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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 6, 2017

Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States and the first Republican to hold the office on November 6, 1860. By his inauguration in March, seven states had seceded.

On November 6, 1861, one year after Lincoln’s election, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens of Georgia were elected President and Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

President Teddy Roosevelt left for a 17-day trip to Panama on November 6, 1906 to inspect work on the Panama Canal; he was the first President to take an official tour outside the continental United States.

A dam on the campus of Toccoa Falls Bible College burst on November 6, 1977 under pressure from heavy rains, killing 39 students and faculty.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA) resigned his office and his Congressional seat on November 6, 1998, effective in January 1999, despite having been reelected three days earlier.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke Friday at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

 In Hall County, one family accounts for more of the candidates in this year’s municipal elections than I’ve ever seen before.

Now the Reeves are known in [Clermont] for more than the cute papillons. They are singled out as the husband and wife running for office in Tuesday’s election.

To boot, their son, Albert Reeves, himself a former Clermont councilman who now lives in Gainesville, is challenging for a Gainesville City Council seat against longtime incumbent George Wangemann and first-time office seeker Maria Del Rosario Palacios.

What’s the driving force behind the Reeves’ family decision to seek office at the same time?  Dad, mom and son sat down with the papillons on their laps to talk about their simultaneous excursion into the local political fray.

Donna Reeves credits her son for getting everyone in the family involved.

“He’s into it for sure,” she said of her politically savvy son.

Albert Reeves ran for a seat on Clermont Town Council in 2007 when he was living with his parents. He won the seat at age 24. After serving one four-year term, Albert Reeves and his wife moved to Gainesville.

Donna Reeves said she ran for the seat her son occupied in 2011.

“He wanted me to carry on with some of the projects he’s been pushing on council,” she said. “I  wanted to continue with the ideas my son had to make Clermont a better place. Unfortunately, I lost by two votes.”

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) writes about the Republican House tax reform proposal in The Gainesville Times.

Last Thursday introduced Northeast Georgians to what the House, Senate and president have been collaborating on since January: A conservative tax reform bill that makes the first meaningful improvements to the tax code since 1986, when I was a student at what was then North Georgia College and an intern on Capitol Hill.

Since then, time has passed and tax policy has changed, but not for the better. As pundits tackle the details of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I want my neighbors to be confident knowing what conservatives are doing through tax reform and, perhaps more importantly, why we’re taking these steps.

The legislation the House has introduced focuses on replacing America’s labyrinth of a tax code with a plan driven by fairness, simplicity and opportunity. The IRS has reached its tentacles deep into the pockets of American workers and families to feed a bloated federal government.

I’d like to cut off those tentacles and allow everyday Americans to keep more of the money they earned by the sweat of their brows. I believe that comprehensive tax reform, specifically the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is the answer to our country’s economic malaise. Our friends across the aisle disagree.

If the Republican tax plan actually does deliver tax relief to middle class filers — and it does — ­­­and if it does level the global playing field to allow businesses to close up their shops across the ocean and drop deep roots into American soil, then why would anyone oppose it? Because their objection isn’t practical. It’s ideological.

The Gwinnett Daily Post continues its reporting on local municipal races.

Sugar Hill City Council

Grayson City Council

Loganville Mayor and Council

 Tuesday will see nine special elections for the Georgia General Assembly.

Five Republicans and three Democrats are running for the 6th District seat of GOP Sen. Hunter Hill, who’s running for governor. GOP contenders Charlie Fiveash, Kathy Eichenblatt, Leah Aldridge, Leo Smith and Matt Bentley are on the ballot in the district, which includes parts of Fulton and Cobb counties. So are Democrats Jaha Howard, Jen Jordan and Taos Wynn.

In the nearby 39th District, four Democrats and one Republican hope to succeed Democratic Sen. Vincent Fort, who is running for mayor of Atlanta. The Senate race in Fulton County features Democrats Elijah Tutt, Linda Pritchett, Marckeith DeJesus, and Nikema Williams. Nick Carlson is the GOP candidate.

Whitfield County voters in northwest Georgia must replace Republican Rep. Bruce Broadrick of Dalton, who stepped down citing failing health. GOP candidates Beau Patton, Eddie Caldwell and Kasey Carpenter are vying for the 4th District seat. So is Democrat Peter Pociask.

The 26th District in Forsyth County north of Atlanta became open when GOP Rep. Geoff Duncan of Cumming resigned to run for lieutenant governor. Republicans Marc Morris and Tina Trent are running to replace him along with Democrat Steve Smith.

Only Democrats signed up for metro Atlanta races to replace two lawmakers running for governor — Democratic Reps. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta and Stacey Evans of Smyrna. In DeKalb County, Bee Nguyen, David Abbott, Monique Keane and Sachin Varghese are competing in Abrams’ 89th District. Just one candidate, Teri Anulewicz, is seeking Evans’ 42nd District seat in Cobb County.

Republicans also passed on competing in the 60th District after Democratic Rep. Keisha Waites of Atlanta stepped down to run for Fulton County chairman. Democrats De’Andre Pickett, Kim Schofield and Sparkle Adams are running in Fulton and Clayton counties.

Voters in northeast Georgia’s 117th District got a straight-up Republican vs. Democrat contest after GOP Rep. Regina Quick of Athens was appointed to a judgeship. Democratic attorney Deborah Gonzalez faces GOP consultant Houston Gaines in Clarke, Oconee, Barrow and Jackson counties.

In the 119th District in Clarke and Oconee Counties, GOP Rep. Chuck Williams of Watkinsville left office to become head of the Georgia Forestry Commission. Democrat Jonathan Wallace is running for the seat, as are Republicans Lawton Lord, Marcus Wiedower and Steven Strickland.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC has an interesting take on President Trump’s support among Georgia Republicans.

In short, establishment Republicans in Georgia have come to terms with — or at the very least begrudgingly accepted — Trump’s hard-edged blend of nationalism and populism.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, Trump’s most high-profile ally in Georgia, has a simple explanation: The vast majority of Peach State Republicans are enthralled by the president’s agenda and ask the senator at every turn why his chamber isn’t as supportive as he is.

“You could always talk about what he said in this tweet or that tweet,” Perdue said, “but when you back up and look at what’s happening in the country, that’s what people back home are really paying attention to.”

Most of Trump’s Washington accomplishments to date have centered on unraveling Obama-era regulations and confirming administration appointees, including a Supreme Court justice and two Georgians in the Cabinet.

Georgia’s “business community tends to be moderate, but our base isn’t. So I think what has happened is (Trump has) forced politicians to kind of choose a side, and most of them are coming home to their base as a result,” said Jack Kingston, a former Savannah Republican congressman who has become a prominent Trump surrogate.

The pro-Trump undercurrents in Georgia are so strong that GOP operative Brian Robinson tells his clients that if they’re planning on running as a “Never Trump” candidate, they’re wasting their time because they’ll get crushed in a primary.

“If you can’t say, ‘I voted for President Trump and think his agenda will make America great again,’ then don’t run as a Republican,” he said.

“They might not always agree with his style or the manner in which he goes about his business,” GOP strategist Chip Lake said, “but they believe that he represents what they want out of a president, anger and resentment toward business as usual in Washington.”

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Bethlehem) received the American Conservative Union’s Award for Conservative Excellence.

The ACU’s award is given annually to members of Congress based on their commitment “to advance conservative principles of liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values and a strong national defense.”

“I came to Congress to stand up for the advancement of conservative principles, and I’m proud that my voting record reflects that commitment,” said Rep. Hice in the press release.

“Rep. Jody Hice earns an A-plus grade for his consistently conservative voting record during a time when our country is facing so many critical issues,” said Schlapp in the press release. “It is refreshing to have a member of Congress who puts the Constitution first, especially when it comes to our First Amendment religious freedoms.”

“I’m honored to be recognized by the American Conservative Union Foundation and will continue to champion pro-growth, limited government policies that help ensure we leave this country and Georgia’s 10th District better than we found it for our kids and grandkids,” said Rep. Hice in the press release.

Floyd County voters will cast their ballots on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) tomorrow, as well as some municipal offices.

Floyd County Sheriff Tim Burkhalter is urging residents to vote yes on the SPLOST.

Troup County voters will also vote on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and local offices.

Incumbent state legislators are the main funders of Kasey Carpenter’s campaigns for State House District 4.

As of Oct. 27, Carpenter has raised $17,800, more than double what the other three candidates have received combined. Of his funding, 87 percent comes from the campaign accounts of other state lawmakers.

Carpenter, the owner of Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Pizza and Brewing, did not return multiple calls seeking comment last week. He will face Republican Eddie Caldwell, Republican Beau Patton and Democrat Peter Pociask on Tuesday. All four are vying for a one-year term to replace retiring state Rep. Bruce Broadrick in District 4.




Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 3, 2017


Skylar is a young 1.5 year old, 40-pound female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County Marietta, GA.


Skittles is a young female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County Marietta, GA.

Skittles loves toys and already knows her sit command. She is about 6 months old and weighs 27 pounds.


Alex is a young female Shepherd and Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County Marietta, GA.

Say hello to one of the sweetest gals around. Just look at that smile! Alex does know to sit and stay when told and LOVES to play ball and with toys.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 3, 2017

John Willis Menard became the first black man elected to Congress on November 3, 1868 from the Second District of Louisiana. Menard’s election opponent challenged the results and prevented Menard from taking his seat, though in defense of his election Menard became the first black man to address Congress.

Alexander Stephens was sworn-in as Governor of Georgia on November 4, 1882; Stephens had earlier been elected Vice-President of the Confederate States of America.

Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who spent part of his youth in Augusta, Georgia and married Ellen Louise Axson, whom he met in Rome, Georgia, was elected President in a landslide victory on November 5, 1912.

On November 3, 1913, details of the federal income tax were finalized and published after the ratification earlier in the year of the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Bacon, Barrow, Candler, and Evans Counties were created on November 3, 1914 when voters approved Constitutional Amendments – prior to these Amendments, Georgia was limited to 145 counties. On the same day, Carl Vinson was elected to Congress from Georgia, becoming the youngest member of Congress at the time. Vinson would eventually become the first Member of Congress to serve more than fifty years. Vinson’s grandson, Sam Nunn would serve in the United States Senate.

Howard Carter found an entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamen on November 4, 1922.

On November 4, 1932 Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. campaigned on behalf of Democratic candidate for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to his unprecedented third term as President of the United States on November 5, 1940.

The Chicago Tribune published the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline on November 3, 1948. Ultimately, Democrat Truman won 303 electoral votes to 189 for Republican Dewey.

Laika, a female Siberian Husky mix who was found stray on the streets of Moscow, was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957.

On November 3, 1964, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson was elected President over Republican Barry Goldwater.

Richard M. Nixon was elected President of the United States by a plurality vote on November 5, 1968.

On November 3, 1970, Jimmy Carter was elected Governor of Georgia.

On November 4, 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan was elected President, winning 489 electoral votes to 49 for incumbent Jimmy Carter.

Note on the electoral map in that clip, states that Reagan won were colored blue, and Georgia was a red state, going for Jimmy Carter.

Democrat Cynthia McKinney became the first African-Amercian female elected to Congress from Georgia on November 3, 1992.

On November 3, 1998, Democrat Thurbert Baker was elected Attorney General and Michael Thurmond was elected Commissioner of Labor, becoming the first African-Americans elected to statewide executive office in Georgia.

On November 5, 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction, beginning the modern era of Republican dominance of Georgia state politics.

One World Trade Center opened on November 3, 2014, more than thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected President, becoming the first African-American elected to the position.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Americus voters are deciding whether to allow Sunday sales of liquor.

If voters pass the referendum, several package stores would be allowed to sell liquor on Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

The referendum is on the ballot for Americus voters on Tuesday, November 7.

Also on the ballot for Americus voters is a mayoral election between incumbent Barry Blount and Laura Lee Bernstein.

Floyd County voters have two Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes on their ballots.

Floyd County voters are slated to decide on five-year extensions of the ELOST and SPLOST collections.

The 1-cent education local option sales tax would fund up to $80 million in school construction projects. A $63.8 million package is proposed for funding through the 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax.

Elections Supervisor Willie Green said 3,109 voters had cast ballots as of Thursday at the three locations. Fewer than 15,000 people voted on the 2013 SPLOST and ELOST packages.

South Georgia early voters are said to be coming out in large numbers for early voting.

Residents in Mitchell County have been coming out to the polls in large numbers. District two has seen 385 early voters and district one has already seen 126 voters.

Crisp County has also seen an overwhelming amount of early voters with 570 votes thus far.

Dougherty County only has one contested election in Ward Two. As of Tuesday, 68 early voters have come out to the polls and seven have mailed in ballots.

In Worth County, 140 early voters have come out to the polls.

In Irwin County, two districts are up for grabs along with an amendment to keep SPLOST. 162 voters have exercised their right to vote early.

“Large numbers” and “overwhelming” being, of course, relative.

Candidates for Senate District 6 are spending tons of other peoples’ money.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has extensive coverage of local elections:

Duluth City Council District 2

Braselton City Council District 4

Peachtree Corners City Council Post 4

Lilburn City Council Post 3

Norcross City Council

Savannah City Council will vote whether to proceed with a $12.8 million reconstruction of Memorial Stadium.

Snellville‘s Prescription Drug Take Back event netted 243 pounds of unwanted prescription medication.

Pooler opened its new municipal complex comprising a courthouse and three-story city hall and police headquarters.

State legislators will recommend that state government consolidate data across departments.

Georgia’s agencies maintain separate files and can’t easily share information.

[Georgia’s Joint Study Committee on Transparency and Open Access in Government] — chaired by Rome Republicans Sen. Chuck Hufstetler and Rep. Katie Dempsey — plans to recommend a state data integration plan to the General Assembly in 2018.

“This is a very important path: Evidence-based policy-making,” Patterson said.

“I could feel the light bulbs going off up here,” said Dempsey, who chairs the House human resources budget subcommittee.

Hufstetler, who serves on the Health Care Reform Task Force, homed in several times on how an integrated data system would benefit a revamp of state services.

He said he expects at least one more meeting of the joint open access committee before it files its final report.

Flowery Branch city council voted to raise water and sewer rates 4%.

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce hosted a legislative forum.

Former Rep. Ben Harbin served as the keynote speaker for the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored breakfast at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

Delegates who spoke at the breakfast included Sen. Jesse Stone, of Waynesboro, representing District 23; Rep. Barry Fleming, of Harlem, District 121; Sen. Lee Anderson, of Grovetown, District 24; Rep. Jodi Lott, of Evans, District 122; Rep. Tom McCall, of Elberton, District 33; and Rep. Mark Newton, of Augusta, District 123.

Each year, the delegates espouse the goals and expectations they have for the legislative session in Atlanta, where they will begin work at the beginning of the year.

The Georgia Tea Party issued a statement supporting the completion of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

The group said in a press release it acknowledges that developing a free market in electric power generation and distribution is desirable, but current technology makes that goal both expensive and impractical.

“While we are mindful of the principles of free market economics, we also acknowledge that the electric power industry, which is regulated by the elected Public Service Commission, has been successful in providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity in our state for a number of years,” said J.D. Van Brink, party chairman.

“Electric power rates in Georgia are among the most competitive in the nation. These competitive rates make life more affordable for residential customers and help businesses compete here at home and in international markets.”

Van Brink went on to call it critical that the project was finished.

“Nuclear power is a vital source for inexpensive, reliable electricity in Georgia. Finally, national security interests require that the U.S. remain a leader in nuclear power development. To allow another nation to take the lead would be a big mistake.”

The Georgia Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Court of Appeals on Open Records and remanded it to the trial court.

[T]he Georgia Supreme Court has reversed lower court rulings that barred access to Northside Hospital’s financial records.

The unanimous decision, announced Thursday, remands the case back to the trial court. Justice Nels Peterson wrote that the trial court applied the wrong legal standard in ruling against access to the records by plaintiff E. Kendrick Smith, an attorney.

At the heart of the long-running dispute was whether the nonprofit Northside Hospital was subject to the state’s open records law.

Attorney Peter Canfield had argued for the plaintiff that Northside – a hospital system based in Atlanta – is subject to the Georgia Open Records Act because it was created by a public hospital authority, which is a government entity, and that the system operates solely on the authority’s behalf.

A Northside spokesman, Lee Echols, said that “we are grateful that the Georgia Supreme Court has decisively rejected the appellant’s claim that virtually every Northside Hospital document is a public record, just as the trial court and Court of Appeals previously have stated.

“From the beginning, the single goal of Mr. Smith has been to gain access, on behalf of a Northside Hospital competitor, to confidential business information that is clearly protected from disclosure,’’ Echols said. “Northside Hospital looks forward to prevailing as we move forward in the legal process.”

Northside’s restructuring occurred in the early 1990s. It’s now an extremely successful hospital system, with more than $2 billion in revenues, and is set to add Gwinnett Medical Center, a large suburban system, to its fold. Northside has said for years that its flagship Atlanta hospital delivers more babies than any other community hospital in the nation.

Georgia Democrats are fielding candidates in all of this month’s special elections for state legislative seats.

All nine seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s state legislative special elections feature a Democratic contender — no small feat for a party that often doesn’t mount even token opposition in GOP strongholds. Party leaders hope the challengers, despite the long odds, are a taste of what’s to come next year.

Democrats are in the running to represent districts covering parts of Athens, Cumming, Dalton and Watkinsville that haven’t seen a Democratic challenger since the maps were redrawn in 2012. And they’re mounting a furious campaign to wrest away an Atlanta-based district that a political newcomer almost won last year.

Some of the Democratic candidates acknowledge it’s a long shot to win districts that have long been held by Republicans. But they say they’re eager to offer voters another choice after elections of one-party rule. Besides, they add, anything can happen in low-turnout special elections.

Several of the districts up for grabs are, like the Smyrna seat, Democratic strongholds. But House Minority Leader Bob Trammell said the Democratic challenges in more hostile territory make Tuesday’s vote a watershed moment for a party ready to scrap with the GOP.

“Our candidates are making the Democratic case from Watkinsville to Whitfield County,” he said, “and voters are excited to have competitive campaigns presenting important policy contrasts on the issues.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating allegations of animal cruelty at the Warner Robins Animal Control shelter.

The Houston County Sheriff’s Office asked the GBI to take on the case after a complaint by a county animal control officer. The county contracts with the city to keep animals at the shelter.

The Warner Robins Police Department operates the animal shelter. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Parson said in an email that she could not comment on the allegation because it is a pending investigation.

“However, we are confident that the investigation will reveal the truth,” she said. “We also stand behind our employees.”

J.T. Ricketson, the special agent in charge of the Perry GBI office, confirmed in an email that the agency had been asked to “look into some allegations of possible animal cruelty at an animal shelter in Houston County.”

The complaint came a week after the city shelter euthanized 61 dogs and cats on Oct. 20.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 2, 2017

Barrow Dogs Holiday

Barrow County Animal Control is holding a holiday special.

1. Bring in a new, unwrapped toy to the shelter to donate to Barrow County Family Connection.

2. Pick out a new furry friend & take advantage of this amazing adoption price! ONLY $20 for cats/kittens AND for dogs/puppies! Price still includes spay/neuter, vaccines & a microchip!

Benji Negrita

Benji (10 years, male, maybe Boxer mix) and Negrita (11 yrs, female, Chihuahua) are a bonded pair of dogs whose owner passed away and they are available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control Shelter in Winder, GA.. They’re looking for a calm, loving home where they can live out their golden years together.

Brunswick Barrow

Brunswick is a 52-pound mixed breed, maybe a Lab mix, who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control Shelter in Winder, GA.

Brunswick is reported to be housebroken and good with kids and other animals. He will make a great addition to someone willing to give him a chance.

Roxie Barrow

Roxie is a 42-pound female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control Shelter in Winder, GA.

Roxie is calm and sweet. She is also reported as housebroken and good with other animals and kids.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 2, 2017

Richard B. Russell, Jr. was born in Winder, Georgia on November 2, 1897.

In 1927, at age 29, Russell was named Speaker of the House – the youngest in Georgia history. In 1930, Russell easily won election as Georgia governor on his platform of reorganizing state government for economy and efficiency. Five months shy of his 34th birthday, Russell took the oath of office from his father, Georgia chief justice Richard B. Russell Sr. He became the youngest governor in Georgia history – a record that still stands. After Georgia U.S. Senator William Harris died in 1932, Gov. Russell named an interim replacement until the next general election, in which Russell himself became a candidate. Georgia voters elected their young governor to fill Harris’ unexpired term. When he arrived in Washington in January 1933, he was the nation’s youngest senator.

Russell had a long and storied career in the United States Senate, during which he served for many years as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, unofficial leader of the conservative Southern wing of the Democratic party and a chief architect of resistance to civil rights legislation. He also ran for President in 1952, winning the Florida primary.

Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States on November 2, 1976.

The current Georgia Constitution was ratified on November 2, 1982 by the state’s voters.

On November 2, 2010, voters elected Republican Nathan Deal as Governor, and the GOP swept all of the statewide offices on the ballot.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced at the 2017 Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference on Jekyll Island that Georgia’s tourism industry produced record results in 2016.

“The tourism industry is a vital economic engine for Georgia, as it generated a record-breaking $60.8 billion in economic impact and provided employment for more than 450,000 Georgians last year,” said Deal. “Each year, we welcome more and more visitors to Georgia, largely due to the success of dedicated tourism professionals from Blue Ridge to Valdosta, and from Columbus to Savannah. The hard work of these individuals contributes not only to Georgia’s ranking as the No. 1 state in which to do business, but helps to solidify our reputation as the No. 1 state to visit and call home.”

Marietta Republican Tricia Pridemore announced she has filed papers to run for the Public Service Commission.

“I am thankful to Commissioner Stan Wise for his years of service on the PSC. As a result of his hard work, along with the other members of the commission, Georgia is in a position to provide reliable utility services to our citizens and keep rates affordable,” Pridemore said. “I am running to provide the Georgia taxpayer another watchdog on the commission who will ensure their interests are always protected.”

“As a conservative businesswoman, I know the impacts of over-regulation. My focus on the PSC will be to regulate our utility industries in a way that keeps Georgia the No. 1 state to do business for decades. With reliable services and increased energy capacity from a commitment to sustained infrastructure improvements we will add to a business climate that helps Georgia flourish.”

A successful small businesswoman and entrepreneur, Pridemore has previously served as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development. She has spent decades championing conservative causes and candidates in the Georgia Republican Party, and is active in the Cobb County community. A graduate of Kennesaw State University, Tricia lives in Marietta with her husband, Michael. The Pridemores are members of Mount Paran Church.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office has recused itself from the case involving an elections database that was wiped.

The lawsuit aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily questioned touchscreen election technology, which does not provide an auditable paper trail.

The server in question was a statewide staging location for key election-related data. It made headlines in June after a security expert disclosed a gaping security hole that wasn’t fixed for six months after he first reported it to election authorities. Personal data was exposed for Georgia’s 6.7 million voters, as were passwords used by county officials to access files.

The assistant state attorney general handling the case, Cristina Correia, notified the court and participating attorneys Wednesday that her office was withdrawing from the case, according to an email obtained by The Associated Press. Spokeswoman Katelyn McCreary offered no explanation and said she couldn’t comment “on pending matters.”

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the main defendant, is running for governor in 2018 and his campaign said in a statement emailed to the AP that the attorney general’s office has a conflict of interest and cannot represent either Kemp’s office or the state elections board.

The secretary of state’s office had said in an earlier statement that the law firm of former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes would represent Kemp and other state election officials.

More from

The Department of Administrative Services has replaced Attorney General Christopher Carr with Barnes Law Group to represent Kemp, the state Election Board and others named in the case, Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said.

“I definitely don’t see eye to eye with Governor Barnes on a lot of issues, but I think anyone would tell you he’s a damn good lawyer,” said Kemp, a Republican candidate for governor.

Kemp said he looks forward to working with Barnes, a Democrat, despite their differing political views.

“He will be a zealous advocate for the state Election Board and the secretary of state to show that these claims are baseless,” he said.

Barnes drew some heat from fellow Democrats at his decision to represent Kemp in the legal matter.

Kemp has long been at odds with former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a top Democratic gubernatorial contender. Barnes has endorsed another Democrat, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, in the race.

“I was dumbfounded that Roy Barnes would defend the secretary of state in such a case,” said state Rep. Carolyn Hugley, D-Columbus, who was long Abrams’ top deputy in the Georgia House.

So, that’s former Democratic Governor Roy Barnes representing Republican Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp.

The Oconee Enterprise predicts a likely runoff election in State House District 119.

Four candidates—three Republicans and one Democrat—are vying for a spot in the Georgia House of Representatives to fill a vacancy left when incumbent Chuck Williams accepted an appointment as director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

If no candidate attains more than 50 percent of the vote, two candidates will be eliminated and the two remaining will be on the runoff ballot Dec. 5.

Those four candidates are Tom Lord, Steven Strickland, Jonathan Wallace and Marcus Wiedower. Wallace is the lone Democrat. Although the district is split between Oconee and Athens-Clarke, all the candidates are residents of Oconee County.

Some DeKalb County voters will vote using paper ballots next Tuesday.

The city of Atlanta’s elections and DeKalb County’s special-purpose local-option sales tax, SPLOST, vote are on the same day.

So polling locations in the small part of Atlanta that’s in DeKalb will have both city and county ballots. But polling hours for the city and county are different by state law. If you’re in Atlanta, polls will close at 8 p.m. If you’re in the rest of DeKalb County, 7 p.m.

DeKalb’s director of voter registration and elections, Erica Hamilton, said to keep the playing field even, if you will, the Atlanta polling locations in DeKalb will switch to paper ballots for the last hour of voting Tuesday. This way DeKalb can make sure all of its ballots close simultaneously.

“We have trained our poll workers, and we do have procedures in place to ensure that it’s a smooth transition,” Hamilton said. She added the SPLOST question will still be on the paper ballots, but even if a vote is cast, it won’t count.

Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson will retire from the city to become the new Executive Director of the Georgia Municipal Association.

Honda moved nearly three times as many cars as the previous year through the Port of Brunswick in FY 2017.

American Honda Motor Company added 34,700 vehicles to its traffic through the local port in fiscal year 2017, a move made largely because of expansion at the terminal and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, said Charles Kendig, assistant vice president for automobile operations at American Honda.

“Honda’s partnership with the Port of Brunswick is one of many bright spots in our finished vehicle supply chain,” he said in the release. “The port’s proximity to open ocean, its expansive and expandable capacity, the connections to our inland supply chain, award-winning auto processors and — perhaps most importantly — the complete alignment between state and local government on finding business-friendly solutions for shippers makes the Port of Brunswick an easy choice.”



Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 1, 2017


Quake is a young female Great Pyrenees & American Bulldog mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.


Putter is a young female Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.


Tobias is a young male Shepherd & Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.


Fred is a young male Hound mix who is available for adoption from IMAGINE Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Fred is super sweet, friendly with dogs of all sizes, and has even been trained to use his doggy door!


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 1, 2017

Georgia’s Trustees decided on November 1, 1732 that the first settlement would be named Savannah and located on the Savannah River.

Parliament passed the Stamp Act on March 22, 1765 with an effective date of November 1, 1765, to fund British military operations.

The Stamp Act, however, was a direct tax on the colonists and led to an uproar in America over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation.

Passed without debate by Parliament in March 1765, the Stamp Act was designed to force colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to have a stamp embossed on all commercial and legal papers. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense—”Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”

Outrage was immediate. Massachusetts politician Samuel Adams organized the secret Sons of Liberty organization to plan protests against the measure, and the Virginia legislature and other colonial assemblies passed resolutions opposing the act. In October, nine colonies sent representatives to New York to attend a Stamp Act Congress, where resolutions of “rights and grievances” were framed and sent to Parliament and King George III.

Georgia Commissioners and Creek leaders signed a treaty on November 1, 1783.

Jimmy Carter ended his first Presidential campaign with a rally in Flint, Michigan on November 1, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting continues today through Friday, though Ringgold municipal races are seeing light turnout.

This year’s Ringgold City Council race features four candidates vying for two at-large seats, in which the top two vote-getters will be the winners.

The race includes incumbents Randall Franks and Jake Haynes, as well as new candidates Rhonda Swaney and Kelly Bomar.

As of Tuesday morning, Oct. 31, officials with the Catoosa County Elections Office say 155 of the 1,751 active voters in the city of Ringgold have voted early, which comes to about 8.8-percent.

The 155 votes includes in-person and absentee ballots that were mailed out.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed a commission comprising Attorney General Chris Carr, Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston, and Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese to review an indictment of Worth County Sheriff Jeffy Hobby.

Click here for more information on the indictment if you’ve missed the story.

Gov. Deal also announced that Amazon will open a new fulfillment center in Macon-Bibb County, creating 500 new jobs there.

“Amazon’s continued investment in our state speaks to our dedication to improve, expand and modernize Georgia’s logistics and distribution network,” said Deal. “As a top national distribution hub, suppliers can reach 80 percent of the U.S. population from Georgia in just a 2-day truck drive or a 2-hour flight. Our robust technology network and world-class logistics infrastructure have been immeasurably beneficial in attracting new business to Georgia and spurring growth for companies already operating here. Georgia’s strategic location, skilled workforce and innovative spirit are a perfect fit for Amazon’s innovative approach to business, as the company’s needs align with many of our key industries, from technology to distribution to connectivity.”

Amazon currently has three operating fulfillment centers in Georgia located in Jefferson, Lithia Springs and Union City as well as a facility in Braselton that supports customer fulfillment. Employees at the new facility will pick, pack and ship large-sized items for customers including household furniture, sporting equipment and gardening tools.

“Georgia continues to be a great place for Amazon to do business and we look forward to adding a fulfillment center to better serve our customers in the region,” said Sanjay Shah, Amazon vice president of North America customer fulfillment. “Our new fulfillment center in Macon will create hundreds of full-time jobs with competitive pay and great benefits. We’re glad to be a part of the community and provide a positive economic impact for the region.”

Area residents are talking about how the new Amazon fulfillment center will affect traffic.

Amazon will also open an brick-and-mortar bookstore in Lenox Square Mall.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp defended KSU’s elections center after it wiped an election system hard drive.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office said Monday that Kennesaw State University’s elections center acted “in accordance with standard IT procedures” when it wiped data from a computer server shortly after a lawsuit was filed seeking to force the state to overhaul its election technology.

KSU  said that a server that had been examined by the FBI was wiped so it could be repurposed, and that the FBI had a copy of the data that was on the server. KSU officials did not disclose that information until several hours after stories on the data wipe became national news.

Sapelo Island residents can proceed with their civil rights lawsuit, a federal court ruled.

The Sapelo plaintiffs filed suit in December 2015 alleging unequal and discriminatory treatment by the county and state, going back decades, leading to a dwindling population among the Gullah-Geechee community, with people leaving the island for the mainland.

According to the complaint, the island “has no school, no firehouse, no medical services and no police. The county does not adequately maintain the roads and does not contribute to any water or sewer system.”

The plaintiffs in the case argue that not only white mainland residents, but white island residents receive better treatment than black residents in the Hog Hammock area on the south end of the island. The state and the county, though, dispute the contention that mainland residents are comparable, and that white island residents are subject to the same lack of resources as black residents.

Suwanee City Council candidates discussed growth, traffic, and related issues.

A federal judge enjoined deoirtation proceedings against Kennesaw student Jessica Colotl.

Cobb County’s Medical Examiner will receive a nearly $324k federal grant to pay for faster toxicology results.

“This will allow us to help grieving families get answers and death certificates faster,” said Dr. Gulledge, “and this will let us give law enforcement more real-time information about dangerous drugs causing deaths in our community.”

The grant will allow the Cobb ME’s office to send requests to a private laboratory that will provide test results in two weeks compared to an average wait time of around 90 days.

A La Mesa, California school board member faces trouble after having voted absentee in the November 2016 Georgia elections.

Rebekah Basson, the 25-year-old church secretary named to a La Mesa-Spring Valley School District vacancy in August, now faces questions of potential voter fraud.

The San Diego native lived in Georgia from age 12 to about three years ago, when she enrolled in a Murrieta Bible college.

“Her problem is she’s voting [in Georgia] quite a long time after saying she moved to California,” said David Lublin, an elections expert at American University in Washington, D.C.

“That’s a real problem,” said the Harvard Ph.D. “You shouldn’t be voting in a state where you do not live. … She has voted illegally though she’s no longer a resident of the Peach State.”

The AJC looks at the Special Election in Senate Ditrict 6, a rare potential swing district in the state legislature.

In 2012, Hunter Hill ousted four-term Democratic state Sen. Doug Stoner in a newly redrawn district, flipping the seat for the Republicans.

With Hill vacating his post in September to run for governor, three Democrats have joined the field of eight hopefuls and are trying to take back the 6th Senate District.

The socio-economically diverse district stretches from Smyrna to parts of Buckhead and has a pretty even mix of residents affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties, candidates said.

The crowded race will also be an expensive contest, likely topping more than $1 million spent by the contenders. Combined, the candidates in the 6th District who filed campaign disclosures as of Tuesday have reported raising more than $950,000 for the contest.

Republican Houston Gaines is outraising his Democrat opponent in the Special Election for House District 117.

Republican Houston Gaines has raised nearly four times as much campaign money as Democrat Deborah Gonzalez in their race for the House District 117 seat in the state legislature.

Gaines’ campaign had used $62,514.79 of his $202,950.66 in campaign contributions, according to reports filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (formerly known as the State Ethics Commission). That left him with more than $140,000 in the bank 15 days before the Nov. 7 election.

Gonzalez’s campaign had raised $56,896.55 as of Oct. 25, including a $5,000 loan. She had spent $19,655.92, with $36,264.60 remaining.

Georgia State Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) said that Medicaid waivers could be part of the upcoming legislative session.

A healthcare reform task force is expected to recommend that the Georgia General Assembly seek waivers next year to change some of the federal mandates under the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said they’re looking at different types of proposals to help uninsured people keep their health issues from escalating into chronic or serious conditions. If approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the waiver programs could act as alternatives to Medicaid expansion — which the state has rejected.

Hufstetler said that, in hindsight, the requests should have gone in during the last 40-day session, which ended March 31.

“We may have made a mistake in thinking the ACA would be repealed,” he said. “We said we have to wait and see what the federal government has done, but they haven’t done anything.”

At the group’s final hearing, held at Berry College Monday, a number of speakers said costs spiral out of control because many people wait until they’re sick enough to go to an emergency room.

“The overriding recommendation was preventative care,” Hufstetler said. “You’ve heard that out of me for several years and the lieutenant governor, who I believe will be elected governor next year, believes that too.”

Monty Veazey, president of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, showed a video of the lone physician working in Clay County, where the nearest small hospital is at least 20 miles away.

“All of rural Georgia has problems with poverty, transportation and access to good health care,” Veazey said.

The Muscogee County Tax Assessors are asking for additional budget in order to hire more workers to process property tax appeals.

“… Because of this historic number of appeals, we directed and dedicated all of our resources to processing and reviewing those appeals,” said Deputy Chief Appraiser John Williams, addressing councilors during a consent agenda/work session. “… As you would imagine, that four months of allocating all our resources to appeals has caused our normal workload not to be accomplished.

“So that’s one of the reasons why I’m here with you today,” he continued. “Unless we address this delay in our annual work, it would preclude us from timely submitting our portion of the tax digest to the Tax Commissioner by June 1.”

In order to meet the June 1 date, Williams explained, the Tax Assessor’s office would have to get notices of assessment out in April. He said the current 2017 tax appeal process is expected to continue until about that month, leaving very little time to start the 2018 tax assessment process. He said the request for more help only applies to the residential division, which is under-staffed.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 31, 2017


Logan is a young male Miniature Pinscher mix puppy who is available for adoption from CARES, Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.


Cleveland is an adult male Black and Tan Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from Chattooga County Animal Control in Summerville, GA.


Hanky is an adult female Treeing Walker Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from Chattooga County Animal Control in Summerville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 31, 2017

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

The United States Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state on October 31, 1864. Kind of fitting, in a way.

The carving on Mount Rushmore was completed on October 31, 1941.

President Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail to help his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her race for United States Senate from New York on October 31, 2000. On October 31, 2014, Bill Clinton came to Atlanta to campaign for Michelle Nunn for United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting is open through Friday for municipal elections and some county issues.

Rome voters will choose three city commissioners and all seven school board members. Cave Spring has three city council seats on its ballot.

All Floyd County voters are deciding two proposed local option sales tax extensions: An $80 million ELOST for school construction and a $63.8 million SPLOST for special projects overseen by the governments.

Clarke and Oconee Counties are seeing low turnout in early voting.

Unless there’s an unprecedented surge in early voting this week or on election day Nov. 7, only a small fraction of voters are expected to determine the outcome of three special elections in Oconee and Clarke counties.

As of Monday afternoon, only about 2,700 people in Clarke and Oconee counties had cast ballots, out of about 49,000 “active” voters — people who’ve cast a vote in one of the past two federal elections, or who have responded to postcards from election officials asking for address verification.

Two vacant seats in the Georgia House of Representatives are at stake, and in Clarke County, a special 1 percent transportation sales tax that would fund a slate of transportation-related projects.

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that Site Selection magazine named Georgia the #1 state for business for the fifth consecutive year.

“For the fifth year in a row, Georgia has been named the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business, highlighting the value of our business-friendly environment and the success of our economic development initiatives,” said Deal. “I’d like to thank Site Selection for this recognition. I’m also deeply grateful for the hard work of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), and for the strong foundation laid by our community partners. We are so proud to be ranked No. 1 for business, because behind this ranking is a new job opportunity for a parent, a new business for a community and more economic opportunity for all Georgians.

“By emphasizing strong partnerships on both the state and local levels, we have cultivated an economic environment that produces greater opportunities for hardworking people, generates investment in local communities and improves the overall quality of life for Georgia families. Our low tax burden and economic assets, including a robust workforce and unparalleled connectivity, lead the nation in attracting industry leaders from across the country and around the world. As we continue building upon our strategic resources by investing in workforce development initiatives such as the HOPE Career Grant, we are ensuring that industry leaders remain connected to a skilled labor pool capable of meeting the challenges of today, tomorrow and beyond.

“I am confident that the efforts of state industry leaders, community partners and the people of Georgia will help us maintain this momentum for many years to come.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of this ranking,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “It’s not only a testament to Governor Deal’s leadership, but to each and every economic development partner across the state. For five years in a row, our top-notch business environment and astounding global infrastructure has earned us this honor. The future of economic development in Georgia is incredibly bright and we are looking forward to more big wins. We are proud of this achievement, and all of the work our local partners do across the state to help Georgia thrive and remain competitive in this dynamic economy.”

Deal also announced the addition of five new strategic industry programs to the HOPE Career Grant, effective January, underscoring the critical importance of training our current and future workforce to meet the needs of employers. The new fields include Construction, Aviation, Electrical Line Work, Logistics and Automotive Technology through the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), bringing the total number to 17 HOPE Career Grant areas of study. This effort is aimed at better aligning Georgia’s workforce with the needs of growing industries and providing students with new opportunities to learn skills that lead to high-wage professional employment.

Gov. Deal is proposing an expansion of the HOPE Career Grant.

The governor’s proposal would expand the HOPE Career Grant to include tech college students taking courses in five more fields: automotive technology, aviation, construction, electrical line work and logistics.

If lawmakers adopt the proposal next year, the tech school program will cover students in 17 fields including computer programming, diesel mechanics and film set design. The governor did not have an immediate cost estimate on the expansion but said it’s “money well spent.”

“I do hope the next governor will at least carry it forward,” said Deal, who is preparing for his final legislative session as governor. “We are training Georgians to do the kind of things we need to do, that industries are demanding.”

Savannah was named the #1 city in the nation for rats.

Pest control service Terminix recently released its 2017 list of the top 15 roof rat-infested cities in America, based on service data from more than 300 branches across the country. The rankings represent metropolitan areas with the highest number of actual services for roof rats so far this year. Savannah was number 1, followed by Memphis and then Miami.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson visited Georgia yesterday.

Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was in Atlanta Monday, and will remain in the city Tuesday.

Carson met with local leaders and tour a transformed permanent supportive housing development. On Tuesday, Carson will visit two holistically-designed communities supported by public-private partnerships.

Carson also headlined the 2017 Georgia Republican Party’s Chairman’s Dinner.

Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Atlanta) thinks the special election for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District was stolen from Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson says he thinks Republicans may have stolen an election from his fellow Democrat, Jon Ossoff. Ossoff lost a special congressional election to Republican Karen Handel in June in the most expensive congressional election in US history.

“A difference of about 3200 votes,” recalled US Rep. Hank Johnson. The Democrat had employed Ossoff as a congressional aide. Ossoff stayed consistently ahead in most polls leading up to the runoff – then lost on election night.

“I think it’s quite possible that Jon Ossoff won that election and the election was stolen from him. That’s my suspicion,” Johnson said Monday.

Johnson points to some delayed election results that came from Fulton County that night. He points to other races in 2014 where Democrats like Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn polled ahead before the election, but lost on election night.

Republicans say there’s zero evidence to back Johnson’s claim of a stolen election. “That is absurd,” said state Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), an early backer of Handel. The claim “is that of a sore loser unable to accept the results of the people.”

Georgia’s members of Congress are lobbying colleagues to include language in tax reform legislation that would benefit the Plant Vogtle construction project.

All but two of the state’s U.S. House members wrote to the chairman of the chamber’s tax-writing committee on Friday urging him to fold language into the upcoming tax overhaul that ensures the operators of the $25 billion project receive roughly $800 million in federal tax credits.

The tweak, which would eliminate a 2020 sunset date on the previously-promised credits, would only benefit Vogtle since it’s the sole remaining new nuclear project under construction in the U.S. But Georgia’s lawmakers said the change would benefit the entire country since it would be underwriting a first-of-its-kind project.

“Beyond simply benefiting Georgia, this credit is integral to protecting our nation’s energy security and independence, ushering in an American nuclear energy renaissance,” the group of 12 wrote to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

The House easily passed standalone legislation back in June that would make the same changes, but the bill has stalled in the Senate as lawmakers have zeroed in on a broader rewrite of the tax code.

The Trump administration doubled down on its commitment to Vogtle last month when it gave initial approval to $3.7 billion in additional loan guarantees to help cover the project’s recent cost overruns. That’s in addition to the $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees Vogtle previously received.

All 10 of the state’s House Republicans signed onto the letter, including Rick Allen, whose Augusta-area district is home to the nuclear plant. Democrats Sanford Bishop of Albany and David Scott of Atlanta were also signatories.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is applying for “secret” security clearance to discuss Department of Homeland Security efforts to secure voting systems.

According to a spokesperson in his office, Secretary of State Brian Kemp is applying for the “secret” level security clearance as part of a DHS effort to coordinate with states. Last month, the agency reported it had evidence Russian hackers targeted elections systems in 21 states leading up to the 2016 election. Georgia was not one of those targeted, according to Kemp’s office.

About two dozen chief elections officials around the country are applying, said Scott McConnell, a spokesperson with DHS.

“We are working with secretaries of state and other chief election officials to refine processes for sharing information about risks to election infrastructure,” McConnell said. “Part of this includes making security clearances available to officials who would potentially need access to classified information in their oversight of state election infrastructure.”

Kemp’s office is investigating a candidate for Blakely City Council.

A Blakely City Council candidate could possibly face criminal charges after it appeared he offered a reward on social media to people who voted.

As of right now, Travis Wimbush’s name is still on the ballots in Blakely, but the secretary of state has an open investigation.

Wimbush posted on Facebook saying anyone who voted on that day would be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card. The post continued on by saying “Vote Travis Wimbush City Council District 2 Post 1.

The Secretary of State’s office said it has an open investigation into the matter.

The office said when it learns about a potential election law violation, the Investigations Division has the authority to conduct some preliminary fact-finding and, if warranted, open a formal investigation.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens suggests you change the batteries on all smoke detectors this weekend when you move your clocks forward.

“If you have a smoke alarm, make sure it’s in working order,” Hudgens said in a statement. “Changing the battery at least once every year and cleaning dust from the device is a simple way to ensure continued protection of your family and your property. Having a working smoke alarm doubles the chances you will survive a fire in your home.”

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, when the United States officially reverts to what is known as Standard Time. Fire officials traditionally use the beginning and ending of Daylight Saving Time as an opportunity to remind residents of the need to regularly change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

Cobb County Commissioners are facing a $30-million dollar shortage in the 2019 budget.

When Cobb commissioners last month approved the county’s fiscal 2018 budget, they passed a plan that used one-time funds to fill a $20.8 million gap.

They learned Monday that a similar shortfall in the fiscal 2019 budget could grow to as much as $30 million if the county’s revenues and expenditures remain unchanged.

“That’s a realistic number. That’s not enhanced services — that’s what we’re doing today,” Bill Volckmann, the county’s finance director, told commissioners during the first day of their two-day retreat at the Threadmill Complex in Austell. He said his predecessor, the late Jim Pehrson, had predicted in 2014 an eventual overtaking of expenses to revenues, which the county has now reached.

Among the biggest cuts offered as possibilities by county staff include shuttering all county libraries, which would save about $9 million; and closing of animal control and the Cobb Safety Village, which would total nearly $4.4 million in savings.

Georgia’s Healthcare Reform Task Force, chaired by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, met in Rome yesterday to discuss primary and preventative care.

“The path to a more affordable system starts with preventative care,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who chairs the committee of seven state senators that includes Chuck Hufstetler of Rome.

The nine speakers, representing a variety of state and national medical-industry organizations, accepted the premise but differed somewhat on the main obstacles and how to overcome them.

High deductibles in privately funded plans also keep people from following through on treatment that can keep chronic conditions from escalating, said Dr. Scott Bohlke, president of the Medical Association of Georgia.

“Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean you have healthcare,” he said.

Monty Veazey, president of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, spoke of the many difficulties facing rural counties. He said 63 have no pediatrician and 78 have no OB-GYN — and telemedicine is not an immediate fix because broadband speeds aren’t up to par.

That makes the state’s certificate of need law “absolutely vital” to preserve residents’ current level of healthcare access, he said. CON regulations require state approval before most expansions or the addition of new services in an area.

“It’s the only tool the state has to ensure geographic distribution of healthcare resources…of financially stable facilities with an appropriate payer mix,” he said.

[Disclaimer: I do some work for the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.]

Cobb County Commission Chair Mike Boyce has proposed cost-cutting measures.

A freeze on the hire of new county staff members is one of the proposals Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce aims to discuss with commissioners as part of their efforts to balance the county’s budget during today’s second day of the board’s two-day retreat.

Two of Boyce’s top priorities among his 13 recommendations focused on county employees. The hiring freeze he is proposing would last until the county had identified areas that could be better served by the private sector. In addition to the freeze, he is seeking a halt of all county travel not associated with training to maintain certifications.

Boyce’s recommendations also list his aim to implement at the first of the year new criteria for the funding of nonprofits. The chairman did not include $1.1 million in nonprofit grants in the fiscal 2018 budget approved in September, opting instead to push the issue until after the county’s Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.

The Cobb County Republican Women’s Club honored veterans and raised money for the Cobb County Veterans Memorial Foundation.

Hall County Director of Emergency Management David Kimbrell was terminated for violating county policy.

Valdosta City Council candidates met voters in a forum Sunday night.

Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy has proposed reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

Augusta Commission member Bill Fennoy wants to reduce the penalty for possession of “small amounts” of marijuana to a fine with no jail time.

The term-limited District 1 commissioner did not return calls seeking comment. He attached to his agenda item for the Augusta Commission Public Safety Committee’s Tuesday meeting a copy of Atlanta’s new ordinance, which reduces the penalty for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to a $75 fine.

Senate Minority Whip Harold Jones, D-Augusta, has pushed to decriminalize possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana statewide. His Senate Bill 105 made it to the Rules committee last spring.

“I’m not sure we’re capable of doing it,” Jones said. “Cities, without a doubt, yes. Consolidated counties, I cannot say we actually have that power.”

Rep. Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, credited Jones with “opening the conversation” about reduced penalties statewide.

“Law enforcement is going to be a lot more watchful in the quantity they collect,” Howard said.

State Rep. Henry “Wayne” Howard, (D-Augusta) had both legs amputated, but plans to return to the Capitol in the next session.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Howard, who went public with his condition Sunday. “This is a way for me to let the public know that I’m ready to go back to work.”

Howard, 62, is in the second year of his sixth term representing the 124th District and his sixth year as chairman of the seven-member Augusta legislative delegation. He has held the House seat since winning it in 2006 from his stepmother, Rep. Earnestine Howard, who replaced her husband, Rep. Henry Howard, after he died in 2005.

Wayne Howard’s colleagues on the delegation said they afforded his family privacy during his illness but now welcome him back into service.

“He’s a very good friend of mine and a good colleague and I’m glad he’s coming back to work,” said Senate Minority Whip Harold Jones, D-Augusta.

“I’m excited to hear he was doing so well and that he’s looking forward to coming back,” said state Rep. Brian Prince, D-Augusta. “Having something to look forward to will help his recovery, as well.”

The capitol is fully accessible to wheelchairs, but his new life in a chair has been a learning experience, Howard said.

“It makes you aware of some of the things that disabled folk go through once you go through it yourself,” he said. “Walk a mile in my shoes, you understand that.”

Howard said the experience has inspired him to improve services for people with disabilities, and senior citizens.

State Rep. James Beverly (D-Macon) spoke to local residents about the rumored closure of L.H. Williams Elementary School.

Columbus State University dedicated the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity to train students in the field.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 30, 2017


Ohana is a 4-month old female Beagle and Dachshund mix puppy who is available for adoption from Heart of Georgia Humane Society in Macon, GA.


Oscar is a 4-month old male Beagle and Dachshund mix puppy who is available for adoption from Heart of Georgia Humane Society in Macon, GA.


Oliver is a 4-month old male Beagle and Dachshund mix puppy who is available for adoption from Heart of Georgia Humane Society in Macon, GA.