The blog.

30
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 30, 2017

On June 30, 1665, England’s King Charles signed a royal charter for Carolina, defining its southern border and also claiming all land in what is now Georgia.

On June 30, 1775, the Continental Congress passed the Articles of War, laying out complaints against Britain’s Parliament.

“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on July 1, 1776 to debate a resolution by Richard Henry Lee that the colonies declare their independence of Britain.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution by Richard Henry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) calling for independence from Britain. The delegations of twelve colonies voted in favor, while New York’s abstained, not knowing how their constituents would wish them to vote.

On July 2, 1826, representatives from Georgia and Alabama met to begin surveying the border between the two.

The first U.S. Postage stamps were issued on July 1, 1847 in New York City.

On July 2, 1861, Georgia voters approved a new state Constitution, which had been adopted by the state’s Secession Convention.

The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863. July 2, 1863 saw day 2 of the Battle of Gettysburg, with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia attacking Meade’s Army of the Potomac.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders charged San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War on July 1, 1898.

On July 2, 1898, the first pot of delicious Brunswick Stew was made in Brunswick, Georgia. I think I’ll celebrate with a bowl for lunch today.

Coca-Cola marketed its current formula for the first time on July 1, 1916.

Today could well be called Intermodal Transportation History Day in Georgia. The first four-lane highway in Georgia was announced on June 30, 1937 from Atlanta to Marietta. The first C5 air flight took place from Dobbins in Marietta on June 30, 1968 and MARTA rail service began on June 30, 1979.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell first went on sale on June 30, 1936; on June 30, 1986, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Margaret Mitchell.

Superman made his first appearance in Action Comics #1 on June 30, 1938.

On July 1, 1956, a new Georgia flag bearing the state seal and a version of the Confederate Battle Flag became effective after being adopted by the Georgia General Assembly in the 1956 Session.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1964. Major provisions included outlawing discriminatory application of voting laws, prohibiting racial discrimination in public accomodations, allowing the Attorney General to join lawsuits against states operating segregated public schools, and prohibiting discrimination by state and local governments or agencies receiving federal funds.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a witness to Johnson’s signature, standing behind the President in the Oval Office. Johnson presented King with one of the 72 pens used in signing the legislation.

Ohio became the 39th state to ratify the 26th Amendment on June 30, 1971, lowering the voting age to 18.

The current Georgia Constitution became effective on July 1, 1983 after its approval in a referendum during the November 1982 General Election.

Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing was released on June 30, 1989. Lee was born in Atlanta and graduated from Morehouse College.

Georgia native Clarence Thomas was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush on July 1, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A Bibb County homeless man stole a flag from over the old Sears building in downtown Macon.

The cops watched footage from a security camera.

Here’s what they saw: A bearded figure, an older fellow in a black cap and dark tanktop, lighting a cigarette near the flagpole.

It was going on 12:30 a.m. when a shadow — the flag itself — slid into view. Someone was lowering it to the sidewalk.

Deputy Sprague, according to a sheriff’s write-up of the episode, recognized the suspect as a homeless man named “Ghost.”

The cops say Schrader admitted stealing the American flag. He told them he was going to hang it under the bridge.

“I was drunk,” he reportedly told them, “and I like flags.”

I would have tried to come up with something more patriotic, like “the Spirit of Freedom came over me and I liberated the flag to carry the message to my people under the bridge.”

Nick Ayers started his day yesterday quashing rumors that he might run for Governor of Georgia in 2018. A little later in the day, we learned why:

Nick Ayers, who served as the Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association from 2007-2011, was today named the new Chief of Staff for Vice President Mike Pence.

From the Daily Caller:

Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that he will bring on a former aide to serve as his new chief of staff.

The vice president’s current chief of staff, Josh Pitcock, will leave in August and will be replaced by Nick Ayers, a Republican operative from Georgia who served as Pence’s chief political strategist when he was running for vice president.

Pence said, “I am pleased to welcome Nick Ayers to the Office of the Vice President. During my years as Governor, then as a candidate and serving as Vice President, I have come to appreciate Nick’s friendship, keen intellect and integrity and I couldn’t be more excited to have him come to the White House as my Chief of Staff.”

Most recently, Ayers was a leader of America First Policies, a pro-Trump political group that ran ads criticizing a Republican senator who didn’t support the Senate Obamacare repeal bill.

Governor Nathan Deal attended a graduation ceremony for 102 female offenders in the Georgia Department of Corrections who earned their GEDs.

Democrat Jon Ossoff (R-Druid Hills) spoke to the Washington Post about his loss to Karen Handel.

“Democratic turnout was extremely strong,” Ossoff said in his first interview since the race ended in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. “In an off-year special election, we got general election-level Democratic turnout, and I think that’s been lost in the coverage.”

What the critics miss, Ossoff said, was that the Democratic base did come out after hearing his message. “I missed an outright win in April by less than 4,000 votes, then we added 32,000 votes,” he said. “Democratic turnout and excitement were high, and we won the majority of independents — that’s a testament to our economic message. I was talking about bringing more jobs and opportunity to Georgia.”

Despite the attacks on his area of residence — slightly outside the district, to make life easier for a fiance finishing medical training — Ossoff argued that most Republican attacks fell flat. His campaign’s polling found his favorability rating staying high, above 50 percent, through the runoff.

“That speaks to how weak and soggy their attacks were,” said Ossoff. “Democrats were united, and we built a coalition that included most independents in the districts.”

“This campaign demonstrated the potency of a grass-roots political model that will allow people power to counter special-interest power,” said Ossoff. “The national right-wing apparatus just had to spend nearly $20 million defending a seat that was supposed to be safe. I don’t think they should take much comfort in that. Trump and [White House adviser Steve Bannon] were sweating over this race, and they should be sweating into 2018.”

Karen Handel won politics last week, so this week it was her husband, Steve Handel, who won the internet, Georgia politics division.

Steve Handel headline

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) urged members of the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding  to consider the role of mass transit on future economic development.

The commission began its first meeting with a cheerleading speech from the speaker, who said mass transit will be critical to economic development in the future.

“Over the last few years we have created a great deal of momentum that has propelled us to this moment,” Ralston told the commission.

[T]he speaker charged the group with thinking big, and signaled he’s open to state funding for regular state funding of mass transit – a holy grail of transit advocates.

“I am not of the opinion that the state must wholly control or take over a transit system to provide funding,” Ralston said.

The commission – a group of local and state elected officials and representatives of various transportation agencies – will spend the next year and a half discussing how to integrate mass transit into Georgia’s statewide transportation system.

The University of North Georgia held a Town Hall on Campus Carry, which becomes legal in the coming days.

UNG Police Chief Justin Gaines held the forum on House Bill 280, commonly referred to as the campus carry law, which was passed this spring by the state legislature. Approximately 30 people attended the session in the Continuing Education Auditorium, which was the seventh held so far on the five UNG campuses.

The bill makes it legal for those with a Georgia weapons carry license to have a concealed handgun in some campus areas previously prohibited. But the law continues to make it illegal to carry a concealed weapon in many areas, including: sites of athletic events; student housing; any preschool or child care space; any space used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school; any space used for classes where high school students are enrolled; faculty, staff or administration offices and any rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources will increase enforcement on the state’s waterways this weekend, hoping to promote safety and lower the incidence of boating under the influence.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is engaged in two lawsuits alleging a company in which he invested failed to pay back loans totalling $700k.

The separate lawsuits were filed this month by two firms that loaned money to Hart AgStrong, a Danielsville-based agriculture business. They both contend that Kemp, one of four Republicans in the 2018 race for Georgia governor, was among several investors who signed documents agreeing to personally pay back the loans.

Kemp said in a statement that he is one of “many” investors in Hart AgStrong and that he continues to “offer strategic advice to leadership as they work to resolve these financial matters.”

The two separate lawsuits, filed within days of each other, make similar claims.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge Louisa Abbot was appointed to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

“I look forward to serving on the new (commission) with other members from throughout the state,” Abbot said Thursday.

“The new (commission) promises to create an attentive and responsive forum hallmarked by new procedures to guarantee prompt and appropriate action for those who have questions or complaints about individual judges,” she said. “At the same time, the new (commission) will take measures to fulfill its other goal of protecting Georgia judges from unfounded accusations and destructive campaigns when they have acted in accordance with the law and the canons of judicial ethics.

“I look forward to being a part of developing a well-regarded commission which maintains its mission with a clear set of rules, clarity of function and due process for all.”

Other new appointees announced by Chief Justice P. Harris Hines this week were:

• DeKalb County State Court Judge Stacey K. Hydrick

• Atlanta Circuit Superior Court Judge Robert C.I. McBurney

• Jamala S. McFadden, an employment attorney in Atlanta

Healthcare

Governor Nathan Deal focused his comments about the GOP Health Care plan on the notion that Georgia should not be punished for declining to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

Deal said in an interview he was concerned about changes to the Medicaid program that could leave the states to pick up the tab. But he said he wanted to reserve final judgment until Senate GOP leaders hobbled by a wave of defections reveal a new draft of the measure.

“From a state standpoint, our main concern is our Medicaid program. As I have said before, we want to make sure we are not punished because we did not expand our Medicaid population,” he said, adding: “We want to be treated fairly.”

The governor said the Senate bill appears to treat non-expansion states like Georgia more favorably than the House plan, but stressed that it’s still early. And he applauded provisions in the Senate measure that preserve funding to hospitals that treat indigent patients that benefits Grady Memorial Hospital and other health systems.

“We’re a long way from knowing what the final product is going to look like,” said Deal. “But those are the areas that I’m looking at most intently.”

“There is a sense of urgency to do something about it. And some states are in a more desperate state than we are,” he said. “It’s not a crisis that’s being created by the current administration or the current Congress. It’s an outgrowth of what happened when Obamacare was originally passed.”

 The liberal Georgia Budget & Policy Institute looks at the effect of the GOP plan on Georgia.

The AHCA would cut $4 billion in Medicaid funding to Georgia during 10 years, according to a policy paper by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, an Atlanta-based nonprofit group. Georgia’s southeast region, including Lowndes County, would lose $125 million, the paper claims.

“South Georgia would be hit hard because of a higher reliance on Medicaid,” said Laura Harker, a GBPI policy analyst.

Medicaid represents a significant portion of hospitals’ revenues. A GBPI list of Georgia hospitals considered most “at risk” from proposed deep Medicaid cuts includes Cook Medical Center in Adel. About 14 percent of Cook Medical’s patients rely on Medicaid, said Christopher Dorman, president and chief operating officer of Tift Regional Health System, which operates Cook Medical.

About 25.3 percent of Cook Medical’s revenues come from Medicaid, coming in eighth on a list of Georgia hospitals with the highest share of Medicaid revenue, the policy paper said.

Cook Medical, already losing $2.6 million a year since 2012, closed the county’s only emergency room in February. The ER was the single largest source of losses for the hospital, Dorman said.

“This cost-shifts the burden of uninsured patients to hospitals, who see patients regardless of their ability to pay,” he said. “When it comes to crafting this bill, it appears that hospitals and physicians don’t really have a seat at the table.”

2018 Elections

Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-LaGrange) has endorsed state Senator Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough) in his bid for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. From the campaign’s press release:

Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-03) today endorsed Rick Jeffares’ campaign for Lt. Governor of Georgia and made the maximum allowable financial contribution ($5,000) to his effort.

“Rick is by far the best choice to be Georgia’s Lt. Governor,” Ferguson said. “He’s smart, works hard and has a vision for making government smaller and more relevant to our communities. He’s as frustrated with state government as I am with Washington and he has great ideas for making it better.”

Ferguson was elected to Congress from Georgia’s 3rd Congressional district, which includes much of Jeffares’ State Senate district.

“Drew was a great Mayor of West Point and is fighting hard for all of us in Washington,” Rick said. “He gets how oppressive government has become to our citizens and small businesses, how it has grown into a monster bureaucracy stifling American freedoms and entrepreneurialism. I am proud to have him in my corner.”

The Newnan Times-Herald writes that the Handel victory in CD-6 shows the GOP hasn’t lost support among Georgia voters.

In the end, Karen Handel not only won what was effectively the Republican “primary” in April but also the runoff against Ossoff this week when she consolidated her party’s support. The Republican vote Tuesday was about the same percentage as what Donald Trump garnered from the district in November’s presidential election.

That means Georgia Republicans did not change their support for the party, despite the wishful thinking of liberals across the country and Democratic donors. All that money and high-powered campaign consulting only netted Ossoff 125,000 votes Tuesday, the same number of votes taken in November in the same district by a non-name Democratic candidate who spent absolutely no money whatsoever in challenging Republican Rep. Tom Price, whose appointment to the Trump cabinet created the vacancy the special election was filling.

Beyond adding an energetic, capable woman to the Georgia congressional delegation who may one day reach even higher office, the election demonstrated that Trump has as much support as ever. Surveys of job approval ratings may have registered slippage, but those are conducted in a vacuum of sorts. Elections, though, come down to choices, and when the choice was between a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat as it was in November and is likely to be in four years, the voters again picked the former over the latter.

29
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 29, 2017

On June 29, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sailed from Cadiz, Spain to invade Florida.

Johan De Kalb was born on June 29, 1721 in Germany. In 1777, De Kalb joined the Marquis de Lafayette in supporting the Americans against British forces, dying in Camden, South Carolina in 1780. In 1822, the Georgia General Assembly created DeKalb County.

On June 29, 1767, the British Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, levying a tax on glass, paint, oil, lead, paper, and tea in order to raise funds from the colonies.

The United States Supreme Court released its 5-4 opinion in Furman v. Georgia on June 29, 1972, holding that the death penalty violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

On June 29, 1993, Governor Zell Miller bought the first ticket in the Georgia Lottery.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner ruled against County Commissioner Tommy Hunter’s argument that the county ethics board is unconstitutional because of its appointment process.

Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner’s ruling was a blow to the Hunter camp’s assertion that the ethics complaint filed against him by Atlanta resident Nancie Turner and, indeed, the county’s entire ethics process was unconstitutional. That process resulted in a recommendation that the Board of Commissioners publicly reprimand Hunter, which it did last week.

“Since the Board of Ethics serves merely as an investigatory function in making a recommendation to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, a public body comprised of elected members, rather than acting as the final arbiter, the ethics board and the ordinance creating it are not constitutionally infirm,” Conner wrote in her decision on Wednesday.

“We are pleased that the judge has deemed our Ethics Committee and Ethics Policy to be constitutional,” commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said in a statement. “While we certainly believed this was the case, it is good to have confirmation through the Court’s decision.”

But, while Conner’s decision may look like a defeat for Hunter, his spokesman, Seth Weathers, said he is not giving up.

“They call them activist judges for a reason,” Weathers said. “We were prepared for this and will be moving forward with additional legal measures. If they think they can deter us or make this go away, they are badly mistaken.”

Weathers continued his rant on Facebook.

My God, the other commissioners continue to publicly comment on a matter that is going to be resolved by the courts. I cannot believe they actually think this case is settled – if so, that’s sad. It’s going to be a rude awakening.

For clarification Charlotte, this one ruling is not proof that the unconstitutional actions you have taken are actually constitutional. It’s time to stop being so prideful and admit you were wrong.

Tybee Island City Council set the FY2018 property tax rate at the same level as the previous year.

Lowndes County Commissioners approved a FY 2017-18 without a millage rate increase.

The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission will consider alleged zoning violations abetted by Airbnb.

Airbnb residences in Valdosta are technically in violation of current zoning ordinances, said Matt Martin, Valdosta city planning and zoning administrator.

“I went online and found five of them (in Valdosta),” Martin said.

CyberQuest 2017 at Fort Gordon’s U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence ends this week.

During Cyber Quest, the Army assesses its cyberwarfare needs and shares them with industry and academic partners. Those partners then share their knowledge and technology with soldiers who train with it. The Army then examines if or how those new cyberwarfare approaches improve its capabilities.

Twenty-seven vendors participated this year, offering expertise in 40 “capabilities,” Morrison said. The many areas addressed included signal detection, geolocation, network operations, malware analysis, data processing and tactical systems.

This year — the fort’s second Cyber Quest event — also marked the first time the fort has assessed its electronic warfare capabilities.

“That is absolutely critical, because I would submit to you that the United States Army is behind many of our near-peer or even peer competitors in that critical field,” Morrison said.

Electronic warfare differs from cyberspace operations. Electronic warfare encompasses how electromagnetic signals are manipulated in areas such as radio, radar, sonar and infrared technology.

Columbus-based Synovus was named the Most Reputable Bank in America.

Manatees are being tracked off the Georgia coast.

Staff from wildlife agencies and organizations in Georgia and Florida netted eight manatees in Cumberland Sound in late May and early June. With a helicopter helping spot the animals, a custom manatee capture boat was used to encircle them with a net. They were then pulled onto the boat or a bank to tag and examine. Biologists and veterinary staff examined the six male and two female manatees, took samples, fitted each animal with a GPS transmitter and released all unharmed.

The project, led by Sea to Shore Alliance, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Aquarium, is expected to help document migratory paths and habitat use in the region, collect baseline data to help assess manatee health and map the protected species’ movements near Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
The GPS data have shown that manatees regularly venture into the submarine base, they’re able to find artificial freshwater sources to drink from, and a few have traveled into the open Atlantic venturing as far as five miles offshore. Biologists are also confirming things they long suspected but had no way to prove, such as the importance of the Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW — a narrow passage of natural and dredged rivers between the mainland and barrier islands – for manatees moving along the Georgia coast.

“The Intracoastal Waterway is like a manatee highway,” DNR wildlife biologist Clay George said. “But the ICW is also a primary passageway for boats moving up and down the coast, so this behavior may place manatees at added risk of boat strikes.”

Goodwill of North Georgia will receive a $1.2 million grant from the US Department of Labor to work on helping ex-offenders find work.

DeKalb County is discontinuing its glass recycling program.

Opiate Epidemic

Hazmat crews were called in to the Duluth Police Department after a load of synthetic opiate Fentanyl was spilled.

Duluth PD Officer Ted Sadowski said two officers were driving a load of Fentanyl back to the department from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.

Fentanyl is one of the strongest opiate drugs on the market and is often used for short-term, break-through pain after surgery, according to narconon.org. It’s also a frequently abused drug.

Sadowski said either Duluth PD or the Gwinnett Metro Task Force likely arrested somebody with Fentanyl recently and transported the drug to the GBI lab to be tested. The two officers were bringing the drug supply back from the lab to house as evidence on Wednesday afternoon.

When they got back to the department at about 1 p.m., the officers checked the back of their cars and realized the Fentanyl had spilled.

The Russell County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office found some counterfeit Percocet containing fentanyl, similar to those in a recent cluster of Middle Georgia overdoses.

An update on overdose rates comes from Newsweek.com:

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate from synthetic opioid overdose has increased by nearly 75 percent from 2014 to 2015. That data includes all synthetics, such astramadol and fentanyl. Last year, LiveScience reported that deaths from fentanyl have doubled in a single year. In 2014, 4,200 people in the U.S. died from overdoses involving fentanyl, compared with 1,905 people in 2013. In short, the rate of fentanyl deaths increased from 6 deaths per 1 million people to 13 deaths per 1 million people during that one-year period.

Healthcare

Two professors write about what the American Health Care Act would do to rural healthcare.

Both the House and Senate bills to repeal and replace Obamacare would drastically reduce rural Americans’ insurance coverage and significantly threaten the ability of many rural hospitals and clinics to keep their doors open. Analysts show that the bill would provide insufficient tax credits to pay for rural premium costs, drastically increase the price of rural premiums and increase uncompensated care in rural hospitals.

The particular economic factors affecting rural health care institutions make rural areas particularly vulnerable to political shifts that disrupt services for existing patients and for those newly insured, creating immense challenges for rural providers. Steps that fail to account for the impact of financial hardship on these institutions not only hurt their bottom line but contribute to poor morale and workforce turnover and larger-scale decisions to reduce services, which decrease their ability to address patient needs.

At the same time, commitment to improving the health of rural Americans requires attention to the so-called upstream factors shaping rural health. That means preserving the safety net programs so vital in rural areas with underemployment and low-paying jobs, strengthening rural economies and investing in high-quality education.

If our leaders are serious about reform that will lessen the rural-urban mortality gap, they should recognize the unique needs of rural America and ensure health care policy reflects how vital access to quality care is to their financial success — not to mention their well-being.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson spoke on GPB’s “Political Rewind” about healthcare in southwest Georgia.

Tomlinson said the Columbus area would be greatly affected by what happens with the [Republican] healthcare bill.

“In southwest Georgia, particularly, as you know, we have some of the poorest counties in Clay and Calhoun and Stewart and Webster County,” she said. “And so, you’re talking about a region of Georgia that relies heavily on things such as Medicaid and has seen … the closing of these rural hospitals.”

“It’s in real crisis,” she said. “And at the same time that puts an incredible load on our medical center, which is, of course, our public hospital, which our citizens pay ($15 million) a year to subsidize. And, you know, it’s serious business down there.”

She said some hospitals that closed might have had a shot if Gov. Nathan Deal had expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

“This affects people’s lives,” she said. “Not only does it reduce the number of good, medical industry jobs in our area. It reduces these rural hospitals that people rely on incredibly. And you can’t talk about economic development and have poverty levels like we do in some of these areas outside the Metro Atlanta area and not realize that healthcare is major component.”

Floyd County state legislators discussed the federal healthcare legislation.

State Rep. Eddie Lums­den, R-Armuchee, said Wednesday that Georgia General Assembly members want to be prepared for any federal funding changes.

“Whatever happens in D.C. will affect us in the states, of course, but until they take some action we’re still in limbo,” he said.

He also serves on the House Rural Development Council, which is holding hearings around the state. Access to healthcare is the focus of the next two sessions, set for July 19 in Thomasville and July 20 in Bainbridge.

“When you’re looking for ways to keep the population there and help attract business and industry to rural areas, the plight of rural hospitals is one of the things that play into it,” Lumsden said.

State Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, said she’s hearing from a wide variety of constituents — including some who mistakenly think she’s in Washington, with a vote on the bill. Across the board, she said, is a desire to see the end of the mandate to buy insurance. But there are also a wide variety of fears.

“Particularly for those struggling with mental health, there’s real concern they may lose their benefits,” she said.

At a Medical Association of Georgia meeting where she was a panelist last week, she said providers such as physicians and hospitals were talking about the need for reimbursements to reflect the cost of care.

She said she told both groups, and others, to take time now to contact their federal lawmakers about their concerns.

The New Yorker writes about Clay County, Georgia, where a single physician provides healthcare for all residents.

Fort Gaines is in Clay County, which is consistently ranked among the poorest of the hundred and fifty-nine counties in the state. It currently ranks third-to-last in “health outcomes,” according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, up from dead last. Clay County’s only hospital closed its doors in 1983, long before [Dr. Karen] Kinsell, who is now in her sixties, arrived and became its only doctor.

Kinsell runs Clay County Medical Center, a facility with four exam rooms built out of a former Tastee-Freez. It’s a private practice, but she is a full-time volunteer. There is a receptionist and two other full-time staff members; they see “around thirty to thirty-five patients a day,” Kinsell said. Monty Veazey, the president of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, told me that “Kinsellcare” is the only health care that’s had a meaningful and positive effect here. “She’s going bankrupt treating everyone that comes in,” he said. “Most have no money, no Internet access, no other basic care. Many don’t have insurance. How much longer can she do that? I don’t know. But she’s their only hope.”

“My patients are sixty per cent black and forty per cent white. Forty per cent are completely uninsured, and we just ask them for ten dollars to cover the visit. If they can’t pay, then it’s free. We do that because this is one of the poorest places in Georgia, with some of the sickest people, and we’re adjoined by counties that are just as bad.
“We’ve had two rural hospitals in the wider area close in the last seven years. And the quality of the remaining really rural hospitals is pretty awful. You have to go in one of five directions to find health care from here: there’s a physician’s assistant in a waiting room twenty miles away. But the closest real hospital is thirty miles. A real regional hospital is sixty miles away if you stay in Georgia, forty miles away in Alabama.”

“I’m the only provider in the county, so it’s partly chronic care and partly urgent care that I do. There’s very high rates of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease. That sort of thing. We just did an S.T.D. check. I have leg pain reported in this next patient this morning. We have a very high rate of elderly and disabled people here, because of multi-generational poverty. People who can leave have left.”

“In all fairness, Obamacare, as much as I was for it—and I’m on it myself—didn’t affect us much at all. The first year it came out, southwest Georgia had the second-highest premium costs in the nation, after Vail, Colorado. And because not many people make enough to be allowed to buy into it, very few people around here signed up for it. We also were not allowed to be a provider, because people were allowed to pick and choose providers. Then, of course, Georgia did not expand Medicaid. That’s why about forty per cent of our patients are uninsured.”

“We didn’t see a whole lot of businesses here starting to offer insurance under Obamacare. Partly because the big companies—the chicken plant—already have insurance. And we don’t have many companies that are that fifty-to-one-hundred-employee size that would have been affected.”

2018 Elections

State Senator Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna) says he took in a million dollars for his 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Republican Hunter Hill said Thursday he’s raised more than $1 million in the race for Georgia governor, a day ahead of a reporting deadline that will be an early test for gubernatorial candidates.

The state senator said in a statement that his fundraising shows that “Georgia Republicans are ready for a conservative outsider to change the way state government works.”

Hill’s campaign hopes his seven-figure take proves he’s a top-tier candidate. A U.S. Army veteran, Hill has tried to position himself as the “true conservative” in the race since announcing his run in April. He has staked out a staunchly conservative platform, railing against “sanctuary cities” and vowing to eliminate the state income tax.

Welcome to the top tier, Sen. Hill.

29
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 29, 2017

Bertie

Bertie is a young female Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Decatur, GA.

Bertie is a sweet and snuggly 4 month old shepherd mix. She is a wee lass, and will likely be a smaller adult dog. Bertie is a quiet girl, doesn’t bark much, loves to hug and nap, she is working on her leash skills already and going potty outside.

Banksy

Banksy is a young male Shepherd & Hound puppy who is available for adoption from Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Decatur, GA.

If this kid’s sweet little face doesn’t make you all melty and if his insistence to constantly snuggle and smother you with kisses doesn’t make you all weak in the knees, maybe this kid’s heart on his back will!

Banksy is a 5 month old shepherd mix that will likely be on the smaller size when he gets older (under 50 lbs). Banksy loves other dogs and he does well with kitties too. He is working on his potty and leash skills as he only now arrived to rescue, but he is a quick learner and really wants to please his people!

Belle

Belle is a young female Pit Bull Terrier & Mastiff mix puppy who is available for adoption from Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Decatur, GA.

You are going to fall in love with Belle’s stubby nose and her gorgeous espresso coat that is as soft as velvet! She has so much fun and loves to play with the other puppies at the events! Belle is about 5-6 months old. Belle is a big girl, noticeably larger than her sister! She is a confident girl and will become a great little family member.

She is fully housebroken and incredibly dog-friendly. Belle is a serious snuggler and does well on a leash, considering her age. She would love a household with kids.

28
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 28, 2017

Lifeline Independence

Through July 31, LifeLine Animal Project is waiving adoption fees on all animals in the DeKalb County Animal Services and Fulton County Animal Services shelters.

The Fulton County shelter is also seeking foster homes for new moms and their puppies until the pups are old enough to be adoptable.

Tonya

Tonya is a 5-year old female terrier mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Tonya is ready to relax – whether it be on your couch, your lap, or even a comfy dog bed that she hopes to have in her forever home. This calm gal prides herself in being a couch potato. She enjoys walking around slowly, surveying her surroundings, and nudging you for pets. Meet Tonya at LifeLine’s DeKalb Animal Service!

Millinia

Millinia is a 1-year old female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Millinia is a little shy, but that doesn’t stop her from being as sweet as can be! This precious pup loves other dogs and would really enjoy a home with a canine companion. She showers her kennelmate with kisses every time they are apart for a walk. Millinia would love a place to call home. Meet Millinia at our Avondale Estates Location! It is located at 129 Lake st in Avondale Estates.

Marvin

Marvin is a 3-year old male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Marvin is a three year old, 63 pound dude who gets along great with other dogs and loves all people. He has the happiest smile around, it is sure to win your heart! Marvin is already neutered, microchipped, and ready to go home today. Meet Marvin at LifeLine’s DeKalb Animal Services!

28
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 28, 2017

On June 28, 1742, Spanish forces based in Florida invaded Georgia.

On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s second draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On June 28, 1887, John Pemberton patented Coca-Cola Syrup and Extract.

Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia on June 28, 1914, sparking the First World War.

The first production Corvette was assembled on June 28, 1953 in Flint, Michigan.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The latest video from the “Real Teachers Real Voices” campaign was released by Gov. Nathan Deal’s office yesterday and features Jennifer Ulbrich, an educator at Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta.

“Today’s pace of change is unprecedented. Our students will graduate into a global and dynamic world filled with emojis, robotic arms and the internet,” said Ulbrich. “It is my job to prepare them for that diverse future. Every day, I share my passion for social studies with young people, as I encourage them to think critically about the society around them. I am a teacher for the 21st century.”

Gov. Deal announced that SILON will invest $20 million in Forsyth County and bring 20 new jobs.

“Georgia’s top-ranked business environment continues to attract international firms like SILON to our state,” said Deal. “In choosing Fayette County for this facility, SILON will find the logistics infrastructure and well-trained workforce necessary to support customers in a range of industries. I’m pleased to welcome SILON to the growing number of international companies creating jobs for Georgians and investing in our communities.”

The facility will be used for manufacturing, warehousing and storage purposes. The newly created jobs include positions in engineering, management and production.

If you say “SILON,” I assume you’re talking about these guys.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced it has identified two new Fentanyl analogues that can be absorbed through the skin and are considered highly dangerous.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab in Cleveland, GA has identified two new fentanyl analogues, acrylfentanyl and tetrahydrofuran fentanyl.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office submitted forensic drug evidence containing these two drugs to the crime lab in March of this year.  Acrylfentanyl had been on the GBI’s watchlist for the past few months. Multiple reports in other states indicated that the opioid reversal drug, naloxone, may not be effective if someone overdosed after ingesting acrylfentanyl.

Legislation was introduced this year to outlaw acrylfentanyl in Georgia.  The law banning the substance went into effect after passage by the Georgia General Assembly and the Governor’s signature on April 17, 2017.  At this time, tetrahydrofuran fentanyl is not covered under GA law.

It is unknown how the human body will react to both drugs since they are not intended for human or veterinary use.

WSB-TV reports that some of the new Fentanyl variants appear to be resistant to Naloxone (aka Narcan), the widely used countermeasure for drug overdoses.

Channel 2’s Tom Regan was at Northside Hospital Forsyth where he’s told they been overwhelmed by drug overdose involving heroin and fentanyl.

In one weekend in April, there were four overdoses in the county, two fatal, and Channel 2 Action News is working to learn if they’re link to this new drug strain

“There are multiple reports showing that this drug is resistant to Naloxone,” Nelly Miles with the GBI said.

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader sent a letter to U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican from Buford, sent a letter to the office of U.S. senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue telling them that cuts to Medicaid funding would impact county and private EMS, emergency rooms and opioid treatment programs.

“Opioid abuse and confronting the epidemic is an issue that crosses state lines, cultures, ages and social classes,” Unterman said. “We must work together with our colleagues on the federal level to ensure this health care crisis is addressed and necessary funding is not eliminated.

“Our goal is to mobilize state leaders in raising awareness, improving our existing therapeutic infrastructure, changing Georgia state law and appropriating matching state and federal dollars to lead the way in fighting the opioid epidemic.”

Unterman, who chairs the Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, has played an active role in efforts to mobilize metro Atlanta’s northern arc counties — Gwinnett, Cobb, Hall, Forsyth and Cherokee — to combat opioid addiction in the area.

She will be hosting a press conference, along with Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, on Friday to further bring awareness to the opioid epidemic and discuss next steps in combating it.

In Albany, Phoebe Putney Hospital is partnering with local agencies to form a new task force to fight opioid abuse.

“I think we’re kind of being on the proactive side, because we’re combating something before it gradually attacks our community,” Albany Dougherty County Drug Unit Major, Prurince Dice said.

During their first meeting on Tuesday, Dice talked about just how deadly some opioids could be especially fentanyl. In fact, he said just a very small amount of fentanyl, like the size of this ball point pen, is enough to kill someone.

Phoebe Hospital has partnered with Albany law enforcement to tackle the drug epidemic and want to really start with prevention. Leaders want to halt all drugs, not just opioids.

“Enforcing the law or focusing more on the crime reduction part may not necessarily be 100 percent the best solution for this type of epidemic,” Dice said.

Hospital Manager of Security, Emergency and Preparedness Gary Rice wants the police and hospital to collaborate on issues like drug use.

“A lot of things that go on inside of our hospital we have to work with our law enforcement partners on the outside and the same thing. They’re seeing things on the outside that may influence the way we have to treat people on the inside,” Rice said.

Local law enforcement officers are taking precautions when dealing with potential drug caches.

“With fentanyl popping up around here, you have to vigilant,” [Senoia Police Officer Christopher Black] said. “When you get this far along into your career, sometimes you have a tendency to be less cautious around drugs because you’ve been around them for so long. But now it’s to the point where you’re always on edge and taking every precaution to protect yourself.”

[Senoia Lt. Jason] Ercole sent an internal memo to all officers at the Senoia Police Department, requiring gloves when dealing with all narcotics.

Anything suspicious is immediately sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab….

In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve with the current opioid crisis, Ercole also purchased 16 Narcan kits for $1,200 and hopes he can make room in the budget for more next year. Each officer will have two doses of the spray.

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said the rise of synthetic drugs is one of the greatest dangers first responders are currently facing.

“So many situations involve fire departments and police departments, where every day they are doing opioid reversals thanks to Naloxone,” she said. “But they have to call in the fire department to decontaminate the area in the same fashion what would be required in a hazmat situation.”

“When it comes to these kinds of drugs, there’s no consistency how it can come or what it looks like,” the GBI’s Miles said. “Every case needs to be treated like it could be fentanyl.”

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-10) lauded the EPA’s move to reverse its Waters of the United States rule.

The Obama Administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule attempted to replace the judgment of Forsyth and Gwinnett County government with a federal bureaucracy’s, and that misguided notion was always the problem,” [Woodall] said. “The issue is not whether we should protect our resources and be good stewards of the environment — we all agree we should — the issue is where that authority resides: Washington or here at home.

“No one cares more about water quality in our community than those of us who call it home, and the Administration’s decision today gives us the tools that we need here at home to protect it.”

Hice said on Facebook, “Ambiguous rules that regulate virtually every puddle and pool subject farmers and ranchers to undue burden. I applaud today’s action by the Trump Administration and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to rescind the #WOTUS rule.”

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) also issued a statement on the so-called “WOTUS Rule.”

“The WOTUS rule was flawed from the beginning, and I applaud EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s action to rescind this regulation. WOTUS was yet another attempt by the previous administration to undermine the rights of states, local governments and landowners by allowing the federal government to regulate backyard streams and puddles.

“Our farmers work each and every day to care for our land and preserve it for generations to come. I am happy to see the Trump Administration empowering America’s farmers and taking another step towards removing the overreaching hand of government from their everyday lives. In February, I introduced H.R. 1105, legislation to repeal the WOTUS rule and now that the EPA has rescinded the rule, Congress must codify this language to ensure WOTUS can never become a reality under any future administrations.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr also joined the press release party.

Attorney General Chris Carr today applauded the action of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in beginning to withdraw its 2015 rule defining “waters of the United States” (the WOTUS Rule).

“This is a significant step in addressing the WOTUS Rule’s sweeping assertion of authority, which unlawfully impinges on the State’s traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We look forward to EPA’s final action to withdraw the 2015 WOTUS Rule, providing relief for Georgia homeowners, farmers and other entities.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is working to increase funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

Led by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, the entire bipartisan delegation urged the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water to give a special priority to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program, making additional funds available to keep the project on budget.

“The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that without annual funding of $80 million to $100 million, the project cannot be completed on time, with the resulting delays costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” Carter said.

The letter, signed by every member of the delegation, noted that the budget request, both for SHEP and the overall Army Corps Construction Account, “is well below the minimum required to facilitate the international trade and domestic job growth that is key to restoring fiscal and economic health to the nation.”

The Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission released short list of nominees for vacancies on the States Court of Bibb County and Clayton County.

Emory University has filed a petition to have its Druid Hills campus annexed into the City of Atlanta.

The university, including its health care facilities on the Druid Hills campus, will remain in DeKalb County, and upon approval of the petition, will also be part of the City of Atlanta.

According to Emory President Claire E. Sterk, annexation into Atlanta will complement the university’s commitment to local, and thereby global, engagement, while continuing to contribute to both jurisdictions.

“We are enriched by our relationships with the county and the city as well as the larger region and the state and look forward to building upon our commitment to community involvement, academic excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Sterk.

Next steps in the process include the city’s regular public meeting process for annexations. It is expected that the annexation will be effective in the fall of this year.

From the AJC:

The news comes as city and MARTA officials prepare discussions on the millions in transportation spending expected to be come as a result of last year’s approval of an almost penny sales tax increase for roads, sidewalks and public transportation improvements.

Light rail connectivity from MARTA’s Lindbergh Station to Emory’s Clifton Road corridor and nearby Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been discussed as a top spending priority.

“As an Emory graduate, I would be delighted if the annexation process is completed and they are a part of Atlanta,” said City Councilwoman Mary Norwood. “That is good news for them and good news for Atlanta.”

DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader expressed concern that others could follow Emory’s lead and potentially “destabilize” the region. He wants Atlanta to agree not to allow piecemeal annexations of neighborhoods or shopping centers, and worries that Emory’s decision could impact future transportation agreements.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has been recognized in the U.S. News ranking of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties. The facility ranked highest, No. 6 in nephrology, along with No. 11 in gastroenteroloy, No. 13 in cancer treatment, and No. 15 in neonatology.

Glynn County beachgoers are being warned to stay out of the water in some areas.

The Glynn County Board of Education adopted a FY 2018 budget that includes raises for teachers.

The Glynn County Health Department issued advisories for East Beach at the old Coast Guard station (from Tenth Street to Driftwood Drive) and Massengale Park Beach (from Driftwood Drive to Cedar Street) on St. Simons Island.

The advisories do not impact any other beaches on the island and do not mean the beaches are closed.

Officials said there is no way of knowing if going into water that is under an advisory will result in illness; but, the beach water advisory is issued to alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact.

The Glynn County Health Department recommends beachgoers not swim or wade in the water in the areas under advisory.

Fish and other seafood caught from the areaa should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge swamp fire was extinguished by heavy rain.

A wildfire that consumed more than 152,000 acres in and around the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has been extinguished thanks to more than 10 inches of rain the past two weeks.

At its peak, more than 1,000 wildfire firefighters from across the country battled to contain the flames within the boundaries of the wildlife refuge and adjoining forests in North Florida.

Scott Cordero, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, said anywhere from 12 to 17 inches of rain have fallen on the swamp the past 30 days.

Clermont and Lula will not levy property taxes in the coming year.

With expenditures of $434,600 in its recently approved fiscal 2017-18 budget, Clermont balanced its budget through sales and use taxes or fees — without a property tax.

Clermont Mayor James Nix said the town levied a property tax soon after it was established in 1913, but has done without it for many years.

“They had a property tax at one time in the early days, I know that,” Nix said. “They haven’t had one in the past 30-40 years. I haven’t looked at the records to see when it was they had one.”

Instead of property taxes, Nix said Clermont — with a population of less than 1,000 residents — gets it revenues from a local option sales tax ($137,500), franchise fees, insurance premium taxes and “odds ’n ends.”

Lula Mayor Milton Turner is proud that during his 16-year tenure in office the city has kept its tradition of doing without property taxes to balance the budget.

“That’s the great thing about being here (in Lula) where we’re able to do this and roll back our taxes to zero,” Turner said recently, after the city approved a budget that slightly went over $1 million.

Lula Mayor Pro Tem Marvin Moore said property taxes may be inevitable in the future as the city continues to offer more services.

“We’re going to hold to (no taxes) as long as we can,” Moore told The Times. “We’re hoping our growth will sustain us.”

Revenues from Lula’s local option sales tax (more than $400,000) anchor its general fund budget, which also pulls in from an assortment of selective sales, use taxes or fees.

Floyd County will receive $1.9 from the state for transportation infrastructure next year.

Columbus City Council is considering spending $1 million to provide larger employee bonuses.

Houston County Commissioners approved their FY 2018 budget, but has not yet set the property tax rate.

Local Electeds (Allegedly) Behaving Badly

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson has been indicted for allegedly pocketing $3000 in advances from the county government.

A grand jury indicted former DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson with theft Tuesday after he receiving about $3,000 in advances for government trips that he never took.

Watson withdrew advance checks in January 2016 for conferences in Chicago and Savannah, but then he resigned from office in March 2016 to run for DeKalb Tax Commissioner.

“The state alleges the expense money w as then converted to personal use and not repaid until approximately one year later, well after Watson’s resignation,” according to a press release from [DeKalb County Solicitor General Sherry] Boston’s office. “County policy requires any funds advanced for travel but not actually used for said travel be returned to the county immediately.”

Varnell City Council member Sheldon Fowler was booked on charges of simple assault, simple battery against a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct and has been released.

Fowler cursed Varnell Police Chief Lyle Grant and another city officer and poked them in the chest with his finger when they responded to a domestic incident at Fowler’s house on June 13, according to an incident report filed by Grant. In that report, Grant wrote that “officers were tolerant of his behavior because of his position on the Varnell City Council.”

Fowler was not arrested at the time.

From the Valdosta Daily-Times,

During the initial call to the Whitfield County 911 center, Sheldon Fowler’s wife described the scene Varnell Police Department officers would find when they arrived at the couple’s home around 12:45 a.m.

“My husband is drunk and half naked, will not leave my daughters alone, won’t go into his room and go to bed,” Stephanie Fowler said in the call. “I need someone to come assist.”

After giving her home address, she told the 911 operator her husband was on the Varnell City Council.

“He doesn’t deserve to be on the City Council,” she said. “It is ridiculous. But he shouldn’t be threatening people.”

“He is drunk, he has been half naked, he is falling in the floor, he’s knocked over chairs,” she said. “He won’t get out of my daughter’s room — either one of them. He won’t leave them alone so they can get a shower. He’s been calling her a fat retard, which she is special needs. He is calling names, and he just won’t go to bed. He is slurring his words, he won’t go to bed. And I can’t do anything with him.”

Henry County Commissioner Bruce Holmes allegedly flashed a badge during a confrontation over parking.

Forsyth County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills is accused in an ethics complaint of failing to preserve text messages sent to her personal phone.

Forsyth County resident Rene Guidry filed the complaint against Mills claiming the commissioner “violated the Georgia [Open] Records Act on multiple occasions by deleting text messages between her, developers with pending zoning issues, other county commissioners and zoning attorneys.”

According to the county policy, messages documenting the formulation and adoption of policies and procedures and the management of agency programs or functions — for example case file management, constituent correspondence, periodic reports or budget documents — must be retained long term.

[Mills's lawyer E. Logan Butler] maintained that Mills denies violating the Forsyth County Ethics Ordinance and the Georgia Open Records Act.

Mills spoke as a witness and said while she deleted every text message prior to the initial complaint filed in March, it was due to a limited amount of storage on her cell phone. She went on to say due to issues with her county-issued cellphone including spotty service, it was easier for her to give out her personal number to communicate with constituents.

She acknowledged that while she should have kept any substantial messages, she said she believes there weren’t any worth keeping.

Butler said that Guidry was unable to provide evidence that a violation occurred and the complaint was mostly speculative.

Ethics in Government

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission upheld a decision finding that a conservative activist in Cherokee County violated campaign disclosure rules.

The five-member state ethics commission has upheld a decision by an administrative law judge ruling local tea party activist Carolyn Cosby committed multiple ethics violations as the head of several Cherokee County-based conservative political groups and ordering her to pay $30,000 in civil penalties.

However, Cosby said the commission’s decision not to change the judge’s decision “declares her guilty for election violations without ever having a final hearing,” leading her to file an appeal on Monday.

Cosby’s attorney Stephen Humphreys told the Tribune Tuesday that the ethics commission had 30 days from the judge’s ruling to hear the case and make the final decision, but on June 14 they ruled that 30 days had already passed and by law the judge’s decision would be upheld without further consideration.

Humphreys said the next step is appealing the commission’s decision to Fulton County Superior Court, which Cosby’s attorneys did on Monday.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled against former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who sought dismissal of campaign finance charges dating from the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

A Superior Court judge last year rejected Oxendine’s bid seeking dismissal of the state ethics commission complaint and ruled that the ethics panel should decide the case.

The Georgia Court of Appeals has concurred with the court’s ruling that the ethics commission should get a shot at finally completing the case.

Oxendine’s attorney, Douglas Chalmers, said his client has filed notice that he will appeal the case to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Oxendine, a lawyer, has argued that delays in his case — which began in 2009 — have harmed his professional and personal reputation, and the courts, rather than the commission, should decide the case.

27
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs from June 27, 2017

Wren

Wren is a young female Labrador Retriever & Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

My name is Wren! I am a sweet and playful baby lab/hound mix. I love toys and treats! But I need my furever home. Please come and get me so I don’t have to grow up in the shelter. Here is how: The standard adoption fee for a puppy or a dog is $100, which covers rabies vaccination and spay or neuter.

Whitley

Whitley is a female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Hi! I’m Whitley. I am a yellow lab. I am just a baby and I love everyone! I love to walk and to play with other dogs and with people. I will make a great pet! Come get me so I don’t have to grow up at the shelter.

Ethan

Ethan is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare Macon, GA.

27
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 27, 2017

On June 27, 1864, Sherman’s Union forces attacked General Johnston’s Confederates at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

One year later, the Military Department of Georgia was created to oversee Reconstruction in the state.

The Gone with the Wind scene that includes the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was filmed on June 27, 1939, along with an alternate that used the line, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t care.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Karen Handel was sworn-in to the 115th Congress last night.

Reps. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), the newest lawmakers in the House of Representatives, were sworn into office on Monday evening.

“I’m not sure you’ve heard enough about this particular race,” Handel quipped, prompting chuckles from the crowd.”

“This is an extraordinary honor and the greatest privilege that I think I have ever had,” Handel said. “I look forward to serving the people of the 6th District, to serving the people of Georgia and to being a good coworker and friend to each and every one of you.”

Handel was introduced by the longest-serving Republican and Democrat in the delegation, U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis. The Atlanta Democrat teased his newest colleague about hailing from the D.C. area.

“So you’re returning home…” Lewis said, before offering Handel help learning the ropes in Washington.

“Karen, the Georgia delegation … we are a family,” he said. “We are trying to do our very best to serve the people in our district and our state and to work on behalf of the people of this great nation. I welcome you and your husband Steve.”

Jessica Brooks, Democratic appointee to the Cobb Elections Board, abstained from the vote certifying Karen Handel’s election to Congress.

Board member Jessica Brooks, who was appointed by the Democratic Party, said she abstained because there were multiple documents provided to the board by citizens during the public comment portion and she did not feel she had enough time to absorb those documents, according to Janine Eveler, director of the Cobb Board of Elections.

The results were still confirmed with three other members voting yes and another absent.

“This is an extraordinary honor and the greatest privilege that I think I have ever had,” Handel said in brief remarks after receiving the oath of office from Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. She vowed to be “a good co-worker and friend to each of you.”

Jon Ossoff, or more likely a ghost-writer, penned an Op-Ed for the Washington Post titled Lessons for Democrats from the Georgia election.

Grass-roots politics, linking small-dollar fundraising to massive local volunteer organization, showed that it can rival the power of a right-wing machine comprising super PACs backed by entrenched interests and mega-donors. These outside groups were forced to spend nearly $20 million defending a seat gerrymandered never to be competitive.

The intraparty disputes that dominate national commentary on Democratic politics were nowhere to be found in the 6th District. On the ground, Democrats were committed to strike the first blow of this new era on behalf of decency and progress.

We ran an economy-first campaign centered on local prosperity and opportunity. I focused on the development of metro Atlanta into a world-class commercial capital, on affordable higher education and technical training, on research and development to drive innovation in Georgia’s tech sector, on renewal of our transportation infrastructure and a commitment to fiscal responsibility, on pointing out that taxpayers are rightfully upset that the federal government wastes hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

We lost, but I am proud of the campaign we ran, and I am proud of my community for standing up against the odds. I launched this campaign believing that America can become stronger, more prosperous and more secure only if we stay true to the values that unite us. I still believe that, and I’m not done fighting.

It’s telling that he published this in the Washington Post instead of the AJC, MDJ, The Dunwoody Crier, or Brookhaven Post. Allow me to suggest a shorter version of what he should have written: Lesson one is to live in the District. The Congressional District, not the District of Columbia.

Dusty Nix of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer writes about gerrymandering.

At the state legislative level, most [elections] aren’t [competitive]. As the Associated Press reported last week, almost half (42 percent) of all state legislative candidates in 2016 elections faced no major party opponent.

Much of that statistic, of course, is the result of gerrymandering — the majority party sculpting districts that serve its interests by slicing off areas that don’t. It’s perhaps not as flagrant (or unabashedly racist) as Alabama carving out majority-black Tuskegee to create a white “majority” Macon County decades ago. But Georgia’s Republican majority has continued what Democrats did for decades, resulting finally in elections that are less a democratic exercise than a costly formality of political balkanization.

Not only does that leave too many voters with too little (or no) choice; it’s a disincentive to political involvement at all: “With an increasing number of districts being drawn to deliberately favor one party over another,” College of William & Mary government professor John McGlennon told AP, “lots of potential candidates will look at those previous results and come to a conclusion that it’s too difficult to mount an election campaign in a district where their party is the minority.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 680,000 Georgians will lose health care insurance under the GOP Senate proposal.

The nonpartisan office estimated that 22 million more Americans would be without health insurance at the end of 10 years if the plan becomes law. Georgia’s share of that figure is 680,000 or so, according to a health care analyst who has been following the debate, Bill Custer of Georgia State University.

Georgia advocates for rural hospitals, patients and others likely to feel the cuts howled.

“This legislation represents a giant leap backward from what Americans have come to expect and demand from their healthcare delivery system,” Earl Rogers, president of the Georgia Hospital Association, said in a statement.

“Cuts to Medicaid take resources away from the entire healthcare delivery system, so tough decisions will have to be made regarding which services to scale back or eliminate entirely,” he added, cutbacks “that will affect all patients.”

Following the CBO announcement Monday, the White House released a statement lambasting the CBO’s track record. Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a close ally on the health care law repeal effort, echoed, “It’s clear the CBO cannot predict the purchasing patterns for millions of Americans.”

In Georgia, Kelly McCutchen, the president of the libertarian-leaning Georgia Public Policy Foundation, was more measured, though he did note some numeric assumptions in the report that he said didn’t bear out. He also cautioned that the Senate had already released at least one revision to the draft that the CBO couldn’t take into account, and it was likely to sway the numbers.

“They generally do a good job,” McCutchen said of the CBO. He said, however, that once that revision is taken into account, “I think you’ll see the uninsured rate will go down.”

Governor Nathan Deal helped break ground for a new Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab in Pooler.

Gov. Nathan Deal, GBI Director Vernon Keenan, state legislators and representatives of the city of Pooler were among those to break ceremonial ground at the site of the new lab — a 5-acre plot on Isaac G. LaRoche Drive, situated between a city fire station and the West Chatham YMCA.

“It is a good day for our state,” Deal said at the ceremony.

GBI representatives have said construction of the new lab will begin in earnest later this summer and is expected to take about 18 months to complete. The new facility will stand three stories tall and will be able to house up to 60 employees. It is being built to last at least 40 years.

“(The new regional lab) is much-needed,” said Dr. George Herrin, director of the GBI Crime Lab in an interview earlier this year. “The facility we’re in is 30 years old. It’s not flexible enough to meet the changing demands of forensic science in the 21st century. … I and all of the staff in the Savannah laboratory are extremely excited about having this new laboratory.”

The Federal Government decided that the Federal Government didn’t try to interfere with Georgia’s elections systems.

The Department of Homeland Security did not knowingly try to breach the Georgia Secretary of State’s website before and after last November’s presidential election, an investigation by the Office of Inspector General concluded on Monday.

Kemp announced the conclusion of the investigation Monday.

“DHS did not knowingly attempt to breach Georgia’s firewall or hack our systems,” he said. “While I am disappointed that it took a new administration to investigate this highly important incident, I am pleased to learn this information and relieved that our federal government is not trying to interfere with elections in our state or others involved in this situation.”

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld legislation granting state tax credits for donations to private school scholarship funds.

The unanimous decision Monday ends uncertainty that has surrounded the program, which gives private schools money that otherwise would have gone into the public treasury and possibly to public school budgets.

“Lawmakers can move forward in confidence to expand the program,” said Lisa Kelly, spokeswoman for Georgia GOAL, which hands out more tax credit scholarships than any other Georgia group.

Raymond Gaddy and other taxpayers alleged that Georgia’s program violated the constitutional ban against state support of religion because some schools that receive the money are religious institutions. They sued the Georgia Department of Revenue, and appealed after a Fulton judge sided against them on most counts.

The high court’s opinion basically says this isn’t public money. It says the taxpayers had no standing to sue because tax credits do not equate to an expenditure of public funds. “Plaintiffs’ complaint fails to show that they, or any taxpayers for that matter, are harmed by this program,” the opinion says.

Covfefe is on the list of words that can’t be used on vanity car tags in Georgia.

The Internet may still be abuzz about the meaning of “covfefe,” but whatever it means, Georgia drivers apparently can’t get it on a vanity license plate.

Seven variations of the nonsensical word tweeted by President Donald Trump appear on a list that the state provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this month, following the AJC’s request for a copy of the state’s list of banned license plates.

So, along with “H0TBODY,” “2SXC4U,” “BUTT,” “KKK” and “PERVERT” on the list of 8,000-plus banned plate combinations are “C0VFEFE,” “C0VFEF3,” “C0VFEVE,” “C0VF3FE,” “C0VF3F3,” “C0VVEFE” and “C0VVEFE.”

State law instructs the Department of Revenue to reject vanity plate combinations that are “obscene according to current community standards.”

“Given the word ‘covfefe’ has a political meaning, the state can’t ban it because there are no provisions for rejecting political speech in their statute, and I’d say it is unconstitutional because rejecting ‘covfefe’ without rejecting all political speech means their decision is not viewpoint-neutral,” said Bruce Brown, an Atlanta-based trial lawyer with experience in First Amendment law.

NO COVFEFE CAR TAG 2

Seriously, is there a state job for figuring out combinations of letters and words that can’t be on license plates? Because I love Scrabble Words with Friends and would apply for that job.

In the Peoples’ Republic of Athens, some folks took to the streets to protest the GOP health care plan.

nearly 100 protesters gathered in Athens on Monday to add their voices to the opposition of the GOP health care plan.

“By doing things like this, like cutting medicare for people who need it most, Congress is putting people’s lives in danger,” said Gretchen Elsner of Athens as she protested the legislation with others outside the Arch at the University of Georgia.

Elsner added that she’s already spent her life savings on medical bills once and fears it could happen again under the GOP plan.

Pam Walley of Madison County was one voice at the protest who would be directly effected by a plan that cut programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Her daughter, 22-year-old Callie Moore, suffers from cerebral palsy and requires home care while her mother is at work.

Walley is worried that the cuts to Medicaid will affect the home-care programs that provide a caretaker for Callie.

“We’re not looking for a handout, but without the Medicaid support, Callie doesn’t have a future,” she said.

Marietta might spend $12,000 on a video to promote tourism.

Valdosta store owners say lower sales figures resulted from having no state sales tax holiday this year.

Tim Nolan, Valdosta Mall general manager, and other business owners voiced concerns about the loss of the sales tax holiday to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development and Taxation Committee at the Valdosta City Hall Annex building.

Nolan said the tax holiday is important to all Lowndes County businesses, not only in the mall. The holiday is more important to counties bordering other states that have a tax holiday. Without the holiday, he said shoppers will go running south to Florida, where there is a tax holiday.

Valdosta was the originator for a sales tax holiday for the State of Georgia back when it was first initiated in 2002. The holiday must be reintroduced every year for re-approval and was successfully approved every year except 2010 and now 2017.

But the state legislative session came and went with no new introduction of the holiday.

State Rep. Jason Shaw attended the chamber meeting. He gave a broader perspective of why the sales tax holiday wasn’t approved.

Since the recession, he said they have had to basically sneak the holiday into being approved, but this year, they just didn’t have the votes. Shaw said the two main groups people look to for these types of budget items both reached the same conclusion that tax holidays don’t work.

“When you see those two groups agreeing, it usually carries a little weight, ‘cause usually they’re on opposite ends,” Shaw said. “They came back and said it’s a terrible return on investment. It’s terrible for the taxpayers. So that’s what we have been up against.”

He asked for the business owners in the audience to tell other lawmakers what they told him. He said they should write letters and meet with the budget and policy makers to explain how it is impacting Valdosta-Lowndes retailers and residents.

“This is the kind of information we need to kind of sell it to our other border counties,” Shaw said. “We need your help for that.”

Hall County Board of Education members trimmed their proposed millage rate and approved a FY2018 budget.

A general fund budget of $265.15 million and a total budget of $371.4 million, which includes all funds for all programs coming into the district

The budget also drops the tax rate from 18.8 mills to 18.5 mills, but would still be a increase for some taxpayers who saw their property reassessment go up in 2017. The value of property subject to Hall County school taxes increased by 5.61 percent, according to Jonathan Boykin, finance officer for the school district.

School officials have said the school district will collect 2.33 percent more taxes than it would under the rollback rate.

Habersham County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve their FY2018 budget and property tax millage rate.

In addition to the 11.176 mills, the county will levy 0.998 for hospital bonds, and 0.39 for hospital services (ambulance service).

That will equate to about $27.50 on a home valued at $125,000, according to Habersham County Finance Director Heidi Hook.

Several residents said ultimately the commission must decide what’s best for the most residents in Habersham County, what commissioners consider to be essential services, and how much it will cost to provide those services. A couple of residents advocated the proposed tax increase, saying the commission must keep the county moving forward.

Commission Chairman Victor Anderson said the decision was not one any commissioner takes lightly.

“Anytime you’re looking at increasing taxes or increasing the millage rate, that is a hard decision – and it should be a hard decision, because it is an additional burden on all of our citizens and taxpayers,” Anderson said. “We have debated and thought and fought long and hard over this budget for this year. It’s the toughest one I’ve been involved with, and I think anyone on the board has been involved with.”

Gwinnett County Public Schools held a public meeting on the 2018 property tax millage rate and nobody from the public showed up.

Fulton County School Board members are discussing rising property values.

During the June 13 school board meeting, board member Katie Reeves of Alpharetta gave an impassioned plea to her fellow board members to consider a 3 percent cap on the amount of money it uses from higher property assessments on homeowners.

For example, if revenues rise 7 percent from one year to the next based on higher home values, the school board would only consider the revenue generated by a 3 percent increase; potentially returning the remainder to homeowners in the form of a millage rollback.

“I have been asked numerous times over the past few weeks if this board is willing to put such a limit on ourselves as Fulton County government,” said Reeves. “I can tell you right now if we don’t seriously figure out guard rails as a board, the Legislature will set them for us.”

The tentative school budget goes into effect on July 1 and factors in a 6 percent increase in local revenues to support the $1.6 billion budget. The 6 percent increase was provided to the school system by the Fulton Tax Commissioner as an estimate, absent an approved tax digest, and those early numbers appear to be way off.

Property owners were shocked by tax assessments received last month, with many properties showing double-digit gains in value from last year. Tax officials are now saying the 6 percent increase estimate is too low, placing the number closer to 13 percent. Tax bills will be sent to homeowners in October.

2018 Elections

Leo Smith is considering a Republican bid for the state Senate seat being vacated by Hunter Hill, according to the Marietta Daily Journal’s About Town.

Smith is known as a grassroots leader in the Cobb GOP and former GOP State Committeeman.

“I intend to run this race to represent citizens invested in bridging divides for all families and businesses throughout the district. My voice will be a place at the table for a broad, pro-jobs coalition,” he said.

Smith would face Democrat Dr. Jaha Howard who has previously announced his campaign for the state Senate District 6 seat.

That last line might not be correct, as Jen Jordan has also announced her campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Democratic State Rep. Stacey Abrams brushed off former Governor Roy Barnes’s endorsement of Stacey Evans in the 2018 Democratic race for Governor.

“We’ve spent the last month traveling the state, going from Albany to Dalton, from Macon to Savannah. And we have found in every one of those communities people who are excited about our candidacy, and who are excited about the coalition we’re building. In every single community, we’ve had multi-racial coalitions – multi-economic coalitions coming together. They’re excited about our message of success – that survival is not enough.”

“There are two theories of this case. One is that we attempt to recreate a coalition that has not really existed since the late ‘90s. And the other is we build a coalition based on the Georgia we have today – a Georgia that is racially diverse, that is economically, uniformly interested in how we move forward….”

“The previous coalition for Democrats was premised on a demographic that had a majority white population, and had a smaller coalition of people of color. Between 2000 and 2010, 1.5 million new people moved into Georgia, 80 percent of whom were people of color.”

“As of today, our actual population is roughly 52 percent white, 48 percent people of color. That’s not how are voting shakes out, but what I would say is that any winning coalition this next election has to be reflective of the broadest set of conversations.”

26
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 26, 2017

Jango

Jango is a 5-month old, 45-pound male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, GA.

Love this guy! He’s a young pup, but all legs and big paws! Maybe there’s some Dane mixed in there? He’s got a nice personality, always gently swishing that tail light back and forth.

Maggie

Maggie is a 3-month old, 15-pound female Lab mix who is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, GA.

She looks like she’ll be a low-rider, but that could just be the perspective of the photo.

Tilly

Tilly is a 5-month old, 45-pound female Rottweiler mix who is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter in Monroe, GA.

Tilly is a very happy and playful pup.

26
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 26, 2017

On June 26, 1918, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the Eighteenth Amendment, which outlawed the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol. Governor Hugh Dorsey did not sign it for nearly a week, but the United States Secretary of State considers an Amendment ratified when the state legislature has voted on final passage.

On June 26, 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco.

The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948 after the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin, which was occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France.

The first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in the UK on June 26, 1997.

Gone with the Wind was re-released on June 26, 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that the state will invest $10.5 million in the Environmental Protection Division’s oversight of the water metering program.

 “This investment is a crucial one for our state as we continue to enhance efforts to manage and protect Georgia’s most valuable resources,” said Deal. “Marjie has proven herself a valuable asset to my administration and our state, and I am confident her background and expertise will serve the agricultural community and its stakeholders well.”

Last December, EPD assumed oversight of the state’s agriculture irrigation metering program, which provides important data for management of the state’s water resources and supports the water conservation efforts of producers. Though several thousand irrigation systems have been successfully metered since 2003, measurement of agricultural water use in all critical areas of the state needs to be completed.

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Charlie Bethel will be elevated to sit on the Georgia Supreme Court for at least one case today at 10 AM, after Justice Britt Grant recused herself form hearing a case on Georgia’s Certificate of Need program.

Designated judges are appointed when a justice must recuse himself or herself from a particular case. The Supreme Court of Georgia maintains a list of select judges from around the state and when the need arises, the court appoints the next judge on the list.

The Supreme Court of Georgia will hear arguments in the case on Monday during its 10 a.m. session. In this case, owners of a women’s surgical center in Cartersville are appealing a Fulton County court ruling that rejects their constitutional challenges of Georgia laws that require them to obtain a “certificate of need” from the state before making an addition to their facility. In addition to hearing arguments, Bethel, of Dalton, will participate in the court’s decision.

Superior Court Judge David Cannon of the Blue Ridge Circuit pinch-hit on the Supreme Court last week.

Judge David Cannon of the Superior Court of the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit served Tuesday in place of Georgia Supreme Court Justice Nels S. D. Peterson in the appeal of City of Marietta v. Summerour.

In addition to hearing arguments, Cannon participated in the court’s decision. Designated judges are appointed when a justice must recuse himself or herself from a particular case.

“It was a considerable honor to be asked to sit on the Georgia Supreme Court for a case today,” Cannon said on social media. “I enjoyed my experience, I did my homework at the bar meeting last week and read all the motions and briefs, a notebook about 4 inches thick, and reviewed again over the weekend.”

Chatham County Superior Court Judge Louisa Abbot is upset with conditions at the courthouse.

Abbot directed her ire at two specific conditions — a malfunctioning air conditioning and heating system and a repeatedly overflowing bathroom in an office that houses judges’ staff attorneys — at the J. Tom Coleman Courthouse on Montgomery Street.

That sounds bad, but Two Peachtree is far, far worse.

Senator Johnny Isakson want NAFTA negotiations to improve market conditions for Georgia poultry exports.

Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., led a bipartisan group of senators recently in urging the administration to use the renegotiation process for the North American Free Trade Agreement to break down “unfair trade barriers” and improve market access for American poultry farmers, processors and exporters.

“With the ratification of NAFTA in 1994, the United States, Canada and Mexico committed to a shared goal of eliminating tariffs on goods exchanged between the three nations,” the senators wrote. “Unfortunately, in practice, this goal has proven difficult to achieve. This has been particularly true for American poultry, which continues to face trade barriers in North America more than 20 years after NAFTA’s enactment.”

Karen Handel will be sworn-in to Congress at 6:30 PM tonight.

“I remain humbled by this extraordinary privilege to serve the citizens of Georgia’s sixth district, and I look forward to getting right to work for them this week.” said the Congresswoman-elect.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter may still face a recall effort after his colleagues voted to publicly chastise him.

“The threshold, or the trip point, the date for the ability to start recall proceeds is about to come forward so we’ll find out whether people who have been saying they’re going to organize a recall will do something,” Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.

Residents who want to see him removed from office have had to wait for a recall to become available to them since January. That’s because state law prevents a recall from being launched during the first or last 180 days — essentially six months — of an elected official’s term.

Hunter started a new term at the beginning of the year, meaning the 180-day waiting period won’t come to a close until the end of this week. County spokesman Joe Sorenson said the county’s elections office has not received any inquiries about conducting a recall recently.

“Right now, we’re looking at the requirements and trying to access the possible outcome before we make a decision which way to go with that,” Gwinnett County Democratic Party Chairman Gabe Okoye said. “We’ve got some lawyers look at it and on Wednesday, they’ll make a recommendation and I’ll look at it and decide which way to go.”

 The number of food stamp recipients in Georgia dropped by 300k from 1.9 million in April 2013 to 1.6 million.

The fact that food stamp use has remained relatively high, while the economy has largely rebounded from the recession, makes some believe that many food stamp recipients are taking advantage of the system.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said food stamps rightly serve vulnerable people – especially children and elderly – but that it’s time to crack down on able-bodied people milking the system.

“I think there’s a lot of fraud with food stamps,” Unterman said. “There’s a history of a lot of waste in our program.”

She’s seen it herself. She pointed to the underground market in which people illegally sell food stamps for cash, weapons and drugs. One time, when she was in a Kroger supermarket, Unterman said a woman offered to pay for her groceries with her food stamp card if she gave the woman a little cash.

Savannah City Council will likely prioritize new sidewalks and trying to lower the crime rate.

The first Diamondback Terrapins of the season hatched at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

2018 Georgia Elections

Democratic State Rep. Stacey Evans (Cobb) has been busy racking up endorsements.

On Friday, an email signed by Democratic strategist Paul Begala went out seeking donations for Evans’s campaign for Governor.

Candidates like Stacey remind me why I’m a Democrat in the first place. Hope is why I’m a Democrat.

Growing up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck, her story is familiar to many working families in Georgia. She’s seen hardship firsthand. And she never lost hope.

Thanks to the HOPE Scholarship, Stacey was the first member of her family to attend college. Stacey is exactly why the scholarship came along. Trust me, I know a little something about hope.

30 years ago, I met another north Georgian with a vision for the HOPE Scholarship. James Carville & I dropped everything to make sure that man, Zell Miller, was elected governor. Zell will always be remembered as the governor that gave Georgia HOPE. Just a few years later I had a front row seat as a certain boy from Hope, Arkansas, Bill Clinton, inspired a nation. And in 2008, I watched an Illinois Senator, Barack Obama, offer change and hope as a candidate, and deliver it as President.

Georgia knows hope and authenticity when they see it. And I tell ya, Jasper, it’s Stacey Evans. As Governor, Stacey’ll be a champion for every Georgia child because she knows that going to college can literally change your life.

Georgia is at a crossroads. Hope isn’t what it used to be. Cuts to the HOPE Scholarships and Grants have forced tens of thousands of students to drop out of school.

I won’t stand for that… and neither should you. That’s why I’m working my heart out to make sure Stacey Evans is Georgia’s next Governor. Never underestimate the power of hope. Stacey didn’t when she was young. And there’s no reason we should now.

This morning, former Governor Roy Barnes endorsed Evans.

Gov. Roy Barnes endorsed state Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary. She faces state Rep. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, who will give up her post as House minority leader this week. Both are attorneys.

From the Evans campaign press release:

“There’s a whole lot riding on this race for governor. Georgia is a changing state. If Republicans win in November, they get to redraw the maps. Again. And just like last time, they’re going to be able to draw those maps to keep Democrats in the minority. Georgia families cannot let that happen, and with Stacey Evans as our nominee, it will not happen.”

“We can win this election and we have to win this election. I’ve never been more sure of anything. But this election is not won in Washington D.C. It is won right here, in Georgia. Georgians aren’t laying up worrying about what Washington D.C. wants or some national party divide. They’re worried about how they’re going to pay for their kids’ and grandkids’ college. They’re worried about their healthcare premiums, and if their wages are enough to cover it all.

“Stacey Evans gets that and that’s why I’m supporting her bid for governor. Stacey’s story is powerful. Her work for working Georgia families is powerful. It gives me hope. And I’ll be standing with her every step of the way through this election.”

The Washington Examiner looks at the potential dynamic in the 2018 Democratic Primary for Governor and what it may portend for the future of the Democratic Party.

Democrats have been saying forever and a day that Georgia is the next state they intend to flip in their favor. They promised to do just that during last November’s presidential election, and again in last week’s special election in the 6th Congressional District for an open House seat.

Eventually, they have to start winning elections in Georgia for Georgia to be a true battleground.

And so there will be a big question as to what’s the best way to win in Georgia. Is it merely to maximize turnout among African-Americans and transplants in the Atlanta area, or is it try to claw back the rural blue-collar voters that Democrats ancestrally had when they used to win in Georgia?

That is a serious, existential question for Democrat operatives as they look at winning back anything in the Trump Belt.

The truth is, most Democrats in Washington think that the urban Atlanta model is the one that is most likely to succeed for Democrats because where the numbers are — which makes Republicans strategists in Washington and Georgia happy.

23
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 23, 2017

Casey

Casey (ID# A260840) is a young female Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA. She is extremely urgent and will be euthanized if she does not have an adoptive or foster home by 4 PM today. She’s very timid and scared, but will make a great and grateful best friend for someone.

Cooper

Cooper is a young male Coonhound or Foxhound who is available for adoption from Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Lisa

Lisa is a young female Black Mount Cur puppy who is available for adoption from Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.