The blog.

17
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 17, 2017

WilsonFOSA

Wilson is a 2-year old, 65-pound male Cattle Dog and Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Wilson is a sweet boy. He stays quiet in his run but he has lots of energy once he’s outside. He would make a great running partner. Or he would love a fenced in back yard to play in.

Wilson is in Run 79 and his ID is 595798.

TeddyFOSA

Teddy is a 4-year old, 10-pound male Chihuahua and Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

He wants a home with a lap to sleep on or someone to carry him around with them. He does walk well on a leash so he does not have to be carried, he just likes it.

Teddy is waiting to meet you in cage T-4 and his ID# is 595878.

AgathaFOSA

Agatha is a 4-year old, 64-pound female German Shorthaired Pointer & Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Agatha and Christie (below) are sisters, who would love to find a home together, but either one can be adopted alone.

Both girls are very sweet, but Agatha is a little more shy and Christie is more outgoing. They both sit and stay when asked and walk well on a leash. Overall they seem like really well behaved girls.

Agatha’s ID # is 595519 and they can be found together in cage 76.

ChristieFOSA

Christie is a 5-year old, 62-pound female Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Christie’s ID # is 595518 and they can be found together in cage 76.

17
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 17, 2017

Georgia and American History

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick (R) was elected to the Georgia State Senate from the 32d District with 56.98% of votes cast; Democrat Christine Triebsch took 43.02%.

Speaking to the MDJ before the final results were tallied, Kirkpatrick said her campaign’s biggest strength has been its organization.

“I think that I’ve run a very organized and positive campaign, and we’ve done all of the things that we’ve needed to do as far as grassroots efforts and getting name recognition and getting the word out,” she said. “I also think I’ve had a pretty positive message, and I’ve tried to stay on that positive message throughout.”

Also speaking before the final results, Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said a Kirkpatrick win would not be unexpected because of District 32’s history of going red.

“That’s the kind of situation sort of like the 6th (Congressional District) where Democrats normally can’t compete in an election,” Swint said. “Also similar to the 6th, you have a special election where you have all the candidates on the same ballot, so I think that the nature of special election offered an opportunity for Democrats to be more competitive than normal.”

From Kristina Torres at the AJC:

Turnout hovered above 20 percent among eligible voters. The outcome appeared to confirm Kirkpatrick’s belief that dedicated GOP supporters would show up at the polls and Republicans will see it as an encouraging sign for the 6th District race.

“This is a fairly good indicator for Karen Handel that Cobb County’s Republican base is still energized to vote for Republicans,” said Brian Robinson, a Republican strategist and former aide to Gov. Nathan Deal, referring to his party’s congressional candidate who has been locked in a battle with Democrat Jon Ossoff. “As I said to Republican leaders in this state, I wasn’t concerned that Dr. Kirkpatrick wouldn’t win. I was concerned that an overly close showing would really throw gas on the fire for Ossoff. But this wasn’t competitive.”

Gov. Nathan Deal issued a new Executive Order updating the earlier order naming a committee to investigate allegations against DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann. From the AJC:

Deal’s new order addresses concerns raised by Mann’s attorney, who said last week the alleged city ordinance violations by Mann don’t amount to criminal charges. Deal had cited criminal charges as the justification for appointing an investigative committee.

The updated executive order broadens the investigative committee’s scope to include other purposes allowed by state law. Besides criminal charges, the committee will also look into alleged misconduct in office or alleged incapacity to perform the functions of office.

The committee must report its findings within 30 days and, based on its findings, Mann could be suspended for up to 90 days.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says the state’s first death from “Grey Death” overdose occurred in Brookhaven.

Gray death is a deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl, but it’s much more potent than either drug on its own.

The GBI crime lab tested the drugs found at the scene. They contained heroin, furanyl fentanyl and cocaine, which is one of the many formulations of gray death. GBI crime lab supervisor Deneen Kilcrease labeled the drug “gray death” earlier this year, and the name is now used worldwide.

“It’s the only gray drug that I’ve ever seen and when I heard what components were it it, I didn’t see how anyone can survive it,” she said.

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said that although Camp’s death is the first confirmed from gray death, she believes there could be more.

“You believe there are many more where the lab work is not complete?”Winne asked.

“Absolutely. At the rate we’re going with these samples that come in, absolutely,” Miles said.

The United States Supreme Court released a schedule in the lawsuit between Georgia and Florida over waterflows.

The court agreed to Florida’s request to extend deadlines for responses to a report by the special master. The last deadline is Aug. 30, which is well after the court typically concludes its session in late June or early July. The court convenes, by statute, on Oct. 1.

The Georgia Public Service Commission approved a $200 million dollar solar project covering hundreds of acres near Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.

The array would go online in 2019 and would generate 139 megawatts of electricity. Georgia Power will spend $200 million to build the facility.

He said the project will help Robins meet its goal for alternative energy. It is the company’s sixth solar facility connected to a military base, and McKenzie said it will be “by far” the largest. While it will provide power to the overall power grid, during times of grid outage it will be able to directly power the base, McKenzie said.

The project will be built on about 870 acres purchased to reduce housing in a zone north of the base considered at risk for aircraft crashes and excessive noise, referred to as the encroachment zone.

The Houston County school system says that students who take CBD oil for medical reasons cannot do so on school property due to a conflict between state and federal laws.

The oil, derived from the cannabis plant, wasn’t a problem for administrators at First Presbyterian Day School, a private school in Macon. But the rules are different at public schools, the Harrises learned during a recent transfer process to Houston County.

“I told them about it, you know, ‘He takes (the) oil for his seizures … , and that’s when they went into a panic, like, ‘We don’t know what to do about this,’” Curtis Harris said of Houston County school officials. “They called the head state nurse, and the head state nurse told him that he can’t even have it on campus.”

Beth McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the Houston County school district, said the school can’t administer — or even store — CJ’s medicine.

“By law, the only person whose name is on the registration card issued by the Department of Public Health for cannabis oil may store the oil,” she said in an emailed statement to The Telegraph. “In addition, per the Safe and Drug Free Schools federal law, the oil may not be

[State Rep. Allen] Peake said the Harrises aren’t alone.

“Stories like this are happening and will be happening all over our state as the medical cannabis law continues to expand,” he said, adding that protocols have been developed for how to administer other prescription drugs.

He added, “I’m looking for education administration officials to show some courage and do what’s in the best interest of students.”

The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner opened a new facility yesterday.

The new facility has 15,000 square feet of space and brings the morgue and medical examiner’s office together under one roof.

“I’ve heard that some have questioned why such a facility as this was needed,” [Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Carol] Terry said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Anybody who would ask that question obviously never visited the old morgue. Anyone who saw the old morgue would realize it was better suited to be a staging area for some movie from the ‘Saw’ franchise.…”

The new $5.7 million facility includes three state-of-the-art autopsy stations, as well as a lab where Terry’s staff can process and store evidence. It has a family conference room and outdoor respite area and office space for Terry, her medical and administrative staff and investigators.

The facility was built with funding from the 2014 SPLOST.

Floyd County will converts its old animal shelter into the county’s first morgue.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved the demolition of the 1996 Olympic tennis venue in Stone Mountain.

The goal is to tear down the center and then seek proposals for developers on how to redevelop the site, possibly in a mixed-use capacity. Commissioners said the center is in a severe state of disrepair, and would be far too costly to rebuild.

“It does two things,” Commissioner Lynette Howard said of the stadium. “It hinders people’s creativity, but most importantly, it’s a huge liability with people breaking in and going in and shooting videos of themselves doing all sorts of crazy things in there. Somebody is going to get hurt.”

Eventually, the stadium site — after the stadium is demolished and redevelopment proposals are received — will be turned over to private developers to build something on the land. That will put it back on the public tax rolls for the first time in decades, but it will also provide an opportunity for redevelopment in that area.

Gainesville City Board of Education approved a 2018 budget that keeps the millage rate unchanged and will raise taxes for some property owners whose valuations have increased.

The Whitfield County Board of Education proposed 2018 budget increases pay for teachers and uses money from reserves to make up the difference.

Columbia County Commissioners voted to restructure their Emergency Management Service Division.

Chatham Area Transit board members unanimously adopted a FY2018 budget and asked Chatham County Commissioners to raise property taxes by .15 mills to cover increases.

Carroll County’s Board of Education proposed a FY2018 budget that includes teacher raises and new school buses.

The Houston County Board of Education tentatively adopted a FY2018 budget with teacher pay raises.

“Each teacher will get a 2% increase on their state based portion of their salary, as well as their local salary supplement will be increased 2%,” [Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Business Operations Stephen] Thublin said.

Starting salary is just over $34,427 for a teacher, plus an additional $3,150 in local supplement that Houston provides. Those numbers increase with years of service.

“The majority of our teachers will earn a step increase because of their years of service,” Thublin said. “They will also get an increase for that step increase. For a lot of them, it will be a 3 ½% to 4 ½% increase.”

The Clarke County Board of Education will issue $60 milion dollars worth of bonds for school construction.

The school board, like many other school districts, borrows bond money in anticipation of collections of a special voter-approved 1 percent sales tax dedicated to construction and infrastructure projects. It pays the money out as sales tax collections come in from the state.

The tax is expected to yield at least $112 million over five years.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson proposed eliminating a city subsidy to Uptown Columbus, the organization redeveloping downtown Columbus.

2018 Elections

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is supporting Senator David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor in the 2018 election.

“For more than 15 years, David Shafer has served the people of Georgia in the Georgia State Senate,” Marcus said in a statement. “I am proud to endorse him for lieutenant governor because he understands the importance of job creation and growth to the success of our great state.”

The backing of Marcus, now a billionaire philanthropist whose name is well known in Georgia, is a big eye-catching win for Shafer. Colleagues had already said as recently as early April that several state lawmakers had been encouraging Shafer to run for the seat.

“Bernie Marcus is one of Georgia’s greatest business and civic leaders and one of America’s greatest job creators,” Shafer said in a statement. “I am proud to have his support. As lieutenant governor, I will be committed to doing everything in power to create and maintain a business environment that encourages job creation.”

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia State House Democratic Leader who is considering running for Governor in 2018, will deliver the keynote address to the Georgia Gwinnett College graduation on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Abrams was quoted in The New York Times calling Republicans “Fascists.”

16
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 16, 2017

MooseHCAS

Moose is a male Hound and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Drake

Drake is a male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

am a yellow lab mix who is full of wiggles and bounces with a puppy-like charm that will instantly make you smile! I enjoy going for walks and would love a big yard to romp around in. I absolutely LOVE other doggies and would enjoy having a doggy friend in the home with me.

I am ready to be out and active, whether it be a run around the block or ball time in the yard. I enjoy meeting new people, including kids over 8! I don’t mind younger ones, but my puppy like charm tends to be too much for them. I am quite the entertainer and my funny antics are sure to make you laugh. Though I need to learn some of the basics, I am a quick learner and eager to gain more knowledge!

Granger

Granger is a male Black and Tan Hound who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

16
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2017

Button Gwinnett v Lachlan McIntosh

Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh met outside Savannah on May 16, 1777 and fought a duel; Gwinnett was mortally wounded.

Gwinnett returned to Georgia immediately after signing the [Declaration of Independence] to find city Whig Lachlan McIntosh commanding Georgia’s nascent military efforts. Determined to take control of Georgia politics, Gwinnett became speaker of the legislature, guided the Georgia Constitution of 1777 into existence and took over as governor when Archibald Bulloch died suddenly in office.

Gwinnett then wanted to lead an expedition to secure Georgia’s border with Florida. A dispute between McIntosh and Gwinnett over who would command the effort ultimately led to their duel and Gwinnett’s death.

A Constitutional Convention met on May 16, 1795 in the capital of Louisville to amend the Georgia Constitution of 1789

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of 11 Articles of Impeachment passed by the House of Representatives on May 16, 1868.

The North Georgia Electric Company was incorporated on May 16, 1901 to build a hydroelectric dam on the Chattahoochee River near Gainesville; in 1916, it would be bought by the company that today is known as Georgia Power.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Senate District 32 voters go to the polls today in a Special Runoff Election.

Democrat Christine Triebsch faces off against Republican Kay Kirkpatrick in the race to replace former state Sen. Judson Hill.

The district covers much of east Cobb County and parts of north Fulton County.

“The runoff in state Senate District 32 is tomorrow, not June 20, 2017 when Karen Handel faces Jon Ossoff in the highly publicized 6th Congressional District runoff,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement Monday. “Although the dates can be confusing, I am encouraging all eligible voters to go to the polls and ensure their voice is heard in both of these contests.”

Voters are encouraged to check the Secretary of State’s ‘My Voter Page’ at the Secretary of State’s official website to determine if they are eligible to vote in Tuesday’s runoff. At that page, voters may check their registration status, view a sample ballot and find their polling location. On Tuesday, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

President Donald Trump met Blaiklyn Freeman, daughter of a Bibb County Sheriff’s Deputy who was killed in a crash while on duty.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan rallied with Karen Handel yesterday in the Sixth District.

“There are be-ers and there are do-ers,” he said, comparing District 6 U.S. House of Representatives candidates Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, and Karen Handel, a Republican, respectively. “The be-er is someone who wants to be somebody. It’s someone who wants to parachute into a Congressional district he doesn’t even live in, to try and fool you to think he thinks like you and shares your values. The do-er is someone who actually lives, eats, sleeps, breathes the principles you share, somebody who believes in specific principles and then goes and affects those principles. Someone who actually does what she says and is from where she says she’s from, Karen Handel.”

“This is going to be a dogfight. … This is going to be the most expensive Congressional election in history,” Sandy Springs Mayor Paul said. “But it’s not going to come down to money. It’s going to come down to the crew that works the hardest.”

Said Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, “Out in California, they say it’s a referendum. They’re right. It’s a referendum of who represents the Sixth District of Georgia and has positive values and does not represent California or Manhattan.”

“I don’t want to wake up on June 21 and have a new Congressman named Peloisioff,” he said, referring to Ossoff’s support from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about the issue of health care reform in the 6th District election.

Handel hopes to fire up the Republican base by embracing the House GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and her side-by-side appearance with Ryan — the proposal’s chief architect — further highlighted her support for the plan.

Ossoff has called the measure a dangerous partisan attempt to roll back insurance protections.

“I’m speaking my mind on an issue that affects thousands of families here in Georgia,” [Ossoff] said in a recent interview. “Folks who are elected have an obligation to put politics aside and do what’s right for the community here. Throwing folks off their health insurance, denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions — it’s just wrong.”

Several of Handel’s supporters at the rally on Monday said they were just as energized by her promise to vote for legislation that would roll back the Affordable Care Act.

“Obamacare is failing, and I can tell you it’s really hindered our ability to provide health care,” said Marci McCarthy, the Brookhaven owner of a marketing firm. “The new House plan still needs refining. It needs work. But I have faith that when the Senate gets their hands on it and finesses it, we are going to have great health care.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville) convened the state Senate Health Care Reform Task Force yesterday to discuss federal changes.

Cagle hopes his task force can help Georgia benefit from, or even shape, whatever Congress eventually passes. And on the front lines, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue are already outlining their positions. They spoke to the AJC last week.

The takeaways: All three are Republican, and all three say they’re for repealing and replacing Obamacare. But all say the U.S. House version needs work. And all acknowledge it could be months before any of that actually happens.

Among their top priorities is making sure that the 19 states that didn’t expand Medicaid under Obamacare, including Georgia, don’t get financially disadvantaged under such legislation.

“I want to get something that works for the people who need it and that we maintain the independence for the states in terms of taking care of their own people,” Perdue said.

The House GOP’s bill would fundamentally change the way the federal government pays states for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. The federal government has for years paid states a certain percentage of all of their Medicaid costs. The measure passed by the House instead would allow states to opt for “block grants,” which would pay states lump sums based on a predetermined formula.

Isakson and Perdue say they worry that a state with a growing population such as Georgia could end up worse off: locked into an outdated formula that could limit the stream of federal dollars.

United States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg rejected a motion by Gwinnett County to dismiss a voting rights lawsuit that alleges County Commission and Board of Education districts illegally disciminate against minorities.

The Georgia NAACP, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and several residents filed the suit last August in an effort to have the federal court force the redrawing of the county commission and school board districts to make it easier for minority candidates to be elected.

Although Totenberg rejected the request to dismiss the case, she did grant county officials more time to respond to an amended complaint filed against them in late April.

The county commission and school board are accused of having districts which are drawn to allegedly disenfranchise voters in minority groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans, by making it harder for members of those groups to get elected to public office

“Under a fairly-drawn single-member districting plan, blacks, Latinos and Asian-Americans together, blacks and Latinos together or blacks and Asian-Americans together can comprise a majority of the citizen voting age population and have the opportunity to elect their candidates choice in two of five districts, which are reasonably compact and regular in shape, for both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education,” the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint.

“One such district can be created among four single-member districts for the Board of Commissioners.”

State Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) spoke about a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) on the November ballot in Athens-Clarke County.

Boosting Athens-Clarke County’s sales tax rate to 8 percent, as would happen if a November referendum on a 1 percent sales tax for transportation-related projects is approved, would build on the community’s reputation of being unfriendly toward business, and would disproportionately affect the county’s poorest residents, state Sen. Bill Cowsert told Athens-Clarke County commissioners on Thursday.

Cowsert, who attended a non-voting commission work session with the other Republican members of the local delegation to the state legislature, urged the commissioners — who will be making decisions in the coming month regarding which proposed projects would be funded with the tax — to “make sure those projects are important enough” to earn a share of the $104.5 million the tax is projected to raise during its five-year life. Collection of the additional 1 percent levy would begin in April 2018 if the tax is approved in a Nov. 7 countywide vote.

“I don’t see businesses coming here,” Cowsert went on to tell commissioners, noting that if the local sales tax rate is higher than in surrounding counties, that would serve as a disincentive for businesses to locate in Athens-Clarke County.

“Let’s make sure there’s enough of a need” for the proposed transportation projects, Cowsert urged commissioners.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will hold a telephone town hall Thursday at 7:05 PM.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College will expand its Whitfield Murray Campus with nearly $19 million in state funding.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed off on the state of Georgia’s fiscal year 2018 budget. Included in the legislation is $18.7 million to build a 75,000-square-foot facility on the GNTC campus serving Whitfield and Murray counties. This will be the first new construction on the Whitfield Murray Campus of GNTC since the establishment of the campus in 2010.

The addition of the new building was made possible in large part by the transfer of approximately 23 acres of land to the Technical College System of Georgia by the Whitfield County school board. The donation of land will allow the college to expand classroom space adjacent to the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy and enhance opportunities for high school and college students to develop the occupational skills and knowledge needed by area business and industry. GNTC has received tremendous support from Gov. Deal, state elected officials, local elected officials, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, the Whitfield County school system, area businesses, local industry and the entire community since the opening of the campus.

The Marietta City Board of Education may tentatively approve the FY 2018 budget today.

 The Marietta school board could tentatively approve Superintendent Grant Rivera’s fiscal 2018 budget tonight, which includes an average salary increase of 2.5 percent for all employees.

Salary increases for all employees could range from 1 to 6 percent, depending on years of experience and education degrees.

There will be no tax increases to fund the raises and the budget, according to Erin Franklin, the district’s finance director.

Hall County property owners could see lower tax rates from the Board of Education.

Superintendent Will Schofield presented an update of work on the 2018 fiscal year budget at the  meeting at Chestatee High School.

“We’re pleased with this budget,” Schofield told the board. “This budget reflects exactly what you’ve told our employees, and that is when times got better you’d put as much money as you possibly could into their paychecks. And it also fulfills a promise you’ve told our taxpayers, and that is when we have the opportunity and the tide started to turn upward, we’d do all we could to lower millage rates.”

The proposal presented Monday would lower the millage rate, which determines how much people pay in property taxes for schools. Schofield presented a plan to lower the tax rate from 18.8 mills to 18.5 mills in the next fiscal year that begins July 1.

Property tax exemptions are a challenge to budgeting in Hall County, according to Superintendent Schofield.

“One of the challenges of our budget, and it continues to be a challenge year after year, is we have now reached the place in Hall County where $1.2-billion of our local digest is exempt from school tax,” Schofield said.

“That’s 20-percent or more of our digest that is exempt from school tax,” he added.

Among those exempt from the school tax portion on their annual property tax bill are property owners 70 years and older.

“We really need to have a policy debate at the state level about how we’re going to raise funds for schools if, in fact, we’re going to have school districts that have twenty and thirty and forty percent of their digest that is exempt from school taxes.”

Augusta City Commissioners will vote on a proposal to use inmate labor for demolition work.

Commissioner Sammie Sias called for Augusta to return to using state prisoners housed at Richmond County Correctional Institute for demolition projects to save money. Some 100 city-owned houses slated for demolition in Hyde Park were a suitable starting point, with contractors continuing to handle asbestos abatement, City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson said.

Sias hasn’t returned messages seeking comment but signed up to address the commission about “administration access” after other commissioners accused him of working in isolation with Jackson and Commissioner Ben Hasan on the project.

Dawsonville City Council voted 3-1 to remove Mayor James Grogan from office after allegations of misuse of funds and decisions in violation of the city charter.

Georgia Democrats

Georgia State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams (Atlanta) is among the group of “Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left,” profiled by The New York Times.

In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base.

Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.

“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”

“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.

Lt Gov. Casey Cagle voiced his disagreement on Facebook:

Casey v Stacey

The Democratic Party of Georgia is working to charter a local party in Paulding County.

The Georgia Democratic Party is helping some Paulding County Democrats formally reform the local political organization.

The group has scheduled a Saturday, April 29, “formative meeting” to “officially start the process” of formally chartering the local party, said Lukas Newborn, who helped organize the event.

The Paulding County Democratic Committee currently has an “in-formation” status, said Georgia Democratic Party spokesperson Michael Smith.

No Democrat has won a local or state seat from a district wholly representing Paulding since the early 1990s. The county’s voters are primarily Republican and typically vote around 70 percent for the GOP candidate for president.

Some Democrats think that Trump’s shortfall in the General election in some areas could lead to Dem gains in 2018.

There’s a small election Tuesday in Atlanta’s suburbs, but it could be a sign of big political changes coming to the Georgia Statehouse. State Senate District 32 in east Cobb County sits inside a political district getting a lot more attention, and money right now: Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

But, the less discussed Senate District 32 race is the first in a slew of contests, most in the 2018 midterms, that will likely test the grip of Georgia Republicans on Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

Compared to Mitt Romney, Donald Trump won 20 fewer percentage points in Senate District 32, according to analysis from the liberal blog Daily Kos.

The data show similar swings for at least a dozen legislative seats, most in the North Atlanta suburbs, that could mean tough reelection battles for Georgia Republicans. In a few of those seats, longtime incumbents plan to run for statewide office.

Take for example, Republican David Shafer of Gwinnett, the second ranking member of the Georgia Senate. In 2012, Romney pulled in 57 percent of the vote in Shafer’s District 48, but in 2016 Trump won only 45 percent. Shafer has filed paperwork to run for lieutenant governor, a statewide office.

The Democratic National Committee is targeted by a lawsuit that alleges the organization underpaid field workers.

Dozens of field workers have filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, claiming the party that is pushing employers to pay a $15 minimum wage and more in overtime failed to pay overtime and minimum wages to its own employees.

Justin Swidler, the attorney representing the field workers, argued the Democratic Party failed to pay workers a minimum wage and denied them overtime compensation. Swidler “says the lawsuit seeks ‘fair pay for fair work,’ and holding the Democratic Party to the very ideals that it embraces,” according to CBS Philly.

The 2016 Democratic platform pushed for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, a nearly $8 increase from the current minimum, and promised to defend an Obama-era regulation forcing employers to pay a higher rate to employees for working more than 40 hours.

15
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 15, 2017

Jasper Moose

Jasper P. Moose is a year-old 55-pound Black and Tan Coonhound who is availabkle for adoption from American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue, Inc. in Canton, FL, though he is currently in a foster home in Atlanta.

Jasper was hit by a car and taken to a vet’s office where he received treatment but was never claimed. Moose runs and plays without any problem and would play fetch all day if he could! He is very loving and playful, in good weight between 50-60 lbs and currently peacefully co-exists with 2 cats and a senior dog. He is cratetrained, but earning more freedom in the house when his foster mom is away. Moose knows how to sit, lay down and shake and is learning “leave it.” He loves his toys and would love to have a doggie playmate in his new home.

Jasper Jesup

Jasper is a 5-month old, 50-pound Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Refuge Foundation of Wayne Co., Inc. in Jesup, GA.

Jasper is a sweet puppy who loves to play with his toys and give big hugs and kisses!!

Jasper Lilburn

Jasper is an 11-month old male Anatolian Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Mini Paws Rescue Lilburn, GA. Jasper is playful and sweet. He is house broken, and small for his primary breed, Australian Shepard. Whatever he is mixed with must be a small dog, so he probably won’t grow much more. He weighs 15 pounds, neutered, up to date on all shots, microchipped, and great with dogs and kids.

15
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 15, 2017

On May 15, 1791, George Washington left Augusta for Savannah.

On May 15, 1800, President John Adams ordered all 125 employees of the federal government to begin packing to move the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.

JasperJohnsThree_Flags

American artist Jasper Johns was born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia.

Carl Sanders was born on May 15, 1925 in Augusta, Georgia. He served in the United States Air Force, Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate, where he was President Pro Tem. In 1962, Sanders won the Democratic Primary for Governor, defeating former Governor Marvin Griffin, and in November was the first Governor of Georgia elected by popular vote after the County Unit System was abolished.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was born on May 15, 1967 in Lansing, Michigan. Smoltz pitched a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series in 1991, sending the Braves to their first World Series since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Smoltz was chosen for the All Star team eight times and won the Cy Young award in 1996.

Original heart-pine floors in the Macon federal courthouse were restored during renovations.

Built in 1905, the federal courthouse at the corner of Mulberry and Third streets in downtown Macon is steeped in history.

A long-hidden piece of that history was uncovered earlier this year as part of a project to replace the sound system in the building’s original courtroom.

Audio and video connections had run underneath carpet there for years, and in the process of converting the sound system from analog to digital technology, the carpet was pulled up and removed, U.S. District Court Clerk David Bunt said.

The $140,000 project — which includes both the sound system and floor work — is set for completion later this month.

Judge Marc Treadwell, who uses the courtroom the most, said he’s happy that the floors, a lost part of the building’s past, were rediscovered.

“This courthouse is a historic treasure — not just as a building, but as a place where a lot of history has taken place,” he said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Speaker Paul Ryan will headline a Get Out The Vote Rally for Karen Handel today at 3 PM at Five Seasons Brewery in Sandy Springs.

Voters in Senate District 32 go to the polls tomorrow in a Special Runoff Election.

May 16 is Election Day in District 32. Voters will choose a replacement for former Sen. Judson Hill, who gave up his seat to run for the District 6 seat of Tom Price, who left the U.S. House to become health and human services secretary.

On the ballot will be Democrat Christine Triebsch, a lawyer, and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick, a physician. Both women call east Cobb home.

In last month’s jungle primary, Triebsch earned 14,199 votes, equaling 24.22 percent of ballots cast. Kirkpatrick came in second place with 12,369 votes, equaling 21.09 percent.

The Marietta Daily Journal endorsed Kay Kirkpatrick in the state Senate District 32 election.

In the race, this newspaper endorses Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, came to know Kirkpatrick from her involvement in the Republican Party when she worked on his campaign in the 1990s. It was Kirkpatrick who recommended the doctor who performed Isakson’s back surgery four months ago.

Isakson calls her a good person and hard worker.

“I think she’ll do a great job, and I think if you look at her race in the primary, she really did a heck of a job because they all went after her, they went after her to discredit her as a woman, to discredit her as a Republican, discredit her as a doctor, and they struck out in all three cases. How they stand up against the voters, that’s the best test,” Isakson said.

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren says Kirkpatrick brings the right experience as a physician and businesswoman, which will be needed to restore the health care system after the Obamacare disaster. Kirkpatrick also shares Warren’s conservative views and is the right candidate to keep the residents of Cobb and all of Georgia on the path to greater prosperity, he believes.

Check here to see if you’re in the district, and if so, where to vote; polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM.

Chuck Berk writes in the Atlanta Jewish Times that Karen Handel deserves the support of Jewish voters.

Karen Handel and the Republicans, on the other hand, have been great supporters of Israel and Jewish causes. Karen supported the Republican-led legislature’s passage of anti-BDS legislation last year, prohibiting any company from doing business with the state of Georgia if it boycotts, divests from or sanctions Israel.

She supported Iran divestiture legislation passed by the Republican-led legislature a few years ago. And she has always been supportive of Georgia’s decision, with support from Republican governors, to purchase Israel Bonds.

As the chairwoman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Karen turned a $100 million deficit into a balanced budget without raising taxes. As Georgia’s first elected Republican secretary of state, she reorganized the office and reduced expenses by 20 percent.

So, as a Jewish voter, you have a choice. You can choose a young, inexperienced person who will be a rubber stamp for Pelosi, who lives outside the 6th District and who can’t even vote for himself.

Or you can choose Karen Handel, a proven, mature, conservative leader who has a record of getting things done, who has been supportive of Jewish issues, and who has worked and lived in the 6th District for 25 years.

President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Callista Gingrich, wife of former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich, as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment, and the announcement is pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics, according to CNN, which first reported the news on Sunday.

Mr. Gingrich, reached by phone on Sunday evening, declined to confirm or deny that his wife would be nominated, saying only that he and his wife were told to “be very cautious” until an actual nomination was announced.

The idea of nominating Ms. Gingrich first became public in January, and during the transition Mr. Trump half-jokingly said he was intrigued by the idea of picking Ms. Gingrich because it could also get Mr. Gingrich, with whom he has a hot-and-cold relationship, out of his hair, according to one of the people with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s remarks.

I-85 in Atlanta reopened in both directions over the weekend, in time for today’s rush hour.

The bridge was closed for more than 40 days after it caught fire and collapsed several weeks ago.

Gwinnett County Transit may be affected in the future after the bridge collapse.

County officials made adjustments to Gwinnett County Transit Express Routes that went into the city because of the shutdown of the interstate just south of Ga. Highway 400. Among the changes were rerouting of some Express routes and the addition of temporary routes from Park and Ride lots to MARTA’s Doraville and Chamblee rail stations.

The temporary routes end this weekend, but Gwinnett County Transportation Director Alan Chapman didn’t rule out the possibility that they could come back in the future.

“We are polling our riders right now to find out their thoughts on providing that service to the MARTA rail stations,” Chapman said Thursday. “So it’s something we could potentially consider doing in the future if there’s a strong demand for it.”

The collapse of the I-85 bridge happened as Gwinnett County was gearing up to begin a transit study and while it was continuing work on its Comprehensive Transportation Plan update. As a result, it gave county officials a scenario to think about as they decide how to move Gwinnettians around in the future.

Beer brewers and liquor distillers are looking forward to being able to sell directly to consumers beginning September 1, 2017.

But SB 85 will affect more than just crisp, delicious beers. The language of the bill includes all sorts of distilled spirits and malt beverages. That means anything from liquor to alcoholic soda pops to hard apple cider.

For a time, brewers could only offer their beverages as “free souvenirs” to customers going on tours of the facilities. Wheeler said there was a hubbub about whether proprietors could offer different tour prices based on how much the “free souvenirs” customers would receive at the end of the tour was worth.

“The way the state had gone back and forth and said originally you could do the souvenir thing and then the department of revenue came back and said ‘Well you can’t do tiered pricing, everything has got to be the same’ and this and that, it was just kind of a headache, and we just had other things we prioritized ahead of that, just because it was something we could push off and didn’t have to deal with it right away … We sped up our time line a little. We probably would have waited until fall or a little later, but we just pushed it forward a little bit because of the bill.”

Wheeler said work on the tasting room should start in the next week or so. He hopes it will be completed by July, so they can be ready for the law to go into effect in September.

Senate Bill 109, signed last week by Gov. Deal, authorizes Georgia to join an Interstate Nursing Licensure Compact.

The compact is designed to set up a multi-state licensing system, and a coordinated licensure information system, for nurses so that they can cross state lines to provide care for patients. An Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators was also established as part of the new law.

“I want to commend everyone that worked together to get SB 109 passed with several important components that will benefit health care in Georgia,” Unterman said in a statement. “Nurses are not only some of the most compassionate and hardworking men and women, but also represent a vital pillar in our health care community through a lifetime devoted to the care and well-being of our citizens.

“I am overjoyed that our nurses will now be able to take part in an interstate network and help those in need across state lines.”

Hall County leaders are coming together to discuss fighting the opioid abuse epidemic.

“We’re seeing a significant increase in the epidemic in Hall County, so it’s time for us to gather together, rise up and try to come up with ways that we can inform the public,” [Dallas] Gay said.

Gay, whose grandson died a month short of his 22nd birthday in October 2012, is banding together with members of law enforcement, medical groups and the faith community to bring awareness. The group had its first meeting in April and plans to hold public forums in the near future.

“We’re looking at different angles to explore on how do we increase people’s awareness, how do we address concerns around treatment and also prevention and the conversations we need to have around stress in life, exacerbating factors that lead to addiction, family dynamics — just the whole comprehensive picture,” said the Rev. Stuart Higginbotham of Grace Episcopal Church, the clergy representative in the group.

In December, Deal signed an executive order making Naloxone, the overdose antidote, available over the counter. Senate Bill 121, known as the Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Act, was signed by the governor May 4 to turn the order into law and remove Naloxone from the dangerous drug list.

Gay said it was a “great honor” for his family to be with the governor when the legislation was signed, as it will “save innumerable lives” in his estimation.

“This bill now permits anyone to go to a pharmacy, anyone who might be at a risk of the scene of an overdose, and buy Naloxone without having to go through a doctor and getting a prescription,” he said.

For Gay, the focus of the group’s work would be tackling the stigma attached to addiction.

“Addiction is a well-documented medical condition,” he said. “It is a disease, and we tend to treat it with a stigma attached to it that people don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to admit to it. Family members are shunned, but it’s a disease no different than leukemia or heart disease or cancer.”

Governor Nathan Deal said he supports dedicating additional state funds to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Speaking to reporters after a welcoming ceremony for the largest container ship to ever call on an East Coast port, Deal said completing the project is vital to keeping the port competitive and to jobs across the state.

“I support whatever is going to be necessary to complete this project in a timely fashion and if that’s what it takes I think the citizens, and the voters and the elected representatives in the General Assembly will be willing to do that extra part,” Deal said.

The Savannah River deepening took a hit last month when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated its cost would climb 38 percent to $973 million and take two years longer to finish because rising dredging costs and other complications.

“We are going to continue to ask the federal government to live up to their 75 percent share,” Deal said. “It’s a cooperative effort and we’re going to keep it that way.”

A fundraiser for Congressman Barry Loudermilk drew liberal protesters in Acworth.

Many of those who stood outside the Cedar Plantation special events facility held signs and chanted as attendees drove into the venue’s driveway, the site of a “spring reception” held for Loudermilk. A flyer for the event listed prices of $125 a head to attend a general reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with sponsorship levels ranging from $500 to $2,700, earning a donor passage to VIP photo reception held half an hour earlier.

The protest was hosted by the Georgia Sierra Club and Indivisible Georgia’s Eleventh District, a citizen group whose website said its members “share progressive values and are united in opposition to the reactionary, divisive, dystopian Trump agenda.”

“Barry Loudermilk specifically voted for the Trump health care plan, which I am totally against. I’m here to tell him and the other senators that I don’t support you. You have to make this fair for everyone, and not just the rich — I don’t support you,” Harriman said. “They’re going to do away with pre-existing conditions, and they’re going to leave the market open, and my insurance is like $300 something a month now. My insurance will probably go up to God-knows-what unaffordable.”

Becky Beaver, a 27-year-old Kennesaw State senior studying communications and media studies residing in Kennesaw, said her participation was due to elected officials such as Loudermilk refusing to hold town hall-style meetings open to the general public.

“It bothers me that we have elected officials that won’t be transparent with us. Regardless of whether you’re registered as a Republican or Democrat, you have a right to speak to your officials,” Beaver said. “There’s a lot of things that people are very afraid of right now, and (legislators) need to be open about it.”

 Tifton will be at the center of events in a new state push for economic development in rural Georgia.

[T]he Atlanta-based Georgia Chamber of Commerce will open the first regional office in its 102-year history on May 15 in Tifton, a city in the heart of economically distressed South Georgia.

Just one week later, Tifton also will play host to the first meeting of a council the state House of Representatives created this year to look for ways to foster economic growth in Georgia’s rural communities.

The numbers are eye-opening. While metro Atlanta is expected to add about 1.5 million residents by 2030, 74 of Georgia’s 159 counties – primarily in rural areas – are projected to lose population during the same period, according to research conducted on the chamber’s behalf.

The chamber is attacking the sluggish rural economy with a new committee of chamber members that will look for ways to take advantage of rural Georgia’s strengths, including the defense industry’s strong presence, and examine how to tailor state tax incentives to attract business to rural communities.

 

Medicaid changes in federal law could also affect local school systems.

Administrators say programming and services even beyond those that receive funding from the state-federal health care program could be at risk should Congress follow through with plans to change the way Medicaid is distributed. They say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base.

Southern Living magazine named Savannah the second-best city in the South.

According to Southern Living, Savannah ranked highly because “like a time capsule of historic architecture and city planning, Savannah’s old-school exterior belies its status as a progressive art, design, and culinary hub.” The magazine added that the city has “become a visual arts and design hub thanks to Savannah College of Art and Design.”

The magazine named The Grey as the second best restaurant in the South. The venue, located on Martin Luther King Boulevard near City Market, was narrowly beat out by Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, La., for the top spot.

Other restaurants on the list were Husk in Charleston, S.C.; Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Ala.; Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Ala.; Hominy Grill in Charleston, S.C.; Cooks & Soldiers in Atlanta, Ga.; Chef & The Farmer in Kinston, N.C.; Brennan’s in New Orleans, La.; and FIG in Charleston, S.C.

The Grey specializes in American cuisine with Travel and Leisure calling the spot “one of (Savannah’s) best dining experiences” and Zagat adding that the restaurant “offers contemporary Southern dishes with Italian influences.” It was also named one of the top five restaurants in the country in 2015.

A 100-year-old Dutch tall ship named Oosterschelde visited Savannah last week.

Plant Vogtle

Westinghouse, the primary contractor for the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle will reject the fixed-price construction contract in bankruptcy proceedings.

“Georgia Power and Westinghouse have, in principle, reached a new service agreement which allows for the transition of project management from Westinghouse to Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power once the current engineering, procurement and construction contract is rejected in Westinghouse’s bankruptcy proceeding.”

“The interim assessment agreement will remain in place until June 3 while the new service agreement is finalized and all approvals are obtained. During this time, work will continue at the site and an orderly transition of project management will begin. As previously stated, the company will take all actions necessary to hold Westinghouse and Toshiba accountable for their financial obligations.”

“Georgia Power will continue work to complete its full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete analysis and work with the project Co-owners (Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities) and the Georgia Public Service Commission to determine the best path forward for customers.”

“The best case scenario is Westinghouse abandons the project and Southern Nuclear takes over, we get the guarantee from Toshiba, and we finish the project,” Commissioner Tim Echols said.

“I think the project can be finished even with Westinghouse abandoning it. I don’t think we can survive it if Toshiba, the parent company, goes bankrupt,” Echols said.

When asked how he would respond to rate-payers who say this is a never ending hole they keep paying into without any return on investment, Echols replied, “You know, that’s what people said about the old reactor 1 and 2 back in 1987 and 1989, but Plant Vogtle is the pride of our generating fleet.”

He’s right; it’s not a new storyline. Back in the ’70s, construction was halted on the first two reactors when Georgia Power almost went bankrupt. This case is a little different, but Echols says the ending should be the same.

“Clearly finishing the project is the best conclusion,” he said.

12
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 12, 2017

Alice AAS

Alice is a young female dog who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA. She’s listed as a Pit Bull, but I’d say she looks much more like a Lab mix.

Brutus CCAS

Brutus is a young male Lab mix who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA.

Buddy CCAS

Buddy is a young male German Shorthaired Pointer mix who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA.

12
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 12, 2017

Georgia and American History

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

On May 12, 1740, Georgia forces under James Oglethorpe took Fort Diego in Florida from the Spanish and mocked the defenders’ jean shorts.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

The worst American defeat of the Revolutionary War occurred at Charleston, South Carolina on May 12, 1780. American Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who surrendered that day would later accept the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 12, 1789, the Society of St. Tammany was founded in New York and would grow to a dominant home for political bosses. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (Signet Classics) remains one of the best historical versions of how political machines worked.

George Washington visited Georgia on May 12, 1791. From Purysburg, South Carolina, Georgia officials escorted Washington on a barge twenty-five miles down the Savannah River to Savannah, where he would stay four days.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

On May 12, 1864, Confederate General Joseph Johnston pulled his Army of Tennessee and Georgia back to Resaca, Georgia. In Virginia, Major General John B. Gordon saved the life, or prevented the capture of General Robert E. Lee at Spotsylvania. After the war, Gordon would serve as Governor of Georgia and United States Senator.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton.

On May 12, 1864, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets awoke in Staunton, where they had marched from Lexington 18 miles the previous day; after another 19 miles headed north up the Shenandoah Valley, the would make camp at Mt. Crawford, near Harrisonburg. The cadets ranged in age from fifteen to twenty-five years.

On May 14, 1864, the VMI Corps of Cadets marched 15 miles and camped overnight at Mt. Tabor, near New Market, Virginia. The next day they would march into history.

On the same day, the Battle of Resaca was fully engaged in Northwest Georgia.

On Saturday, May 14, the fighting at Resaca escalated into a full-scale battle. Beginning at dawn, Union forces engaged the Confederates along the entire four-mile front. In the early afternoon Schofield’s Army of the Ohio attacked the sharply angled center of the Confederate line. The assault was badly managed and disorganized, in part because one of Schofield’s division commanders was drunk. As the Union attack unraveled and became a fiasco, Johnston launched a counterattack on Sherman’s left flank. The counterattack collapsed, however, in the face of a determined stand by a Union artillery battery. In the evening Union forces pushed forward and seized the high ground west of Resaca, which placed the bridges leading south from the town within artillery range and threatened Johnston’s line of retreat.The following day Sherman renewed his assault on the Confederate center.

On May 12, 1970, Georgia National Guard troops were mobilized to end race riots that had broken out the night before in Augusta. On that same day, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, my father’s favorite player as a youth, hit his 500th home run.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal ordered the flags at all state buildings to half-staff today to honor the memory of First Lieutenant Weston C. Lee, who was killed outside Mosul, Iraq.

600 Georgia Capitol Flags Half Staff

First Lt. Lee will be returned home today.

A U.S. Army paratrooper killed in action last month in Iraq will arrive home to Georgia Friday morning when his body is flown into Lawson Army Airfield at Fort Benning.

First Lt. Weston Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Ga., will be escorted home by a procession of law enforcement officers led by the Georgia State Patrol.

Georgia State Patrol Capt. Buddy Johnson is coordinating the procession that will take Lee from Fort Benning to a funeral home in Blakely, about 80 miles to the south.

There will be about 20 State Patrol cars and 10 members of the motor squad out of Atlanta leading the procession, Johnson said. Local law enforcement on the route will join as it passes through their communities.

“There is nothing more rewarding than to be a part of this escort of a fallen soldier,” Johnson said Thursday night. “This is how we can show our respect as we take Lt. Lee home.”

The plane bringing Lee from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware is scheduled to land at Fort Benning about 11 a.m.

Deal also signed an Executive Order appointing Attorney General Chris Carr, Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown, and Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese to a committee to investigate charges filed against DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann.

From the AJC:

The committee must report their findings within 30 days and, based on its findings, Mann could be suspended for a period of up to 90 days. If that happens, DeKalb’s chief superior court judge would appoint an interim sheriff.

The Gwinnett County Ethics Board will hold its second meeting today at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

The Ethics Board’s meeting is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. in Conference Room A at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, in Lawrenceville.It is the second meeting of the board, which was created specially to handle the complaint against Hunter.

Atlanta resident Nancie Turner’s complaint against Hunter alleges he violated the county’s ethics policy in several Facebook posts, including ones that called U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” and referred to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “Libtards.”

The agenda for the board’s meeting shows it will hear an attorney’s report, schedule a date to hold a hearing on the complaint and then deal with “preliminary matters to be addressed with complainant’s counsel.”

The Marietta Daily Journal spoke to the Senate District 32 Special Runoff Election candidates.

Democrat Christine Triebsch and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick both lived to fight another day. They will compete at the ballot box during a Tuesday runoff to take the seat of former Sen. Judson Hill, R-east Cobb, who gave up his spot to launch an unsuccessful bid for the congressional seat formerly held by Health Secretary Tom Price.

As of 15 days before the special election, Kirkpatrick had received $308,439 in donations and had $87,728.89 on hand. Triebsch had received $5,174.02 in donations and had the same amount of cash on hand, according to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Kennesaw State University political scientist Kerwin Swint said the District 32 race could give hints about what could happen in District 6.

“It could be a bellwether,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people are wondering. It could give an early idea of enthusiasm and voter turnout, at least for that section of the district.”

The MDJ interviewed both candidates in separate meetings Monday. Kirkpatrick spoke for about an hour. Triebsch said she only had 15 minutes to speak and did not respond to further questions via phone later in the week.

DeKalb County Board of Elections will open additional early voting locations ahead of the 6th District Congressional Special Runoff Election.

The DeKalb County Elections Board voted 5-0 to open three additional advance voting sites. They will be located in Brookhaven, Chamblee and Tucker — areas that generally supported Ossoff more than Handel and the other Republicans during the April 18 special election. Only two DeKalb early voting sites were open before that election.

Last week, Fulton County added two early voting locations for a total of six. In Handel’s stronghold of Cobb County, election officials declined to open extra early voting sites beyond the two existing locations.

Increased access to early voting in DeKalb could work in Ossoff’s favor, said Republican strategist Brian Robinson. Ossoff won 59 percent of the vote in DeKalb but 48 percent across the 6th Congressional District, short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

“Ossoff wants to maximize votes in DeKalb,” Robinson said. “Early voting there is of particular importance to him.”

Maps show which parties and candidates got the most votes in each neighborhood in the Georgia 6th District special election.

Both Ossoff and Handel said they support more early voting locations so that their potential constituents have more opportunities to vote, especially before the June 20 runoff, which comes during summer vacations for many families.

Former Democratic State Representative Sally Harrell announced she will run for the state Senate District 40 seat currently held by Republican Fran Millar.

I am proud to announce my candidacy for Georgia’s 40th Senate District.

We are at a crucial moment in Georgia’s history. Our demographics are changing. Our politics are evolving. Now is the time to stand up, claim our shared values and create change.

Government can have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. All our citizens deserve affordable healthcare, universal high-quality education from early childhood through college, practical and efficient transportation options, and clean air and water. It’s time that our government works for the people.

I look forward to working with people throughout the district, listening and shaping an agenda that works to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and throughout Georgia.

Medical Cannabis activist Dale Jackson told the LaGrange News he’s considering running for Governor or Lieutenant Governor in 2018.

Jackson is preparing for future battles in the state legislature and said he is “contemplating” running for the governor or lieutenant governor seat in 2018.

“My main objective for the next few months is to sit down and talk with all the individuals running for state offices,” Jackson told the Daily News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, May 10. “I want to find a ‘champion’ for our cause. If I am unable to find someone that I am confident will be able to champion our cause, then I will be forced to explore options myself.”

Jackson’s cause is ultimately to pass a referendum that would allow patients “safe access” to medicinal marijuana in Georgia, and create statewide cultivation labs.

Jackson was not shy in stating what his primary focus will be for the 2018 legislative session.

“The next step is to get a safe access program established in Georgia,” he said. “Our efforts next year will be to pass that ballot referendum. The good news is that Governor (Deal) can’t veto that. It doesn’t go to his desk, it would be signed by the new governor.”

The Lowndes County Commission voted 3-2 to join a regional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST).

Lowndes County’s leaders will support a regional sales tax that residents will vote on in May 2018.

The Lowndes County Commission voted 3-2 — with Scott Orenstein and Clay Griner opposing — in favor of a regional T-SPLOST that, if approved by voters, would fund transportation projects throughout 18 counties.

The one-penny tax would bump local sales taxes up to eight cents on the dollar.

The public will vote on the tax May 22, 2018. If approved, the tax would go into effect October 2018 and last for 10 years.

Even if voters shoot down the regional T-SPLOST, counties will have the option to call another vote for an individual T-SPLOST.

The Floyd County 2017 SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee will accept project proposals for inclusion in a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on ballots in November.

The 2017 SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee set a deadline of 5 p.m. June 8 to receive applications. The 12 appointed local residents will vet the projects for inclusion in a package that will go before voters in the Nov. 7 election. If approved, collections would start when the current tax expires on March 31, 2019.

Gainesville city government staff have proposed a property tax millage rate rollback.

Mayor, for the General Fund, no tax increase is recommended for the General Fund,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said as he began his FY2018 budget presentation at Thursday morning’s Gainesville City Council work session.

“What that means is we’ll be proposing a full rollback on both the General Fund and the Debt Service Fund,” Lackey continued.

That means the current (FY2017) General Fund millage rate of 1.63-mils will be rolled back to 1.55-mils, and the current (FY2017) Debt Service millage rate of 0.60-mils to 0.56-mils.

The Parks and Recreation property tax in Gainesville, however, will rise.

Gainesville officials introduced a budget Thursday that technically raises taxes 1.42 percent, thanks to a special tax approved by a few thousand voters in 1924.

The special tax in the books for the past 93 years requires that not less than 0.75 mill nor more than 1 mill be collected annually for Parks and Recreation services in Gainesville.

City Manager Bryan Lackey explained at a city council work session that because a full rollback would result in a rate of less than 0.75 mill, a 1.42 percent tax increase is required to maintain the minimum level.

“We will have to advertise a legal tax increase for Parks and Recreation,” Lackey said. “They are at 0.75 right now, so therefore, we can’t go below that unless we go back to the voters, and we’re not suggesting that by any means. So, we will need to advertise a 1.42 percent tax increase to the voters.”

As a result of the tax increase, the city will be required by state law to hold three public hearings on the budget instead of the usual two. Tentatively, the first public hearing will be after a work session June 1, the second will be during a special called meeting June 6 and the final will be June 20 at the regularly scheduled council meeting.

Augusta received a strong assessment of its ability to issue bonds to pay for a parking deck at the new Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

Davenport and Co. Senior Vice President Courtney Rogers gave a detailed overview of the city’s standing with Moody’s, currently the only agency rating all city bonds, and said Moody’s officials will be in Augusta today for a rare site visit.

Moody’s Aa2 rating – considered “very strong” and investment grade – on Augusta’s November sale of sales-tax backed bonds noted the city’s strength as a regional economic center with a strong military and health care presence, historically sound reserves, a low direct-debt burden and manageable pension costs, Rogers said.

The Georgia Constitution limits the amount of long-term debt payable by property taxes to 10 percent of the assessed value of taxable property – and Augusta’s existing liability is only $26 million, well below its legal limit of $489 million, Rogers said.

“You’ve got plenty of room on the legal side to issue general obligation bonds,” he said.

Davenport is recommending a competitive sale of fixed-rate bonds for Augusta’s parking deck, rather than a negotiated sale, using Moody’s ratings alone in the rapid turnaround required for the state project, he said.

“It makes sense to do competitive sales,” Rogers said. “There is no uncertainty in the marketplace right now” and a recent offering drew 15 bids, something Rogers said he’d never seen.

Savannah City Council voted to double parking rates in downtown.

COSCO Development, the largest container ship to call at the Port of Savannah, docked successfully yesterday.

Capable of carrying more than 13,000 TEUs — or 20-foot equivalent units — the Development made history last week as the largest container ship to pass through the newly expanded locks of the Panama Canal.

The ship called on the Port of Virginia on Monday, where approximately 1,500 containers were moved on and off the ship. It left Norfolk on Tuesday, bound for Savannah. The ship’s expected container moves at GPA’s Garden City Terminal is close to 5,500, more than triple those in Virginia. The Port of Charleston did not disclose the number of container moves expected there, but reports put it at less than 1,000.

Gov. Nathan Deal will join GPA board chairman Jimmy Allgood and GPA executive director Griff Lynch on the docks Friday to officially welcome the Development and watch as six ship-to-shore cranes and hundreds of workers facilitate the loading and unloading.

With this visit, the Development begins a regular schedule of calls on Savannah. The ship is part of a regular rotation deployed in the OCEAN Alliance’s new South Atlantic Express Service, or SAX, which will bring the ship — or others its size — into port every two weeks.

Georgia Power will build a 139 megawatt solar facility near Robins Air Force Base if the Georgia Public Service Commission approves.

“It is large, a very large solar farm,” said John Kraft, with Georgia Power’s media relations department.

“It’s a great location … in the middle of the state,” Kraft said. “It’s available use of land that might not have other uses as is. Also, it’s adjacent to the Air Force base so we can tie it into the base and help Robins meet its energy resiliency and security goals.”

The solar facility would serve Georgia Power’s grid “to the benefit of all customers” and would provide electricity to its overall system, he said.

Although the use of solar energy to produce electricity might not lower residential electric bills, “a primary goal is so electricity doesn’t cost residents more,” he said. “We anticipate ways it would be available to the base to support their energy security needs in a special kind of situation should that occur.”

Georgia Power was before the PSC yesterday and discussed ongoing issues with the construction of new nuclear power units at Plant Vogtle.

Officials from Georgia Power say that construction deadlines on two new nuclear reactors do not seem feasible and the company is evaluating new completion dates now.  The reactors are about three years behind schedule and in February, a new round of completion dates had been set for December of 2019 and September of 2020. But a Georgia Power official told members of the Public Service Commission today those deadlines “no longer seem feasible.”

Testifying before the Public Service Commission, David McKinney, Vice President of Nuclear Development at Georgia  Power, said that the company is evaluating its options now.  McKinney says the company continues to analyze what new completion costs may be now and also a “cancellation assessment.”

In response to a question from an attorney representing a consumer group, McKinney indicated scenarios and cost analyses are now being considered for 1) completion of both reactors 2) completion of one but not the other and or 3) cancellation.

11
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections of May 10, 2017

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond.

On May 11, 2011, Newt Gingrich announced via Twitter that he would run for President. Two days later, I caught up with Newt at Fincher’s Barbecue in Macon for a brief interview the day he was scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention.

Happy Birthday to Minnesota, which became a state on May 11, 1858. Y’all talk funny.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that the collapsed section of I-85 in both directions will reopen by rush hour on Monday, May 15th.

The new opening date is nearly two weeks earlier than GDOT’s most recent commitment of Memorial Day weekend, and five weeks ahead of the original projected opening date of June 15.

“While this situation has been a tremendous challenge, the response from the people of Georgia has been nothing less than remarkable,” said Deal. “It is extraordinary that in just six weeks, this critical piece of infrastructure is nearly ready to reopen for motorist use following the fire and bridge collapse. I am grateful to President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for providing the financial assistance necessary to complete the bridge on an expedited timeframe. I’d also like to thank Commissioner Russell McMurry for his leadership throughout this project, as well as the leadership of MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority for leading the charge in providing alternative commute options. Most importantly, I thank the motoring public for their patience and the Atlanta business community for its flexibility. In Georgia, we get things done, and we have risen to the occasion for I-85 to be completed as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Today, I will celebrate that re-opening by eating lunch at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, one of a number of businesses that was hurt by the I-85 collapse.

Georgia tourism set a new record in 2016, according to state economic development officials.

State officials touted Georgia’s estimated tourism haul for 2016 in an announcement on Tuesday. Including direct, indirect and “induced” economic benefits, the state saw $61 billion in economic activity from its visitor industry last year. That’s a record for the state and up from $58.9 billion in 2015, according to Emily Murray, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Georgia’s tourism economy is growing faster than the rest of the United States — 3.5 percent to the nation’s 2.1 percent, according to Pat Wilson, the state’s economic development commissioner. The demand for Georgia tourism is 34 percent higher than its pre-recession market in 2008.

New voters registering in the Sixth Congressional District after a federal judge re-opened registration, have caused a backlog in the system.

Local counties under order to reopen voter registration in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District face a backlog of tens of thousands of applications and have already begun working overtime to process them all in time for the June 20 runoff election.

Still, despite concerns that a federal judge’s order would back them into a corner, no problems have been reported so far as the counties themselves appear to have hit the ground running.

“Everything has been going very smoothly,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s top elections official.

All three counties that have areas in the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — had contingency plans in place in anticipation of Thursday’s ruling. The first of tens of thousands of backlogged registration applications have already begun to be processed, although officials said it is impossible to know how many of them involve residents in each county who actually reside in the district itself.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall takes the gavel today as chief judge for the Southern District of Georgia.

During a ceremony Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood will hand over the duties of the chief judgeship to Hall. It will be the first time a chief judge has been sworn in at the 101-year-old U.S. District Courthouse in Augusta.

As chief judge, Hall will take on the administrative and operational duties for the Southern District, which is composed of 43 counties with six federal courthouses. Hall will be responsible for personnel, budgets and the local rules of the court. He also will serve as the contact for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Courts Administrative Office, he said.

Hall practiced law in the Augusta area for 26 years before being selected by President George W. Bush to serve as a federal judge. He was sworn into office on May 1, 2008. He will serve as the chief judge for the next seven years.

Marietta may soon term-limit the Mayor and City Council, according to the MDJ.

Marietta mayors and council members may soon have term limits of three four-year terms if an amendment to the city charter proposed by Mayor Steve Tumlin is approved.

“Georgia code is always broad enough to find an argument, and I think we have an argument,” Tumlin said after the May 10 meeting during which the plan was discussed. “We have a constitutional right to home rule … There’s enough in the code to do it.”

The plan would begin in 2018 with a clean slate for everyone, so current leaders would not reach their term limits until 2030.

Savannah City Council is considering a plan to reduce poverty by requiring city contractors to hire locally.

The program presented to the Savannah City Council on April 27 would establish employment agreements with contractors to hire qualified Savannah residents for city projects when they have vacancies for a job.

In addition to keeping local dollars in the city and reducing the city’s poverty rate, the program could help Savannah obtain a skilled workforce and make the city more competitive, said Taffanye Young, Community and Economic Development Bureau chief.

The program would apply to construction contracts of $250,000 or more and service contracts, such as food preparation, security, and maintenance, of $100,000 or more.

Savannah is also considering subsidizing ride-share services for some seniors.

Lowndes County Board of Education voted against putting a referendum on the ballot to term-limit members.

Henry County Board of Education members are considering live-streaming meetings.

Cave Spring City Council member Michael Phillips resigned his office.

Phillips’ four-year term runs through 2019 and the City Council decided to fill the seat by appointment. Letters of interest will be accepted at City Hall through June 6.

The terms for Posts 3 and 4 end this year, along with Post 5. Those seats — held by Councilmembers Nellie McCain, Charles Jackson and Mike Ragland — will be on the city’s regular election ballot in November.

11
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 10, 2017

Karter

Karter is a young male Plott Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

KennyMBCAW

Kenny is a young male Plott Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Kiera

Kiera is a young male Plott Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.