The blog.

9
May

Adoptable (Official) Dogs for May 9, 2017

NimbusNWGA

Nimbus is a male Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA.

RicardoNWGA.org

Ricardo is a male Beagle & English Pointer mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA.

DukeNWGA

Duke is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton, GA.

9
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 9, 2017

Georgia and American History

On May 9, 1862, a Union general, David Hunter, ordered the freedom of all slaves held in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, but President Lincoln issued a counter-order.

In Georgia on May 9, 1864, Union troops under General Sherman took Snake Creek Gap. In Atlanta, a notice was published,

“ATTENTION MILITIA! All persons between the ages of 16 and 60, not in the service of the Confederate States, in the second ward, are hereby notified to be and appear at the City Hall today, at 2 o’clock P.M., for the purpose of being armed and equipped for local defense. Herein fail not under penalty.”

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 9, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary opened hearing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

On May 9, 1977, the Grateful Dead played at Buffalo War Memorial Auditorium.

On May 9, 2005, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation recognizing the Green Tree Frog at the official state amphibian.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) will campaign in Georgia’s Sixth District for Republican Karen Handel.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will headline an event in Georgia with Republican Karen Handel on May 15, making him the latest high-profile GOP leader to stump with the 6th Congressional District candidate.

Ryan campaign spokesman Zack Roday said the speaker is “proud to stand with Karen Handel, a strong conservative leader who will be a fighter for Georgians.”

Ryan and his allies have poured millions into the race. He’s raised record sums for the House GOP’s campaign arm, which has spent more than $6.2 million on the race. And the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC endorsed by Ryan — has laid out an additional $5 million on the contest.

Also, Ryan’s [Washington, DC] Handel fundraiser took in $150,000, and he’s signed four emails that have netted an additional $50,000 for her campaign.

The visit will come in the middle of the fight in Congress over an Obamacare repeal.

Governor Nathan Deal left more legislation to the closing days for signature or veto this year as part of a strategy.

The governor has waited a bit longer than in past years to sign off on the crush of legislation awaiting his approval, but top aide Chris Riley said the delay was part of a new strategy from the governor’s office.

Riley said the decision to wait until just before the deadline to sign many of them came from Julia Ayers, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs. He said it was a “great tactic for 2017” because it spared proposals that might meet his veto pen on Tuesday – the deadline to sign or veto proposals – of additional attention and pressure.

“This late date for bill signings with the governor has certainly kept members a little curious, I am sure,” said Riley. “But more importantly it’s what it has accomplished on the other side of the argument: The bills that may not make it have not been singled out with a spotlight for additional pressure from the authors and the stakeholders.”

More than 50 measures are set to be signed Monday at ceremonies in Deal’s office.

According to the Governor’s Office website, Deal signed 57 bills yesterday, but Channel 2 news says he signed nearly 100.

Senate Bill 85, allowing beer brewers and distilleries to sell directly to consumers was signed by Gov. Deal.

“Our state leaders have been committed to ensuring Georgia remains a great state in which to brew beer and that local economies benefit from the industry’s steady growth,” Martin Smith, executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to have worked alongside our brewer partners and retailers in supporting the bill and look forward to the positive impact the new law will have on the industry.”

The most noticeable change for local booze aficionados may be how breweries and distilleries offer drinks for on-site consumption. No longer will they be forced to offer paid tours of their facilities that come with limited samples of their beverages. State Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican from Savannah, previously called this process “a shell game.”

Senate Bill 180 by state Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) was signed by Gov. Deal and increases the tax credit for donations to certain rural hospitals.

Senate Bill 180 increases from 70 percent to 90 percent the value of the credit taxpayers can earn from contributions to qualifying rural hospitals.

Lawmakers originally passed the 70 percent measure last year, but backers said a bigger incentive was needed because so few people had agreed to donate.

Alan Kent, president and CEO of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, applauded the move, as did other supporters including the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

“This is a chance for people to step up individually and for corporations to step in as business leaders and be able to make a difference in their very own communities,” Kent said.

State Representative Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) lauded Gov. Deal’s signature of House Bill 87.

“House Bill 87 saves business owners time, resources and hassle and I am grateful for Governor Deal signing this into law today,” said Raffensperger.

“This legislation will now provide business owners the flexibility to do up to 3 year corporate registration renewals with the Secretary of State Office instead of only an annual process.”

A Spaceport in Camden County may be ready to launch after Gov. Deal signed legislation easing the way.

“Commercial spaceflight is the next great space race. It is a $320 billion industry that offers tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs. By signing this legislation today, Gov. Deal is sending a message to the global space industry that we are open for business,” said Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden Project lead Steve Howard.

Howard said that after the general assembly passed HB 1, companies began contacting his office expressing interest in launching from Spaceport Camden.

“HB 1 put Georgia on the radar of the industry and Gov. Deal’s signature only reinforces to those companies that Georgia wants their business,” Howard said.

“The signing of HB 1 not only represents the huge strides taken in developing space flight legislation, but also demonstrates the viability of Spaceport Camden to support Vector’s goal of conducting hundreds of launches a year,” said Jim Cantrell, co-founder and CEO of Vector. “Vector is honored to make Camden County one of our homes for upcoming rocket launches, including our first sub-orbital test there this summer, making ours the first rocket launch out of this historic location, ever.”

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle,

Deal said the spaceport bill will help enhance Georgia’s reputation as the nation’s No.-1 state in which to do business. Georgia has won that designation four years in a row from Site Selection magazine.

“For the last four years, numerous companies have found that Georgia is the best state in the nation to do business,” the governor said. “We look forward to Spaceport Camden becoming the best place in the nation to launch a rocket.”

Camden officials expect regulatory review of the project to continue through this year and hope Spaceport Camden will secure an operational license from the Federal Aviation Administration by next year.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about legislation signed and some still waiting for signature and veto.

Senate Bill 201 would require some large employers to let their employees use sick leave to care for immediate family members, and the debate over the measure divided Republicans, with some criticizing what they saw as a new mandate.

And Senate Bill 160, known as the “Back the Badge” bill, stiffens penalties against people who assault law enforcement officers. That measure earned widespread legislative approval after a provision that targeted protesters was removed.

[S]till pending on Deal’s desk is Senate Bill 16, which would expand the list of disorders eligible for treatment under Georgia’s growing medical marijuana program, which now has 1,700 patients and more than 350 physicians.

State Rep. Allen Peake, the Macon Republican who is the godfather of the program, said he has “every expectation that (the governor) will sign the bill” on Tuesday. That would let patients suffering from severe forms of autism, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome have access to cannabis oil. Patients in hospice programs, no matter their diagnosis, would also be allowed to access the oil.

United States Senator David Perdue met with supporters of Georgia’s military bases, according to the Macon Telegraph.

 Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said he appreciated having all of the base communities represented in one room.

“The consensus is that every single one of our bases is strong,” he said. “The performances are very competitive with the bases they compete with inside their service, but we recognize with the debt crisis and all of the problems we have with funding the military that we can’t take anything for granted.”

One topic discussed was the formation of a military commission that would meet regularly to address issues among bases across the state.

Perdue said all of the state’s military bases combined have a $23 billion economic impact, with Robins being the largest.

Although many still advocate for a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission, Perdue doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon.

“I don’t think BRAC is in our immediate future but we have to assume that sooner or later all of these bases will come under some sort of rationalization,” he said.

Effingham County Commissioners declined to renew the contract of County Administrator Toss Allen.

The Gainesville Department of Water Resources is waiting for federal approval to begin upgrades for a dam on Lake Knickerbocker.

Georgia’s peach crop could be the worst in decades, according to USDA scientists.

“The closest comparison we have right now is, looking back at the historical records has to go back all the way to the 1930s,” says research horticulturist Tom Beckman, making it what they say is one of the worst peach seasons in about a hundred years.

“We have never been so short. Hardly any of the commercial material that’s out at grower’s orchards was designed to deal with chill this low. We’ve never seen trees this low on chill before. I haven’t, in my entire career, seen trees in some cases receive less than half the chill that they normally expect,” says Beckman.

They say the poor production is due to not enough cold temperatures in the winter and an unexpected freeze in the Spring.

“We have fruit. In fact, we’ll probably have fruit throughout the season, but it’s going to be a lot less than what we could consider normal. I’d say it will be well under a half a crop,” explains Beckman.

He says the peach shortage will affect how much you will pay at the grocery store.

“The prices will be a little higher. You will probably see fewer loss leaders. There will be peaches, more California peaches probably than regional, but there will be peaches,” says Beckman.

2018 Elections

Bee Nguyen joins the race for House District 89 to succeed State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who is considering running for Governor.

State Senator Burt Jones will not run for higher office in 2018, instead running for reelection.

Jones, R-Jackson, issued this statement:

“The past few months have been filled with speculation as my name has been circulating as a potential candidate for higher office. This has been a very exciting time as I have been humbled and honored by all the calls, texts and messages of support to run for higher office. After much deliberation and discussion with my family, I have decided not to seek higher office and will continue to work hard to serve the citizens of Senate District 25.”

“My family and I looked at all of the options on the table and I came to the conclusion that I enjoy what I am doing on the state level as a public servant for Senate District 25. While serving in this capacity, I am able to remain active in my growing business and daily family life and activities. It is truly a pleasure to serve on your behalf and I look forward to continuing to serve you as long as you allow me to do so and I have your support. I look forward to growing my skills and leadership as your state senator.”

“During my short time serving in the senate, I have the honor of being appointed as a Chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and currently the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. I will continue to seek new opportunities to serve as a leader in the senate while being a proponent of what is best for Senate District 25.”

“While now is not the right time for me to seek higher office, I will continue to work hard and look forward to future opportunities. I am grateful for your continued support and overwhelming encouragement. It remains an honor to serve the citizens of Senate District 25 and all Georgians as a member of the Georgia State Senate.”

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution,

State Sen. Burt Jones is not running for lieutenant governor or any other higher office, and he’s endorsing his Republican colleague David Shafer’s bid for the state’s No. 2 job.

Jones said in an interview that he’s staying out of the governor’s race for the time being but would support Shafer, who he said has done a “terrific” job reaching out to grassroots Republicans.

His decision means that Shafer has dodged another bullet in his bid for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s job. Although there were weeks of rumbling from other Senate Republicans that they might challenge Shafer, none have yet emerged.

That means his main GOP opponent remains state Rep. Geoff Duncan, the former pro baseball player who announced in April. Cagle, of course, is running for governor.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has more on David Shafer’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Shafer announced to supporters on Friday that he was entering the race to seek the No. 2 position in state government. It came days after Cagle announced — in unincorporated Duluth — that he plans to run for governor next year after spending three terms as the lieutenant governor.

“I have spent the five weeks since the Legislative Session ended on the telephone and in meetings, talking with and listening to nearly 1,200 of my fellow Georgians, old friends and new,” Shafer said in his announcement on one of his Facebook pages. “The response has been heart-warming. I have filed paperwork to begin running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.”

The lieutenant governor’s race is wide open with Cagle seeking a higher office, and Shafer is not the only person who has already made moves to try and become only the second Republican in Georgia history to be elected as lieutenant governor. State Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, has filed also paperwork to run for the seat.

If Shafer wins the seat, it will represent a promotion in state government, but also within the Senate since the lieutenant governor serves as the president of that chamber. Meanwhile, the president pro tem serves as second-in-command of the Senate, filling in whenever the lieutenant governor is unavailable.

Gwinnett County attorney Matt Reeves announced at Saturday’s Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast that he will run for Shafer’s seat in the state Senate.

8
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2017

Georgia and American History

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign Senate Bill 206 by Sen. P.K. Martin, IV, today at the State Capitol.

Gov. Nathan Deal will sign legislation designed to help families like the Knights into law Monday. It will require insurance companies cover the costs of buying hearing aids for children who suffer from hearing impairments.

The bill, which was sponsored by state Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, guarantees up to $6,000 coverage for a pair of hearing aids for kids, until they turn 18. Martin worked with the advocacy group Let Georgia Hear on it.

“The difference for a family who’s on a plan that is affected by this is immediate,” Martin said. “They’re gonna go from either they just can’t afford the hearing aids or they’re struggling to provide the hearing aids to now having coverage for that.”

[Kimmone] Knight said, “It’s definitely a step in the right direction in terms of minimizing out of pocket costs, especially for those families that may have young children like ourselves. There’s so many expenses to begin with, with having a child, and adding something like that on top of it — it’s good to know the insurance companies will be working with families to ensure they have what they need at the time when it’s most crucial.”

Several bills remain on Governor Deal’s desk ahead of tomorrow’s deadline to sign or veto.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Backers of Georgia’s small program allowing the use of medical cannabis oil hope Deal will sign off on an expansion of the program.

Lawmakers approved a compromise bill that would add six new diagnoses to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis oil, including autism, AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. Many of the additions restrict use to patients who are in severe or end-stage condition.

SELF-DRIVING CARS: Another measure allows self-driving vehicles in Georgia. Supporters said car and technology companies, insurance providers and injury attorneys signed off on the proposal and warned that Georgia would be left behind as other states pass similar legislation.

The proposal requires drivers of the vehicles to have a higher amount of insurance coverage than what is required for traditional vehicles until the end of 2019.

BEER SALES: Deal’s also still mulling a change to Georgia law on beer sales at breweries. Lawmakers compromised after several years of fights between craft brewers and wholesalers that act as a middleman for brewers and retailers.

The Sixth Congressional District Special Election has become the most-expensive election for Congress ever.

Candidates and outside groups have aired or reserved more than $29.7 million worth of TV ads in the race to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Congress, which will break a five-year-old record for House spending — highlighting the outsize importance a sliver of the Atlanta suburbs has taken on in national politics.

Cash is flowing in at such saturation levels that Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign had the money for everything from Korean radio ads to free Lyft rides for voters on primary day. The Atlanta NBC station has even bumped reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show” from their regular slot in order to extend its local newscasts and make more room for political ads.

The cost of the race between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is going to shatter the previous recorded high of $29.6 million — set in Palm Beach County, Florida, in 2012 by former GOP Rep. Allen West, former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy and outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The $29.7 million total in Georgia, compiled by a source tracking media spending in the district, includes only money spent on TV ads.

“It’s entirely possible that by the time the books are closed on this race, there will be over $40 million spent in the special and in the runoff,” said Chip Lake, a Republican strategist who works in Georgia. “I’m at a loss for words.”

“It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which 2018 will not be the election that shatters midterm spending record as well because we still have Donald Trump as president,” said Lake, the Georgia Republican consultant. “And he’s proven to be an activating force for both Democrats and Republicans.”

For TV stations, it’s like drinking from a fire hose.

The tidal wave of spending led a local television broadcaster, WXIA, to temporarily add a 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station. Fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” repeats will have to look elsewhere for the next few weeks.

It helps explain why reporters at WXIA showed up at a meeting last week and were informed about a temporary 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station, WATL, that will end after the June 20 runoff is over. They were told the current newscast commercial inventory was too tight.

“I have to give (WXIA) credit — they’re being honest about it,” said Bobby Kahn, a former Democratic operative whose media-buying firm works with Ossoff’s campaign. “I’m never surprised at a television station’s efforts to maximize their political revenue.”

The tight timing of a nightly newscast also adds another wrinkle. Michael Castengera, a TV consultant who teaches at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, said stations try to space out ads to avoid airing them back-to-back. That means a typical 30-minute newscast can fit 16 to 18 30-second ads, he said.

And they have to strike a balancing act between serving longtime advertisers who provide a steady stream of revenue and the spike in political ads from campaigns who can generally buy their airtime at cheaper rates.

Atlanta mayoral candidates would normally be the main campaign story at this point in an election year, but they’re still in the bullpen getting warmed up.

The race for Atlanta mayor has been overshadowed lately by the news of the day — including a massive fire that destroyed the I-85 bridge — but candidates haven’t stopped campaigning.

With seven months to go to election day in November, the nine serious candidates hoping to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed are walking in parades, speaking at forums and using social media to engage voters.

Nine Georgia Congressman signed a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on poultry regulations by the Department of Agriculture.

Representatives Doug Collins (Ga-9), Austin Scott (Ga-8), Rick Allen (GA-12), Buddy Carter (GA-1), Tom Graves (GA-14), Jody Hice (GA-10), David Scott (GA-13), Rob Woodall (GA-7), Drew Ferguson (GA-3), and Barry Loudermilk (GA-11) all signed a letter Friday, with the requests to rescind or withdraw three poultry regulations.

The regulations were published in the Federal Register on December 20, 2016, “in spite of repeated signals from Congress that they exceeded the scope of the 2008 Farm Bill and strayed wildly from Congressional intent,” the letter said. They also commended the USDA for taking preliminary action on February 6 and extending public comment on the interim final rule.

Also in the letter, a study by FarmEcon LLC indicated the regulations would cost the chicken industry $1.03 billion dollars over five years in reduced efficiency, high costs for feeding and housing and increased administrative expenses.

In the letter the lawmakers request that after the public comment period is complete, the two proposed rules will be withdrawn and the interim final rule will be rescinded.

Macon-Bibb Commissioner Joe Allen has suggested local elected officials and appointees take voluntary drug tests.

Commissioner Joe Allen plans to introduce a resolution asking for elected and public officials to submit to voluntary drug tests and release the results to residents. The veteran politician said it would be a way to hold those in leadership positions accountable.

But several commissioners said they have concerns about some of the people who would be asked to volunteer for the tests, especially those whom commissioners appoint to various unpaid boards.

The resolution would cover Macon-Bibb County commissioners, other elected officials and appointed positions such as county and assistant county managers, and other department heads. People appointed to various boards, such as the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission, would also be asked to participate.

The resolution says it would cover illegal controlled substances. The measure is expected to be on the agenda for Tuesday’s commission committee meetings.

Cobb County Commissioners are considering a plan to offer valet parking on the Marietta Square.

Coweta County Third District Commissioner Bob Blackburn  and First District Commissioner Paul Poole both hosted Town Hall meetings for constituents last week.

The next town hall meeting will be Monday, May 22 with 4th District Commissioner Rodney Brooks. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Central Community Center, 65 Literary Lane, Newnan.

Gainesville High School students heard from the founder of Generation Inspiration at this year’s first session.

One highlight this year is a diplomacy program simulating a refugee crisis, said Ashley Bell, a GHS alumnus who has risen through government and politics to become a special assistant to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“You’ll be split into groups and educated on the roles in each situation, and you’ll be given a simulated program on how to end the crisis,” said Bell.

“What I hope you get out of this is an understanding that the world and these programs are difficult. There’s never really a right answer, but … you’ll get to understand how to advocate a position, a chance to fight for your argument and how the world works together to solve problems.”

Bell, who founded Generation Inspiration 12 years ago, said the experience might motivate some students to serve the country in some way.

“When you can convince your peers that you know what has to happen next for you to get to where you want to go, and this is a request for resources to do it, then we’ll help you do it,” Bell said. “We’ll help you get there.”

Whitfield County Commission Chair Lynn Laughter hopes to end surprise billing by the local ambulance service.

Basically, someone calls for an ambulance and is transported to Hamilton Medical Center. They later find that what their insurance has reimbursed Hamilton Emergency Medical Services only covered part of the bill and Hamilton has billed them for the balance.

She says that is one topic she has been pressing Hamilton on as the two sides have been renegotiating Hamilton’s contract to provide emergency medical services for Whitfield County.

“I’m happy to say that Hamilton has agreed to start negotiations with insurance companies to try to reach and agreement so that ambulance services would be an in-network service where insurance would cover the ride and the patient would not have to pay any balance,” she said.

Hamilton EMS Director Scott Radeker says there’s a reason for that.

“The insurance company pays only for what it thinks the service to that patient is worth,” he said. “It doesn’t take into account the equipment and manpower we have to maintain to respond to a call in minutes 24 hours a day. It doesn’t take into account the cost to us of patients we transport who don’t have insurance or lie to us about their names. What people are paying for is the cost of picking up that phone and within nine minutes in the city or 15 minutes in the county you have a paramedic there.”

Sheriffs

Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal said he might run for Sheriff in 2020, but didn’t say where.

“Mayor no, I would never run for mayor,” he told 11Alive News on Friday.

Photojournalist Bruce Mason was apologetic about the question his Director of Digital Content (that’s me) insisted he ask.

But then, the bombshell: “In 2020, I plan on running for Sheriff.”

He could run for Sheriff in Henry County, where he is a resident. The incumbent there is up for reelection in 2020. He could run in Florida where he also has residency. He also could move somewhere between now and 2020, and establish new residency.

“This is not about politics. This is about bringing people closer together,” Shaq said. “You know, when I was coming up, people love and respected the police, the deputies. And, I want to be the one to bring that back, especially in the community I serve.”

Shaq says he’s perfect for the job, because he can relate to everyone. “I can put on a suit and have a conversation with Bill Gates. I can go in the hood and talk to the homies, and talk to the children.”

DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann made news of his own for completely different reasons.

The DeKalb County sheriff was arrested overnight by the Atlanta Police Department on misdemeanor obstruction and public indecency charges, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sheriff Jeffrey Mann was arrested after he was stopped in Piedmont Park for allegedly breaking the law, police say.

Mann, an attorney who has worked in the Sheriff’s Office since 2001, was originally elected in a July 2014 special election against Vernon Jones. Mann was chief deputy under former Sheriff Thomas Brown and took over as sheriff earlier in 2014 after Brown resigned to run for Congress.

Mann overcame four Democratic opponents in the May primary election before facing Dennis in the general election.

Prior to Brown, every sheriff elected to a full term in DeKalb since 1965 had faced criminal charges.

GAGOP Chairman’s Race

Cobb County Republican Party hosted a debate among the candidates for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.

Over 100 Republicans packed into Cobb GOP Headquarters on Roswell Street on Saturday for the party’s monthly breakfast, but they weren’t there for the scrambled eggs or grits.

DeKalb attorney Alex Johnson, Republican activist John Watson of west Cobb, current Georgia GOP vice-chair Michael McNeely and Mike Welsh, chair of the Augusta-based 12th District GOP, all want to become the state GOP’s next chairman.

Whoever is elected to lead the state party June 3 will have to deal with the party’s financial problems. The state GOP is in debt, the candidates said, and they each presented their plans to get out of it.

Welsh told the crowd he has a fundraising plan that will reach out to conservatives across the state rather than just those in the metro area.

Johnson agreed it is important to expand the tent, but said the party needs to undergo fundamental changes to earn the trust of potential donors.

McNeely, who lives in Villa Rica and hopes to be the first leader of the Georgia GOP who is a minority, said the solution will involve better budgeting and better messaging.

Watson touted his experience as fundraiser and finance director for Republican candidates going back to Bob Barr in 1994.

“Georgia Republican party chairman is the fundraiser-in-chief, period,” he said. “The reality is I uniquely stand before you as the only person who has been a professional fundraiser throughout my career, raising resources for men and women across this state to the tune of $25 million. To do so, we will have an integrated finance plan and make certain we are looking at men and women that can contribute from $5 up to $250,000, creating a regimented business plan, marketing plan and having the dedication, on a daily basis… to make certain we are raising the resources.”

Gwinnett Republican Women will host a debate with the four candidates for State Chairman tonight at 7 PM at the Gwinnett GOP Headquarters in Gwinnett Place Mall.

“It may be your last chance to see the candidates locally before the convention … Be there by 7 p.m. to get a good seat,” Gwinnett Republican Women President Linda Williams said of this week’s forum in an announcement on Facebook.

The candidates for the state chairman’s position are Alex Johnson, Michael McNeely, John Watson and Michael Welsh.

The Hall County Republican Party will also host a debate.

8
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 8, 2017

RowanNWGA

Rowan is a male Dachshund and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Iris NWGA

Iris is a female Dachshund and Whippet mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Tom NWGA

Tom is an adult male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

5
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 5, 2017

Tippy Bulloch

Tippy is a male Jack Russell Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.

TIPPY IS A SPUNKY LIL MAN READY TO GIVE HIS ALL TO YOU. HE LOVES TO JUMP AND RUN, SO IF YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR A EXERCISE PARTNER TO KEEP YOU ACCOUNTABLE THEN LOOK NO FURTHER :)

Bell Bulloch

Bell is a female Jack Russell Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.

BELL IS A SUPER SWEET OLDER LITTLE LADY. LOVES TO BE HELD AND WANTS TO FIND THE PERFECT FOREVER LAP TO REMAIN IN :)

RoscoeBulloch

Roscoe is a young male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Bulloch County Animal Shelter in Statesboro, GA.

5
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 5, 2017

Georgia and American History

On May 6, 1789, the Constitutional Convention in Augusta, Georgia adopted a new Georgia Constitution.

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

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

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

Jefferson Davis spoke in Savannah, Georgia on May 6, 1866.

Davis … defend[ed] the South’s cause in the Civil War, stating, “In 1776 the colonies acquired State sovereignty. They revolted from the mother country in a desperate struggle. That was the cause for which they fought. Is it a lost cause now? Never. Has Georgia lost the State sovereignty which … she won in 1776? No, a thousand times no.” Davis’s fiery remarks were captured by reporters for the New York Times and other northern newspapers.

Because of the national attention generated over his visit to Alabama and Georgia, Davis took a more conciliatory tone in a speech that evening, noting, “There are some who take it for granted that when I allude to State sovereignty I want to bring on another war. I am too old to fight again, and God knows I don’t want you to have the necessity of fighting again… . The celebration today is a link in the long chain of affection that binds you and the North together. Long may it be true.”

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

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

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute barrier for running the mile.

For years, so many athletes had tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes that people made it out to be a physical impossibility. The world record for a mile was 4 minutes and 1.3 seconds, set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden in 1945. Despite, or perhaps because of, the psychological mystique surrounding the four-minute barrier, several runners in the early 1950s dedicated themselves to being the first to cross into the three-minute zone.

At 6 p.m., the starting gun was fired. In a carefully planned race, Bannister was aided by Chris Brasher, a former Cambridge runner who acted as a pacemaker. For the first half-mile, Brasher led the field, with Bannister close behind, and then another runner took up the lead and reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 3 minutes 0.4 seconds, with Bannister at 3 minutes 0.7 seconds. Bannister took the lead with about 350 yards to go and passed an unofficial timekeeper at the 1,500-meter mark in 3 minutes 43 seconds, thus equaling the world’s record for that distance. Thereafter, Bannister threw in all his reserves and broke the tape in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. As soon as the first part of his score was announced–”three minutes…”–the crowd erupted in pandemonium.

A “sub-four” is still a notable time, but top international runners now routinely accomplish the feat. Because a mile is not a metric measurement, it is not a regular track event nor featured in the Olympics. It continues, however, to be run by many top runners as a glamour event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 6, 1984, Spinal Tap played a “comeback show” at CBGB’s in New York.

On May 6, 1996, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta was the most dangerous city in America.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has issued a public safety alert:

In the first four months of this year, 17 people died in Georgia after taking two types of manufactured drugs now banned. That was the same number of deaths in all of 2016.

The Georgia General Assembly recently outlawed U-47700 and furanyl fentanyl and Gov. Nathan Deal signed the law and enacted the restrictions April 17.

“Because furanyl fentanyl and U-47700 are lethal at very low doses, law enforcement and the public should use caution when handling these drugs,” the news release stated.

After a narcotics seizure in Metro Atlanta, 8 kilograms of a mixture of the two drugs was found to be so dangerous and complex that the GBI issued a statewide officer safety alert.

Governor Nathan Deal signed 28 bills into law yesterday.

Gov. Deal signed House Bill 280 by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), the so-called “Campus Carry” bill. From the Press Release:

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed HB 280, which permits weapons carry license holders to carry firearms in specific and limited areas on college campuses.

This legislation addressed major concerns voiced by the governor last year regarding HB 859, which permitted a weapons carry license holder to carry a concealed weapon into certain areas of a college campus that had previously been prohibited. HB 859 failed, however, to address Deal’s concerns regarding the prohibition of firearms in “sensitive places,” including campus preschools, disciplinary hearings, or faculty and administrative offices. As a result, the legislation was vetoed.This year, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed HB 280, which maintains the same restrictions present in HB 859. It also addresses the areas of campus over which Deal previously raised concerns, along with additional areas of college campuses where weapons would not be permitted.

“It is altogether appropriate that weapons not be allowed in sensitive areas on college campuses, and I appreciate the thoughtful consideration given by the General Assembly in expanding these excluded areas within a college campus in this year’s bill,” said Deal. “While HB 280 addresses the rights and restrictions relating to weapons carry license holders on a college campus, it in effect may have greater significance for students who are going to or coming from a campus. Unfortunately, in parts of the state, the path to higher education travels through dangerous territory.

“At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection, even those who are weapons carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed. In recent years, we’ve witnessed college students fall victim to violent attacks in or while traveling to libraries and academic buildings, and while traveling to and from their homes to class.

“As this legislation is more narrowly tailored as to exclude areas on a college campus, I’ve signed HB 280.”

The signing statement is available under “Related Files” below.

HB 280 prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon by anyone, including weapons carry license holders, on the following areas of a college campus:

  • Buildings or property used for athletic sporting events;
  • Student housing, including but not limited to dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses;
  • Any preschool or childcare space;
  • Any room or space being used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school;
  • Any room or space used for classes in which high school students are enrolled through a dual enrollment program, including, but not limited to, classes related to the “Move on When Ready Act”;
  • Any faculty, staff, or administrative offices; and,
  • Rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.

Gov. Deal signed House Bill 146, by Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Paulding) which requires fire departments to provide insurance covering firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”

Joined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”

Gov. Deal also spoke at the groundbreaking of a new headquarters for Jackson Healthcare in Alpharetta.

Gov. Nathan Deal and a host of civic and business leaders broke ground this morning on a $100 million expansion of the headquarters of Jackson Healthcare, a healthcare staffing company that intends to add 1,400 employees over the next five years.

This project is portrayed as the largest expansion of corporate headquarters planned in north Fulton County. As such, Jackson Healthcare is part of a corporate footprint that makes the Perimeter submarket one of the major corporate destinations in the region.

“Jackson Healthcare is a powerhouse job creator for our region,” state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), president and CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “This project is going to continue to make North Fulton a destination to live and work.”

Deal’s office also released tax revenue numbers for April showing a 9.1 percent increase over April 2016.

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for April totaled $2.26 billion, for an increase of $187.9 million, or 9.1 percent, compared to April 2016. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $18.06 billion, for an increase of nearly $718.8 million, or 4.1 percent, over last year when net tax revenues totaled $17.34 billion.

House Bill 742, which incorporated various provisions of federal law to change the deadline for Corporate Income Tax filing, increased April tax revenue collections across multiple Corporate Tax categories. As a result, Corporate Income Tax payments had a significant impact on the overall April net tax collection increase.

United States District Court Judge Timothy Batten has ordered the re-opening of voter registration for the June 20th Special Runoff Election in the Sixth Congressional District.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten made the ruling as part of a broader lawsuit by a Washington-based advocacy group, which last month accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote.

Voter registration shut down March 20 ahead of the deciding runoff June 20 for the 6th District election, which is being held in the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta.

Batten, however, ordered registration immediately reopened until May 21.

A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the office will seek to comply with the order.

Kemp’s office, which oversees elections in Georgia, has called the suit a political effort by liberal groups to attack him as a Republican officeholder.

The office has also noted that the law has been in place since Democrat Cathy Cox was secretary of state more than a decade ago.

A Columbus commission considering replacing the government center is exploring financing it through a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools selected Ann Levett at the next Superintendent.

The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office dropped charges against former Brunswick Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Amanda Williams.

Williams was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury nearly two years ago on charges of making false statements during an investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. The charges were related to comments the Fulton district attorney’s office claimed were made during a conversation about a drug court sentence she handed out in 2011.

Williams resigned from the bench in 2012 after she was accused of failing to remove herself from cases in which her lawyer family members were involved, showing favoritism from the bench, acting with “tyrannical partiality” and giving drug court participants unlawful indefinite sentences.

Glynn County Commissioners sent a tree ordinance that would apply only to St Simons Island back to committee.

Carol Burrell, CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System was named “Most Respected Business Leader” by Georgia Trend.

“Carol has the immense responsibility of overseeing the entirety of our growing health system, which now includes more than 8,000 employees working in three hospitals and dozens of outpatient locations across a region made up of more than one million people,” [NGHS Board of Trustees Chairman RK] Whitehead said. “And she does it with an amazing mix of intelligence, trust and grace.”

Under Burrell’s leadership, NGHS opened Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton, the first net-new hospital in 20 years, according to a press release. NGHS was also named one of Metro Atlanta’s Top Workplaces by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and one of Atlanta’s Top 25 Employers by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

2018 Elections

Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) has filed paperwork to begin raising funds for the 2018 Lieutenant Governor campaign.

Shafer Committee

Sachin Varghese, an Atlanta attorney, has raised more than $65,000 in the race to succeed State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who is exploring a gubernatorial campaign.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from friends, neighbors and local leaders,” Varghese said. “I believe my service to our community as a civil rights attorney, as well as my commitment to running a strong grassroots effort, have energized our supporters.”

Varghese represented the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, and others, working with Congressman John Lewis, Rep. Abrams, and State Senator Elena Parent to challenge Republican gerrymandering in 2011.

“I was Chairman of the Black Caucus when Sachin represented us, and I witnessed firsthand his commitment to fighting injustice,” said Sen. Emanuel Jones. “He will be a passionate and able advocate for DeKalb residents at the Capitol, and that is why I wholeheartedly support him should Leader Abrams offer herself for higher office.”

4
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 4, 2017

Napoleon

Napoleon is a 7-year old, 120-pound Great Dane and Mastiff mix who is available for adoption from The Bullpen Way Station and Sanctuary in Norwood, GA.

Napoleon’s foster says that he is, in short, a total dream dog. He is very smart, fantastic in the house, housebroken and does great with free roam. He is a low energy boy that loves to hang out with his people, sleep on the bed and go for car rides.

Napoleon is great with adults but would prefer a home with NO children. He has also done well with properly introduced large dogs but does not enjoy the company of the smaller breeds or cats.

Braselton WW

Braselton is a 1-2 year old male Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. He is a playful, energetic boy who is current on vaccines and weighs 40 lbs. He will do well with an active family.

Zoe WW

Zoe is a 1.5 year old, 26-pound female Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. She came to the shelter as an owner surrender. She seems to prefer women over men and needs to be the only dog in a calm, quiet household.

4
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal signed 34 bills yesterday. See the full list here.

This morning, Deal signed legislation on the opioid epidemic. From the press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal, joined by members of the General Assembly, today signed legislation to address issues of opioid abuse during a ceremony at the State Capitol. Deal signed SB 121, the Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr., Act, SB 88, the Narcotic Treatment Programs Enforcement Act, and HB 249.

“The three bills I signed into law today will enable us to more effectively fight the ongoing opioid epidemic that impacts individuals, families and communities across Georgia,” said Deal. “I would like to thank Attorney General Chris Carr and the legislators behind these bills for their hard work, compassion and service in the fight against this illness. I am confident that this legislation will help save lives and give hope to the victims ensnared by this epidemic as well as their loved ones.”

SB 121 exempts Naloxone, the emergency drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, from the dangerous drug list when it is used for drug overdose prevention and supplied by a dispenser for various types of rescue kits. This legislation also codifies the executive orders put in place by Deal in 2016. SB 88 requires the Department of Community Health to create minimum standards and quality of services for narcotic treatment programs seeking licensure in Georgia. Provisions of HB 249 include moving the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to the Department of Public Health.

You can watch the bill-signing here.

Fulton County has added extra early voting sites in the 6th Congressional District.

The county will have 16 days of early voting at six locations: the county’s North Fulton Service Center and the Ocee, Milton, East Roswell, Roswell and Alpharetta libraries. Early voting begins May 30 and will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Bob Ellis was also elected Vice Chair of the Fulton County Commission.

Cobb EMC added more solar to its power generation portfolio, via power purchase agreement with Green Power EMC.

Hall County and Gainesville school officials say rules changes by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will make it easier to comply.

Perdue, a former Georgia governor, signed the proclamation this week delaying an upcoming requirement to lower the amount of sodium in meals while continuing to allow waivers for regulations that all grains in school lunches must be 51 percent whole grain. It also allows school to serve 1 percent flavored milk instead of nonfat milk that was required under rules set during the Obama administration.

Cheryl Jones, Hall County School District nutrition director, called the decision “realistic.”

“We’re going to be able to have some flexibility,” she said. “We were very excited to hear his opinion on the milk — flavored milk — offering it at 1 percent instead of fat free. That was very unexpected.”

Penny Fowler, nutrition director in Gainesville City Schools, said she expects to meet the whole-grain requirements without a waiver, but officials are still working on the sodium level regulations.

“The Phase 2 sodium requirements, we were a little bit concerned with, so what (Perdue) is doing is going to allow us a little more time to get to the second limit,” she said.

First Lady Sandra Deal spoke at the dedication of a new “literacy garden” at the Hall County School District Office.

“You can develop your imagination because this is a place to love the outdoors and to have a great time learning and imagining and playing with your friends,” she told the students.

A crowd of school, city and county officials were joined by Master Gardeners and other residents to celebrate the dedication of the garden geared toward providing a place for younger children to play and have a chance to learn more about classic children’s stories. The garden is the seventh of the Gardens on Green. Among the many features are laminated children’s books for kids to read with family and friends, a Jack and Jill hill to play on, and a stage with a chair where Deal read the story about the caterpillar and spider who became friends.

Democrat John Ossoff managed to pick off some Republican votes in the first round of the 6th District Special Election, according to a GOP data firm.

The voter-file analysis of the special primary was conducted by Optimus Consulting, a Republican data-analytics firm that has been observing the Georgia race. The voter file allows Optimus and others to dig for details about who exactly turned out for the first round of the special election, and how they likely voted.

And the firm’s most conservative estimates say Ossoff captured at least 8 to 10 percent of the GOP’s votes in the primary, a critical slice given that Republicans comprised only a narrow majority of the electorate. While Ossoff’s campaign and motivated Democrats helped drive unusually high levels of voting in the primary, it’s clear that more than turnout propelled Ossoff’s campaign into his one-on-one runoff match-up with Republican Karen Handel in a longtime GOP district.

“Based on the final results of the jungle primary, most independents and a small but relatively sizable portion of Republicans voted for Jon Ossoff,” said Alex Alduncin, an analyst with Optimus.

Ossoff is working to draw more GOP votes into his column ahead of the Runoff Election.

Ossoff held a press conference at the state Capitol outlining his plan to cut $16 billion in federal spending. He campaigned with Jason Kander, a moderate Missouri Democrat who won statewide office in a red state. And House Democrats launched an ad campaign aimed at turning conservative voters in the district against Republican Karen Handel.

“I’ve been reaching out to voters across the political spectrum from the beginning of this campaign,” Ossoff said. “Voters in the 6th District are interested in leadership and representation that’s focused less on political party and more on getting things done. And cutting waste is simply not a partisan issue.”

Handel’s campaign dismisses the efforts to win over Republicans, who have long dominated the suburban Atlanta district. She has worked to consolidate the GOP base and was feted Tuesday at a fundraiser with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — days after she appeared with President Donald Trump at a stop in Atlanta.

Ossoff has tried to expand the electorate by targeting left-leaning voters who rarely cast ballots in the special election. But his campaign has also aimed for Republicans who are uneasy with Trump.

The New York Times has a long piece on the Sixth District elections.

Today, 24 percent of people in Johns Creek are of Asian heritage. Indian-Americans shop for saris at the Medlock Crossing strip mall and flock to the latest Bollywood hits at the multiplex. Chinese-Americans and food lovers of all stripes head to the Sichuan House, near the Target and Home Depot stores, for sliced pork ears in chili sauce and “tearfully spicy” mung bean noodles.

At the same time, Republicans here reject the idea that demography is political destiny. Instead, they envision a future in which the charms of suburban life, and the conservative politics that made it possible, will rub off on everyone. Instead of the newcomers changing the suburbs, they say, the suburbs will change the newcomers.

“You move to Cobb, you’ve got a good job and cheaper property taxes, and you say, ‘Hey, maybe this is a better way,’ ” said Michael Altman, 58, a former vice chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party.

It is the kind of political reckoning that many American suburbs may soon confront, if they haven’t already. A report last year by the Urban Land Institute noted that the percentage of foreign-born Americans was at its highest in 90 years, and that millennials were now starting families and looking for good public schools. It estimated that 79 percent of the nation’s household growth would occur in the suburbs in the next decade, much of it in “affordable sunshine states” where the weather is warm, taxes are low and homes are relatively cheap.

In Johns Creek, the Asian-American residents came not for rail lines but for the schools, just as whites had before them, said Anjali Enjeti, who moved to the city 10 years ago from Pennsylvania. Many also work in the numerous tech companies stuffed in the surrounding office parks.

Gwinnett County officials joined state Senator Renee Unterman and the GBI in a press conference about a recent anti-sex trafficking operation.

Gwinnett County is ready to band together to fight child sexual exploitation.

“I have never been anywhere that I talked about this problem that people don’t want to do something about it,” said Sen. Renee Unterman. “Because they see the scourge in our society that we have reached the level that we literally are taking advantage of these small children.”

Unterman hosted a press conference at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center Wednesday to showcase a recent success story from the county’s efforts to address that scourge — Operation Spring Cleaning. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation-led operation lasted about three days and resulted in the arrest of 23 suspected child predators from all over the metro Atlanta area and beyond.

More than 15 local agencies — including the Gwinnett County Police Department and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office — worked to track and arrest each offender. The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office was along the whole way to help with legal questions. Then, the office worked to indict each suspected offender in just two days.

Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Tracie Cason said that two-day indictment period would not have been possible without the full professional cooperation of each agency involved. She also said she believes the quickness with which the operation moved is key to preventing further predators from preying on kids in the county.

“What we hope to do is by indicting them quickly, by bringing them to justice swiftly, we will send a strong message to the citizens of Gwinnett County that we simply will not tolerate you coming to our county, you preying on our children, you victimizing our children,” Cason said. “And you’re not going to get away with it.”

2018 Campaigns

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continued his statewide tour yesterday with a stop at Nonami Plantation in Albany.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle brought his campaign for governor to Southwest Georgia on Wednesday, and it was only fitting that he gave his stump speech at Nonami Plantation with three grain silos and a John Deere tractor in the background.

Not surprisingly, Cagle spent much of his time talking about his plans for education, helping south Georgia farmers, bringing broadband internet access to the rural parts of the state, and economic prosperity for all Georgians.

“The School Turnaround legislation is really all about giving struggling schools the tools that they need to accurately assess the problems that exist in their school,” Cagle said. “The legislation will give them the help they need to turn around that school. We cannot tolerate failing schools. We have to lift every student and every school up so they can reach their highest potential.”

“We will have a chief Turnaround Officer in place who will hire assessment experts and also put a turnaround plan in place. All of those things are not interfering with local control but will allow local communities to be a part of the overall solution.”

One of Cagle’s biggest supporters, Sen. Greg Kirk, R-13, said he has no qualms about throwing his support behind the state’s lieutenant governor in his gubernatorial quest.

“As the leader of the Georgia Senate, Lt. Gov. Cagle has helped get my bills through the senate and into law,” Kirk said. “His help has been invaluable to me, and that is why I am supporting his bid for governor.”

Cagle also spoke to a Rotary club in Valdosta.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told Rotary Club members at a luncheon Wednesday the state’s schools must meet the needs of industry while lawmakers must address transportation, healthcare and broadband needs.

“Georgia is always best when we stretch just a little bit further than our reach,” Cagle said. “Today, commerce is no longer bound by brick and mortar. You can do business all across the world through the Internet. We need a strong sector to build out the fiber and broadband.”

An expansion of the Internet into more areas would allow students access for schoolwork and would help improve industry, as Georgia processes 70 percent of America’s credit cards, Cagle said.

“We have to align graduation with industry needs,” Cagle said. “All work is honest work — is good work. We have to get back to a society that celebrates all work. Everybody adds value. No one is more important than the other.”

State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams is profiled for her race to become the first African-American female Governor of Georgia.

Abrams is hoping to harness some of the anti-Trump backlash that boosted her fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff in the first round of a special election for the US House of Representatives last month, though in a recent interview with the Guardian, she framed her mission differently. A former bureaucrat, district attorney and businesswoman, Abrams is hoping her diverse political background will be a selling point.

“We need good politicians who actually respect government and understand how all the different pieces work to run,” she said. “And you need former bureaucrats because we understand what these laws look like in practice.”

There isn’t a sitting African American governor in the country. And in Georgia, no African American has won statewide office in since 2006.

But that doesn’t faze Abrams, who says demography is not destiny. “I am a bullish cheerleader in the reality that demography is a roadmap but not a treasure map,” she says.

Georgia Conservatives Fund, which is not affiliated with Casey Cagle’s gubernatorial campaign, has raised a ton of money, according to the AJC.

In the six months leading up to the 2017 legislative session, a fund created by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign staffers collected $2.2 million in high-dollar contributions, many coming from lobbyists, businesses and associations with a keen interest in the Georgia Senate he leads.

Georgia Conservatives Fund, long run by Cagle’s political consultant and started more than seven years ago by his then-re-election campaign manager, raised money intermittently in the past and donated to GOP Senate candidates.

Cagle announced plans to run for governor on Sunday, and his campaign said it is not affiliated with the fund.

Rick Thompson, a former state ethics commission director and expert on campaign finance laws, says that’s an important distinction.

“The question is, does the candidate control it or direct it?” Thompson said. “If the candidate is not specifically in charge of it, they can do whatever they want with the money in the state of Georgia.”
[Cagle campaign attorney Josh] Belinfante said Georgia Conservatives Fund “is not there to support one person over another.”

“The group is set up to support policy,” he said. “It is not connected to a campaign.”

Shawn Wright will run for Roswell City Council in November 2017.

Shawn Wright has announced his plans to run for one of the three Council seats up for re-election in November. Along with Mayor Jere Wood, the seats held by Jerry Orlans, Nancy Diamond and Lori Henry are up for re-election.

“It’s time for leaders to bridge the gap of our history with the future that lies before us,” Wright said. “Roswell has roots that run deep, steeped in charm and history. Honoring that history and bridging it with the future demands the willingness to push past the single issue divides resulting in gridlock to find creative and common sense solutions. As city councilman, I will seek input and collaborate with anyone and any group willing to come together and find common ground.”

Wright was one of four candidates who ran in the March 20 special election to fill the Post 4 seat vacated with the resignation of Kent Igleheart following his arrest on child sex charges. Wright did not advance to the runoff, which was subsequently won by Henry. Henry fills Igleheart’s unexpired term, which ends Dec. 31.

Wright has already garnered support from local residents. One community leader, Claire Bartlett, said she’s supporting Wright because she believes in the saying that past performance is the best predictor for future behavior.

3
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 2, 2017

Db008 Clarence Coonhound

Clarence is a 4-month old male Coonhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

DB-07 Senior Lab

DB-07 is a ten-year old male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

62300_Vizsla

Coco is a 4-year old Viszla and Lab mix female who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

3
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2017

Roswell King was born on May 3, 1765 in Windsor, Connecticut. King was a caretaker at Pierce Butler’s Hampton Point Plantation on St. Simons, where he may have played a role in Aaron Burr’s travels after Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. King and his son built a mill in north Georgia and founded there the town of Roswell.

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

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

Jefferson Davis arrived in Savannah for a six-day visit beginning on May 3, 1886.

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal signed 35 bills and resolutions into law yesterday.

Gov. Deal held a bill-signing for Senate Bill 102 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) in Gainesville at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Gov. Nathan Deal traveled to Gainesville Tuesday to sign a bill designating three levels of cardiac care, which officials said will help patients and emergency responders better understand where to transport those who have had a heart attack.

“Even without this legislation, this has been the No. 1 heart center in the state of Georgia,” Deal told the crowd before signing Senate Bill 102 into law at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville’s Walters Auditorium. “We believe this is an appropriate piece of legislation, one that hopefully will give the public a better understanding of where the really top quality hospitals are located.”

The bill is similar to designations created previously for strokes and trauma centers. It gives each hospital that provides cardiac care one of three levels, identifying the type of care provided. The Gainesville hospital is a Level 1 center under the law, meaning it can provide all levels of care, including open-heart surgery. Level 2 hospitals can do cardiac catheterizations, and Level 3 facilities are designated to stabilize patients who are having or have had a heart attack. The bill also creates the Office of Cardiac Care in the state Department of Public Health.

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, credited Gainesville hospital employees with making him aware of the need for the legislation.

“The very best ideas that we get come from people who are closest to the problems,” Miller said. “That is exactly what happened here. Northeast Georgia Health System was instrumental in making this a reality.”

State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said the important part of legislation is that it will save time for patients who need critical care.

“Time is our enemy and, with these leveling systems, we can get the patient to the right hospital in the amount of time that makes a big difference,” he said.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said her experience a cardiac care nurse made her a supporter of the bill.

“I have been in medicine my whole life. And I understand the importance of cardiac care, and I understand that minutes matter,” she said.

Earlier this week, the Governor signed legislation reconstituting the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission was created by a constitutional amendment in 1972 as an independent agency to investigate ethics complaints against judges and recommend disciplinary action if needed. But Georgia voters in November voted overwhelmingly to approve a constitutional amendment that abolished the agency and instructed state lawmakers to recreate it.

In addition to expanding the number of commission members from seven to 10, the legislation sponsored by Rep. Wendell Willard, a Republican from Sandy Springs, also creates separate investigative and hearing panels. It gives legislative leaders power they didn’t previously have to appoint members of the commission and strips appointments from the Georgia State Bar.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue, now serving in the Trump Admininstration as Secretary of Agriculture, announced the Department will relax rules on school lunches. The press release announcing the changes is titled “Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again”.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said.  “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program.”

“I was talking to some folks in Washington about this, and they said that the current program is working.  ‘How do you know?’ I asked.  They said it’s because 99 percent of schools are at least partially compliant.  Well, only in Washington can that be considered proof that the system is working as it was intended,” Perdue said.  “A perfect example is in the south, where the schools want to serve grits.  But the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it, and the kids won’t eat it.  The school is compliant with the whole grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits.  That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I’ve got 14 grandchildren, and there is no way that I would propose something if I didn’t think it was good, healthful, and the right thing to do,” Perdue said.  “And here’s the thing about local control: it means that this new flexibility will give schools and states the option of doing what we’re laying out here today.  These are not mandates on schools.”

“The hard work and dedication of the people who prepare nutritious meals for our children should serve as an example to all, and we will continue to support them,” Perdue said.  “We also have a responsibility to our shareholders and our customers – the American taxpayers – to provide our school children with healthful and nutritious meals in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.”

I support legislation outlawing instant grits.

 

 

Clarkston City Council voted unanimously to limit the municipality’s cooperation with federal immigration officials.

The new policy, which took effect immediately, says city authorities shall not arrest or detain anyone based on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests called “detainers” or “administrative immigration warrants.”

“It’s more of a symbolic measure,” Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry said in an interview after the vote. “Practically speaking, we are not going to hold anyone for longer than a couple of hours in a holding cell before they get transferred to the DeKalb jail. But people in the community were fearful, and there were lots of very moving stories.”

Forsyth County Clerk of Courts Greg G. Allen warns citizens of a scam in which residents are told a warrant has been issued for failure to report for jury duty.

the callers tell them that in order to avoid arrest and incarceration the fine can be paid by a “green dot card” purchased from a local drug store, typically a national chain. Green Dot cards, and other similar cards, are prepaid MasterCard and Visa cards available at stores throughout the United States.

Augusta Commission members voted to develop a dress policy for city facilities.

Augusta city leaders stopped short of a ban on saggy pants Tuesday and instead voted unanimously to establish a “comprehensive dress policy” for all city facilities.

Several Georgia cities have enacted laws against residents exposing themselves by wearing pants below the waist, and Commissioner Marion Williams was leading a charge to outlaw the practice in Augusta.

Commissioner Andrew Jefferson said he asks young men to raise their pants, but didn’t think the practice warranted commission involvement.

“We have more pertinent issues to talk about. I don’t think the taxpayers are paying us to be the fashion police,” Jefferson said. “We have an ordinance addressing decency; let’s enforce it.”

Mayor Hardie Davis said the sheriff’s and marshal’s offices had not been “engaged” and that Augusta has “no enforcement mechanism” for a saggy pants ban.

“I have also not heard this governing body… address issues of rampant and pervasive poverty,” Davis said. “We still have not said a single word about how we’re going to put a single person to work. We have not said a single one of those things.”

A record-size 440-pound Mako shark was caught and landed off the coast of Bryan County, Georgia, nearly doubling the prior state record.

2018 Elections

Georgia State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams has filed paperwork to raise funds for a 2018 campaign for Governor.

Abrams, the top Democrat in the Georgia House, is widely expected to run and has built a profile in the national party, including an appearance at last year’s Democratic National Convention. Several other Democrats, including state Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna and Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, still are considering bids.

While she often says the Democratic minority must provide alternatives to plans proposed by the GOP majority, Abrams has worked with Deal and Republican legislative leaders on contentious issues, including changes to the state’s HOPE Scholarship program when lottery funds failed to keep up with demand.

She made voting registration a signature issue, founding an effort called the New Georgia Project in 2014 that focused on registering minorities to vote. The move has earned Abrams frequent mentions in national media outlets, a speaking slot at the DNC and made her a top surrogate for Hillary Clinton in Georgia during the 2016 presidential race.

“In the Trump era, we need state leaders who understand that a governor must serve every resident and face each challenge head on,” Jennifer Granholm, a former governor of Michigan, said in a statement. “Stacey has a model and a track record that cannot be beat.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continued his statewide tour yesterday in Macon.

Tuesday morning, about two dozen supporters joined Cagle for a tour of the new South Macon-Bibb County Recreation Center being built on Houston Road.

The Gainesville Republican pledged to create a half-million jobs in four years, focus on workforce development and enact tax reform with a $100 million tax cut in his first 100 days in office.

Luring new technology to the Peach State is part of his strategy.

“We’ve been successful being the ‘Hollywood of the South’ now it is my goal to make Georgia the ‘Silicon Valley of the South,’ ” Cagle said.

He wants to expand bandwidth in rural areas so that students have reliable internet connections.

Cagle’s campaign soldiered on to the next stop at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA.

The Republican from Gainesville told about 40 business and community leaders that he will work to make sure that military and civilian personnel at Fort Benning have what they need to get their jobs done during a 2:30 p.m. stop in Heritage Hall at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center. Cagle, 51, is expected to face a crowded field before the Nov. 6, 2018 election to fill the seat held by Gov. Nathan Deal, who is not allowed to run for a third term.

“It’s refreshing to me that this community always comes together to support military issues,” Cagle said after a briefing from Gary Jones, vice president of Governmental and Military Affairs for the chamber.

Cagle said the chamber is ready for what might come from the next Base Realignment and Closure Commission. “We’ve got to continue to be steadfast in our support,” he said.

Public school choice was an issue for soldiers during his last visit to the area. The Legislature passed a bill to give military personnel the ability to choose their school. “They have that right,” Cagle said. “ Giving them those options is the right thing to do.”