The blog.

18
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 18, 2019

Gina Pups MBAC

Gina is a female American Bulldog mix who, along with her puppies (including Georgia) are available for adoption from the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter in Macon, GA.

Isaiah MBAC

Isaiah is a male Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter in Macon, GA.

Rascal MBAC

Rascal is a male mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter in Macon, GA.

18
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 18, 2019

British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 18, 1778 after occupying the former capital for nine months.

On June 18, 1807, commissioners from Georgia and North Carolina agreed to recognize the 35th parallel as the boundary between the two states. North Carolina conducted a survey that placed the boundary further South than the 35th parallel, though Georgia never accepted the survey and continues to argue that the 35th is the proper boundary against both North Carolina and Tennessee.

As of today, the dispute with Tennessee continues.

The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812, as President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain passed by the House and Senate.

On June 18, 1873, Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for illegally voting in Rochester, New York. At the conclusion of her trial, the judge read a statement that, “The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law,” and directed the jury to convict her. Anthony responded,

“Yes, your honor, I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled underfoot every vital principle of our government,” Anthony said. “My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.”

The Southern Railway Company was organized on June 18, 1894 and through predecessor railroads traces its heritage to the nation’s first regularly-scheduled railroad service, The Best Friend of Charleston. Samuel Spencer, of Columbus, Georgia, was the first President of the Southern. In the 1980s, the Southern merged with Norfolk & Western Railway to form Norfolk Southern.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will kick off his reelection campaign tonight. Check with your local GOP organizations for watch parties.

Coweta County Trump Rally Watch Party

Women for Trump and Paulding GOP Watch Party

Buckhead Young Republicans Panel and Watch Party

Democrat Joe Biden put down a marker on his ability to win Georgia in the 2020 Presidential election, according to CBS News.

Joe Biden believes that if he’s the Democratic nominee, he’ll win the South. Though in the past, some Democrats have contemplated skipping over the South, where it’s been notoriously difficult for a Democrat to win, the former vice president claimed that wouldn’t be his strategy.

“I plan on campaigning in the South,” Biden said at the Moral Action Congress of the Poor People’s Campaign, in Washington, D.C. Monday. “I plan on, if I’m your nominee, winning Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, believe it or not, and I believe we can win Texas and Florida, if you look at the polling data now.”

Leaked polls from Trump campaign pollsters suggest that Biden leads Trump in Georgia, according to the AJC.

Less attention was paid to the fact that in that leaked poll data, which Trump campaign officials say is outdated, Trump trailed Biden by 8 points in North Carolina and 6 points in Georgia.

With the exceptions of 1976 (Jimmy Carter) and 1992 (Bill Clinton), Republicans have had a lock on the South since the Civil Rights era in the 1960s.

Trump won North Carolina in 2016 with 50.5% of the vote. He took Georgia by 51.3%.

But both states have large urban populations, and equally large suburbs, where Republican support among college-educated women diminished sharply in the 2018 mid-terms.

President Trump will kick off his 2020 re-election bid on Tuesday with a rally in Florida.

Voters in Coweta County will choose a new Sheriff today, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Four men are vying to serve as Coweta County’s sheriff for a year, and voters will make their decisions today.

Many Cowetans have already voted early or cast an absentee ballot. The candidates for sheriff are Jimmy Callaway, Randolph Collins, Doug Jordan and Lenn Wood. All have participated in forums in recent weeks.

Wood has been serving as sheriff since March 1. He succeeded Mike Yeager, the longtime sheriff who retired after his appointment as a U.S. marshal.

All precincts in the county will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Murray County voters will choose a new school board member in a special election today, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Murray County residents will decide on Tuesday who will fill a four-year term in the District 5 seat on the Board of Education.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Mitchell Wilson moved out of the district last year and could no longer serve on the board. Board members named Ray Ingle to serve the remainder of that term, which ended on Dec. 31, then reappointed Ingle to serve in the seat until a special election could be held to fill a full, four-year term on the board. That special election was to have been held on March 19, but no one qualified. When that election didn’t take place, board members appointed Conrad Puryear, who is running in Tuesday’s special election, to the District 5 seat. The Board of Elections called another special election for Tuesday.

Joshua Abernathy and Puryear, both Republicans, qualified for this special election, which is nonpartisan.

Governor Brian Kemp asked that former U.S. Attorney and Congressman Bob Barr be added to a shortlist for appointment to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, according to the Daily Report.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr is Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s likely pick to fill a position opening July 1 on the state’s judicial watchdog commission, according to two State Bar of Georgia officials.

Barr—a former U.S. attorney and the Libertarian Party’s 2008 presidential nominee—was added at the request of Kemp’s staff to a list of lawyers the bar recommended to replace Athens attorney Edward Tolley on the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Kemp’s request to add Barr was confirmed by Ken Hodges—now a judge on the state Court of Appeals—and Dentons partner Edward Lindsey, chairman of the bar’s JQC nominations committee.

State law governing JQC appointments gives the governor authority to appoint one lawyer to the commission’s investigative panel, which reviews allegations of potential judicial misconduct and brings ethics charges when warranted. The governor also appoints a citizen member to the JQC’s three-person judicial panel.

Lindsey said members of the governor’s staff “asked for us to vet [Barr], and we did, along with the others.”

Lindsey said his committee unanimously agreed to forward a list of six lawyers, including Barr, to the state bar’s board of governors for approval. Hodges said the board unanimously approved the list and then forwarded it to Kemp.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter filed a federal lawsuit seeking $5 million dollars from the county, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

In a new lawsuit filed in federal district court last week, Hunter’s attorney, Dwight Thomas, asserted Hunter’s Facebook comments — in which the commissioner called U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a “rascist pig” — constituted “political speech” and was therefore protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Hunter’s colleagues on the commission issued a written reprimand against him following a months-long ethics investigation and hearing process.

“The defendant, Gwinnett County, acquiesces in sanctions, the reprimand and chilling of First Amendment political speech that does not, and never will, constitute any ‘clear and present danger,’” Thomas wrote in the lawsuit.

In addition to $5 million in general and special damages, Hunter also wants the reprimand rescinded, attorneys fees, unspecified punitive damages and unspecified compensatory damages for “lost income, costs associated and humiliation, emotional distress, inconvenience and loss of economic opportunities caused by the defendants actions and statements.”

Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash declined a request Monday to comment on Hunter’s latest lawsuit.

Forsyth County Commissioners are considering a novel approach to issuing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) bonds, according to AccessWDUN.

County Manager Eric Johnson recommended the transition as a best practices move advised by financial advisors Davenport and Company but District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent expressed concerns.

He said, “The fact that we’ve got a AAA bond rating when we can get a better rate on these markets when people are bidding direct with what they charge us on bond a lot of it rests back on we have AAA rating with two of the biggest companies out there.”

Johnson … called the competitive sale method the best practices, which allows any broker-dealer or dealer bank to bid on them.

Previously, the bonds were sold via a negotiated sale, meaning the underwriter bought them first before selling them off.

Gainesville Board of Education adopted a $75 million dollar FY 2020 budget with a full rollback of the millage rate, according to the Gainesville Times.

The board held two public meetings before casting the final vote on the budget and a millage rate of 6.614.

That figure is a full rollback of the tax rate, down from 6.85, to account for increases in revenue from property tax reassessments.

The tax rate was 7.48 mills just five years ago, but it has decreased as residential and commercial growth expands throughout the city.

From AccessWDUN:

The board unanimously approved the millage rate and the budget at their meeting Monday night, following the second and final public hearing for the budget.

“We’re looking to go into our reserves slightly, but the great part about all of it is that we’re able to bring forth a budget that allows us to roll the millage rate all the way back to 6.614, the first time in a number of years we’ve been able to do that,” said Superintendent Jeremy Williams, adding that he was proud of the hard work Chief Financial Officer Kathy Pethel and the finance department did to make the budget and millage rate a success.

The budget includes 4% raises for classified staff, a $3,000 legislative pay increase for teachers, and some new buses.

The Floyd County Board of Education adopted a partial rollback millage rate, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The county schools board of education met Monday morning where they recognized retiring personnel, approved the fiscal year 2020 budget and rolled back the county millage rate by .05%.

A millage rate is the rate per $1000 of property value and is used to calculate local property taxes. Rates vary by property value.

The board lowered the rated .05% last year as well making the rate 18.3% for 2018. The proposed rate of 18.25% will receive two public hearings.

The board finalized the FY 20 budget which is posted on their website at https://www.floydboe.net. The budget includes a $3,000 raise for certified employees and a 2% raise for classified employees.

Warner Robins City Council voted to double the salary for council members, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The council voted 3-1 to raise its annual salary from $5,000 to $10,000.

Councilman Tim Thomas cast the only opposing vote, while council members Daron Lee, Clifford Holmes and Larry Curtis voted for it.

Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins, who has been battling health issues, was absent, as well as Councilman Keith Lauritsen. Mayor Randy Toms said after the meeting that Lauritsen was recovering from dental surgery.

Holmes was the leading proponent of the increase. He said the council had not had an increase in 22 years and that council members in many smaller cities in the state make more money. The Macon-Bibb commissioners, who preside over a population of approximately 152,000 people, make $15,000 annually. The population of Warner Robins is about 75,000.

Grantville City Council adopted a new policy on travel, according to the Newnan Times Herald.

Grantville city officials will have to get approval from the city council to travel at city expense, effective July 1, no matter what type of event they will be attending.

The council made the decision at its last meeting, 3 to 1. Councilmembers Jim Sells, Alan Wacaser and Mark King voted in favor of the change. Councilwoman Ruby Hines was against it. Mayor Doug Jewell was also against it.

Sells had the issue placed on the agenda and said citizens should be informed when they’re footing the bill and that the travel policy has been abused.

Derik Minard was sworn in as the new Savannah Fire Chief, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Questions surround language used to describe the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education’s proposed property tax millage rate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Several Savannah-area residents say the information the school district has posted to its website on the millage rate is inconsistent and inaccurate.

A large headline at the top of the school system’s homepage says, “Budget Millage Rate to Remain Unchanged,” while the notice of a public meeting scheduled for Wednesday says, “Public Hearing #3 — Proposed Millage Rate Increase.”

So which is it? The answer depends on whether you are considering the rollback rate to be the school system’s millage rate or if you are comparing the proposed millage rate with the millage rate this time a year ago for the school’s fiscal 2019 budget. Citizen Paul Giguere said he was confused by an ad the school board placed in the newspaper that said, “This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 18.881 mills, which is no increase in mills.”

The school board’s public notice, published June 5, states the 18.881 millage rate is expected to provide a 5.35% increase in net tax revenue. It set a rollback rate of 18.284. The previous rollback rate was 16.323.

A year ago, the school board adopted a millage rate of 18.881 mills, up 15.67% from the rollback rate of 16.323 and an increase of 13.5% from the previous rate of 16.631 mills. A mill is a rate per $1,000 in property value, but the local assessor deducts a proportion from a property’s valuation to determine the value used. Exemptions also might apply to reduce the value multiplied by the millage rate. Many exemptions vary by county and special exemptions apply to some qualified homeowners but not others.

The Dougherty County Commission discussed developments in the proposed FY 2020 budget, according to the Albany Herald.

The commission is expected to vote on the budget at its meeting scheduled for next week.

The United States Department of Energy awarded grants to five organizations to train Augusta’s workforce, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy, was surrounded by the heads of the five institutions – Augusta and Aiken technical colleges, Augusta University and the University of South Carolina’s Aiken and Salkehatchie campuses – along with two U.S. congressmen and numerous other officials when she made the announcement Monday at Aiken Tech.

“As many of you know, our mission at Savannah River Site will be growing, not decreasing,” Gordon-Hagerty said. “The Department of Energy and NNSA are committed to this partnership and helping sustain the great work being done.”

The grant doubles the current annual funding for a regional nuclear careers program administered by the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization, which since 2016 has received $1 million per year to coordinate programs across the institutions, the NNSA said in a news release.

17
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 17, 2019

Turk MBAC

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

Chico MBAC

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

Bodetus MBAC

Bodetus is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Macon-Bibb County may have to euthanize some animals due to an influx at the shelter, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A recent influx of stray dogs has the shelter overcrowded, and unless some are adopted soon, a few dogs in the adoption area will have to be put down to make room for more coming in. The shelter has a stray side and an adoption side, each of which hold 50 dogs.

The stray side is for those surrendered by owners or picked up and are waiting for an owner to reclaim, or they may be tied up with court cases. If they aren’t claimed, or the court cases are resolved, the dogs are tested to determine if they are safe around other animals and people. If they are, and have no major health issues, they go to the adoption side. The shelter will keep them there for as long as possible until space becomes an issue. They have kept dogs as long as three months.

Belew is pleading for anyone thinking of getting a dog to consider adopting from a shelter. She said shelter animals are good pets, and she has adopted two dogs there herself.

“They are so grateful when they come from a shelter because they’ve been here and they don’t understand why and they’ve been let down,” she said. “When you adopt them and you give them a family and a home, all these things that they’ve never had, they are just the best dogs.”

17
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 17, 2019

On June 17, 1759, Sir Francis Drake claimed California for England.

On June 17, 1775, British forces under General William Howe engaged American colonists at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

On June 17, some 2,200 British forces under the command of Major General William Howe (1729-1814) and Brigadier General Robert Pigot (1720-96) landed on the Charlestown Peninsula then marched to Breed’s Hill. As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, Prescott, in an effort to conserve the Americans’ limited supply of ammunition, reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat.

After re-forming their lines, the British attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott’s men were now low on ammunition, though, and when the Redcoats went up the hill for a third time, they reached the redoubts and engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, by the end of the engagement, the Patriots’ gunfire had cut down some 1,000 enemy troops, with more than 200 killed and more than 800 wounded. More than 100 Americans perished, while more than 300 others were wounded.

A distant ancestor of mine, John Logue, fought with the Americans at Bunker Hill, though he was not yet an enlisted soldier.

President Andrew Johnson appointed John Johnson (no relation) provisional Governor of Georgia after the Civil War on June 17, 1865; John Johnson had opposed secession.

France announced its intention to surrender to Germany on June 17, 1940.

Five men were arrested for burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, DC on June 17, 1972.

The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) connected cash found on the burglars to a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, the official organization of Nixon’s campaign.

In July 1973, as evidence mounted against the president’s staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee, it was revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and he had recorded many conversations.

After a protracted series of bitter court battles, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the president had to hand over the tapes to government investigators; he ultimately complied.

Recordings from these tapes implicated the president, revealing he had attempted to cover up the questionable goings-on that had taken place after the break-in.

Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford, then issued a pardon to him on September 8, 1974.

Newton Leroy Gingrich was born on June 17, 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Gingrich graduated from college at Emory University, where he founded the Emory College Republicans. Gingrich’s congressional papers are collected in the the Georgia’s Political Heritage Program at West Georgia College, where he taught before being elected to Congress. Also at West Georgia are the papers of former Congressmen Bob Barr, Mac Collins, and Pat Swindall, along with a near-perfect replica of Georgia Speaker Tom Murphy’s office.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The AJC reports that the 2020 Presidential Preference Primary date has not yet been set because the state has not yet implemented new voting machines.

Georgia election officials won’t set the state’s presidential primary election date until new voting machines are in place.

The delay raised concerns from some county election directors who said they might have to move polling places if churches and other facilities get booked before an election date is announced.

The uncertain timing also creates the possibility that the presidential primary won’t take place until after many other states have already weighed in, potentially diminishing Georgia’s relevance in deciding each party’s candidate. The Georgia primary was held on Super Tuesday — the first Tuesday in March — in each of the past two presidential election years.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is holding off on deciding a date for the 2020 primary until the government completes its $150 million purchase of new statewide voting equipment, likely in July.

U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) said he hasn’t read the Mueller Report, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“I have not,” Woodall said. “I said when we started this conversation that I trusted Mr. Mueller. He took a lot of slings and arrows, but every U.S. attorney I knew said this is a man of great integrity … I have a concern when you put the entire power of the United State Justice Department behind anything. You can achieve an agenda. You can drive a message.”

“Volume II says after we’ve done 200 pages of research in Volume I, to say absolutely no conspiracy took place between the Trump administration and the Russian government, then Volume II goes to all the efforts they believe might have been involved to cover up the crime that never existed to begin with,” Woodall said.

The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia named Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash a County Leader of Distinction, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Rome News Tribune looks at some legislation that takes effect July 1, 2019.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, sponsored the bill creating the Georgia Data Analytic Center. It will be a warehouse of information on people receiving state services.

Currently, the information is collected and housed separately by the various agencies. The GDAC will merge that data, which can be used to track trends, zero in on efficiencies and provide an overall picture to assist in policy-making.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden’s bill to extend the weapons permit renewal time for active duty military serving overseas becomes law July 1.

The Armuchee Republican also helped private nonprofit volunteer fire departments who are called to fires by people who don’t chip in for the service. They’ll be able to take out liens against non-subscribers to recoup their cost.

Brunswick and Glynn County elected officials will hear from a representative of the Census Bureau, according to The Brunswick News.

The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and the Glynn County Elections Board are disupting a $35k bill for the 2016 runoff election, according to The Brunswick News.

“Joint water and sewer had an existing legislation on how they appoint members to the board. You have members appointed and elected positions. Initially, the (races for) elected positions were to be held in November elections,” former Elections and Registration Supervisor Tina Edwards said. “When state legislation pushed (non-partisan races) to the primary, JWSC submitted a new bill to mirror the state legislation.”

After the bill’s passage, the JWSC would hold its elections during primaries instead of general elections, and its runoffs would coincide with local primary runoffs, which the county pays for.

However, then-Gov. Nathan Deal didn’t sign the bill until nearly a day before the deadline to get new candidates on the primary ballot, Brunson said.

As a result, the utility held its 2016 race during the general election that year. Because no other local races went to a runoff, the utility’s race was the only one on the ballot. Because of that, the JWSC received a $35,000 bill to pay for poll worker labor, absentee ballot postage and rental fees, security and office supplies for polling places, among other things.

Bulloch County Commissioners are expected to adopt a FY 2020 budget, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Bulloch County commissioners are preparing to approve the fiscal year 2020 budget following a second public hearing during the upcoming commission meeting on Tuesday.

While the general millage rate will remain unchanged, the county will discuss a proposal to raise the millage rate for the rural fire district, which excludes the city of Statesboro and its surrounding five-mile district, which are taxed separately.

The Bulloch County Board of Education‘s new sex ed curriculum will discuss gender identity, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Bulloch County’s school system is rolling out a sex education curriculum that – in its second year, 2020-21 – will include gender identity and sexual orientation among lessons for ninth grade and in 2021-22 expand this to seventh and eighth grades.

The annual 10-day units of lessons during health and physical education classes in middle and high schools will address topics from the facts of the female and male reproductive systems in sixth and seventh grades to birth control methods in eighth and ninth grades. But abstinence is to be emphasized at every grade level, and sexual assault and violence prevention lessons are part of the curriculum for grades 7, 8 and 9.

“Because our teachers are new to teaching sex ed – not all of them but mainly our middle-grades teachers are new to teaching sex ed – we wanted to roll out the sex ed curriculum without gender identity and sexual orientation lessons the first year, because we felt like we wanted them to get comfortable with teaching the material,” Sarratt said.

Some Bulloch County seniors are asking for a property tax exemption, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A group of concerned senior citizens seeking exemption from local school taxes plan to attend Tuesday’s Bulloch County Commission meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Bulloch County Annex.

Sen. Jack Hill, who said he was invited by area residents, also plans to attend the meeting and “listen to what my constituents have to say.”

A percentage of county taxes paid by property owners goes to the local school board. Some senior citizens are asking to be exempt from paying those taxes, as they do not have children in the school system.

And, in order to accomplish such an exemption, a local governing body would have to request it by resolution, and a state representative would have to introduce a bill in the state legislature, Scott said.

“The citizens would have to talk to the school board,” who would have to make the request to the legislature, he said. Then if it is approved by the school board, it would go to the governor to be signed, and returned back to the county for a referendum for voters to decide.

Bibb County and Houston County Boards of Education were recognized as 2019 Exemplary Boards by the Georgia School Board Association, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Savannah will unveil a new zoning ordinance this week, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The first public hearing on Savannah’s long-awaited new zoning ordinance will be held at the 2 p.m. June 20 city council meeting.

“Our zoning ordinance has never been overhauled to reflect the numerous changes that have occurred in the last 50 years,” said Bridget Lidy, director of Planning and Urban Design. “This proposal will simplify our zoning code and provide much needed updates to parcels of land that have seen their use change as Savannah has grown.”

Flowery Branch voters will choose a new City Council member on Tuesday, according to the Gainesville Times.

Voting will take place 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at City Hall, 5410 W. Pine St. Early voting ended Friday, June 14.

Ed Asbridge, Missy Brooks and Chip McCallum are vying for the office vacated in December 2019 by Mary Jones, who died May 2.

The winner will serve out Jones’ term, which ends Dec. 31.

Kesha Gibson Carter announced she will run for an at-large Board of Aldermen seat, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will hold hearings on regulations governing live-aboard vessels, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The new regulations are required after state lawmakers passed House Bill 201 regarding so called “live-aboards,” vessels on which boaters stay overnight or longer. The law authorizes the Board of Natural Resources to establish an anchorage permit and to establish where vessels can anchor.

Boaters and people who live along estuaries may want to weigh in, said Karl Burgess, assistant director of the DNR’s Coastal Resources Division. Comments can be made at a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. June 17 in Brunswick or in writing.

“The first thing the department will have to determine is where anchorage areas can be or maybe where they shouldn’t be,” he said. Burgess predicted that the likely outcome will be exclusion zones that prohibit anchoring within a certain distance of features such as docks or developed shorelines.

While the legislation was supported by the Georgia Wildlife Federation and Georgia Conservancy, the Georgia Marine Boaters Association has concerns it outlined in a two-page statement it prepared to submit to the DNR.

It suggests that attended boats anchoring for less than 60 days shouldn’t be required to get a permit. GAMBA also “would not object” to a monthly anchorage fee of $40 or less with a 50 percent discount for seniors, military and veterans. The association requests that all coastal waterways be open to anchoring with specific restrictions it lists, including shellfish beds, navigation channels, and within 150 feet of marine infrastructure, including marinas, permanent moorings, boat yards, or other vessel launching or loading facilities.

 

14
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 14, 2019

The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter announced it will extend free adoptions through the month of June, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett Animal Welfare announced it is extending free pet adoptions through the end of June. Officials said the decision was made after they saw the community response to the shelter’s recent Shelter Pets Rock event and took into account the fact that animal intakes traditionally increase during the summer.

“Our Shelter Pets Rock event was a huge success with 39 pet adoptions in one day, but because shelter counts remain near capacity, we ask families who have ever considered adding a pet to their homes to do so now,” said Alan Davis, Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division Director.

During the first week of June along, 166 animals were brought to the shelter as animal intakes. That number towers over the 96 animals that were adopted at the shelter that week.

“Whether you are looking for fluffy puppies, cute kittens, playful dogs or loving cats, please consider adopting from the shelter at this time,” Davis said.

Kathy GCAS

Kathy is a female Hound mix who recently had puppies and is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Alicia GCAS

Alicia is a female Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Hunter GCAS

Hunter is a male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

14
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 14, 2019

The Magna Carta was sealed by King John on June 15, 1215.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses and dealt mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any future claim to absolutism by the English monarch. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England’s Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

On June 14, 1736, James Oglethorpe ordered plans to be drawn for a new city to be called Augusta.

On June 16, 1736, General James Oglethorpe arrived in England with Tomochichi, the Yamacraw Indian chief, Tomochichi’s wife and several other members of the tribe on a trip to meet the Georgia Trustees and King George II.

On June 15, 1740, Spanish troops attacked the English who were led by James Oglethorpe, at Fort Mose, two miles north of St. Augustine, Florida. With 68 English killed and 34 wounded, it was the heaviest losses sustained by Oglethorpe during his campaign against St. Augustine.

Happy birthday to the United States Army, established on June 14, 1775.

George Washington accepted the assignment of leading the Continental Army on June 15, 1775.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” One hundred years later, on June 14, 1877, was the first observance of Flag Day.

Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Fort Wilkinson on June 16, 1802, ceding two parcels of land in Georgia to the United States.

The Oregon Treaty was signed on June 15, 1815 between England and the United States, establishing the border between the U.S. and Canada.

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln addressed the Illiniois Republican Convention as a candidate for U.S. Senate and warned that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

On June 15, 1864, a funeral was held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta for Confederate General Leonidas Polk, who was killed the day before at Pine Mountain near Marietta.

The Atlanta Constitution was first published on June 16, 1868.

Bob Dylan recorded “Like a Rolling Stone” on June 16, 1965.

The Monterey Pop Festival opened at the Monterey Fairgrounds on June 16, 1967, often considered one of the opening events of the “Summer of Love.” Among the artists playing the Festival were the Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Macon-born Otis Redding.

Six Flags Over Georgia opened on June 16, 1967.

Atlanta Braves player Otis Nixon tied the modern record for steals in one game with six stolen bases agains the Montreal Expos on June 16, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp announced that the major bond rating agencies kept Georgia’s ratings at the same level, according to the Albany Herald.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that Georgia again secured the highest ratings of AAA with a stable outlook from the three main credit rating agencies: Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s. Of the states that issue general obligation bonds, only nine currently meet this standard. Georgia’s upcoming general obligation bond sale will fund more than $997 million in capital projects. The Peach State’s AAA rating allows for the lowest possible interest costs when going to market next week.

“This announcement is great news for Georgia, demonstrating our commitment to fiscal balance and ensuring we can meet our present and future obligations,” Kemp said in a news release. “Maintaining the Peach State’s AAA bond rating is one of my highest priorities as governor, and I am proud that we again secured this important distinction. Our fiscal leadership means that our bonds are highly attractive to investors, and as a result, enables the state to save taxpayers millions of dollars each year with low interest rates for borrowing.

“This rating emphasizes the strength of our economy and shows companies that we are a well-managed, reliable state in which to invest.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams said she’s still considering running for King of the World President, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Abrams, who spoke at the Women’s E3 Summit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, said she has not yet settled on the next steps for her political career.

“I am not being coy when I say that I have not decided what I’m going to do next,” said Abrams, the event’s keynote speaker. “I’m not going to make a choice because I feel a sense of urgency from others. I’m going to make a choice because it’s the right thing to do.”

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is said to be preparing for a run for United States Senate, according to the AJC.

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is lining up strategists and making a series of other behind-the-scenes moves as she prepares for a possible run for U.S. Senate against first-term Republican David Perdue.

The logistics executive, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018, is in talks with progressive pollster Cornell Belcher and Perkins Coie, a law firm with a large elections practice, to advise her potential campaign.

And she’s likely to hire several former Stacey Abrams aides, including communications specialist Abigail Collazo and senior adviser Karen Finney, said a veteran strategist who is not authorized to speak publicly about the discussions.

Democrats consider Georgia a must-win to flip control of the U.S. Senate, but the field has been slow to develop. After Abrams decided against a run, only one major Democratic contender is in the race: Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. Other potential contenders include former 6th District candidate Jon Ossoff.

Augusta University Health Center announced a financial restructuring, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Facing a $24 million fiscal year loss, the board of Augusta University Health System on Thursday approved a restructuring plan that merges the leadership of the health system and its largest single entity – AU Medical Center – into a single position.

The board’s bylaw revisions, which take effect beginning Friday, will remove the AU Health System CEO title from AU President Brooks Keel and place it with interim AU Medical Center CEO Philip Coule, who was appointed to the position earlier this week following the abrupt departure of Lee Ann Liska.

The new health system CEO job also will encompass the duties of the university’s Executive Vice President for Health Affairs position, one of the titles held by Liska.

The Valdosta Daily Times profiles native Valdostan Joyette Holmes, who was appointed Cobb County District Attorney.

“Judge Holmes is a servant leader in her community, and I am very excited to select her as Cobb’s new district attorney,” [Governor Brian] Kemp said. “I know Joyette will put the safety of Cobb families first and always do the right thing — even when no one is watching.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Cobb County, and I thank Gov. Kemp for the trust that he has placed in me,” Holmes said. “I look forward to ensuring Georgians within my jurisdiction remain safe and continue to prosper in our great state.”

Holmes graduated from Valdosta High School and attended the University of Georgia, where she earned dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and criminal justice. She went on to earn her law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in Maryland.

Before her appointment as the chief magistrate judge for the Cobb County Judicial Circuit, Holmes served in numerous roles, including as a prosecutor under District Attorney D. Victor Reynolds and Solicitor Barry Morgan.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is investigating a former county assistant solicitor over allegations of working as a defense attorney while employed as a prosecutor, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

According to a search warrant filed by a Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputy, Koran Corbin, a defendant in Hall County State Court, “retained (then assistant solicitor) Gregory McKeithen to represent him” sometime between April and May.

McKeithen, who started with the Gwinnett solicitor’s office in January 2019, resigned from his position May 17, the same day the search warrant was applied for, documents obtained by the Daily Post show.

In the warrant, the Hall County deputy wrote that on May 3, while McKeithen was still employed by the Gwinnett solicitor’s office, he “accessed Tracker, the statewide prosecution database maintained by the prosecuting attorney’s council, and accessed the electronic file for … State v. Koran Corbin, a Hall County criminal case.”

Solicitors are prohibited from working as defense attorneys during their employment, given the solicitor’s office prosecutes misdemeanor crimes.

In response to the warrant, McKeithen said Corbin “never retained” him for the Hall County case, and that the “limited discussion” via text message between McKeithen said Corbin was “regarding potential representation after Mr. McKeithen’s last day in the Gwinnett County Solicitor’s Office.”

Today is the last day of early voting in the special election for Flowery Branch City Council, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Lee County Commission says that property taxes will not increase under a new FY 2020 budget, according to the Albany Herald.

The Dalton Board of Education adopted a FY 2020 budget of $84.8 million dollars and anticipates no change in the millage rate, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Dalton Board of Education will not officially set the millage rate until later this summer after the school system receives final tax digest information.

School board members unanimously approved an $84.8 million fiscal year 2020 budget on Monday, up from $81 million in the fiscal year 2019 budget, that anticipates no change in the property tax rate. The 2020 fiscal year starts on July 1.

The budget anticipates $83 million in revenue, up from $80 million in the 2019 budget. The school system will reach into its fund balance to cover the difference between revenue and spending. The budget forecasts ending the 2020 fiscal year with a fund balance of $16.3 million.

State funding for Dalton Public Schools will increase by nearly $4.2 million to fund $3,000 pay raises for teachers and other certified staff. The state budget approved by the legislature earlier this year provides funding for a $3,000 pay increase for teachers, counselors and other certified personnel.

Rome and the Rome City Schools have been given an extension for disentangling school transportation from the local transit system, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Officials were in a time crunch to change the 35-year-old arrangement before classes start this fall. The Georgia Department of Transportation recently notified City Manager Sammy Rich they’ll have until Jan. 1.

“The Department recognizes that complying with the implementation date will still be challenging … Please begin educating parents and children on the new procedures as soon as possible,” the letter from GDOT Transit Program Manager Leigh Ann Trainer reads.

Shorter University has been placed on probation by SACS, the regional accreditation agency, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“The decision of SACS was based on a financial report for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2018,” Shorter’s Associate Vice President for University Communications Dawn Tolbert said in a statement. “The SACS notification does indicate that we must carefully monitor our financial planning and procedures to ensure that our financial status is strengthened.”

The school has taken steps in the 2019-2020 fiscal year to work toward improving its finances, she said.

The Hall County Commission presented a FY 2020 budget that includes a full millage rate rollback, according to AccessWDUN.

The budget features a full mileage rate rollback down to 9.688 mills. It also represents a 2.5 percent increase from the county’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

County officials say the millage rate rollback will result in no property tax increases for unincorporated county residents.

The overall budget is more than $276 million. Hall County Financial Services Director Zach Propes said the budget is indicative of a strong financial position for the county.

“The financial decisions that we’ve made over the past few years have really started to come to fruition,” Propes said. “It’s really setting us up to have a strong and sustainable operation.”

13
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 13, 2019

Anthony Coastal Pet Rescue

Anthony is a 9-week old male German Shepherd and Pomeranian mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Sierra Coastal Pet Rescue

Sierra is a 9-week old female German Shepherd and Pomeranian mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Gina Coastal Pet Rescue

Gina is a young female Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Gina was rescued from a graveyard and is growing up to be an awesome little dog!

Her foster family has worked with her to help her come out of her shell and learn to be trusting of humans.
Smart and quick on the uptake, she has learned “sit,” “wait,” “go,” and “trash” when it is time to dispose of her baggies.

Of course, it’s easier for her to follow commands when she’s not around a lot of people or other dogs because she LOVES other dogs, and would probably do best in a home with another canine playmate to play with.

Gina will continue to flourish with someone who understand she still needs a little time, patience and lots of love.

13
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 13, 2019

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers; Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Atlanta police will start warning Scooter Scofflaws, according to the AJC.

For the past 10 months, electric scooter riders have been allowed to flout the city of Atlanta’s code by riding on sidewalks and in other areas designated for pedestrians.

Atlanta Police officers have begun warning people who use scooters to get around town that they risk being fined if they aren’t riding in the street with traffic, according to a report by Channel 2 Action News.

“If you’re using anything with wheels to get around Midtown or downtown Atlanta, we ask that you be in the street following the rules of the road and staying with the flow of traffic,” Atlanta police Maj. Darin Schierbaum told Channel 2.

Governor Brian Kemp has appointed Joyette Holmes as the new District Attorney for Cobb County, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday announced he was appointing  Joyette Holmes as the DA. Holmes, who has been Cobb’s chief magistrate court judge for the past 4 years, will finish the remainder of the term for former DA Vic Reynolds, who was appointed by Kemp to serve as the director of the GBI. Reynolds’ term expires in December 2020.

“She is certainly one of our best and brightest in Georgia,” he said in a brief press conference. “As DA, I know that Judge Holmes will work around the clock to keep our families safe as well as our businesses.”

Chief Assistant District Attorney John Melvin, who was serving as acting Cobb district attorney until Kemp announced his appointment, will now move on to serve as Reynolds’ chief of staff at the GBI. He told the AJC that he will leave for his new post “as soon as possible.”

Holmes, who said she will run for the district attorney’s seat for a full, four-year term next year, said she will continue the office’s work to keep dangerous people off the streets and provide rehabilitation for people who need treatment by steering them towards Cobb’s Accountability Courts.

The Gainesville Times profiles new interim Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King.

“I am grateful for Governor Brian Kemp and the opportunity he has given me to continue my service to the people of Georgia,” King said in a statement. “My decades of experience in law enforcement have prepared me for this important job in state government. I look forward to restoring trust in the Department of Insurance and providing leadership that protects consumers, promotes public safety, and provides a bright and promising future for all Georgians.”

Kemp appointed King to fill the seat vacated by Jim Beck, who was indicted on federal charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

King began working with the Doraville Police Department in 1993 and became chief nine years later. In Doraville, he has implemented several youth education, crime prevention and anti-gang programs. To reach out to the city’s diverse population, he hired bilingual officers, placed signage in several languages on his fleet of police cars, and partnered with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to work on economic growth.

King has served in the military as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army National Guard and director of the joint staff for the Georgia Department of Defense. He is the former commander of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and has deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan.

King received his Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and public administration from Brenau and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) named members to a new House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality, according to the Daily Report.

“This is an issue which impacts all Georgians and demands a fact-based approach to problem-solving,” Ralston said. “I look forward to the study committee’s findings and recommendations which will be considered in the 2020 legislative session.”

The committee will be co-chaired by Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, and Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, Ralston said. Cooper chairs the House Health & Human Services Committee and is a medical administrator and registered nurse. Newton is the House Majority Caucus chief deputy whip and a physician specializing in emergency medicine.

The other House members appointed to the study committee are:

Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula
Rep. Carolyn Hugley, D-Columbus
Rep. Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs
Rep. Valencia Stovall, D-Forest Park
Rep. Darlene Taylor, R-Thomasville

The Speaker also appointed the following citizen members to the Georgia Maternal Mortality Review Committee:

Dr. Jane Ellis, medical director, Emory Regional Perinatal Center
Dr. Chad Ray, associate professor, Medical College of Georgia

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport will continue fighting legislative takeover attempts, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Deputy General Manager and CFO Greg Richardson addressed the chamber about what goes on at the airport during the business group’s June On Topic luncheon at the 1818 Club in unincorporated Duluth. The issue of the proposal pending in the Georgia General Assembly for the state to take over the airport came up during a question-and-answer session at the end of Richardson’s presentation.

“We will fight it because we firmly believe it’s the city’s entity, the city built it and the city (ran) it for however many years,” he said.

Legislation was introduced in the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year to take control of Hartsfield-Jackson away from the city of Atlanta, in light of an ongoing federal investigation into alleged corruption in the city’s government.

Richardson told the Gwinnett Chamber that several stakeholders in the airport, including airlines which operate there, support Atlanta’s running of the airport.

“We firmly believe the airport has been very well-run over the last 75-100 years,” he said.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) spoke in support of funding 9/11 victim compensation, according to the Gainesville Times.

More than 40,000 people have applied to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which assists those with illnesses possibly related to being at the World Trade Center site, the Pentagon or in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the attacks. More than $5 billion in benefits have been awarded out of the $7.4 billion fund. About 21,000 claims are pending.

Collins spoke Wednesday at a markup of H.R. 1327, which would provide for the fund for the next 70 years.

The country has seen “heroes become victims” as they deal with health problems related to their work following the Sept. 11 attacks, he said.

“Eighteen years later, our responsibility to these heroes remains clear. Congress must do more than memorialize their sacrifices — we must care for these heroes practically,” Collins said. “9/11 first responders, along with all first responders, deserve to have their heroism recognized through programs that mitigate the damage these servants and their families experience as a direct result of their sacrifice on behalf of others.”

Collins requested that the Congressional Budget Office submit more information about the anticipated costs of reauthorizing the fund.

“Let us keep our priorities straight and our government accountable,” he said. “It is good and right for us to understand the costs that first responders have borne in the wake of September 11th and to ensure that we respond meaningfully.”

Some Chatham County taxpayers objected to the Board of Education’s proposed budget, according to the Savannah Morning News.

When retiree Robert Slagel of Skidaway Island was in business and prepared annual budgets, he said people understood, “You’re not going to get what you want.”

As a Chatham County taxpayer, he believes the increased amount of money the school district has received over the past 10 years could be trimmed.

“My school tax now amounts to 55 percent of my tax bill as opposed to three years ago 50 percent. So where is this going? Every year it seems we have an increase, sometimes substantial,” he said, speaking before the Savannah-Chatham County school board at a public hearing Wednesday morning.

Three public hearings are required by law when an elected governing body decides to set the millage rate higher than the rollback rate, said Paige Cooley, budget director, in a presentation at the hearing. The school board’s public notice, published June 5, states the 18.881 millage rate, which the board tentatively adopted June 5, is expected to provide a 5.35% increase in net tax revenue. It set a rollback rate of 18.284. Because some property values have appreciated, the 18.881 millage rate is expected to generate more revenue even though it’s the same rate the board approved a year ago.

Macon-Bibb Commissioner Virgil Watkins says his home was invaded and robbed, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The intruder fled with Watkin’s book bag, stuffed with his broken computer and a watch. Watkins said he chased him to the porch but didn’t pursue him farther as he remembered he’d been sleeping comfortably in the nude.

“I was naked and bare-handed fighting a man with a gun,” Watkins said.

The intruder, later identified as 18-year-old Xavier Matthew Lewis of Macon, was charged with home invasion, aggravated assault and armed robbery, according to a Bibb County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Lewis had kicked in the front door while Watkins was asleep, the release said. The commissioner said he didn’t know if Lewis, who was wearing a bandanna and gray hoodie, had been in his west Macon home for minutes or for some time.

The teen shed his pants and continued to flee in a pair of shorts.

Lewis jumped several fences and ran into a briar patch near Keystone Street, where deputies took him into custody, the release said.

A group calling itself the Faith, Justice and Truth Project issued a report on “lost” sales tax revenue, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

As of this year, online retailers are required to collect the tax in Georgia, but the report from the Faith, Justice and Truth Project found that so-called “marketplace facilitators” — or online sites that connect consumers with a seller’s products and services — are hosting tax-free transactions that should be generating revenue for state and local governments.

Those untaxed products and services could be costing Georgia about $750 million a year, according to the report. A recent state analysis of a similar proposal put the figure closer to about $157 million a year.

“I don’t know of any Georgia community that would say, ‘Please, don’t give us any more resources,’” Billy Honor, who is the executive director of the newly formed Georgia-based advocacy group, said at a press conference held this week at the state Capitol. “This is a way in which we can do it and we can do it on a premise of fairness.”

Larry Ramsey with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia said tapping these marketplace facilitators — such as Walmart.com and Etsy.com — to collect the money is the most efficient way to ensure that sellers who are supposed to be charging the sales tax are actually doing so. Amazon agreed to start collecting the tax in Georgia years ago.

Sales tax dollars, Ramsey said, is the second largest source of revenue for counties.

“Every dollar of sales tax that’s not collected has to be replaced from somewhere. Generally, that’s going to be property tax,” Ramsey said, referring to the primary revenue source for counties. “The demand for county and city services is not going down. The cost for those services is not going down.”

A rezoning to allow a privately-owned outdoor recreation facility drew opposition, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Savannah-Georgia Convention Center Authority will replace the Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center Authority overseeing the Savannah Convention Center next month, according to the Savannah Morning News.

On July 1, Georgia House Bill 525 will go into effect, establishing the Savannah-Georgia Convention Center Authority, which replaces the local authority with a state authority that provides bonding capacity, as well as a tax-exempt status for the operation of the facility, bringing the Savannah Convention Center’s operation and governance in line with other convention facilities in Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint six of its 11 voting members, and local state lawmakers will share three appointments. The voting ex-officio appointments for the president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, Trip Tollison, and the president of the Savannah Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Joseph Marinelli, will remain.

State lawmakers have appointed [Mark] Smith, along with Benjamin Pelote and Ruth Quattlebaum to the new board, but their roles and titles are not yet known. Contacted on Wednesday, a spokesperson from Kemp’s office didn’t have an update on when the remaining names will be announced.

The new governing change also brings $20 million in bond funding to aid in the center’s expansion, which includes doubling the exhibit hall space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, 15 meeting rooms, 900 parking spaces, and more. The current authority had requested $234 million from the state for the expansion at the start of the 2019 legislative session. A hotel, which will be built with private funds, is planned just west of the center.

Augusta City Commissioners continue compiling the wish list for their next transportation sales tax, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta’s evolving wish list for the next Transportation Investment Act sales tax included some $739 million in projects Wednesday and continues to grow.

The list, which must be sent to a regional round-table by the end of June, is what the regional 1 percent sales tax will fund between 2023 and 2033 if voters approve renewing the tax next year. The 13-county Central Savannah River Area district was one of just three in the state to first adopt the 10-year tax program in 2012.

The current list is likely to be culled as city Engineering Director Hameed Malik said the tax is projected to raise $508 million over 10 years to spend on specified projects. One-fourth of collections is returned to the counties to use at their discretion on transportation projects.

The TIA is broken into three bands of three and four years each. Several projects emerged on “Band 1” in the list to be started first.

Flowery Branch City Council is on track to adopt a property tax millage rate the same as last year, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Flowery Branch property tax rate could remain the same as the South Hall city moves toward passing its fiscal 2020 budget, which takes effect July 1.

The tax rate is proposed at 3.264 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 per $1,000 in assessed property value. Under that formula, a $250,000 home would be taxed at $326.40.

Bulloch County and Statesboro are bracing themselves for a dispute over the integorvernmental service delivery strategy, according to the Statesboro Herald.

While retaining Jarrard & Davis LLP, a law firm that represents other Georgia counties, to deal with the city’s legal team and consultant, Bulloch County officials continued to express a preference for face-to-face talks between the local governments. Noting that the city still had not provided any statement of concerns, county commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson vowed that he will not sign for an extension of negotiations past the June 30 deadline.

“I’m disturbed by all of this … that first of all, we’re put in a position to spend taxpayer money to hire attorneys, and I guess why I’m disturbed about it is, I have had conversation with two councilmen, the mayor and the past city (manager) and I’ve asked them what issues do they have, and as of 6:02 on Tuesday evening, I have not received any issues whatsoever,” Thompson said.

Bulloch County and Statesboro officials in the past two years worked out agreements for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax renewal, a new Transportation SPLOST and the county’s participation in two city tax allocation districts through direct talks, Thompson observed.

Statesboro City Council, during its June 4 meeting, held a closed session to discuss “potential litigation” and upon returning to open session voted 5-0 to retain the Atlanta-area law firm Smith, Welch, Webb & White LLC, and four of its lawyers specifically, as special counsel for “negotiation, mediation and litigation” of the SDS.

12
Jun

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for June 12, 2019

Twilight HCAS

Twilight is a 2-year old female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Lexi HCAS

Lexi is a 2-year old female Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Smokey HCAS

Smokey is a 7-year old male Black and Tan Coonhound who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

For the third consecutive month, the Hall County Animal Shelter achieved a 90 percent live release rate, according to AccessWDUN.

On February 28, the Hall County Board of Commissioners formally adopted many of the recommendations set forth in an independent assessment of the Shelter by Best Friends Animal Society.

“We were thrilled to learn that Hall County Animal Shelter’s save rate has been 90-percent for three consecutive months after adopting our recommendations,” said Carrie Ducote, Senior Manager of Georgia for Best Friends Animal Society. During the Feb. 28 meeting, Ducote had said mentioned moving toward achieving a 90 percent “save” rate.

“Hall County is a great example of how any county can achieve a high rate of live outcomes with dedicated leadership, community support and a shift in shelter policies. It’s through partnerships like this that the state of Georgia and the entire country can reach a 90-percent save rate by 2025.”

At the recommendation of Best Friends, Hall County instituted a Community Cat Program to effectively control the feral cat population and a Managed Intake Program, which ensures all possible avenues are exhausted before an animal is surrendered to the shelter.

12
Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2019

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from the Constitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776. In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia. A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Former President George H.W. Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Federal officials announced they will not house unaccompanied minor immigrants at Fort Benning, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families said that the military installation was no longer available to shelter the children.

“The Department of Defense is an exemplary partner and we look forward to their continued collaboration as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develops efficient, cost-effective strategies to address temporary shelter needs for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC),” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Fort Benning DoD property in Fort Benning, GA is no longer available for use to provide temporary shelter for unaccompanied alien children.”

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security reported that in 2019, almost 110,000 migrants had attempted to enter the U.S. illegally in April, and the vast majority were families or unaccompanied children. For comparison 51,000 total tried to enter the U.S. illegally in April 2018.

Governor Brian Kemp is expected to name Doraville Police Chief John King as Georgia Insurance Commissioner, according to the AJC.

Doraville Police Chief John King is expected to be named by Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday to replace suspended Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, who last month was accused in a 38-count federal indictment of an elaborate scheme to steal $2 million from his former employer before winning the November election.

Kemp is expected to announce King, a Brigadier General in the Georgia National Guard and a native of Mexico, later Wednesday. King would be the first Hispanic constitutional officer in Georgia history.

He will replace Beck pending adjudication of his case. King is expected to be a candidate for a full term in 2022, when Kemp will also be on the ballot as he runs for re-election. Kemp’s aides wanted to narrow his choice to candidates willing to be on the ticket that year.

The Alpharetta City Council adopted a ban on e-scooters, according to the AJC.

Alpharetta took the preemptive move Monday night and banned dockless electronic scooters.

Minutes show that the vote was 5-0; two council members were absent who had previously voted to approve the ban.

The city of Lilburn on Monday night passed a 12-month ban on the devices. But Alpharetta joins Marietta and Woodstock in having outright bans.

Columbus City Council approved a $284.8 million dollar FY 2020 budget that includes $1 million to fight blight, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The $1 million allocation is nearly 18 times larger than the department’s average demolition budget of $56,000.

[Mayor Skip] Henderson said in April that the large increase in funding will “rid some of the neighborhoods from having to look at these burned out, skeletal remains of trailer parks and also take down some of the homes that have been marked for demolition that (the city) just never had the funding to do.”

Blight is an issue in every district in the city, according to [Columbus Building Inspections and Code Enforcement Director John] Hudgison, though it is more prolific in some districts than others.

Vacant and abandoned properties can have a negative impact on the entire community by decreasing surrounding property values, drawing crime and drug activity and reducing local tax revenue, as well as affecting the sense of pride homeowners have in their neighborhood.

Hudgison said homeless trespassing, arson, illegal dumping, junk vehicles, prostitution and scrap metal theft are also issues that plague abandoned properties.

Coweta County and its municipalities will sign an agreement tonight on disposition of proceeds from a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the November ballot, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Officials from the county and municipalities have been meeting to flesh out the list of transportation projects that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot. At their most recent meeting on Monday afternoon, they reviewed a list of projects and learned the vote will likely be for a maximum of $125 million instead of $100 million.

The hard deadline for having the project list and the intergovernmental agreement settled in time for the TSPLOST question to be on the November ballot is July 16. The TSPLOST would be a five-year, one percent sales tax for transportation projects.

If approved, Coweta’s sales tax rate will become eight percent.

The discussion and vote on the agreement is set for 6 p.m. at the county commission chambers, upstairs at 37 Perry St.

The Glynn County Board of Elections heard a progress report on a project to digitize voting records, according to The Brunswick News.

The elections office started the work in January after the Glynn County Commission agreed to fund the project for a year. Office workers assign barcodes to each voter’s records and then scan them into the database.

So far, board staff members have scanned around 27 percent of all records into the digital database, said Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell. They’re a little further ahead on the other end, he said, with around 40 to 44 percent of records assigned a barcode.

Currently, the board is aiming to get as close to half-way done by the time qualifications begin on Aug. 19 for the city of Brunswick’s municipal elections, he said.

In other business, board Chairwoman Patricia Gibson brought up an ongoing U.S. District Court case over whether the state’s current voting machines, set to be replaced prior to the 2020 presidential primary, should be used in municipal elections this November.

The state will provide new voting machines to local boards of elections sometime prior to the next presidential primary, but not in time for the municipal elections in November. Some localities were selected to give the new machines a test run in November, but Glynn County was not one of those.

The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission held the first of two Town Hall meetings, according to The Brunswick News.

The Lowndes County Board of Education adopted a $94 million dollar budget for the coming fiscal year, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The budget calls for $94 million in total projected revenues and expenditures, a $5 million increase over last year.

The biggest increase in the budget comes from the state of Georgia, most of it for instruction costs.

This increase — from $61 million to $65 million — reflects certified and classified staff pay raises approved by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year.

The Whitfield County Board of Education adopted a $184 million dollar FY 2020 budget, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Members of the school board approved the fiscal year 2020 budget by a vote of 4-0 on Monday. The budget has more than $184 million in total expenditures including some $33 million for capital projects including construction of two new middle schools. The fiscal year starts on July 1.

The majority of the general fund budget — 87 percent — is for salaries for teachers and classified workers (cafeteria, administrative, etc.). School board members approved a 2% pay raise for all classified positions, and the county system will also have to absorb some of the cost of a $3,000 raise for teachers proposed by Gov. Brian Kemp and passed by the state legislature.

“We do have positions which are not covered under the (state) allotment sheet,” said Chief Financial Officer Kelly Coon. “So any positions above and beyond what is funded on the allotment sheet, we would absorb totally. The 2% raise for classified positions are also funded locally.”

The budget dips into the general fund reserve balance for $630,837, leaving the system with $25.8 million in reserve there, although Superintendent Judy Gilreath said that may not be necessary.

The Hall County Board of Education is considering a property tax increase for its FY 2020 budget, according to the Gainesville Times.

The school district’s proposed budget includes about $2 million to hire more teachers to manage student enrollment growth and special education needs.

The savings this year could boost the district’s reserves, which stand at about $34 million, as it prepares a $270 million general fund budget for the 2020 fiscal year and 2019-20 academic year.

Schofield previously told The Times that additional revenues and expenses in the county budget were largely tied to teacher pay raises, about $3,000 per certified educator, which the state is funding.

Schofield said he also expects more than $1 million in state funding for ongoing school safety enhancements.

The Hall County Board of Education will pursue a property tax increase to fund this budget, and will host two more public hearings on June 24 before setting the millage rate.

The Gainesville City Schools Board of Education was recognized as a 2019 Quality School Board by the Georgia School Boards Association, according to the Gainesville Times.

Lilburn City Council adopted an ordinance that will ban new vape shops, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Lilburn City Council approved a vape shop ordinance that essentially bans any new stores devoted solely to selling vaping devices. Under the new ordinance, businesses would be limited in the amount of floor space they can devote to vaping devices and the amount of revenue they make from sale of those devices.

“We’re trying to get away from the standalone vape shops,” City Manager Bill Johnsa said. “That’s where we’re seeing the issues and that’s where you’re seeing the issues nationwide.”

Lilburn officials had been weighing what to do about vape shops since a moratorium was put in place in April. The moratorium was established because the city had a growing number of requests to open vape shops in Lilburn — Johnsa said there were about three requests that came in during the moratorium alone.

The new rules stipulate that no business can devote more than 25% of its floor space to vaping devices and affiliated products. Businesses also cannot earn more 25% of its retail sales revenue from the sale of those devices and products.

The Elbert County Board of Education will use a state grant to install new security cameras, according to the Elberton Star.

The Richmond County Board of Education adopted a $273.5 million dollar FY 2020 budget, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The budget includes a $3,000 annual salary increase for certified personnel, and $3,000 annually for licensed practical nurses. A grant is also funding a 2% increase for school nutrition that is being doubled by the school system to 4%, and all other staff will receive a 2% increase.

The state is also funding a 2% increase for bus drivers, but one driver says that’s not enough. Yolanda Brown spoke at the meeting and requested that the board consider giving drivers the same raise teachers are receiving. She said there is a significant shortage in drivers, and higher pay could encourage more people to apply.

Total revenues and expenditures for the district this year are $273,528,895. In terms of expenditures, 61% are spent on salaries and 26% on benefits, with another 13% on operating costs and temp services. Revenues largely come from the state at 64% and local taxes at 35%.

The Albany City Commission heard public feedback on the proposed $288 million dollar FY 2020 budget, according to the Albany Herald.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis asked for pay raises for employees, according to the Macon Telegraph.

For the upcoming fiscal year, however, the new Macon-Bibb County budget approved Tuesday does not include a bump in employee salaries despite last-minute efforts to do so. Several officials said that they didn’t feel the public could stomach another property tax increase to cover about $2 million in pay raises.

The $164.5 million budget for fiscal 2020 does not include a millage rate tax hike. The millage rate was increased a total of 6 mills the previous two years.

Davis has been outspoken about how pay disparities are causing him to have trouble retaining employees. His office posted a Facebook video June 4 that shows Davis ripping up a letter he sent to the mayor and commissioners asking for a 4% employee raise. He said they ignored the letter and asked for the public’s help.

There was a 1.5% cost of living adjustment in fiscal 2017 for all county employees.

The GBI has ruled the death of a federal inmate in the Chatham County Jail a suicide, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Sea Turtle nesting on Georgia’s coast has set a new record, according to The Brunswick News.

As of Tuesday, beach patrols from Tybee to Cumberland Island had recorded 1,726 nests. And the turtles keep coming.

“We got 12 nests last night,” said Kris Williams, project director of the Caretta Research Project, which operates on Wassaw Island.

Last month’s total of 1,030 nests for the coast was more than four times the 2018 monthly total. Last year’s entire season total of 1,742 nests is about to be surpassed, as well.

“It is crazy. All over the coast it’s just exploding. It’s awesome,” Williams said from Wassaw on Monday.

Mark Dodd, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist who coordinates the efforts of staff and volunteers in monitoring and protecting sea turtles, said if nesting continues to grow to a plateau in mid June he expects to end up with 4,200 to 4,500 nests. The previous record year was 2016 with 3,289 loggerhead nests.

Martha Zoller will return to the airwaves on WDUN, according to AccessWDUN.

“After spending the last few years traveling around Georgia and meeting Georgians from every walk of life and political persuasion, I’m excited to be back at WDUN to share how the sausage is made,” Zoller said. “You might be surprised at some of the insights. I can’t wait!”

Zoller’s show was a regular fixture on the WDUN lineup, until she left in 2009. In 2014, she went to work in politics, first with U.S. Sen. David Perdue and later for Gov. Brian Kemp, where she worked as a policy advisor and outreach director.

“Morning Talk with Martha Zoller” will be heard weekdays at 9 a.m. on WDUN AM550 and WDUN FM102.9, and it will be streamed live on WDUN.com, AccessWDUN.com and WDUN’s streaming apps, available in the Apple and Android stores.

Shawnda Griffin announced she will run for Augusta Commission District 1, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Griffin, who was born in Augusta but raised in Columbia, S.C., will face announced candidate Michael Thurman in elections next May. The winner will replace Commissioner Bill Fennoy, who can’t run after winning two consecutive terms.

Former Augusta Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator Jacqueline Humphey filed a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination by city officials, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Rome City Commission extended downtown parking limits to 3 hours, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Banks County Commission Chairman Jimmy Hooper announced he will not run for reelection, according to AccessWDUN.

“To answer any questions about my running for any political office, I intend to retire from public service at the end of my elected term,” Hooper said. “I truly appreciate the support I have received from my fellow commissioners, the entire staff of Banks County, the loyal citizens and especially the administrative staff.”

Hooper was elected Banks County Commission chairman in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. The seat will be on the 2020 ballot.

In Banks County, the commission chairman is elected by the voters and runs the day-to-day operations of county government.