On August 31, 1864, Confederates charged Union forces at the Battle of Jonesboro, in which the CSA suffered more than 1400 casualties in one hour.
On August 31, 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which this Senate had previously passed.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
This is qualifying week for most municipal elections that will be held November 3, 2015. Expect a flurry of announcements in coming days.
Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams will run for election for the city’s top spot after being appointed Mayor to fill the remainder of the term vacated by former Mayor J. Max Davis. Our condolences to the Mayor’s family on the loss of her mother. Mayor Williams will meet former DeKalb County Board of Ethics Chair John Ernst in November.
The most mouth-watering municipal election this year is for Mayor of Smyrna, where incumbent Max Bacon is running on the tasty
breakfast anytime treat named after him.
Next week, Mayor Bacon will hold a campaign kickoff.
But wait, it gets better. His campaign Twitter handle is @VoteBaconator.
John Heneghan, who runs the excellent Dunwoody North blog, will run for reelection to the Dunwoody City Council.
Also in Dunwoody, City Council Member Denny Shortal resigned earlier this month to run for Mayor.
In Gainesville, three City Council seats are up for election, as are three seats on the city’s Board of Education.
Local officials in Carrollton credit the Port of Savannah, more than 300 miles away, with a recent business deal that will bring new jobs to the West Georgia city.
Coweta County will be seeing campaign signs everywhere as election season kicks off for municipal seats in Newnan, Senoia, Moreland, Turin, Sharpsburg and Haralson.
Gwinnett County may have more municipal elections than anywhere else, with qualifying this week for Auburn, Braselton , Buford, Dacula, Duluth, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville, Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Snellville, Sugar Hill, and Suwanee.
In Savannah, Tom Barton writes that conditions might be ripe for a reprise of Susan Weiner’s 1991 upset election as Mayor of the coastal city.
[I]f I’m Mayor Edna Jackson or any of the seven incumbent members of Council running for a second term, I’m not just sweating bullets as qualifying for this year’ non-partisan election begin Monday. I’m also perspiring hand grenades. That’s because the Savannah electorate seems to be in the mood to clean house.
That’s how it was back in 1991 and in 1995. Weiner rode a tidal wave of voter disgust with the incumbent mayor over the city’s failure to address violent crime and the belief that the city’s leadership was complacent, arrogant and out-of-touch. A grassroots coalition called Renaissance Savannah released a critical report called “Is Savannah Growing Senile.” It helped propel Weiner into the mayor’s office and Rousakis into the history book. Then, only four years later, Weiner the Reformer was a victim of some of the same dynamics. She lost to Floyd the Everyman, ushering in a rare era of good feeling in city politics.
Incumbent Savannah mayors are tough to beat. Especially if that mayor is African-American. Adams ran unopposed for his second term. Otis Johnson won 70 percent of the vote, besting a five-candidate field in his bid for a second term in 2007. The conventional wisdom, since then, has been that a white person, especially one with Republican leanings, couldn’t be elected mayor. While there’s some truth to that CW — Savannah is a majority black city and city voters have tended to prefer Democrats, I don’t think it applies in this year’s elections. I think the right white candidate can win a citywide election. And timing is key.
That was a big lesson from the 2014 race for Chatham County District Attorney. Meg Heap, who is white, took 56 percent of the countywide vote to beat Larry Chisholm, who is black. But she enjoyed significant crossover support in the city from black Democrats, in large part because of Chisholm’s four years of incompetence. This reveals a growing maturity of Savannah’s black electorate. While it is rightfully proud of black political trailblazers who become the “first black” official elected or named to a public office, I think an increasing number of black voters appear to be putting more stock into a candidate’s competency than in skin color. By the same token, I think some black voters are getting sick and tired of being taken for granted by black candidates.
I think such dynamics will play huge roles in November. Especially in the aldermanic contests in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th districts, where incumbents Mary Osborne, John Hall and Estella Shabazz are trying to cling to power.
Governor Nathan Deal has thrown a caution flag to legislators debating repealing the state income tax, according to Walter Jones of Morris News.
“I have asked them to be very cautious,” he said Friday after addressing a science-education group.
Leaders in the legislature have, for years, been calling for replacing the [income] tax with a higher sales tax.
Higher interest costs the state money it could otherwise use to fund education, health care or other public services, so officials like Deal try to keep investors happy, especially the rating agencies that grade bond risks.
“From what I have seen and read of their comments, even the introduction of legislation to [cut taxes] sometimes gets noted in their assessments of why they gave us a certain rating,” the governor said.
Georgia is one of just a handful of states with the highest rating by all of the rating agencies, helping the state pay about the lowest interest rates on its bonds, a status Deal is keen to maintain.
“[Investors] obviously don’t look at it through those lenses,” he said. “They are very focused on not having anything that jeopardizes the revenue flow for a state.”
That’s why his goal is to build the state’s reserves to $2 billion as the rating agencies recommend.
At the same time, the governor cares about stability.
“We need to ensure that we’re on solid footing in order to sustain the budgets that we have continued to pass and will pass,” he said.
David Pendered writes in the Saporta Reporta that Southern Company may see its debt ratings downgraded if the acquisition of AGL Resources closes.
Moody’s Investors Service has reduced the credit outlook of Southern Co. from stable to negative as a result of Southern’s decision to purchase AGL Resources. Moody’s affirmed Southern’s current ratings, but expects to reduce ratings if the AGL deal goes through as announced.
According to a ratings statement Moodys issued Aug. 24: “The Southern Company’s rating is likely to be lowered by one notch at or before the closing date of the AGL acquisition if the transaction is financed as currently envisioned.”
The purchase of AGL will push Southern’s total debt from less than $2 billion to the range of $10 billion to $11 billion as it works to manage the mounting costs of expanding its facilities, according to Moodys.
[T]he purchase of AGL comes at a time Southern’s rating faces rising financial pressure from expansions in Georgia and Mississippi, and expansion into renewable energy, according to the rating action.
Speaking of the expansion in Georgia, the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is proceeding apace after a schedule revision earlier this year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Georgia Power Co. reported Friday that Plant Vogtle’s expansion is progressing as planned after the Waynesboro, Ga., facility’s budget and schedule were revised earlier this year to reflect an 18-month delay and a $246 million increase in capital construction costs.
Total construction and capital costs remain at $5.045 billion, and in-service target dates for the plant’s two new nuclear reactors – Units 3 and 4 – are still tentatively set for June 2019 and 2020, the power company disclosed in its latest construction monitoring report.
In Georgia Power’s last report, which the state approved earlier this month, it said Plant Vogtle’s capital construction costs had increased from $4.8 billion and that the expected completion dates had been delayed from an original schedule of April 2016 and 2017.
“We are not changing any forecasted costs and schedules in this report,” Buzz Miller, Georgia Power’s executive vice president of nuclear development, said in an interview. “Now, it’s about getting it online and getting the plant going.”
A retired power plant on the Savannah River in downtown Savannah will be the location for a new $235 million luxury hotel built with the assistance of up to $10 million in historic preservation tax credits.
That’s because with less than two hours left in the 2015 legislative session, the Georgia Senate gave final approval to upping the potential state tax credits on historic preservation projects from $300,000 to $10 million, an amount helpful to major redevelopments like [Richard] Kessler’s. That’s on top of federal tax credits.
The bill was sponsored by the Legislature’s unofficial business tax credit king, House Economic Development and Tourism Chairman Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, and pushed along by the city’s leading lobbyist and preservationists.
“This will be a game-changer not only for Savannah, but all over the state,” predicted Stephens.
Others see it as part of a disturbing trend of lawmakers picking “winners and losers” by giving tax breaks to select private businesses.
Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, called it a “horrible bill.”
“I can’t stand to see the state invest tax dollars in private entities,” said Stover. “This is something we are seeing happen over and over again because, quite frankly, we don’t have the backbone to say no.”
“We could never get some members (of the General Assembly) to understand, or they wouldn’t understand, the fact that there is a return on investment to historic tax credits,” said Mark Kessler [son of developer Richard Kessler]. “Where the state may see this as a giveaway, there is an immediate return on investment.”
Lawyers for Nydia Tisdale sent a
love letter nastygram to a number of elected and appointed officials as well as private property owners over her forced removal from a public event last year, according to the Dawson Advertiser.
Attorneys for a woman arrested last year at Burt’s Pumpkin farm for videotaping a public GOP rally have filed notice of their intent to sue for $550,000 the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Tony Wooten, Burt’s Pumpkin Farm, Attorney Clint Bearden, organizers of the event and two additional sheriff’s deputies.
Nydia Tisdale, 52, was arrested Aug. 23, 2014, and charged with criminal trespass and felony obstruction of an officer after she refused requests to turn off her video camera.
“What precipitated this was the arrest of Nydia Tisdale for filming an event where others were also filming,” [Attorney Gerry] Weber said. “She was both arrested and brutalized by the officer (Capt. Tony Wooten). And, ultimately, we think this matter is important because free press is important. In our view, government officials should defend a citizen’s right to free speech and open government.”
The notice also alleges Tisdale’s video recording, which was held as evidence by the sheriff’s office, was “digitally altered – and critical portions that captured Capt. Wooten’s use of excessive force and Ms. Tisdale’s screams for help had been deleted.”
Former Sheriff’s Deputy Major Nicholas Neal will go to prison after being convicted of public corruption in a scheme to sell auto parts to the department he worked for, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Convicted in a public corruption trial, the former local sheriff’s office major was sentenced Friday to two years in prison, followed by eight on probation. He was found guilty Thursday of illegally selling automotive parts to the county government, even after Sheriff Butch Conway told him that it wasn’t allowed.
Chief Judge Melodie Snell Conner expressed regret handing down the sentence, saying that Neal had done “a lot of good” in his many years around Gwinnett. His ties to the community and 25 years in law enforcement factored into the judge’s decision to allow him to surrender on Monday.
“I’m sad to be here and disappointed to be here because I do know Mr. Neal professionally,” said the judge who, like Neal, is a Gwinnett native. “It’s just painful to be a part of this.”