The blog.

23
Jun

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

On June 23, 903 AD, the Icelandic Parliament, the Althing or Althingi, was established and is the world’s oldest.

In honor of the Icelandic Parliament, here’s the greatest Icelandic band ever, the Sugarcubes, playing at Auburn in 1988.

On June 24, 1497, John Cabot first sighted North America, claiming it for the British Crown.

Off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, British Commodore Sir Peter Parker spent June 23, 1776 preparing to land the next day, charged with supporting loyalists to the British crown.

On June 25, 1788, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the tenth states to vote for ratification of the United States Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. A committee was appointed to be chaired by George Wythe to draft a proposed Bill of Rights.

On June 24, 1795, the United States Senate voted to ratify Jay’s Treaty between the UK and United States. The terms of the treaty required an appropriation from the U.S. House of Representatives to implement it, and Congressional opponents tried to defeat the appropriation, which was approved by a 51-48 margin on April 30, 1796. Click here for more background on the treaty and controversy.

On June 23, 1819, Texas declared its independence from Spain.

On June 24, 1853, President Franklin Pierce signed the Gadsden Purchase, acquiring what it now southern Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico.

On June 23, 1862, General Robert E. Lee met with his commanders in preparation for what would be known as the Seven Days’ Battles.

General Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River toward Pennsylvania on June 24, 1863.

On June 23, 1865, Georgia-born Cherokee Stand Watie became the last Confederate general to surrender.

On June 25, 1868, the United States Congress provisionally readmitted Georgia to the Union following the Civil War with the requirements that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and never deprive any citizens of voting rights.

On June 25, 1876, Indians under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

John R. Lynch was the first African-American elected Chairman of the Republican National Convention on June 24, 1884; Lynch was nominated by Theodore Roosevelt.

Woodrow Wilson married Ellen Louise Axson of Rome, Georgia in Savannah on June 24, 1885.

On June 23, 1888, Frederick Douglass became the first African-American nominated for President, receiving one vote from Kentucky at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention nominated Benjamin Harrison for President of the United States; Harrison’s grandfather was William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin from all road, rail, and barge traffic.

Following World War II, Germany was divided into occupation zones. The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and, eventually, France, were given specific zones to occupy in which they were to accept the surrender of Nazi forces and restore order. The Soviet Union occupied most of eastern Germany, while the other Allied nations occupied western Germany. The German capital of Berlin was similarly divided into four zones of occupation.

The United States response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin was undertaken in what was to become one of the greatest logistical efforts in history. For the Soviets, the escapade quickly became a diplomatic embarrassment. Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission. And the successful American airlift merely served to accentuate the technological superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union. On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade.

General Lucius D. Clay of Marietta, Georgia was military Governor of occupied Germany at that time.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in West Germany on June 24, 1977. It’s astounding.

Rickey Henderson made his major league debut with the Oakland A’s on June 24, 1979, stealing his first base.

On June 24, 1982, the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution was defeated, having garnered the ratification of thirty-five states, three shy of the requisite Constitutional Majority.

Hopes for ratification before the deadline next Wednesday were dashed this week when the amendment was rejected by the Illinois House and the Florida Senate, two states in which supporters felt they had a fighting chance.

Had Illinois and Florida ratified the amendment, there was at least some chance that either Oklahoma or North Carolina would have provided the final needed vote.

Prospects were far slimmer in the other nonratifying states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Phyllis Schlafly, a leader of a group called Stop-ERA, hailed the defeat of the amendment tonight, saying: ”They realized E.R.A. is dead and I think that that is an admission they have lost the battle. My feeling is that E.R.A. will take its place with the prohibition and the child labor amendments as ones which did not have enough support of the American people to be in the Constitution.”

On June 25, 1990, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Georgia v. South Carolina, a boundary dispute. From Wikipedia:

A… 1922 Supreme Court decision, also called Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U. S. 516, also held that all islands in the river belong to Georgia, but that the border should be in the middle of the river between the two shores, with the border half way between any island and the South Carolina shore.

Since the 1922 case, a number of new islands were created in the river between the city of Savannah and the ocean, due to the deposit of dredging spoilage or the natural deposit of sediments. In some cases, the new islands were on the South Carolina side of the previously drawn boundary, and Georgia claimed that once a new island emerged, the border should be moved to the midpoint between the new island and the South Carolina shore of the river. In some cases, the state of South Carolina had been collecting property tax from the land owners and policing the land in question for a number of years.

When an island causes the border to leave the middle of the river, it raises the question as to how the border line should return to the middle of the river at each end of the island. South Carolina advocated a right angle bend at each tip of the island, while Georgia advocated a “triequidistant” method which kept the border an equal distance between the two shores and the tip of the island (resulting in a smooth curve.

Former Atlanta mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. died on June 23, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov. Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal helped open the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College.

A total of $5.1 million in funding was allocated to establish the Milledgeville facility, which was dedicated in honor of First Lady Deal as a surprise. The Center’s mission to improve Georgia’s literacy rate is founded in research-based practices for children from birth to age eight, providing support to educators in K-3 classrooms, child care centers and preschools through professional learning and training.

“Today marks a pivotal milestone for both Georgia’s educators and youngest learners,” said Deal. “Sandra has selflessly devoted her platform as first lady to childhood education, and the Center could not be named after a more appropriate advocate. We strongly believe that early language development and literacy are vital skills for putting our young children on the path to success, and the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy will work tirelessly to ensure our educators are equipped with the right tools and instruction to get them there. I commend the members of the General Assembly for working with me to bring the Center to life, and I look forward to working with its governing board as it works to foster a positive impact on children, families, educators and communities across our state.”

Deal first announced plans for the Center in February as part of his Amended Fiscal Year 2017 (AFY 2017) and proposed FY 2018 budgets. $2.4 million was allocated in the AFY 2017 budget for the initiative, with an additional $2.7 million proposed for the FY 2018 budget. The Center will work with universities, technical college early childhood education programs, alternative educator preparation programs and other public and private stakeholders to engage the community at large. Current staff and partners have been collaborating with many state agencies with the goal to provide access to and the ability to reach all counties in Georgia.

“As a former educator, I believe the better we prepare and strengthen the skills of our teachers, the more capable and confident they will be in diagnosing road blocks to achievement and helping children become successful,” said First Lady Sandra Deal. “The ability to read well and understand the content is the gift that keeps on giving. This priceless gift provides self-confidence and positive life choices, and it is a crucial economic tool we can give to the State of Georgia.”

For more information about the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy, visit www.galiteracycenter.org.

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Sandra Deal CenterGov. Deal also announced the appointment of Billy D. Nelson, Jr. as Solicitor General for the State Court of Long County, filling a vacancy created when he named Mark Hendrix as Solicitor General for Liberty County.

Gwinnett County Republican Party changed the location of tomorrow’s cookout to the Gwinnett GOP HQ in the lower level of Gwinnett Place Mall.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue, in his new role as Secretary of Agriculture in the Trump Administration, hosted his counterparts from Canada and Mexico in Savannah.

On a day the Commerce Department announced the U.S. trade deficit rose to its highest level in a year during the first quarter, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue set the table for NAFTA renegotiations, hosting the agricultural ministers of Canada and Mexico in Savannah for their first trilateral talks on the issue.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, Perdue and his North American counterparts — Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and Jose Calzada, Mexican secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food — agreed the 23-year-old agreement has produced more positives for agriculture interests than negatives.

“We three are aligned in that NAFTA has been relatively good for the ag sectors of all three countries,” [Perdue] said. “The purpose of this meeting is not heavy negotiations on NAFTA — that will be done by our trade negotiators. Rather, it’s important for all three countries that we develop personal relationships of trust and candor with one another as we discuss the issues before us on NAFTA renegotiations.

The National Park Service is intervening in a dispute over allowing development on Cumberland Island.

Most of Cumberland Island is a national park, including 9,000 acres that are designated as wilderness. Beloved for its maritime forest and its deserted beaches covered with the enormous driftwood “bones,” the descendants of the island’s wealthy owners still own about 800 acres outright. When the heirs of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler late last year asked to subdivide their 88-acre tract near the park’s popular Sea Camp, it set into motion a wider debate about development on the island.

The county had negotiated with property owners as well as representatives of environmental groups to come up with a compromise zoning district for the island. A recent draft of that zoning district allowed a density of one home per 15 acres of private land and offered even greater density if owners agreed to cluster homes. But before the county commission could vote on the proposal, the parties met with the National Park Service.

“During that meeting the NPS director expressed interest in taking the lead in negotiations,” Camden Planning Director Eric Landon wrote in a memo to the commissioners. “This would require the county to delay action and allow the NPS additional time to work with each party individually.”

In a letter dated June 9, Cumberland Island National Seashore Superintendant Gary Ingram encouraged the progress already made and noted “the situation involves a difficult balance between private property concerns and the preservation of the character and purposes for which Cumberland Island National Seashore was established. The complexity is increased further by the number and diversity of the interests involved.”

Augusta University announced it is opening a School of Computer and Cyber Sciences.

In light of the $60 million investment the state is making in the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, Augusta University is “upping our game” in cyber and computer sciences programs by creating a new school, President Brooks Keel announced Thursday morning.

AU will create the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, making it the university’s 10th separate college or school, and will have a national search to find a dean, Keel said.

“It gives it more prominence, more focus and allows us to strategically think more carefully about how we move forward and puts it in a place where we can really shine a light on it,” he said.

Muscogee County Board of Education members may be deposed in a suit against the board.

The same day the Muscogee County School Board had its annual training about proper conduct for a governing body, the board’s attorney informed its members that two members had volunteered to be subpoenaed by an attorney filing suit against the school board.

Board attorney Greg Ellington on Thursday forwarded to members an email from District 8 representative Frank Myers to the attorneys for Montravious Thomas and his mother, who in March filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Muscogee County School District and other defendants. The lawsuit alleges contracted behavioral specialist Bryant Mosley body-slammed Montravious, then 13, “no less than” five times while trying to discipline him Sept. 12 in the Edgewood Student Services Center. The lawsuit also alleges the injuries Montravious suffered during the confrontation resulted in his right leg being amputated below the knee Oct. 18.

In his email to Montravious’ attorneys, Renee Tucker and Forrest Johnson of the law firm Forrest B. Johnson & Associates, Myers wrote, “I have what I believe is very relevant information regarding that case. I believe the evidence I possess would be very important to the goal of seeing that justice is served upon everyone involved in this matter.”

Myers asked Montravious’ attorneys to “put me under subpoena and take my deposition regarding these issues in the very near future.”

Myers added, “I am also authorized to share with you that John Thomas would not object to being placed under subpoena for the same purpose.”

Houston County Board of Elections member Tony Robbins was recognized for 44 years of service on the board.

“He is not retiring from the Board of Elections,” Stalnaker said. “We just felt like he needed to be acknowledged for the time that he has served.”

Robbins explained that he is the Republican appointee on the board, serving with Democratic Party appointee Kathy Shelton and three others appointed by the county commission.

“We have partisan appointments, but when it comes to the elections, for our citizens, we don’t know a party,” he said. “We make sure it’s done fairly, correctly and we do our best to get people in and out.”

Hall County Public Schools will have their own drug dog patrolling the halls.

The district announced its plans for the dog, which was part of a $50,000 budget request to keep drugs out of county schools, on Thursday.

The drug-sniffing dog would be owned by the school system, according to the announcement from district spokesman Gordon Higgins. The dog will cost an estimated $15,000, according to Higgins, including the cost of the animal, its training, equipment and food. Veterinary services are being donated.

Gwinnett County Commissioners are considering their options on property tax rates after significant growth in the value of the tax digest.

Chief Finance Officer Maria Woods and Chief Tax Appraiser Stewart Holiver told commissioners on Tuesday Gwinnett’s preliminary tax digest is expected to have grown by nearly $1.4 billion over the last year. That means growth from $27.5 billion in 2016 to $28.9 billion this year.

“What we’re seeing from the (2016) to (2017) digest is close to a five percent increase in the digest,” Woods said.

Woods presented commissioners with four possible millage rates to chose from. The options presented to commissioners on include a rollback rate of 12.718 mills, keeping the rate at 13.176 mills, or raising it to either 13.75 or 14.176 mills. Commissioners are expected to set a rate at their July 18 meeting.

Two public hearings would be held the week before that vote, while a third public hearing would be held the same week as the vote.

Grayson City Council set July 10 and 17 for public meetings on the property tax millage rate.

Cobb County Commissioners may levy a “blight tax” as part of a “Community Redevelopment Tax Incentive Program.”

A Lesson from CD-6?

Emory University Professor of Political Science Alan Abramowitz writes about “The Real Lessons of Handel-Ossoff.”

To win this race, Jon Ossoff had to get a large share of the 6th’s anti-Trump Republicans to vote for him. To do this, he ran a campaign aimed at convincing these GOP voters that he was a safe choice by playing down his liberal views and emphasizing his support for reducing the deficit and cutting wasteful government spending. The hope was that projecting a moderate image would make it easier for soft Republicans to cross party lines in the special election.

But there was a major problem with Ossoff’s strategy: Karen Handel was not Donald Trump, and the Ossoff campaign failed to effectively tie Handel to Trump. Polls in the district found that Trump was unpopular, as was the GOP’s health-care plan, which had been crafted largely by Tom Price and was strongly supported by Handel.

But the Ossoff campaign did not strongly go after Handel for her support of either Trump or the American Health Care Act.

Partisanship is a very powerful force in American politics today. Dislike of the opposing party is so strong that it is very difficult to convince voters to cross party lines for any reason.

Healthcare

Georgia’s opioid crisis may also be affecting job creation and economic development.

The state’s emerging opioid crisis may be partly to blame for the workforce shortages stymieing local efforts to attract new jobs.

This was one of the revelations from the second meeting of the state’s new House Rural Development Council, which met recently in Toccoa. The group of legislators is tasked with identifying potential policy fixes for the economic challenges facing the rural Georgia.

“We have a drug problem in Stephens County, and it’s a big one and it does impact the labor force,” Barry Roberts, director of operations for ASI Southeast, told legislators Friday during a meeting that was livestreamed.

The substance-abuse problem, which manifests itself at ASI Southeast as failed drug tests, is one issue that “needs to be on your radar,” he told state lawmakers.

It’s not a problem unique to the northeast Georgia community, though. Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is monitoring the growing statewide impact of the opioid crisis.

“I’ve talked to my peers up in the Northeast, where this epidemic started, about the impact it’s having on the economy and their workforce, and we’re starting to see that here,” Clark said.

Medicaid cuts being discussed as part of health care reform in Washington would have a greater impact on Georgia’s children’s hospitals, according to a report.

“Hospitals in Georgia stand to lose an estimated $3.4 billion of Georgia’s $4 billion in total Medicaid cuts over the next 10 years,” according to the study. “Communities in regions across the state are at risk, as opposed to just one or two large cities.”

The study projected the largest losses in Medicaid funding – $1.6 billion – would occur in metro Atlanta, followed by $265 million in Northwest Georgia.

Rural areas would also be hit hard by reductions in Medicare and Medicaid.

Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding.

“A lot of hospitals like [ours] could get hurt,” says Kerry Noble, CEO of Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems, the public hospital in the poorest county in Missouri.

And a rural hospital closure goes beyond people losing health care. Jobs, property values and even schools can suffer. Pemiscot County already has the state’s highest unemployment rate. Losing the hospital would mean losing the county’s largest employer.

“It would be devastating economically,” Noble says. “Our annual payrolls are around $20 million a year.”

“Medicaid cuts are always hard to rural hospitals,” Watson says. “People have less employer-sponsored coverage in rural areas and people are relying more on Medicaid and on Medicare.”

2018 Elections

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) has been endorsed by the conservative GOPAC.

The board of directors for GOPAC announced it is endorsing the Duluth-based senator in the campaign. It is the highest profile endorsement Shafer has gotten so far, joining a list of backers that includes philanthropist Bernie Marcus, state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens and every member of the Public Service Commission.

“Senator David Shafer’s success at leading the Georgia Senate to pass policies to increase economic and personal security leads the roster of reasons the GOPAC Election Fund will work to elect him as Georgia’s next lieutenant governor,” GOPAC Chairman Dave Avella said.

According to the organization’s website, it played a key part in the “Republican Revolution” of 1994, where the GOP took control of Congress and Gingrich became Speaker of the House.

“I am proud to accept this endorsement from an organization that has played such an important role in the history of the modern conservative movement,” Shafer said.

The news about GOPAC’s endorsement comes as Shafer prepares to hold a campaign fundraiser in Buckhead next week. The event will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at War Horse, 3290 Northside Parkway, in Atlanta.

An event posting on Facebook shows supporters can either make contributions to his campaign during the event, or mail them to David Shafer for Georgia Inc., P.O. Box 880, Duluth, Ga. 30096.

22
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 22, 2017

Spot Bully Wag

Spot is a male Border Collie and Boxer mix who is available for adoption from BullyWag, Inc. in Palmetto, GA.

Spot is full of love and kisses. He may hit ‘the spot” when it comes to puppy therapy! Right there when you need him for playing or loving.

Spot Forgotten Paws

Spot is a 2 and 3/4 year old, 70 pound male Beagle and Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Forgotten Paws Pet Rescue in Acworth, GA.

Spot listens so well. He goes in his crate when told, goes outside when told, and sits for treats. He still runs and bounces like a pup around the yard whenhe gets the urge and loves to chase toys. Bringing them back is something he has never mastered. He does not jump on his person and sits for love. He learned the “four feet on the ground” rule quickly. Due to his tendency to just hang out in his crate, Spot is a little overweight.

SpotAHS

Spot is a male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society in Alpharetta, GA.

Spot is enjoying life at his foster home and we are learning more about this great dog! His foster mom reports:

“Spot has adjusted very well to our fenced-in backyard. He met our neighbor’s children but was skittish around them. I do not believe he has ever been around children. He is not cat reactive because he does not see them. I like to call him Happy Jack or Hoppy the Kangaroo because when he meets me now he pops up and down and jumps around and we play tag in the open field. He is a very quiet dog with a great disposition and we are hoping he finds his forever home soon.”

22
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 22, 2017

On June 22, 1633, Galileo Galilei recanted his published theory that stated the sun was the center of the world and the earth was not.

Georgia’s Trustees voted on June 22, 1737 to seek bids for building churches at Savannah and Frederica.

Georgia Whigs voted on June 22, 1775 to join a boycott against British goods. That same day, the Continental Congress approved the issuance of $2 million in debt-backed currency.

The donut was invented on June 22, 1847.

The Battle of Kolb’s Farm was fought near Marietta, Georgia on June 22, 1864.

The United States Department of Justice was established on June 22, 1870.

On June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill.

On June 22, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed a law extending the 26th Amendment Right to Vote at age 18 to all federal, state, and local elections.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that Georgia retained its credit rating from the three major agencies.

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced Georgia again earned a rating of AAA, with a stable outlook, from each of the three main credit rating agencies — Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. Of the states that issue general obligation bonds, only nine currently meet this standard. This rating resulted in low interest rates during the sale of $1.39 billion in bonds, which includes $349 million of refunding bonds to refund previously issued bonds and achieve total debt service savings of $43.8 million.

“The state of Georgia works diligently to maintain the coveted AAA rating, and we are one of only nine states to earn this distinction,” said Deal. “By consistently earning top marks, we ensure our bonds remain highly sought after and provide the state flexibility to secure low interest rates for capital projects. Ultimately, this AAA bond rating reflects our fiscal responsibility and results in millions of dollars of savings for our taxpayers. Thank you to the General Assembly, Chairman Jack Hill and Chairman Terry England for their diligent work and cooperation to keep Georgia a leading state for taxpayer stewardship and economic growth.”

The credit rating agencies cited the strength of Georgia’s economy with a positive employment trend, growth of the state’s rainy day fund, a balanced approach to the state’s primary revenue sources and consistent funding of obligations as factors contributing AAA rating.

Gov. Deal and the State Road and Tollway Authority awarded $3 million for bridge widening in Gwinnett and Fulton counties and SRTA awarded $23.6 million for three projects in Cobb County.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will meet tonight to adopt a FY2018 budget and property tax millage rate.

The City of Loganville government will move to a new City Hall in July.

Centerville City Council adopted a $10.2 million FY 2018 budget with the same millage rate as 2017.

The Savannah-Chatham Public School Board adopted a $561 million FY2018 budget, also keeping the same millage rate as before.

Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats will reduce the sentences of six inmates who helped a work detail guard after the officer collapsed.

Columbus City Council awarded more than $700,000 in grants aimed at crime prevention.

Henry County Water Authority projects its long-term capital needs will exceed $900 million.

The Columbusc consolidated city-county government mailed property tax notices four weeks late this year due to a billing system conversion.

Normally, property owners are sent tax notices June 1 and tax bills Aug. 1, with the first installment due Oct. 1 and the final installment due Dec 1. But this year, tax notices will be issued June 30, tax bills will be mailed Oct. 1, and only one installment will be required, due on Dec. 1. Taxpayers may still make an earlier installment, which is encouraged but not mandatory, officials have said.

Northeast Georgia saw an uptick in unemployment, while Gainesville held steady from the previous month.

Savannah also saw a slight unemployment increase, while Southeast Georgia remains unchanged.

Valdosta Regional Airport is hoping to tap a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to fund renovations.

Government leaders in the area recently decided to hold a public vote on a regional T-SPLOST. If approved, the one-penny sales tax would fund transportation projects through 18 counties, including Lowndes.

A roundtable of elected officials is in the process of deciding projects to be funded by the T-SPLOST, which is estimated to rake in $500 million during a 10-year period, [airport executive director Jim] Galloway said.

Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) lauded the House passage of a measure extending the deadline for tax credits that would benefit construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

<“The tax credits were originally approved by Congress and were set to expire,” said Rep. Rick Allen, of Augusta. “We wanted to make sure that we included the units both at Vogtle and over in South Carolina and that the plants under construction right now received these credits when they are completed, which takes it out beyond 2020.”

Homer Bryson, new director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, spoke to the Rotary Club of Athens.

District Six Post Mortem

Karen and Steve Handel

Probably the first Post Mortem on the Sixth District that I saw was by Steen Kirby. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but it’s a thoughtful analysis.

$30,000,000 dollars later, people still aren’t sure what Jon Ossoff stood for, and cared about, and the Democratic party leadership and consultant class still don’t know how to win. For the price of a dozen competitive House elections or statewide campaigns–and hundreds of local and state legislative contests–Democrats are left standing in the same place they were after November 2016 in Georgia’s 6th district, and across the country.

Ossoff’s improvement can largely be tied to the fact that spending does move the needle to an extent, but it wasn’t enough. Ossoff’s polling lead was squandered away by a poor final salvo, and most likely GOP voters being motivated by the horrific terror attack against GOP congressman on a baseball field in Virginia.

1: Ossoff Lacked a Clear Message and Had an Irrelevant Platform

If you visit Ossoff’s website, you’ll see a smorgasbord of issue positions, written in a cold, distant, unengaging tone, and without any real priority placed on any specific issue. This matches Ossoff’s advertising, mail, and messaging overall. Months later, I’m not sure anyone has a clear answer what Ossoff stands for, or what his top agenda items would have been if elected to Congress. He was neither “Anti-Trump,” nor “Progressive” or “Centrist,” or frankly anything else.

Molly Ball writes for The Atlantic about the election:

They hoped to send one message to Washington; instead, they may have sent the opposite one—that the mass of American voters are in no hurry to deliver a rebuke to the chaos in Washington, and that Republican representatives still have wide leeway to pursue their policy objectives on issues like health care without losing or disheartening their base.

That is a tough pill to swallow for Democrats who have convinced themselves opposing Trump will bring them back from the brink of powerlessness. So far, they have cut into Republicans’ margins, but they have not yet figured out how to win, and moral victories get no votes in Congress.

Trump was He Who Must Not Be Named as the race wound down. “This race—it’s not about what’s going on around the rest of the country,” Handel told her supporters in the restaurant. “It’s about you and about the people of the Sixth District.” Earlier that day, the president had repeatedly tweeted in support of her.

Ossoff, too, seemed to spend most of his time deflecting questions about Trump, pivoting ceaselessly back to well-worn talking points about “fresh leadership” and “quality of life” and “bipartisanship delivering solutions.” “There are a lot of folks trying to look for national implications,” he told me, sitting in a back room of his campaign office in Chamblee, hands folded in his lap. “But that’s not what voters in the Sixth District are focused on.”

A Daily Kos writer has one very interesting data table:

A lot of attention is paid to early vote vs. election day vote, with mixed predictive success at best. Here’s how it broke down for Fulton Co. GA-6 precincts:

ossoff handel ossoff margin
mail 5,781 3,698 +21%
early in person 35,111 37,140 -2.8%
election day 17,321 24,062 -16%

Ben Shapiro, in the Daily Wire writes:

So, what happened?

1. Ossoff’s Chances Were Inflated From The Outset.

2. Democrats Nationalized The Race With Outside Money. Democrats made the crucial mistake of nationalizing the GA-6 with outside cash. This led Republicans in the district to react negatively — instead of staying home, which Democrats desperately needed them to do, they got offended and voted in large numbers. Ossoff received more money from California than Georgia. Voters took it as an insult, and acted accordingly.

5. Democrats Still Have The Albatross Of Nancy Pelosi. Republicans hammered at the relationship between Ossoff and Nancy Pelosi, who is still the most unpopular politician in America (29% favorable). Democrats may be enamored of a San Francisco nut job running the House for themselves, but voters in Georgia aren’t.

6. Ossoff Didn’t Live In The District. Combined with the outside money, the focus on Pelosi, the Hollywood involvement, and the nationalized focus on Trump, Ossoff not living in the district hurt him. He seemed like a carpetbagger emissary from San Francisco to enough voters to lose him the district.

From Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight, who sees it as a question of “reluctant” Trump Republicans:

And that brings us back to Georgia 6: It’s a reluctant Trump district. If Democrat Jon Ossoff can win in Georgia 6 over Republican Karen Handel, it could be a sign that Democrats can win over reluctant Trump voters nationwide next year.

Nationally, reluctant Trump voters differ from other Trump supporters in three important ways.

Reluctant Trump voters, on average, have more education than other Trump voters; it’s one of their defining features as a group. According to SurveyMonkey, 37 percent of reluctant Trump voters have at least a college degree compared with 25 percent of other Trump voters. That matches with the general movement away from the Republican Party by well-educated voters in 2016.

Trump voters in Georgia 6 are also probably more loyal to the Republican brand than to Trump specifically. In the Atlanta Journal Constitution survey, only 35 percent of people who voted for Trump in 2016 say their vote in the special election is meant to express support for Trump now.

Reluctant Trump voters are more likely to believe that health care is a top concern than Trump’s more enthusiastic supporters.

One takeaway from The Hill may be relevant to Georgia’s 2018 elections:

Democratic infighting ramps up

Squabbling among Democrats and liberals began before the final results were in from Georgia. The debate was conducted in raw terms.

The central issue was whether Ossoff had run too timorous and centrist a campaign to fire up the base.

Amid all the drama of the Trump presidency, the depth of divisions among Democrats — and the continuing rancor between centrists and progressives dating back to the Clinton-Sanders primary fight last year — has often been underreported.

From the PBS NewsHour:

For Democrats especially, redistricting matters

The biggest political battle of the year (so far) didn’t take place in Atlanta’s politically moderate suburbs by accident. Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District belongs to a dying breed of moderate House seats. The reality is, there aren’t many left. In the midterm elections next year, Democrats will undoubtedly target the 23 Republican House seats that Clinton carried in 2016. But even if they won every single one, that still wouldn’t be enough for them to flip the House.

Both parties have a stake in the redistricting debate. But Democrats, as the minority party in Congress, have more to lose in the short-term if the status quo doesn’t change. That’s why their hopes of flipping the House hinge in large part on redistricting reform — and why liberals should thank Obama and his ally and former attorney general Eric Holder for making redistricting their top political priority under Trump.

It won’t be easy. Republicans will fight reform efforts, and redistricting is a convoluted issue that doesn’t pull at voters’ heartstrings. Holder, the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, acknowledged as much this week, saying that “part of my job is to make redistricting sexy.” The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to hear a case on partisan gerrymandering will help. As the Georgia election showed, Democrats have a lot riding on the outcome.

Congresswoman Karen Handel

East Cobb gave Karen Handel her margin of victory on Tuesday, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

“The east Cobb part of the 6th District gave Handel a huge win,” Swint said. “That was the single biggest margin for her of the three counties. So there’s no question Cobb helped deliver her the win.”

In Cobb, Handel received just over 58 percent of the vote. In Fulton and DeKalb, she got 52.7 percent and 41.5 percent respectively.

Handel lost DeKalb by 9,777 votes. In her home turf of Fulton, she picked up 6,687 votes, leaving her about 3,000 votes shy of a win.

Handel’s margin of victory in Cobb was 12,792 votes, giving her a nice soft cushion on which to comfortably bounce over the 50 percent mark.

East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott, an early Handel supporter, said he was not surprised Cobb Republicans came out in large numbers for the runoff.

“The folks in Cobb have a big concern over the schools and the community and everything else if they see that’s going to be threatened and changed,” Ott said. “I think they’re going to come out and speak their mind at elections just like they do at my town halls. I have 100, 150 people at my town halls. So it doesn’t surprise me to see such a large turnout from folks in Cobb. They’re very engaged and know what’s going on in the district.”

2018 Elections

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John Ellington announced he will run for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court next year.

Ellington told the Daily Report this week that he has organized a campaign for the state’s highest court and plans to announce his candidacy Thursday.

“The quality of life in any community depends on the quality of the judicial system,” Ellington said. “I have spent my entire judicial career of 25 years serving every classification of court in Georgia.”

“The Court of Appeals has been described as the salt mine of Georgia jurisprudence,” Ellington said. “Our Supreme Court provides the leadership for all levels of court. I want to take my experience now to the Supreme Court and share that experience.”

Ellington said he will run for the seat now held by Justice Carol Hunstein. She has said she will not run for reelection in 2018 because she will reach the age of 75 before her next six-year term would end. Georgia requires appellate judges to retire before their 75th birthday or forfeit their pensions.

Suburban women are the key to Democratic victory in Georgia, or so we’ve been told since at least 2014. If that’s the case, Democrat Stacey Evans is making a play for Ossoff supporters ahead of the 2018 Gubernatorial election. From a campaign email:

Last night, Jon Ossoff came SO CLOSE to winning the Georgia Special Election.

It was a long and tough election. Republicans spent MILLIONS to buy the results they wanted, and used every dirty trick in the book.

Now Republicans are counting on us to feel discouraged by the results.

But they are WRONG. We proved that Democrats are fired up and hungry for a win.

And if we came that close to flipping Georgia’s Sixth District, we can definitely WIN the race for Georgia governor.

But because of hardworking Democrats like you, he put a solid-Red district on the defensive.

We can keep up his momentum, [name]. We can still keep the hope alive that his campaign inspired in so many Georgians.

We’ve come so far, [name]. Don’t let Republicans think we’re done fighting.

-Team Evans

If it’s true that suburban women fueled the Ossoff effort, consolidating their support could be a very savvy tactic headed into 2018.

21
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 21, 2017

JoJo

JoJo is a 5-year old, 28-pound male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix who is available for adoption from Forgotten Paws Pet Rescue in Acworth, GA.

Jojo is alove bug full of playful energy and lots of personality. He loves to play fetch is the fast dog I have ever seen when running. He loves his toys, stuffed animals, bones, balls, whatever. I give him an empty water bottle and he is in heaven! Jojo is also a huge lap dog and will not be able to be trained to stay off the bed or furniture.

He is very smart and listens well. He loves all dogs, chases the cat but just to be obnoxious and loves all people. Jojo needs an active home. He needs a FENCED YARD because he is a little scared on leash and barks at everything. He gets distracted and won’t potty plus he needs room to run and play ball! He lives to fetch!

Slater

Slater is a young male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.

Mr. Slater is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix and still a young chap. His narrow little body wiggles and wags when he gets excited, which is basically all the time! At only 10 months old he is still learning his housebreaking skills, though he does go immediately when let out in the yard. Running around and sliding all over the place is his favorite thing to do with other pups.

Old School

Old School is a senior male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services Atlanta, GA.

21
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 21, 2017

Georgia’s Royal Colony Seal was approved on June 21, 1754.

Georgia Colony Seal

The Constitution of the United States of America was ratified on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify.

On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.

A lynch mob including members of the KKK killed three young civil rights activists who were trying to register African-Americans to vote near Meridian, Mississippi on June 21, 1964.

When Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder. Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.

When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan’s involvement and found the bodies. Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

John W. Hinckley, Jr. was acquitted of attempted murder of President Ronald Reagan and others in the Presidential party by reason on insanity on June 21, 1982.

Voters in Sandy Springs approved the new city’s incorporation on June 21, 2005.

Heroes

Georgia Department of Corrections Sergeant Christopher Monica was laid to rest in yesterday.

Authorities said Sgt. Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue were shot and killed by two inmates during a prison transport last Tuesday. The accused inmates, Donnie Roe and Ricky Dubose, were captured following a three-day massive manhunt.

Monica, 42, started with the Department of Corrections in October 2009 working as a correctional officer at Hancock State Prison. He was moved to Baldwin State Prison in February of 2011 where he quickly rose through the ranks, being promoted to sergeant.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help Monica’s family. It says he had been taking on extra shifts so his wife wouldn’t have to work because she was having health issues.

On Saturday, friends, family and fellow officers gathered to honor and remember Sgt. Curtis Billue, who’d been with the DOC since July 2007 stationed at Frank Scott Correctional Facility.

Flags flew at half-staff yesterday in honor of Sgt. Monica.

United States Navy Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm, Jr. (no relation) is being lauded as a hero after his death in the aftermath of the USS Fitzgerald collision.

When the Fitzgerald collided with the merchant ship, 37-year-old Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., “leapt into action,” according to The Daily Beast.

The Fitzgerald was struck below the waterline, and Rehm Jr.’s family was told by the Navy that he went under and saved at least 20 sailors, according to WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Ohio.

But when he went back down to get the other six sailors, the ship began to take on too much water, and the hatch was closed, WBNS-10TV said.

“That was Gary to a T,” Rehm Jr.’s friend Christopher Garguilo, told NBC4i in Columbus, Ohio. “He never thought about himself.”

“He called [the sailors on the ship] his kids,” his uncle, Stanley Rehm Jr., told The Daily Beast. “He said, ‘If my kids die, I’m going to die.’”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

“Taking Out the Trash Day” refers to Friday in the news cycle, which is traditionally a good day to release unfavorable news items. I wrote that yesterday was the ultimate Take Out the Trash day in Georgia politics because all attention from everyone would be focused on the Sixth District Special Runoff Election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat John Ossoff.

The Gwinnett County Commission took advantage of that yesterday, when they voted to publicly reprimand Commissioner Tommy Hunter. Whether intentional or not, doing so last night probably downplayed the event. While the vote made the Gwinnett Daily Post, the AJC, and WSB radio, I don’t see much TV news coverage. For instance, WSB-TV covered it, but any other night, I think it would have been more prominently featured.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

An emotional public hearing on whether Gwinnett commissioners should reprimand one of their own for making controversial comments on Facebook was capped with Chairwoman Charlotte Nash fighting back tears as she addressed residents.

The commissioners voted unanimously to publicly reprimand Commissioner Tommy Hunter for his comments, which included calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig,” and referring to Democrats as “Demonrats” and “Libtards” on his personal Facebook page.

Hunter was not present at the meeting, but his colleagues, who have remained silent on the matter for months, made their feelings known before the vote was taken.

Commissioner Jace Brooks also criticized Hunter for making the remarks on Facebook, but added he disagreed with the idea that the comments constituted an ethics violation. Nonetheless, Brooks offered the motion to accept the ethics board’s recommendation, saying he supported a public reprimand of his colleague.

Hunter’s spokesman, Seth Weathers, criticized the commission for voting to accept the ethics board’s recommendation of a public reprimand, however.

“We now know that mob rule controls the Gwinnett County Commission Board,” he said after the hearing ended. “Charlotte Nash lead her fellow board members in the public burning of the Constitution this evening. People are used to politicians caving to political correctness but tonight it reached a new level. Spineless politicians do spineless things.

“Where is the public reprimand for Charlotte Nash, John Heard, Jace Brooks, and Lynette Howard for their public disregard for the U.S. Constitution? Speaking of, where do I file the ethics complaint to get the process started?”

I am uneasy with several parts of this whole affair.

First, the idea that an elected official would be subject to an ethics process for being stupid on Facebook while on his or her own time.

Second, the idea that continued disruption of public meetings by citizens can appear to drive decisions by elected officials when legitimate issues of the role of elected officials in policing each other’s conduct are raised.

Third, that the actions of one Commissioner could lead to the continued disruption of a functioning elected board.

Fourth, that anyone would take the opportunity to take a cheap shot at Charlotte Nash, one of the finest public servants I’ve seen.

Fifth, that public discourse in our community has fallen to the point where people are so comfortable being jerks in public.

The other side of “Take Out the Trash Day” is knowing that when a major national political story is happening in your community, it will drive news coverage for days. Democrat Kathleen Allen announced she will run against Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) in the 2018 election.

Norcross resident and homeless advocate Kathleen Allen will kick off her bid to run for the Seventh Congressional District seat at 7 p.m. on Thursday at 45 South Cafe, 45 S. Peachtree St., in Norcross. She is seeking to defeat U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., who has held the seat for more than six years.

Allen made headlines earlier this year when she, along with homeless assistance groups in Gwinnett, took on Norcross’ hotel and extended stay ordinance, which she said would negatively affect homeless families. The city ultimately made changes in the ordinance to minimize the impact on homeless residents.

Allen and her campaign will canvas neighborhoods throughout the district this summer and into the fall to meet with residents and hear their concerns.

“I don’t want to tell my community what they should care about,” Allen said. “I want to know what they do care about so that I truly represent everyone in our district.”

It’s an interesting timing choice, perhaps hoping to capitalize on national attention on what just happened in the Sixth District and become the next liberal darling of the online left. Or maybe it was just amateur hour.

Democrat David Kim previously announced he will challenge Woodall.

Congratulations to Karen Handel

Last night, earlier than I and many others expected, Karen Handel was declared the winner of the Special Runoff Election for the Sixth Congressional District. Congratulations to Karen and Steve Handel, and to my fellow constituents of the Sixth District, who have chosen an experienced, effective leader.

My analysis of this will probably span several day, maybe longer, because there’s a lot to unpack.

But I want to start by recognizing two people for their contributions. These mentions are not intended to downplay anyone else’s contribution.

Jade Morey, who was in my class in Republican Leadership for Georgia, went above and beyond. Her personal energy and relentless enthusiasm were a major boon to the Handel campaign. Yesterday, at 4:25 PM I received a text from her asking me to make phone calls from my cell phone at home for Karen. I’m sure everyone else she’s known since kindergarten got a similar text, but that’s a great illustration of running the race through the tape.

Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications, though he was not engaged in the campaign to my knowledge, added significantly to my understanding of the race dynamics in the last days.

Several days ago, I tweeted that any “I think we can all agree that a poll showing GA-6 within the MOE doesn’t even qualify as news, much less justify “BREAKING.”’ My point being that the arms race for new polling among media outlets leads to a lot of breathless, cheap stories entirely devoid of news or useful content. Seriously, save your money folks. Polling is not a substitute for good reporting from the field.

Anyway, the last Landmark poll of the cycle was the only one worth reading, from any pollster, in my opinion. That one still showed a race within the margin of error, but it showed movement to Karen Handel from the last previous poll, by the same firm, using the same methodology, less than a week prior.

A facebook post on the survey put it best:

Seeing some momentum toward Handel.

One of my other polling mentors, Bruno Gianelli, spoke of campaigns and polling in relation to racing sailboats.

The importance of that last poll can also be compared to sailing, more precisely to navigation. Any single poll is a snapshot in time; it tries to tell you what is happening now, but has little predictive value on its own. It’s like knowing where you are on a map of the open sea, of limited use. To have a better idea where you’re headed, you also need to know the directions of the current and of the wind, which help you plot your speed and direction.

The second poll, by the same firm, using the same methodology, adds that vector information – it can tell you speed and direction. So “seeing some momentum toward Handel,” is the most useful information I had seen in weeks and it helped my decide over the weekend that I thought Karen Handel would win.

Senator David Perdue sent out a statement congratulating Congresswoman-elect Handel:

“Georgians again sent a loud message to Washington that we are committed to changing the direction of our country. Liberal Democrats dumped millions of dollars into this campaign to try and buy another House vote for Nancy Pelosi, and it still didn’t work. Nobody knows Georgia’s 6th District better than Karen Handel. I congratulate Karen on her victory and look forward to working with her on the issues that matter to all Georgians.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp also issued a statement:

“Despite the millions of dollars spent, thousands of paid activists shipped in from around the country, and countless lies told by her opponent and his radical supporters, conservative Karen Handel earned victory at the ballot box and sent a clear message to democrats far and wide that Georgia is a red state and it’s not for sale.”

“Karen Handel has a proven record of accomplishments and she is uniquely qualified to serve Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District in Washington. I am confident that she will stand up for our conservative, Georgia values and fight tirelessly to ensure a better, brighter future for all Americans. We have some difficult challenges ahead but I know that Karen can handle it.”

“Congratulations to Karen Handel, her campaign team and supporters, and the Georgia Republican Party on a well-deserved victory!”

Opioid Epidemic

A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that the opioid and overdose epidemic is having a major impact on our healthcare system.

The coast-to-coast opioid epidemic is swamping hospitals, with government data published Tuesday showing 1.27 million emergency room visits or inpatient stays for opioid-related issues in a single year.

The 2014 numbers, the latest available for every state and the District of Columbia, reflect a 64 percent increase for inpatient care and a 99 percent jump for emergency room treatment compared to figures from 2005. Their trajectory likely will keep climbing if the epidemic continues unabated.

The AHRQ report does not speculate on why some states have such high rates of hospital admissions. It suggests that people in the most urban places are more likely to be treated in a hospital than those in rural areas — which would indicate that lack of access to medical care is a factor in the uptick in death rates seen in less-urban parts of the country.

The sharpest increase in hospitalization and emergency room treatment for opioids was among people ages 25 to 44, and that women are now as likely as men to be admitted to a hospital for inpatient treatment for opioid-related problems. In 2005, there was a significant gap between men and women, with men more likely to be admitted. That gap closed entirely by 2014.

Georgia has had the greatest increase in opioid-related admissions during that period.

Of the 43 states where data was available, Georgia saw the highest increase in opioid related inpatient stays between 2009 and 2014. Hospital stays increased 100% in Georgia, compared with an average rise of 24% across the country. In Kansas, Maryland, Illinois and Louisiana, inpatient stays fell across the six-year time period.

Today, an op-ed in the Atlanta Business Chronicle by Monty Veazey, President of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, gives some context to what that explosive growth in overdoses means for Georgia hospitals, many of which are already endangered.

Increasingly, overdoses come in clusters of multiple incidences within a short time. The impact on an emergency room can be paralyzing, even for a large Metro Atlanta hospital, much less a smaller facility in a rural market. The impact can also be lasting, as stabilized patients often require prolonged medical support, including intensive care and services from a number of different departments.

On top of this growing epidemic, emergency rooms are also experiencing increased visits related to behavioral or mental health, which have have skyrocketed nearly 60% over the same period. This is in addition to the heart attacks, accidents and other life threatening situations that bring patients through their doors and require a hospital’s full capabilities to treat. This week, Becker’s Hospital Review ranked the emergency rooms with the most visits per year, placing two Metro Atlanta facilities in the top ten nationwide.

As hospitals deal with the strain of increasing admissions, the existence of a strong network of neighboring hospitals helps distribute the patient load and ensure timely access to care. But today, as hospitals across Georgia struggle under the pressure of financial challenges caused by factors including changing demographics, growing numbers of underinsured and uninsured patients, and declining populations – that network is at risk.

For example, it is estimated that Georgia hospitals performed $1.7 billion dollars worth of uncompensated care in 2015 alone, which is simply unsustainable. In addition, potential cuts in Medicare and Medicaid are being discussed in Washington, DC, that would force more hospitals to close their doors, as 7 in Georgia and 80 across the nation have been forced to do since 2010.

One of the keys to the stability of Georgia’s network of care is the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) program. This critical tool helps the state manage the availability and financial survival of safety net hospitals while ensuring access to emergency departments, advanced treatment, and routine healthcare needs.

The time could not be worse for weakening protections for our hospital system, which would come at the unquestionable risk of reducing access to health-care and emergency services.

[Disclaimer: I work on communications with the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.]

A Northwest Georgia hospital accuses an insurance company of underpaying for services.

The only hospital in northwest Georgia’s Walker County has sued Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, claiming the insurer’s refusal to pay its contractually agreed-upon rates for services threatens to put Cornerstone Medical Center out of business.

The hospital, located in Fort Oglethorpe near the Tennessee state line, has already struggled though one bankruptcy, which resulted in its being bought for $4.1 million in late 2015.

Cornerstone’s is the only emergency room in Walker County, the motion said, and more than 60 percent of the patients seen there “have no means to pay nor any perceived interest in doing so.” The hospital also provides radiology, laboratory and pharmaceutical services to the county’s residents.

Nuclear News

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that should benefit Georgia electric ratepayers.

House lawmakers approved legislation that would add life to federal tax credits that could save hundreds of millions of dollars for the companies and non-profits behind the struggling Plant Vogtle nuclear project and a similar one in South Carolina.

A resolution that removes a 2021 deadline for using the tax credits passed a voice vote Tuesday afternoon on the House floor. The proposed tax change also will have to win the Senate’s approval to become law.

That extension could help preserve $800 million worth of tax credits that Georgia Power has been counting on to help lower its cost of the Vogtle project, which includes construction of two new reactors at the plant near Augusta.

20
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 20, 2017

Alec Barkwin

Alec Barkwin is a 2-year old mixed breed male who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Alec Barkwin will sweep you off your feet! This gentle boy is a charmer and will curl up into your lap the first chance he gets. Alec loves ear scratches, head pets, and just being an all around velcro dog. This two-year-old boy needs some TLC right now, but once this boy starts feeling better and puts on a little more weight, we just know he his coat will be gorgeous.

Peggy

Peggy is a female Black Mouth Cur who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services.

Sweet Peggy is the perfect companion. She likes dogs,cats, and she adores children. She often hides in the crowded shelter and doesn”t compete for attention. Don”t let this sweetheart get away!

Scruffy

Scruffy is an adult male Cairn Terrier who is available for adoption from Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County in Marietta, GA.

We can’t believe Scruffy wasn’t adopted on his first day available! No one must know he’s at the shelter. Some person’s going to get really lucky when they find and adopt him. Here’s why it pays to keep an eye on what animals come into the shelter. We get awesome, cute, highly coveted dogs all the time. Scruffy is very sweet and stays calm and quiet in his cage. He is 2 years old and weighs 19 pounds. He came to the shelter as a lost dog on June 9th and is currently available for adoption. He is up to date with shots and will be neutered, heartworm tested, and micro-chipped upon adoption. Scruffy is in Cage 327 and his ID is 596868.

20
Jun

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

On June 20, 1732, the signing of the Georgia Charter was completed by the British government.

On June 20, 1782, Congress adopted the Great Seal of the United States. Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, was responsible for the final design presented to Congress. The design approved by Congress was a written description without any sketches.

On June 20, 1819, the SS Savannah entered the port at Liverpool, England, marking the first transatlantic crossing by a steam-powered ship, having sailed out of Savannah on May 20th.

General Robert E. Lee moved on Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant at Petersburg, Virginia on June 20, 1864.

Jaws was released on June 20, 1975.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Thanks, Facebook! I almost forgot!

Election Today Thanks Facebook

Today is also the day that voters in Clarkesville, Georgia will choose a new City Council member.

The office of Council Member of the City of Clarkesville, Georgia, being Post 3, will be elected at large for the remainder of a four (4) year term, being approximately two (2) year’s and six (6) months, beginning on or about June 21, 2017 through December 31, 2019, with said seat currently vacant and formerly held by Casey Ramsey.

Election Day voting will be held June 20, 2017 at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center, 120 Paul Franklin Road, Clarkesville, Georgia 30523, from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Gwinnett County Commissioners today will consider a recommendation by the county ethics board that Commissioner Tommy Hunter be censured for impolitic Facebook posting.

The ethics board assembled to investigate the complaint agreed with that assessment earlier this month, recommending the stiffest penalty available to county commissioners — that Hunter be publicly reprimanded.

That reprimand would involve posting a written rebuke on the county’s website, on the wall of its courthouse and in the local newspaper.

Commission Chair Charlotte Nash said she expects her board to vote on the matter during a public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. One hour has been set aside for public comment in support of the ethics board’s recommendation and one hour for those against.

Optim Medical Center – Jenkins has been spared, as a buyer has been found to keep the local hospital open.

Optim Medical Center-Jenkins, set to close this month, announced Monday that it has been sold to GA Medical Holdings Corp.

The 25-bed “critical access’’ facility in Millen in Jenkins County was due to merge operations with another hospital in the area. It would have been the seventh Georgia rural hospital to shut down since the beginning of 2013. Two of those that closed have been revived as medical facilities, but no longer function as full-fledged hospitals.

If a last-minute buyer had not been found, Optim-Jenkins would have merged with an Optim hospital in Sylvania in neighboring Screven County.

Like other rural hospitals, Optim Medical Center-Jenkins had cited declining reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid; decreased patient census; and needed upgrades to its infrastructure, as forcing the closure.

The Georgia Supreme Court held that the state cannot be sued to prevent enforcement of an abortion statute.

But, in a 71-page opinion, Justice Keith Blackwell left the door open for challenges to state officials individually.

“Simply put, the constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity forbids our courts to entertain a lawsuit against the State without its consent,” Blackwell said.

“We hold today that the doctrine of sovereign immunity extends generally to suits against the State, its departments and agencies, and its officers in their official capacities for injunctive and declaratory relief from official acts that are alleged to be unconstitutional. In so holding, however, we recognize the availability of other means by which aggrieved citizens may obtain relief from unconstitutional acts, including prospective relief from the threatened enforcement of unconstitutional laws.”

The suit targets a 2012 state law banning nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, known as the “fetal pain statute,” because it is tied to the fetus’ feeling rather than its viability, the latter of which is the standard used in the U.S. Supreme Court’s watershed ruling in Roe v. Wade. The constitutional challenge targets a facet of the law allowing district attorneys access to abortion patients’ medical records. In oral arguments, the attorneys never mentioned abortion; instead, they focused on whether the state’s immunity outweighs its citizens’ right to privacy under the Georgia Constitution.

“This is an astounding proposition that would make Georgia the only state in the union in which the Bill of Rights is subordinate to the Legislature,” Samuel told the high court.

Today is “take out the trash day” in Georgia politics. If you must release unfavorable information and hope it doesn’t get noticed, today is the day to do it. Anything released or announce today by any government agency in Georgia should receive extra scrutiny. Maybe next week.

19
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 19, 2017

ColbyArk

Colby is a male Labrador Retriever and Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

Jellybean

Jellybean, a female is one of eight Labdador Retreiver mix puppies available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

Lucy Pink

Ray

Ray is a male Labrador Retriever and Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

19
Jun

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

The Georgia Whig Party held its first convention on June 19, 1843 in Milledgeville and elected ten delegates to the 1844 National Convention.

The first Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ended on June 19, 1856.

The Republicans, who called for the abolition of slavery in all U.S. territories, rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of Southern states were publicly threatening secession if a Republican won the presidency.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the official party of the victorious North. After the war, the Republican-dominated Congress forced a radical Reconstruction policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and granting voting rights to African American men in the South. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency, with a few intermissions, until the ascendance of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

On June 19, 1864, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston retreated from Pine Mountain and Lost Mountain toward Marietta. Click here to watch a two-minute video by Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center about this week in Georgia in 1864.

On the same day, USS Kearsarge sank CSS Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France in one of the most-celebrated naval battles of the Civil War.

Under its captain, Raphael Semmes, the Alabama prowled the world for three years, capturing U.S. commercial ships. It sailed around the globe, usually working out of the West Indies, but taking prizes and bungling Union shipping in the Caribbean, off Newfoundland, and around the coast of South America. In January 1863, Semmes sunk a Union warship, the Hatteras, after luring it out of Galveston, Texas.

During its career, the Alabama captured 66 ships and was hunted by more than 20 Federal warships.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From the AJC Political Insider on Saturday’s GOTV Rally with Secretary of HHS Tom Price and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“We want lower taxes. We all want a government that respects you. You all want patient-centered healthcare,” said Price. “You all want national security to be an absolute priority for the federal government. If you want any one of those items, then who you want is Karen Handel for the 6th District.”

And Perdue, who hired Handel as a deputy when he was governor, urged conservatives not to be fooled by a Democrat who sports a “few Republican buzz words.” He led voters in a chant of “no turning back.”

“This is a harbinger of national politics. The world is looking, the nation is looking – and all the money has flowed in here,” Perdue said. “Don’t be fooled by someone who doesn’t have a record. Let me tell you something, he’s a puppeteer and the strings are being pulled by Democrats and the Nancy Pelosi.”

The Saturday event was organized by John Watson, the newly-minted Georgia GOP chair, who has made boosting Handel one of his first priorities. A former aide to Perdue, Watson won this month’s vote to lead the cash-strapped party on a pledge to shore up its finances and make it more relevant.

Today, the Karen Handel campaign will rally across the Sixth District to encourage Republicans to vote in the Special Election tomorrow.

DeKalb GOTV STOP with Karen Handel and Congressman Kevin McCarthy
11:30 AM – 12:00 Noon at Old Hickory House
2202 Northlake Parkway
Tucker, GA 30084

Cobb GOTV RALLY with Surprise Guest
12:45 – 2:00 PM at Cherokee Cattle Ranch
2710 Canton Road
Marietta, GA 30066

Click here to register for Cobb GOTV Rally

Fulton and Grand Finale GOTV RALLY with Gov Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal and Banks and Shane
6 – 7:30 PM at Houck’s Grille
10930 Crabapple Road, Suite B1302
Roswell, GA 30075

Click here to register for Fulton GOTV Rally

Here are the latest numbers for early votes cast:

Cobb 25,346 19.39%
DeKalb 30554 23.37%
Fulton 74850 57.25%

The Marietta Daily Journal has a write-up on early voting.

In Cobb alone, 27,257 people cast their ballots early through mail-in ballots or advance in-person voting. Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said that represents more than 23 percent of registered voters.

In the April free-for-all primary election that pitted Ossoff and Handel against 16 other candidates, 11,860 Cobb voters voted early.

In addition to east Cobb, District 6 also includes parts of Fulton and DeKalb. All told, over 140,000 early votes have been cast in this race, including from 36,000 people who did not vote in the primary, Politico reports.

If you live in District 6 and have not voted yet, tomorrow, Election Day, is your only chance to do so. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

[Note: the difference between the Cobb figure above from the SOS database and the number in the MDJ article may be due to lag in the system by which the County reports ballots cast to the state.]

Ms. Lillian Mortimer, 100 years old, of Cobb County may be the oldest voter to cast a ballot in the Sixth District.

When 100-year-old Lillian Mortimer ran into trouble getting her Georgia identification card to ensure she could cast a ballot in the House District 6 runoff between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff, she was undeterred.

Born at home in February 1917, she didn’t have a birth certificate. Her North Carolina driver’s license, which she had before moving in with her daughter Lynn Strickland of east Cobb about three years ago, had expired, and the passport she once had was lost in that move.

It was soon thereafter that the two turned to one of their fellow parishioners at Mt. Bethel United Methodist — Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce.

“Lillian came to me, she grabbed me in the church narthex about a month ago … Lillian and her daughter grabbed me and said Lillian really wanted to get a Georgia ID card so that she could vote,” Boyce said, sharing the story at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. “This is a lady that was born in the year that America entered World War I, and yet her primary consideration and concern is that she wanted to vote.”

Since then, Mortimer has mailed in her absentee ballot — a vote for Karen Handel.

“I thought it was important, and I’ve always voted,” she said. “In fact, I used to work at the poll in (my former home) Greensboro (North Carolina), and it is important. I wish people that complain so much about things would get out there and get voting. And there’s much to complain about.”

National Democrats are beginning to manage expectations in case their wunderkind Jon Ossoff falls short tomorrow.

A loss in Georgia’s special election here could leave the party demoralized, with little to show for all the furious organizing, fundraising and spending in a handful of congressional special elections in the early months of the Trump administration. As a result, Democrats are now straining to throw everything they have at Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District to push Jon Ossoff over the top against Republican Karen Handel, aiming to prove they can win the suburban districts that may pave the way to a House majority in 2018.

According to Democrats close to the contest, the high early voting turnout has rendered Tuesday’s result less predictable than expected. And that unpredictability has party leaders — stung by criticism from liberal activists for not spending enough money on earlier special elections this year in Kansas and Montana — urging activists not to be disappointed by a tight race that ends in defeat.

Their concern is that anything less than victory could dampen the party’s torrid energy and cash flow, with the next round of House races still nearly a year-and-a-half away.

“From the start, the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] understood that winning the Georgia 6th special election would be a monumental task. Simply put, virtually every structural advantage benefits Republicans in a special election in this traditionally conservative district,” wrote DCCC Executive Director Dan Sena in an expectation-setting memo circulated to a group that included donors and friendly groups last Tuesday.

He reminded them that the committee “has spent more than $6 million to fundamentally transform a traditionally Republican electorate, turn out low-propensity voters, channel the unprecedented grassroots energy, and communicate with swing voters.”

The Gwinnett County Republican Party Chairman’s Cookout on Saturday, June 24 from 11 AM to 4 PM will draw some of the 2018 Statewide candidates.

Tickets cost $10 for adults, and $5 for kids ages 6 to 16, and can be purchased at www.gwinnettrepublicans.com. Children under 6 will be admitted for free.

Among the candidates expected to be there are Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor, and Reps. Buzz Brockway and Brad Raffensperger, who are running for secretary of state.

Information [on the website] about the event says gubernatorial candidates Sen. Hunter Hill and Secretary of State Brian Kemp have also been invited to attend the cookout. U.S. Reps. Rob Woodall and Jody Hice are among the invitees as well.

Cagle, Hill, Kemp and state Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming, make up the Republican field for governor so far, but qualifying won’t take place until next spring, so other candidates could still emerge.

Groundbreaking for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta will be today, though preparations have already begun.

The Georgia Department of Labor reports that unemployment has hit the lowest level in nearly a decade.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the rate dipped from 5 percent in April to 4.9 percent in May. That gives the state its lowest number since October 2007. The recession, fueled by the housing market meltdown, officially started in December 2007, with economists gauging its end in June 2009.

A year ago, the state’s jobless rate was 5.3 percent.

“Georgia saw its unemployment rate dip below 5 percent for the first time in nearly 10 years as more individuals gained jobs,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “It’s a testament to the attractiveness of Georgia’s job market when we continue to see more and more individuals enter and re-enter the job market and find employment.”

The department said the total number of Georgians with a job increased by nearly 10,000 from April to May, bringing the total to a record 4,788,627. That total is up by nearly 156,000 from May of last year.

Jack Bernard, a former Jasper County Commission Chair writes that Georgia should not get rid of Certificate of Need laws.

[E]very year or two, some state politician suggests doing away with Georgia’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws, which regulate where and how health care facilities can operate. Sometimes people in the health care field make similar suggestions.

Unfortunately, while many of these proposals invoke the principle of the free market, they are misguided.

Most of my career was spent in the private sector in for-profit health care corporations. For four years, I was with two major for-profit hospital chains, and I had the responsibility of trying to obtain CON permits for new and existing facilities.

I learned that corporate executives have a legal responsibility to put their firms’ interests first, ahead of societal concerns. There’s nothing wrong with that, since people in a free society have a right to see that their particular interests are represented. But government regulation has a broader aim. It is intended to protect the consumer rather than the corporation.

I am a fiscal conservative, and I dislike paperwork as much as the next guy. But I know that government regulations are put in place for a reason, to protect the public. At least in the case of Georgia’s CON laws, the current regulations are working well.

 

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Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 16, 2017

Newt

Newt is a male Labrador Retriever and Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Fayette County Animal Shelter in Peachtree City, GA.

Jackie

Jackie is a 2-year old, 36-pound female Pit Bill Terrier who is available for adoption from Friends To The Forlorn Pitbull Rescue Inc. in Dallas, GA.

Jackie is a fun, energetic, spunky little girl. She loves people and has not been reactive the the other dogs in her foster home although she has not been introduced to any other dogs yet.

Emory

Emory is a senior female Beagle & Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.