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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 10, 2016

Bridget Bishop was the first person hanged after being convicted of practicing witchcraft in the Salem witch trials on June 10, 1692.

On June 10, 1793, Washington, DC officially replaced Philadelphia as the Capital of the United States. To honor Washington, today we will adopt a smugly superior attitude, name-drop constantly, and speak condescendingly to those who currently live in the states we used to live in.

Rebecca Latimer Felton was born on June 10, 1835 in Decatur, Georgia and later became the first woman to serve in the United States Senate after being appointed by Governor Thomas Hardwick to fill a vacancy in 1922.

The United States Naval Academy graduated its first class on June 10, 1854.

The Girl Scouts of America were incorporated in Washington, DC on June 10, 1915.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland became the first political convention broadcast on the radio on June 10, 1924.

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935.

President John F. Kennedy signed the 1963 Equal Pay Act on June 10, 1963.

I AM delighted today to approve the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination against women in the payment of wages. This act represents many years of effort by labor, management, and several private organizations unassociated with labor or management, to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job. This measure adds to our laws another structure basic to democracy. It will add protection at the working place to the women, the same rights at the working place in a sense that they have enjoyed at the polling place.

While much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity–for the average woman worker earns only 60 percent of the average wage for men–this legislation is a significant step forward.

Apple Computer shipped the first Apple II computers on June 10, 1977.

Coca-Cola introduced Classic Coke on June 10, 1985.

Ray Charles, who was born in Albany, Georgia died on June 10, 2004.

Those of you who attended the 2003 Inaugural of Governor Sonny Perdue will remember that Ray Charles played that night.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Sam’s BBQ-1 just made my list of places to try after rave reviews of the barbecue they served at the United States Capitol. From the AJC Political Insider,

For the eighth year, Isakson commissioned Sam’s BBQ-1 in Marietta to truck the stuff up for his annual barbecue lunch, an increasingly rare bipartisan occurrence here on Capitol Hill. Senators dined in a private dining room upstairs, while staffers and other guests lined up through several rooms of Isakson’s office suite on the first floor of the Russell Senate office building.

Senators from the two parties eat lunch together separately most days on Capitol Hill, and Republicans on Thursdays take turns bringing food from their home states to share. But a bipartisan meal is rare.

“I don’t play the one-upsmanship, but nobody’s ever complained about ours,” said Isakson, who divulged that the brisket and the macaroni and cheese are his favorites. “Our food speaks for itself. I don’t have to brag about it.”

The team from Sam’s made the more than 600-mile trek to Washington on Tuesday and camped out across the river in Arlington to smoke more than 800 pounds of carnivorous offerings overnight on Wednesday

“It’s a major production,” said Sam Huff, chef and owner of Sam’s BBQ-1. “We bring everything from Georgia: all of our meat, our wood, our barbecue bits, our smokers, all of our equipment. It’s all brought in.”

Congratulations to Dallas, Georgia Mayor Boyd Austin, who will serve as the next President of the Georgia Municipal Association.

“The position is an opportunity to be out in the state and see what other communities are doing,” Austin said. “This will bring a lot of credibility and notoriety to Dallas.”

The Georgia Municipal Association is an organization that provides educational and employee benefit services and advocates for in the Georgia General Assembly for 521 city governments statewide.

Austin said his plans for his time as president include focusing on education of the members, find ways to help newly elected officials transition into their positions, be more proactive with legislative efforts and secure and expand home rule.

Home rule is a local city or county’s power and ability to set up its own system of self-government under plans approved by the General Assembly.

Tax equity is another topic Austin is passionate about and would like to see addressed during his time leading the association.

“Our voices need to be heard and our citizens need fair treatment in regards to taxes,” Austin said.

Austin said “tax equity” refers to how city residents also pay county property taxes but do not have access to many services their county taxes support.

We also congratulate Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball, who will serve as Chief Deputy Sheriff under incoming Sheriff Frank Reynolds.

Senator Johnny Isakson is working on federal legislation to move the St Marys, Georgia airport.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has filed an amendment to the defense budget this week to provide federal funding to relocate the St. Marys Airport away from Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, the Georgia Republican’s office said.

The Navy has said the airport’s location near the base poses safety and security concerns. In the past, planes taking off and landing at the airport have crossed into the base’s restricted airspace.

The amendment, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., would provide for the move to be completed through the coordinated efforts of the Georgia Department of Transportation, the FAA and the Department of Defense, Isakson’s office said.

Because Kings Bay is home to Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the base is a “critical player in one-third of our strategic nuclear arsenal,’’ Isakson’s office said in a release.

“Camden County is home to a key front line in our nation’s defense,’’ Isakson said of Kings Bay. “I am fighting to ensure this critical asset to our national defense remains threat-free while also helping the city of St. Marys with the financial burden of relocation costs.”

The amendment is similar to one that U.S. Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter introduced in the House to provide $6 million for the relocation.

St Marys Airport Authority member Dick Russell wants to ensure the existing airport remains open until any relocation is completed.

“I think if they close this airport before a new one opens, I won’t see another airport in Camden County in my lifetime,” he said. “I think everyone will sit around and ask why we need another airport. I think the sense of urgency will be totally gone.”

He is urging supporters to contact the offices of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to ask for a change to an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act announced Tuesday. The amendment, sponsored by Isakson, allows city officials to close the St. Marys Airport with no penalties from the Federal Aviation Administration. The legislation also provides funding to build a new airport at a location to be determined outside city limits.

Russell said it will take at least five years for a new airport to be built because of the many required studies that would have to be conducted.

Rising property values in Chatham County mean that keeping the same millage rate requires the Board of Commissioners to advertise it as a tax hike.

A notice distributed this week by the Chatham County Board of Assessors that indicated the county commission intended to increase property taxes is a requirement of state law, he said, and can be misleading.

The current budget proposal is to maintain the current millage rate at 11.543 mills for the maintenance and operations fund, which is paid by taxpayers countywide. The commission intends to maintain the millage rate for the special service district, which is paid only by residents of the unincorporated area, at 4.13 mills.

But because the county opted to leave these rates the same, rather than roll them back, some property owners will notice an increase to their property tax bills. This increase is reflective of an increase in property values, not the property tax rate, Smith said. The county’s 2016-17 budget year starts July 1.

The new City of Tucker is gearing up and has hired Flowery Branch community development director John McHenry to oversee planning.

St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, GA is being bought by Tennessee-based LifePoint Health, offering financial stability for the Columbus facility.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Reuben Green, who won reelection last month, is being scrutinized by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission over allegations that he’s too close to law enforcement.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 10, 2016


Myles is a 3-4 month old male brindle mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption beginning Monday, June 12, 2016 from the Walton County Animal Control Shelter in Monroe, GA.


Murphy is a 3-4 month old male brindle mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption beginning Monday, June 12, 2016 from the Walton County Animal Control Shelter in Monroe, GA. He and Myles were turned in the same day from the same area, so they might be brothers.


Latte is a 3-4 month old female brindle mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption beginning Monday, June 12, 2016 from the Walton County Animal Control Shelter in Monroe, GA. She is a playful and happy girl.


Irving is a 3-4 month old, 15-pound male mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Control Shelter in Monroe, GA.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 9, 2016

Golden Dachshund

Honey is a beautiful 3-5 year old, 7-pound female Dachshund with the coat of a Golden Retriever who is available for adoption (has a pending adopter, but could fall through) from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Barrow Beagle

Buck is a friendly, 4-5 year old, 34-pound male Beagle who is available for adoption from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Barrow Puppies

These five mixed breed puppies (four male, one female) are available for adoption from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2016

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Click here for the full text of Georgia’s Royal Charter from 1732.

Click here to see the oldest copy of Georgia’s Royal Charter, which was presented to Georgia by South Carolina.

The Battle of Bloody Marsh was fought between Spanish forces and colonists under James Oglethorpe on St Simons Island, Georgia in 1742 on a date that is variously cited as June 9 or June 7, 1742. Thus began the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

On June 9, 1772, the first naval attack of the Revolutionary War took place near Providence, Rhode Island, as HMS Gaspee, a British tax enforcement ship was baited into running aground and attacked by a boarding party the next day.

On June 9, 1864, Gen. W.T. Sherman moved his troops to Big Shanty, Georgia, now called Kennesaw, and beginning a four-week period sometimes called the Battle of Marietta.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Apparently, I’m beginning a new statewide speaking tour. I’ll be addressing the Coweta County Republican Party this Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 9 AM to 11 AM at the Golden Corral, located at 605 Bullsboro, Newnan, GA, 30263. On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, I’ll speak to the Muscogee County Republican Party at the Hilton Garden Inn. I’ll send along more information when I receive it.

The AJC reports that more than $600,000 was spent by special interests, primarily protecting Republican legislative incumbents.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 8, 2016

The first Porsche automobile was completed on June 8, 1948.

On June 8, 2004, Georgia hosted the G-8 summit meeting of the world’s major industrial democracies, which included representatives from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom, plus a representative from the European Union. The 30th meeting of the G-8 was held at Sea Island at the Cloister.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Donald Trump will be in Georgia next week for a fundraiser hosted by Senator David Perdue and Governor Nathan Deal.

Senator Renee Unterman (R-GA), who chairs the State Senate Health and Human Services Committee said that Georgia should consider expanding Medicare under a waiver in order to address the financial instability of rural health care.

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) didn’t endorse the idea of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Rather, she thinks the state should look at negotiating a federal waiver, as other Republican-majority states have done, to tailor how any potential Medicaid expansion would work.

“We have to open that box and look just a little bit and see what’s available,” Unterman said. “Hopefully, if you draw down federal dollars, you can free up some of those state dollars. Right now, we’re just pumping out state dollars to stay in the midst of the crisis.”

The “crisis” Unterman is referring to is the struggle many Georgia hospitals are facing to keep their doors open. At least four rural hospitals have closed in Georgia since 2013.

“At some point you have to look at sustainability. As one of those budget writers, you have to say ‘How many years in a row can we pump in hundreds of millions of dollars to hospitals that are closing, to physicians that are going to out of business?’” Unterman said. “We have to re-examine where we are.”

Litigation between Georgia and Florida over waterflow from the Chattahoochee River may go to trial in October or November, according to the Gainesville Times.

Georgia is likewise optimistic, saying in a Friday brief that “the parties continue to evaluate and discuss potential ways to resolve the case.”

The trial would involve the latest litigation in a decadeslong tri-state battle over water sharing in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which includes Lake Lanier.

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.

In the past, Alabama has been part of litigation over water, but is keeping hands off in the latest squabble in the “water wars.

As for the case moving to trial, “it is original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to adjudicate disputes between the states, so that’s why this is a trial as opposed to just appellate hearings,” said Clyde Morris, lawyer for Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association.>

Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston has appointed members to three more House Study Committees.

Joint Alternative Fuels Infrastructure and Vehicles Study Committee:
Bubber Epps – Co-Chair (R-Dry Branch)
Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton)
Valerie Clark (R-Lawrenceville)
Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas)
Brian Strickland (R-McDonough)

Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee:
Don Parsons – Co-Chair (R-Marietta)
Robert Dickey (R-Musella)
Susan Holmes (R-Monticello)
Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville)
Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville)

Joint Music Economic Development Study Committee:
Matt Dollar – Co-Chair (R-Marietta)
Spencer Frye (D-Athens)
Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville)

I’m not saying it’s premature, but it certainly is among the earliest set of announcements I can recall, coming before the Primary Runoff in the prior year’s election cycle. Following the announcement by Wendell Willard that he will not run for reelection in 2018, two candidates have announced for the 2018 election.

City Council member Gabriel Sterling kicked off the early announcement trend June 6. Attorney Alex Kaufman said also will run, though he was planning a formal announcement farther in the future.

The announcement nearly two years before the campaign sets some political dominoes falling, as it also means Sterling will not seek re-election next year to his District 4 City Council seat.

“I don’t see any reason to be coy about it,” Sterling said, adding he has talked with Willard. Sterling said he wants to “take my conservative solutions to the state level” and bring “more privatization and competition to bring costs down.”

As for the council seat he has held since 2011, Sterling said, “It means I won’t be running in 2017,” the next council election. Qualifying for Willard’s House District 51 seat will begin in early 2018, so “the timing is right. It makes good sense.”

Kaufman is a business lawyer who works at Kaufman & Forman in Sandy Springs and was born and raised in the city. He also chairs the House District 51 Republican committee, he said. “I want to work on small- and medium-sized business issues,” Kaufman said. “I think we need more Republican lawyers in the legislature.” He also cited traffic and education as major issues.

House District 51 includes Sandy Springs’ panhandle area and parts of Johns Creek and Roswell.

Whether or not the Religious Liberty debate is settled by that time, it will be interesting to see how a move by Sandy Springs City Council to expand protection of LGBT employment rights plays in the Republican Primary.

Sandy Springs on June 7 adopted a new non-discrimination policy that tightens protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and that applies to all aspects of city business for the first time.

City Council member Andy Bauman called for the policy tightening earlier this year in the wake of debate over a state “religious liberty” law widely criticized as permitting discrimination against LGBT people. Gov. Nathan Deal later vetoed the bill.

The city’s previous policy applied only to its own employment practices, not other city business. Among its categories was “sexual preference,” an old term referring to gay people that is now considered incorrect and offensive.

McDonough recommended an updated policy that includes “sexual orientation” and “gender” as protected categories, as well as “any other status or condition” protected under any federal, state or local law. The policy would continue to include other specific categories such as race and religion.

The update immediately applies only to the city’s employment policy. But, McDonough said, it will be the basis to “update all other documents,” including outside contracts and agreements covering use of city parks and recreational facilities.

The policy change was done as quietly and quickly as possible. McDonough discussed it during a staff report period near the meeting’s end, where discussion items are not listed on the meeting agenda. There was no council discussion and the policy change was made without a vote, as Mayor Rusty Paul simply said, “Without objection, so ordered.”

Gwinnett County and its cities are discussing how to structure a 2017 SPLOST, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Although county and municipal leaders only met for the first time on Tuesday to discuss the 2017 SPLOST, they already share some common ground on how to spend the money.

Connectivity, transportation, public safety and recreation projects were repeatedly put forward by officials as wish list projects during their meeting at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

“I think it’s helpful for the messaging of the program overall that there is that much commonality,” county commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “The fact that the use of the proceeds sound like they’re going to cluster in a handful of categories, the majority of it anyway, makes the messaging easier and more simple to do.”

Tuesday’s meeting was the beginning of the process involved in putting together a SPLOST package that will go before voters in November. An intergovernmental agreement is expected to go before county commissioners and city councils this month and next month.

The commissioners are also expected to call for the referendum at their July 19 meeting.

The Gwinnett County Commission also named Magistrate Judges Michelle Knight and James Argo Jr. as senior judges in Gwinnett Magistrate Court, with no changes in their duties.

Macon-Bibb County is considering changing the firm that manages the Macon Coliseum.

In Rincon, voters will decide in November whether to approve package sales of beer and wine on Sundays.

In Hall County, Commissioners are hoping to work with municipalities to set uniform hours during which fireworks may be set off.

It all began when commissioners scheduled a “first-reading” on a measure governing fireworks on September 10th of last year.  That “first-reading” was tabled when commissioners decided to wait until the state legislature could address the issue during the recent General Assembly.

Legislators did so via House Bill 727, introduced by State Representative Paul Battles of Cartersville and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal on April 26th.   That legislation provides a measure of local control over the sale and use of fireworks that the initial law did not provide.

“Since we have so many municipalities I think it would be good if we work with all the municipalities and came up with…a consensus so that we all have the same time cut-offs,” Stowe suggested.

Commissioners asked staff to contact each city in the county and work out an agreement that could become an ordinance in those cities as well as in the county.

On Saturday, June 11th, State Representatives Timothy Barr, Emory Dunahoo and Carl Rogers will speak to the Hall County Republican Party at 9:30 AM. Democratic nominee for United States Senate Jim Barksdale will speak to the Hall County Democratic Party in Gainesville on June 13th at their 6:30 PM meeting.

Georgia Power officials told the Public Service Commission that the pace of construction on the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle should quicken and the current revised budget met, according to Walter Jones with the Augusta Chronicle.

Though most of the construction is still to be done, the most expensive part is nearly complete, according to David McKinney, the vice president of nuclear development at Southern Nuclear Operating Co., the Georgia Power sister company that runs the plant.

Engineering is 94 percent complete, and procurement is more than 80 percent finished, according to testimony. McKinney said the huge components that were bought to be built into the plant are arriving well ahead of schedule, avoiding a problem that Chinese nuclear builders ran into when they used the same design.

In addition, the components are arriving in better quality than when construction began, he said.
“We’re seeing improved productivity at the site,” McKin­ney said.

The builder, Westing­house, affirmed in a Decem­ber agreement that it would stay on time and on budget.

“The company has not (been) doing anything to tell us anything about rescheduling. We certainly acknowledge that it’s a great challenge,” McKinney said.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 8, 2016


Charla is a 2-year old, 70-pound female Great Dane who is available for adoption from STARS Save The Animals Rescue Society of Georgia in Statesboro, GA. Originally a “wild child,” she’s beginning to calm down and learn manners. Her rescue has posted more photos of this gorgeous brindle girl on Facebook.


Konner is a 7-month old Plott Hound and American Bulldog mix male who is available for adoption from STARS Save The Animals Rescue Society of Georgia in Statesboro, GA. He is very handsome and playful but small small children scare him. He appears to get along well with other dogs. Click here to see more photos of Konner.

Lula Belle

Lula Belle is a year-old female Hound who is available for adoption from STARS Save The Animals Rescue Society of Georgia in Statesboro, GA. She is very happy and playful. She has a Facebook page with more pictures here.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 7, 2016


Abby is a 20-year old Chocolate Labrador Retriever female who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg, GA.


Berkley is a 3-year old Spaniel and Setter mix male who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg, GA.

He walks on a leash and is good with children, dogs and cats.

Lee 16-12760

Number 16-12570 is a a three-year old Yellow Lab mix female who weighs 64 pounds and is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 7, 2016

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution before the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia calling for American independence from Great Britain.

Lee’s resolution declared: “That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.”

Four weeks later, Georgia’s members of the Continental Congress – Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton — voted for a version written by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and called the Declaration of Independence.

The first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, also called Denali, in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, was completed on June 7, 1913.

On June 7, 1942, Japanese troops occupied American territory in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska.

Ronald Reagan became the Republican nominee for Governor of California on June 7, 1966.

Today is “Prince Day” in Minnesota under a proclamation issued by Governor Mark Dayton. Prince was born on this day in 1958. Governor Dayton missed his chance to begin a proclamation with “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together today….”

The AJC has a story about the time the first African-American Georgia State Senator, Leroy Johnson, helped Muhammad Ali get a boxing license so the champ could fight again.

He was in his west Atlanta law office one day when he got a call from Harry Pett, who believed he could get a license for Ali if he could find a city that would allow him to fight again.

“To my utter surprise, there was no law in Georgia at that time,” he said. “It was up to the municipality to determine whether to grant a boxing license.”

Johnson assured him his staff had checked the law. It was up to Atlanta’s mayor and City Council.

Days later, Johnson and Pett met and drew up a contract; Johnson then began lobbying members of the City Council to get them behind the idea.

It’s a fascinating story worth reading in its entirety.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a dog owner whose pet dies because of a third party’s negligence may seek to recover the market value of the dog, plus the cost of veterinary care, according to ABC News.

The state Supreme Court ruled Monday that when a pet is injured or killed by someone else’s negligence, the owners may also try to collect costs incurred trying to save the animal.

The unanimous Georgia Supreme Court opinion written by Chief Justice Hugh Thompson acknowledges the case deals with a subject “near and dear to the heart of many a Georgian in that it involves the untimely death of a beloved family pet,” and how to measure damages when the pet is hurt or killed because of negligence.

Under Georgia law, Thompson wrote, the owners can’t seek damages based on the sentimental value of the animal to its owner. He said “the unique human-animal bond, while cherished, is beyond legal measure.”

But he also cited a 19th century Georgia Supreme Court opinion involving the injury or death of animal. It says that if an animal is injured through negligence and dies as a result of those injuries, the owner can seek the animal’s market value, plus interest and “expenses incurred by the owner in an effort to cure the animal.”

Newt Gingrich has probably fallen off the list of potential Vice Presidential candidates on the Trump ticket. From the Associated Press,

Donald Trump said Monday it was “inappropriate” for Newt Gingrich to demand he drop the subject of an American judge’s ethnicity and start acting like “a potential leader of the United States.” But Trump let stand widespread scolding from other Republican leaders who want him to lay off the jurist — a sign that the GOP presidential candidate doesn’t want to blow up the fragile truce he has struck with the party establishment.

A day earlier, Gingrich said Trump’s focus on Curiel’s ethnic background was “inexcusable” and Trump’s “worst mistake.” He was one of several Republicans who publicly demanded that the presumptive GOP candidate move on and unite the party. Across the Sunday talk shows, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he “couldn’t disagree more” with Trump’s statements about Curiel’s impartiality, adding that “we’re all behind him now” — an implicit warning that such unity might not be the case for long.

WALB in Albany has an interview with State Rep. Ed Rynders, who was elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

Rynders is the only one of 31 delegates elected at the annual state convention in Augusta who is from the Albany area. “I’m pleased to be able to represent the 2nd Congressional District,” Rynders told us.

He wouldn’t say whether Donald Trump was his first choice for president, but here’s what he said when asked if he is excited to cast a vote for Trump at the RNC next month: “I am. He’s our nominee.”

Rynders says the fact that Trump won the Republican nomination shows this is no normal political year. “I’m surprised Trump’s the nominee, and I’m surprised Sanders is sticking around as long as he is. That really tells us about what’s going on in America.”

Rynders says many voters, both liberal and conservative, are angry and want major changes in Washington.  But as surprising as this campaign has been, he believes the core of the general election campaign will be pretty simple. “Where the people on the left are going to say Trump’s a bully, and we’re gonna sit there and remind people you can’t trust Hillary.”

Rynders admits you can never be sure just what Donald Trump might say, but he says that’s better than the alternative. “We know the Clintons lie,” he said.

State tax revenues for May were up 4 percent over May 2015.

As has been the case since last summer, a large chunk of the revenue increase has come from tax reforms and new tax legislation, particularly the state’s reconfigured gas tax, that went into effect last July. Transportation revenue generated last month totaled $72.7 million, which is up 9.2 percent from a year ago.

A study of the effects of opening casino gambling in Atlanta makes the proposal look like a bad gamble. From Scott Trubey of the AJC.

The report concluded that the majority of visitors would be locals, not tourists, and that spending in casinos could “cannibalize” spending that might have gone to nearby restaurants, museums or concert halls and in turn undercut other state and local tax collections.

The study was commissioned by Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown business coalition, in an attempt to provide independent data as lawmakers weigh the issue in the months ahead, said the group’s CEO, A.J. Robinson.

The CAP report found Georgia’s casino market could be about $2.2 billion to $2.5 billion per year and that more than $570 million is spent each year by Georgians in out-of-state casinos. The out-of-state spending figure is actually higher than a widely circulated report from casino interests.

The CAP report said a proposed 20 percent casino tax rate that emerged late in this past legislative session could produce $320 million to $400 million a year in revenue for the state. Casinos would likely reduce Georgia Lottery revenues some, but that would likely be made up by tax revenue from the resorts.

The report said Georgia casinos would capture some of gambling dollars leaving the state, but legalized gambling would not likely broaden the city’s tourism appeal. Robinson said a flood of new hotel rooms from a resort downtown could also hurt the margins of existing hotels.

Pete Corson of the AJC looks at how ride sharing services Uber and Lyft might affect traditional transit in Atlanta.

The impact of ride-sharing is already being discussed internally by MARTA, which is gearing up for a $2.5 billion referendum to expand Atlanta’s transit options.

“We fully understand that transportation is evolving rapidly,” Keith T. Parker, MARTA’s general manager and CEO, said Monday in an emailed statement. “Instead of denying that these changes are coming, MARTA is identifying new partnerships and new opportunities that will enable us to do a better job of serving our customers now and in the future. In fact, we’re looking forward to helping to drive those changes.”

ride-sharing could bring more riders to transit stations, solving what it calls the “last-mile problem” of getting more people to and from existing transit stations. Another plus — creating an alternative to car ownership for many riders. And as another recent study by the American Public Transit Association also noted, ride-share users also tend to use transit more frequently.

MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris noted that as part of a pilot project last year, MARTA and Uber collaborated on a partnership in which the transit system included a link to the service on its “On-The-Go” real-time app. Customers who used a special code that MARTA promoted received a one-time, $20 discount on their first Uber ride. Although the promotion has ended, Uber customers can still book their trips directly from MARTA’s app.

A third possible “synergy” between ride-sharing and public transit would be building fewer transit stations. The idea here is that if the “last-mile” problem is solved, public transit stations could be spaced farther apart. Fewer stations would mean faster train times and presumably less public money spent on building stations.

Speaker David Ralston appointed members to two study committees.

State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines
Bill Hitchens – Co-Chair (R-Rincon)
Barry Fleming (R-Harlem)
Al Williams (D-Midway)

House Study Committee on Regional Transit Solutions
Christian Coomer – Chair (R-Cartersville)
Chuck Martin – Vice Chair (R-Alpharetta)
John Carson (R-Marietta)
Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)
Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro)
Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus)
Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody)

The Marietta City Council is considering expanding leave for new parents who are employed by the city.

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren will hold a free firearm safety course on June 9 from 6 to 8 PM at the Ben Robertson Community Center, located at 2753 Watts Drive in Kennesaw.

Clermont City Council will vote at its 7 PM meeting tonight whether to hold a Special Election on November 8th to fill a vacancy after Ward 1 Council Member Eric Thomas resigned. If approved, it will be the third special election in the city this year.

If the ordinance is approved as is, the election will take place 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Concord Baptist Church, 640 Main St.

And qualifying will be set for Aug. 1-3 at Town Hall, 109 King St., with candidates required to live in Ward 1, according to the ordinance. The qualifying fee is $43.20.

The winner will serve the rest of Thomas’ four-year term, or from Nov. 14 of this year through Dec. 31, 2019.

Some police chiefs received training in compliance with the Open Records Act, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Democratic ballots in the Third District will be recounted once voting totals are certified to ensure the correct sacrificial lamb candidate ends up in the General Election against the winner of a Republican Primary Runoff between State Senator Mike Crane and former LaGrange Mayor Drew Ferguson.

“They won’t certify until at least Monday,” said Coweta Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins. Once the election is certified, a candidate has five days to request a recount.

Tamarkus Cook, who lost the May 24 Democratic primary to Angela Pendley by a mere 53 votes out of 12,939 total votes, requested a recount days after the election.

Coweta’s results were certified May 27, but some other counties have needed more time. There has to be time for any military ballots to arrive, and both Carroll and Fayette had to upload their election results by hand on election night.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 6, 2016

The expulsion of the Cherokee from Georgia began on June 6, 1838 as 800 members left by riverboat.

On June 6, 1944, seventy years ago, Allied forces under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower began the invasion of France, called D-Day.

On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

On June 6, 1949, George Orwell published 1984.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Congratulations to Randy Evans on his reelection as National Committeeman from Georgia, and to Ginger Howard on her election as National Committeewoman. Ginger spoke to Fox 5 about the convention,

During the two-day event, Republicans chose 31 at-large delegates to represent them at the GOP Convention in Cleveland in July.  They also re-elected Randy Evans as National Committeeman and chose Ginger Howard to replace Linda Herren as National Committeewoman.

Howard said she plans to help conservatives come together in spite of divisions over the party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.

“This is what I said in my speech, ‘it’s not about a person  It’s not about a position.  It’s about our country.  It’s about our future.  We’re in the fight for the soul of this country.  So, let’s stop focusing on the presidency or the person; let’s focus on the battle.  And if we all lock arms together, whether we were for Ted Cruz or Rick Perry or John Kasich or Donald Trump, we all don’t want Hillary Clinton,’” explained Howard.  “That’s where I’m coming from.  That’s my springboard.”

On Saturday, Senator David Perdue took the stage, donning his jean jacket, and over the course of his address, a red “Make America Great Again” ball cap.

From WDRW,

Perdue says the denim is a symbol of his outsider status, something he shares with Donald Trump. “I would love to see him temper his comments on some things, but remember, he got to where he is because he says these things in a way that people back home want it said,” Perdue says.

Perdue says Trump is strong on military spending and national defense, something he hopes Augusta’s military community will buy into. He says, “I believe if you get a conservative in there they are going to get that funding in a way that will provide for the national defense.”

After his speech, I got to sit down and talk with Senator Perdue about his support for Donald Trump.

Walter Jones of Morris News writes about a resolution passed by the Convention.

The resolution chastised the absent Deal for vetoing bills on “religious liberty” and campus guns. The Resolutions Committee combined proposals and reportedly toned them down into one that identified the governor and legislators by office only, not name.

It said, “The delegates of the Georgia Republican Party convention … call upon our elected Republican legislators and our governor to get back to the basics of republican principles.”

State Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who won re-election in a May 24 primary, said during the campaign that he and other lawmakers had not given up on “religious freedom” legislation.

The convention’s resolution on campus carry and “religious freedom” got more debate than any other resolution put in front of the delegates.

Other adopted resolutions included support for school vouchers, state income-tax reduction and medical marijuana as well as opposing Medicaid expansion.

Here’s the best perspective on the weekend’s Republican Convention and whatever fallout occurs from the 2016 Presidential Election. It comes via,

Yesun Wiltse sits with her fellow Columbia County delegates – representing her party on the front-lines of the biggest Georgia republican party issues.

“This is so important because everything that elected officials make a decision on it affects all of us. I think every good citizen should be involved. To know what is happening, what kind of policies are being passed,” said Wiltse.

Wiltse, like most delegates, aren’t politicians, but very active citizens. For her seeing the difference in life between her hometown Korea and the U.S. sparked her passion.

“I was born in Korea, Korea is divided into communists of North Korea and the democratic South Korea,” said Wiltse. “I feel that sometimes, people born in this country don’t realize how fortunate they are to be born in this wonderful country where they can exercise so many freedoms. The only limitations we have are the limitations we put on ourselves.”

The City Council of Guyton, Georgia has tried and failed three times to appoint a new member to fill a vacancy, according to the Savannah Morning News.

At Tuesday’s regular meeting Mayor Jeff Lariscy and Councilman Steve Collins again said no to Councilmen Frank Goldwire and Michael Johnson’s choice, Joseph Lee.

Collins and the mayor’s choice is Marshall Reiser, a Guyton CPA.

The impasse continued, leaving Lariscy saying other avenues will be pursued, including a possible special election.

Georgia Democrats are preparing for a grassroots effort to turn out voters in November, according to BuzzFeed.

The Georgia Democrats, said to be among the furthest along in the country, have 16 new paid staffers — and more beginning as soon as this week — who are working on a new field effort, dubbed “New Day GA”, to turn out the party’s base in November.

Marlon Marshall, the Clinton campaign’s director of state campaigns and political engagement, and senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan have briefed the Georgia Democrats, telling operatives inside the party that the Clinton campaign considers it a “Tier 2” state — not a swing state (Tier 1), but one the campaign will be watching as potentially winnable.

“We’re developing an infrastructure that’s built within the state party and built to last,” Michael Smith, communications director for the Democratic Party of Georgia told BuzzFeed News. “Georgia is in play this year, and we aren’t waiting around or wasting any time. The work has already begun.”

The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials is hiring for its Latino voter engagement program, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.


Senator David Perdue on Donald Trump (2 of 2)


Perdue Trump Screenshot