The blog.

25
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2017

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s Virginia Plan. Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the New Jersey Plan, as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve on good behavior.

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

The Battle of New Hope Church was fought near Dallas, Georgia May 25-26, 1864 between Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal troops under General William T. Sherman.

On May 25, 1907, an equine statue of John B. Gordon was unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held on May 25, 1962 that the Georgia General Assembly was malapportioned and ordered the reapportionment of the State House and Senate.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

My Ride to Vote, a SuperPAC, will sponsor free Uber rides to the polls in the Sixth Congressional District for the Special Runoff Election.

“Our mission is to make sure every citizen has an equal ability and right to participate in the political process,” said Ben Leiner, My Ride to Vote’s executive director.

Here’s how it works: 6th District voters can text “VOTEGA” to 38470 to get a promo code for a free ride to and from the polls. They then access the ride from the Uber app, which they must download if they don’t already have it.

The money to pay for the rides is coming from My Ride to Vote, which is raising money toward the project using the crowdsourcing site Crowdpac. Uber itself is not providing free rides or making any sort of political endorsement.

My Ride to Vote is also working with several voter advocacy groups to get the word out to voters about the service, including Voto Latino, the New Georgia Project and the left-leaning Georgia Engaged, which is a coalition of progressive organizations in the state.

“We offer rides to any voter who needs one, regardless of their political views,” Leiner said. “We’ve partnered with progressive organizations in the district simply because they are in contact with the voters who most need rides.”

Of course this will benefit Democrat Jon Ossoff, because most free riders are Democrats or progressives.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley has issued implementation guidelines for campus carry.

“I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill,” Wrigley wrote in the statement. “Yet, whether you opposed or supported the legislation, it will soon be state law, and I respectfully ask everyone to exercise patience, understanding and respect as we implement it. We all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise.”

Wrigley noted six points for how House Bill 280 should be implemented.

Wrigley said that while current law already allows license-holders to keep weapons secured in motor vehicles, beginning on July 1, House Bill 280 will allow anyone who is properly licensed in Georgia to carry a concealed handgun on property owned or leased by public colleges and universities, with some exceptions.

“It will not allow any other type of gun to be carried around campus; nor will it allow handguns to be carried openly,” said Wrigley, who noted that the pending law does not apply to institution-sponsored events or excursions away from campus on property not owned or leased by a University System institution.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) wants poultry processing speeds boosted to increase competitiveness with foreign producers.

Poultry producers in South America, Asia, Canada and Europe “are safely operating at line speeds that outpace the maximum speeds allowed in American facilities,” states a press release from the congressman’s office.

And those practices represent “a significant disadvantage to Northeast Georgia’s poultry industry and America’s domestic production.

Mike Giles, president of Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation, said he supports the line change, pointing to the success of the pilot program.

“We have the data,” he said. “We know it can be done … in a way that produces safe food and protects worker safety.”

He also agreed with Collins that “restricting our plants to lower line speeds reduces our competitiveness with other countries.”

The Augusta Chronicle spoke to locals about proposed federal healthcare legislation.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., said the [Congressional Budget Office] score was proof his vote in support of it showed he was doing what his constituents wanted him to do.

“Some Georgians in the 12th District have only one choice when it comes to insurance providers – and often not the choice they want,” Allen said. “Enough is enough. I promised my constituents that I would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare and nearly a month ago, my colleagues and I passed the American Health Care Act. Today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that this legislation will lower premiums and lower the deficit. I am proud to have supported the American Health Care Act and urge my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly to end this Obamacare train wreck.”

Cindy Zeldin of Georgians for a Healthy Future, who estimated the previous version of the bill would cut coverage for more than a half-million people in the state, said the score showed this version was not an improvement.

“This legislation would crush consumers by destabilizing insurance markets, eliminating critical protections, and forcing too many Georgians into the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured,” she said. “Congress should go back to the drawing board and take time to craft responsible health care legislation that helps, not harms, consumers.”

President Trump‘s proposed federal budget could add $50 million to funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Boosters had hoped for about $100 million in the fiscal 2018 budget to dredge the Savannah River, but the White House’s spending plan of $50 million, while a high-water mark for the federal government, falls well short.

And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dashed hopes by Georgia leaders late Wednesday when it announced no discretionary construction funds from fiscal 2017 would be added to this year’s appropriation. That decision could put the project at risk of further delays

“In a budget crafted with many spending reductions, it is extremely reassuring to see that this administration realizes how important this project is not only to our area, but to the entire nation,” said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, whose 1st Congressional District includes the Savannah port.

“Now, I will work diligently with my colleagues to continue this momentum and fight for (the project) as budget discussions continue,” he added.

On Wednesday, Deal’s office said in a statement that it was “grateful” for the $50 million from Trump’s budget, calling it a “sign of good faith from the federal government.”

“Unfortunately, the Army Corps of Engineers chose not to prioritize this project in its discretionary funds,” the statement said. “It is our hope that the Corps will decide to devote future funding to (the Savannah port project) so that it will continue on its current timeline.

“While the governor is certainly thankful for President Trump’s and the Congress’ contributions to this effort, we look forward to the federal government following Georgia’s lead by fully funding its portion of this vital project,” Deal’s office said.

Chatham County Commission is considering a contribution to beach renourishment on Tybee Island.

Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning held a Q&A with shareholders and talk turned to Plant Vogtle.

“This spring Westinghouse…declared bankruptcy,” Fanning told shareholders. “We were well-prepared when that unfortunate event happened. We have been working on an agreement with Toshiba for the $3.7 billion.”

Fanning expects the project development to transition to Southern and a couple of partner contractors.

“We are 65 percent complete on site,” Fanning said, adding that the company is studying the efficiency, the schedule and the costs. “We believe we will make that evaluation probably in August. We’ll know the cost to complete somewhere in that time frame. The board will make a conclusion (about whether to continue or stop the work on Plant Vogtle).”

During the annual meeting, Fanning outlined what the company has done to move away from coal, increase its renewable energy offerings and invest in natural gas.

“Before I got here, 70 percent of our energy came from coal,” Fanning said. “Now it is below 30 percent.”

At the time, Southern was “zero on renewables,” Fanning added, “and now it’s just less than 10 percent of renewables. Renewables are growing.”

But the problem remains with “what do you do when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?” Fanning asked. The company is trying to bridge the intermittency of renewables with natural gas, fuel cells and ways to store renewable energy.

Elections 2018

State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Cobb) has announced she is running as a Democrat for Governor in 2018.

The Smyrna attorney’s campaign sets up what will likely be a divisive Democratic primary for the state’s top job in 2018. House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams has also filed paperwork to run for governor and is expected to soon make a formal announcement.

Evans said in an interview she is putting “hope” – the scholarship and the concept – at the heart of her bid to replace a term-limited Nathan Deal. She has been one of the most forceful critics of the 2011 law he signed that slashed funding to the popular program.

“It gutted the program that was responsible for everything that’s good in my life,” Evans said. “The Stacey Evans born today doesn’t have the same opportunity that the Stacey born in 1978 had.”

“The party will be fine. Choices are a good thing,” she said. “My intention is to be positive and spread my message – a message that all Georgians want to hear. I’m not running against Stacey Abrams. I’m running for Georgia.”

“My story starts with the HOPE scholarship. It was the center of my success,” she said. “But it’s also about a much broader theme. It’s about having hope in your government. And it’s about having hope in yourself.”

Former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-Senoia) said yesterday he will not run for Governor in 2018.

“After much prayer and consideration, Joan and I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2018. While I am humbled by the kind words and encouragement that we have received from so many over the last few months, I think the best contribution that I can make to our state is outside of elected office. I’ve always thought of public service as a noble cause and it was truly an honor of a lifetime to represent so many hard working Georgians for so many years in both in the legislature and then later in congress. I look forward to doing all I can to support the Republican nominee for Governor and the entire Republican ticket in 2018.”

Ken Hodges, a former Dougherty County District Attorney and 2010 Democratic candidate for Attorney General, launched his campaign for the 2018 election to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

24
May

Lynn Westmoreland will not run for Governor in 2018

A statement from former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland:

“After much prayer and consideration, Joan and I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2018. While I am humbled by the kind words and encouragement that we have received from so many over the last few months, I think the best contribution that I can make to our state is outside of elected office. I’ve always thought of public service as a noble cause and it was truly an honor of a lifetime to represent so many hard working Georgians for so many years in both in the legislature and then later in congress. I look forward to doing all I can to support the Republican nominee for Governor and the entire Republican ticket in 2018.”

 

24
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2017

John Hancock was elected President of the Second Continental Congress on May 24, 1775.

Then-Lt. Governor Marvin Griffin announced his candidacy for Governor on May 24, 1954.

John Smoltz tied the record for most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher, throwing 15 Ks against Montreal Expos on May 24, 1992.

Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan, who was born on this day in 1941.

One year ago today, the 2016 General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election was held in Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Nick Ayers is profiled in Politico as a Presidential advisor who might become a candidate for Governor of Georgia.

Ayers has been a mainstay in Republican politics for a decade, working as a former top hand at the Republican Governors Association and as a campaign consultant.

Ayers joined up with the Trump campaign after Trump won the primary. There, he served as then-vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s senior adviser and on the White House transition team.

Now, Ayers advises America First Policies, the Trump-affiliated nonprofit that promotes his agenda outside of the White House.

But there are major warning signs coming from suburban Atlanta, where anti-Trump backlash has prompted a serious tightening in the upcoming House special election runoff there. That could mean that moderate Georgia Republicans will be willing to turn against the president, especially if a more moderate Republican makes a strong showing in the run-up to the primary.

More money and more staffers are heading to the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC favored by House Speaker Paul Ryan, said Wednesday it will hire another 45 door-knockers to reach an additional 100,000 households. The group also stuck to its latest theme – linking Ossoff to San Francisco – with a new radio spot.

The group has doled out $6.6 million and already had a team of 90 field operatives on the ground in the district, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb. It also plans to keep its field office in the district open after the June 20 runoff – regardless of who wins – to prepare for the 2018 vote.

House Democrats upped their ante as well. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it will pour in another $2 million to back Ossoff, bringing the total investment to nearly $5 million.

Much of the money will be spent on TV, though about $150,000 will fund radio on stations geared to African-American listeners.

Handel and Ossoff will debate live on WSB-TV on June 6th at 8 PM.

It is the first debate announced between the two candidates in the hotly-contested June 20 runoff to represent Georgia’s 6th District, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb.

It’s unclear how many additional debates will be held, but Handel’s campaign has said it would agree to “several” others – though it has not confirmed which ones.

The Georgia State House Rural Development Committee discussed broadband service in their first meeting this week in Tifton.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t look at asking for y’all to come up with something that guarantees us 100 percent of that tax exemption you’re getting will be used in rural Georgia,” Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Albany, said to internet service providers on Tuesday.

Rynders was referring to a plan to give up state revenues from a sales tax on equipment used to build out broadband networks in underserved communities. Several rural lawmakers have questioned whether waiving the tax would actually lead to a boost in coverage in the areas that need it most.

The tax break is among the changes that service providers say would help spur expanded broadband services in areas where companies have been reluctant to invest limited resources because of a smaller customer base.

“I think it’s ironic that here on the rural development council we’re having a conversation about rural broadband access that’s livestreamed and most of rural Georgia won’t get to watch it because of limited access,” said Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R-Douglas.

“This is a two-year task, so don’t think that we’re going to solve this in a day, in a month or in a year,” said Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who is co-chairing the council.

Rob Hosack has been appointed as the new County Manager for Cobb County.

Rob Hosack officially became Cobb’s county manager Tuesday night after commissioners’ voted 5-0 to approve his contract.

Hosack had been serving as interim county manager since May 1 as his salary and employment terms had not been negotiated last month when commissioners tapped him to succeed longtime County Manager David Hankerson, who retired April 30.

“It’s not often you get a chance to come back and work with such a fantastic group of folks. I feel really blessed just to get this opportunity,” Hosack told the MDJ before Tuesday’s meeting, alluding to his nearly three decades of experience with the county.

Under the terms of the approved contract, Hosack will be paid $210,000 per year, retroactive to his May 1 start date, with the contract running until Dec. 31, 2019.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr argues to the Georgia Supreme Court that Northside Hospital should be required to comply with the Open Records Act.

Chris Carr, in office since late last year, said in a Monday court filing that the Georgia Open Records Act is broader in its applications than what Northside Hospital has argued.

Attorneys for the plaintiff have argued that Northside is subject to the Open Records Act because it was created by a public hospital authority, which is a government entity, and that it operates solely on the authority’s behalf.

“The Office of the Attorney General has long served as a champion of open government,’’ Carr wrote in his brief. “The Attorney General — as a champion of open government, and as the state’s chief legal officer — urges the Court to honor the plain text of the Georgia Open Records Act, which embodies the state’s “strong public policy . . .  in favor of open government.”

Northside has said it is not bound by the open records law. The hospital says that because it’s a private nonprofit corporation, not a public entity, the records law does not apply to it. An attorney for Northside, Randy Evans, told the state’s highest court last month that the system is a regional player, owning other hospitals in areas that are not governed by the hospital authority in Fulton County.

The Georgia Supreme Court asked for Carr’s opinion on the case after oral arguments were heard. A request by the court for an attorney general or an agency to weigh in on a case doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s not unheard of, said Jane Hansen, a spokeswoman for the court.

“And when it does happen, it usually involves a legal question posed to the agency responsible for enforcing the area of law in question,’’ Hansen said Tuesday.

“Project Meatball” is the moniker given to a project in which a private company is seeking for the Development Authority of Cobb County to assist in refinancing an airplane through issuance of a $50 million bond.

“We can’t release (the company’s name) right now,” Geter said. “They requested that we not release the information. … That’s why we’re calling it ‘Project Meatloaf.’”

The company’s name will be made public at the Development Authority’s next meeting, Geter said, when the board will vote on the final bond resolution. Also at that meeting, the results of a fiscal impact study of the proposal to be conducted by Georgia Tech will be presented.

The entertainment company wants to use most of the funds to refinance the jet, but also plans to spend some of the money to upgrade a hangar at Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field, where the jet and two others could be housed, according to Andrew Egan, an attorney at the firm Kutak Rock who represented the company at Tuesday’s meeting.

The company is also seeking a tax abatement on the plane, meaning it would be added to the tax rolls gradually over 10 years, Geter said. In the first year, the company would only pay 10 percent of the local taxes owed on the plane; in year two, it would pay 20 percent and so on.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods told Gainesville Rotary Club members that students and teachers should prioritize being “life ready.”

“You hear a lot about being college and career ready, but, for myself, it is about being life ready,” Woods told Gainesville Rotary Club members this week. “I think that’s more inclusive for what we want for our children. For our young people who step into a new phase of life (after high school), we want them to be prepared to take on that next challenge.”

Woods pointed to the state’s Move On When Ready program that allows high school students in grades 9-12 to start taking college classes through technical colleges and schools in the University System of Georgia tuition free.

“That is a growing gem for our state,” he said. “Not only are students graduating with a high school diploma, but now I am meeting students who are graduating with an associate degree with two years of college that’s paid for. I can’t think of a better bargain when we talk about our kids getting ready for life.”

“I think all of our students should be exposed to band, music, dance, drama and visual arts,” he said. “Those are aspects of life which I think reflect a very healthy society. They add critical thinking pieces and open up higher-order thinking in the brains of students.”

Flowery Branch property owners could see higher property tax bills even with the millage rate unchanged.

“The increase is strictly due to the value of … property rising,” City Manager Bill Andrew said.

Because of higher property values, to pull in the same amount of revenue, the city would need to reduce the tax rate of 3.264 mills to 3.012 mills.

The city is proposing to keep the rate at 3.264 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $175,000 is $17.64, city officials said.

SACS, the regional school accrediting agency, will begin an investigation of the Savannah-Chatham County public school system.

Mariama Jenkins, spokeswoman for AdvancEd — which oversees the SACS accreditation process — said they have received complaints of school board interference and will investigate after Levett takes over as superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham Public School System.

“We received complaints in response to allegations that Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is in violation of AdvancED Accreditation Standards for Quality School Systems. Based on the merits of those complaints we will be conducting an on-site review this fall,” Jenkins said.

SACS investigators can put districts on probation and revoke accreditation if they find that school boards are disrupting the educational effectiveness of a district. Loss of accreditation disqualifies graduates for HOPE scholarships and admission to most colleges and universities. SACS findings may also prompt the governor to suspend and replace board members. In 2013, Gov. Nathan Deal suspended and replaced six of nine DeKalb County School Board members. In 2016, Deal suspended and replaced the entire five-member Dooly County School Board.

Savannah is considering new rules to govern short term rentals.

Staff is considering limiting the number of vacation rentals that can operate in the city, as well as placing caps on how many can be located on a block or street because of concerns among the Savannah City Council members and residents that neighborhoods are being overrun with visitors. Property owners would also have to live onsite for new vacation rentals in more residential areas, and there could be a maximum number of days a property can be rented, under other proposed changes.

The changes are being developed by a group of stakeholders composed of residents, neighborhood leaders, rental owners and management companies that offered feedback to city staff Monday.

The hope is that discussions will lead to an ordinance that will help preserve communities as the number of vacation rentals grows, said Trudy Herod, who was representing the Victorian Neighborhood Association.

The owners of some rental companies have concerns about how their businesses will be affected by some of the proposed changes, such as the potential rental cap and owner-occupied requirement.

An RQ-4 Global Hawk became the first unmanned aircraft to land at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia.

The Georgia Ports Authority and Virginia Port Authority have been approved to move forward on an information sharing agreement designed to improve service.

The agreement, approved April 10, allows the Georgia Ports Authority and the Virginia Port Authority to begin discussing ways the two ports can share information in certain operational areas to position themselves as the U.S. East Coast’s leading gateways for containerized cargo.

A joint application to proceed with development of the East Coast Gateway Terminal Agreement was filed by the ports on Feb. 24. The application set into motion a 45-day review period – including a 12-day public comment period – by the Federal Maritime Commission. The approved agreement encourages the exchange of information and best practices in five areas of operational and supply chain efficiencies, safety, communications and customer service.

“Our industry is changing rapidly and, as a result, increased collaboration between ports is necessary to provide the service excellence our customers expect and deserve,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director. “It is clear that both Georgia and Virginia are East Coast gateway ports and this step further allows us to create jobs, economic development and improve safety. I would like to thank our respective employees and partners in the ILA as we move forward together.”

Columbus city employees may have to wait up to three additional weeks for paychecks as part of a move to a new payroll system.

The gap in the normal cycle — weekly for some and bi-weekly for others — is included in Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s recommended fiscal year 2018 budget as part of the electronic conversion to a new payroll system. City officials say the conversion is an effort to move all CCG employees to a common bi-weekly pay period, and the lag-time won’t affect the annual amounts employees are paid.

“In addition to getting employees all on a common pay period, the city is upgrading its budgeting financial system and it’s payroll and human resources system and moving to a cloud-based solution,” said City Human Resources Director Reather Hollowell, who notified city employees of the changes in an April 28 memo. “That’s really the initial impetus for this. We need to do it for a system conversion reason.”

Hollowell said all full-time employees will receive a pay bonus on Aug. 11 to help supplement their income during that period. The bonus will be equal to 1/4 of their weekly salary or 20 hours. The first bi-weekly paycheck after the conversion will be issued on Aug. 18. Current federal and state taxes would apply.

In her memo to employees, she wrote: “For employees who are paid every week, your pay period will be converted to a bi-weekly pay period with one week in arrears. For employees who are paid biweekly, you will continue to be paid bi-weekly with one week in arrears. For increased accuracy in your paychecks and to improve reporting of finances, all employees will be paid bi-weekly with a seven (7) day lag time or one week in arrears.

“The one-time bonus paycheck is being given to you in order to avoid any cash flow hardship during the transition,” she explained. “The bonus paycheck is in addition to your annual salary and will be subject to required federal and state taxes, but not other payroll deductions.”

24
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 24, 2017

Barney Boxer

Barney is a three-year old male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Ely

Ely is a seven-year old male Hound mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

 

Squirt

Squirt is a 6-year old male Dachshund mix (maybe with some Miniature Pinscher?) who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Johann

Johann is a five-year old male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Gwinnett County Police K-9 Draco notched another win against an alleged criminal, this time in court.

Dog bites man. Man sues dog. Dog wins.

The dog was Draco, a prized member of the Gwinnett County Police Department’s K-9 unit. But on July 6, 2013, Draco bit the arm of burglary suspect Randall Kevin Jones, who later claimed the dog clamped down for what “seemed like a lifetime.”

When a federal judge rejected Gwinnett’s initial attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, the county appealed. On Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw out the case against Draco.

“We hold that a dog may not be sued individually for negligence since a dog is not a ‘person,’” Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. Georgia law, she noted, does not allow such claims to be litigated against dogs.

The mere notion of allowing a lawsuit against a dog raises abundant practical issues, Rosenbaum added. How would you formally serve the lawsuit on a dog? What about the dog’s retention of legal representation? How can a dog be expected to pay damages?

I believe the accepted method for serving a lawsuit on a dog involves the lawyer peeing on the dog’s lawn.

23
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 23, 2017

Quill

Quill is a male American Staffordshire Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

Baby Groot

Baby Groot is a male American Staffordshire Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

Baby Groot and his brother were rescued from Walton County Animal Control on May 2 after being turned in as strays. They are both loving and playful fellas just looking for a family to cherish them. Since nothing is known about either parent, we can’t say with any certainty what the adult size will be or what they may be mixed with.

Baby Groot is currently suffering from rickets due to poor nutrition but with proper care and nourishment, he should fully recover.

Tirzah and Malah

Tirzah (right, female) and Mahlah (left, female) are female Border Collie and Corgi mix puppies who are available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

These precious sisters were seen being pushed out of a truck on a rural road. COFAS rescued them from Walton AC the same day. They are about 3 months old, 12 lbs., sweet and happy as can be and are looking for their forever homes.

23
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 2017

Serial bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot to death near Sailes, Louisiana by a group of LA and Texas state police on May 23, 1934.

On May 23, 1954, the NAACP petitioned the Fulton County Board of Education to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Virginia Caucus on May 23, 1976, gaining 24 delegates. On May 25, 1976, Carter won the Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky Primary Elections for President.

On May 23, 1990, the NFL announced that Atlanta would host the 1994 Super Bowl.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 The State House Rural Development Committee met in Tifton yesterday to begin a series of meetings discussing rural issues.

“Your zip code or county of residence should not dictate your lot in life,” Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, told members of the House Rural Development Council Monday at its kickoff meeting in Tifton, Ga. “Moving to the big city should not, cannot be the only way to get ahead.”

From the AJC’s coverage:

House leaders promised answers but said they won’t come quickly or easily.

“We are going to make a very concerted effort to deal with a lot of issues,” said state House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, the council’s co-chairman. “This is a two-year task.”

State House Speaker David Ralston said rural Georgia can’t afford to wait for the next election to find progress and solutions.

“Rural Georgia cannot wait on political seasons to come and go because they will always come and go,” the Blue Ridge Republican said at the council’s first meeting. “I refuse to allow any personal ambitions to get in the way of what we are doing.”

From the Albany Herald,

State representative Ed Rynders is one of 15 on the council.

He said the policy will help stimulate rural Georgia.

“We’ve got problems, where we got to find fixes that isn’t just about writing checks but about developing good policy to strengthen South Georgia,” said Rynders.

“If we’re going to make significant head way and revitalizing rural communities in South Georgia. We got to deal with the people issue, we got to provide leaders,” said Bridges.

More than 5500 new voters have registered in the Sixth Congressional District after a federal judge ordered the reopening of voter registration.

The total includes two types of voter: the newly registered, plus so-called “transfer” applications — already registered Georgia voters who moved into the district after March 20, when the registration period originally closed.

Several thousand additional applications are still pending, although all three counties that have areas that fall within the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — have been working overtime to process them ahead of the hotly contested June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The 6th District already boasts more than 521,000 registered voters. The impact of several thousand more is unclear, but it has the potential to swing a race that polling suggests is separated by only a few percentage points and within the margin of error for either candidate.

“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility,” GOP strategist Chip Lake said. But, he added, “we won’t know until the votes are counted and the dust is settled and we can have a definite record-by-record look at who voted.”

Vice President Mike Pence will campaign for Karen Handel on June 9th.

Vice President Mike Pence has plans to stump for Karen Handel’s campaign for Georgia’s 6th District on June 9, which would make him the latest high-profile Republican to trek to suburban Atlanta in the nationally watched race.

The details for Pence’s visit have yet to be finalized, according to people with knowledge of the plans, though it would come as little surprise. Handel has said she is an “all hands on deck” mode ahead of her June 20 runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

John Watson’s campaign for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party received an endorsement from the Trump campaign’s Georgia Chair.

Rayna Casey called Watson, a former aide to Sonny Perdue, the only contender in the four-candidate contest with a “proven record of success in winning elections.”

“Why take a chance with a likeable amateur when we have a professional willing to volunteer his strategic political expertise, including raising millions, to win our elections?” she wrote in a dispatch sent to GOP activists across the state.

Democracy for America, a progressive PAC, will email its supporters, urging them to support Stacey Abrams in 2018.

Democracy for America, a progressive PAC, is set to send an email to its members encouraging them to “pledge their support” to the Georgia Democrat when she announces she’s formally in the governor’s race.

The organization has more than 32,000 members in Georgia and about a million across the nation, and it’s the first significant group to pledge an endorsement in the still-evolving race for governor.

In a statement, DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain said Abrams is “undoubtedly the best candidate” to lead the state. He cited her opposition in the Legislature to new restrictions on abortions and a tax overhaul that critics saw as unfair to poor Georgians.

“Winning the governorship will require a progressive leader like Stacey who can turn out voters who are ready for a strong contrast to the Republican agenda,” said Chamberlain. “If Stacey Abrams enters the ring, she can count on us to be in her corner.”

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office hosted a class in cyber security and crimes for local law enforcement agencies.

Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Gainesville to promote summer reading.

“We’re working with our public library systems to make sure that during the summer that not just students, but families, are enrolled together,” Woods told the Gainesville Rotary Club.

He acknowledged following the meeting that he was surprised to learn when he took office that the State Department of Education did not partner with library systems during the summer months to promote summer reading programs.

Woods said DOE is giving away 100,000 books to students across the state this summer, many of those through the public libraries. He said maintaining strong reading skills is a natural tie-in to other subject areas.

Paulding County Commissioners heard from department heads about the FY 2018 budget.

The Fulton County Board of Education tentatively approved a $1.5 billion dollar FY2018 budget unanimously.

Chattahoochee Circuit Juvenile Judges are asking Columbus City Council for a raise.

Georgia Ports Authority notched another monthly record, with more container moves than any prior April, as well as larger ships calling.

The GPA handled 333,006 20-foot containers, or TEUs, last month, which was up nearly 12 percent compared to April 2016. Total tonnage increased across all ports by 13 percent to 2.94 million tons, to mark the GPA’s busiest April ever.

“We feel pretty good about a record TEU count for the FY2017,” Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director said on Monday.

Much of the recent growth, Lynch said, can be attributed to the Panama Canal expansion and a strong economy.

“… This is really organic growth. We’ve seen larger capacity vessels like the COSCO Development, more moves per vessel and it’s everything that we’ve talked about for years, so we’re happy to see it coming together,” he said.

The COSCO Development, which was the largest container ship to ever call on the U.S. East Coast, arrived May 11 at the GPA’s Garden City Terminal where crews completed 5,500 container moves in 30 hours.

“I think what we’ve shown is not only did we handle it, but we handled it better than anybody else ever did in the U.S.,” Lynch said.

Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education members voted to hire Ann Levett as the next Superintendent, but then started Festivus early with an Airing of Grievances.

Although Levett’s hire was approved pending finalization of the terms of her contract, the board split 5-4 along racial lines, and the four dissenting white board members made their dissatisfaction clear.

The four black board members — Dionne Hoskins, Irene Hines, Ruby Jones and Connie Hall — praised Levett for her extensive experience, educational background and dedication to the district. Levett is a Beach High graduate and worked as a principal in the 1980s. She left to work at districts and universities across the country, including the Comer School Development Program at Yale University School of Medicine. She was hired back four years ago to serve as chief academic officer.

Then one by one the remaining board members listed the reasons they opposed her. Board Member Julie Wade said Levett has surrounded herself with “yes people” and described her leadership style as “dangerous.” Michael Johnson said nearly 100 people in his West Chatham-area district said they don’t want to see her in the position. Shawn Kachmar said the district hasn’t made substantive academic progress.

Board President Jolene Byrne said she doesn’t trust Levett.

“Did you see the red come out those necks? They were bright red during all that talking. I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time,” said Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah, a former school board member who worked for Levett when she was principal at Savannah High. “That was total disrespect.”

Byrne, Johnson, Kachmar and Wade insisted that their criticisms weren’t personal and pledged to follow board policy and support Levett.

22
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 22, 2017

Budro

Budro is a young male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.

Giselle

Giselle is a young female Labrador Retriever and Hound mic puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.

“I’m a fun-loving, happy-all-the-time, glass-is-half-full kind of dog looking for someone who loves to laugh and play around. Must have a great sense of humor and some time to spend with me. I’m a dog on a mission to please you. I think everything is fun, interesting and meant for play, especially you. Anything you do, I’ll want to do too. With my own brand of surprises, life with me will keep you constantly on your toes, and the fun is guaranteed.”

Mullroy

Mullroy is a young male Hound and possibly Basset Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Okefenokee Humane Society Inc. in Waycross, GA.

22
May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit www.camphooray.com.

The Marietta Daily Journal profiles the company.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 19, 2017

Tulip

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

Baby Bear

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

Harley

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

19
May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rubik’s Cube is 43 years old today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From TheHill.com:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muscogee County schools Assistant Superintendent Rebecca Braaten has resigned.

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

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

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

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

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

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