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12
Apr

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

On April 12, 1861, Confederates in Charleston, SC opened fire on Federal-held Fort Sumter opening the Civil War.

During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincolnissued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

“The General” Locomotive was hijacked at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia on April 12, 1862, leading to “The Great Locomotive Chase.” The locomotive is now housed in the Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.

On April 12, 1961, Russian Commienaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to go to outer space and the first to orbit earth.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963; while there he would write his famed, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The Braves played their first home game in Atlanta on April 12, 1966.

The Space Shuttle Columbia became the first reusable orbital vehicle when it launched on April 12, 1981.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Some voters headed to the polls to vote early, but learned once they got to the elections office that they aren’t in the district.

Lynn and Sheila Keeney made the five-minute drive to Cobb County’s main elections office in Marietta only to sheepishly turn around without voting.

The nationally watched race to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Price has drawn 18 candidates in what many have described as an early barometer on the presidency of Donald Trump. The Keeneys, both in their early 70s, can’t watch television without seeing the political advertisements blanketing the airwaves in a final push before Election Day on Tuesday.

But while the district covers parts of three of the metro area’s core counties — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — neither of the Keeneys realized that their Cobb County home wasn’t within the boundaries. And they weren’t alone. Scores of voters showed up at the Cobb elections office during the early-voting period without realizing it, either.

“We see the ads,” said Lynn Keeney, who said he had gotten more politically active after retirement. “So we’ve decided to put as much or much more conscious effort to look into the local people and in particular the congressional elections. We feel like we can make more of a difference in Congress than we can in president.”

Kansas Republican John Estes won a narrow special election victory last night over a Democrat in a district that Trump carried by a 27-point margin in November.

“If Jon Ossoff’s fundraising numbers weren’t enough of a wakeup call for Republicans, the election results in Kansas should be,” said Georgia GOP strategist Chip Lake.

Key dynamics in the race are certainly different: While national GOP groups rushed in to the state over the last week to play defense, they have been pouring millions into attack ads against Ossoff for months. And Estes’ struggles were also seen as a rebuke to unpopular Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

“Those states don’t have a highly unpopular governor that is going to have the proverbial millstone around the candidate’s neck,” Michael O’Donnell, a Kansas GOP commissioner, told the Wichita Eagle on whether the vote signals trouble for Republicans in Georgia.

But Lake said the Kansas race shows more broadly how Republicans running textbook campaigns in seemingly safe districts have good reason to be antsy.

“It was a close race,” he said, “and it shouldn’t have been.”

Governor Nathan Deal is unlikely to cause drag on GOP candidates in the Sixth District, if the news from a massive nationwide poll is an indicator.

Deal was ranked the tenth-most popular Governor in the nation with 63% of respondents saying they approve of his job performance and 25% disapproving.

My personal analysis: I’m not as worried about Ossoff winning outright as I was when he first announced an $8.3 million dollar fundraising haul.

Yesterday, I was told by a DC-based reporter that the Ossoff campaign told them they had knocked on 100,000 doors, which sounds impressive, but really isn’t.

I live in both the Sixth Congressional District and the 80th State House District; our State House District has seen the two most-competitive elections at that level in 2015 and 2016. I know what a winning campaign in this area looks like and Ossoff is not doing it. And HD 80 and 81, two of the most-competitive in the state, are exactly the areas Ossoff needs to drive big numbers to the polls in order to pull off a win on Tuesday.

In 2015, the J. Max Davis campaign knocked on 16,000 doors in HD 80 during the runoff – that’s three weeks. A Congressional District is roughly equal to 13 state house districts, so an equivalent number for a Congressional District is 208,000. Ossoff’s campaign hit about half of that over the course of several months. Ossoff’s ground game is not an “A” game.

NextDoor.com is where the cranky old folks in my neighborhood hang out online and complain about youngsters on their yard. During the last two state house campaigns, the site lit up with complaint about “suspicious” people walking the streets, knocking on doors. “Suspicious” is code for people wearing campaign shirts, carrying campaign materials. No complaints during the election leads me to believe Ossoff hasn’t really been hitting the streets in this vital area.

A neighbor of mine is the prototypical swing voter that Democratic campaigns search for. She’s female and has voted in both Democratic and Republican primary campaigns, including regular early voting, though she hasn’t yet voted this year.

She told me during the state house campaigns that she was visited at her door by the Democratic campaign at east three times, and she showed me all the early voting mail they sent her. Zero contact from the Ossoff campaign. No calls, no mail, no door visits. Until this morning, when someone woke the neighborhood (and my dogs) at o’dark thirty putting Ossoff flyers on front doors. If the campaign is counting that as direct voter contact, they’re fooling themselves.

Then there are a couple of self-inflicted wounds by Ossoff – earning a Washington Post Pinocchio for puffing his resume at best, lying to the voters at worst. And then fabricating a quote for a fundraising email and getting called out publicly.

As for the polling, here’s the issue: SurveyUSA, which polls for 11Alive, writes in their report:

Polling Congressional Districts is challenging even under ideal circumstances. Polling for a special election, where nothing else is on the ballot, and where turnout could be a fraction of what it was in the 2016 general election, is even more challenging. Some news reports indicate that Republicans have started to spend money in GA-06 only in the past couple of days. If Republicans make a significant media buy in the remaining 2 weeks, Ossoff’s support may be overstated here, and his chances of winning the seat outright on 04/18/17 would be reduced. To the extent that Democrats see Ossoff and 04/18/17 as their best shot at flipping the seat, and spend dollars accordingly, the fight will be to the finish.

I also think the demographics of the district will work against Ossoff. From the 11Alive polling breakdown:

•  Younger voters went solidly for Ossoff: 71% compared to 14% for Handel. After that, no candidate was able to gain double digits in the 18-34 age group.

•  Older voters, 65+, showed only a slight preference for Ossoff at 29% compared to Handel’s 24%.

But voter turnout among millennials declined from 2012 to 2016, and I expect it to be significantly lower in Tuesday’s election than in a general election. In contrast, older voters are the bread-and-butter of special elections and are likely to vote at significantly higher rates than other voters.

I’m somewhat apprehensive still, especially after the Kansas election results, but Ossoff, despite his funding advantage, has not put on a winning campaign.

Before you head to the polls, you can check to make sure you’re eligible to vote and familiarize yourself with the ballot by visiting the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle filed paperwork with the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to run for Governor in 2018.

The Republican has plotted for years to run for the state’s highest office, and a formal announcement is expected within a month.

Cagle is the presumptive Republican front-runner in what could be a crowded field to succeed a term-limited Nathan Deal. Secretary of State Brian Kemp is already in the race, and a cast of current and former lawmakers – along with an “outsider” or two – are considering entering the contest.

His campaign is to be chaired by Charles Tarbutton, a Sandersville rail executive whose family has ties to Deal, Zell Miller and other successful gubernatorial candidates stretching back the last half-century. It’s a sign that Cagle’s bid has early support from one of the most well-connected political networks in the state.

When the AJC says “an announcement is expected within a month,” I think they mean May 1st. Pencil that in on your calendar.

Georgia Health News writes that the combination of the “Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law”  and more widespread availability of Naloxone appear to be helping with opioid overdoses.

Under the amnesty law, if you call 911 to get medical treatment for yourself or for somebody who currently needs medical attention, you can’t be held criminally liable for anything on the property, anything on the premises,” said Officer David Ian, an Athens-Clarke County police officer.

The amnesty law also makes it easier for first responders to carry naloxone – a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose – and to administer it to a person who has overdosed. Under its provisions, emergency personnel won’t be liable if the person doesn’t respond or has an adverse reaction.

Police officers and other emergency medical workers say they want to save people in this life-threatening situation, not put them in jail.

“If you think you’ve overdosed on something or a loved one has overdosed on something and they’re having problems, then they should call an ambulance,” said Horst, the ER doctor. “The longer you wait, the more detriment or harm is going to be caused to the patient.”

Officer Ian agreed. “From a law enforcement perspective, our main priority is the value of life,’’ he said. “Our ultimate priority is making sure people are taken care of, people are safe.”

Senator Johnny Isakson joined 56 of his colleagues in signing a letter to the FCC Chairman urging better rural broadband.

“Rural Georgians have been waiting too long for the FCC to address this issue,” Isakson said in a statement. “Standalone Internet services should be available to all Americans at this point, and dependable rural access to broadband services are a necessity in this day and age, not a luxury.”

Cobb County Commissioners voted to issue $27.4 million in bonds to buy land for parks.

The county originally anticipated issuing $24.7 million in bonds, but when the county received the bids from financial companies looking to issue the bonds, the county’s triple AAA bond rating and low interest rates led to a premium of more than $2.7 million, according to Bill Volckmann, the county’s interim finance director.

The county will pay about $160,000 in bond issuance costs out of the bond proceeds, ultimately leaving about $27.4 million for its efforts to purchase land to be used for parks and green space.

Cobb residents likely will see an increase in property taxes to allow the county to repay the bonds.

According to previous county estimates, repaying the bonds would require an increase by 0.13 mills in the county’s property tax rate, which would add about $10.40 a year on the tax bill for $200,000 home.

Commissioners approved the execution of the increased parks bond after hearing from several residents who urged the county to fully fund the parks bond approved by voters nearly nine years ago. Though two-thirds of Cobb voters approved a $40 million bond back in November 2008, the bonds were never issued by then-county Chairman Sam Olens due to a tanking economy and a tax increase he said would come as a result of the bonds’ issuance.

Kerry Minervini was sworn in as the Ward 6 member of the Marietta Board of Education.

Minervini won the March 21 special election and has lived in Marietta for 11 years. The seat was left vacant after Tom Cheater resigned his seat in September. The seat is up for reelection in November.

The Augusta City Commission voted to borrow $12 million to finance a parking deck for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

Mayor Hardie Davis called the vote “generational and transformational” as Augusta puts its money toward the state of Georgia’s plan to invest $50 million in the cyber innovation center on the city’s riverfront.

Gwinnett County Board of Education members adopted a $2.092 billion budget for FY 2018.

Much of the increase is tied to an additional 1,972 students expected in August to raise the overall enrollment to more than 180,000, and raises for teachers and all other employees.

“All of us have wish lists, but this is a very good budget considering the funds that we have available,” said Wilbanks, the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ CEO/superintendent at a meeting held inside the media center at Collins Hill High School.

As part of GCPS’ new performance-based compensation system for teachers, the average teacher will receive a 3.72 percent salary increase, which includes a 2 percent cost-of-living bump. The average teacher in GCPS, which equates to having a masters degree and at performance step 13, makes $60,716 and accounts for $85,923 including benefits.

Hall County School Board members were presented with a proposed budget for FY 2018.

Preliminary estimates for Hall County Schools’ 2018 fiscal year budget calls for $12.8 million in additional expenditures, most of which would pay for 2 percent pay raises for all of the approximately 3,400 employees and the corresponding benefit increases.

Superintendent Will Schofield presented the early numbers at a school board work session Monday night. The figures would raise total expenditures for 2018 to $239,345,073, up from $226,510,741.02 in budgeted expenditures in the current budget.

“This is strictly a draft at this point,” Schofield told board members. “We haven’t even gone line by line to make sure we’ve got the right expenditures, but this gives you an idea of where we are. The local digest is the amount of property that is on the tax records … Every year we wait to see what the assessments are and how much it goes up or down because that greatly affects our ability to fund our local public schools.”

Schofield said the state legislature recently required a 2 percent pay raise for all teachers, but he wants to see all of the district’s 3,400 employees get the same increase.

Bibb County school employees could see bounses instead of raises in FY 2018.

Full-time employees for the Bibb County school district could get up to a 2 percent bonus next year. The Board of Education discussed a one-time bonus during a work session Tuesday night.

A 3 percent bonus had initially been suggested during the first 2017-18 budget work session in March. Ron Collier, chief financial officer, said the adjusted, 2 percent rate is in line with a recommendation from Gov. Nathan Deal. The district implemented a 3 percent raise last year, funded through a 2 mill increase in property taxes.

“It is aligned to our strategic goals and plans,” Collier said. “The idea is that hopefully this … will motivate our employees. They can earn up to the 2 percent bonus based on achieving those levels.”

Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams spoke to the Augusta Chronicle about his first 100 days in office.

The Floyd County Commission plans to name members to the 2017 SPLOST Committee at their April 25th meeting.

Backyard chickens are running into opposition in Columbus.

A proposed ordinance that would make backyard chickens legal on quarter-acre lots throughout Columbus received a negative assessment from the city’s special enforcement manager on Tuesday.

Chickens are good for eggs, soil fertilization and pest control, but they can also be a health and safety hazard, Short said. The health concerns she mentioned included bacterial diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter; a respiratory disease called Histoplasmosis and Avian Influenza. Chickens also attract rodents and predators such as foxes, snakes and coyotes, she said.

If chickens were allowed on quarter-acre lots, the city would need to hire two additional full-time field animal control officers, at a cost of $63,648. The amendment would also require the purchase of two additional field trucks, costing $50,000 each.

In the end, she recommended that Columbus Council make no changes to the ordinance, which currently allows chickens to be kept on any lot two or more acres in size.

Right whales, the official marine mammal of Georgia, have produced far fewer calves this year than usual.

It was a dismal calving season for the north Atlantic right whale, with only three births recorded off Georgia and Florida, their only known calving area. The 20-year average is 17 calves.

“That’s the second-worst calving season since right whale research began in the 1980s,” said Clay George, right whale research leader with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

11
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 11, 2017

Gracie

Gracie is a calm and sweet female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter in Toccoa, GA. Unfortunately, she is heartworm positive, though heartworm is easily treated.

DandelionMOAS

Dandelion is a young female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, GA.

EmmaMOAS

Emma is a young female Foxhound who is available for adoption from the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, GA.

HunterMOAS

Hunter is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, GA.

11
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 11, 2017

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist. This is what his lobbyist badge looked like:

Benjamin Franklin Lobbyist Card2

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate troops surrendered Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island off Savannah, on April 11, 1862. Part of the construction of Fort Pulaski was overseen by a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army named Robert E. Lee.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

On April 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House. In the finest tradition of Georgia Democrats, Carter added a circus to the event.

Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

Thrift Store Green Jacket

Congratulations also to whomever found an Augusta National green jacket in a thrift store for $5. The jacket sold at auction earlier this week for nearly $140k.

Sitting in a stack of previously-worn blazers at a Toronto thrift store was the unthinkable – an original Masters Tournament Green Jacket with a price tag of $5. The familiar green color of the jacket, and its iconic breast patch, went unnoticed by consignment shop workers and customers. That is, until an avid golfer saw this piece of clothing and knew exactly what it was – not just a green jacket, but The Green Jacket.

When the so-called “Thrift Store Green Jacket” was first discovered in 1994, the speculation was rampant. Was it real, and if so, where did it come from? The jacket itself revealed few clues. The internal tagging definitively dates the jacket to the early 1950s – one of the earliest green jackets in existence. But the original owner’s name was tantalizingly cut out of the jacket. Augusta National Golf Club may have unintentionally fanned the flames of speculation, as they confirmed the jacket’s authenticity but then refused to answer any questions as to the identity of its original owner. Could it be the long lost green jacket of a Masters Tournament Champion? Did a member mistakenly, or intentionally, remove the green jacket from the club’s grounds many years ago?

This authentic green jacket dates to the early 1950s (possibly as late as the mid 1950s). Its internal tagging from Cullum’s department store in Augusta unquestionably predates the Cullum’s tags inside 1957 Champion Doug Ford’s Green Jacket.

Georgia Politics

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that March tax revenues were up 2.5% over March 2016.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr spoke to the Atlanta Press Club yesterday.Continue Reading..

10
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 10, 2017

Honey CPR

Honey is a 4-pound, 8-week old puppy who is available for adoption from Canine Pet Rescue in Dacula, GA. The best guess at her breed is mini Schnauzer- Yorkie mix, and you can apply online to adopt Honey.

Laurie

Laurie (above) and Laney (below) are 9-week old puppies whose mother was a 65 lb Malinois and dad was a 120 lb Rottweiler.

Due to the strong-willed traits of these two breeds, they will need experienced and knowledgeable owners to make sure sure she grows up to be a well-mannered representatives of her breeds. You can apply to adopt Laney or Laurie at www.sohfga.com. Thank you!

Both puppies are fully vetted — spayed/neutered, heartworm negative, and current on vaccinations and deworming. The adoption fee is $200 (cash only, please).

Laney

10
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2017

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

On April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American professional major league baseball player when the Brooklyn Dodgers bought his contract.

Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005).

Byron, Georgia once hosted nuclear missiles.

Q: Not everyone’s aware there were nuclear missiles in Byron. Was it a secret?

A: It wasn’t secret we were there but the site was classified as to how the missiles and radars worked. My clearance was top secret. But the site wasn’t common knowledge. When I came in 1962, I stopped at a barber shop on Main Street to ask directions to the missile base and they told me, “There aren’t any missiles around here.” I said, “Yes sir, there are, that’s where I’m going.” So he said, “We’ll you must mean that place up the road — there’s a lot of soldiers around there.” So I guess they did a good job of being there but keeping what was going on low key.

Q: Where was “up the road?”

A: Just north of Byron on Boy Scout Road. The site was there from 1960 to 1966.

Q: What missiles would you have launched if needed? And why were missiles located in Byron?

A: We were in Byron for general defense but our big role was to protect Robins Air Force Base and the Strategic Air Command wing stationed there in those days. It was mostly to protect them from Soviet bombers. With its strategic planes and big bombs, SAC was instrumental and the most powerful defense we had in the Cold War. We were in Byron and had a sister site on the other side of Robins over in Twiggs County. They were Battery A and we were Battery B. We had the base well covered.

Q: And the missiles?

A: Nike-Hercules nuclear warhead missiles. They were really, really fast, accurate and powerful missiles.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Sixth District race appears to be drawing more out-of-town media to Georgia than anything since the 2016 Presidential Primary. From the Chicago Tribune:

In the first 10 days of early voting, 17,871 ballots have been cast and self-identified Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by a 19-point margin. On Friday, however, the Democratic margin was just five points.

Meanwhile, Ossoff’s rivals had their arms full defending the Republican record in the Trump era. Karen Handel, a near-miss candidate in two statewide races – currently polling highest to make the runoff’s second spot – repeatedly rejected the House GOP’s health-care proposal and the negotiations to strip “essential health benefits” from the current system.

“That’s not Tom Price’s plan,” said Handel. “Not every single time do we have a mandate that is horrible.” Moments later, longtime tea party activist and candidate Amy Kremer said that she, too, opposed the bill; Ossoff deflected one of her attacks by praising her “bipartisanship” for criticizing both parties.

Republicans hope that in a runoff, with Ossoff facing just one Republican, he won’t be able to zoom around the partisan differences.

From the New York Times:

The shifting conservative fault lines are on display in the affluent and mall-dotted northern suburbs of Atlanta, which were at the front end of the South’s political realignment in the 1970s when they turned away from their Democratic roots and elected a loquacious young college professor named Newt Gingrich to Congress.

The special election on April 18 has drawn substantial attention because one of the Democrats running, Jon Ossoff, has raised a remarkable $8 million, and his success in a Republican-leaning district could presage a midterm backlash against Mr. Trump. (Voters will pick from candidates of both parties on a single ballot; if no one clears 50 percent, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election.)

One of the leading Republican candidates, Karen Handel, even wore her practicality as a badge of honor, citing not just Reagan but also Margaret Thatcher’s “relentless incrementalism” credo.

“Republican voters are expecting that we get down to business and deliver and do the job,” said Ms. Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, failed Senate candidate and failed candidate for governor. This time around, she said, the expectations from the party base have shifted.

Bob Gray, who calls himself an outsider and is a businessman supported by the conservative Club for Growth, played to type at the forum as he twice criticized Speaker Paul D. Ryan for having “failed” on the health care legislation. But in an interview, Mr. Gray allowed that he would have backed the House-drafted bill (which the Club for Growth opposed), shied away from the Tea Party label and sounded more like a furrowed-brow centrist than a fire-breathing conservative.

“This is the problem with D.C.,” he said. “Everybody has retreated to their political corners with a jersey on. We need people like President Trump who want to go to D.C. and change the way they do business. The American people are tired of the bickering.”

“For eight years, the heroes in this movement were the Freedom Caucus members, and now they’re suddenly in the bad camp?” asked the Republican strategist Chip Lake, a touch of wonder in his voice. “It’s really confusing right now as a Republican to figure out who’s on first.”

That’s at least the second time I’ve seen a reference to Newt Gingrich being elected from Atlanta’s northern suburbs in the 1970s, but it isn’t correct.

Gingrich was elected from the 6th for the first time in 1978, but at that time, it stretched from Haralson, Carrol, and Heard counties along the Alabama border, through Douglas, Heard, Coweta, south Fulton, Fayette, Clayton, Henry, Spalding, Pike, Butts, Lamar, and Jasper Counties, mostly south of Atlanta. It wasn’t until 1992 that Gingrich’s district moved to where it currently lies, in the northern suburbs. At that time, then-Speaker Tom Murphy renumbered that northern suburban district with the number of Gingrich’s district, and Gingrich ran there, nearly losing the Republican Primary to challenger Herman Clark.

State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) stars in radio ads designed to boost GOP turnout in her husband’s former district.

The ads are the latest salvo from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to House leadership that has spent $2.2 million on ads – and $3 million overall – trying to rev up GOP voters and deflate Democrat Jon Ossoff’s candidacy.

Betty Price, who like her husband is a physician, has not endorsed any of the 11 Republicans in the 18-candidate contest but urged conservatives to elect a “proven Republican.” She also considered joining the field, before announcing about an hour before qualifying ended that she would not mount a campaign.

The Marietta Daily Journal looks at the 8 candidates running in a Special Election in Senate District 32.

Cobb County Democrats have their eyes on flipping the seat, said Michael Owens, chairman of the Cobb Democratic Party.

“District 32 sits firmly within the 6th District, and while they have not been getting as much publicity — the congressional candidates have been getting all the media attention — some of the candidates that we have for the 32nd District have been working just as hard as well,” Owens said. “They’re doing the same things, they’re trying to reach out to voters, but there’s no doubt that as Democrats, we have to energize, to turn out the vote and canvas.”

Sue Everhart, former chair of the Georgia Republican Party, said hanging onto the seat is a big deal for the Georgia GOP.

“The 32nd District is very important,” Everhart said. “Of course, all the districts are, but I think the 32nd has shown a lot of leadership through the years… We’ve had good representation with Judson Hill, and I hope that continues.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-2d District) writes that President Trump’s proposed federal budget is bad for residents of his district.

[W]hen analyzing President Trump’s 2018 Budget Blueprint with this metric, I am led to the inescapable conclusion that the President’s budget would be a recipe for disaster for our country and for the people of the Second Congressional District of Georgia.

Budgets reflect values. They reflect a prioritization of scarce resources. Although a president’s proposed budget is just the beginning of a lengthy negotiating process with Congress, it is nonetheless a signal of what that administration does and does not care about.

Unfortunately, this administration’s 2018 Budget Blueprint speaks loud and clear that it does not value rural communities nor their contributions to the United States. This budget seeks to eliminate vital programs and reduce resources for our workers, our farmers, our students and teachers, and our seniors. This budget would inhibit our nation’s ability to innovate in an increasingly competitive world, and would drastically curtail vital safety nets for our most vulnerable populations.

By proposing a cut of over 20 percent to the USDA, it is clear that the current administration does not appreciate the role our agriculture sector plays in sustaining our quality of life, nor the vital role USDA plays in supporting both rural communities and the nation more broadly.

The president’s budget seeks to eliminate funding for rural infrastructure, cut staffing at USDA Service Centers, and reduce rural business assistance. Instead of creating efficiencies, such cuts would simply make it harder for everyone, and ultimately more difficult for our country to continue to produce the highest quality, safest, most abundant, and most economical food and fiber in the industrialized world.

Savannah is looking to become a yachting center after passage of a sales tax break for major repairs.

The president and CEO of Colonial Group is so sure of that potential that he is putting up some $50 million to convert the former Intermarine shipbuilding yard on Lathrop Avenue into a world-class yacht repair and refit facility capable of competing with Florida and possibly even Europe.

The only potential stumbling block – the need for legislation giving yacht owners the same tax incentives they now get in Florida — was eliminated when the Georgia General Assembly passed such legislation on the last day of its 2017 session.

With that regulatory framework in place, Colonial is ready to begin work on the facility, acquired in a bankruptcy sale in 2010, in the hopes that Savannah Yacht Center will be ready to serve its first customers either late this year or early next year.

SYC is ready to begin letting construction contracts as soon as the bill is signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Bryan County News looks at the priorities of the Georgia School Board Association.

“We think the GSBA’s work really played a major part in helping bring out the vote against the Opportunity School District,” [Bryan County School Board Chair Eddie] Warren said. “And I know the Georgia School Board Association did a lot of work at the capitol pointing out OSD’s weaknesses and that woke up a couple of legislators, I believe.”

According to an email from GSBA Executive Director Valerie Wilson, the committee considers “legislative positions submitted by local boards of education for recommendation to the delegate assembly. The committee will also review annually all standing legislative positions. Any revisions or deletions will also be submitted to the Delegate Assembly.”

A look at some of the GSBA’s 2016 legislative positions included such things as protecting the sovereign immunity of local school systems, opposition to a voucher system and “a tax system that yields adequate funding, is fair, is stable and is transparent,” according to a 2016 GSBA handbook.

Another likely legislative priority for GSBA members will be [to]  “maintain the integrity of the teacher retirement system,” Warren said. “That one has been targeted the last few years as the state tries to figure out how to save money. It’s always a topic.”

Getting the legislature to come up with the money for such things as school nurses and counselors is also frequently listed by GSBA members as a priority when it comes to dealing with lawmakers.

“Those types of things seem to get nixed by legislators at times,” Warren said. “They tend to want to put the burden for nurses or counselors back on the local school system to fund it if they want it.”

Grantville City Council Member Mark King will not yet face an ethics board meeting over a complaint against him because of vacancies on the board.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will consider a revised ordinance designed to lessen the impact of film production on local residents.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the city’s rainy day fund is up to $175 million.

Augusta is home to a commercial drone company seeking to bring the technology to agriculture.

“I can say that I worked on drone systems in the military,” he said, but could not be more specific. Over the past couple of years, as federal regulations on UAV and drones have become better defined, he has been looking into practical applications for the technology he loves and discovered there is huge growth potential for drone use in agriculture.

Information was recently released by the University of Georgia Extension Service about a team of crop scientists and engineers from the school who are developing all-terrain rovers and aerial drones to collect data on crop health.

Scheiner said these devices can be outfitted with multi-spectral and thermal cameras, as well as other technologies, to help researchers and farmers measure stress tolerance, growth patterns, soil temperature, water distribution in fields and even nitrogen levels in individual plants.

“What that means is we can look at crops and see that there’s not enough water here,” he said. “There’s too much water there. Soil temperature is too hot or too cold. You have possible pests, possible disease. These plants seem to be stunted. This way we can help farmers react to these threats. They can go out and say, we need to add more fertilizer or we need to add more pesticide, that sort of thing.”

Forty million dollars from the recently-passed SPLOST will fund a new Bibb County courthouse annex and parking deck.

With many proposed projects and the county expecting to collect about $30 million in sales tax funds annually, commissioners created a priority list for projects at their planning retreat in January. Using that list and the shovel-ready status of some projects as a starting point, Macon-Bibb’s sales tax project manager consulted with county departments and created a prospective timeline, Floore said.

Commissioners are set to discuss — and may vote on — the timeline and budget for the projects Tuesday.

Camden County is considering a rezoning more than 1000 privately-owned acres on Cumberland Island.

In December, Camden County officials approved a variance to allow Lumar LLC, made up of Coca-Cola heirs including the Rev. Sam Candler, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, to divide an 88-acre tract near the park’s Sea Camp into 10 lots. The request and decision set off a storm of protest from legions of campers and day visitors across the country who argue that development will ruin the wilderness experience on Georgia’s largest barrier island.

Two appeals were filed, but before the scheduled April 4 hearing both Lumar and the appellants requested time to negotiate a compromise solution.

Savannah-Chatham County School Board has received about 700 applications for the next school superintendent.

7
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 7, 2017

HeidiACR

Heidi is a young female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

Heidi is a young Hound mix and will probably top out at about 50lbs. She is about 8 months old now and currently weighs 42 lbs. Heidi is good with other dogs and cats, she is mostly housebroken and she is crate trained! In fact, she loves her crate so much that if she ever needs a moment to unwind and relax, that is the first place she goes.

Click here to see videos of Heidi.

Daphne

Daphne is a young female Boxer mix, about 50 pounds, who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

Daphne is a cute little goober who can spend hours entertaining herself. Give her a new toy or rawhide out back and she’ll toss it around, zoomie in circles, spin and dance all over the place as if it’s playing back with her! If you’re looking for a self-entertained pup, look no further! She can seriously find the fun in anything. Daphne absolutely loves food and will do almost anything for it. She is working hard on her commands and is getting awfully good at sitting when being greeted by new people. Yes, she can be a bit of a spaz, but she also likes to snooze, since the spaz in her doesn’t last more than 10 minutes.

Click here to see videos of Daphne.

BoJack

BoJack is a young male Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who weighs about 40 pounds and is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

BoJack loves children and is a very tolerant fellow. Being poked and prodded at is no problem at all; he just enjoys the attention! If you’re looking to get some of your kids’ energy out, he is a great release as he’ll run around and play with kids all day if he could! He seems to alternate between ‘on’ and ‘off.’ It’s either running around and getting a good play session in, or sleeping on the couch!

Click here to watch a video of BoJack.

 

7
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 7, 2017

On April 7, 1776, the United States warship Lexington captured a British warship, HMS Edward, for the first time.

The_Lexington_-_NARA_-_513013_628

On April 7, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation authorizing negotiations between three representatives of Georgia and three Presidential appointees over Georgia’s claim to land west of what is now the Georgia-Alabama state lines. Georgia would continue to claim most of what is currently Alabama and Mississippi until 1802.

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA.

Georgia Map 1795

Above: a 1795 map showing Georgia extending west to Louisiana. “These Parts are little known.”

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM on April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he holds to this day.

On April 7, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing the peach as the official state fruit of Georgia.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

The Masters Tournament was won on this date by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012.

The Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville will host a doll wedding on Saturday.

From 2 to 4 p.m. the mansion is holding its fourth annual doll wedding modeled after a actual life event held on the property as a callback to the time when Milledgeville was the capital city of Georgia.

“In 1859 Gov. [Joseph] Brown’s daughter, Mary Virginia Brown, married her two dolls on the mansion lawn,” said Molly Randolph, curator of the mansion. “They hired the local Baptist minister to officiate the marriage, they invited everyone in town, and it was basically hailed as the event of the year. So we decided a few years ago to bring back this event.”

The reenactment features replicas of dolls Jack Jones and Sue paired together by young Mary Brown and an ordained minister, curator of education at Georgia College Kierstin Veldkamp, who received her license online. The nuptials will be held in the rose garden adjacent to the mansion, and at the conclusion of the ceremony attendees may bring their dolls forward to also be joined in matrimony.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flags at state buildings were at half-staff yesterday in honor of the memory of John Glenn, astronaut and United States Senator.

Senator David Perdue released a statement on US airstrikes against Syria.

“Assad is a tyrant and his chemical weapon attack against innocent civilians this week was beyond inhumane. This will not be tolerated. After six years of inaction by the Obama Administration, I am glad to see that President Trump is willing to stand up for these innocent victims and stop those responsible for this violence. I commend our brave servicewomen and men who are carrying out this vital mission.”

Senator Johnny Isakson also released a statement on missile strikes against Syria.

“I salute the brave men and women of the U.S. military who conducted these operations tonight. President Trump’s decision to strike the Assad regime’s air base where chemical weapons were deployed against the innocent people of Syria earlier this week sends a clear signal to the world that war crimes such as these will not be tolerated. I support the president’s swift and decisive action to punish this dictatorship for the atrocities committed.”

Two earthquakes near Sparta, Georgia, and at least five tornadoes, possibly as many as 21, hit middle Georgia this week.

The Best Ranger Competition is underway at Fort Benning.

Long before sunrise early Friday, the boots of 53 Ranger teams hit the road at Camp Rogers to start the 34th Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning to determine the best team in the U.S. Army.

“Of those 53 teams, we have representatives from the Ranger Regiment, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade and from every unit across the Army,” [Lt. Col. Jim] Hathaway said Thursday. “This is the best of the best. These are some incredible soldiers.”

Over the next three days, soldiers cover more than 60 miles with a series of events that include running, shooting, 20-mile road march, maneuvering through a 4-mile obstacle course, swimming and other events. The contest has been compared to the Ironman and Eco-Challenge because Rangers get very little sleep or food during a competition that’s physically and mentally challenging.

 In Attapulgus, GA, south of Bainbridge, an 800-acre elephant sanctuary is being developed.

Elephant Refuge North America, Buckley’s site in Attapulgus, is the second site that Buckley’s organization, Elephant Aid International, has opened. The first site is located in Tennessee.

The site will be the new home for elephants from zoo and circus situations, according to Buckley. Only one elephant from the Tennessee location will be moving to the new site in Georgia.

“This 850 acre piece of land, this one right here, will be heaven for 7-10 elephants,” said Buckley. “You could have more, but the reason you wouldn’t is that the herd dynamics are affected when you bring in more elephants. Our goal is to create a healthy environment for elephants, and what’s healthy is when they act like a family.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield is reportedly considering dropping ACA/Obamacare coverage in some markets.

Blue Cross is the largest insurer in Georgia. It is also currently the only exchange health insurer in 96 of the state’s 159 counties. Those counties cover the rural southern reaches of the state as well as Augusta. Even a partial pullout by Anthem, would create a vacuum in those areas.

Competition in the metro Atlanta exchange is fairly strong, but a Blue Cross pullout in other areas “would have a profound effect on the market,” Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University, said Tuesday.

At Emory yesterday, former President Jimmy Carter said he hopes the Trump administration reinvigorates the women’s movement.

Legislation & Local Issues

The Georgia General Assembly failed to pass legislation that would have flattened state income tax rates, but its sponsor, Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) will try again.

Georgia has had a graduated income tax structure, which means a lower rate for the poor and a higher rate for the rich.

Powell thought he had that balance in House Bill 329, a plan that stripped the state tax code of its various levels and replaced it with a single 5.4 percent rate. That’s a nice cut for top earners but it represents a huge increase for people at the bottom.

Powell’s plan would have everybody pay 5.4 percent starting at the first dollar. So that’s a large increase for someone making a little bit of money, but it’s a healthy cut for someone who makes a lot.

To balance it out, the bill created an earned income tax credit that would allow lower-income Georgians to roll back much of the increase. Estimates of the cost of the plan ranged from $78 million to $154 million, with most of the savings going to the wealthy.

Part of Powell’s interest in flattening the income tax is to make it easier to reduce the rates later. Right now, the income tax is complicated, but a single rate would fix that. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex idea, the state would have a single lever to pull to lower or even raise the rate as needs may occur.

The bill passed the Republican-dominated House easily, but bogged down in the also Republican-dominated Senate. A Senate version of the bill gave across-the-board tax breaks but did not eliminate the graduated system. That more costly version of tax relief likely would have earned a veto from Gov. Nathan Deal, who worried about the bill’s effect on state revenue.

“I don’t know until after the elections are over next year if there is any point in trying to make that effort,” [Powell] said. “What I saw this year was more politics than rational study.”

We heard complaints about the General Assembly being a “do-nothing” legislature this year, but I’d say that it’s performing as it was designed to.

When talking about the bicameral Congress, and by extension, the 49 state legislatures whose two chambers are modeled on the federal House and Senate structure, many historians focus on the need to balance the idea of each state having equal voting strength in the Senate, with a House that gives more weight to population.

But that’s not the only reason for the bicameral legislature.

The Federalist number 51 makes clear that this structure was also intended to limit the legislature’s ability to “get things done” as a check on the legislative power.

In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions.

Federalist 62 make clear that the two-chambers are partly designed as an impediment to legislation.

Another advantage accruing from this ingredient in the constitution of the Senate is, the additional impediment it must prove against improper acts of legislation….

It is a misfortune incident to republican government, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust. In this point of view, a senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power with, a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government. It doubles the security to the people, by requiring the concurrence of two distinct bodies in schemes of usurpation or perfidy, where the ambition or corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient.

This is a precaution founded on such clear principles, and now so well understood in the United States, that it would be more than superfluous to enlarge on it. I will barely remark, that as the improbability of sinister combinations will be in proportion to the dissimilarity in the genius of the two bodies, it must be politic to distinguish them from each other by every circumstance which will consist with a due harmony in all proper measures, and with the genuine principles of republican government.

The necessity of a senate is not less indicated by the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions.

Looking at the historic reasons for a bicameral legislature, it is clear that when the House and Senate disagree, Georgia’s General Assembly is functioning as designed.

New legislation sent to Governor Deal would require private health insurance plans to cover hearing aids for children.

Under the bill, which is still awaiting the governor’s signature, insurers would have to cover up to $3,000 in hearing aid-related costs every four years for those 18 years and younger.

Proponents argued that the change would only cost a few cents per insured person every month, because that’s what it cost the state health benefit plan after Gov. Nathan Deal increased hearing aid coverage in 2015.

“You can’t find a Georgian who wouldn’t reach into their pocket and give this little bit of money to a child,” said Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, who carried the bill in the House. “It just gives them a chance.”

Houston urged her colleagues to compare that small cost to the state’s expense when children do not receive early intervention, fall behind in their development and wind up in special education throughout school. That can cost the state $420,000, she said.

The bill only applies to those covered by private insurers, which accounts for about 17 percent of policies. Jenkins noted that about 280 babies every year are identified as having hearing loss in Georgia.

Legislation to expand the use of dental hygienists passed this session and may result in more poor and elderly Georgians receiving dental care.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 154, a pet project of Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta and Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, in the final hours of the 2017 session. It is now on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for his consideration.

Under the legislation, dental hygienists would be allowed to do basic cleaning and preventive care at so-called “safety-net settings, ” qualified health centers, school-based health clinics and dental offices without a dentist present.

The work would have to be authorized by a dentist. Currently, Georgia law requires that a dentist actually be present in the facility for a hygienist to do such work.

The Albany Herald asks whether Governor Deal is likely to sign this year’s campus carry legislation.

The House passed a similar bill last year (HB 859), but it was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The bill that is on Deal’s desk now (HB 280) is essentially the same as 859, but with an added exemption for on-campus child care centers.

The final bill passed the House 96-70 with the four Albany-area members of the House split with one “no” vote from Winfred Dukes, D-Albany, a “yes” vote from Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert and two “did not votes” from Darrel Ealum, D-Albany, and Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg.

Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson, voted “no” in the Senate.

“Governor Deal issued a fervent and detailed explanation with his veto of the campus carry bill last year. In my opinion, this year’s revised bill (HB 280) addressed some but not all issues raised from last year’s bill,” Ealum said. “HB 280 was one of the most contentious bills passed in this 2017 House Session. Even if the governor chooses to sign HB 280 with its added restrictions, many areas on college campuses will still be off limits.”

“All areas where high school students may possibly attend will still be restricted; therefore, my prediction is that, with the huge influx of high school students on college campuses attending college and career academies, dual enrollment classes, move-on-when-ready classes, etc., the bill will not be near as far sweeping as originally believed.”

Former Ambassador John Bolton sent out a press release trashing Democrat Jon Ossoff.

“In these critical times, America needs serious, national security-minded Members of Congress who have the experience and expertise to enact policies that will protect our country,” said Ambassador John Bolton. “Despite his many claims to the contrary, Jon Ossoff is not serious. He has wrongfully inflated his resume, touting five years of national security experience and top-secret national security clearance — before backtracking and saying his clearance only lasted 5 months — deceiving many Georgians in the process.”

Ambassador Bolton continued, “experience aside, Georgians in the 6th Congressional District deserve a representative who will be honest and open at all times.”

Ambassador Bolton has not endorsed a candidate in Georgia’s 6th Congressional Special Election, but he is closely monitoring the race and may give a contribution from the Bolton PAC as the election draws near.

Sandy Springs City Council member Gabriel Sterling announced he will run for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission.

Sandy Springs City Councilman Gabriel Sterling announced today that he will be running for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission. The current Chairman, John Eaves, has announced he will resign the seat to run for Mayor of Atlanta. This will require a special election, likely to be held on November 7th.

“I’ve spent most of my life working to bring conservative, effective government to all parts of Georgia,” said Sterling. “There’s a real opportunity to build on the effective reforms that have been led by the three Republican Commissioners, Ellis, Morris, and Hausmann – this chance to make meaningful change for all of the people Fulton is too important to ignore.”

“With nearly all of Fulton County incorporated into cities, now is the time to rightsize our Fulton government, reduce spending, cut taxes, and focus on the core responsibilities of the county,” continued Sterling who played a role in creating many of Fulton’s new cities. “We can enhance the quality of life for everyone who lives, works, prays, and plays here.”

“Sandy Springs is run efficiently, providing quality, responsive service, and I want to see that kind of smart government and competition brought to bear in Fulton County,” Sterling stated. “We can’t afford to go back to the dysfunction and divisiveness that defined Fulton for so long. We need fresh ideas like we’ve implemented in Sandy Springs and a steady hand in the Chairmanship. I think my record shows that I can help lead this large and diverse county successfully.”

Early voting in City of South Fulton and Roswell special runoff elections will be held next week.

Steve Shaw resigned his seat on the Eton, Georgia City Council and it will be filled in November’s election.

The remaining three council members and Mayor Billy Cantrell accepted Shaw’s resignation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, according to Kim Hall, city clerk. Shaw notified the mayor’s office of his resignation last Friday, a week after being arrested by the Murray County Sheriff’s Office on two felony counts related to an arranged illegal prescription drug buy. He is charged with conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act and use of a communication facility in a drug transaction.

The seat he held is up for election on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. Rather than call for a special election to fill out the term, Hall said the council members decided to leave the seat vacant until the next election cycle.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, qualifying for the election will be open Aug. 21-25.

Andrew Niquette will run against State Rep. Winfred Dukes (D-Albany) in the 2018 Democratic Primary.

Five Georgia companies are bidding on projects related to building a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

The City of College Park is holding public sessions to discuss the FY2017-18 budget.

The Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce will host a pancake breakfast with local legislators next week.

Coweta delegation members – Sen. Matt Brass, Rep. Lynn Smith, Rep. Josh Bonner, Rep. David Stover, and Rep. Bob Trammell – will discuss what happened during the legislative session, which began in January and ended late March.

The Coweta delegation will participate in a moderated panel. Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, will provide legislative insights from the session as well as moderate the panel.

The event will be held from 7:30-9 a.m. Reservations are due by Monday. The cost is $20 for chamber members and their guests and $50 for general admission.

Qualifying for a special election to Clarkesville City Council will be held April 24-26, 2017.

The at-large election will determine the person who will serve the balance of a four-year term, beginning on or about June 21, 2017, and continuing through Dec. 31, 2019.

The Clarkesville Special Election will be held Tuesday, June 20, at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center, 120 Paul Franklin Road, Clarkesville. Deadline to register to vote in the Special Election is May 22, Ellison said.

6
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 6, 2017

These four dogs at Barrow County Animal Control were scheduled to be euthanized this morning, but have been given a reprieve to noon on Friday because of yesterday’s weather.

Code Red Barrow

Petunia

Petunia is a female Boxer and Whippet mix puppy who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

She was born around September of 2016 and is quite the unique combination – Boxer/Whippet mix! Basically, at only 22 lbs, we’re going to call her a mini boxer with some stilts for legs. Because she is still a puppy, our best guess is that she’ll top out in the high 30’s or low 40’s.

April Athenspets

April is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Athenspets in Athens, GA.

April is a classic lab mix puppy – full of kisses and fun. When you kneel down and call her she runs right into your arms and flips over for a bellyrub. She seems to have a great temperament – wants to be friends with everybody, human and canine, and is submissive without being at all fearful. She hasn’t had much training yet so she jumps up, but she isn’t wild or hyper about it. She wants to please, so training her shouldn’t be hard.

HershelAthens

Hershel is a young male Terrier and Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Athens, GA.

Hershel and his siblings, Rosita, Rick, Daryl, Maggie and Michonne were abandoned on the side of a busy road. They were starving and in bad shape. They were the real life Walking Dead puppies.

Hershel is a 8 month old Terrier/Shepherd/Hound(?) mix. He is a very sweet and sensitive boy. He loves attention and wants to sit in your lap. He loves his toys and lots of play time. Hershel is very good with other dogs, cats and children. Hershel is crate and house trained.

Hershel can be a little timid of some men due to previous harsh treatment but he does warm up with a little patience. Then he will be your buddy. :)

He will be about 40 to 50lbs full grown.

6
Apr

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

On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that all ports in America would be open to trade with other countries not ruled by the British. The action was taken several months after Britain passed the American Prohibitory Act which forbade trade with the colonies and was intended to punish colonists for the growing rebellion.

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896.

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, when the US House of Representatives voted 373-50 on a declaration of war that passed the Senate two days earlier.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released on April 6, 1968.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal signed an Executive Order creating a Court Reform Council on March 30, 2017.

Whereas: A trusted an modernized judiciary is a vital component of society; and

Whereas: Proposals to amend the judicial process and the administrative law hearing process in Georgia require a thorough analysis; and

Whereas: A study of best practices would be a required aspect of the analysis,

Now, therefore, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Georgia, it is hereby

Ordered: That the Court Reform Council is hereby created to review current practices and procedures within the judicial court system and the administrative law hearing system and make recommendations to improve efficiencies and achieve best practices for the administration of justice.

It is further

Ordered: The following individuals are hereby appointed to serve on the Court Reform Council:

The Honorable Chris Carr – Attorney General of Georgia

The Honorable Bill Cowsert – Majority Leader, Georgia State Senate

The Honorable Christian Commer – Majority Whip, Georgia House of Representatives

The Honorable Stacey Abrams – Minority Leader, Georgia House of Representatives

The Honorable Nels Peterson – Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia

The Honorable Charlie Bethel – Judge, Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia

The Honorable Trent Brown – Judge, Superior Court of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit

The Honorable Michael Malihi – Chief Judge, Office of State Administrative Hearings

David Werner – Executive Counsel, Office of the Governor

Dennis T. Cathey – member, Cathey & Strain, LLC

Chris Cummiskey – Executive Vice President of External Affairs, Georgia Power

Ordered: That Attorney General Chris Carr shall serve as Chairman of the Court Reform Council

It is further

Ordered: That the Court Reform Council shall submit a final report of their findings and recommendations to me on or before December 1, 2017.

Continue Reading..

5
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 5, 2017

Barrow County Animal Shelter is overcrowded and will start euthanizing dogs to free up space on Thursday, April 6th.

Scooby2

Scooby (above and below) is a 3-4 year old male mixed breed dog who weighs 52 pounds is available for adoption from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA. There is no charge to adopt Scooby.

Scooby is very friendly, described as a sweetheart by those who have met him.

Email [email protected] for more information.

Scooby

Lidia

Lidia is a 7-year old female, maybe a Doberman and Hound mix, who weighs 59 pounds and is available for adoption from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Minnie

Minnie is a sweet female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Minnie went to a recent adoption even and was very friendly to all of the new people she met, including children and got along pretty well with the other dogs too.

Minnie is scheduled to be euthanized on Thursday.