The blog.

21
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 21, 2016

Georgia’s Royal Colony Seal was approved on June 21, 1754.

Georgia Colony Seal

A lynch mob including members of the KKK killed three young civil rights activists who were trying to register African-Americans to vote near Meridian, Mississippi on June 21, 1964.

When Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder. Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.

When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan’s involvement and found the bodies. Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

John W. Hinckley, Jr. was acquitted of attempted murder of President Ronald Reagan and others in the Presidential party by reason on insanity on June 21, 1982.

Voters in Sandy Springs approved the new city’s incorporation on June 21, 2005.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a Kennesaw State University police officer had no jurisdiction to arrest a driver outside of his jurisdiction, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

In a unanimous decision, the Georgia Supreme Court has reversed the Court of Appeals’ ruling.

“We agree that Officer Mason had no authority to effect a custodial arrest of (Zilke) outside the jurisdiction conferred by (the Georgia law cited by the trial court),” the opinion states, but Mason also lacked authority to do so under the law cited by the Court of Appeals.

“Indeed, the purpose of (that law) has never been to enlarge the territorial boundaries of the various law enforcement agencies in the state, but rather to give law enforcement officers the discretion to write a citation in lieu of making a custodial arrest for motor vehicle violations,” the opinion states.

Attorney David Willingham, who argued on behalf of Zilke in the Georgia Supreme Court, said the court’s decision means officers can no longer arrest people for traffic violations outside their jurisdictions.

“If a police officer is completely outside of his jurisdiction, he can’t write a citation or arrest somebody even if he witnesses something happen in his presence. He can still detain that person, and we never challenged the officer’s power to detain the person, but the whole point of the case is there is a specific statute that says campus police officers do not have any power to make an arrest unless they’re on campus or within 500 yards from campus or any property owned by the University or the Georgia Board of Regents. There’s a similar statute on the books for municipal police officers,” said Willingham, a former Cobb assistant district attorney.

As seems to be the case after every tragic shooting, gun sales are soaring in Georgia and Metro Atlanta.Continue Reading..

20
Jun

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 20, 2016

Michael

Michael is a small (under 25 pound) 1-2 year old Terrier mix male who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Michael is a small dog with a LOT of love for people and dogs (he’s still trying to figure out what cats are all about). In public, Michael likes to think he’s the boss and tells the other dogs so. He loves to play, but if all his foster siblings are laying down, he’s happy to do that to. He is happy to be held and given any attention. Michael doesn’t care for the collar around his neck, and will need to walk with a harness.

BabyGirl

Baby Girl is a large, 5-year old female German Shepherd dog who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Baby Girl is a sweet, well-behaved housebroken pet who like people and other dogs and knows “sit” and “stay”.

Titus

Titus is a young adult male Beagle who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA. He gets along well with other dogs and is always happy.

20
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 20, 2016

On June 20, 1732, the signing of the Georgia Charter was completed by the British government.

On June 20, 1782, Congress adopted the Great Seal of the United States. Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, was responsible for the final design presented to Congress. The design approved by Congress was a written description without any sketches.

On June 20, 1819, the SS Savannah entered the port at Liverpool, England, marking the first transatlantic crossing by a steam-powered ship, having sailed out of Savannah on May 20th.

General Robert E. Lee moved on Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant at Petersburg, Virginia on June 20, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gwinnett County’s first ever trial for human trafficking resulted in the conviction of Quantavious Lee Jackson, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Quantavious Lee Jackson, a young Brookhaven man with a crude dollar sign tattooed between his eyes, was found guilty of keeping two teen girls as prostitutes before their rescue in November 2014. After the verdicts, which a jury returned late Thursday, he faces life in prison during his sentencing hearing later this month.

“These convictions are the result of a tremendous effort put forth by multiple law enforcement agencies,” prosecutor Jennifer Hendee told the Daily Post on Friday afternoon. “We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict and we hope it sends the message that human trafficking will not be tolerated within Gwinnett County.”

The case had been one of many human-trafficking cases pending in the county since the General Assembly enacted Georgia’s law specifically addressing the crime in 2011, but it was the first to go to trial.

The DA’s office said Jackson, represented by Robert Booker, kept the girls, ages 15 and 16, for several days in various hotels in College Park, Buckhead and ultimately Gwinnett.

A study committee of Georgia General Assembly will consider once again tax breaks to attempt to promote a recording industry in the state.

The Joint Music Economic Development Study Committee will examine ways to “measure, expand and promote” music and foster connections between recorded music and other arts, such as film, digital media and gaming.

The committee is charged with finding ways to support and promote music tourism, post-secondary education in music and new studio spaces for artists to record their work.

Incentives for small music studios and musicians could be part of a package for lawmakers to consider when they reconvene next year.

Advocates say tax credits for music recorded here, particularly for film, television and theater, could help the industry attract new artists, retain and nurture up-and-comers, and spur the development of new recording facilities and event spaces.

The Middle Georgia Regional Commission is set to meet and discuss a new T-SPLOST, but may not be able to get it on this year’s ballot, according to the Macon Telegraph.

It appears unlikely, however, that all the steps can be completed to get the referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot. That means that any public vote probably would be held sometime next year.

Designated elected officials from each of the 11 counties in the region are expected for a roundtable meeting soon.

The push for the referendum began in September after the Middle Georgia Regional Commission polled the 11 county commissions and a majority wanted to move forward with it. But Houston County, the second most populous in the region, opposed it, along with Putnam, Monroe and Twiggs counties.

Those in favor of a transportation sales tax referendum are Peach, Crawford, Macon-Bibb, Jones, Baldwin, Wilkinson and Pulaski counties.

Atlanta City Council will vote Monday to put a half-cent MARTA sales tax on the November ballot.

A Glynn County SPLOST may be on the back burner as County Commissioners postponed voting on a proposed agreement with Brunswick.

On Thursday, the Glynn County Commission deferred its vote on an agreement with the city to allow Brunswick to have $15.99 million in projects included in the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax the governments are hoping to get on the November general election ballot.

The agreement is necessary for the city to get more than the 19.32 percent it is legally entitled to of the more than $71 million in taxes expected to be collected. That comes out to around $13.8 million.

As expected, Mayor Cornell Harvey was not happy about the sudden change and questioned how the city is supposed to trust the county when it appeared the county was set to move forward with the agreement.

“I’m sadly disappointed in them for not taking the vote,” Harvey said Friday. “This was something that we had already agreed to and had whittled our list down. They are right that they only have to give us 19.32 percent but we had gotten past all that. The county doesn’t like that we have the purchase of police vehicles on our list.”

County commission chairman Richard Strickland said the agreement may now in limbo.

When asked if he thought an agreement would ever be approved, Strickland said, “I can’t tell you that right now. There were a number of commissioners who had reservations that hadn’t changed. There was a (previous) compromise but the county commissioners had time to think about it and thought the county had given enough.”

Strickland went on to say that the city needs to come down on the amount of money they’re asking for.
“The (intergovernmental agreement) is only in effect because the city wants more money than they’re entitled to,” Strickland said. “Based on the city’s population they are entitled to 19.32 percent which comes out to $13.8 million.

Peachtree City approved its list of SPLOST projects to be included in a possible November 2017 Fayette County SPLOST vote.

“Ultimately, it is a special purpose tax countywide, and the only ones who can call for that are county commissioners. The cities do not have any say whatsoever in terms of calling for a ballot initiative regarding to a SPLOST. All we’re doing is working with the county to try to develop a very feasible project list as we go forward,” [said City Manager Jon Rorie].

Forsyth County’s Board of Education voted unanimously to place a renewal E-SPLOST on this November’s ballot.

If approved on the Nov. 8 ballot by Forsyth County voters, a 1-percent sales and use tax, called SPLOST, will be re-imposed from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022.

A SPLOST approved in 2007 will end on June 1, 2017, so this fifth SPLOST referendum would simply pick up where that one finished — approving the option on the ballot in November would not increases sales taxes more than they are now.

SPLOST V would be used to fund up to about $35 million in capital outlay projects and up to about $159 million for debt service retirements, said Rick Gunn, chief financial officer for Forsyth County Schools.

A maximum revenue of about $195 million could be collected from this SPOLST program, Gunn said.

Voters will have the choice to approve or deny this SPLOST continuation on their ballot when they vote for President and local elected offices in November.

 

The Chatham County Commission is expected to vote Friday on millage rates for the 2017 budget.

The commission anticipates maintaining the millage rate for Chatham Area Transit at 1 mill, for the countywide general fund at 11.543 mills, and for the property tax paid by only unincorporated residents at 4.13 mills.

“The board of commissioners has stated its plan to keep the millage rates the same as they were last year,” Commission Chairman Al Scott said at an earlier hearing on the millage last week.

Although the county doesn’t intend to increase the property tax, the move by the commission to adopt a millage above next year’s rollback rate could result in an increase for some property owners’ annual tax bills. The county has reported that anticipated growth in property values could raise these payments on an average property by about $9.

The Gwinnett County Republican Party will open a new headquarters in a storefront in Gwinnett Place Mall.

High levels of vanadium have been detected in groundwater at a landfill near the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia.

A second round of bulk-buying of solar panels in the Solarize Tybee program makes eligible any rooftop within 100 miles  of Savannah.

That wait ends Tuesday when Solarize Savannah kicks off, with what’s shaping up as a 90-day period for interested property owners to sign up and have their rooftop evaluated for suitability.

Solarize is a national program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy that helps local governments promote solar energy to homeowners and business owners by streamlining the selection of an installer and buying in bulk to reduce cost. Begun in Portland, Ore., the program has been implemented in more than 200 communities around the nation. Solarize Tybee, which spread countywide, was the first Solarize project in Georgia. Solarize Athens and Solarize Decatur-Dekalb are currently underway.

17
Jun

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 17, 2016

kemp3

Kemp is a 3-month old male Boxer mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Kemp is a snuggle bug that is always wagging his tail and his little grunts will make your heart melt. Kemp loves chewing on his bone and trying to sneak onto his foster sisters big dog bed. He’s a little shorter than his litter mates but makes up for it with spunk and sweetness. He’s already making great progress on potty training and might be fully potty-trained by the time you read this.

kemp5

vi3

Vi is a 3-month old female Pug and Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA. She is likely to be under 15 pounds fully grown.

betts1

Betts is a 3-month old male Jack Russell/Boxer mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Hi, I’m Betts! I’m just a happy go lucky guy! I play very well with my older siblings even if they play rougher than I do. I especially love my older Beagle sister who is very calm, gentle and low key …. we snuggle together a lot!

I love being petted and having my belly rubbed while I watch tv with my foster parents. I’m learning to use the potty outside and use the puppy pads overnight, or when my foster parents are gone longer than expected.

I’m just an all ‘round great puppy with medium energy who would fit in anyone’s home where I could give them all my love in return for belly rubs!

betts2

17
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 17, 2016

On June 17, 1759, Sir Francis Drake claimed California for England.

On June 17, 1775, British forces under General William Howe engaged American colonists at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

On June 17, some 2,200 British forces under the command of Major General William Howe (1729-1814) and Brigadier General Robert Pigot (1720-96) landed on the Charlestown Peninsula then marched to Breed’s Hill. As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, Prescott, in an effort to conserve the Americans’ limited supply of ammunition, reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat.

After re-forming their lines, the British attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott’s men were now low on ammunition, though, and when the Redcoats went up the hill for a third time, they reached the redoubts and engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, by the end of the engagement, the Patriots’ gunfire had cut down some 1,000 enemy troops, with more than 200 killed and more than 800 wounded. More than 100 Americans perished, while more than 300 others were wounded.

A distant ancestor of mine, John Logue, fought with the Americans at Bunker Hill, though he was not yet an enlisted soldier.

President Andrew Johnson appointed John Johnson (no relation) provisional Governor of Georgia after the Civil War on June 17, 1865; John Johnson had opposed secession.

France announced its intention to surrender to Germany on June 17, 1940.

Five men were arrested for burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, DC on June 17, 1972.

The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) connected cash found on the burglars to a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, the official organization of Nixon’s campaign.

In July 1973, as evidence mounted against the president’s staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee, it was revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and he had recorded many conversations.

After a protracted series of bitter court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the president had to hand over the tapes to government investigators; he ultimately complied.

Recordings from these tapes implicated the president, revealing he had attempted to cover up the questionable goings-on that had taken place after the break-in.

Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, then issued a pardon to him on September 8, 1974.

Newton Leroy Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Gingrich graduated from college at Emory University, where he founded the Emory College Republicans. Gingrich’s congressional papers are collected in the the Georgia’s Political Heritage Program at West Georgia College, where he taught before being elected to Congress. Also at West Georgia are the papers of former Congressmen Bob Barr, Mac Collins, and Pat Swindall, along with a near-perfect replica of Georgia Speaker Tom Murphy’s office.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

One of my favorite accounts of Donald Trump’s trip to Georgia comes from Carolyn Hall Fisher, via Facebook.

Today was a big day. I got up at 4 AM and met Senator Michael Williams at Best Buy in Cumming at 5:30 and he drove us to Charlie Loudermilk’s gorgeous home where we were wanded and searched by the Secret Service. Michael was a guest and I was a volunteer.

I was assigned to bathroom duty. I had to stand by this gorgeous bathroom and tell people whether or not it was occupied. Had to keep them off of a large staircase and away from Charlie Loudermilk’s bedroom. I did a great job as the bathroom monitor because I was a teacher for 31 years. I was very tempted, but did not tell anyone not to stand on the toilet or pee in the sink.

I had everybody in a nice line and one elderly gentleman came over and he had to go really bad so I asked a lady if he could go ahead of her. She said no and I almost wrote a note for her to take home and get signed by somebody.

There was a beautiful winding staircase in the front hall and Donald Trump stood there and spoke to everyone. I was amazed. He was absolutely a perfect gentleman. He was gracious, and he spoke eloquently. I was stunned and extremely impressed. He patiently answered questions and many times called people by name.

Once he left Ginger Howard and I journeyed to the Fox Theater where we had VIP seats on the front row. The place became packed and my friend Julianne Thompson made a lovely speech and led us in GOD BLESS AMERICA in her lovely voice.

Other people spoke and then Donald Trump came out and gave a very nice speech. There were some protesters in the crowd but there always are at these things.

Once he finished speaking, Mr Trump came down and shook hands, signed autographs, and spoke to each one of us on that row. He was quite the gentleman, not in a hurry to get away, and was appreciative of our work and our being there.

I was going to work for and vote for Mr. Trump because I am terrified for us and our children when I think of Hillary Clinton appointing even one Supreme Court Justice. After meeting him today I am now a fan. I believe he really wants to help America. After all, look what America has done for him.

So for those of you who just feel that you must surrender and let Hillary Clinton be our next President you might want to ask yourself what’s worse? Somebody who sometimes comes off as crass be president or a woman who is a murderer and liar? Doesn’t seem to be a hard choice to me.

What I like about it are (1) it’s a first-person narrative; (2) it’s more personal than political; and (3) it’s unrelentingly positive. Carolyn was chosen as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention by the Seventh Congressional District in April.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Jacqueline Bunn to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Bunn has been executive director of the state’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council since 2013. Bunn previously worked as an assistant attorney general focused on civil rights and as deputy director of the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s legal services unit.

The board consists of five full-time members who make parole decisions. During 2014, the board made more than 76,000 clemency decisions regarding parole cases.

Former state representative Jay Neal will serve as the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s interim executive director. He is currently the council’s criminal justice liaison.

Congratulations to Ms. Bunn and to Mr. Neal.

Congratulations also to Savannah lawyer Pat O’Connor, who is taking the reins on Saturday as President of the State Bar of Georgia.

The Savannah Morning News writes that the legislature should heed Senator Renee Unterman’s advice to look at Medicaid expansion under a waiver.

Georgia has already lost out on billions of federal dollars that would have covered medical costs of people with incomes too low to qualify for health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act but not low enough to get Medicaid. We are talking about an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 Georgians without coverage who would likely qualify if Medicaid were expanded. These are people who use the closest emergency room for all medical issues, which forces hospitals to foot the bill, close or pass the cost along to the rest of us. At least four rural hospitals in Georgia have closed during the past three years.

Locally, Memorial Health University Medical Center is losing millions of dollars annually, in large part because of its commitment to treating uninsured patients. That loss has helped fuel the hospital’s ongoing effort to find a third party to be a financial partner with the hospital, resulting in a major political controversy that continues to boil.

“Times have changed,” Unterman said. “How many years in a row can we pump in hundreds of millions of dollars to hospitals that are closing, to physicians that are going out of business?”

Unterman qualified her remarks by pointing to modified, hybrid plans that Republican governors in 10 other states have fashioned to take partial advantage of the additional dollars. Arkansas, for example, buys private insurance for low-income residents who were in that gap. Georgia is one of 19 states still not offering any kind of Medicaid expansion.

For the state to sign on now, it would take an act of the legislature as well as the governor’s signature. Democrats, a minority in both chambers, have pushed for Medicaid expansion, but Republican opposition remains strong. We urge Chatham County’s delegation to join Unterman and encourage the legislature and Gov. Deal to reconsider their past objections to Medicaid expansion in this state.

It’s not too late to get help for hospitals like Memorial and their staffs, physicians, low-income residents and state taxpayers.

Don McKee, writing in the Cherokee Tribune Ledger News also urges the legislature to consider Medicaid expansion.

The question is: will Unterman’s fellow Republicans in charge of the General Assembly show an interest in her idea or reject it out of hand? They should at least give it thoughtful consideration. It could be a workable way to help nearly half a million Georgia residents get needed health care insurance without breaking the bank for the state. It deserves a hearing in the General Assembly with input from the people.

If I’d known former Governor Roy Barnes was appearing in a Gwinnett County Courtroom, I’d have gone to watch the master at work.

[Gwinnett and Cobb] counties, represented by former Gov. Roy Barnes’ Marietta firm, are seeking a total of $52 million in the case, which involves 16 lawsuits. Barnes told the court the money at stake is owed to the counties and necessary to avoid using taxes to upgrade the emergency calling systems and keep up with rapidly changing technology.

The hearing in Gwinnett Superior Court was over a motion by BellSouth and Earthlink to dismiss two of the suits. Judge Randy Rich offered no hint of where he stood after the attorneys’ arguments and said he expected to issue a decision in about two weeks.

The former governor was animated in dark thick-rimmed glasses, slapping papers in his hand as he spoke about the “arrogance of the telephone providers.”

“They’ll do anything until they get to the next session of the General Assembly to try and kill the case,” he said, accusing the defendants of sending lobbyists to get legislators to add protections in the law.

In Cobb County, the NAACP along with the county Republican and Democratic parties will celebrate Juneteenth this weekend.

Live music kicks off the weekend-long celebration tonight, and Saturday’s 13th annual Juneteenth Culture Festival and Sunday’s third annual Gospel Festival will round out the weekend. All events are free and open to the public.

Deane Bonner, Cobb County NAACP president, said tonight’s live music will include jazz, blues and spoken word performances.

The weekend celebration continues Saturday with more than 100 clothing, jewelry, hat and food vendors stationed throughout Marietta Square.

“There’s something for everyone,” she said.

Mayor Steve Tumlin described the event as “joyful and fun,” saying the city has “embraced it from every angle.”

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were free, Bonner said.

“Because we have a true definition of what Juneteenth is, people will begin to know. This will be a learning curve, so to speak, and appreciate why we celebrate Juneteenth,” Bonner said.

It’s not just impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety that elected officials should avoid. But Cobb County Tax Assessor’s Office Director Stephen White sees nothing wrong with how he’s lowered his own property taxes.

Stephen White serves as director and chief appraiser of the Cobb Tax Assessor’s Office. Though in his 40s, his west Cobb home property is eligible for an exemption from taxes paid to the Cobb School District because his father, who is in his 70s, resides in the home and is on the home’s deed.

Cobb County grants the school tax exemptions to homeowners who are at least 62 years old on or before Jan. 1 of the current tax year.

“If the thought is I moved my father into my home just to get school tax exemption, that didn’t happen. I was taking care of my parents in my situation, and that’s why I moved my parents into the home,” White said.

White said his father also provided financial support to aid in setting up the home as the two were moving in.

“My father made a large investment into our home to help assist for caring for elderly family members. In return for that, I put him on the deed to my house,” White said. “He made an investment in my home.”

White said the exemption for his home is annually worth about $1,900.

If you live in DeKalb County, please take a few minutes to take a brief survey on the upcoming SPLOST election.

DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester has made her own concerns over the SPLOST known.

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners (BOC) has not yet voted to put the SPLOST referendums on the November ballot, although the County Administration has presented the BOC with a request to put the SPLOST in front of DeKalb voters, but have not yet voted on this matter. “I have deep concerns and reservations about increasing the County sales tax,” Jester adds. “I am absolutely opposed to the list of SPLOST projects that has been presented to the BOC. The list does not prioritize paving and public safety. It does include a new government center for politicians.”

Kennesaw City Council is considering adopting social media guidelines, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

The latest version of the proposed policy removes language found in an earlier version that said the city “may seek injunctive relief from a court of competent jurisdiction” if an official refused to remove a social media post that violated the guidelines within 10 days of receiving oral or written notice.

But the policy says any online activity that interferes with the city’s ability to conduct business “may result in the issue being brought before the entire council to address.”

“Do you have to follow it? No, from the standpoint we recommend it. This is like table manners,” City Attorney Randall Bentley said at the council’s work session Wednesday night. “But I must tell you as far as a number of things that we are very limited to what we can do in regards to your social media.”

“A lot of it is to bring to you and recognize the fact that you can have a violation of open meetings rules in the fact that you can’t discuss city business — if three of you were to come online and start discussing city business, that would be a violation of open meetings, so we talk about that in here,” Bentley said. “We also talk about the fact that if you discuss city business, there is a real possibility that you can be subject to open records requests, so we want to make sure that you recognize that that is a possibility.”

Under open records laws, Bentley told the council, discussions of city business on officials’ personal social media accounts could be required to be retained in case they became the subject of open records requests.

“If we have an open records request, and you’ve been discussing it on your site, and it falls within that open records request, then you have to produce that,” he said. “(This policy) is kind of a wake-up call just to kind of say, ‘Hey, I could be subject to (that).”

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter announced he will seek charges against Snellville Mayor Tom Witts.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine will have his day in court on today, arguing (through his lawyer) that ethics charges filed last year against his 2010 campaign must be dismissed.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk will hear arguments in Oxendine’s bid to get the courts to essentially throw out charges from an amended state ethics commission complaint filed against him last year.

The commission’s complaint said that Oxendine took illegal contributions and spent campaign money on runoff and general election races he never ran after losing the GOP gubernatorial primary in 2010.

The ethics commission dismissed several charges against Oxendine in December after his lawyer argued that the statute of limitations had run out on the allegations. But it voted to move ahead with other charges.

If Oxendine is successful, the case could lead to more politicians asking the courts to interpret state ethics laws while cases are ongoing, rather than leaving it up to the commission.

Georgia and South Carolina will each contribute $2.5 million toward environmental studies for a proposed new container port on the Savannah River.

16
Jun

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 16, 2016

Trump Coweta

Trump is a 2-year old brindle-coated male Pit Bull who is available for adoption from Coweta County Animal Control in Newnan, GA.

Ruby Red

Ruby Red is a one-year old female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Daisy Coweta

Daisy is a 4-year old female tri-color Coonhound or Foxhound who is available for adoption from Coweta County Animal Control in Newnan, GA. Daisy is very well-mannered and wants to please her people.

Daisy Coweta 2

16
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 16, 2016

On June 16, 1736, General James Oglethorpe arrived in England with Tomochichi, the Yamacraw Indian chief, Tomochichi’s wife and several other members of the tribe on a trip to meet the Georgia Trustees and King George II.

Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Fort Wilkinson on June 16, 1802, ceding two parcels of land in Georgia to the United States.

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln addressed the Illiniois Republican Convention as a candidate for U.S. Senate and warned that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

The Atlanta Constitution was first published on June 16, 1868.

Bob Dylan recorded “Like a Rolling Stone” on June 16, 1965.

The Monterey Pop Festival opened at the Monterey Fairgrounds on June 16, 1967, often considered one of the opening events of the “Summer of Love.” Among the artists playing the Festival were the Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Macon-born Otis Redding.

Six Flags Over Georgia opened on June 16, 1967.

Atlanta Braves player Otis Nixon tied the modern record for steals in one game with six stolen bases agains the Montreal Expos on June 16, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The biggest Presidential campaign news coming out of Georgia is definitely the nomination of former Congressman Paul Broun as the Vice-Presidential candidate on the Constitution Party ticket.

The Constitution Party of Georgia (CP-GA) held its state convention on June 10th in McDonough. As expected, members selected Darrell Castle, the keynote speaker and Constitutional attorney from Tennessee, as its Presidential nominee.

In a surprise move the members also unanimously nominated Dr. Paul Broun, a native son and former U.S. Congressman, for the Vice-President slot. CP-GA Chairman Ricardo Davis explained: “Dr. Broun has one of the most impressive conservative track records of any Congressman who has ever served in Washington. The CP-GA’s mission is to elect individuals like him in all facets of civil government.”

Dr. Broun wrote a Jobs Act that was highly rated by the Club for Growth, an Audit the Fed bill that passed the U.S. House by a 333-92 margin, and legislation considered to be the best Obamacare alternative. Dr. Broun never voted for a tax increase, never voted to increase the debt ceiling and never voted for a bailout. He also proposed more targeted spending cuts than any other U.S. Representative.

Davis noted, “With the recent endorsement of Darrell Castle by Georgia Right to Life PAC, the Constitution Party of Georgia has the only ticket with endorsed president and vice-president candidates.  Castle and Broun have proven track records in defending the sanctity of life.”

The CP-GA is attempting to get Mr. Castle and Dr. Broun on the ballot in November by collecting 7,500 petition signatures according to a new interim federal ruling. Though still high, that number is a dramatic reduction from current Georgia law requiring about 52,000 signatures.  Voters wanting to see them on the ballot are working to meet the approaching deadline.

The actual news is that the Constitution Party might be able to make it on the ticket as the first party to place candidates on the ballot under the federal court ruling that invalidated Georgia’s requirement for more than 50,000 signatures and substituting the federal court’s completely made up requirement of 7500 signatures.

On Tuesday, Columbus, GA lawyer Mike Garner filed a lawsuit seeking to have the federal court ruling applied to his effort to gain ballot access as an independent candidate for Muscogee County Clerk of Court.

The Columbus attorney attempting an Independent bid for Muscogee County Superior Court clerk has filed suit claiming the law requiring him to have 5,226 voter signatures to get on the ballot is unconstitutional.

Mike Garner filed the suit on Tuesday in Muscogee County Superior Court, naming as the defendant Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations Executive Director Nancy Boren, who must enforce the law.

The law says candidates trying to run as Independents must by July 12 submit supporting petitions signed by enough eligible voters to equal 5 percent of those registered during the last election for the office sought. That’s the origin of the 5,226 number.

“Plaintiff has learned that no independent candidate has ever been successful in Muscogee County getting the required signatures,” Garner wrote, later adding: “The signatures must be obtained on an approved form given by the election board. This form requires the name, printed name, date of birth and address of the voter. Voters are reluctant to give their addresses and date of birth to strangers in fear of identity theft.”

So high a goal is unconstitutional under the First and 14th Amendments, he said, asking that a judge set a more reasonable standard.

“A proper number, an obtainable number, a number that would restore to … independent candidates in this case their constitutional right to run for political office would be 500 to 750 signatures in place of the 5,226 signatures now required,” he wrote.

He based his arguments on a March 17 ruling by Richard W. Story, a federal judge for the Northern District of Georgia, who found unconstitutional a Georgia law requiring Independent presidential candidates seeking ballot access to get signatures equal to 1 percent of registered voters during the last election.

Typically a judge from outside the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit that includes Columbus is appointed to hear such cases, to avoid the perception local judges are trying to influence elections here.

A Democratic organization called is seeking to register new voters in advance of the November General Election. From the AJC’s Kristina Torres,

More than 950,000 people in Georgia could soon be getting mailers from a Washington-based voting advocacy group with instructions on how to register to vote, part of a multistate effort to boost voting rolls ahead of this year’s presidential election.

The Voter Participation Center is aiming its efforts at communities of color, unmarried women and millennials—groups historically underrepresented in voting counts. Past registration efforts, however, have at times been met with confusion — including in 2012, when the group mailed registration forms addressed to people’s deceased pets.

The group uses commercially collected information and says it has since refined its mailing process. It also says residents contacted in error can ask to be removed from its list at 202-659-9570.

Here’s what their voter registration mailers look like:

Voter Participation Center Envelope

Voter Participation Center Letter

Voter Participation Center App

Trump in Atlanta

Donald Trump came to Atlanta’s Fox Theater yesterday, to what Fox5 Atlanta called a crowd of about 2500.

“We love Georgia, we had a big, big victory in Georgia a little while ago and we’re going to have another one thank you very much everybody” said Trump.

Trump doubled down on his controversial stand on immigration, calling for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants, and for the surveillance of mosques as part of the war on radical Islamic terrorism.

Trump spent much of his speech on terrorism in the wake of the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting.

11Alive also covered the Trump campaign rally.

Conservative leaders Ralph Reed and Herman Cain posed for photos behind stage at the Fabulous Fox Theatre as a handful of protestors outside grew to about fifty.  When the conservative leaders took the stage, they both slammed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, mocked Republicans that have spoken out against Trump, and blamed the “liberal” media for biased coverage of Trump

After an introduction from legendary former University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley, Trump took the stage about an hour late as the crowd inside cheered. “Wow!” Trump said as he praised the Georgia crowd, promising to take the state in November.

“We had a horrible, horrible event this weekend in Orlando,” Trump said. “Unthinkable.” As he started laying out plans for America to “be tough”, the first chants of “Trump,Trump!” started.

He said the LGBT community supports him and his policies: “When I say, ‘Make America Great Again’, it has to be for everybody. Everybody.”

I’m not sure what this does for Trump’s credibility as an outsider in the mold of David Perdue – rapper Waka Flocka Flame, who endorsed Perdue for Senate in 2014, called for his Twitter followers to “protest peacefully” at Trump’s Atlanta event.

Perhaps the biggest endorsement of the day for Trump was legendary University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley.

Dooley’s endorsement of the presumptive Republican nominee came at a Trump campaign rally Wednesday afternoon at the Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta. Dooley previously was scheduled to attend an event later Wednesday afternoon at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, and appeared at the rally at the urging of his son-in-law, whom Dooley described as “a big supporter” of Trump.

“I think the whole thing is that you have to make a choice now,” Dooley said in an interview following his Trump endorsement, noting the presidential field was winnowed to just two people, with Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic contender for the White House.

“I don’t exactly agree with everything he’s done,” Dooley said of Trump. But, Dooley went on to say, the United States “has lost prestige in a lot of ways … it’s time for a new beginning.”

Dooley all but ruled out any active campaigning for Trump, saying he might appear at some future Trump event in Georgia, but likely wouldn’t do much beyond that.

“I doubt it,” he said when asked about the possibility of campaigning for the GOP presidential contender.

Dooley’s endorsement of Trump brings him in line with his wife, Barbara, whom Dooley said has favored Trump almost since the real estate magnate’s announcement nearly a year ago that he would be seeking the presidency.

“Early on, she said she was going to be for him,” Dooley said.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Council announced their 2016 Legislators of the Year.

Each year, the Georgia Chamber’s Government Affairs Council recognizes legislators for their votes on critical business legislation. During this year’s spring meeting Senator Jeff Mullis, Representative John Meadows and Representative Beth Beskin all received top honors in recognition of their support of pro-growth and pro-job policies.

“I would like to thank our state legislators for their leadership and support of legislation that will continue to create jobs, improve the quality of life, and promote economic growth for the State of Georgia,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark. “As we continue our mission of leading the nation as the number one state for business we need our leaders now more than ever to continue to support pro-business polices.”

Chair of the Senate Rules Committee – Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) was awarded Legislator of the Year for being a champion for the business community in voting, actions as well as behind the scenes. He consistently works to make Georgia a great place to do business. “Senator Mullis has carried Chamber-supported legislation many times and we are fortunate to have him as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee,” said Elizabeth Chandler, GAC Chairwoman (2014-2016). Mullis also received a scorecard vote of “A” on the Georgia Chamber’s legislative scorecard.

Chairman of the House Rules Committee – Representative John Meadows (R-Calhoun) was also recognized as Legislator of the Year for his steadfast support and advocacy for advancing a pro-business agenda in the House. Chairman Meadows scored an A+ on the 2015-2016 Scorecard, however more importantly, he’s often a trusted and respected voice of reason and counsel on difficult votes and issues.  “He’s always willing to listen to the Chamber’s viewpoint on an issue and never fails to provide candid and sage feedback,” said 2016 Georgia Chamber Board Chair and Executive Vice President, AGL Resources Hank Linginfelter.

For the past 6 years, the Georgia Chamber’s Government Affairs Council has recognized legislators from both sides of the aisle who work hard to pass legislation that supports economic progress.  The Georgia Chamber’s new digital scorecard http://gachamberscore.com/ provides the opportunity for the business community and Georgia voters to track how legislators vote on important economic issues.

The final award of the legislative season was given to the Rookie of the Year – Representative Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) for quickly asserting herself as the leading champion on the House Judiciary Committee for common-sense, pro-business civil justice legislation.  As the sole “No” vote in committee on a very anti-business E-Discovery bill during the 2016 session, Representative Beskin was the only legislator willing to stand up in support of the business community on a tough vote.  She also earned an A+ on the Chamber’s 2015-2016 Scorecard and has quickly become a strong friend and ally of the business community.

Georgia is fortunate to have leaders like these who strongly support economic development in our state. The Georgia Chamber will continue to cultivate the important partnership we have between the state and the business community to ensure we are promoting further growth in Georgia.

Chatham County Commissioner Helen Stone appeared before the Savannah-Chatham Board of Education to ask them to vote against a proposed millage rate increase.

Stone asked the school board not to approve their proposed .5 mill property tax increase because it creates a financial burden for homeowners like herself as well as retirees on a fixed income.

“As a citizen and a taxpayer I have watched my tax rate creep up since I bought my house in 2007,” she said.

Stone complained that ESPLOST, the penny sales tax for public education improvements, should keep tax rates down, but instead expenses have risen each time the district replaces and renovates a 1940s- and ’50s-era school. She argued that she attended public school until she reached high school and it was teacher quality that made a difference, not fancy facilities.

“When I was a student at Ellis Elementary there was no air conditioning or fancy gym and playground,” she said. “Many of us have gone on to be successful.”

State Senator Harold Jones (D-Augusta) will receive the Guiding Star Award from Georgia Equality for his vocal opposition to religious freedom legislation during this year’s session of the Georgia General Assembly.

“Whether it is a passionate floor speech against legislation that would discriminate against LGBT Georgians or by showing up at LGBT events in the Augusta area, he is proving to be a stalwart ally of a community that too often struggles to find allies in more rural parts of our state,” Graham said.

Jones said that despite representing a district far from Atlanta that is majority black, a group that polls show is among the least supportive of gay marriage, he’s heard no objections to his stance.

“I’ve gotten no blowback on that at all,” he said.

Sponsors of the “religious freedom” bill have said they will try again next year.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Deputy Commissioner Ben Hames told the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce that workforce development is a priority for job creation.

Hames explained the state has been going through a shift in its focus on how to attract business in recent years, going from primarily looking at incentives for businesses to also focusing on workforce development.

“Incentives remain important, but companies have been in this part of the economic cycle long enough, and have had enough strain and struggle in filling workforce positions, that all of a sudden they understand it doesn’t matter what the package is, what the location looks like,” Hames said.

“If you can’t find the skilled, work-ready individuals to step up and take the positions, (or) if you don’t have the programs and capacity in place to develop and deliver those individuals, it’s not going to work.”

The deputy director said Georgia officials have taken some steps at the policy level to encourage work force development, including letting computer programming stand in for math, science and foreign language requirements in high schools, setting up the Georgia Film Academy and offering free tuition for 11 high demand areas, such as industrial maintenance technicians, or CDL programs, at the High Demand Career Institute.

“Georgia should provide its own talent,” Hames said. “That’s not a statement about migration of emigration with an ‘E’ or an “I” or any of that. What it says is we should have the capacity, we should have the programming, the aspirational goal to provide talent, therefore creating a sustainable, quality work force.”

15
Jun

Jack Kingston on #Orlando

Kingston Head Horizontal

By Jack Kingston

Now comes the parade.

In the days ahead, following the sickening attack in Orlando, we will see a sympathetic press circling Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as they wring their hands and with sober voices denounce hatred, call for unity and make convincing statements that we have to “learn more” about violence.

They will vaguely suggest the Orlando tragedy is more the fault of intolerance in the Christian community and the NRA than with ISIL or any global threat.

They will act as if it can be blamed on a Bush or some previous decision maker.

They will whine as if they were victims of forces they have no control over.

But you will never hear from them or their adoring press the problem: that the President has been ineffective and absentee when it comes to ISIL and radical jihadist extremism.Continue Reading..

15
Jun

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 15, 2015

Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn is a 14-month old female Terrier (or German Shepherd?) mix who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA. She is sweet, smart, energetic, and happy.

Bernadette2

Bernadett is a 3-year old female Coonhound who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA

Bernadett has a wonderful personality. She is happy and active and would love to find room to roam. She loves the outdoors and is curious and still very playful. She enjoys playing with the other dogs at the shelter and would probably do well with another furry family member after meeting them.

Blue2

Blue is a year-old male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Blue is an energetic puppy that needs a family that is dedicated enough to him to teach him potty manners and to address his puppy issues. He needs to be housetrained which takes times and patience. Some of his positive traits are that he is happy, playful, loyal and loving. He is a very vocal and loves to chew like all puppies do. Blue has never been exposed to cats or children but does very well with other dogs.

15
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 15, 2016

The Magna Carta was sealed by King John on June 15, 1215.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses and dealt mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any future claim to absolutism by the English monarch. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England’s Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

On June 15, 1740, Spanish troops attacked the English who were led by James Oglethorpe, at Fort Mose, two miles north of St. Augustine, Florida. With 68 English killed and 34 wounded, it was the heaviest losses sustained by Oglethorpe during his campaign against St. Augustine.

George Washington accepted the assignment of leading the Continental Army on June 15, 1775.

The Oregon Treaty was signed on June 15, 1815 between England and the United States, establishing the border between the U.S. and Canada.

On June 15, 1864, a funeral was held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta for Confederate General Leonidas Polk, who was killed the day before at Pine Mountain near Marietta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

lucy-football

The best image today in Georgia politics comes from FiveThirtyEight.com where they were discussing the chances that Georgia will be in play for Hillary Clinton in the General Election this year.

micah: All right, what other states? How about Georgia?

julia: I think you’re right, Micah, that Georgia is kind of like the football and the Democrats are Charlie Brown.

natesilver: I, too, am somewhat more skeptical about Georgia than, say, Arizona. Georgia’s sort of competitive viewed from the top down, but there aren’t all that many swing voters there. Instead, you have a very Democratic African-American vote and some very conservative whites.

micah: It’s not elastic! (Elasticity is my favorite made-up FiveThirtyEight concept/term.)

harry: The question in Georgia is whether or not the heavy migration of African-Americans into the state can outpace the movement of whites away from the Democratic Party.

natesilver: Right. If Clinton wins Georgia, it’s probably going to be as a result of newly registered voters, newly moved voters and a big ground game. It’ll be about turnout more than persuasion.

julia: The thing about Georgia that keeps me coming back to the competitiveness thesis is that so many other states follow that model: big city turns the whole, otherwise pretty conservative state blue.

Former Congressman Jack Kingston has penned an op-ed on the terrorist attack in Orlando.

Now comes the parade.

In the days ahead, following the sickening attack in Orlando, we will see a sympathetic press circling Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as they wring their hands and with sober voices denounce hatred, call for unity and make convincing statements that we have to “learn more” about violence.

They will vaguely suggest the Orlando tragedy is more the fault of intolerance in the Christian community and the NRA than with ISIL or any global threat.

They will act as if it can be blamed on a Bush or some previous decision maker.

They will whine as if they were victims of forces they have no control over.

But you will never hear from them or their adoring press the problem: that the President has been ineffective and absentee when it comes to ISIL and radical jihadist extremism.

Take a minute to read the entire piece.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton shared an Atlanta stage yesterday, according to the Saporta Report.

The venue was the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, where nearly 1,000 leaders from around the country have been convening since Sunday.

The conversation between Clinton and Carter culminated the event – and provided a window on two leaders who have made the most of their post-presidencies.

“Both of us have been blessed to live far longer out of office than we did in office,” observed Clinton.

“It didn’t take me long to live longer than the time I was in office,” Carter, a one-term president, quickly chimed in. “I was good at being elected, but not good at being re-elected.”

Fulton County is considering partnering with ride-sharing service Uber to provide mobility for seniors.

The county is slated to vote Wednesday on a $10,000 pilot program that would give elderly people rides to senior centers.

The county’s own system for getting seniors around is over-burdened, according to a proposal. Uber created a special program that allows a third party to book rides for senior citizens who might not be proficient at using cellphones. The county and the company put it to use during a three-month trial at one senior center.

If the small-scale pilot program is approved, the county will continue to study the cost and efficiency of the program, including whether a better transportation network exists.

Lee County may build a $50 million hospital, according to the Albany Herald.

Lee County sources say the hospital will offer “state-of-the-art health care along with affiliations with some of the best specialty medical services in the country.”

The county will finance construction of the hospital with proceeds obtained through bonds issued by the Lee County Development Authority. Once constructed, a real estate development company working under the authorization of the Development Authority will sublease the hospital to an experienced operator, that officials described as “well-qualified.”

The county will apply for a Certificate of Need through the Georgia Department of Public Health under the sole community provider provision that is part of state law. Under that provision, any municipality in a county that has no hospital within its borders may establish such a health care facility for its residents.

The Sea Island Company has been bought by Denver’s Anschutz family, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The family bought out Oaktree Capital Management of Los Angeles, Capital Avenue Group of New York, Starwood Capital Group of Greenwich, Conn. The four bought Sea Island out of bankruptcy in 2010 for $212 million.

“We are extremely excited about this news and believe that this is the best possible scenario for the future of Sea Island – for our residents and club members, our team members, our guests, and for the Golden Isles community as a whole” said Scott Steilen, president of Sea Island Co. “Being solely owned by the Anschutz family will once again bring a level of stability, continuity, and long term commitment of ownership to Sea Island.”

Steilen said the ownership consolidation will not impact Sea Island’s operation. But it does bring together the ownership of Sea Island and Colorado Springs, Colo.-based resort The Broadmoor.

The Anschutz family is headed by Philip Anschutz, No. 108 on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of $10.5 billion. He made his fortune in oil.