The blog.

15
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 15, 2016

The Magna Carta was sealed by King John on June 15, 1215.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses and dealt mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any future claim to absolutism by the English monarch. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England’s Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

On June 15, 1740, Spanish troops attacked the English who were led by James Oglethorpe, at Fort Mose, two miles north of St. Augustine, Florida. With 68 English killed and 34 wounded, it was the heaviest losses sustained by Oglethorpe during his campaign against St. Augustine.

George Washington accepted the assignment of leading the Continental Army on June 15, 1775.

The Oregon Treaty was signed on June 15, 1815 between England and the United States, establishing the border between the U.S. and Canada.

On June 15, 1864, a funeral was held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta for Confederate General Leonidas Polk, who was killed the day before at Pine Mountain near Marietta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

lucy-football

The best image today in Georgia politics comes from FiveThirtyEight.com where they were discussing the chances that Georgia will be in play for Hillary Clinton in the General Election this year.

micah: All right, what other states? How about Georgia?

julia: I think you’re right, Micah, that Georgia is kind of like the football and the Democrats are Charlie Brown.

natesilver: I, too, am somewhat more skeptical about Georgia than, say, Arizona. Georgia’s sort of competitive viewed from the top down, but there aren’t all that many swing voters there. Instead, you have a very Democratic African-American vote and some very conservative whites.

micah: It’s not elastic! (Elasticity is my favorite made-up FiveThirtyEight concept/term.)

harry: The question in Georgia is whether or not the heavy migration of African-Americans into the state can outpace the movement of whites away from the Democratic Party.

natesilver: Right. If Clinton wins Georgia, it’s probably going to be as a result of newly registered voters, newly moved voters and a big ground game. It’ll be about turnout more than persuasion.

julia: The thing about Georgia that keeps me coming back to the competitiveness thesis is that so many other states follow that model: big city turns the whole, otherwise pretty conservative state blue.

Former Congressman Jack Kingston has penned an op-ed on the terrorist attack in Orlando.

Now comes the parade.

In the days ahead, following the sickening attack in Orlando, we will see a sympathetic press circling Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as they wring their hands and with sober voices denounce hatred, call for unity and make convincing statements that we have to “learn more” about violence.

They will vaguely suggest the Orlando tragedy is more the fault of intolerance in the Christian community and the NRA than with ISIL or any global threat.

They will act as if it can be blamed on a Bush or some previous decision maker.

They will whine as if they were victims of forces they have no control over.

But you will never hear from them or their adoring press the problem: that the President has been ineffective and absentee when it comes to ISIL and radical jihadist extremism.

Take a minute to read the entire piece.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton shared an Atlanta stage yesterday, according to the Saporta Report.

The venue was the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, where nearly 1,000 leaders from around the country have been convening since Sunday.

The conversation between Clinton and Carter culminated the event – and provided a window on two leaders who have made the most of their post-presidencies.

“Both of us have been blessed to live far longer out of office than we did in office,” observed Clinton.

“It didn’t take me long to live longer than the time I was in office,” Carter, a one-term president, quickly chimed in. “I was good at being elected, but not good at being re-elected.”

Fulton County is considering partnering with ride-sharing service Uber to provide mobility for seniors.

The county is slated to vote Wednesday on a $10,000 pilot program that would give elderly people rides to senior centers.

The county’s own system for getting seniors around is over-burdened, according to a proposal. Uber created a special program that allows a third party to book rides for senior citizens who might not be proficient at using cellphones. The county and the company put it to use during a three-month trial at one senior center.

If the small-scale pilot program is approved, the county will continue to study the cost and efficiency of the program, including whether a better transportation network exists.

Lee County may build a $50 million hospital, according to the Albany Herald.

Lee County sources say the hospital will offer “state-of-the-art health care along with affiliations with some of the best specialty medical services in the country.”

The county will finance construction of the hospital with proceeds obtained through bonds issued by the Lee County Development Authority. Once constructed, a real estate development company working under the authorization of the Development Authority will sublease the hospital to an experienced operator, that officials described as “well-qualified.”

The county will apply for a Certificate of Need through the Georgia Department of Public Health under the sole community provider provision that is part of state law. Under that provision, any municipality in a county that has no hospital within its borders may establish such a health care facility for its residents.

The Sea Island Company has been bought by Denver’s Anschutz family, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The family bought out Oaktree Capital Management of Los Angeles, Capital Avenue Group of New York, Starwood Capital Group of Greenwich, Conn. The four bought Sea Island out of bankruptcy in 2010 for $212 million.

“We are extremely excited about this news and believe that this is the best possible scenario for the future of Sea Island – for our residents and club members, our team members, our guests, and for the Golden Isles community as a whole” said Scott Steilen, president of Sea Island Co. “Being solely owned by the Anschutz family will once again bring a level of stability, continuity, and long term commitment of ownership to Sea Island.”

Steilen said the ownership consolidation will not impact Sea Island’s operation. But it does bring together the ownership of Sea Island and Colorado Springs, Colo.-based resort The Broadmoor.

The Anschutz family is headed by Philip Anschutz, No. 108 on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of $10.5 billion. He made his fortune in oil.

14
Jun

Adoptable Dogs for June 14, 2016

Gracie

Gracie is a young Beagle/Chihuahua Mix female who weighs 16 pounds and is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA. She gets along great with other dogs, walks great on leash and loves her play groups.

George

George is a young Beagle/Chihuahua Mix male who weighs 16 pounds and is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA. He gets along great with other dogs, walks great on leash and loves her play groups.

Dave

Dave is a three-year old Chihuahua and Dachshund mix male who weighs 12 pounds and is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA. Dave is a very well behaved little guy and is great with other dogs.

Buster

Buster is a Corgi and Pekingese mix male who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA.

Buster has lost his owner. She was 92 and had to go to a nursing home. He misses his mom so much. He is the cutest little tiny boy with little short legs and stub tail. He weighs 10 pounds and is 10 years old. He certainly doesn’t act like a senior. He bounces around smiling every time someone visits him. He will be such a good little companion.

14
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 14, 2016

On June 14, 1736, James Oglethorpe ordered plans to be drawn for a new city to be called Augusta.

Happy birthday to the United States Army, established on June 14, 1775.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” One hundred years later, on June 14, 1877, was the first observance of Flag Day.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

On Wednesday, after a mega-dollar fundraiser in the morning, Donald J. Trump will headline a rally at the Fox Theater at Noon.

Among the restrictions for those attending the rally: “No posters, banners, or signs may be brought into the event. There is no dress code. No professional cameras with a detachable lens are permitted. No tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, or GoPros. ID is not required for entry.”

Also, banned? Reporters from the Washington Post.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson says it’s time to “declare war on radical Islam,” according to the AJC Political Insider.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said Monday that the shooting rampage that left 50 dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando at the hands of a killer who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State proved it was time to declare a “no holds barred” war against Islamic terrorism.

“There’s only one thing you can do with people who will kill themselves to kill you, burn you in a cage on the town square or blow themselves up,” Isakson said during an editorial board meeting at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ve got to kill them first. That ought to be our mantra.”

Isakson, who is seeking a third term in November, said he wants both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to commit to sending more ground troops to Iraq, Syria and other places where the Islamic State and other terror groups are taking root.

“We’ve got to be willing to take the battle to ISIS. Right now, they’re taking the battle to us, and yesterday it was in Orlando,” he said, adding: “Lone wolves are hard to stop, but I will never say never.”

In Lee County, the commission has approved the hiring of a part-time worker to help with the upcoming election,

Columbus is bracing itself for the economic impact of cutbacks at Fort Benning.

Gary Jones with the Columbus Chamber’s Military Affairs Office says the army has gone from 570,000 to 490,000 soldiers.  It is now in the process of being reduced to 450,000 soldiers.  Jones says this is causing Fort Benning to lose 2,400 to 2,800 soldiers.

Sal Nodjomian with the Matrix Design Group began a study in 2015 looking at the economic impact of reducing military troops at Fort Benning.  He says Fort Benning has about a $5 billion economic impact a year on the region.

“When you take nearly 3,000 military members and a corresponding number of dependents out of the economy, that’s going to impact the economy by about seven or 800 million dollars,” Nodjomian said.

Lilburn City Council voted to keep the property tax millage rate the same as last year.

Muscogee County Board of Education voted 4-3 against a proposed FY 2017 budget, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Voting yes were board chairman Rob Varner of District 5, vice chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1 and Athavia “A.J.” Senior of District 3. Voting no were Kia Chambers, the nine-member board’s lone countywide representative, John Thomas of District 2, Mark Cantrell of District 6 and Frank Myers of District 8. Naomi Buckner of District 4 and Shannon Smallman of District 7 were absent.

The administration’s document shows proposed raises for teachers totaling $3.5 million, but Thomas’ analysis shows the proposed budget reducing teacher salaries by a total of $3.7 million. Thomas asked Thornton to explain the discrepancy.

Myers made a motion, seconded by Thomas, to table the vote on the tentative budget. The motion failed 2-5, with only Myers and Thomas voting for it. Chambers and Cantrell did, however, support them in voting against the original motion to adopt the tentative budget.

Myers said he made the motion because the administration didn’t include a raise of 3 percent for teachers, which Gov. Nathan Deal promised in January.

Lewis previously explained and reiterated Monday night that the district received $1.6 million for raises from the state. That amounts to less than 1 percent in salary increases, so his administration is proposing to more than double that amount, Lewis said.

Senator Josh McKoon, on Facebook, disputed the amount budgeted by the state for a raise in Muscogee schools.

I keep hearing that the Muscogee County School District is claiming they only received $1.7 million to raise teacher salaries when in fact they were allocated $5.7 million of the additional $300 million appropriated in the FY 2017 budget.

The Gilmer County Board of Commissioner has outlawed alcohol on rivers in unincorporated parts of the County.

[D]iscussion for the second river item on their agenda revolved around the possibility of banning alcohol and glass on the river. A very different discussion saw people on both sides of the issues. Woody Jensen of the Cartecay River Experience suggested restricting the river to one zippered cooler on the river with people to help control the alcohol without an outright ban. One homeowner on the river disagreed siting several issues of lewd and inappropriate activity.

The Board of Commissioners ultimately elected to approve the alcohol ban, however. The ban is issued immediately with the Chairman Paris set to collaborate with the River outfitters on the construction and placement of signs to indicate the new ban at several locations.

The Cherokee County Commission is working on the FY2017 budget, which may include an increase in tax revenue.

Steve Miller announced he will run for Mayor of Holly Springs in the November General Election, while incumbent Mayor Tim Downing hasn’t announced whether he will run for reelection.

Chalk up two more lives saved by the application of Naloxone after apparent drug overdoses.

Here a SPLOST, There a SPLOST

Former Governor Roy Barnes writes in the Marietta Daily Journal about the history of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referenda in Cobb County.

I was in the state Senate at the time and Al Burruss was majority leader in the House of Representatives. Joe Mack Wilson was a leader on the House Ways and Means Committee. Newly elected [Cobb County Commission] chairman [Earl] Smith asked us if there was a way Cobb County could levy a sales tax so Cobb could fund capital transportation projects to meet the exploding growth of Cobb. On a Sunday afternoon after church Al, Joe Mack and I met at my law office to discuss how we might create a local sales tax for Cobb County and other counties. I acted as scrivener and wrote out on a legal pad the first draft of what we now call SPLOST.

Having been present at the birth of SPLOST and one of its authors — and since I am the only one of the three original authors of SPLOST in life — I think it appropriate to outline what was our intent of SPLOST and how it was intended to be administered.

O.C.G.A. § 48-8-111(a)(1) requires the “purpose or purposes for which the proceeds of the tax are to be used and may be expended…” to be stated in the resolution and referendum question of a SPLOST. The county or school district is bound to expend the funds exclusively for these purposes. However, the law does not require a specific location of the proposed expenditure. For example, if a purpose is set forth for sidewalks, the location of each sidewalk is not required.

The selection of which roads to pave and which bridges to build are all in the discretion of the governmental body which has enacted the sales taxes. Governments may limit themselves to specific projects, but where they have not done so, the government retains the right to use the SPLOST funds and to choose the roads, bridges, buildings and other capital expenditures in a way which meets the purposes of the referendum.

Meanwhile, DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader writes that funds from the upcoming SPLOST in his county should be limited to property tax relief and transportation infrastructure.

Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation to allow DeKalb County voters to consider changes in property and sales tax systems that could provide additional resources for infrastructure and capital investment, if voters agree to a sales tax increase.

The bill, HB 215, depends on the passage of two referenda: The Equalization of Homestead Option Sales Tax (EHOST), to change the current 1% HOST Tax, and to impose a new 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) that sunsets when the approved project list is funded. I’ll be willing to put the matter before the voters, but I’m ambivalent about the outcome.

The EHOST would lower taxes for city homeowners an average of $407, because more of their tax bill will be offset by the HOST tax. Unincorporated home owners will only see an average $9 decrease, and because of the shift in advantage to city residents; some may see a small increase in net property taxes. It would also eliminate “HOST Equalization Payments” from the County to municipalities, which skew to the advantage wealthier DeKalb cities, due to higher property values and rates of home ownership.

Since the County has recently shown a lack of capacity in planning large projects, I’m willing to authorize only what’s absolutely and immediately necessary for our first experience using the tax. If we’re successful with a short list of projects over a couple of years, we can bring another list back to voters with the confidence born of a positive experience. If the experiment is unsuccessful, we can let the tax expire and regroup. Street repaving is a good place to start, and is where I’ll put my emphasis as we make these decisions on your behalf.

His fellow Commissioner Nancy Jester sent a message yesterday about two meetings regarding the upcoming SPLOST.

DeKalb County is hosting two meetings to inform and educate the public at large about the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (E-HOST).

Both meetings will be held Tuesday, June 21 at the Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur.

•    Meeting #1, with elected municipal leadership, begins at 2 p.m.
•    Meeting #2, an interactive open house for the public at large, begins at 6 p.m.

House Bill 215 authorized DeKalb County to consider a one-cent sales tax to invest in capital and infrastructure projects, and to dedicate 100 percent of HOST proceeds to property tax relief.  Questions about these two proposed changes are intended to be placed on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2016.

“The November referendum questions are very important, and I want to be sure everyone has access to the information they need to make an informed decision,” said Interim CEO Lee May.

The purpose of the first meeting at 2 p.m. is to provide the governing authorities of DeKalb and each qualified city within the county the opportunity to discuss the implementation of the SPLOST and E-HOST and possible projects.  These projects include those planned by the county and the cities for inclusion in the proposed SPLOST referendum.  The Citizens Advisory Committee, empaneled in January by Interim CEO May and the Board of Commissioners to provide feedback on projects to include road projects and other infrastructure needs in DeKalb recommended a list of projects to the Board for consideration and approval.

Between 6 – 8 p.m., DeKalb will host an interactive open house for the purposes of informing and educating residents about the upcoming referendum questions.  The information that will be made available includes proposed project lists and maps organized by commission district with general information about SPLOST and E-HOST.  Staff members from police, fire, parks and recreation, libraries, public works and other departments will be on hand to answer residents’ questions and record feedback.  Participants are also encouraged to submit an online survey, located at http://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/SPLOST/Survey.html.

Both meetings are free and open to the public.

The Whitfield County Commission voted to take out a $5 million tax anticipation note funded by the existing SPLOST to smooth cash flow from the sales tax.

Power Plays

Georgia Power is seeking approval from the Public Service Commission to spend $175 million in assessing a site near Columbus for a potential new nuclear reactor.

Georgia Power executives said the company needs to get started on the study because it can take 17 years to license and build a new nuclear plant, which could be needed within 20 years.

But the regulator’s staff and at least one of the PSC’s commissioners are opposed to paying anything now toward the study. They say the utility should pay for the study itself or wait until the next update of its long-term plan, in 2019.

Commissioners asked why build a new reactor in Columbus instead of at Vogtle.

PSC member Tim Echols asked why not use Vogtle, it has ample room and already has the wires, roads, security and other infrastructure. It is also where the company is having built two AP-1000 reactors, the same design it is leaning toward for the reactor being considered.

“Everything else would say if you’re going to build an additional reactor, which is likely to be an AP-1000, wouldn’t it make sense to build it there rather than picking up everything and moving it all the way across the state?” he asked.

Alison R. Chiock, Georgia Power’s director of resource policy and planning, said that the company considered it but that there are stronger reasons for building it elsewhere.

The need for the power is more likely to be on the western end of the state, she said, but a bigger reason is to avoid what she called a “concentration of assets.”

When the current construction is complete, Vogtle will be the site of the nation’s largest concentration of reactors – four. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is leery of greater concentration, she said, because of the additional risks during malfunctions or other trouble.

Meanwhile, construction of units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle continues,

Executives at Georgia Power Co. are celebrating the achievement of some milestones in the construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle: the final vertical level and the delivery of the final coolant pump.

Construction is still only one-third complete, but these achievements are somewhat significant, company officials said.

Reaching the highest level of construction above the ground is a symbolic moment for the 5,300 workers at the site, as it is at all major construction projects. The highest point on the job is the top of the cooling towers at 601 feet, and crews are now at the top of the second one.

The company is also celebrating the placement of the last of what it calls the “Big Six” modules for the nuclear island of Unit 3, the heart of the nuclear plant.

The modules, weighing 52 tons and 237 tons, were assembled in a separate staging area on site and then lifted into place. They are part of a 75,000-cubic-foot tank that will contain water treated with boron that will also play a role in managing the reactor’s heat.

The company also moved to clean up a lingering issue from decades of coal, ash ponds used to dispose of waste.

All of the company’s 29 ash ponds across the state will cease operations and stop receiving coal ash within the next three years. Additionally, the company is completely removing the ash from 16 ponds located adjacent to lakes or rivers where advanced engineering methods, such as the installation of impermeable concrete barriers designed to isolate the closed pond from groundwater, may not be feasible.

The ash from these ponds will either be relocated to a permitted landfill, consolidated with other closing ash ponds or recycled for beneficial use. (Approximately 50 percent of the coal ash Georgia Power produces today is recycled for various uses such as Portland cement, concrete, and cinder blocks.)  The company’s remaining 13 ash ponds will be closed in place using advanced engineering methods.

13
Jun

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 13, 2016

penny

Penny is an 5-year old adult female Chihuahua who is available for adoption from Murray County Humane Society in Chatsworth, GA.

Gabi

Gabi is an adult female Miniature Pinscher mix who weighs 22 pounds and is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Gabi has been at the shelter for 5 years now. As you can see she really loves people and will bond very quickly. She doesn’t do well with cats or children. She loves going for long walks, playing with toys, rides great in the car and is crate trained. I know there has to be someone out there for this sweet girl. Please give her a chance. Go to www.hsnwga.org to apply for her. They will waive the adoption fee.

Beanie

Beanie is a tiny senior Chihuahua mix male who is available for adoption from the Murray County Humane Society in Chatsworth, GA.

13
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 13, 2016

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert R. Livingston of New York to draft a declaration of independence from Britain. Language in the original draft that condemned the introduction of the slave trade in the colonies did not make the final draft.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from the Constitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776. In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia. A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

Abraham Baldwin, founder of the University of Georgia, arrived in Philadelphia on June 11, 1787 to attend the Constitutional Convention. Baldwin was joined by three other delegates, William Few Jr., William Houston, and William Pierce; Baldwin and Few would sign the Constitution on behalf of Georgia.

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued proclamation 3542 ordering Governor George Wallace of Alabama to allow two African-American students to register at the University of Alabama, as ordered by a federal court.

On the morning of June 11, the day the students were expected to register, Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama campus auditorium flanked by Alabama state troopers while cameras flashed and recorders from the press corps whirred. Kennedy, at the White House, and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, in Tuscaloosa, kept in touch by phone.

When Wallace refused to let the students enter for registration, Katzenbach phoned Kennedy. Kennedy upped the pressure on Wallace, immediately issuing Presidential Proclamation 3542, which ordered the governor to comply, and authorizing the secretary of defense to call up the Alabama National Guard with Executive Order 11111.

That afternoon, Katzenbach returned with the students and asked Wallace to step aside. Wallace, knowing he was beaten, relented, having saved face with his hard-line, anti-segregation constituency.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers; Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Here’s the invitation to the Trump Campaign fundraiser later this week.

Trump Invite June 15

Former President Bill Clinton will be in Atlanta for a three day meeting sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative.

Bill Clinton wants to highlight his foundation, which corrals millions of dollars to help solve pressing global crises, while sharing the stage with the only other living former Democratic president.

The Clinton foundation’s three-day summit, which begins Sunday, will host panels with business leaders, academics and politicians who tackle some of the nation’s vexing problems. One panel featuring Coca-Cola North America’s president will target how leaders can bolster workforce development, another will gather education experts to explore how to address poverty at schools.

The highlight is a discussion Tuesday between Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter that caps the meeting. Billed as a “conversation” between the two Democrats, it will almost certainly touch on the presidential contest. Carter largely stayed out of the primary between Clinton and Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying through a spokesman that he will support the nominee.

The nonprofit has also been the focus of increasing criticism of the Clinton campaign. It’s received millions from foreigners with links to their home governments despite a vow not to accept cash from foreign governments. And The Wall Street Journal in May reported that the foundation steered a $2 million grant to a firm owned by friends of the Clintons.

State Senator and early Trump supporter Michael Williams is among the Georgia delegates headed to Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention. From the Forsyth County News,

Williams, who is serving his first term as a state lawmaker, has long been a supporter of Trump and said he is excited to vote on his nomination.

“I was the first elected official in Georgia, back in September, to come out and endorse him,” he said. “It was a little bit gratifying. I got teased and picked on a lot. Now, I get to go to the RNC and vote for him being the presidential nominee.”

Trump carried both the state of Georgia and Forsyth County during March’s presidential preference primary.

Williams said the convention is the time for the party to come together after a heated primary race.

“One of my big agendas while we’re up there is to help to just unite the Republican Party,” he said. “We may not have our first choice, but it is the choice the party selected and we just have to find a way to put the past behind us, focus on November and win the White House.”

While you’re in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, I suggest keeping your partying within reasonable limits. You don’t want to see the Cleveland lockup.

Three delegates to the Indiana Republican Convention spent the night in jail after what police described as a drunken encounter with police at a hotel.

IMPD officers were called to the Hyatt Regency on S. Capitol downtown just after 10:00 p.m. Friday on a report of a man being aggressive.  A police report says an officer was trying to get the man to leave the bar of the hotel when another man, later identified as Scott Tuft, got in the officer’s face and said the man did not have to leave.

After Tuft refused to back down, the report says the officer told Tuft he was under arrest.  A woman then grabbed the officer’s arm and tried to pull him away from Tuft.  After a couple of warnings, Amy Daly was arrested, and she and Tuft were escorted outside the hotel.

Police say Tuft and Mr. and Mrs. Daly all appeared to be intoxicated.

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) spoke to a church in Augusta this weekend.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis gently raised his right arm Sunday morning and pointed toward the congregation at Trin­ity Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

“We live in the same house,” Lewis said. “All of us. And I don’t mean the house of the United States. I mean the house of the world.”

The Georgia Democrat spoke for nearly 25 minutes about his personal trials and the importance of continuing to strive for race equality in the United States.

In addition to Lewis’ address, state Rep. Brian Prince read Old Testament Scripture and state Sen. Harold V. Jones recited a passage from the New Testament. After the readings, U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver introduced Lewis to the congregation.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) will reintroduce legislation to ban what she calls “assault weapons.”

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said she plans to revive her effort to restrict assault weapons, large-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets in Georgia after the deadliest mass shooting in American history. A similar proposal she introduced last year was blocked by powerful Republicans who said it weakened Second Amendment rights.

“It is time for a discussion – at a minimum, at least a discussion,” said Oliver, who said she’s looking for a Republican co-sponsor. “I always want to remind Georgians that we were spared a massacre with an assault weapon at McNair Academy by Antoinette Tuff. We were lucky, lives were saved here. Orlando citizens tragically were not so fortunate.”

The Forsyth County Commission approved an ordinance revision that will allow brewpubs to sell roadies.

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved June 3 a modification to the county’s alcohol ordinance that would allow brewpubs to sell packaged products.

Brewpubs in the county are now allowed to not only sell consumption on the premises and to wholesalers, but also allowed to sell package sales in growlers. The one caveat is the brewpub operation must not only have a license for consumption on the premises but will also need a package sales license.

In March, the idea was first proposed. County Attorney Ken Jarrard said brewpubs in the county are currently allowed to “brew beer, sell it to the folks who come and eat at the restaurant on site, manufacture up to 10,000 barrels of beer a year, can sell it at their restaurant, and then also manufacture up to 5,000 barrels of beer to sell to licensed wholesalers.”

Melvilla West will not appear on the ballot as a candidate for Dooly County Board of Education after a ruling by the Georgia Department of Education.

Melvilla Haddock West sought a waiver in March to be on the November 2016 ballot for Dooly County Board of Education.

West has served on the board for 15 years.

The state voted eight to zero to deny West’s request, since her candidacy violates a state law making any person ineligible to run for a local school board if he or she has an immediate family member also serving on the board or a close family member in a high-ranking position.

West’s sister Freida Haddock got elected to the Dooly County Board of Education but did not seek a waiver when she came on a few years ago.

Fayetteville City Council Member Kathaleen Brewer says there must be fraud in the free lunch program. Fayette schools Superintendent Joseph Barrow denies the charge.

The number of foreclosures advertised in Cobb County is at its lowest monthly level in six years.

For the first time in 40 years, a barge delivered goods from Savannah to Augusta via the Savannah River.

When a massive piece of equipment moved up the Savannah River to Augusta from Georgia Ports Authority’s Ocean Terminal recently, it marked the first time since the Carter Administration that cargo has been barged from Savannah to its old-time trading partner some 200 miles upriver.

A 700,000 pound syngas converter, used to produce anhydrous ammonia, arrived at Ocean Terminal last month on the vessel BBC Vesuvius bound for PCS Nitrogen in Augusta. It was offloaded from the ship with the help of Stevens Towing and the Vesuvius’ onboard crane.

“This demonstrates Savannah’s ability to move super-sized cargo inland via river barge,” said incoming GPA executive director Griff Lynch. “It’s a useful option when a cargo’s size and weight complicate overland transit.

10
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10
Jun

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 10, 2016

Myles

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

Murphy

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

Latte

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

Irving

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

9
Jun

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 9, 2016

Golden Dachshund

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

Barrow Beagle

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

Barrow Puppies

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

9
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

8
Jun

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Florida is basically accusing Georgia of “overconsumption” of water in the basin, leading to economic troubles for Florida’s oyster industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

Georgia has denied the allegations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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