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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

Trump KS GA Tweet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich recorded a robocall for Judson Hill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Patricia Murphy, writing for The Daily Beast,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Senate District 32 candidates are profiled by the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 14, 2017

All month long, adoption fees for all dogs over 25 pounds, and all cats, are reduced to $40 at DeKalb County Animal Services.


Mutz is a one-year old Retriever mix male who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Decatur, GA.

If a dog with tons of personality is what you are looking for, Mutz is your guy! This incredibly sweet one year old loves belly rubs, laying out frog-dog style, and cuddling. He already knows how to sit, lay down, roll over, and maybe more! Mutz gets along great with other dogs too. He may enjoy sharing his home with a canine companion! Meet Mutz at LifeLine’s DeKalb Animal Services!

Jerry Lee bigger

Jerry Lee is a three-year old Terrier mix male who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Decatur, GA.

Jerry Lee had a great time on a recent outing as “Dog of the Day,” and is calm and friendly.


Landers is listed as a Corgi mix, but looks more like a Pekingese to me, and he is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Decatur, GA.

This stubby little guy can’t wait to win you over with his playful personality and adorable smile. Landers is about two years old and weighs 27 pounds. Meet him at LifeLine’s DeKalb Animal Services!


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was heckled.

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

“We want Barry!” people would shout.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Trump I_85 Responders

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


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 13, 2017


Willie is a one-year old, 44-pound male Staffordshire Terrier and French Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Willie is a good boy and will follow his basic commands. He walks nicely on a leash, which makes strolling around with his super nice and easy. His previous owners dropped him off at the shelter on 4/4/17 and reported that he is GOOD WITH KIDS and HOUSEBROKEN. He is current on his vaccines, has been neutered, heartworm tested negative and will be micro chipped. Willie’s ID # is 595000 and can be found in cage 805.


Margo is a one-year old, 45-pound female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

She will sit, stay and lay down when asked and walks nicely on a leash. She is current on her vaccines, spayed and micro chipped. Upon adoption she will be heartworm tested. Margo’s ID # is 594969 and can be found in cage 79. She seems to love kids as well as other dogs.


Baxter is a 5 and 1/2 month old male Labrador Retriever & Border Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Baxter is smart and eager to please. He already knows sit and he is learning lay down. Baxter will be a good student.

He is about 26 lbs, current on his vaccines, and neutered. Baxter will be microchipped and tested for heartworms, if needed, when adopted. Baxter’s ID at the shelter is 594916 and he is in cage 300. His cage number could change, so please make a note of his ID number and ask for assistance if you don’t find him in cage 300.


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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections


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

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

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

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

David Perdue I85

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristina Torres of the AJC updates the early voting totals:

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

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

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

And a breakdown by County for the 6th:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RealClearPolitics also takes a look at the Sixth.

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

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

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

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

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

Elect Project 4_12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Produce Section

Vidalia onions started shipping early this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 12, 2017


Wyatt is a 5-month old male Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Mostly Mutts in Kennesaw, GA.

I’m one fun and super active puppy who just can’t wait to find my forever family to grow up with! I love all people and because I’m young and need training, I just may greet you by jumping on you. Oops, I haven’t learned not to do that yet, but with a great owner who is ready to do lots of training with me, I’ll learn all that manners stuff and more!

I love playing, am silly and oh so fun!


Judd, above and below, is an 8-year old, 46-pound senior male Shepherd and Hound mix who is available for adoption from Mostly Mutts in Kennesaw, GA.

I’m a wonderful laid back and happy natured fellow who has lived with broken and/or dislocated bones for years. My injuries are consistent with being hit by a car and never getting help for them, so my body healed the best it could.

The MM volunteers tell me I’m amazing to be such a sweet and happy dog with the pain I must live with. Since the injuries have all healed, there’s nothing a vet can do at this point, so I’ll just need to be on very inexpensive pain meds for rest of life. I really don’t let any of this get me down and I enjoy going for short walks and greet everyone I’ve met happily. What I’d love, is a wonderful home to retire in, and a loving family and a very comfortable bed.

Judd1 Diamond

Diamond is a young female Pit Bull Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Shiloh Veterinary Hospital in Kennesaw, GA.

I’m a very sweet, friendly and affectionate girl! I’m also smart and curious! Once I have had some exercise I settle down and am ready for your attention. I have a great personality and would be a nice fit for a family who will commit to continuing my training. It seems I missed out on some of the normal doggie training all pups need. I have not spent much time on a leash either, but my leash training is improving everyday as the workers at Shiloh teach me. They have also taught me to ‘sit’. I am motivated by treats which will help with other training too.

I like tough chew toys and bones, and I love to play fetch – just have more than one ball handy, as I’m still learning to drop it! My potty manners have been very good. I keep my crate clean and am well-behaved while in it. I am a little too rough sometimes with other animals so I’d probably be better as your only pet.

I also love following you around and to just be near you, not in a needy way, but in an “I’ll keep you company way.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Backyard chickens are running into opposition in Columbus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 11, 2017


Gracie is a calm and sweet female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter in Toccoa, GA. Unfortunately, she is heartworm positive, though heartworm is easily treated.


Dandelion is a young female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, GA.


Emma is a young female Foxhound who is available for adoption from the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, GA.


Hunter is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, GA.


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

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

Benjamin Franklin Lobbyist Card2

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

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

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

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

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

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

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

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

Thrift Store Green Jacket

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics

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

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


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 10, 2017

Honey CPR

Honey is a 4-pound, 8-week old puppy who is available for adoption from Canine Pet Rescue in Dacula, GA. The best guess at her breed is mini Schnauzer- Yorkie mix, and you can apply online to adopt Honey.


Laurie (above) and Laney (below) are 9-week old puppies whose mother was a 65 lb Malinois and dad was a 120 lb Rottweiler.

Due to the strong-willed traits of these two breeds, they will need experienced and knowledgeable owners to make sure sure she grows up to be a well-mannered representatives of her breeds. You can apply to adopt Laney or Laurie at Thank you!

Both puppies are fully vetted — spayed/neutered, heartworm negative, and current on vaccinations and deworming. The adoption fee is $200 (cash only, please).