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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 5, 2016

The Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, between the Army of the Potomac, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

On May 5, 1886, Jefferson Davis attended a public reception at Savannah, Georgia’s City Hall.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young threw a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers on May 5, 1904.

Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, making a 15 minute sub-orbital flight that reached an altitude of 115 miles, during which he experienced about five minutes of ‘weightlessness.’ He was launched in the 2,000-lb. capsule Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida… The flight traveled 302 miles at a speed relative to the ground of 4,500 mph. The mission was named Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7.

On May 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played a show at Georgia Southern.

The British band played in Hanner Fieldhouse to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 people, according to a retrospective by Jim Hilliard in the Statesboro Herald. The gym’s capacity was about 1,500.

Hilliard said organizers figured they could sell 1,800 tickets at $2.50 each, which would be enough to pay the band and have some money left over for expenses.

The Stones had played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday, May 2, and advance ticket sales were brisk the Monday and during lunch Tuesday, the day of the concert.

Hilliard said he signed the contract booking the Stones on behalf of Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity. The contract called for the new fraternity to pay the band $3,000 for the appearance. Hilliard said he got a $1,500 loan from First Bulloch Bank to make the deal happen.

The Stones were expected to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play for at least an hour, but Hilliard had lined up three front bands, and “it proved to be a fatal flaw in plans for the concert,” he said in his retrospective.

The noise was deafening as the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — hit the stage nearly an hour late.

Jagger and the other band members were “openly hostile” at having to wait so long to play.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Local political parties in Columbus, GA are gearing up for the fall elections, according WTVM.

“We’ve got the building and we’re trying to get it ready because we want it to be the focal point for the democratic party in Columbus Georgia and Muscogee County,” said Saundra Ellison, Chairman of the Muscogee Democrats.

While local partisan elections are in full swing, Democrats and Republicans in the Valley are looking towards the November election, making sure they have a place to call home for campaigning.

Rick Allen, head of the Muscogee Republicans said, “We’re getting more and more calls about people wanting material and wanting to know where headquarters is so we’re moving in that direction.”

Republicans in the Valley were divided earlier this year, as a list of candidates attracted different voters, but now as the scope narrows in on Donald Trump, Muscogee Republicans hope to unite.

“There will be a consolidation towards Trump and some of the people who have been for other candidates, Cruz and Kasich, will be trying to decide what we’re going to do and hopefully we will all get together and come on board and have a unified front,” said Allen.

Governor Deal has redirected money in the FY 2017 budget away from a memorial at the National Infantry Museum, and State Rep. Richard Smith is blamestorming.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal redirected $100,000 in state funding designated for a Global War on Terror memorial at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus earlier this week when he signed next year’s budget.

Republican state Rep. Richard Smith of Columbus said he has been told by the governor and the chief of staff for Speaker of the House David Ralston that the funding for Columbus’ projects is being withheld because of Republican Sen. Josh McKoon. The three-term Columbus state senator has been a leading and vocal proponent of ethics reform, “religious liberty” legislation and other matters that have put him at odds with leading Republicans.

The budget that recently passed the General Assembly included $100,000 for the infantry museum memorial. Smith said at the time he was told the governor, who has line-item veto authority, would remove that money from the budget. On Monday, Deal directed the state Department of Economic Development to convert the money to other uses within the department.

“It was part of an $11.7 million package that included other projects so he could not veto it,” Smith said. “But he has directed it for other uses.”

McKoon, who represents a district that runs from north Columbus into Troup County, pointed out the museum was not in his district.

“The National Infantry Museum is in Sen. (Ed) Harbison’s Senate district and Rep. (Calvin) Smyre’s House district,” McKoon said. “No. 1, I would be disappointed if Gov. Deal tried to punish either of those legislators by harming the memory of the infantry men and women who served our country. No. 2, if Rep. Smith had information that the governor was intending to politicize the National Infantry Museum, I am surprised he did not do anything about it.”

As a Republican, I’ve long heard stories about how votes are turned out in Democratic primaries, but first-hand information is hard to come by. 11Alive looks at one way votes may be influenced among seniors in the City of Atlanta.

Gwendolyn Johnson, 68, told Channel 2 Action News that the woman who oversees senior programming at Old Adamsville Rec Center in northwest Atlanta gave her “Jamila’s Picks,” a list of candidates for whom she should vote this week.

“I do just like the Atlanta Constitution and The New York Times,” vendor Jamila Jones said. “I give my picks and they can use them the way they want to.”

The list names the preferred candidates of Jones, 71, a city of Atlanta vendor who works at the Rec Center, and independently provides transportation and voting talks to older residents in their homes.

Channel 2 Action News obtained lists going back as far as 2013.

One list shows that Jones is a paid political consultant for one of her picks, receiving more than $4,000 in the last two months.

“Because she works here, she has access to all the senior high-rises. She’s able to go pick them up and give them this,” candidate Duwon Robinson said.

No formal complaints against Jones have been filed with the secretary of state or the Fulton County Board of Elections.

Among Gov. Deal’s vetoes this week was House Bill 216, which would have allowed some firefighters diagnosed with cancer to file workers’ compensation claims. Firefighters sounded off on the veto. From 11Alive.

“It’s really disheartening that you ask firefighters to protect you, and then, the firefighters, when we need help, you turn your back on us,” Travis Boatright of Paulding County said, his voice trembling with frustration.

Boatright, the Professional Fire Fighters of Georgia president, can’t understand Governor Nathan Deal’s veto.

He worked with other firefighters for months at the Capitol to draft the legislation that would have expanded their workers’ compensation coverage if they could prove, in court, that they got cancer because of their job.

“We understand what our job hazards are, but why should our job hazards not be covered by workers’ comp?” he asked.

Thirty-eight other states have similar protections for firefighters and they thought passing a law in Georgia would be common sense.

But Governor Deal vetoed the bill Tuesday, calling the legislation unnecessary.

In a statement he said it would be too expensive for the state and that he had never seen a firefighter file a workers’ compensation claim for cancer.

Legislators in Hall County spoke to the Gainesville Times about Gov. Deal’s veto of the Campus Carry Bill.

State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville said he understood Deal’s position even though he supported the bill “because of Second Amendment rights.”

“(Deal is) looking out for the welfare of all involved,” Hawkins said.

Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, also said he respected the governor’s decision even if he disagreed.

“He’s elected by the people to make this decision, and as the governor that’s his right,” Dunahoo said. “However, I’m very disappointed as a law-abiding citizen with my Second Amendment rights.”

Dunahoo said the screening process for receiving a concealed carry permit is strenuous and that because it is limited to individuals 21 and older, that means the number of students on campus with guns would be inherently limited, and not likely include anyone living in a dormitory.

Sen. Butch Miller, who voted in favor of the bill, said one of its flaws that led to the veto was that it didn’t provide schools with an opt-out provision.

“If a campus wants to be gun-free, this bill takes that ability away,” he said.

Deal signed House Bill 808, placing the question of re-forming the Judicial Qualifications Commission on the November ballot.

Governor Nathan Deal on Tuesday signed into law a bill dissolving the Judicial Qualifications Commission and reconstituting the judicial watchdog organization with expanded appointment power from the legislative and executive branches of government.

The law cannot go into effect unless voters approve a related constitutional amendment in November.

House Bill 808, introduced by Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, accompanied a house resolution proposing to abolish the existing JQC through constitutional amendment and allow the General Assembly to re-create and re-compose the body. The resolution also requires that all appointees to the JQC be confirmed by a Senate majority.

The bill creates the new appointment structure for the JQC, if the amendment passes, stripping the State Bar of Georgia of its three appointments to the commission and redistributing them between the speaker of the House and president of the Senate.

Should voters adopt the constitutional amendment, the JQC will be composed of two judges appointed by the Supreme Court, a citizen and a bar member appointed by the speaker of the House, a citizen and a bar member appointed by the president of the Senate, and a bar member appointed by the governor to serve as chairman.

Toll lane expansion on I-85 in Gwinnett Count will begin this summer, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Whatever the merits may otherwise be, Stephone Johnson’s campaign for DeKalb County Superior Court will likely go down as it has come to light that the candidate plead guilty to a battery charge in 2008.

Superior Court judge candidate Stephone Johnson was arrested and pleaded guilty to a simple battery charge in 2008 after his estranged wife accused him of abuse. He faced charges of sexual and simple battery, but they were effectively dismissed after he completed a pretrial diversion program in Rockdale County.

According to the final disposition, Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of “family violence simple battery” in May 2008. He was required to complete 20 hours of community service work and a conflict resolution counseling program before his guilty plea could be withdrawn and the charges nolle prossed in October 2008.

Johnson, a solo practitioner, is challenging Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger in the May 24 nonpartisan election.

Seeliger said the eight-year-old case raised serious concerns about Johnson’s candidacy. “I’m distressed by it because of my own feelings about domestic violence. It’s tough. It’s difficult for victims of domestic violence to get any justice in the courts.”

The Gwinnett County Commission voted 4-1 to hire a firm to manage construction of a $75 million expansion of the Gwinnett Judicial and Administration Center in Lawrenceville.

Eric Thomas resigned his seat on Clermont City Council, according to the Gainesville Times.

[Mayor James] Nix said Thomas is a truck driver and is on the road a lot.

“If he doesn’t go — if he stays here — it probably costs him a lot of money,” Nix said.

The mayor could relate, as his father was in the trucking business.

“He always said if the wheels aren’t rolling, somebody’s not making payments,” Nix said. “I’m sure that’s the reason (Thomas) has been missing meetings.”

Incumbent Hall County District 4 Commissioner Jeff Stowe faces challenger Troy Phillips in the Republican Primary on May 24th. In District 2, incumbent Billy Powell meets challenger Eugene Moon in the GOP Primary, a rematch of a very close 2012 election. I’m going to award Eugene Moon +1 point for one of my favorite pieces of campaign swag this year.

Eugene Moon Pies

While I’m handing out points, I’ll award +1 to Christopher Lowe, who is running for State House in District 34, who is giving out custom campaign lacrosse balls.

Chris Lowe Lacrosse Ball sm

The first sea turtle nest of the year has been logged at Cumberland Island, off the Georgia coast.

If all goes as expected, the nest will be the first of thousands. Last year, Peach State beaches had a record 2,319 loggerhead nests, continuing an apparent upward trend in the population of this species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Loggerheads, which grow up to 4 feet long and weigh 200 to 400 pounds, are the main sea turtle visitors to Georgia beaches. They nest at night, typically at the base of the dunes every two or more years, laying up to 150 eggs at a time in multiple nests over the season.

As the southernmost and largest of Georgia’s barrier islands, it’s no surprise that Cumberland claimed the first nest. It routinely does, although the 200 or so professionals and volunteers who patrol the state’s beaches all the way up to Tybee take pride in finding that first nest on “their” beach. Loggerhead nesting usually begins in early May and hits full stride by June.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 4, 2016

Mary Jane Paw

Mary Jane is a friendly and loving 40-pound terrier mix girl who needs a new home due to a change in her owners’ living situation. She’s described as very protective and loyal and currently lives with two adults and a young child, with whom she gets along very well. The family is attached to Mary Jane and are looking for a private placement into a new permanent or foster home. If you think you might be able to help Mary Jane, contact me directly and I’ll put you in touch.

Mary Jane has until the end of the month to find a new home. She’s an inside dog, but would love to have a fenced backyard to play in with her new family.

Mary Jane Friendly

Anakin Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker are young male Border Collie mix puppies who are available for adoption from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, GA. They are expected to weigh 35-40 pounds when fully grown.



Yoda is an adult male Pug who is available for adoption from Puglanta in Atlanta, GA. He is healthy but has some behavioral issues that prevent him from going to a home with children – the rescue group is looking for a special adopter who is either an experienced trainer or who is willing to invest the time and effort to help Yoda become less fearful and more well-behaved in his new home.

Darth Vader

Darth Vader is an adult male Labrador Retriever mix on the small side; he is available for adoption from the Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society in Moultrie, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 4, 2016

Georgia delegates convened in Augusta on May 4, 1789 to approve a new state Constitution and consider amendments.

One year and one day after General Sherman began the Atlanta campaign, on May 4, 1865, Atlanta surrendered. On the same day, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia and into the Wilderness.

One year after that, on May 4, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet convened in the old Georgia State Bank Building, which was located at the site of the present-day Wilkes County Courthouse in Washington, Georgia.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard members shot into a crowd of protesting studenets, killing four and wounding nine others on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You!

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal broke out his Veto pen in a big way yesterday, of the Georgia General Assembly. Following are the bill numbers:

House Bill 757 “Religious Liberty”

House Bill 59, waiver of Sovereign Immunity

House Bill 216, workers’ compensation for firefighters diagnosed with cancer

House Bill 219, allowing some pools to opt-out of state inspections

House Bill 370 waiving fines on some ethics violations from January 1, 2010 – January 10, 2014

House Bill 659 for greater transparency of school finances

House Bill 726 regarding taxing tobacco products

House Bill 779 regulating drones

House Bill 859 “Campus Carry”

House Bill 916 regarding Medicaid provider audits

House Bill 1060 firearms housecleaning bill

Senate Bill 243 expanding eligibility for the Judicial Retirement System to Legislative Counsel

Senate Bill 329 allowing students who achieve their high school diploma by obtaining a technical college diploma or two technical college certificates to become eligible for the HOPE Scholarship

Senate Bill 355 opt-out procedures for some student testing requirements

Senate Bill 383 regarding advertising for agritourism facilities

Gov. Deal also used the line-item veto to strike one item from HB 751, the state budget, and several pieces of non-binding information.

So far, the most controversial of the newly-announced vetoes is that of Campus Carry. Deal released a lengthy veto statement on HB 859:

Some supporters of HB 859 contend that this legislation is justified under the provisions of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides in part that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Identical words are contained in Article I, Section, I, Paragraph VIII of the Constitution of the State of Georgia. It would be incorrect to conclude, however, that certain restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms are unconstitutional.

In the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the opinion of the Court, reviews the history of the Second Amendment and sets forth the most complete explanation of the Amendment ever embodied in a Supreme Court opinion. While the subject matter of HB 859 was not before the Court in the Heller case, the opinion clearly establishes that “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Justice Scalia further states that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on…laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings…”

Perhaps the most enlightening evidence of the historical significance of prohibiting weapons on a college campus is found in the minutes of October 4, 1824, Board of Visitors of the newly created University of Virginia. Present for that meeting were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, along with four other members. In that meeting of the Board of Visitors, detailed rules were set forth for the operation of the University which would open several months later. Under the rules relating to the conduct of students, it provided that “No student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or venomous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind…”

The approval of these specific prohibitions relating to “campus carry” by the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the principal author of the United States Constitution should not only dispel any vestige of Constitutional privilege but should illustrate that having college campuses free of weapons has great historical precedent.

If the intent of HB 859 is to increase safety of students on college campuses, it is highly questionable that such would be the result.

I have today issued an Executive Order directed to the Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia and the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, requesting that they submit a report to me, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House by August 1, 2016, as to the security measures that each college within their respective systems has in place. I hereby call on the leaders of the municipalities and counties in which these colleges are located, along with their law enforcement agencies to review and improve, if necessary, their security measures in areas surrounding these colleges. Since each of these municipalities and counties receive significant revenue by virtue of the location of these colleges in their jurisdictions, I believe it is appropriate that they be afforded extra protections.

Since much of the motivation for HB 859 is the commission of crimes involving the use of firearms on college campuses, I suggest to the General Assembly that it consider making the unauthorized possession and/or use of a firearm on a college campus an act that carries an increased penalty or an enhanced sentence for the underlying crime.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston issued a press release responding to Deal’s veto of HB 859:

I am deeply disappointed by Governor Deal’s decision to veto House Bill 859 – the Campus Safety Act.  While I respect the Governor and his right to act as he has, I believe this measure is sound and reasonable.  This bill was thoroughly debated.  At no time before final passage by the Senate were any concerns raised that were not addressed.

“At a time when our Second Amendment rights are under attack, I believed and still believe that it is very important that we do all that is necessary and proper to strengthen our constitutional protections.  Georgians should not be required to give up their constitutional rights when they set foot on a college campus.

“This is not the end of this discussion.  I will continue to defend and protect the rights of law-abiding Georgians under our Second Amendment.

“I want to again thank Rep. Rick Jasperse, Rep. Mandi Ballinger, Rep. John Meadows and Rep. Alan Powell for their leadership and tireless efforts on behalf of this bill.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle also issued a statement:

“The General Assembly saw fit to craft a measure that allows adults over 21 with a concealed weapons permit to lawfully carry on college campuses, and passed a measure that would provide students with a greater sense of security. I anticipate you will see continued efforts to increase safety on college campuses.”

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes that the veto of HB 859 may pose risks to Deal’s agenda going forward.

The veto carries political consequences for the governor. He has already alienated many in his party’s base with his “religious liberty” veto — Republicans in grass-roots meetings across the state expressed their deep disappointment with Deal, and one group moved to “censure” him — and now he’s enraged another group of reliable Republicans.

As a term-limited governor with no further political ambitions, he has the freedom to defy his party’s base with a veto. But it is likely to make it harder for Deal to carry out the linchpin of his second-term agenda: a 2017 push to “revolutionize” how the state’s education system is funded.

“Those two bills have attracted more attention than pretty much any attention we’ve had in my previous years as governor, and both represent very divided opinions,” Deal said before his decision. “This has not been an easy year to be governor.”

Kathleen Foody and Ryan Philips of the Associated Press write about how the veto may affect Deal in the final years of his second term.

It’s not clear how the contentious decisions will shape Deal’s relationship with the legislature. Supporters of both bills already vow to return with similar proposals next year.

Deal will lead the state through the end of 2018 and plans to focus on an overhaul of education in Georgia, including the state’s method for funding schools.

The Tennessean took a look at differences between the Volunteer State Campus Carry legislation that Gov. Bill Haslam allowed to take effect without his signature and the legislation vetoed by Deal.

“I have long stated a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus, and I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year,” Haslam said in a statement. “Although SB 2376 does not go as far as I would like in retaining campus control, the final version of the bill included input from higher education and was shaped to accommodate some of their concerns.”

“I don’t walk away from bills,” [Deal] said. “I either sign them or veto them.”

The response from Deal is markedly different than Haslam’s approach to Tennessee’s campus carry bill, but the two measures have significant differences.

Tennessee’s law, which takes effect in July, allows full-time faculty, staff and other employees of public colleges and universities who have handgun-carry permits to carry weapons on campus. Guns could also not be brought into a stadium or gymnasium during school-sponsored events or in meetings regarding discipline or tenure.

The Georgia bill would have allowed anyone 21 or older, including students, with a valid permit the ability to carry anywhere on a public college campus, including inside classrooms. Guns would have still been prohibited in dorms, fraternity and sorority houses and at athletic events.

Both pieces of legislation required permit holders to conceal their weapons.

Congresswoman and Chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz told BuzzFeed News that Donald Trump as the Republican nominee could put Georgia in play for Democrats this year.

“If you look at Georgia, for example, Obama got 45% of the vote,” she said. “The demographics have changed in Georgia, and minority populations — both African-American and Hispanic — are growing there.”

Trump could galvanize the electorate in ways Democrats never really thought possible just a few cycles ago, Wasserman Schultz said, and the Democratic Party has the resources and the message to battle Trump across the country.

Trump’s supporters have said his coalition includes disaffected Democrats who could put Rust Belt states and reliable blue states like Michigan in play for the GOP. Many Republican elites fear a Trump nomination all but seals the election for the Democrats, however.

“With a nominee as extreme and bigoted and as misogynist as Donald Trump is, you know you not only have the opportunity for us to turn out voters that maybe would have been sitting on the sidelines in those minority communities the he’s alienating, but also who we have the potential to win over from the Republican side,” she said. “Or, who will stay home because they can’t bring themselves to vote for a nominee like him. So with those dynamics, in a state like Georgia, in a state like Arizona, for example, [Democrats could do well],” [said Wasserman Schultz].


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2016

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

If the Muscogee County Board of Education were a warplane, it would now have an elephant and three donkeys painted on its fuselage. The Muscogee County Board of Elections has now disqualified every challenger to the incumbent Sheriff, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Muscogee County elections board disqualified two more candidates for sheriff Monday, leaving incumbent John Darr unopposed in the November general election.

The board voted three to one to disqualify Democrat Donna Tompkins and Republican Mark LaJoye for failing to file affidavits swearing they graduated from high school and failing to file certified copies of their birth certificates by a March 16 deadline.

The board disqualified Democrats Pam Brown and Robert Keith Smith on March 30, so Tompkins was the only Democrat still in the race. Unless challengers mount successful independent or write-in campaigns, Darr will return to office in January. He was first elected as a Democrat in 2008, but now is running as an independent.

When Darr last ran as a Democrat in 2012, he narrowly defeated Brown in the primary. A recount showed only about 60 votes separated the two.

The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) has released grades for Georgia legislative candidates.

Today, Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign HB 768, the ABLE Act, today at the Capitol. The act will allow individuals with disabilities to save money up to a set amount in a tax-advantaged account to pay for their own care. It helps parents and other family members provide for future needs without reducing the individual’s government benefits.

Gov. Deal is also expected to sign HB 34, the Georgia Right to Try Act, which will allow some terminal patients access to new treatments that have passed the first stage of federal review but are not yet approved for general use.

Deal has also said he will sign House Bill 927, which creates two new seats on the Supreme Court of Georgia, which he will then appoint.

The AJC took a look at Governor Deal’s history with vetos.

Gov. Nathan Deal has only struck down one piece of legislation [religious liberty] so far this year.

Jim Denery [of the AJC] ran the numbers, and found that the governor has averaged about eight vetoes each year, along with a scarcer number of line-item vetoes. He’s never rejected more than 11 pieces of legislation.

Asked yesterday at a bill signing for the FY 2017 budget whether he would sign the Campus Carry bill, Deal demurred.

“Tomorrow (Tuesday) is even a better day to answer that question,” Deal responded, “and that’s when the answer to that question will be provided.”  The governor added that he did not have a press conference planned for announcing his decision.

The Gwinnett Daily Post covered Deal’s bill signing at Lanier High School.

Gov. Nathan Deal used Gwinnett’s Lanier High School as a backdrop to highlight the emphasis that was put on education in the new state budget as he signed it into law on Monday.

The 2017 budget includes $23.7 billion in state appropriations, including pay raises for many state employees. Among the budget items highlighted by the governor were the pay raises for teachers: $300 million for k-12 teachers and another $26.2 million for pre-k teachers.

The Move on When Ready dual-enrollment program also received an additional $29.4 million in funding.

“An education that is cherished and applied can be a catalyst of opportunity,” Deal said during his visit to the Sugar Hill area. “However, if we know the right answers, but never say them, then education becomes a dangerous silence. If we learn old solutions, but never apply our learning to come up with new ones, then education becomes scholarly stagnation.

“If we learn valuable skills, but never put them to use, then education becomes unfinished masterpieces.”

Deal said education has been a priority of his administration because it can give students better opportunities later in life and break cycles of poverty. He called the offering of a quality education that inspires students something “we must strive to.”

The Cherokee County Farm Bureau and Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce will host a candidate forum tonight at 6:30 PM at Cagle’s Family Farm, 362 Stringer Road in Canton, Ga.

Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown has been posting signs urging voters to oppose two of his fellow commissioners and a third candidates for an at-large seat on the Commission, according to

The signs highlight “No Haddix, No Barlow, No Oddo,” referencing three candidates up for the May 24 primary. The sign is referring to Don Haddix, a candidate for the at-large commission seat, David Barlow, the sitting commissioner for District 1, and Charles Oddo, the current commission chairman.

Barlow is running against Eric Maxwell in the Republican primary. The winner would face Pamela Devonne Reid in November.
Oddo is running for the at-large seat. He is being opposed by Haddix, Greg Clifton, Alan McCarty, and Emory McHugh.

Late last week, photos surfaced on Facebook showing commissioner Steve Brown placing copies of that same sign, catching the interest of many, in particular for its stance against his fellow commissioners. Steve Brown is not up for re-election until 2018.

“The public response to the signs has been overwhelmingly positive and are causing some of the politically apathetic to pay attention, which is why Oddo and Barlow are concocting these conspiracy theories, but I have been making my complaints for several years in the public meetings, letters to the editors, and in the County Administrator’s annual reviews,” said Brown. “I am just one in a large group that supported Oddo and Barlow four years ago and deeply regret that effort, watching helplessly as they grind our efforts to protect our quality of life to a halt.  The May 24 primary election is where we all say ‘NO.’”

Commissioner Steve Brown being photographed placing the ‘No Barlow’ signs around the county is the epitome of hypocrisy,” said Barlow. “Commissioner Brown is bitter that he is no longer the chairman of the Board of Commissioners, and he will stoop to any level to regain that position.”

Clarkesville City Council amended its alcohol ordinance, according to

Senator David Perdue announced a series of Mobile Office Hours across Georgia this month.

Northwest Georgia Region
Friday, May 6
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Cherokee County School District
111 Academy Street
Canton, GA 30114

West Central Georgia Region
Monday, May 9
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Upson Regional Medical Center
Conference Room
801 West Gordon Street
Thomaston, GA 30286

Southwest Georgia Region
Monday, May 9
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
UGA Tifton Conference Center Room 4/5
15 RDC Road
Tifton, GA 31794

Northeast Georgia Region
Tuesday, May 17
10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Rabun County Public Library
73 Jo Dotson Circle
Clayton, GA 30525

Metro Atlanta Region
Tuesday, May 24
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Clayton County Board of Commissioners
112 Smith Street
Jonesboro, GA 30236

Central Georgia Region
Tuesday, May 24
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber
130 South Jefferson Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

The Gainesville Times takes a look at the election for Hall County Commission Chair later this month.

Former District 3 Commissioner Steve Gailey and former Hall County Board of Education member Richard Higgins are vying for this seat in the Republican primary, with the winner likely running uncontested in the November general election.

Current Chairman Richard Mecum is not seeking re-election.

Gailey said his first priority, if elected, is to facilitate partnerships.

“I think we’ve got to try to come to a better working relationship with local municipalities,” he said.

Higgins said his reason for getting in the race is simple: He just wants to serve, whether in church, business or politics.

“I felt like I could make a difference,” he said. “You can’t go through life sitting on the sidelines.”

Candidates for State House and Senate met in a Columbia County forum, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Candidates running for Geor­gia House District 123 and Senate District 24 took part in a panel discussion Mon­day that was preceded by a meet-and-greet and statements from four others running for county commission and school board seats. The forum was held by the Co­lum­bia County Chamber of Com­­merce and the Colum­bia County News-Times.

Peach County will have a new Probate Court Judge after the incumbent announced her upcoming retirement.

Two candidates — attorney Karin Vinson and Probate Court employee Kim Wilson — are in the running for Peach County Probate Court judge.

Longtime Judge Deborah W. Hunnicutt is retiring at the end of May. And while her successor will be determined in the May 24 election, an associate judge will fill in until either Vinson or Wilson takes office in January.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 3, 2016


Lucky is a male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization Cedartown, GA. He is blind in one eye, but that doesn’t slow him down.

Lucky is a VERY happy, healthy, playful puppy who ADORES people!He enjoys toys and playing fetch.


Ledger is a male Labrador Retriever and Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization Cedartown, GA.

This super friendly puppy loves people, adores toys, and enjoys playing with all the other dogs. He walks well on a leash, is crate trained and doing well on outside potty!


Leopold is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization Cedartown, GA.

Although Leopold appears black in his photos, he is actually a deep chocolate color with bits of red highlights in the sun!


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 2, 2016


Roxie is a 1.5-year old female German Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

Roxie was rescued with four of her puppies and she is a sweet girl and gets along well with other friendly dogs.


Happy is a 2-year-old female Great Pyrenees who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

Happy is a very sweet and outgoing girl with a fabulous personality.


Juliette is a 3-year-old female Treeing Walker Coonhound who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

She and Romeo were rescued along with 11 of their puppies; she has raised her puppies and is now ready for a home and family of her own. She is crate-trained and gets along well with other dogs.


Romeo is a 5-year-old male lab mix who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA. He is crate-trained and gets along well with other dogs.


Fontana is a one-year old female Rat Terrier Mix, possibly with some Border Collie, who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

Fontana has scruffy hair and is cute as a bug. She is the leader of the pack and enjoys playing. Her estimated date of birth is 02-01-2015. She and her siblings were dropped off at a shelter when they were just two weeks old.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schedule of events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 29, 2016


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

Among other initiatives, this legislation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, the FOX 5 I-Team did.

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

And it kind of got worse from there.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 28, 2016

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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