But this wasn’t competitive.”

Gov. Nathan Deal issued a new Executive Order updating the earlier order naming a committee to investigate allegations against DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann. From the AJC:

Deal’s new order addresses concerns raised by Mann’s attorney, who said last week the alleged city ordinance violations by Mann don’t amount to criminal charges. Deal had cited criminal charges as the justification for appointing an investigative committee.

The updated executive order broadens the investigative committee’s scope to include other purposes allowed by state law. Besides criminal charges, the committee will also look into alleged misconduct in office or alleged incapacity to perform the functions of office.

The committee must report its findings within 30 days and, based on its findings, Mann could be suspended for up to 90 days.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says the state’s first death from “Grey Death” overdose occurred in Brookhaven.

Gray death is a deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl, but it’s much more potent than either drug on its own.

The GBI crime lab tested the drugs found at the scene. They contained heroin, furanyl fentanyl and cocaine, which is one of the many formulations of gray death. GBI crime lab supervisor Deneen Kilcrease labeled the drug “gray death” earlier this year, and the name is now used worldwide.

“It’s the only gray drug that I’ve ever seen and when I heard what components were it it, I didn’t see how anyone can survive it,” she said.

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said that although Camp’s death is the first confirmed from gray death, she believes there could be more.

“You believe there are many more where the lab work is not complete?”Winne asked.

“Absolutely. At the rate we’re going with these samples that come in, absolutely,” Miles said.

The United States Supreme Court released a schedule in the lawsuit between Georgia and Florida over waterflows.

The court agreed to Florida’s request to extend deadlines for responses to a report by the special master. The last deadline is Aug. 30, which is well after the court typically concludes its session in late June or early July. The court convenes, by statute, on Oct. 1.

The Georgia Public Service Commission approved a $200 million dollar solar project covering hundreds of acres near Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.

The array would go online in 2019 and would generate 139 megawatts of electricity. Georgia Power will spend $200 million to build the facility.

He said the project will help Robins meet its goal for alternative energy. It is the company’s sixth solar facility connected to a military base, and McKenzie said it will be “by far” the largest. While it will provide power to the overall power grid, during times of grid outage it will be able to directly power the base, McKenzie said.

The project will be built on about 870 acres purchased to reduce housing in a zone north of the base considered at risk for aircraft crashes and excessive noise, referred to as the encroachment zone.

The Houston County school system says that students who take CBD oil for medical reasons cannot do so on school property due to a conflict between state and federal laws.

The oil, derived from the cannabis plant, wasn’t a problem for administrators at First Presbyterian Day School, a private school in Macon. But the rules are different at public schools, the Harrises learned during a recent transfer process to Houston County.

“I told them about it, you know, ‘He takes (the) oil for his seizures … , and that’s when they went into a panic, like, ‘We don’t know what to do about this,’” Curtis Harris said of Houston County school officials. “They called the head state nurse, and the head state nurse told him that he can’t even have it on campus.”

Beth McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the Houston County school district, said the school can’t administer — or even store — CJ’s medicine.

“By law, the only person whose name is on the registration card issued by the Department of Public Health for cannabis oil may store the oil,” she said in an emailed statement to The Telegraph. “In addition, per the Safe and Drug Free Schools federal law, the oil may not be

[State Rep. Allen] Peake said the Harrises aren’t alone.

“Stories like this are happening and will be happening all over our state as the medical cannabis law continues to expand,” he said, adding that protocols have been developed for how to administer other prescription drugs.

He added, “I’m looking for education administration officials to show some courage and do what’s in the best interest of students.”

The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner opened a new facility yesterday.

The new facility has 15,000 square feet of space and brings the morgue and medical examiner’s office together under one roof.

“I’ve heard that some have questioned why such a facility as this was needed,” [Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Carol] Terry said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Anybody who would ask that question obviously never visited the old morgue. Anyone who saw the old morgue would realize it was better suited to be a staging area for some movie from the ‘Saw’ franchise.…”

The new $5.7 million facility includes three state-of-the-art autopsy stations, as well as a lab where Terry’s staff can process and store evidence. It has a family conference room and outdoor respite area and office space for Terry, her medical and administrative staff and investigators.

The facility was built with funding from the 2014 SPLOST.

Floyd County will converts its old animal shelter into the county’s first morgue.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved the demolition of the 1996 Olympic tennis venue in Stone Mountain.

The goal is to tear down the center and then seek proposals for developers on how to redevelop the site, possibly in a mixed-use capacity. Commissioners said the center is in a severe state of disrepair, and would be far too costly to rebuild.

“It does two things,” Commissioner Lynette Howard said of the stadium. “It hinders people’s creativity, but most importantly, it’s a huge liability with people breaking in and going in and shooting videos of themselves doing all sorts of crazy things in there. Somebody is going to get hurt.”

Eventually, the stadium site — after the stadium is demolished and redevelopment proposals are received — will be turned over to private developers to build something on the land. That will put it back on the public tax rolls for the first time in decades, but it will also provide an opportunity for redevelopment in that area.

Gainesville City Board of Education approved a 2018 budget that keeps the millage rate unchanged and will raise taxes for some property owners whose valuations have increased.

The Whitfield County Board of Education proposed 2018 budget increases pay for teachers and uses money from reserves to make up the difference.

Columbia County Commissioners voted to restructure their Emergency Management Service Division.

Chatham Area Transit board members unanimously adopted a FY2018 budget and asked Chatham County Commissioners to raise property taxes by .15 mills to cover increases.

Carroll County’s Board of Education proposed a FY2018 budget that includes teacher raises and new school buses.

The Houston County Board of Education tentatively adopted a FY2018 budget with teacher pay raises.

“Each teacher will get a 2% increase on their state based portion of their salary, as well as their local salary supplement will be increased 2%,” [Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Business Operations Stephen] Thublin said.

Starting salary is just over $34,427 for a teacher, plus an additional $3,150 in local supplement that Houston provides. Those numbers increase with years of service.

“The majority of our teachers will earn a step increase because of their years of service,” Thublin said. “They will also get an increase for that step increase. For a lot of them, it will be a 3 ½% to 4 ½% increase.”

The Clarke County Board of Education will issue $60 milion dollars worth of bonds for school construction.

The school board, like many other school districts, borrows bond money in anticipation of collections of a special voter-approved 1 percent sales tax dedicated to construction and infrastructure projects. It pays the money out as sales tax collections come in from the state.

The tax is expected to yield at least $112 million over five years.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson proposed eliminating a city subsidy to Uptown Columbus, the organization redeveloping downtown Columbus.

2018 Elections

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is supporting Senator David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor in the 2018 election.

“For more than 15 years, David Shafer has served the people of Georgia in the Georgia State Senate,” Marcus said in a statement. “I am proud to endorse him for lieutenant governor because he understands the importance of job creation and growth to the success of our great state.”

The backing of Marcus, now a billionaire philanthropist whose name is well known in Georgia, is a big eye-catching win for Shafer. Colleagues had already said as recently as early April that several state lawmakers had been encouraging Shafer to run for the seat.

“Bernie Marcus is one of Georgia’s greatest business and civic leaders and one of America’s greatest job creators,” Shafer said in a statement. “I am proud to have his support. As lieutenant governor, I will be committed to doing everything in power to create and maintain a business environment that encourages job creation.”

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia State House Democratic Leader who is considering running for Governor in 2018, will deliver the keynote address to the Georgia Gwinnett College graduation on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Abrams was quoted in The New York Times calling Republicans “Fascists.”

16
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 16, 2017

MooseHCAS

Moose is a male Hound and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Drake

Drake is a male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

am a yellow lab mix who is full of wiggles and bounces with a puppy-like charm that will instantly make you smile! I enjoy going for walks and would love a big yard to romp around in. I absolutely LOVE other doggies and would enjoy having a doggy friend in the home with me.

I am ready to be out and active, whether it be a run around the block or ball time in the yard. I enjoy meeting new people, including kids over 8! I don’t mind younger ones, but my puppy like charm tends to be too much for them. I am quite the entertainer and my funny antics are sure to make you laugh. Though I need to learn some of the basics, I am a quick learner and eager to gain more knowledge!

Granger

Granger is a male Black and Tan Hound who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

16
May

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

Button Gwinnett v Lachlan McIntosh

Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh met outside Savannah on May 16, 1777 and fought a duel; Gwinnett was mortally wounded.

Gwinnett returned to Georgia immediately after signing the [Declaration of Independence] to find city Whig Lachlan McIntosh commanding Georgia’s nascent military efforts. Determined to take control of Georgia politics, Gwinnett became speaker of the legislature, guided the Georgia Constitution of 1777 into existence and took over as governor when Archibald Bulloch died suddenly in office.

Gwinnett then wanted to lead an expedition to secure Georgia’s border with Florida. A dispute between McIntosh and Gwinnett over who would command the effort ultimately led to their duel and Gwinnett’s death.

A Constitutional Convention met on May 16, 1795 in the capital of Louisville to amend the Georgia Constitution of 1789

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of 11 Articles of Impeachment passed by the House of Representatives on May 16, 1868.

The North Georgia Electric Company was incorporated on May 16, 1901 to build a hydroelectric dam on the Chattahoochee River near Gainesville; in 1916, it would be bought by the company that today is known as Georgia Power.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Senate District 32 voters go to the polls today in a Special Runoff Election.

Democrat Christine Triebsch faces off against Republican Kay Kirkpatrick in the race to replace former state Sen. Judson Hill.

The district covers much of east Cobb County and parts of north Fulton County.

“The runoff in state Senate District 32 is tomorrow, not June 20, 2017 when Karen Handel faces Jon Ossoff in the highly publicized 6th Congressional District runoff,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement Monday. “Although the dates can be confusing, I am encouraging all eligible voters to go to the polls and ensure their voice is heard in both of these contests.”

Voters are encouraged to check the Secretary of State’s ‘My Voter Page’ at the Secretary of State’s official website to determine if they are eligible to vote in Tuesday’s runoff. At that page, voters may check their registration status, view a sample ballot and find their polling location. On Tuesday, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

President Donald Trump met Blaiklyn Freeman, daughter of a Bibb County Sheriff’s Deputy who was killed in a crash while on duty.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan rallied with Karen Handel yesterday in the Sixth District.

“There are be-ers and there are do-ers,” he said, comparing District 6 U.S. House of Representatives candidates Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, and Karen Handel, a Republican, respectively. “The be-er is someone who wants to be somebody. It’s someone who wants to parachute into a Congressional district he doesn’t even live in, to try and fool you to think he thinks like you and shares your values. The do-er is someone who actually lives, eats, sleeps, breathes the principles you share, somebody who believes in specific principles and then goes and affects those principles. Someone who actually does what she says and is from where she says she’s from, Karen Handel.”

“This is going to be a dogfight. … This is going to be the most expensive Congressional election in history,” Sandy Springs Mayor Paul said. “But it’s not going to come down to money. It’s going to come down to the crew that works the hardest.”

Said Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, “Out in California, they say it’s a referendum. They’re right. It’s a referendum of who represents the Sixth District of Georgia and has positive values and does not represent California or Manhattan.”

“I don’t want to wake up on June 21 and have a new Congressman named Peloisioff,” he said, referring to Ossoff’s support from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about the issue of health care reform in the 6th District election.

Handel hopes to fire up the Republican base by embracing the House GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and her side-by-side appearance with Ryan — the proposal’s chief architect — further highlighted her support for the plan.

Ossoff has called the measure a dangerous partisan attempt to roll back insurance protections.

“I’m speaking my mind on an issue that affects thousands of families here in Georgia,” [Ossoff] said in a recent interview. “Folks who are elected have an obligation to put politics aside and do what’s right for the community here. Throwing folks off their health insurance, denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions — it’s just wrong.”

Several of Handel’s supporters at the rally on Monday said they were just as energized by her promise to vote for legislation that would roll back the Affordable Care Act.

“Obamacare is failing, and I can tell you it’s really hindered our ability to provide health care,” said Marci McCarthy, the Brookhaven owner of a marketing firm. “The new House plan still needs refining. It needs work. But I have faith that when the Senate gets their hands on it and finesses it, we are going to have great health care.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville) convened the state Senate Health Care Reform Task Force yesterday to discuss federal changes.

Cagle hopes his task force can help Georgia benefit from, or even shape, whatever Congress eventually passes. And on the front lines, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue are already outlining their positions. They spoke to the AJC last week.

The takeaways: All three are Republican, and all three say they’re for repealing and replacing Obamacare. But all say the U.S. House version needs work. And all acknowledge it could be months before any of that actually happens.

Among their top priorities is making sure that the 19 states that didn’t expand Medicaid under Obamacare, including Georgia, don’t get financially disadvantaged under such legislation.

“I want to get something that works for the people who need it and that we maintain the independence for the states in terms of taking care of their own people,” Perdue said.

The House GOP’s bill would fundamentally change the way the federal government pays states for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. The federal government has for years paid states a certain percentage of all of their Medicaid costs. The measure passed by the House instead would allow states to opt for “block grants,” which would pay states lump sums based on a predetermined formula.

Isakson and Perdue say they worry that a state with a growing population such as Georgia could end up worse off: locked into an outdated formula that could limit the stream of federal dollars.

United States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg rejected a motion by Gwinnett County to dismiss a voting rights lawsuit that alleges County Commission and Board of Education districts illegally disciminate against minorities.

The Georgia NAACP, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and several residents filed the suit last August in an effort to have the federal court force the redrawing of the county commission and school board districts to make it easier for minority candidates to be elected.

Although Totenberg rejected the request to dismiss the case, she did grant county officials more time to respond to an amended complaint filed against them in late April.

The county commission and school board are accused of having districts which are drawn to allegedly disenfranchise voters in minority groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans, by making it harder for members of those groups to get elected to public office

“Under a fairly-drawn single-member districting plan, blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans together, blacks and Latinos together or blacks and Asian-Americans together can comprise a majority of the citizen voting age population and have the opportunity to elect their candidates choice in two of five districts, which are reasonably compact and regular in shape, for both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education,” the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint.

“One such district can be created among four single-member districts for the Board of Commissioners.”

State Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) spoke about a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) on the November ballot in Athens-Clarke County.

Boosting Athens-Clarke County’s sales tax rate to 8 percent, as would happen if a November referendum on a 1 percent sales tax for transportation-related projects is approved, would build on the community’s reputation of being unfriendly toward business, and would disproportionately affect the county’s poorest residents, state Sen. Bill Cowsert told Athens-Clarke County commissioners on Thursday.

Cowsert, who attended a non-voting commission work session with the other Republican members of the local delegation to the state legislature, urged the commissioners — who will be making decisions in the coming month regarding which proposed projects would be funded with the tax — to “make sure those projects are important enough” to earn a share of the $104.5 million the tax is projected to raise during its five-year life. Collection of the additional 1 percent levy would begin in April 2018 if the tax is approved in a Nov. 7 countywide vote.

“I don’t see businesses coming here,” Cowsert went on to tell commissioners, noting that if the local sales tax rate is higher than in surrounding counties, that would serve as a disincentive for businesses to locate in Athens-Clarke County.

“Let’s make sure there’s enough of a need” for the proposed transportation projects, Cowsert urged commissioners.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will hold a telephone town hall Thursday at 7:05 PM.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College will expand its Whitfield Murray Campus with nearly $19 million in state funding.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed off on the state of Georgia’s fiscal year 2018 budget. Included in the legislation is $18.7 million to build a 75,000-square-foot facility on the GNTC campus serving Whitfield and Murray counties. This will be the first new construction on the Whitfield Murray Campus of GNTC since the establishment of the campus in 2010.

The addition of the new building was made possible in large part by the transfer of approximately 23 acres of land to the Technical College System of Georgia by the Whitfield County school board. The donation of land will allow the college to expand classroom space adjacent to the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy and enhance opportunities for high school and college students to develop the occupational skills and knowledge needed by area business and industry. GNTC has received tremendous support from Gov. Deal, state elected officials, local elected officials, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, the Whitfield County school system, area businesses, local industry and the entire community since the opening of the campus.

The Marietta City Board of Education may tentatively approve the FY 2018 budget today.

 The Marietta school board could tentatively approve Superintendent Grant Rivera’s fiscal 2018 budget tonight, which includes an average salary increase of 2.5 percent for all employees.

Salary increases for all employees could range from 1 to 6 percent, depending on years of experience and education degrees.

There will be no tax increases to fund the raises and the budget, according to Erin Franklin, the district’s finance director.

Hall County property owners could see lower tax rates from the Board of Education.

Superintendent Will Schofield presented an update of work on the 2018 fiscal year budget at the  meeting at Chestatee High School.

“We’re pleased with this budget,” Schofield told the board. “This budget reflects exactly what you’ve told our employees, and that is when times got better you’d put as much money as you possibly could into their paychecks. And it also fulfills a promise you’ve told our taxpayers, and that is when we have the opportunity and the tide started to turn upward, we’d do all we could to lower millage rates.”

The proposal presented Monday would lower the millage rate, which determines how much people pay in property taxes for schools. Schofield presented a plan to lower the tax rate from 18.8 mills to 18.5 mills in the next fiscal year that begins July 1.

Property tax exemptions are a challenge to budgeting in Hall County, according to Superintendent Schofield.

“One of the challenges of our budget, and it continues to be a challenge year after year, is we have now reached the place in Hall County where $1.2-billion of our local digest is exempt from school tax,” Schofield said.

“That’s 20-percent or more of our digest that is exempt from school tax,” he added.

Among those exempt from the school tax portion on their annual property tax bill are property owners 70 years and older.

“We really need to have a policy debate at the state level about how we’re going to raise funds for schools if, in fact, we’re going to have school districts that have twenty and thirty and forty percent of their digest that is exempt from school taxes.”

Augusta City Commissioners will vote on a proposal to use inmate labor for demolition work.

Commissioner Sammie Sias called for Augusta to return to using state prisoners housed at Richmond County Correctional Institute for demolition projects to save money. Some 100 city-owned houses slated for demolition in Hyde Park were a suitable starting point, with contractors continuing to handle asbestos abatement, City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson said.

Sias hasn’t returned messages seeking comment but signed up to address the commission about “administration access” after other commissioners accused him of working in isolation with Jackson and Commissioner Ben Hasan on the project.

Dawsonville City Council voted 3-1 to remove Mayor James Grogan from office after allegations of misuse of funds and decisions in violation of the city charter.

Georgia Democrats

Georgia State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams (Atlanta) is among the group of “Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left,” profiled by The New York Times.

In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base.

Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.

“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”

“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.

Lt Gov. Casey Cagle voiced his disagreement on Facebook:

Casey v Stacey

The Democratic Party of Georgia is working to charter a local party in Paulding County.

The Georgia Democratic Party is helping some Paulding County Democrats formally reform the local political organization.

The group has scheduled a Saturday, April 29, “formative meeting” to “officially start the process” of formally chartering the local party, said Lukas Newborn, who helped organize the event.

The Paulding County Democratic Committee currently has an “in-formation” status, said Georgia Democratic Party spokesperson Michael Smith.

No Democrat has won a local or state seat from a district wholly representing Paulding since the early 1990s. The county’s voters are primarily Republican and typically vote around 70 percent for the GOP candidate for president.

Some Democrats think that Trump’s shortfall in the General election in some areas could lead to Dem gains in 2018.

There’s a small election Tuesday in Atlanta’s suburbs, but it could be a sign of big political changes coming to the Georgia Statehouse. State Senate District 32 in east Cobb County sits inside a political district getting a lot more attention, and money right now: Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

But, the less discussed Senate District 32 race is the first in a slew of contests, most in the 2018 midterms, that will likely test the grip of Georgia Republicans on Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

Compared to Mitt Romney, Donald Trump won 20 fewer percentage points in Senate District 32, according to analysis from the liberal blog Daily Kos.

The data show similar swings for at least a dozen legislative seats, most in the North Atlanta suburbs, that could mean tough reelection battles for Georgia Republicans. In a few of those seats, longtime incumbents plan to run for statewide office.

Take for example, Republican David Shafer of Gwinnett, the second ranking member of the Georgia Senate. In 2012, Romney pulled in 57 percent of the vote in Shafer’s District 48, but in 2016 Trump won only 45 percent. Shafer has filed paperwork to run for lieutenant governor, a statewide office.

The Democratic National Committee is targeted by a lawsuit that alleges the organization underpaid field workers.

Dozens of field workers have filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, claiming the party that is pushing employers to pay a $15 minimum wage and more in overtime failed to pay overtime and minimum wages to its own employees.

Justin Swidler, the attorney representing the field workers, argued the Democratic Party failed to pay workers a minimum wage and denied them overtime compensation. Swidler “says the lawsuit seeks ‘fair pay for fair work,’ and holding the Democratic Party to the very ideals that it embraces,” according to CBS Philly.

The 2016 Democratic platform pushed for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, a nearly $8 increase from the current minimum, and promised to defend an Obama-era regulation forcing employers to pay a higher rate to employees for working more than 40 hours.

15
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 15, 2017

Jasper Moose

Jasper P. Moose is a year-old 55-pound Black and Tan Coonhound who is availabkle for adoption from American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue, Inc. in Canton, FL, though he is currently in a foster home in Atlanta.

Jasper was hit by a car and taken to a vet’s office where he received treatment but was never claimed. Moose runs and plays without any problem and would play fetch all day if he could! He is very loving and playful, in good weight between 50-60 lbs and currently peacefully co-exists with 2 cats and a senior dog. He is cratetrained, but earning more freedom in the house when his foster mom is away. Moose knows how to sit, lay down and shake and is learning “leave it.” He loves his toys and would love to have a doggie playmate in his new home.

Jasper Jesup

Jasper is a 5-month old, 50-pound Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Refuge Foundation of Wayne Co., Inc. in Jesup, GA.

Jasper is a sweet puppy who loves to play with his toys and give big hugs and kisses!!

Jasper Lilburn

Jasper is an 11-month old male Anatolian Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Mini Paws Rescue Lilburn, GA. Jasper is playful and sweet. He is house broken, and small for his primary breed, Australian Shepard. Whatever he is mixed with must be a small dog, so he probably won’t grow much more. He weighs 15 pounds, neutered, up to date on all shots, microchipped, and great with dogs and kids.