The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House.
RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”
“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”
“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”
“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”
Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.
By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus
A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.
On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.
Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves David Justice and Greg Madden, who were both born on this date in 1966.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Early voting begins today in the Special Runoff Election for the State House District 162 seat formerly held by the late Bob Bryant. Voters will choose between Alicia Blakely and Carl Gilliard.
Meanwhile, April 26 is the deadline to be registered to vote for the May 24 General Primary Election.
The Fulton County Daily Report, read primarily by lawyers, writes that the Georgia General Assembly needs more lawyers.
Georgia’s legislature, which once teemed with lawyers, could hit its lowest numbers of legal membership in a decade.
In the current General Assembly, 42 legislators hold law degrees—32 of the 180 members of the House of Representatives (18 percent) and 10 of the 56 members of the Senate (also 18 percent).
W. Thomas Worthy, the bar’s director of government affairs…. noted that seven are not seeking re-election: Reps. Stephen Allison, Alex Atwood, LaDawn Jones, Ronnie Mabra, BJ Pak, Matt Ramsey and Tom Weldon—but new lawyer-candidates are vying for seats in 10 districts.
Assuming the 35 lawyer-lawmakers seeking re-election win, the number of lawyers in the General Assembly could range from 35 to 44, depending on how many of the new lawyer candidates prevail. (One race will pit a new lawyer contender against a lawyer-legislator, so a lawyer will remain in that seat regardless who wins.)
Meagan Hanson, a Brookhaven-based family law attorney and Republican running for House District 80, believes that her legal training is critical to building effective legislation. “It’s an art,” she said, noting she took a class in law school about how courts interpret what’s on the books.
“You have to know what you’re asking for, and how that will be interpreted in the court to know how it will affect things in practice,” said Hanson.
DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James and challenger Sherry Boston clashed in a forum this week.
“In DeKalb, we have a community that has lost trust in many of its leaders, and so we have to have a DA that is not only complying with the law, but fairly applying the law. Right now, this community has lost faith that we don’t have that,” Boston charged.
James defended his record and integrity, saying, “I think I’ve done a good job, I think the men and women who work with me have done a good job.”
Whether James is doing a good job is not as important as the community’s sense of the office, according to Boston. “I think a lot of what we talk about about fairly applying the law comes down to the perception in the community. If the community doesn’t believe that your office is operating at the highest level of integrity, than it doesn’t matter if you think you are,” said Boston.
Boston pointed to James’ failure to file campaign disclosure reports for five years and to $1,915 in meal charges made to his government spending accounts as evidence that he has not upheld the “highest standard of integrity” for the office. James paid a fine for his missed disclosure filings in September, and he maintains that his meal charges were appropriate, but repaid the county in October.
“There is a great concern that we have a district attorney that breaks the law, because we have a district attorney who has admitted to violating the law. And when that happens, it drives the entire system down,” Boston said.
The Macon Telegraph is doing a great job covering local elections this year. Today, they cover a proposal by former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis to suspend garbage collection for people who don’t pay their garbage bills.
Ellis, who will face interim Tax Commissioner Wade McCord in the May 24 election, said at a Wednesday morning news conference that he would work closely with local officials to push for a new process for handling late garbage fees. Macon-Bibb County has about $7 million in uncollected garbage bills.
“There are ways to collect money without being as draconian as selling people’s property on courthouse steps,” he said.
Reacting to the Ellis campaign’s suggestion of not picking up some people’s garbage, county officials said that plan could pose health risks and create unsightly streets strewn with containers of uncollected trash.
“There is a very real public health risk to having residences within the county who do not have regular scheduled garbage pickup,” McCord said in a statement. “Insect and rodent infestation and the spread of communal diseases are risks public health officials raise when they call for mandatory universal garbage pickup.”
The Telegraph also notes a challenge to 19-year incumbent Jones County Commissioner (District 1) Larry Childs by political newbies Cliff Greene and Sam Kitchens. Houston County at-large Board of Education member Bryan Upshaw faces challenger Andy Rodriguez.
Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter (R) has criticized Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to veto HB 757.
“I generally don’t take the time in these meetings to make political statements, but since I do have this venue, and I don’t know if he watches it or not, but I want to address it to our governor and let him know that I disagree with his decision to veto House Bill 757,” Hunter said during the commission’s business meeting on Tuesday.
“I believe he’s wrong and I believe he’ll find that will be on the wrong side of history.”
Yesterday, the Board of Regents voted to not increase tuition for state universitites and colleges in the 2016-17 school year.
Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, has said the decision shows the board is “listening to students, their families and legislators” who have voiced concerns about year-over-year tuition hikes in Georgia.
Until this year, the system’s governing board had approved some form of tuition increase every year since at least 2002.
Last year, most state-operated colleges in Georgia saw a 2.5-percent tuition increase for the fourth year in a row. Students at Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia received even greater increases of 9 percent.
Kimberly Chere Crouch of Grovetown, Georgia will plead guilty to charges from an accident that killed former Georgia legislator Joey Brush.
District Attorney Ashley Wright said negotiations on the plea deal have not been finalized. A hearing could be set in May at the earliest, Wright said.
Brush, an avid motorcyclist, served two terms in the state House in the 1990s and was sworn into the state Senate in 1997. He also was a builder and developer. He is survived by his wife, Cheryl Brush; his mother; four children; three stepchildren; a sister; and six grandchildren.
What local politician could resist a forum for senior citizens? Very few, apparently. From the Augusta Chronicle,
More than 100 senior citizens – many bused from Augusta senior citizen centers – filled the auditorium at Carrie J. Mays Community Center to hear appeals from candidates for more than a dozen local and state offices on the May 24 ballot, including three contested Augusta Commission elections.
The head of the city’s senior programs, Joyce Downs, said she’d invited all local candidates to attend, and nearly all did, although one – incumbent Richmond County Marshal Steve Smith – asked a supporter to speak on his behalf.
Georgia Republican Party District Conventions this Saturday
This Saturday, I will join many of my friends and probably an equal number of people who dislike me at the Sixth District Republican Convention. As a duly-elected delegate, ten days ago, I received the “Call Letter” via email, informing me of the convention and how to apply to move forward as a delegate to the national convention. The email came from 6th District Chairman Michael Fitzgerald and I promptly registered online and paid my delegate registration fee.
Now, a Facebook page called “Georgia for Donald Trump” that bills itself as “The Official Facebook page of the Donald Trump for President Campaign in Georgia” is going nuts complaining about Michael Fitzgerald, writing, “This Establishment RINO is doing everything he can to reverse Trump’s win in Georgia,” and one poster writes, “sent him a private message to stop dragging his feet and get the paperwork done.”
Here’s the thing: the paperwork was done and it said that the deadline to apply as a delegate to the national convention was April 7th, a day before these folks started complaining. That suggests to me that maybe they weren’t delegates from their county conventions, or they would have received the information several days before.
Then they turned up the
heat crazy on Rachel Little, who Chairs the Fourth District.
That was posted yesterday, April 13, a full six days after most district conventions closed the application process to be a delegate from District to National Convention. And some of the comments might be considered menacing.
In short, be prepared for quite a show on Saturday. I’ll be tweeting from my convention and will be keeping an eye on the #gapol hashtag. We look forward to hearing what’s going on at your conventions.