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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 23, 2017

On the Presidential campaign trail, Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrived in Atlanta on October 23, 1932, speaking to 10,000, and continued on to his “second home” at Warm Springs, Georgia.

smFDR Atlanta 1932

FDR campaigning in Atlanta and Georgia in 1932.

FDR Georgia

When he arrived at Warm Springs, FDR gave a short speech:

“Two more weeks to go. . . . First, let me say this: this old hat, a lot of you people have seen it before. It’s the same hat. But I don’t think it is going to last much longer after the 8th of November. I have a superstition about hats in campaigns, and I am going to wear it until midnight of the 8th of November. . . . Well, it’s fine to see, and I’m looking forward to coming down here for the usual Thanksgiving party at Warm Springs, and having a real old-fashioned Thanksgiving with my neighbors again. I thank you!”

On October 23, 1971, the Coca-Cola Company launched the advertising campaign “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 23, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Quote of the Week is a tough contest between former President Jimmy Carter and State Rep. Betty Price. Via The New York Times, Carter’s offering:

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter replied. “I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) certainly spiced-up an otherwise routine off-season House Study Committee meeting last week.

During a Tuesday study committee meeting, State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV epidemiology section, “Is there an ability, since I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread … Are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread?

“I don’t want to say the quarantine word — but I guess I just said it.”

Price immediately came under fire from Price’s comments drew rebukes from human rights and LGBTQ groups, with some calling for her immediate resignation.

“I made a provocative and rhetorical comment as part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context,” Price said in her statement. “I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients.”

“I do, however, wish to light a fire under all of us with responsibility in the public health arena – a fire that will result in resolve and commitment to ensure that all of our fellow citizens with HIV will receive, and adhere to, a treatment regimen that will enhance their quality of life and protect the health of the public.”

In 2015, only four states had more adults and adolescents living with HIV than Georgia, according to a fact sheet on the state’s Department of Public Health website. The total number of people living with HIV infection in Georgia on Dec. 31 of that year was 54,574, and nearly two-thirds of them lived in the Atlanta metro area.

Conyers voters give high marks to experimental voting machines in use for local elections as a pilot program.

With the system being used in the pilot program, called the ExpressVote Universal Voting System, voters are issued a paper ballot that they insert into a touch-screen voting machine, prints their choices onto the ballot.

Voters can then review their selections on the paper ballot before inserting it into a tabulation machine, which scans the ballots and secures them in a locked box. If there’s a mistake, the voter is issued a new ballot.

“Our voters are spoiled now,” Cynthia Welch, supervisor of elections in Rockdale County, said in an interview on Thursday after four days of voting. “My poll workers and my voters are saying, ‘Do we have to go back to the old system next year?’ And my answer is, ‘Yes, unfortunately, we will have to go back.’

“It’s like test driving a new car for a whole week. You get used to it and then you have to take it back,” she added.

Georgia is likely still years away from replacing its voting machines. Lawmakers last overhauled the state’s election system in 2002 when they agreed to spend $54 million on what is called direct recording electronic equipment, which is what voters now see at the polls.

“As the existing system approaches the end of its life-cycle, it is appropriate to start exploring future options,” said Jared Thomas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office.

It would likely cost more than $100 million to buy a new system, train officials in all 159 counties and securely dispose of the now 15-year-old equipment, Thomas said.

Candidates for House District 117 and 119 in the Athens area will be at a forum tonight at the Athens-Clarke County Library, 2025 Baxter Street in Athens.

Three Republicans and one Democratic candidate are in the running to fill the unexpired term of Chuck Williams in House District 119, which spans parts of Clarke and Oconee counties.

One Democrat and one Republican are in the running to replace Regina Quick in District 117, which includes parts of Oconee, Clarke, Barrow and Jackson counties.

Quick and Williams, both Republicans, resigned from their seats this fall — Quick after she was appointed to a vacant Superior Court judgeship by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and Williams after being tapped to become director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

In Monday’s forum, first up will be the two District 117 candidates — Republican Houston Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez. After a 15-minute intermission beginning at 6:45 p.m., the four District 119 candidates will make their cases. They are Democrat software engineer and entrepreneur Jonathan Wallace, and three Republicans — funeral home owner Tom Lord, homebuilder Marcus Wiedower and communications executive Steven Strickland.

The University of Georgia College Republicans endorsed Houston Gaines for HD 117.

“Gaines’ youth and energy present a unique perspective and will contribute a fresh voice to the Georgia General Assembly,” the release reads. “His invaluable experience in the public sector and dedication to the people of the 117th District make him exceptionally qualified to be their next state representative.”

Chairman of UGACR Ben Grayson added his thoughts on Gaines to the press release.

“Houston has been a long-time friend of the UGA College Republicans, and he is a champion for higher education,” Grayson said. “We proudly support his candidacy, and we encourage everyone in the district to do the same.”

Other elections in Athens-Clarke County include a countywide T-SPLOST.

Early voting has started for the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which is slated to raise $109.5 million for transportation and infrastructure improvements in Athens over the course of five years if approved.

The referendum, if successful, would add an additional 1 percent to the sales tax in Athens and fund 19 projects chosen by the Athens-Clarke County Commission and a TSPLOST Citizen Advisory Committee.

The collection of the TSPLOST tax would begin on April 1, 2018, if approved, and would bring the sales tax in Athens-Clarke County up to 8 percent.

Voters will decide the fate of the tax during the Nov. 7 election.

Registered voters in Athens can cast their ballots in advance on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the ACC Board of Elections on 155 E. Washington St. Early voting polls will also be open Saturday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the same location.

Watkinsville and Winterville also host contested elections for City Council.

Early voting ends Nov. 3.

The Marietta Daily Journal looks at the three candidates for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission.

Political veterans Robb Pitts, Gabriel Sterling and Keisha Waites are battling for the District 7 (chair) seat on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in the Nov. 7 special election. They seek to replace incumbent John Eaves, who resigned in August to run for Atlanta mayor. The District 7 post is countywide.

Pitts, a Buckhead resident and Democrat, is running for the chair’s seat for the second time in three years.

Pitts said his top three issues are property taxes, transportation improvements and criminal justice reform. He said his political experience, including as Atlanta council president, is one reason he stands out as a candidate.

Sterling, a Sandy Springs resident and Republican, is the District 4 Sandy Springs City Council member, a post he has held since being elected in 2011 and reelected two years later. But as far back as 1990, Sterling has volunteered or worked on several political campaigns. In 2005, he negotiated for the new city of Sandy Springs with the county on assets being transferred from Fulton to the new city.

“With nearly all of Fulton County being incorporated into one of 15 cities, we have to reinvent the role of the county,” Sterling said. “It is an amazing opportunity. When we launched Sandy Springs we had a clean sheet. The next chair needs to be someone not tied to the dysfunctional functioning of Fulton’s past. I want to introduce innovative ideas to better run the county at lower costs to taxpayers.”

He said his top three issues are to protect homeowners from skyrocketing property tax assessments, reform Fulton government and partner with cities and neighboring governments to bring traffic relief.

Waites, a southwest Atlanta resident (Sylvan Hills community) and Democrat, served as the District 60 Georgia House of Representatives member from her 2012 election until resigning in September to run for this seat. She previously unsuccessfully ran for a Fulton commission district seat in 2010 and for county chair in 2006.

“As a homeowner and small business owner, I know firsthand the experiences and difficulties that taxpayers are facing with respect to navigating a flawed system,” Waites said of why she’s running this year.

Seven Gwinnett County municipalities agreed with the county on how to divide revenues from the 2017 SPLOST.

Senator David Perdue (R) introduced the Promoting Responsible Oversight of Transactions and Examinations of Credit Technology Act of 2017 (PROTECT Act).

National security freezes of protected consumers’ files and credit records would also be allowed under the legislation.

By the end of the decade, credit reporting agencies would also be barred from using Social Security numbers as a way to identify someone under the bill, which is also referred to as the PROTECT Act. The bill comes in the wake of a data breach at Equifax.

“In today’s economy, technology and banking are intertwined,” Perdue said in a statement. “It’s critical the credit bureaus and federal agencies that collect sensitive consumer data store this information properly. If not, the consequence could be severe as we’ve just seen.

“Millions of Americans were recently impacted by a massive cybersecurity breach at one of our nation’s largest credit bureaus. We cannot afford for something like this to happen again. These simple steps will protect Americans’ credit history and they should’ve been in place long ago.”

Lineman Car Tag

A new car tag honors utility line workers and raises funds for the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation.

“It is your shoulders that we all stand on,” [Fran] Forehand, vice president of the East Region office for Georgia Power, said Wednesday. “I could not be more proud of the utility work that you do every single day on behalf of us.”

“One of our contract lineman had received a burn and was treated at this center in Augusta,” Forehand said during the special tribute to the workers at the burn foundation.“During storms you get out of bed, you leave your families and you hope and pray that they’re going to be okay for the sake of others, and I can’t think of any other selfless act than that.”

The plate was part of a two year effort that led to House Bill 260. The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), carried in the Senate by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in May.

“Those are the kinds of things that we like to do because it puts a lot of emphasis and attention on those men and women that work across the state and put their lives on the line every day and night just like the firemen, EMS and police officiers,” Gooch said Wednesday. “You’re the first responders that come out in the middle of the night after a storm. While everyone else runs for shelter you and all of our other first responders run into the danger.”

All proceeds from the plate will benefit the foundation in Augusta to provide assistance to burn patients and their families at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctor’s Hospital. Electric Cities of Georgia, Georgia EMC and Georgia Power worked together on the new license plate.

The City of Milton says that a council member misused a public email list for his fundraiser.

The incumbent running in a contested race on the Milton City Council used a database of emails collected as part of the city’s veterans memorial recognition program to inform those residents about an upcoming fundraiser for his re-election campaign. That’s according to the city of Milton, which sounded the alarm late Thursday evening to residents.

Bill Lusk, who is running for an additional four-year term for the District 2, Post 1 seat, is in hot water after he used personal emails provided for the city’s annual veterans marker program — an initiative he’s been instrumental in promoting — to inform residents about the fundraiser he was hosting in his bid to defeat challenger Laura Bentley.

In a statement emailed Friday afternoon, Lusk said the distribution was an “honest oversight on my part resulting from my efforts” with the program.

“I began that program more than 10 years ago, solely at my expense,” he said. “Over time, some people applied to the city of Milton for inclusion in the program. The city forwarded those applications to me. I contacted the applicants during the course of fabricating the crosses and as a result, accumulated email addresses which I included in my contacts. I used my complete contact list to send out invitations to my campaign events. I did not use a city email list. I have removed all applicable names from my contact list.”

For its part, the city in its message sent Thursday said that it’s taken “immediate steps” to inform program participants of the situation and to “ensure that these email addresses will no longer be used for any purpose other than for their intended purpose.”

A Sandy Springs Council candidate has rescinded a claim of a third-party endorsement.

One of two women running for the District 4 seat on the Sandy Springs City Council has retracted a quote she claimed was provided the Georgia Stonewall Democrats in the organization’s endorsement of her campaign.

In a press release issued last week, Le’Dor Milteer claimed Stonewall Democrats Secretary Juliana Illari said the following about her bid to win the Nov. 7 election:

“Le’Dor’s commitment to LGBTQ equality is clear, she is running a diverse campaign that is leading the way on addressing issues facing all residents in Sandy Springs, and has a passion for serving her community. Le’Dor will be an ally to the LGBTQ community in Sandy Springs.”

The problem? Illari said that statement was not provided to Milteer’s campaign when it announced its endorsements for the upcoming municipal elections. With this in mind, the organization asked the candidate’s campaign to rescind their initial press release and send out a new announcement.

“There were no individual quotes given,” Illari told Patch.

Steen Kirby of Bold Blue Campaigns, which is working with Milteer on her bid for the City Council, said the candidate “did not have anything to do with” the quote that appeared in her press release.

Kirby notes an “inexperienced staffer,” brought on as a volunteer with the campaign, compiled the information — including the quote — and distributed the news in a form of a press release. The issue, Kirby states, has been dealt with and that volunteer will no longer be in charge of the communications component of Milteer’s campaign.

Despite the fabricated quote’s circulation, Kirby reiterated that the Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement of Milteer remains valid and that Milteer is proud of the organization’s support of her campaign.

Representatives Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) and Karen Handel (R-Roswell) spoke to the MDJ about the possibility of passenger rail from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

U.S. Reps. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville and Karen Handel, R-Roswell, weighed in on the latest study by the Federal Railroad Association concerning a proposed $8.76 billion high-speed rail service from Atlanta to Chattanooga.

Loudermilk said he’s been aware of the idea since his days in the Statehouse when they considered using maglev technology. He said it wasn’t financially viable at the time.

Loudermilk was far more positive about the idea of placing passenger cars on the CSX line, as state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-west Cobb, has suggested.

“That is more viable. (State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) actually proposed that when I was in the Statehouse, and the rail line is already there. It’s already used. At the time, we were talking about a line from maybe Kennesaw into Atlanta. I thought that was a good idea, at least worth studying because that’s something I would have used at the time going to the state Capitol. Instead of leaving the house at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to beat the traffic, I could get to Kennesaw and read legislation on the way down instead of having to drive. And also you’re talking about a portion of the cost because it’s already there.”

Handel said she knew very little about the Atlanta to Chattanooga proposal, but questioned whether it would do that much to ease congestion.

“What we do have to do is really rethink where we are in the metro region and how we can move forward, and I take my lead on what’s going to happen from a transportation standpoint from the local governments. My job is to be a partner to them when they have come to the conclusion — with input from the citizens — about ‘the what,’ and then I’m the partner on ‘the how.’”

Augusta-area officials are stepping up their monitoring of opioid-related overdoses.

Sgt. Joel Danko, with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division, said overdoses from opioids that are cut with drugs have increased from 45 over the first 10 months in both 2015 and 2016 to 63 so far this year.

“I can’t say if these people all survived but there are already 18 more (overdoses) and this is only October,” Danko said.

The Richmond County Coroner’s Office averaged 20 deaths in relation to drug overdose. A portion of those deaths are a result of a newly introduced drug known as U-47700, coroner Mark Bowen said.

“It seems to me like we’re getting them just about every week,” Bowen said. “It’s more than it has been in the past and it makes it so much harder to have to sit down and tell family members that they’ve lost a loved one to drugs.”

Staff Sgt. Michael Williamson, with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, reported 14 arrests in 2014 and 2015, five in 2016, and 14 to date in relation to heroin cases.

“It might come up a little this year but if you go further than that you’d see we didn’t have it for so long so yes, it’s coming back,” Williams said. “So we’re monitoring the traffic of the drug and making the appropriate arrests.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 20, 2017

Little Howard

Howard is a small male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Canine Adoption Network in Ball Ground, GA.

Howard likes to cuddle, build forts with pillows, and be next to his person. He gets along well with women, men, and big kids (10+). He enjoys having a doggie companion and comes out of his shell to play with other pups. Howard would do best in a home with someone who could be there to cuddle with most of the day. He’s not a huge fan of walks, so would be a great apartment or small home dog. Please contact Maria at [email protected] for more information or an adoption application.


Howard is a 4.5-year old, 57-pound male Pibble mix who is available for adoption or foster from Forgotten Paws Pet Rescue Acworth, GA.

Howard has had a sad life. Howard spent the first year or more of his life on a chain with very little human interaction. When his rescuers found him, they were trying to catch some puppies that had been dumped behind his house. The puppy was curled up with Howard sleeping. Howard was so upset when they took his friend. It took a few weeks but they eventually talked the owner into releasing Howard to rescue.

Howie Hound

Howie is a 1.5-year old male Hound and Beagle mix who is available for adoption from STARS Save The Animals Rescue Society of Georgia in Statesboro, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 20, 2017

General James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, signed a treaty with the Spanish government of Florida on October 22, 1736.

USS Constitution, named by President George Washington, was launched in Boston Harbor on October 21, 1791.

During the War of 1812, the Constitution won its enduring nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British warship Guerriére in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shots merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. The success of the Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous morale boost for the young American republic.

Today, Constitution serves as a museum ship, and has sailed under her own power as recently as 2012. Southern live oak, harvested and milled on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a primary construction material for Constitution.

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 22, 1832, the Cherokee Land Lottery began in Milledgeville, with more than 200,000 Georgians competing for 53,309 lots of land.

Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation on October 22, 1887 that increased the number of justices on the Georgia Supreme Court from 3 to 5.

President Grover Cleveland arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States and International Exposition on October 22, 1895.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina.

President Warren G. Harding spoke in Alabama on October 21, 1921, and publicly condemned the practice of lynching.

Harding was a progressive Republican politician who advocated full civil rights for African Americans and suffrage for women. He supported the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill in 1920. As a presidential candidate that year, he gained support for his views on women’s suffrage, but faced intense opposition on civil rights for blacks. The 1920s was a period of intense racism in the American South, characterized by frequent lynchings. In fact, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 21, 1976, Billy Carter spoke to an audience in Albany, Georgia, about his brother’s campaign for President.

On his brother Jimmy’s drinking habits, Billy said, “Jimmy used to drink liquor. Now he’s running for president he drinks Scotch, and I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” Billy preferred the alcohol choice of his brother’s running mate, Walter Mondale – “I liked him the best of all the ones who came to Plains. He’s from a small town and he’s a beer drinker.”

Today, Billy Carter’s service station is preserved as a museum in Plains, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

On October 22, 1991, the Braves played Minnesota in the first World Series game in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves won the first game of the 1995 World Series on October 21, 1995, as Greg Maddux dominated the Cleveland Indians, allowing only two hits. Native American groups protested the names of both teams.

The Atlanta Braves won Game 2 of the 1995 World Series, beating Cleveland 4-3, on October 22, 1995.

Georgia artist Howard Finster died on October 22, 2001.

Emory University Library has acquired nine letters hand-written by Barack Obama dating to 1982-84.

Hall County will celebrate its 200th anniversary next year.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump invited 7-year old Dalton resident Mackenzie Koger and her family to tour the White House.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read Mackenzie’s letter during the daily press briefing, inviting the 7-year-old and her family for a personal tour of the White House, lunch at the Navy Mess and to meet Trump — if he’s in town.

“She was just blown away,” Laura Koger said of her daughter, adding she checked her out of school so they could watch the briefing together. “You could just see it. Mouth dropped, she stood still and watched it. She said ‘Momma, we get to go!’ I said ‘We get to go!’ I think me and her both were equally excited. I just love it.”

Mackenzie wrote the letter “because I wanted to tell President Trump how much I appreciate him.” When she listened to Huckabee Sanders read the letter, Mackenzie said “I just thought it was amazing.”

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) read to pre-K students on Thursday.

Congressman Rick Allen had pre-kindergarten students at The Childcare Network on Wrightsboro Road in the mood for food and reading Thursday morning.

The Augusta native read “The Very Hungry Catepillar” to students and talked about their favorite fruits and vegetables— after all, Allen serves on the House Committee on Agriculture.

Last week was Pre-K Week in the state of Georgia, marking the 25th birthday of the state’s early learning program. Georgia’s Pre-K program has helped put nearly 1.6 million children on track to read at grade level by the end of third grade, and achieve academic excellence and future success.

“By the time you finish the third grade, if you’re not reading at or above a third grade level, it’s likely you’re not going to graduate from high school,” Allen told the students.

Conyers voters will have more hours for early voting using proposed new voting machines.

Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch said her office is extending hours, 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., the last two days of the early voting period. Extended hours will be available on Thursday, Nov. 2, and Friday, Nov. 3, to attract more voters to use the new machines Rockdale is piloting for the state of Georgia.

Welch said 96 voters had cast ballots in person, while 16 ballots had been issued by mail.

Rockdale was selected to pilot the Voter Express machines to gauge how well a small pool of voters could navigate the new system, said Welch, who projects a 12 percent turnout for Conyers elections. The new system allows voters to review a printed ballot before it is then placed in a tabulator. If a voter makes a mistake on a selection, he or she may turn in the ballot, receive a new one and start over.

Early voting for the Conyers elections is only available at 1400 Parker Road.

To confirm voter registration and for more information, Rockdale voters may call 770-278-7333.

Georgia Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) writes about state revenues and expenses in the Savannah Morning News. Here are a couple tidbits.

With revenues reaching $2.1 billion for September, the state returned to positive territory with a 3.1 percent increase. Individual income taxes grew 3.6 percent for the month and net sales taxes grew 3 percent. Corporate income taxes were up 8.8 percent and title ad valorem taxes were down -11.3 percent. Title and tag fees were up slightly at 0.4 percent.

Motor fuel taxes were up 3.9 percent with impact fees negative at -15.7 percent, but hotel/motel fees were up 3.9 percent. Altogether, taxes and fees dedicated to transportation were up $6.3 million or 3.82 percent. Tobacco taxes were negative at -4.5 percent and alcoholic beverage taxes grew 3.6 percent.

After three months of the FY 2018 fiscal year, state revenues have taken in $5.5 billion, showing an increase of $171.4 million ahead of the same three months last year with a percentage growth of 3.2 percent. Compared to the budget passed this March, the state is $44.6 million ahead in collections to this point.

Savannah’s port is the largest trading partner of the Panama Canal and has had some 20 post-Panamax ships call on the port. Savannah’s port is the No. 1 port in the country for the number of ship calls per week. The port handles 8.2 percent of the total U.S. containerized cargo and 10.5 percent of the total U.S. containerized exports.

Warner Robins City Council candidates spoke to the Macon Telegraph.

Cartersville City Council candidates spoke to WBHF Radio.

Port Wentworth City Council candidates addressed a forum sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce.

Thunderbolt voters heard from eleven candidates for Mayor and City Council.

The Red & Black looks at campaign contributions in local State House special election campaigns.

As for the District 117’s candidates, Republican Houston Gaines and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, have reported their campaign contributions. Both were required to report contributions to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission in July.

In Gaines’ corner, there is a contribution total of $66,136.33 supports his efforts, whereas Gonzalez’s total rests at $7,451.25.

Gaines’ support comes from donors both within Athens beyond.

He has received donations from University of Georgia professors, the assistant Athletic Director of marketing for the Georgia Athletic Association John Bateman Jr., Vice President of Student Affairs Victor Wilson and Athens Mayor Nancy Denson.

Beyond that, Edward John Flythe, the Superior Court Judge in Augusta has donated to Gaines campaign, as well as Paul Amos, the president of Aflac.

The majority of Gonzalez’s donors tend to remain in Athens, with support coming from UGA professors and locals.

Gwinnett County Transit buses will feature wi-fi after the commission approved spending $318k on installation.

The DeKalb County Republican Party will host Lt. Gov. candidate David Shafer at their October breakfast at Wright’s Gourmet tomorrow from 8:30 to 10 AM. On Sunday the DeKalb GOP will host a fundraiser for Rep. Karen Handel.

Look, Up In the Sky!

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will perform at the Wings over North Georgia air show in Rome this weekend.

The unit has a decidedly Peach State flavor this year.

Cmdr. Frank Weisser USN, a native of Atlanta, pilots Blue Angel Five, the lead solo; and Lt. Tyler Davies USN of Kennesaw, pilots Blue Angel Six, the other solo performer.

Maj. Mark Montgomery of Cartersville, USMC, pilots the C-130 ‘Fat Albert’ airlift craft; however, it will not be in Rome this year, having been grounded as part of the investigation into the crash of a similar aircraft that took the lives of 16 Marines in Mississippi in July.

The Blue Angels support squad includes four other Georgians, including AD1 Shane Miller from Woodbine, AM2 Demaude Prescott from Atlanta, AM1 Daniel Yater from Dacula and AM2 Michael McDuffie from Blackshear.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 19, 2017


Barrett is a young male Labrador Retriever & Pointer mix who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.


Widget is a young male Brussels Griffon & Affenpinscher mix who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

Widget is a very sweet boy with a goofy personality and loves to play. He is a great escape artist so he needs to find the perfect home that can deal with his curiosity to explore. Due to his ability to run out of the home easily he requires a home with no children.


Fontana is a young female Rat Terrier & Border Collie mix who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

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


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 19, 2017

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781,  ending the American Revolution.

On October 19, 1790, Lyman Hall, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, died in Burke County, GA. Hall was elected Governor of Georgia in 1783, holding the position for one year, and was an early advocate for the chartering of the University of Georgia.

On October 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. The House passed the King holiday bill, sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), by a vote of 338-90 in August. President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation on November 3, 1983.

Gwinnett County will host the Ninth Annual Frontier Faire this Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Fort Daniel Historic Monument, 2505 Braselton Highway in Buford.

The faire is staged each year by the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society.

“You get a chance to see archaeology, or the rediscovery of history, in action,” Frontier Faire publicity official Eli Stancel said. “It’s more than just a sign on the side of the road. You actually get to touch and feel, and see how we go through the process of discovering things.”

This year’s event will feature a special ribbon cutting — or more likely a “rope cutting” to be more true to the period — that will be held at 10 a.m., on the spot where the original gate for the War of 1812 era fort was located.

Fort Daniel, which sat on Hog Mountain, predated Gwinnett County by about four years and became the staging ground for a road that went to another fort at Standing Peachtree, known as Fort Peachtree. That road, according to officials from the Fort Daniel Foundation and the Gwinnett Archaeological Society, was the original Peachtree Road.

The opening of the replica gate marks the second year in a row that the faire has included the opening for some new feature for the site. Last year’s event featured the opening of the blacksmith’s shop, which is now fully operational and will be open for this year’s festival.

In addition to the ribbon (or rope) cutting, this weekend’s Frontier Faire will also feature many of the event’s traditional hallmarks, such as opportunities for attendees to participate in archaeological excavations, War of 1812 reenactors giving flintlock musket demonstrations, presentations by local members of the Sons of the American Revolution, frontier life demonstrations and Native American food preparation and hominy demonstrations.

Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge J. Wade Padgett received an award from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council for his book on the history of the circuit.

The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council selected Padgett’s book, “From Court in the Wilderness to Court in the Metropolis: A History of the Augusta Judicial Circuit,” as this year’s recipient for the award. Padgett is to receive the award at a ceremony in Morrow, Ga.

“When I was sworn in as a Superior Court judge, Judge (Bernard) Mulherin gave me a ‘scroll’ with the names of all the judges who had served as Superior Court judges since 1870. I was flattered to be among that number,” and it sparked his interest to learn about those who preceded him on the bench, Padgett wrote in an email.

Padgett started in 2012 with his research from newspaper archives at the Georgia Archives in Atlanta. He focused his project on developing biographical descriptions for every judge, clerk and prosecutor for the Superior, State, Civil and Magistrate, Probate and Juvenile courts in the Augusta Judicial Circuit, which is composed of Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voter registration for federal elections must remain open until no fewer than 30 days before an election, even for runoffs, under a federal court decree.

A federal judge says Georgia cannot close voter registration for any federal election, including runoff contests, more than 30 days before the election.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten in May ordered the registration deadline extended to 30 days before the June runoff election. The consent decree filed Tuesday applies that to all federal elections and runoffs.

Liberty Plaza across from the Georgia State Capitol will be reworked under an RFQ issued this week.

The plan is to demolish a parking deck and utility bridge located between Liberty Plaza and the Downtown Connector and replace those structures with an extension of Capitol Square to the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, according to an RFQ released by the Georgia State Financing & Investment Commission (GSFIC).

The extension may create a four-lane street with two lanes in each direction and sidewalk improvements along the east edge of Liberty Plaza. Other upgrades to existing intersections at the site would include traffic signals, crosswalks and pedestrian refuge islands.

The main purpose of the project is to provide an alternate route around Liberty Plaza, allowing traffic to be routed around the plaza during large events when Capitol Police may want to close Capitol Avenue.

Kennesaw State University President Sam Olens came under pressure from a local State Representative and the Cobb County Sheriff, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 18, 2017


Bert is a male Black Labrador Retriever & Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from K-9 Rescue League, Inc. in Suwanee, GA.


Danza is a female Treeing Walker Coonhound or American Foxhound mix who is available for adoption from Planned PEThood of Georgia Duluth, GA.

Danza is a beautiful American Foxhound mix, and weighs about 65 lbs. She super sweet,loves all people and is good with medium to large dogs. She is about 4 years old. Danza does NOT do confinement (meaning crates, fences, confinement to a room). Indoor/outdoor with plenty of space is how she needs to live. Danza is looking for a farm or family with some land.


Peaches is an adult female Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Planned PEThood of Georgia Duluth, GA.

Peaches is a very gentle soul who clearly spent a lot of years having puppies, and she is now ready to live the good life, She gets along with other dogs, cats and even baby kittens. Peaches LOVES to snuggle and belly rubs are her favorite! She is crate trained and low maintenance!


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 18, 2017

The Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania from Maryland was established on October 18, 1767.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human chattel. This period, which historians consider the era of “The New Republic,” drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed.

On October 18, 1867, the United States took over Alaska from Russia and ran up Old Glory there for the first time.

Separated from the far eastern edge of the Russian empire by only the narrow Bering Strait, the Russians had been the first Europeans to significantly explore and develop Alaska.

Seeing the giant Alaska territory as a chance to cheaply expand the size of the nation, William H. Seward, President Andrew Johnson‘s secretary of state, moved to arrange the purchase of Alaska. Agreeing to pay a mere $7 million for some 591,000 square miles of land-a territory twice the size of Texas and equal to nearly a fifth of the continental United States-Seward secured the purchase of Alaska at the ridiculously low rate of less than 2¢ an acre.

On October 18, 1870, Rockdale and McDuffie Counties were created when Georgia Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating them.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) will kick off his campaign for Lieutenant Governor this Sunday from 2-4 PM at the Atlanta Coliseum, (formerly Wild Bill’s). Click here to R.s.v.p.

Shafer Campaign Kick Off Website

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Virginia Pryor as Interim Director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, as current Director Bobby Cagle will leave the post.

“We have no greater responsibility than caring for Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Deal. “It is imperative that we work to ensure that each child is safe and has the best possible opportunity for a good life. Virginia Pryor has been a longtime advocate for the wellbeing of children and she has already played a vital role in the administration of DFCS. I am confident that she will serve our state well as interim director. I am grateful for Director Cagle’s efforts as he helped move DFCS forward in a number of ways while protecting the interests of many young Georgians. I wish him well in his next endeavor to serve Los Angeles County.”

Former Georgia Governor and U.S. Senator Zell Miller will no longer appear in public, according to the AJC Political Insider.

The 85-year-old former Georgia governor and U.S. senator, though frail, rests comfortably in the rock house on Miller Street that his widowed mother built in the mountain town of Young Harris. Shirley Miller, his wife of 63 years, is there — as always.

But his family has declared that the former governor’s public life is at an end. There will be no more speeches, no more appearances. Visitations are restricted to close family members.

“Zell is not experiencing a lot of the tremors, but he is experiencing the cognitive symptoms that are associated with this type of Parkinson’s,” said grandson Bryan Miller, who heads up the Miller Institute – a public policy and leadership organization intended to carry on the legacy of the governor who gave Georgia the HOPE scholarship and pre-k education.

The Miller Institute is now handling all of Governor Miller’s official business, and on Tuesday sent along these thoughts from Shirley Miller:

“We want other families with loved ones suffering from Parkinson’s to know they are not alone,” said Georgia’s former first lady. “We understand the daily challenges that are associated with a disease that has no cure. In times like these, we lean on our faith and believe that there is no challenge too great that we cannot overcome with God’s grace.”

Hall County is in the early stages of considering a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

A change to state law means Hall County became eligible to create a local sales tax of up to 1 percent to fund transportation projects in addition to existing special purpose local option sales taxes.

A five-year TSPLOST could be spent on resurfacing, rights of way, utility relocation, road, sidewalk and bike path construction, public transit and airports, drainage, patching and shoulder work, culvert repair and stormwater management. The tax revenue could also be used to pay down debt related to any of the other uses.

If commissioners support the idea, the county would be one of nine counties considering the tax. Athens has a popular vote set on a TSPLOST for November, and Bulloch County has a vote in May.

Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala said Tuesday that the county has 12 to 16 months of work ahead of it if commissioners hope to get a referendum on the ballot. The earliest a vote could occur is 2018, if not 2019, he said.

“The county is not looking at any solid referendum date. There’s a lot of additional (work) that needs to happen between now and when the board wants to take that route,” Yamala said. “… The county and cities at some point need to come to the table and see if this is something that we even want to consider (doing).”

Gainesville Police are working to deploy drones.

“I believe the goal for the department is to have one officer on shift that will have the ability to deploy it where it’s needed,” [Gainesville Police Department Officer Doug] Whiddon said.

The Federal Aviation Administration certified Whiddon as a small unmanned aircraft flyer at the beginning of October, as the department is in its infancy with unmanned aircraft.

Whiddon said its main function will be for personnel safety, but it has enormous potential in terms of search-and-rescue missions.

“Missing children and things of that nature, we’re able to put this in the air quickly and see a greater distance,” Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said.

The drone can be airborne in four minutes, a fraction of the time to get a boat in Lake Lanier or walking out in Chicopee.

“Obviously we’re going to be very careful with flying over residential type airspace in terms of privacy, but in general, unless we’re near a controlled airspace … if it’s Class G [airspace], it’s fair game,” Whiddon said.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash endorsed Republican Matt Reeves for Senate in District 48.

Reeves’ campaign announced that Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash endorsed the political newcomer Sunday during a fundraiser at Sugarloaf Country Club. Nash was listed as a headliner at the fundraiser.

“Nash expressed to Reeves’ Sugarloaf and Peachtree Ridge area supporters the need to have a proven, local leader who understands the issues important to Gwinnett like Matt Reeves at the State Capitol to continue to move our community forward,” the campaign said in a statement.

Reeves also announced he had picked up endorsements from Johns Creek City Councilman Jay Lin, Gwinnett County Solicitor General Rosanna Szabo, Duluth City Councilman Greg Whitlock, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, state reps. Brooks Coleman and Scott Hilton and former state Sen. Dan Moody.

The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and Muscogee County Superior Court decision on whether a retirement community qualifies for a property tax exemption.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts.

“We are still trying to study the opinion and get a grip on what will happen next,” said Randy Lomax, an attorney for the Board of Tax Assessors. “It is not over.”

Though it is not over, it was the first battle victory recorded in the ongoing legal war for the Board of Tax Assessors in its bid to get the property on the city tax rolls.

Andrew A. Rothschild, who represents the Medical Center Hospital Authority, agreed that the case is not over. Though the Supreme Court appeared to send the case back to the Appeals Court, Rothschild in a prepared statement said it would be removed back to Muscogee County Superior Court.

“The Georgia Supreme Court has returned the case to the Superior Court for additional findings,” Rothschild said. “The Georgia Supreme Court has absolutely not ruled that any property taxes are owed by the Medical Center Hospital Authority. We are firm in our position on this matter, and it would be unwise to comment further on this pending litigation.”

Superior Court Judge Art Smith ruled in favor of the Hospital Authority, stating that its “property interest in the facilities and improvements constituting Spring Harbor qualifies as public property, and therefore, it is exempt from ad valorem property taxation,” according to the news release from the Supreme Court. Specifically, the trial court ruled that, “the validity of Plaintiff Hospital Authority’s property interest in Spring Harbor under the ground lease, and the validity of the ground lease itself, has been established by the Superior Court of Muscogee County in two separate bond validation orders, one in 2004 and another in 2007.”

Eric Thomas has been chosen as the top candidate for Chief Turnaround Officer for the Georgia Department of Education.

They were interviewing in downtown Atlanta because of House Bill 338, which passed along bipartisan lines during this year’s legislative session. Gov. Nathan Deal readily signed it, after backing the bill as a comeback from a political miscalculation. Last year, he hoped voters would let him create a statewide “Opportunity School District” with authority to take over schools deemed “chronically failing,” but they rejected his constitutional amendment in November, preferring to keep schools under local control.

HB 338 requires a more collaborative approach, though school districts could still lose control of schools that do not improve. That puts the turnaround chief in a delicate position, as both the person targeting schools for state intervention and an ally coaching them to improve enough to avoid that fate.

Thomas, is chief support officer of the University of Virginia’s turnaround program, and works with schools across the country.

People who interviewed him said he possessed a winning combination of expertise and the ability to articulate a vision to different audiences.

Glynn County Commissioners heard a proposal for ferry service between St Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

The Glynn County Board of Elections announced the hiring of Monica Couch as Director of Elections.

Dalton State College students heard from local candidates in a public forum.

Macon-Bibb County will hire Troutman Sanders to advise the county on a proposed sales tax referendum to rollback property tax millage rates and freeze property tax values.

Commissioners are proposing the new tax after the millage rate increased 3-mills this year. The amount of revenue taken in from the local option sales tax would determine the extent of the property tax rollback.

“In looking for ways to provide additional property tax relief to its citizens, the Macon-Bibb County Commission is interested in learning more about the legal requirements for implementing (the new sales tax) in Macon-Bibb County,” the resolution said.

The County Commission would still need to request that state legislators OK a tax referendum, which would go before Bibb voters in November 2018.

The new tax would go into effect in 2019, and a millage rate rollback would occur in 2020.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 17, 2017


Andie is a young female Boxer mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA. This shelter has a full litter of Boxer mix puppies for adoption.


Jake is an adult male Hound who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA. If you’d like to start your own Hound pack this shelter has at least three available for adoption.


Magnolia is a female Pointer mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.


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

Five thousand British and Hessian troops surrendered to patriot militia on October 17, 1777, ending the Second Battle of Saratoga, and leading to France recognizing American independence and sending military aid.

An editorial published pseudononymously by Alexander Hamilton on October 17, 1796, accused Thomas Jefferson, then a Presidential candidate, of having an affair with a slave.

Happy birthday to the Texas Rangers, created on October 17, 1835.

In the midst of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed a semi-official force of armed men who would defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana’s soldiers and hostile Indians; the Texas Rangers filled this role. But after winning their revolutionary war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Rangers, both to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier.

Paul Anderson, known as the “World’s Strongest Man,” was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17, 1932. From his New York Times obituary:

As the unknown substitute for the injured American champion at the first Soviet-American dual athletic competition, in Moscow in 1955, the 5-foot-9-inch Anderson was scorned by his hosts.

The scorn turned to snickers when Anderson called for a weight of 402.4 pounds, more than 20 pounds above the world record. The snickers stopped when the 340-pound Anderson lifted the weight. By the time he set another record, in the clean and jerk, he was being hailed by Soviet fans.

The stunning achievement at the height of the Cold War made Anderson an instant American hero, and it was largely an anticlimax when he set three more world records at the world championships in Munich, Germany, later that year.

Although virtually conceded the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Anderson was stricken with a severe inner-ear infection.

Competing at 304 pounds and with a 103-degree fever, he fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt he asked God for a little extra help and got it.

“It wasn’t making a bargain,” he said later, “I needed help.”

Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa is a private park supported by a 501(c)(3) organization.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County will extend voting by one hour on November 7.

The Fulton County Superior Court has granted a petition filed by the county to extend Election Day voting by one hour at its polls. The petition was filed by the Fulton County Attorney’s Office on behalf of the county’s Board of Registration and Elections.

The petition allows the county to match the voting time frame provided to the city of Atlanta for its municipal elections, meaning all county polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron said the office requested to change the hours of operations in an effort to have all polls open and close on a consistent basis.

New voting machines being demoed in Conyers made it through the first day of early voting.

More than a dozen voters have used new paper-ballot voting machines in Conyers with no reported problems, the first step of a new pilot program to test the machines in Georgia.

“It’s fair to say we’re excited to get the ball rolling and partner with a good elections office and give voters a preview of what the future of voting may look like,” said Chris Harvey, Georgia’s elections director.

The National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia dedicated a memorial to the Global War on Terrorism.

Gen. John Abizaid, a retired four-star general who was the longest serving commander of the U.S. Central Command and directed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a driving force behind the planning and fundraising for the $2 million memorial.

“How fitting that this living memorial is dedicated here at Fort Benning and in the city of Columbus, where for so many years so many of these soldiers have ventured forth to fight our nation’s wars,” Abizaid said. “Some of us have seen the carnage of war and understand how devastating the cost can be. Yet all of us understand that our freedoms are not free and the courage, commitment and dedication are necessary to secure the common good.”

Abizaid asked a profound question Monday during his keynote address at the dedication, which was attended by about 3,000 people, many of them uniformed Fort Benning soldiers.

“What would our country be without such men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation?” the general asked. “All of us can answer in different ways, for we are citizens of a nation that admires diversity of thought, thrives on individual freedoms, that seeks many answers for even the most simple of problems. Yet all of us must admit, except for those who fight for such rights, none of us could expect to enjoy them.”

The detail in the memorial, which is in a plaza on the side of the National Infantry Museum, is what struck many on Monday. It incorporates a piece of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

The Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by two Cartersville doctors to the state’s Certificate of Need program.

The high court held that the Certificate of Need (CON) law serves a legitimate state interest in ensuring that health care services are distributed reasonably and economically. It also said the law does not violate the Georgia Constitution’s “Anti-Competitive Contracts Clause.”

The court upheld rulings by a Fulton County judge who first refused to dismiss the case on the administrative appeals grounds, then several months later tossed it, ruling that the law is not unconstitutional.

As detailed in court filings and Melton’s order, the case began in 2014, when Drs. Hugo Ribot Jr. and Malcolm Barfield wanted to add a second operating room to their business, which does business as Georgia Advanced Surgery Center for Women in Cartersville.

Georgia’s CON law, first passed in 1979, requires hospitals and certain other medical providers to obtain the clearance before opening a new facility, expanding or adding certain medical equipment.

The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief, asking that the CON law be declared unconstitutional, arguing that it restrained competition and limited patient choice.

But the center’s claims that the CON law violates the due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions and the state’s Anti-Competitive Contracts clause “are without merit,” Melton wrote.

From the AJC:

“Georgia’s certificate of need laws play a critical role in ensuring access to quality care, including emergency services, for all Georgians by providing for a statewide distribution of hospitals and other medical facilities,” said Monty Veazey, the president and CEO of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

Disclosure: I work on communications issues for the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

A Georgia Senate Study Committee met in Augusta yesterday to discuss how to increase the number of health care providers in Georgia.

With a lack of health care providers in Georgia, the state could increase access by turning out more advanced practice nurses and using them in more innovative ways, a Georgia Senate Study Committee heard Monday. But the state’s physician association is still strongly opposed to nurses doing more, a resistance that may finally be overcome in the next legislative session, a key state senator said.

The Senate Study Committee on Barriers to Georgians’ Access to Adequate Healthcare held a session at Augusta University to hear about the role of advanced practice nurses in the state in meeting many of those gaps of care and where more could be done.

Medical Association of Georgia opposes expanding their scope of practice and one member said it is for the good of the patients, particularly the rural patients he sees.

“These patients are very complex,” said Dr. Scott Bohlke of Brooklet, Ga., a past president of the group. “We want the best care for these patients and I think a team approach (with the nurse practitioner) is the best way to do it.”

But Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, chair of the study committee and chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, was not buying it.

“If you want to provide care to more people, why don’t you allow the people who are taught and educated to practice at their highest level?” she said. “If you have more people practicing medicine, then it allows more access to care. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.”

The College of Nursing also has a proposal, in concert with Medical College of Georgia, to take highly trained nurse practitioners and train them alongside Emergency Medicine residents and also provide training in telemedicine. Those nurse practitioners could then staff rural Emergency Departments with the ability to consult by telemedicine with colleagues in Emergency Medicine when needed, said Dr. Beth NeSmith, chair of the Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing.

The project is looking for $260,000 to fund a pilot program but projects it could save a hospital $500,000, NeSmith said. She is hoping the legislature will take a look at it.

“That’s a great suggestion,” Unterman said.

“Rural hospitals in Georgia really struggle to provide urgent and emergent care to the citizens they serve,” NeSmith said.

Sixteen thousand Northwest Georgia residents buy their health insurance through the federal exchange.

More than 3,500 Floyd County residents buy their insurance through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Another 12,800 are enrolled in the six surrounding Northwest Georgia counties of Chattooga, Polk, Bartow, Gordon, Catoosa and Walker.

President Donald Trump announced last week that he would stop making key subsidy payments to insurers — although the full effect on the 2018 ACA coverage that starts Nov. 1 remains unclear.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgen’s office has approved rate hikes of more than 50 percent for three of the state’s four insurers, in anticipation of losing the CSR payments, Georgia Health News is reporting. Kaiser Foundation Health sought a 30-percent increase but officials there are now weighing their options.

Southern Company sold several local natural gas companies in New Jersey for $1.7 billion.

A surveyor has been ordered to testify in a border dispute between Macon-Bibb County and Monroe County.

Sprint will provide wireless internet to 500 students in Richmond County public schools.

The school system is among 118 school districts to receive devices from Sprint to assist high school students in need of internet access in their homes. Fort the next five years, students who lack access will receive a free tablet device and wireless service as part of 1Million.

Sprint created the initiative to help close the homework gap by providing 1 million free devices and wireless service to high school students. Richmond County was selected as one of three school systems statewide and is expected to receive up to 600 devices.

“All high schools in the county were submitted on the basis of need,” said James Lunsford, the district’s director of information and technology . “So if they don’t have internet at home or a computer at home Sprint will accommodate (the need).”

The Augusta Commission is working on a 2018 budget that includes raises for some law enforcement officers.

Several commissioners reported they heard a radio promotion several times over the last few days in which a spokesman describes the heavy workload and low salaries endured by sheriff’s deputies, followed by a demand that Jackson include the raises in the budget.

Commissioner Marion Williams said the radio spot admonishes “the administrator” to “do the right thing” by including the raises.

[Sheriff Richard] Roundtree pitched two plans for increasing his staff’s pay in August. One cost $2.8 million, gives all certified and sworn deputies 10 percent raises and increases a starting deputy’s salary from $34,629 to $40,292. A second option costs $2.7 million and gives most certified personnel eight percent raises, with a starting salary of $39,500.

The City of Valdosta held its second annual Affordable Housing Summit and Town Hall.

Charlie Daniels Band will play the Macon Auditorium on March 22, 2018.

Candidates for Dalton City Council and Board of Education discussed diversity issues at a candidate forum.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics now make up 47.9 percent of the city’s population and blacks 8 percent of the population. And several questions at the forum — hosted by the Concerned Citizens of Dalton, the Coalition of Latino Leaders, the Dalton-Whitfield NAACP and the Woman’s Community Club — focused on how candidates in the Nov. 7 races for the board of education and City Council would help the city deal with this diversity.

Savannah City Alderman Van Johnson proposed reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

On Monday, Alderman Van Johnson announced his intention to reduce the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It is his intention, Johnson said, to present an ordinance within 45 days to the Savannah City Council to eliminate jail time and and reduce the maximum fine from $1,000 to $150 for those caught with less than one ounce of marijuana in the city limits. He proposed that 20 percent of the fines collected be earmarked to offset the cost of drug treatment for those who seek it.

The proposal does not minimize the fact that marijuana is still illegal in Georgia and does not decriminalize it, which is not allowed under the state law, Johnson said.

“It’s still illegal and will remain illegal,” he said. “The question is how it is handled locally.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he is open to discussing the proposal with Johnson and the rest of the council, but that his support for the change would depend on the recommendation of local law enforcement officials such as the police chief, sheriff and district attorney.

“I do trust their judgment,” DeLoach said.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 16, 2017


Kisses is a young female Dachshund & Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from PAWS Atlanta in Decatur, GA.


Hashbrowns is a young male Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from PAWS Atlanta in Decatur, GA.


Rezendes is a male Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from PAWS Atlanta in Decatur, GA.