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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 27, 2016

On June 25, 1788, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the tenth states to vote for ratification of the United States Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. A committee was appointed to be chaired by George Wythe to draft a proposed Bill of Rights.

On June 27, 1864, Sherman’s Union forces attacked General Johnston’s Confederates at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

One year later, the Military Department of Georgia was created to oversee Reconstruction in the state.

On June 25, 1868, the United States Congress provisionally readmitted Georgia to the Union following the Civil War with the requirements that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and never deprive any citizens of voting rights.

On June 25, 1876, Indians under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention nominated Benjamin Harrison for President of the United States; Harrison’s grandfather was WIlliam Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.

On June 26, 1918, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the Eighteenth Amendment, which outlawed the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol. Governor Hugh Dorsey did not sign it for nearly a week, but the United States Secretary of State considers an Amendment ratified when the state legislature has voted on final passage.

The Gone with the Wind scene that includes the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was filmed on June 27, 1939, along with an alternate that used the line, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t care.”

On June 26, 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco.

The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948 after the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin, which was occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France.

On June 25, 1990, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Georgia v. South Carolina, a boundary dispute. From Wikipedia:

A… 1922 Supreme Court decision, also called Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U. S. 516, also held that all islands in the river belong to Georgia, but that the border should be in the middle of the river between the two shores, with the border half way between any island and the South Carolina shore.

Since the 1922 case, a number of new islands were created in the river between the city of Savannah and the ocean, due to the deposit of dredging spoilage or the natural deposit of sediments. In some cases, the new islands were on the South Carolina side of the previously drawn boundary, and Georgia claimed that once a new island emerged, the border should be moved to the midpoint between the new island and the South Carolina shore of the river. In some cases, the state of South Carolina had been collecting property tax from the land owners and policing the land in question for a number of years.

When an island causes the border to leave the middle of the river, it raises the question as to how the border line should return to the middle of the river at each end of the island. South Carolina advocated a right angle bend at each tip of the island, while Georgia advocated a “triequidistant” method which kept the border an equal distance between the two shores and the tip of the island (resulting in a smooth curve).

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal took umbrage at the AJC’s suggestion he ducked the Georgia Republican Party State Convention earlier this month.

“I’ll send you a dictionary so you can learn how to spell valedictorian.”

Gov. Nathan Deal greeted us with those words Tuesday, and it wasn’t because of a typo. He was taking umbrage with the coverage of his decision to skip this month’s Georgia GOP convention.

The governor sent word about a week before the convention that he wouldn’t attend because he was hosting more than 1,000 high school valedictorians at the Governor’s Mansion. But his decision also came as GOP activists threatened a sharp rebuke of the Republican for his controversial vetoes.

Said the governor:

“You did a disservice to me. You did a disservice to those graduates. This was the 23d consecutive year that governors have hosted valedictorians’ day at the governor’s mansion. Not a word was put in the print media about that being the reason I was in Augusta. That was not fair, that was not balanced reporting.

“I would like to know how many Republican delegates would have suggested to a Republican governor that he break a 23 year tradition to honor valedictorians and their families so he would be with them. Sandra and I stood there and took some 1,300 pictures and shook most of their hands over Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. I think that was the appropriate place for the governor to be.”

“To the GOP leadership, they should have looked at the governor’s schedule when they changed the date of the state Republican convention. They apparently did not bother to find out this was a 23-year tradition.”

Congratulations to Leah Levell, Bruce Levell’s daughter, who will begin work at the Republican National Committee as a member of the Strategic Initiatives team.

In her new role, announced Friday, LeVell is expected to help to craft a message for the RNC that will focus on engaging HBCUs and young Black voters this election cycle.

The 21-year-old rising college senior will be based in Washington, D.C. and will work closely with the RNC’s Director of African American Initiatives and Urban Media, Telly Lovelace.

Tamar Hallerman writes in the AJC Political Insider that Congressman Lynn Westmoreland will endorse Drew Ferguson in the runoff election to succeed him.

The Coweta County Republican said Ferguson, who faces the state senator July 26, is “a strong, conservative voice for hard-working Georgians.”

“Drew knows that through building our local economy, creating stable jobs, and fostering economic opportunity that our community will perform at its best,” Westmoreland said in a statement.

The two are campaigning together today at Sprayberry’s in Newnan.

After virtually tying in the May 24 primary, Crane and Ferguson have spent the weeks since stock-piling endorsements, the former from prominent conservatives– Sen. Ted Cruz and radio provocateur Erick Erickson are the most recent — and the latter basically everybody else. Ferguson has snagged nods from the other five Republican challengers in the race who did not make the runoff last month.

Incumbent Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas will face challenger Michael Moore in a July 26 runoff election.

In DeKalb County Commission District 4, Steve Bradshaw is scheduled to appear at a forum with incumbent Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton on Thursday night.

Providing mental health care for inmates is a major issue for the Dougherty County Jail, where one-third of prisoners suffer from a mental health disability, according to the Albany Herald.

Appling County attorney Stephen Tillman will take over as the Brunswick Judicial Circuit Public Defender, covering Appling, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Wayne and Camden Counties.

More than 350 citations were issued last Thursday night in Hall County during the “Operation Thunder Task Force” high-profile traffic enforcement action.

The Savannah NAACP Political Action Committee held a forum to discuss increasing voter turnout in this year’s elections.

In the most recent election on May 24, Chatham County’s voter turnout was only 17 percent.

At the forum, NAACP members and others in attendance were given progress updates on the three facets of the empowerment campaign: voter registration, voter education and getting voters to the polls.

Linda Carter, executive committee secretary for the Savannah NAACP and head of the voter registration effort in the empowerment campaign, said that registration isn’t as much of a problem as education and getting people to the polls.

Another major piece to the puzzle is inspiring millennials to register and vote, Jackson said.

“I think it’s apathy and people not really knowing the issues. This is something that’s happening across the country. It’s mainly just motivating our young people”

Former Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau finds himself facing the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

On Thursday, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission found probable cause that former Gwinnett Commissioner Mike Beaudreau broke the law during his 2014 bid for state Senate by accepting four campaign contributions exceeding contribution limits, failing to file required disclosure reports for three of those contributions (though they were disclosed on later reports) and failing to disclose the general purpose of his spending, including the expenditure recipients, on eight occasions.

At Thursday’s meeting, Beaudreau attributed the civil violations to the death of his campaign treasurer during the 2014 campaign. He said his campaign should have divided the contributions that exceeded limits for a single election into two elections — a primary and a primary runoff. And he characterized all the violations as simply clerical errors.

Beaudreau faces more than $13,000 in civil penalties for the alleged violations, but the amount is likely to be reduced. The commission gave him 60 days to work out a settlement agreement with the agency’s attorneys.

It appears the Commission is taking a tougher stance on violations and working to relieve the backlog that built up over years of leadership drama.

The Hall County Commission will vote tonight on the FY2017 county budget.

Dunwoody City Council rejected a proposal to prevent Dunwoody Homeowners Association members from serving on city boards.

Lower water levels at Lake Lanier have officials watching water flows.

[U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Natural Resources Manager Nick] Baggett, who oversees Lake Lanier for the corps, said the lake isn’t at a crisis point yet. However, he added there are reasons for officials, as well as people who either live on the lake or use it for recreation, to keep an eye on its water levels and use caution.

Lake Lanier’s full pool level is 1,071 feet mean sea level, and the lake is now more than three feet below that. Rocks around the base of red hazard pole behind the Lake Lanier Management Office and Visitor’s Center are currently above the water line, as are several other rocks along the shoreline that are normally just at or under the water line.

“We’re in a drought, and whenever we’re in a drought it affects our whole system,” Baggett said.

The Gainesville Times looks at the procedures in a lawsuit between Georgia and Florida over waterflows from Lake Lanier and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

If Georgia and Florida settle before the trial this fall, “then obviously somebody has got to implement whatever the settlement terms are,” Morris said. “If they don’t settle, then somebody has got to implement whatever the court decrees.”

The trial, set to start Oct. 31, centers around a lawsuit filed by Florida against Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Florida is basically accusing Georgia of “overconsumption” of water in the basin, leading to economic troubles for Florida’s oyster industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Georgia has denied the allegations.

Ralph I. Lancaster, a Maine lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the case, would preside over the trial, which would be held in U.S. District Court.

He “doesn’t have the authority to rule (in the case),” Morris said. “He will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court, then it’s up to justices to actually render an order.”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said he believes if the case moves to trial, “I would feel good from Georgia’s position in that we have a history here,” Collins said. “We have won in court, we have won in appeal and Georgia has been a leader in conservation.

“We’re being good stewards of the resources we have and, frankly, Alabama and Florida, in many instances, wouldn’t know water conservation if it hit them upside the head.”


Gators aren’t just a problem for Florida – the beach at Reed Bingham State Park in Adel was recently closed so that professional trappers could remove alligators who were getting too close to people.

Panama Canal sends larger ships to Savannah

Larger “New Panamax” container ships are now transiting the Panama Canal, as new locks are opened for business.

The waterway’s capacity doubles with the new locks, and canal authorities are hoping to better compete with the Suez Canal in Egypt and tap new markets such as natural gas shipments between the United States and Asia.

“The Panama Canal, with this expansion, is an important player not only for regional maritime commerce but worldwide,” said Oscar Bazan, the Panama Canal Authority’s executive vice president for planning and commercial development. “The canal is a winning bet.”

Authorities said Sunday said that 85 percent of the 166 reserved crossings scheduled for the next three months are for container ships. Container cargo accounts for nearly 50 percent of the canal’s overall income.

While authorities anticipate increasing commerce between Asia and ports on the U.S. East Coast, doubts remain that not all those ports are ready to handle the huge New Panamex-class cargo ships. Net cargo volume through the canal from the U.S. East Coast toward Asia fell 10.2 percent in 2015, according to official statistics. Meanwhile, the Suez recently lowered tariffs by up to 65 percent on large container carriers in an attempt to keep its traffic.

“It’s important to remember that the canal does not create demand. The canal opens the route. Supply and demand on a world level is what will decide whether the Panama Canal will really bring more volume or not,” said Antonio Dominguez, a general manager for global shipping leader Maersk Line, which moves about 14.2 percent of world commerce. “What is certain is that the current canal has maxed out.”

Harbor deepening at the Port of Savannah continues to allow larger container ships to be loaded and unloaded.

State and U.S. taxpayers are betting $706 million — the cost of deepening the Savannah River so larger ships can use it — on the hoped-for benefits of an expanded canal.

More cargo, revenue and jobs will come Georgia’s way, backers say, with metro Atlanta and its welter of warehouses and trucking terminals taking the lion’s share of new business.

“No one knows with absolute certainty what it means for Georgia and the East Coast,” said Griff Lynch, incoming executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, who’s in Panama for the festivities. “But people feel confident that there will be some incremental growth to Savannah, Georgia, Atlanta and other locations in the Southeast.”

The stakes for Atlanta and its network of distribution centers, trucking companies, rail yards and logistics firms, are huge.

Savannah and the port of Brunswick account for an estimated $40 billion in statewide economic impact, according to the University of Georgia, with most activity in and around metro Atlanta.

Power Plants and Plans

The Albany Herald takes a look at plans by Georgia Power to consider whether a location in Stewart County would be appropriate for a third nuclear reactor site in the future.

“One of many points of discussion during this IRP process has been the property and preliminary activities in Stewart County,” GPC spokesperson John Kraft said. “We are committed to preserving the option to build new nuclear generation to meet customers’ electric needs in the most reliable and cost-effective manner. However, Georgia Power has not committed to building another nuclear plant or announced any plans.”

Kraft stressed that no decision had been made on the construction of a future plant and that the company is just preserving its future options.

“We have only taken steps to preserve nuclear as an option for the future, such as selecting the site in Stewart County that is suitable for further study and evaluation,” Kraft said. “Again, we are only undertaking activities that are required given the long lead times associated with the development, licensing and construction of nuclear generation.”

The company has begun preliminary work, including geological and water studies, on the 7,000-acre tract.

“Making this decision requires thorough and detailed and years of effort to gain the necessary regulatory approvals,” GPC Chairman, President and CEO Paul Bowers said in a recent news release. “We continue to believe that nuclear energy is a vital part of a diversified generation mix for our customers and the state of Georgia.”

As GPC learned with the new units at Vogtle, it takes about seven years to secure a combined construction and operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and then another decade after that to build a nuclear plant. At the earliest, it would be after 2030 before a new nuclear plant would be built, Bowers said.

The company also agreed to add 1200 megawatts of solar over the next five years.

In a stipulation with the PSC staff signed Thursday, Georgia Power agreed to add 1,050 megawatts of utility-scale renewable power through two requests for proposals the Atlanta-based utility intends to issue next year and in 2019. The first 525 megawatts would go into service in 2018 and 2019, while the other 525 would go on line in 2020 and 2021.

In addition, Georgia Power will make its most significant commitment to date to distributed generation of renewable energy, typically smaller-scale solar projects installed on rooftops of homes or businesses. The agreement calls for 150 megawatts of distributed generation by the end of 2018.

“This agreement represents hours and hours of negotiations on behalf of ratepayers,” Commissioner Tim Echols said.

“We are pleased to have reached a stipulated agreement with the Georgia PSC … staff that balances the elements of our long-term energy plan and furthers our ability to deliver reliable and affordable energy for our 2.5 million customers,” Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft added.

The various renewable provisions in the agreement are part of Georgia Power’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative, a key element in the 2016 Integrated Resource Plan the company filed with the PSC last January. Georgia Power submits an IRP every three years, outlining the mix of energy sources it plans to rely on to meet customer needs during the next two decades.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 24, 2016

Liberty Anne

Liberty Ann is a 3.5 year old, 46-pound German Shepherd and Hound mix female who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.


Melody is a young female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

Melody is a sweet mellow girl that loves to have her belly rubbed as you can tell from her pictures. She also enjoys playing with toys, giving tons of puppy kisses, or just spending time by your side.


Rylie is a young female Labrador Retriever & Shepherd Mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

Rylie has a bubbly personality and is a bit of a show off! She decided to take the ‘sit’ to a whole new level and decided she was going to roll over for her treat! She mellows out when she is comfortable. Her favorite thing to do is follow you. She will run when you run, walk when you walk, and cuddle when you invite her into your lap. This beautiful baby is ready to be the next loving member of your family!


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 24, 2016

On June 24, 1497, John Cabot first sighted North America, claiming it for the British Crown.

On June 24, 1795, the United States Senate voted to ratify Jay’s Treaty between the UK and United States. The terms of the treaty required an appropriation from the U.S. House of Representatives to implement it, and Congressional opponents tried to defeat the appropriation, which was approved by a 51-48 margin on April 30, 1796. Click here for more background on the treaty and controversy.

On June 24, 1853, President Franklin Pierce signed the Gadsden Purchase, acquiring what it now southern Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico.

General Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River toward Pennsylvania on June 24, 1863.

John R. Lynch was the first African-American elected Chairman of the Republican National Convention on June 24, 1884; Lynch was nominated by Theodore Roosevelt.

Woodrow Wilson married Ellen Louise Axson of Rome, Georgia in Savannah on June 24, 1885.

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin from all road, rail, and barge traffic.

Following World War II, Germany was divided into occupation zones. The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and, eventually, France, were given specific zones to occupy in which they were to accept the surrender of Nazi forces and restore order. The Soviet Union occupied most of eastern Germany, while the other Allied nations occupied western Germany. The German capital of Berlin was similarly divided into four zones of occupation.

The United States response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin was undertaken in what was to become one of the greatest logistical efforts in history. For the Soviets, the escapade quickly became a diplomatic embarrassment. Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission. And the successful American airlift merely served to accentuate the technological superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union. On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade.

General Lucius D. Clay of Marietta, Georgia was military Governor of occupied Germany at that time.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in West Germany on June 24, 1977. It’s astounding.

Rickey Henderson made his major league debut with the Oakland A’s on June 24, 1979, stealing his first base.

On June 24, 1982, the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution was defeated, having garnered the ratification of thirty-five states, three shy of the requisite Constitutional Majority.

Hopes for ratification before the deadline next Wednesday were dashed this week when the amendment was rejected by the Illinois House and the Florida Senate, two states in which supporters felt they had a fighting chance.

Had Illinois and Florida ratified the amendment, there was at least some chance that either Oklahoma or North Carolina would have provided the final needed vote.

Prospects were far slimmer in the other nonratifying states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Phyllis Schlafly, a leader of a group called Stop-ERA, hailed the defeat of the amendment tonight, saying: ”They realized E.R.A. is dead and I think that that is an admission they have lost the battle. My feeling is that E.R.A. will take its place with the prohibition and the child labor amendments as ones which did not have enough support of the American people to be in the Constitution.”

Dr. Ralph Stanley died yesterday at 89 years of age.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Representative Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs) will be honored by the Georgia Pet Coalition for his work on Senate Bill 168, the Adoptable Dog bill, which made the adoptable dog the official state dog. An award ceremony will be held at the Georgia State Capitol on the South Wing Steps on Monday, June 27, 2016 at 3 PM.

Senator Judson Hill (R-Cobb) Chairs a Senate Finance Sub-Committee on Tax Reform, meeting today at 10 AM.

“We need to do all we can to reduce the tax burden on Georgia’s hardworking families and businesses,” said Sen. Hill. “Our goal is, in the most fiscally responsible way, to enable Georgians to keep more dollars in their pockets and make their own decisions on whether those dollars should be saved, invested or spent.”

The committee will hold several meetings before the 2017 legislative session to engage constituents, legislators and policy experts to discuss the best potential reforms to the tax code in Georgia.

Two Georgians have been named to a board to advise presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump on the Evangelical community.

The make-up of the board includes Jentezen Franklin, Senior Pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville.  Another member with Georgia ties is Ralph Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition, who ran an unsuccessful race for Lt. Governor in 2006.

According to a news release from the Trump camp, the leaders on the executive board were not asked to endorse Trump as a prerequisite for participating on the board.

“Rather,” the release states, “the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed.”

“I have such tremendous respect and admiration for this group and I look forward to continuing to talk about the issues important to Evangelicals, and all Americans, and the common sense solutions I will implement when I am President,” Trump said.

Take note, campaign treasurers and candidates: spending on private clubs might be curtailed under the most recent ruling of the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

State officials have put Georgia politicians on notice: You can’t spend campaign funds at business clubs and similar organizations unless it’s for legitimate election expenses.

The notice came in a civil case against former Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards, who admitted misspending $13,836 at the Commerce Club in Atlanta. Under a settlement approved by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Thursday, Edwards agreed to repay his campaign that amount or donate it to a charity.

Commission attorney Robert Lane told the board the ruling would come as a surprise to many politicians, who he said routinely spend campaign cash on memberships and expenses at business clubs, chambers of commerce and similar organizations.

“This will cause a lot of consternation among elected officials,” Lane said. “A lot of them do it.”

But the ruling on the Commerce Club spending may have a bigger impact on Peach State politicians.

Lane said state law requires money raised for political campaigns to be spent on “ordinary and necessary campaign expenses.” He said the commission gives candidates plenty of leeway – any expenditure calculated to improve a candidate’s chances of winning an election would qualify.

But in Edwards’ case, “there was absolutely no evidence” the Commerce Club expenses were for campaign purposes, Lane said.

Under state law – which mirrors federal law – candidates cannot use campaign cash for social club memberships, he said.

I will probably tell my clients this going forward: I would recommend not paying for dues for the Commerce Club, the Georgian Club, or wherever, out of campaign funds. But I think that reimbursement for meals and rooms used for campaign functions is okay. So if you hold your fundraiser at your club, the catering bill, room charge, etc. is probably okay to pay with campaign funds. Avoiding the possibility of an ethics complaint going forward is worth the personal expense of membership or doing away with the membership. I have no opinion on reimbursing past dues payments.

Congratulations to Attorney General Sam Olens, who was elected Vice President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

The Association’s members are the 56 state and territorial attorneys general.

The election of Olens by his fellow attorneys general occurred yesterday during the NAAG meeting in Burlington, VT. Along with being Vice President, Olens will serve on several committees including:

- Federalism/Preemption, Co-Chair
- Law Enforcement and Prosecutorial Relations Working Group, Co-Chair
- Internet Safety/Cyber Privacy and Security
- Human Trafficking
- Training

“I am honored to be elected Vice President of NAAG during the coming year,” said Olens. “I want to congratulate our newly elected President, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen. I look forward to working with him and my counterparts on ways to better our individual states.”

Olens also released a statement on the Supreme Court’s deadlocked 4-4 decision on President Obama’s plan to limit deportation of illegal aliens.

“The Supreme Court’s action today leaves in place a decision affirming that President Obama cannot evade the Constitution. Our nation’s laws, the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, and the Constitution, must be followed.”

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols (R-Athens) writes in the Atlanta Business Chronicle about the need to end human trafficking.

Cobb County’s new Braves stadium will create headaches for Sandy Springs under a traffic plan introduced to the Sandy Springs City Council.

Cobb County plans to direct game-day traffic for the new Braves stadium off I-285 and onto local streets at Northside Drive, an idea that drew shock and outrage from the Sandy Springs City Council on June 21.

“This was our nightmare,” said a visibly angry Mayor Rusty Paul, blasting the plan and saying Cobb County leaders have not returned his calls for traffic management planning. He demanded that Cobb leaders “get everybody in a room real fast…We’ve got to figure out some alternative to this.”

Two days later, Paul and Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee met to talk about the traffic plan, according to a jointly issued press release.

The news was delivered in a non-voting council work session by Jim Wilgus, Cobb’s interim transportation director. The specific topic was permission to install directional signs for the Braves’ SunTrust Park and related Battery Atlanta commercial development, which are slated to open early next year in Cobb’s Cumberland area at I-285 and I-75.

Then Wilgus dropped his bombshell: On days of games and other big events, the signs—with “dynamic” messages that change on the fly—would direct stadium-goers to get off highways one exit before Cumberland and use local streets. On 285, that exit is Sandy Springs’ Northside Drive, and traffic would route onto Powers Ferry Road and Interstate North Parkway, known locally as the “access road.” Cobb wants to put one of the signs on Powers Ferry near the Chattahoochee River.

Wilgus said the idea is to lessen congestion on highways. Mayor Paul and councilmembers noted that means increasing congestion on local streets.

“You want to take all the traffic off 285 and put it on surface streets?” asked an incredulous Councilmember Tibby DeJulio.

Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee met with Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul yesterday and the two issued a joint press release.

“We have work to do, but we are committed to collaborating with Cobb County in developing viable solutions that create a win-win scenario for both communities,” said Paul in the press release.

“Cobb County and Sandy Springs have a long history of collaborating on many projects and we plan to add traffic management around SunTrust Park to our record of success,” said Lee in the press release. “I am confident that we will end up with a plan that works in the best interest of both communities.”

Paul and Lee met along with “members of their senior team,” the press release said, adding, “The group reviewed signage, game day and public safety initiatives, with agreement that cooperative efforts have produced a strong base related to operational considerations. The group also discussed systemic issues, specifically the need for significant capital projects to alleviate traffic concerns in and around the New Northside [Drive] area in Sandy Springs.”

State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) is pushing back against suggestions that Georgia consider Medicaid expansion under a waiver.

Proponents of Medicaid expansion claim that it’s federal money that could supplant state spending.  Chief proponents of Medicaid expansion say, “if you draw down federal dollars, you can free up some of those state dollars,” implying that Georgians could save money at the expense of Washington. Arkansas’ “Private Option” proves that is not the case.

When a state expands Medicaid, it agrees to support these newly enrolled with the support of the federal government. Unfortunately, that financial support dwindles over time, and because it is a large line item in the Congressional budget, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that it may become a key target for cuts. That would put Georgia on the hook for covering even more of the Medicaid costs for this new enrollment base.

Furthermore, proponents state that “at some point you have to look at sustainability.” Well, a massive expansion of the state’s welfare program will put “sustainability” in a whole new light.

Taxpayers in Georgia already foot a bill of more than $3 billion every year to cover health services through Medicaid, plus an additional $2 billion for services for the aged, developmentally disabled, addictive diseases, behavioral, mental and public health. Georgians currently pay for 60% of all births in this state through our current Medicaid program.

Our Medicaid costs have already grown by 40% over the last decade. With the increased enrollment through Medicaid expansion, those figures will only get worse.

Governor Nathan Deal spoke about the importance of educating state prisoners at the Georgia Department of Corrections 2016 Academic Education Summer Conference.

“If somebody has an education and they can read when they couldn’t read before,” said the Governor.  “When they have a skill that is marketable in the general community that they didn’t have before, it’s just common sense the likelihood that they’re coming back is significantly reduced and that’s good news for all of us.”

Over 8,000 inmates are educated as apart of programs every year, and can earn their high school diplomas, GED’s, or even learn a trade such as welding.

“It’s giving them jobs, but it’s also giving them hope,” said Buster Evans, the assistant commissioner for the Division of Inmate Services. “It’s giving them a skill, and we believe we’re equipping them to be successful.”

“More remarkable than even to that, is that the programs are working, they’re changing lives,” continued Gov. Deal.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 23, 2016

On June 23, 903 AD, the Icelandic Parliament, the Althing or Althingi, was established and is the world’s oldest.

In honor of the Icelandic Parliament, here’s the greatest Icelandic band ever, the Sugarcubes, playing at Auburn in 1988.

Off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, British Commodore Sir Peter Parker spent June 23, 1776 preparing to land the next day, charged with supporting loyalists to the British crown.

On June 23, 1819, Texas declared its independence from Spain.

On June 23, 1862, General Robert E. Lee met with his commanders in preparation for what would be known as the Seven Days’ Battles.

On June 23, 1865, Georgia-born Cherokee Stand Watie became the last Confederate general to surrender.

On June 23, 1888, Frederick Douglass became the first African-American nominated for President, receiving one vote from Kentucky at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

Former Atlanta mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. died on June 23, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission may proceed in its action against former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

Judge Henry Newkirk rejected former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s bid to get ethics charges stemming from his failed 2010 campaign for governor dismissed. One of those charges dates to 2009.

Newkirk ruled that the state ethics commission should be able to adjudicate Oxendine’s case before the former longtime Georgia politician can fight the issue in court.

“Under clearly established Georgia law, any party to an administrative action must completely exhaust their administrative remedies before seeking judicial review,” Newkirk wrote.

Ken Hodges, a former Dougherty County District Attorney who ran for Attorney General as a Democrat in 2010, will serve as the new Treasure of the State Bar of Georgia.

Georgia Republican Party First Vice Chair Michael McNeely sent a statement to the AJC Political Insider about the Trump event at the Fox Theater last week.

Last week, an event staffer and I had a discussion about room access.  Security surrounding a Presidential candidate being what it is, he couldn’t relent from protocol and I left the building.

There were no ill feelings.  We’re looking forward to defeating Hillary Clinton and working together to elect Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.  Efforts made by the media to question our unity is nonsense and has no basis in fact.

Not a story, never was.

Look, up in the sky! It’s Josh McKoon!

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has taken out some number of digital billboards thanking State Senator Josh McKoon (R-GA) for introducing religious liberty legislation.

The six billboards, which are expected to be up for about a week, read: “Georgia Baptists are GRATEFUL for SENATOR McKOON’S devoted efforts for RELIGIOUS LIBERTY in Georgia.”

McKoon has been the architect and primary supporter of religious liberty legislation that passed the Georgia General Assembly this year but was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Mission Board Public Affairs Director Mike Griffin said that his organization wanted to show its support for McKoon and his stand, which has spread over three legislative sessions.

“He has been a leader on religious liberties and he has been a spokesman for religious liberties and we wanted to thank him for his faith and protection of the First Amendment,” Griffin said.

Campaign Flyers Gone Bad

Note to all candidates for office – think very carefully before including anything recognizable from a municipal police department in your direct mail, flyers, or other campaign materials.

District Attorney Parks White of the Northern Circuit (Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Madison and Oglethorpe counties) was apparently arrested in Hart County for violation of the Georgia “Municipal and County Police Departments’ Nomenclature Act of 1996.”

From WYFF,

In his recent re-election campaign, District Attorney Parks White took a photo with Hartwell Police Chief Anthony Davis and several police officers to use in an election flyer.

According to the Hart County Sheriff’s Office, several citizens “called him out” for using the photo without getting permission from the city council. It’s required by Georgia election laws to have the permission of a city or county’s governing body to use such photos. In Hartwell, that’s the city council.

White said he had the permission of Chief Davis and Mayor Brandon Johnson and denies any wrongdoing, deputies said.

This incident became public in May just before the Republican Primary election in which White stood for re-election.

Local attorney Lane Fitzpatrick published an ad [in mid-May] stating that district attorney Parks White committed a felony in using a badge, emblem and photo of the Hartwell Police Department without the city council’s permission.

Last week, Fitzpatrick filed a complaint on behalf of Hartwell resident Liz Parsons seeking the arrest of the incumbent district attorney, who faces a challenge for the DA’s post from Richard Campbell Tuesday, May 24.

“Georgia Law states that no one can display the badge and emblem of a police department in any advertisement without the written permission from the local governing authority,” stated the ad paid for by Fitzpatrick in the May 12 Madison County Journal. “The Hartwell City Council did not approve his advertisement. District Attorney Parks White’s violation of the law is a felony.”

Fitzpatrick filed the request for an arrest warrant against White with the Hart County Magistrate’s Office….“He (White) sent out campaign literature with a picture of officers from the Hartwell City Police Department and the Chief of Police,” the complaint states. “He did not get permission from the City of Hartwell before the picture was made. The officers and Chief of Police are in uniform in the picture and they have on their city police patches and badges.”

The request for White’s arrest includes an affidavit from Hartwell City Manager David Aldrich.

“No request has been made from the Chief of Police to the City Council for Parks White to use the City Police Officers’ badge, patch or uniform in a political advertisement,” stated Aldrich.

Hartwell police officers are pictured with White in a recent mailout sent to Northern Judicial Circuit voters. The ad states “Officers Support Parks White….Ask a law officer who they support for district attorney.

Hartwell Chief of Police Anthony Davis is pictured standing next to White and above the two is a quote from Davis in support of White, saying White has helped “reduce crime rates,” “supported officers across the district,” “made communities safer” and “delivered swift justice for victims.”

Parks White won re-election in the May Primary with 63.67% of the vote.

The Athens Banner-Herald notes that the charge is a felony.

Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland said White voluntarily surrendered at the county jail, where he was booked, then released on a $1,000 bond set by Stephens County Senior Superior Court Judge Robert Struble.

“I look forward to my day in court and being vindicated of these baseless allegations,” White said Monday.

White, who said he was surprised to learn about the warrant, declined to further discuss the charge.

White’s attorney, Mark Wiggins of Athens, said that despite the warrant White “can continue to perform the duties the people elected him to do.”

“As you know, probable cause is a whole lot different than being guilty of something and that’s all the court found at this juncture,” he said.

The case at some point will be presented to a grand jury in Hart County.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 23, 2016


Henry is a young male Beagle and Dachshund mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.


Jackson is a young male Beagle and Dachshund mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.


Hennessy is an adult male German Shorthaired Pointer who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 22, 2016

All dog adoption fees at Gwinnett County Shelter are discounted to $30 for the month of June.


Number 50899 is a sweet and friendly Senior female Basset Hound mix who was surrendered by her owner and is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


Number 50799 is a young female Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


Number 51061 is a 3-year old Corgi mix male who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter beginning Thursday, June 23, 2016.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 22, 2016

On June 22, 1633, Galileo Galilei recanted his published theory that stated the sun was the center of the world and the earth was not.

Georgia’s Trustees voted on June 22, 1737 to seek bids for building churches at Savannah and Frederica.

Georgia Whigs voted on June 22, 1775 to join a boycott against British goods. That same day, the Continental Congress approved the issuance of $2 million in debt-backed currency.

The donut was invented on June 22, 1847.

The Battle of Kolb’s Farm was fought near Marietta, Georgia on June 22, 1864.

The United States Department of Justice was established on June 22, 1870.

On June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill.

On June 22, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed a law extending the 26th Amendment Right to Vote at age 18 to all federal, state, and local elections.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Chris Burnett has been elected to Sandy Springs City Council District Three after yesterday’s runoff election.

Growing numbers of Asian and Latino registered voters isn’t likely to affect November elections very much.

According to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office, the number of registered Latino voters jumped by about 20 percent in recent months; Asian Americans grew by 16 percent. However, the two voting blocs combined are still less than 5 percent of the state’s electorate.

“If they all showed up to vote, it probably wouldn’t affect the election outcome,” University of Georgia political science professor Tre Hood said.

Hood studies demographic voting trends. He said the increase in registered voters could be the result of a growing population.

“It’s not surprising that there are more Hispanics registering to vote,” he said. “We have an ever-increasing number of Hispanic citizens as a base in Georgia. Now, as to the motivations, I’m not sure at this point.”

Republican fundraiser Eric Tanenblatt discusses why some of his GOP colleagues may not be jumping on the Trump train.

By insisting on his ability to self-fund during the primary, Trump failed to build the kind of fundraising base that will enable him to compete on an even playing field with Clinton, said Eric Tanenblatt, a member of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s finance team and former Jeb Bush supporter.

“I was very involved in Mitt Romney’s fundraising effort in 2008, and immediately after he got out of the primary he got his team together and he said we all need to get behind John McCain, and I ended up raising more money that year for John McCain than I did for Mitt Romney by the time the election ended,” Tanenblatt said. “There wasn’t that effort with regard to the Trump campaign because the Trump campaign didn’t raise money on their own and didn’t reach out to supporters of the other candidates like donors are accustomed. Typically, the nominee is the one who is magnanimous and reaches out to the supporters of the other campaigns and unifies and works to unify the party. I don’t think that happened to the extent it should have.”

The question now, Tanenblatt said, is what Trump does going forward in terms of picking a vice-presidential candidate and what he says in public. That could determine whether his fundraising picks up or not.

“I think that says a lot about him as a candidate,” Tanenblatt said. “That’s probably the biggest decision that he’s going to make in the campaign, so that will send a signal.”

Georgia Republican Party First Vice Chair Michael McNeely may or may not have been asked to leave the backstage area at the Trump event at the Fox Theater. From Buzzfeed,

Michael McNeely, the first vice chair of the Georgia Republicans, was escorted out of Atlanta’s Fox Theatre by Secret Service after being told there was “no more room for you” by Trump campaign state director Brandon Phillips, according to a party official briefed on the incident. The official requested anonymity said they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the party.

McNeely was stopped while trying to enter an area where Trump had been greeting supporters, the sources said. Neither Phillips, the Trump campaign, nor the Georgia Republican Party returned messages seeking comment.

So, “a party official briefed on the incident” who requested anonymity. Third party rumor-mongering at best.

In a move that has nothing to do with his coming in second in the primary election and headed into a July 27 runoff, incumbent Cobb County Commission Chair Tim Lee will propose lowering the property tax millage rate.

Due to an increase in the county’s property values, Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee said on Tuesday he will propose reducing the county’s tax rate by 0.5 mills, a rate commissioners are scheduled to vote on next month.

The county’s 2016 preliminary tax digest, which is the total value of all property within the county, is estimated to be 8.5 percent higher than 2015’s digest.

Due to homestead and other exemptions, the net increase in taxable properties is estimated to be about 3 percent, Lee said. The final digest is expected to be approved today by the Cobb Board of Tax Assessors.

As a result of that growth, Lee told the MDJ on Tuesday he is set to propose a general fund millage rate of 6.82 mills — down from the current 7.12 mills — while the fire service rate and debt service rate would each go down by 0.1 mill to 2.96 and 0.23 mills, respectively.

“To the naysayers that say this is all politics, well, no, because I did it a year ago,” Lee said. “We made a decision — my recommendation to the board and they adopted it — a year ago, to adopt a budget with a reduced millage rate and work towards that in anticipation of growth in the digest, based on the economic activity that we started to see the year prior.”

Population growth in Georgia has begun again after lagging during the recession. Most of the growth is concentrated in a small number of counties while more than half of Georgia counties lost population.

About two-thirds of Georgia’s growth is now happening in just six of the state’s 159 counties, said Matt Hauer, a demographer with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Those include five metro Atlanta counties and Chatham County.

And half the state’s population growth is concentrated in just three Atlanta metro counties — Fulton, Gwinnett and Forsyth, Hauer found when he analyzed U.S. Census data.

Many other counties are adding more people, including Clarke County. Clarke is now one of the state’s fastest-growing counties, adding more than 1,100 people from 2015 to 2016, and could be close to 130,000 people four years from now, according to population projections of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget.

But Hauer was surprised to find nearly half of Georgia’s 159 counties were actually losing population in the first part of this decade. Between 2010 and 2013, 82 Georgia counties, many of them rural, lost population. More than two dozen of them saw negative growth of 10 percent or more. From 2000 to 2010, 30 counties lost population, most of them in southwest Georgia.

Georgia’s population of people 65 years and older will double over the next five decades, Hauer said. The number of people 18 to 64, the working years, will increase only 4 percent, however, he said.

White people make up the majority of the state’s population, but at the current rate of change, by around 2030 Georgia will be a “majority-minority” state where the number of people in minority racial groups is greater than the number of white people.

The two new reactors being built at Plant Vogtle won’t be the only new nuclear power design in Georgia, as Congress approved $1.48 billion for reactor design work for the submarines slated to replace Ohio-class subs at Kings Bay.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 21, 2016

Mary Kate

Mary Kate is a young female Jack Russell Terrier and Chihuahua mix who weighs 12 pounds and is available for adoption from HART of McIntosh County (Humane Animal Resource Team) in Darien, GA.

Mary Kate came in with her sister, Ashley, quite scared and shaky. Now, with lots of love and attention, she is a happy little girl looking for her forever home. She still needs plenty of work since she is shy with strangers. Mary Kate is quick to come around though and enjoys sitting in her handlers’ laps. We highly suggest she gets adopted with her sister, but she is young enough to adapt to a life with other dogs. She gets along well with dogs, cats, and children.


Miley is an 11-month old, 16-pound female Jack Russell Terrier and Hound mix who is available for adoption from HART of McIntosh County (Humane Animal Resource Team) in Darien, GA.

My name is Miley and I’m still quite young and lively. The dog catcher found me wondering around Darien in March 2016. I came to the shelter scared and lonely; I wasn’t too sure what to make of all these other barking dogs! But since the nice humans have taken care of me I’ve really come out of my shell. I guess I just needed someone to reassure me that everything is going to be okay. I get along very well with other dogs and I don’t mind cats all that much. If you want to find my my forever home, please contact the McIntosh County Animal Shelter at 912-437-4242.

Nutter Butter

Nutter Butter is a 4-year old, 63-pound male German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from HART of McIntosh County (Humane Animal Resource Team) in Darien, GA.

I came to HART with my sister Ludiwici We did not have much attention before we came to the shelter. We are somewhat shy, but we are strong. I really need someone with experience in loving and training a dog like me. I need a strong pack leader to help me understand that Humans are my friend. I am very lovable and smart. The shelter staff tell me I will learn easily once I am able to trust.


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..


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 20, 2016


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.


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 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.