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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2016

On April 30, 1886, Jefferson Davis is said to have spoken in Newnan, Georgia during a stop between LaGrange and Atlanta.

Jefferson Finis Davis was born on a Kentucky plantation in 1808. He served in the military and was a congressman and senator, as well as secretary of war, before the nation split over the issue of slavery in 1861.

He served as president of the Confederacy from Feb. 22, 1862–May 10, 1865. Davis reviewed troops at Palmetto – in his role as commander-in-chief – on Sept. 25, 1864.

Davis spoke from the back of a train in Newnan on April 30, 1886, and received a floral tribute from a group of Newnan women.

Local legend also maintains Jefferson and Varina Davis and their daughter, Winnie, were once guests at the Virginia House Hotel in downtown Newnan. Davis reportedly made a speech from a balcony – which no longer exists – on the Washington Street side of the hotel. The building now houses offices and shops.

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In-person early voting begins today and runs through Friday, May 20, 2016. The best way to learn where you can vote early is to login to the Secretary of State’s MVP webpage.

Paulding County voters are encouraged to vote early, due in part to elections being held early enough that school is still in session.

County election supervisor Deidre Holden told the Paulding County Commission earlier this week voters will need about 10 to 15 minutes to complete the general primary ballot. As a result, May 24 voters may encounter long lines and should consider coming early to vote because schools being used as voting locations will be in session that day, she said.

However, early voting begins Monday in the Election Office, Holden said.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is dropping hints that he’d be open to serving as Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential candidate.

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, as well as Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, said in interviews that they would consider joining the ticket if Mr. Trump offered. Two governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, have also told allies that they were open to being Mr. Trump’s running mate.

“If a potential president says I need you, it would be very hard for a patriotic citizen to say no,” Mr. Gingrich said. “People can criticize a nominee, but ultimately there are very few examples of people turning down the vice presidency.”

The Gainesville Times spoke to UGA Political Science professor Charles Bullock about ballot questions in party primary elections.

“The answers to these things are preordained,” Bullock said. But it does give “a chance to register your opinion.”

Bullock said state Republicans started adding questions to primary ballots to gauge voter interest in an issue about 20 years ago when the GOP was the minority party in Georgia.

It was seen then as a way to persuade voters to choose a Republican ballot over a Democratic ballot in primary elections.

The Democrats have taken cue, lobbing several questions onto their own ballot this year. It poses several questions to voters compared with just the one for Republicans.

The biggest one, perhaps, may give insight into the chances Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District has of passing in the general election.

That ballot referendum, if approved, would amend the Constitution and allow the state to take over “failing” schools.

Republicans tend to support the proposal, placed on the November ballot after clearing a vote in the General Assembly last year, while Democrats oppose it.

The Democratic ballot also asks whether voters think the state should expand Medicaid rolls; approve paid family leave; automatically register voters when they receive a driver’s license; and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Columbus, we may have a problem. It appears that qualifying to run for Muscogee County Sheriff may be more technical than some think.

The list of official candidates for the Muscogee County Sheriff’s race is still up in the air.  Two more candidates are at risk of being disqualified after the Board of Elections held a special meeting Thursday.

The qualifications of candidates Donna Tompkins and Mark LaJoye are at stake.  A complaint was filed about these candidates not having the proper documents, but the board decided the complaint was not filed in a timely manner.  However, the board did decide they will challenge the candidates qualifications.

The Board of Elections is challenging whether or not sheriff candidate Mark LaJoye turned in proper documentation.  LaJoye says he turned in his birth certificate and high school diploma on the 11th, which were certified by the Elections Office.

Mark Shelnutt represents Pamela Brown who was previously disqualified. Brown was disqualified with Robert Smith after the board said they did not submit finger prints in a timely manner.

Today, Governor Deal will fly around the state and hold ceremonial bill-signings for House Bill 751, the FY 2017 budget.

Schedule of events

8:15 AM in Hall County
Future site of Lanier Technical College
The closest physical address is the Racetrac on the corner of GA 365 and Howard Road.
2410 Cornelia Highway

9 AM in Gwinnett County
Lanier High School media center
918 Buford Highway NE

*At 10:30 AM, Deal will attend the Kumho Tire grand opening event in Macon. Please note that this is not a budget signing ceremony.

1:30 PM in Glynn County
Altama Plantation
6835 Highway 99

3:45 PM in Dalton
Georgia Department of Transportation District Area Office
1313 North Tibbs Road

After signing the budget, the Governor will have one major remaining decision: whether to sign the Campus Carry legislation passed by the General Assembly. From Greg Bluestein at the AJC:

[F]or Deal, who has repeatedly aired concerns about the legislation, there are no simple answers.

He could shove aside his misgivings and sign the proposal even after legislative leaders rejected his handwritten appeal for changes.

He could veto the measure and widen the rift between him and rank-and-file Republicans still peeved at last month’s rejection of legislation that would have extended legal protections to opponents of same-sex marriage.

Or he could try to straddle the divide — and risk alienating both sides — with some sort of executive action.

Deal will make his move by Tuesday, the last day of the 40-day bill-signing period.

He could also decline to sign or veto the bill and let it become law without his action.

Speaker of the House David Ralston appointed fifteen Representatives to a House Study Committee on Base Realignment & Closure:

Dave Belton – Chair (R-Buckhead)
Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire)
John Carson (R-Marietta)
Mike Cheokas (R-Americus)
David Clark (R-Buford)
Heath Clark (R-Warner Robins)
John Corbett (R-Lake Park)
Darrel Ealum (D-Albany)
Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro)
Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon)
Brian Prince (D-Augusta)
Ed Rynders (R-Albany)
Richard Smith (R-Columbus)
Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus)
Al Williams (D-Midway)

The Macon Telegraph notes that the Committee will hold at least five hearings this year before passing recommendations for next year’s legislature.

Days after dropping out of the election for Macon-Bibb County Mayor, former County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards died.

In recent weeks, Edwards, a former Bibb County commissioner, had mounted a campaign to unseat Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert in next month’s elections, but his push to become the second mayor of the consolidated city and county government ended April 19 when undisclosed health problems forced him to suspend his campaign.

Edwards’ friends and former colleagues described him Friday as a man of principle who was willing to fight for the common man.

“He was a man of true character, and he only wanted to do what he believed was right, what was best — not for himself but for others,” said Brenda Youmas, his partner at the Edwards & Youmas law firm.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 29, 2016


Adam is a ten-year old Beagle with rare blue ticking on his coat like a Hound dog; he is available for adoption from Special Needs Rescue, Inc. in Grantville, GA. His personality is quiet and he is not noisy like many of his breed. He is neutered and healthy, guaranteed to be heartworm free.

Adam has an easy going personality and gets along with most other dogs. He is somewhat indifferent to cats. Mostly, he likes to hang out on a porch or dog bed and snooze, but always close to his family. He is affectionate and smart.

Like most of his breed, he needs a fenced in yard because he has a tendency to wander. Being behind a fence when he is not riding in the car or walking with his people will keep him safe and happy. He knows how to use a doggie door and is accustomed to being an inside/outside dog. He happily sleeps inside with his people at night but will not try to take over your bed if he has one of his own on the floor.


Wally is a 66-pound senior German Shepherd mix male who is available for adoption from Special Needs Rescue, Inc. in Grantville, GA.

Wally was originally emaciated when he came in to the shelter , but is now happy and healthy. Wally is very laid back, quiet, and very gentle and healthy. He just needs a human family to keep him forever. Are you interested in meeting him?


Badger is a 12-year old Black Labrador Retriever and Corgi mix who is available for adoption from Special Needs Rescue, Inc. in Grantville, GA.

Badger does well with other dogs as long as they are respectful of him.

He loves attention and will sometimes sneak up onto the bed when the humans aren’t looking. (Those bed things the humans have are super soft.) He’s a good boy – happiest just wandering around the yard and exploring, waiting until the right person loves this one-of-a-kind Badger.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 29, 2016

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.


On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis stopped in LaGrange, Georgia en route to Atlanta for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill. On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal ordered flags to half-staff on all state buildings today in honor of the four University of Georgia students killed in a car accident and the survivor who remains hospitalized in critical condition. Our prayers are with all affected by the accident.

Upon the signing of Senate Bill 367 by Sen. John F. Kennedy (R-Macon), Governor Deal told a press conference that the measure continues the criminal justice reforms of previous years.

“This legislation is the latest step in advancing our criminal justice reforms,” Deal said. “Along with restoring the original intent of the First Offender Act, this bill increases access to charter schools in our prison system and seeks to address the ‘school to prison pipeline.’ If a minor enters the corrections system and is sent to a youth detention center, even just once, they are significantly more likely to offend again. We need to divert these children from a life of imprisonment and difficulty in order for them to lead a successful life. This bill makes great strides in reducing our recidivism rates, ensuring safer communities and expanding our accountability court system. The incentives included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.”

Among other initiatives, this legislation:

  • Restores the intent of the First Offender Act, updating the process for the 21st century to ensure that cases are properly closed upon completion of sentences
  • Codifies Georgia’s accountability courts in order to grant them the authority they need to efficiently administer justice to those under their purview
  • Restricts secure detention for all youth ages 13 and under, except for those charged with the most egregious of offenses where a clear public safety issue exists
  • Adjusts public school disruption statutes so that students are appropriately handled through the disciplinary process rather than sent to a youth detention center or delinquent facility
  • Removes the lifetime ban on food stamp eligibility after a felony drug conviction, subject to the successful completion of their sentence and probation
  • Extends parole eligibility to non-violent recidivist drug offenders, allowing them the needed transition period for proper reentry upon completion of their sentences
  • Furthers last year’s executive order “banning the box” for most state government jobs, now expanding to licensure applications

Deal’s emphasis on criminal justice reform will continue next session of the legislature with an attempt to address the large number of Georgians on probation, according to Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

[Deal] wants to target the rise of “split sentencing” in Georgia – a practice in which a defendant serves part of the sentence behind bars, and then often a greater time outside prison. He called it an “unusual phenomenon, and we don’t know why it’s happening.”

“We have a significantly high number of people who are under probation supervision – an extraordinarily high number compared with most other states,” he said. “You’re going to see the general area of probation being a focus point.”

Georgia led the nation in placing its citizens on probation in 2015 and topped the charts for its probation rate, which critics said reflected an overuse of the system.

Deal also signed legislation to limit fireworks after 9 PM most of the year.

Responding to angry complaints from residents jolted awake by sparkly explosions on mundane weekdays, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation this week that bans residents from setting off fireworks after 9 p.m. most of the year.

It carves out exceptions to allow the use of fireworks until 1 a.m. on New Year’s and Fourth of July. The measure, House Bill 727, also bans people from igniting fireworks on roads and highways and within 100 yards of a hospital, nursing home and prisons. It took effect immediately.

A statewide ban on burning yard clippings and debris goes into effect covering 54 counties on May 1 and lasts through September 30th.

Jim Barksdale, the hand-picked candidate of the Democratic establishment in Georgia will run as an outsider, according to an interview from the AJC Political Insider.

Barksdale broke his public silence in an interview Wednesday in his Buckhead office, pledging to run as an outsider who will seize on familiar themes of economic distress in Georgia and stifling gridlock in Washington to make his case.

The investment manager pointed to the more than $1 million he’s already pumped into his campaign as evidence he’ll have the resources he needs to compete against Isakson, a popular incumbent sitting on a mountain of cash as he seeks a third term in office.

Barksdale repeatedly ducked questions on most of his policy stances, saying that he’s not ready for a “deep dive” ahead of an upcoming listening tour around the state. But he said he would build his case around business-friendly policies to boost Georgia’s economy and tap into his party’s frustration over GOP opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It’s going to be a competitive race,” he said. “Have no doubt.”

An election for Tax Commissioner sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry, but the Macon-Bibb election has some serious issues, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The two candidates for Macon-Bibb County tax commissioner — former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis and interim Tax Commissioner Wade McCord — squared off during a candidate forum Thursday.

Two issues in the campaign resurfaced Thursday: $7 million in uncollected garbage fees owed to Macon-Bibb, and liens that have been placed on some properties for nonpayment. Ellis said if he is elected tax commissioner he would not place a lien on properties because of late garbage fees.

“I’ve made it clear I would never sell anyone’s property on courthouse steps,” Ellis said. “I’ve also made it clear I would not act as a collection agency.”

McCord said he works with people to help them through the tax cycle.

“We do that honorably by working with taxpayers on a day-to-day basis,” McCord said. “Not only is it a position that is elected, but it’s a position that you have to care about what you do and care about taxpayers.”

In Savannah, the local NAACP announced plans to boost voter turnout in 2016, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Richard Shinhoster, first vice president of the Savannah Branch of the NAAP, said during a press conference in front of the organization’s downtown office Thursday the organization has already started working on its annual effort to assist voters with registration and absentee voting. What’s special about this year, he told reporters, is the collaboration.

“The officers and members of the Savannah Branch of the (NAACP) and a coalition of Greek letter fraternities, sororities, clergy and socio-civic organizations unite today to encourage, urge and appeal to unregistered citizens to register and vote in all elections,” Shinhoster said. “The NAACP, along with other concerned organizations, fought for the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. However, the Voting Rights Act did not make voting mandatory. That is left up to the individual citizen.”

He said the NAACP will meet with its partners in the coalition in a planning session next week to strategize for increasing voter registration, education and turnout. The main objective, he said, is improved turnout for the May 24 primary and the Nov. 8 general election.

“For the last election, less than 6 percent of registered voters actually voted,” he said. “That’s why this session we planned is so important.”

In the primary next month, he said, a respectable turnout would be at least 30 percent of registered voters. For the general election in November, Shinhoster said, he’s aiming for more than half of registered voters to cast their ballots.

Suwanee has named two new associate judges to its municipal court.

Catherine Lucey of the Associated Press writes that “Putting political candidates out in public can be risky.”

Competitive races in both parties have sustained the intensity of the primary face-offs far beyond their usual seasons this year, increasing the spotlight on candidates and the requisite local know-how. Most recently, in New York City, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took flack for eating pizza with a knife and fork, Hillary Clinton was mocked for struggling to use a Metrocard to ride the subway and Bernie Sanders revealed he thought the subway still took tokens, which were phased out in 2003.

Whether or not these moments are disqualifying, they can reinforce an unwelcome perception about a candidate. Mo Elleithee, who served as Clinton’s spokesman in the 2008 race, said the problem is when things go badly and “it feeds into a narrative that already exists.” So it was for Kerry and his cheese choice in 2003; it fed into the perception that he did not relate to common people.

“You do those types of events, you do those types of photo ops if you want to show the candidates in everyday settings,” Elleithee said. “There’s a natural barrier between presidential candidates and the public. They become caricatures. Campaign staff is constantly looking for ways to help them see the other side.”

And in the Eleventh District of Georgia, a Republican candidate became an object lesson in those risks.

Congressional candidate Billy Davis, a political newcomer, told the audience to look at his record as a successful businessman.

So, the FOX 5 I-Team did.

Our investigation found Davis was a felon, who served time in 1997, for lying on a loan application.

And it kind of got worse from there.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 28, 2016

For the rest of the month, Fulton County Animal Services has an Adoption Special where any dog over 25 pounds or any cat can be adopted for just $25, including full vetting. The same deal is also available at DeKalb County Animal Services.

Macintosh is an adult male yellow Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

This is one happy boy! He stood in his kennel begging to come outside for some fresh air and play time. He would be a pleasure to have around the house. Unfortunately, he is heartworm positive, but that can be taken care of. Macintosh is a nice medium-size at 45 pounds.


McLovin is an adult male Pit Bull Terrier who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.


Zimbo is a male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.


Zelda is a female Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.


Keisha is a young female Black and Tan Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

In Snellville, the Mayor and City Council honored K9 Bart, a retiring police dog.

Bart received National Police Working Dog Association Certification and with Collins became a formidable team, the city said. The duo recorded more than 101 drug-related arrests and apprehended nine criminal offenders during their time together.

[Mayor Tom] Witts presented the proclamation to “express our deep appreciation and gratitude to Sgt. Collins and K-9 Bart for their dedicated service during their tenure with the city of Snellville.” The proclamation also sent the city’s “very best wishes for happiness and good health in the future.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 28, 2016

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

In 1787, McIntosh was a Commissioner representing Georgia in a series of three boudary disputes with South Carolina, two which were resolved on April 28, 1787 with the Convention of Beaufort.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it has become custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters have four ways to prevent a candidate from running for office or remove them once in office – disqualification from the ballot, disqualification after the fact, challenging an election in court, or impeachment. All four of these are in play today in Georgia politics.

Elected officials can also be removed after an indictment or conviction in some cases, but that’s not a challenge that most voters are able to file, being reserved for prosecutors and grand juries.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced his decision to disqualify four candidates from the May 24 ballot.Continue Reading..


Secretary of State Kemp disqualifies five candidates

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Today Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued his final decision in candidate challenges for five contests on the upcoming May 24 General Primary and Nonpartisan Election ballot.

To initiate a candidate challenge, an elector residing within a district must submit a complaint to the Secretary of State’s office alleging grounds for the disqualification of a candidate. The Secretary of State may also initiate a challenge upon his or her own motion.

When an elector’s challenge is received by the office, a hearing is requested at the Office of State Administrative Hearings where the challenged candidate may present evidence establishing his or her qualifications for the office. An OSAH judge reports his or her findings on the evidence to the Secretary of State who then determines whether a candidate is qualified or not qualified to remain on the ballot.

Four candidates have been disqualified from running for office in the Georgia General Assembly. District Attorney candidate, William Jeremy Salter, has been deemed qualified to run for office in the Rome Judicial Circuit in May.

via kemp issues final decision in five candidate challenges2.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 27, 2016

Lab Puppies

These two 3-4 month old black Lab mix puppies (one female and one male) are available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.


Cash is a 2-year old male Catahoula Leopard Dog mix who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.


Carter is a 2-year old German Shepherd (or Hound) mix boy who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Carter loves having someone read to him, he loves treats, and is BFFs with Cash.


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

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

On April 26, 1866, the Atlanta Ladies’ Memorial Association held a Confederate memorial observance at Oakland Cemetery for the first time.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov Deal Signs Adoptable Dog Bill2

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 168, designating the “Adoptable Dog” as the Official State Dog of Georgia in a brief signing ceremony in his office.

Gov. Deal also signed House Bill 941, which reforms privileges for law enforcement personnel in front of grand juries.

Police will no longer be present in the entire grand jury proceeding, listen to all the evidence against them and make a statement at the end that can’t be challenged or questioned. Georgia was the only state that allowed this broad special treatment for police officers facing possible criminal charges.

Yesterday, Carl Gilliard won the Special Runoff Election in House District 162 by a 73.5-26.5 margin over Alicia Blakely. The election was to serve the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Bob Bryant and the two candidates will meet again at the ballot box on May 24th for a full term in office.

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the Governor’s power to appoint judges to newly-created seats on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion Tuesday upholding Gov. Nathan Deal’s right to appoint three lawyers to fill newly created judgeships on the state Court of Appeals in lieu of having the positions filled by a statewide election.

Former Macon City Councilman Henry Ficklin and state NAACP President Francys Johnson Jr., along with three other men, filed a petition last year in Fulton County Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of the appointments. A judge ruled in December, denying the petition. Tuesday’s decision by the state Supreme Court affirmed that decision, according to a case summary prepared by a court spokeswoman.

The term for the appointed judges will end in December 2018. They must win re-election to hold their posts.

Tim Gaylor, a Republican candidate for Bryan County Commission Chair has pledged to donate his first year’s salary if he wins.

“When elected chairman, I will donate my entire first year’s base salary, with the assistance of tax attorney, Jeffrey L. Williamson, to establish a scholarship fund to benefit graduates of the Bryan County school system. My wife, Lori Gaylor and I are a both small business owners in Bryan County and this is just one way to thank the school system that has educated our children and helped us build successful lives here in Bryan County. I believe that this donation will inspire future donations and positively impact all of Bryan County.” Gaylor said.

“To me this job is about service and doing what is right for the taxpayers of Bryan County. While I’m happy that my financial contribution will help students from Bryan County achieve goals and dreams, I believe it’s more important that the voters elect a chairman that is anchored to transparency, fiscally conservative, and uses a common sense approaches when putting new policies into place,” Gaylor said.

The DeKalb County NAACP has come out in opposition to the County schools’ plans for an E-SPLOST election without a list of specific projects to be funded by the tax proceeds.

The next Macon-Bibb County SPLOST, which will appear on November ballots, could raise as much as $240 million.

“The voters are the ones who will be approving this, so there has got to be something for everybody,” Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said. “We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we’re not the decision makers.”

The County Commission outlined nine types of projects Tuesday they consider “must do” for a future SPLOST. They include money for blight, debt, public safety, economic development, roads, landfill closure and courthouse improvements.

Also on the list was the completion of various recreation projects and upgrades to the stormwater system. The previous SPLOST had about $39 million dedicated to recreation facilities, and county officials had pledged to complete the second phases of various projects with the next SPLOST.

County officials have yet to decide how much money will be dedicated to each project, although a preliminary list of the “priority” projects had an estimated cost of $348 million.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a zoning to allow Starbucks to serve alcohol at an existing store at 4640 Forsyth Road in Macon.

“This is part of Starbucks’ evening program where at a certain time of the day they will convert to an evening menu and have some small plate dinner options, and if approved, start serving craft beers and wine,” said Macon attorney George Greer, representing Coffee House Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. “The general time for converting to the evening menu is at 2 p.m.”

Fighting Human Trafficking

Sam Olens Stop Trafficking

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens yesterday held a press conference to announce a PSA campaign aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking in Georgia. From the Gainesville Times,

With Atlanta as one of the largest centers of sex trafficking in the country, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announced Tuesday a campaign to target the buyers.

“When I was first elected, one could be convicted of trafficking and serve a year,” Olens said, adding it has since been increased to a minimum 10-year sentence.

The statewide campaign is called “Unmasked,” an effort to prosecute buyers in the sex trafficking market and “show that they are not anonymous,” according to the attorney general’s office.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said the metro Atlanta area has been identified as one of the top five areas for human trafficking by the U.S. Department of Justice.

When the nonprofit Street Grace began in 2009, President and CEO Cheryl DeLuca-Johnson said the group “knew at some point the conversation would have to go to demand.”

Addressing the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking takes an entire community being aware of the issue and taking action, DeLuca-Johnson said.

“It still breaks my heart to think about what brought this team together. 12-year-old, sweet young girls, these children in our community, being sold for sex probably just miles from here. It’s shocking and horrifying, and it’s what compelled us to take action,” said Tami Oliva, group account director at advertising agency BBDO Atlanta.

Here’s the PSA:


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 26, 2016

Buster Brown

Buster Brown is a young male yellow Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.


Oreo is a young female Pointer mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.


Sheba is an adult female black Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.


Madonna is a senior female Hound mix who is available for adoption from CSRA Humane Society, Inc. in Augusta, GA.

Madonna is a very even tempered dog who gets on well with other dogs. She is inclined to be timid, and would fit in best in a quiet household.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 26, 2016

On August 26, 1864, having withdrawn from trenches and fortifications outside Atlanta the previous day, U.S. General Sherman sent most of his forces westward around Atlanta and toward the south of the city.

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. Ratification took place on August 18, 1920, as the Tennessee House of Representatives adopted it, but adoption became official on August 26, when United States Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the Amendment. It reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

On August 26, 1939, the first televised major league baseball game aired, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds split a doubleheader in Ebbets Field.

On August 26, 1961, the 718th Engineer Light Equipment Company of Fort Valley and the 210th Signal Base Depot Company of Augusta were called up to take part in the American response to the crisis in Berlin.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for President by the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey on August 26, 1964.

On August 26, 1965, Sonny & Cher were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘I Got You Babe’, the duo’s only UK No.1. Sonny Bono was inspired to write the song to capitalize on the popularity of the term “babe,” as heard in Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’. Bono would later be elected to Congress as a Republican in 1994 and served from 1995 until his death in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Alfredo’s Italian restaurant is closed. Long live Alfredo’s.

Today is the voter registration deadline for the May 24, 2016 Primary Election. Check your registration to ensure it is correct and current by logging in to the Secretary of State’s MVP webpage.

If you have a driver’s license or ID issued by the Georgia Department of Driver Services, you can register online to vote.

In Savannah today, voters will choose between Carl Gilliard and Alicia Blakely to serve out the remainder of the term of the late State Representative Bob Bryant. The two candidates will also meet on May 24 in the Democratic Primary, along with Josey Sheppard, Jr. for the term beginning in January.

Governor Nathan Deal has signed House Bill 951, providing an exemption from sales tax for “the National Football League championship game; any semifinal game or championship game of a national collegiate tournament; a Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, or National Basketball Association all-star game; or any other nonrecurring major sporting event determined by the commissioner of economic development and the state revenue commissioner to be a major sporting event,” with the threshold for “major” set at “expected to generate over $50 million in the host locality.”

From WJCL,

The NFL says the exemption is required. Opposing legislators criticized the change as a giveaway to the league

The state is expected to forgo $10 million in sales taxes on game tickets. The law gives the same exemption on tickets to other sporting events expected to generate at least $50 million in other revenue.

And from WSB Radio,

House Bill 951 also gives Georgia back-to-school shoppers a sales tax break for a late July weekend and restores an incentive to buy energy efficient products. But the provision that helped splashy sporting events and their team owners sparked the most debate.

Gov. Deal also signed Senate Bill 208, which put incorporation of the new City of Stonecrest in DeKalb County on the May 24 ballot.

From the DeKalb Neighbor,

 Senator JaNice VanNess, R- Conyers, carried SB 208, which allows for a voter referendum that would incorporate and constitute a charter for the city of Stonecrest in DeKalb County if the measure is approved by voters during elections May 24.

“SB 208 is important to the local community and citizens of District 43,” said VanNess. “Since this is a referendum and gives citizens the authority to make a local decision and direct the future of their community, I encourage everyone to come out and vote and ensure your voice is heard.”

The initial mayor and city council members will be elected during the November 2016 general election.

Gov. Deal signed House Bill 767, which adds utility service vehicles to those which motorists must change lanes when passing if it is safe to do so. From the AJC,

Drivers must move over one lane or slow down and be ready to stop when passing electric power line crews and other utility workers working beside the road, according to a bill Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law last week.

State law already extends the same sort of safety margin to other vehicles and workers stopped by the roadside, including police, ambulances, wreckers and garbage trucks.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will hold a press conference today unveiling a new Public Service Announcement campaign against sex trafficking.

Sex trafficking is considered modern day slavery in which children are bought and sold for sex. It happens throughout Georgia, from the streets of Atlanta to the back roads of small towns, and is often perpetrated in plain sight.

The “Unmasked” campaign targets the customers and in a gritty way shows that they are not anonymous – we see who they are and they are being unmasked every day.

The Polk County Republican Party has opened an office at 126 Piedmont Ave. in Rockmart that will open from daily 10:30 AM to 2 PM.

Volunteers are welcome to help, if interested, contact Mike Davenport at 804-564-6370.

Candidates may drop off materials for the public, and if they wish, make themselves available to talk with visitors. Since there are no local Democrats running for office, the upcoming primary on May 24th will determine all local elections.

Delegates to the Third Congressional District Convention of the Georgia Republican Party approved a resolution calling for expansion of the conditions eligible for medical marijuana and in-state cultivation and processing, according to the Times-Herald.

The resolution passed on a voice vote. Dale Jackson, Third District chairman for the Georgia Republican Party and a lobbyist for medical cannabis, said there were approximately 200 delegates and he only saw about three ‘no’ votes.

“It was extremely overwhelming,” said Jackson, whose son has autism.

Jackson wasn’t surprised to see the resolution pass so strongly. Polls show more than 70 percent of Georgians are in favor of expanding access to medical cannabis, Jackson said.

He feels support is particularly strong in the Third District, where many of those active in Republican Party politics “know me, know my story. I feel like they have given me the benefit of the doubt,” Jackson said.

“The Republican Party is supposed to stand up for and believe in states rights and in the Tenth Amendment,” Jackson said.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-9) gave an interview to WDUN covering a wide swath of issues for his district.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins has again defended his controversial vote in December for a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, a vote that has become the rallying cry for his opponents in the upcoming primary.

Collins said he believes the vote was the right decision for the people of the 9th Congressional district, which he represents, and he reiterated previous statements that none of the money Planned Parenthood got from programs funded by the bill paid for abortions.

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with AccessWDUN on Saturday, Collins also discussed his votes for former Speaker of the House John Boehner, immigration, guns, religious liberty bills, the tristate water wars, North Korea and Donald Trump.

Collins, a two-term Republican representative from Gainesville, is facing four Republicans – former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, Roger Fitzpatrick, Bernie Fontaine and Mike Scupin – in the May 24 primary. A runoff, if necessary, will be July 26. The winner faces no Democratic opposition in November.

State Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) and Rep. Dusty Hightower (R-Carrollton) spoke at a Legislative Update Town Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Carrollton-Carroll County and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Carroll County.

State Sen. Mike Dugan feels that people who have committed non-violent crimes or are proven to suffer from mental illness can pay their debt to society without going to jail. He agrees with state Rep. Dusty Hightower that Georgia does not have enough in the budget for long-term health care for residents.

Dugan touched on legislative reform, saying there are some crimes that do not fit the harsh sentences imposed and there are alternatives to consider instead of filling up the jails.

“There are other ways that you can pay your debt to society without being in a jail,” he said. “If you are someone who is violent and anti-social and if we can’t trust you to be a member of society without you harming others then you ought to be locked up. But for those that are non-violent offenders, they ought not be in prison. For those that are suffering from mental illness, they ought not be in prison. Instead, they ought to be in a facility where they can get the mental health care that they need.”

“I want to caution you not to look at everything through the lens of Carroll County or the Atlanta area,” said Dugan. “If you go down to Baker County and Mitchell County, and some of those counties in southwest Georgia, they don’t have the assets at their disposal that we have here. Their population is low, the medium income level is low and their education level needs improvement. And we have put a lot of effort into increasing the (Internet) bandwith in the schools so that if they can’t find a teacher in a particular subject, they can have access to virtual instructors while someone on faculty is physically there to facilitate.“

Hightower answered several health care-related questions from those who expressed concern with age, and even with how the Religious Freedom Act might affect trips to the pharmacy for people who might want something as simple as birth control, or people who might end up encountering doctors who do not want to perform certain procedures due to their personal faith. Hightower cited several variations of the legislation and explained what stages it has gone through over time.

Savannah City Council will consider issuing bonds to fund a $33 million parking garage.

After the disqualification of two candidates for Muscogee County Sheriff, a challenge has been filed against the sole remaining candidate.

Disqualified candidate Pam Brown’s campaign is challenging retired Sheriff Capt. Donna Tompkins’ qualifications, alleging Tompkins missed the deadline for filing an affidavit that swears she meets all the standards to run for sheriff.

The complaint from Patricia Kiley, Brown’s campaign manager, claims Tompkins’ “Declaration of Candidacy and Affidavit” should have been filed by the close of qualifying at noon, March 11. An image of Tompkins’ affidavit posted to the elections office website shows the affidavit is dated March 15.

But that is within the deadline, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee Board of Elections & Registrations. The law that once set the affidavit deadline at the close of qualifying later was amended to give candidates three business days after qualifying ended, Boren said.

Brown’s attorney, J. Mark Shelnutt, said the law requires a candidate to file the affidavit when he or she qualifies for office:

“Each person offering his or her candidacy for the office of sheriff shall at the time such person qualifies, swear or affirm before the officer before whom such person has qualified to seek the office of sheriff that he or she meets all of the qualifications required by this subsection….”


Marine scientists wrote an open letter to President Obama saying that oil exploration off the coast from Delaware to Florida could endanger Right Whales, the official marine mammal of the State of Georgia.

An international group of 28 leading right whale researchers wrote an open letter to President Obama last week stating that seismic oil and gas surveys planned in the waters between Delaware and Florida would significantly impact right whales, an endangered species numbering about 500 animals, and “would jeopardize its survival.”

They cite other increasing dangers to this species, whose coast-hugging habits earned it the nickname of the “urban whale.” The whales already face entanglement in fishing gear and injuries from boat strikes. Recent studies suggest its population is no longer increasing and may be declining.

Georgia designated the critically endangered right whale as its official state marine mammal in 1985, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Georgia’s coastal waters are a calving area for the right whale, and it’s the only great whale native to Georgia waters. A below average count of fourteen baby right whales were spotted in the most recent calving season, which ended at the beginning of April.

The Obama administration recently excluded the Atlantic from oil and gas leasing over the next five years, but that decision didn’t extend to the ongoing permitting process for seismic exploration. Eight permits are awaiting approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Nesting season for sea turtles officially begins May 1st.

“Last year we had 18 nests on Tybee … When I first started 15 years ago, he had three nests and now we average about 10 nests each season. She said during the season, the organization encourages “the darkest beach as possible.”

“Any light source can cause a deterrent to female turtles and to the hatchlings,” Smith says. “We ask people to pick up trash to keep beach and waterways clear … and to fill in any holes on the beach and knock down sand castles before you leave. These obstacles can cause problems for babies after they are born because they can get stuck in those holes or blocked by trash.”

Is that a primate in your pocket, or are you just glad to see her? A man in Oregon paid a prostitute with money stolen from a pet store and a girl scout cookie donation jar and then tipped her with a Galago, a small nocturnal primate also called a bush baby.

Let’s hope no Emory students were terrified by threatening chalk markings sidewalk art in Savannah.