The blog.

12
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 12, 2024

Nala (Pen 215) is a 5-year old, 19-pound female Chihuahua mix who is available for (free) adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Roxy (Pen 231) is a 6-year old, 19.5-pound female Chihuahua mix who is available for (free) adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Pen 232 is a 9-week old, 5.3-pound female Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for (free) adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

12
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 12, 2024

John Percival, an Irish Member of Parliament who served as a Georgia Trustee, was born on July 12, 1733.

In the British House of Commons, Percival served on the committee on jails with a young member named James Oglethorpe, who shared his idea about a new colony in North America for the deserving poor. Percival, like Oglethorpe became a Georgia Trustee, and during Georgia’s first decade, with Oglethorpe in America, Percival worked harder than anyone to champion Georgia’s cause and secure its future.

On July 13, 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, in which states ceded some claims to the west, and a process was set up for admitting new states.

Happy Bastille Day on Sunday, celebrating the 235th anniversary of Bastille Day, 14 July 1789, when citizens stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris.

On July 14, 1798, the Alien and Sedition Act became federal law.

The first three acts took aim at the rights of immigrants. The period of residency required before immigrants could apply for citizenship was extended from five to 14 years, and the president gained the power to detain and deport those he deemed enemies. President Adams never took advantage of his newfound ability to deny rights to immigrants. However, the fourth act, the Sedition Act, was put into practice and became a black mark on the nation’s reputation. In direct violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the Sedition Act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or government of the United States. Fourteen Republicans, mainly journalists, were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the act.

The United States Army Medal of Honor was created on July 12, 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation authorizing the award.

The first U.S. Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

On July 14, 1864, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 35, outlining the plan for the Battle of Atlanta.

On July 13, 1865, James Johnson as provisional Governor of Georgia, issued a proclamation freeing slaves and calling an election in October of that year to elect delegates to a state Consitutional Convention. Johnson had previously opposed Georgia’s secession and after the war was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson.

Savannah, Georgia-born John C. Fremont, who was the first Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 1856, died in New York City on July 13, 1890.

On July 13, 1960, John F. Kennedy was nominated as the Democratic candidate for President.

Lt. Frank Reasoner of Kellogg, Idaho died in action on July 12, 1965 and was later posthumously awarded the first Medal of Honor to a United States Marines for action in Vietnam.

Atlanta Brave Hank Aaron hit his 500th Home Run on July 14, 1968.

On July 14, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.

On July 12, 1984, Congresswoman Geradine Ferraro (R-NY) joined the Democratic ticket with Presidential nominee Walter Mondale. Ferraro was the first woman and first Italian-American woman nominated for Vice President. Mondale and Ferraro lost the General Election in the largest ever Republican landslide to Republican President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush.

On July 13, 2013, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter first appeared on Facebook.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp’s Office released June tax revenue numbers, according to a Press Release.

The State of Georgia’s net tax collections in June approached a total of $3.03 billion, for an increase of $185.4 million or 6.5 percent compared to FY 2023, when net tax collections totaled $2.84 billion for the month.

Year-to-date, net tax revenue totaled almost $32.95 billion, for a decrease of $182.2 million or 0.5 percent compared to FY 2023, during which the state’s motor fuel excise tax was suspended for more than half the fiscal year, until January 10, 2023. Net of motor fuel tax changes, net revenues for the year-ended June 30 were down 3.4 percent from fiscal year 2023.

The changes within the following tax categories help to further explain June’s overall net tax revenue increase:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections approached $1.33 billion, for an increase of $36.4 million or 2.8 percent compared to last year when Individual Tax collections totaled $1.29 billion.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

• Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were down $64.5 million or 39.6 percent
• Individual Withholding payments were down $47.2 million or 4 percent from the previous year
• Individual Income Tax Estimated payments increased by $9.1 million or 6.3 percent over FY 2023
• All other Individual Tax categories, including Return payments, were up a combined $10 million

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections totaled $1.55 billion for June, for an increase of $43.9 million or 2.9 percent compared to June 2023. Net Sales and Use Tax increased by $5.3 million or 0.7 percent compared to last year, when net sales tax totaled $751.3 million. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $791.6 million, for an increase of $41.9 million or 5.6 percent, while Sales Tax refunds decreased by $3.3 million or 43.1 percent compared to FY 2023.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for the month totaled $537.4 million, for an increase of $128.5 million or 31.4 percent compared to June FY 2023.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net increase:

• Corporate Income Tax refunds issued (net of voids) were down $161.6 million or 91.5 percent from FY 2023
• Corporate Tax Estimated payments decreased by $60.1 million or 13.9 percent from the previous year
• Corporate Income Tax Return payments increased by $1.1 million or 2.8 percent over last fiscal year
• All other Corporate Tax types, including Tax Assessment payments, were up a combined $25.9 million

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections increased by nearly $9 million or 4.7 percent compared to FY 2023.

Motor Vehicle – Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees for June decreased by $2.1 million or 6 percent while Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections increased by roughly $1 million or 1.3 percent over last year.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #07.09.24.01, implementing the previously announced appointment of John Blake Cunningham as State Court Judge for the Coweta Circuit, a previously announced appointment.

Governor Kemp spoke to Martha Zoller on WDUN, according to AccessWDUN.

Kemp discussed the memorial for Massey held on Monday in Gainesville.

“It was a great tribute, I think probably the best line that I stole from Governor Deal about Abit was he was the best Georgia Governor we never had,” Kemp said.

Kemp said Massey was loved by Republicans and Democrats alike.

“The rotary tribute a few weeks ago, where you had, myself, Governor Deal, Governor Barnes, and then Chancellor Perdue, our former governor, all did tributes for him at that event,” Kemp said. “Republicans and Democrats and it really spoke to his passion for Gainesville and Hall County, for the poultry industry, but also for our state universities, just so many things that cut across the political divide. And he was so well respected from both sides of the aisle. And I think that was certainly prevalent at the memorial service the other day.”

Kemp talked about his second trip to South Korea.

“One of the big announcements we have done up in the Hall County area was CJ Foodville, just an incredible company and their presence is going to grow not only in Georgia but across the United States. So that’s a big win for Hall County,” Kemp said. “It was just a great trip, we also met with some prospects over there that we are very high on and really down to probably the last two or three states that they are considering. And so it was really a timely trip for us. Not only say thank you to over 120 Korean companies that are doing business in Georgia, and literally hiring 10s of 1000s of our people and putting a lot of our contractors to work but also to work on new deals for the future.”

The governor discussed the growth seen throughout northeast Georgia over recent years.

“We have averaged about five projects a year in the Hall County area since I’ve been governor, and that’s off of the heels of, just the tremendous things that Governor Deal announced while he was in office, especially coming out of the Great Recession, when we all got elected on the statewide ticket in 2010,” Kemp said. “Growing jobs and getting our economy back going was the number one issue by far in that campaign.”

Kemp gave an update on the Rivian manufacturing plant being built in Georgia after Volkwagon invested $1 billion into Rivian.

“We are in conversations with them to better understand how that relationship will be and what that means for the Georgia site. I’m hopeful that we’ll know more in the next couple of weeks,” Kemp said “They still have told us that they are committed to building on the Georgia site. We have a commitment to them, and we are honoring that until that changes that is going to continue to be our position.”

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and held that Attorney General Chris Carr (R-Cobb County) may proceed in a lawsuit against the New Georgia Project, which was founded by two-time Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals this week overturned a lower court decision that was blocking the state from pursuing a civil enforcement action against the nonprofit New Georgia Project through the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

The case goes back to 2019, when the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission began investigating a complaint that accused the group of failing to report millions of dollars in election spending in 2018 and 2019.

The commission issued an order in 2022 finding reasonable grounds that New Georgia Project had failed to register with the commission.

“This decision is a victory for transparency in campaign finance,” Carr said of Monday’s appellate court ruling. “Rather than simply comply with Georgia law, New Georgia Project chose years of costly litigation and lost. These rules apply to everyone, and we will ensure they are upheld.”

New Georgia Project had challenged two of the state’s campaign-finance laws as unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment.

Monday’s decision did not address the merits of the group’s arguments. Instead, the appellate court ruled that the lower federal court lacked jurisdiction to issue an injunction blocking the attorney general from pursuing the civil case.

Fair Fight, also founded by Stacey Abrams, continues raising money, according to the AJC.

The voting rights group that Stacey Abrams started after her first gubernatorial defeat was credited with playing a major role in Democrat Joe Biden’s surprising 2020 win in Georgia, spending $65 million to aid the party’s success that year.

Four years later, Fair Fight officials are just hoping the group is on the financial mend, with its political action committee having raised $1.57 million in 2024 as of June 30, according to filings with the Georgia Ethics Commission.

Still, Fair Fight’s filing shows its fundraising is picking up and thousands of small-money donors from across the country continue to send the organization money, with 51,000 contributions since Jan. 1. The celebrity and big-money donors of 2019-2022 haven’t been so plentiful since Abrams lost her second gubernatorial election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022.

“With strong fundraising fueled by over 50,000 individual contributions since January, Fair Fight is moving forward on rebuilding to continue taking on the big voting rights and ballot access fights this year and for the long haul,” [Fair Fight CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo] said in a statement to the AJC.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine (R-Gwinnett) will be sentenced in federal court today, according to the AJC.

Facing up to 10 years in prison, former Georgia insurance commissioner and gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine has asked an Atlanta judge to be lenient when sentencing him Friday in a federal case accusing him of taking part in a $3 million health care fraud scheme.

Oxendine, 62, pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and agreed to pay almost $700,000 in restitution as part of a deal with prosecutors. The government wants Oxendine to spend three years and eight months in prison and pay a $700,000 fine, citing his “significant net worth” in court filings.

Oxendine, an attorney and insurance consultant, said his achievements as insurance commissioner and support from friends and family should factor into a lesser prison sentence than what prosecutors sought. He provided 59 support letters to the court describing his good character, including those from former insurance commissioners of other states, former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall and pastor Johnny Hunt, who served as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Prosecutors said Oxendine helped Gallups defraud health care insurance providers and received tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks. They said the arrangement between 2015 and 2017 involved fraudulent insurance claims for medically unnecessary genetic and toxicology testing by Texas lab company NextHealth.

Oxendine was indicted in May 2022, when he pleaded not guilty and was released on a $100,000 signature bond. He was due to stand trial in April on single counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the money laundering charge under the plea deal.

Georgia’s Secretary of State announced an audit to determine whether foreign citizens voted in Georgia, according to the AJC.

The audit will compare voter registration applicants whose citizenship status hasn’t been confirmed with federal data to verify whether they’re eligible voters.

The audit will compare voter registrations with a federal program called Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements to find potential noncitizens. The audit is expected to be completed in the coming days.

During the prior citizenship audit two years ago, the secretary of state’s office found that all ballots in recent elections had been cast by citizens, but there were 1,634 individuals whose registrations were pending until they proved their status. Those voters are required to show documentation before they’re allowed to cast a ballot.

The United States Postal Service is raising the price of first-class Forever stamps on Monday, according to Grice Connect.

On Monday, July 14, 2024, certain postage prices will increase in the United States. The new rates include a 5-cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp. The price will change from the current 68 cents to 73 cents.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission of mailing services price changes. The adjustments, approved by the governors of the Postal Service, will raise mailing services product prices approximately 7.8 percent.

Retired Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge J. David Roper, sitting as a Senior Judge, denied a request for anonymity of a witness in the lawsuit over a recall petition seeking removal of Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The organizer of a recall effort against Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz won’t be allowed to have a secret witness testify in a closed courtroom in any hearings connected to Girtz’s petition for a legal review of recall proceedings.

In that same hearing, Roper rejected a motion from the Athens-Clarke County government that it be dismissed from Girtz’s petition. Part of Girtz’s challenge to the legal sufficiency of the recall effort centers on concerns about how county elections officials have handled the process.

But a major issue that could dramatically affect the recall – namely, whether Girtz filed his petition for a court review of the effort in time to meet a legally established deadline – remains awaiting a written order from Roper.

New state election law that went into effect this month seeks to clarify the role of poll watchers, according to USA Today via the Athens Banner Herald.

In Georgia, poll watchers already have access to “enclosed spaces” in polling places and ballot counting centers. Now, they will be allowed to “sit or stand as close as is practicable” to what they are observing to ensure that all rules are being followed.

On the surface, the new law may appear to give poll watchers free rein to invade voters’ space and potentially disrupt the election process. But election experts hope that it will have the opposite effect by clarifying what poll watchers are legally allowed to do and not do.

Chris Harvey, the former elections director for the Georgia Secretary of State, was quick to point out that there is a significant – and legal – difference between a poll “watcher” and “observer.”

“A poll watcher is an actual legal designation, where you have to go through an appointment process and training,” Harvey told USA TODAY.

Overzealous poll “watchers” – like the self-appointed ones Harvey mentioned – have been a problem for Georgia in past elections.

The most infamous case came during the 2020 presidential election, when observers showed up to Atlanta’s State Farm Arena in Fulton County and claimed to see “suitcases full of ballots,” the supposed smoking gun of a rigged election. The assertion was false and led to a years-long harassment campaign against two election workers and the eventual disbarment of former lawyer and Trump advisor Rudy Guiliani.

The new law, Harvey explained, allows election managers to regulate access for regular citizens, or “self-declared election enthusiasts,” who try to pass themselves off as designated poll watchers.

“If election officials have to run around chasing poll watchers, telling them to stop looking over people’s shoulders, talking to voters, or taking pictures, then it takes away from their primary job.”

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus will host an annual conference in Atlanta next month, according to State Affairs.

Black lawmakers from around the country will meet in Atlanta next month to discuss issues pertinent to their communities, including increasing voter participation ahead of the Nov. 5 general election.

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus will host its annual conference Aug. 2-4 at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. This year’s conference theme is “Redeeming the Soul of America, Testing 1, 2, 3.”

“This is a critical conference for Black leaders from across the nation to come together and strategize, not only about the upcoming election, but the upcoming agendas for legislatures across the country,” Caucus Chairman Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Savannah, told State Affairs.

The three-day event will kick off with a roundtable discussion Friday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m. The talk will feature state leaders, lawyers, district attorneys, judges and elected officials. The conference will feature panel discussions between young Black voters in the Democratic and Republican parties, Gilliard said, as well as recent measures to remove books and Black history from schools.

The 75-member Georgia Legislative Black Caucus was founded in 1975 and is the nation’s largest Black caucus. Its members represent over 3 million people in Georgia.

The Biden Administration awarded nearly $80 million dollars to Blue Bird to convert a manufacturing facility to produce electric buses, according to WRDW.

The Energy Department will issue grants totaling $1.7 billion to create or retain thousands of union jobs and support auto-based communities that have long driven the U.S. economy, the White House said Thursday.

In Georgia, Blue Bird Body Co. will receive nearly $80 million to convert a site previously used to make diesel-powered motor homes to produce electric school buses.

The new facility is expected to create 428 manufacturing jobs and 250 construction jobs to Fort Valley.

The new 600,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will host the production of zero-emission electric school buses, with a particular focus on the education and training of its current and future workforce.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., hailed the plans.

“This is a ride to the future,” he said, “and this investment demonstrates the power of bipartisan cooperation to deliver tangible results for our communities.”

Hall County Commissioners voted to place a T-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation) referendum on the November ballot, according to AccessWDUN.

A Transportation SPLOST is a 1% sales tax collected on the sales of specific goods and services over a six-year period for a specific program of transportation projects

Taxes collected can only be used on transportation purposes such as roads, bridges, bicycle paths, sidewalks, and accompanying infrastructure and services necessary to access such facilities. A Transportation SPLOST would go into effect in April 2025, if approved in November.

Hall County District 2 Commissioner Billy Powell says through a press release, “There have been several moving parts for us to get to this point, including hard work from our local delegates, the coming together of the municipalities, and now it will be up to the voters to decide whether we will continue to move forward with a Transportation SPLOST.”

Hall County District 1 Commissioner Kathy Cooper adds, “As long as this community continues to expand, we will need to ensure our roads and infrastructure are maintained and improved in order to ease congestion, improve traffic flow, and make sure our citizens and visitors are as safe as possible when choosing to drive or walk to their destinations.”

Hall County District 4 Commissioner Jeff Stowe said. “This is an important step for our County and all other counties in Georgia who are seeking dedicated transportation sales tax funding.”

Macon-Bibb County and the United Way of Central Georgia are launching “United to End Homelessness,” according to 13WMAZ.

Reverend Jake Hall with United Way of Central Georgia is leading the initiative “United to End Homelessness,” and presented it to commission leaders on Tuesday. Hall is working with the county to close the gap between shelters, health centers and other non-profit groups.

He’s collected data from around the area through the “Show the Way” app and found the homeless population has been undercounted in recent years.

Macon-Bibb reported 160 people experiencing homelessness in 2023 between shelters and those living on the street.

But since they started using the app, Hall says they’ve learned the number is actually 250.

The app provides a more accurate count and can connect providers and street outreach workers with law enforcement and mental health professionals who can make a more concerted effort to help those in need.

Gwinnett County Board of Education members voted for an FY 2025 budget that will increase property taxes, according to AccessWDUN.

The new budget lowers the school system’s millage rate by 0.1 mills, but that number is not enough to constitute a full rollback, meaning residents who saw their tax assessments increase this year will see property tax increases. The average homeowner in Gwinnett County is expected to see an increase of just over 4.5 percent.

The millage rates will be 19.10 for Maintenance and Operations and 1.45 for the debt service rate. Funds generated by the M&O millage pay for the day-to-day operations of the school system, including employee salaries, instructional materials, student transportation and school utility costs, according to a release by GCPS.  The debt service rate pays down the School Board’s long-term debt from bond referenda passed over the years to pay for school construction.

The board held three public hearings to discuss the millage rate reduction prior to approving the budget. The first hearing was held on July 3 at 6 p.m. The second and third public hearings took place on July 10 at 11:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Pooler City Council has scheduled public meetings to discuss a proposed property tax millage rate increase, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The city has tentatively adopted a millage rate that would increase property taxes by 3.99%, over the rollback millage rate. This would result in a millage rate increase of .145 mills, to 3.780 mills.

The proposed tax increase will be approximately $10 for a home with a market value of $175,000 and $16 for a non-homestead property with a market value of $200,000.

Without the proposed tax increase, the millage rate would be no more than 3.635 mills.

Savannah City Council will also host meetings to discuss a proposed increase in the property tax millage rate, according to WTOC.

People will be able to give their thoughts on the proposed millage rate Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in City Hall. This after the City proposed maintaining its current millage rate.

Because of rising property values, city staff say the move will add more than $7 million to their upcoming budget. That money going toward projects the City says are crucial.

A five percent pay raise could be in store for Savannah’s public safety officials if the city’s millage rate proposal goes to plan.

Right now, the city is proposing to maintain the current rate of 12.2 mills.

According to a city spokesperson, if the move is approved, the proposed tax increase for a home that does not have a homestead exemption valued at $100,000 is approximately $40.16.

The first millage rate hearing was held Thursday morning with no public comments submitted.

After Thursday night’s hearing, the next one is set for July 25 at 2 p.m., which is when councilmembers are also set to vote on the rate.

Valdosta will host a parade honoring Ruth K. Council, the city’s first African-American council member, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A parade has been planned for Saturday to honor Valdosta’s first Black council member on her 90th birthday.

The parade, honoring Ruth K. Council, will start at 3 p.m. Saturday on Ruth Council Drive — named for her in 2015 — and proceed onto Bunche Drive, where she now lives, said her daughter, Lynette Council.

Because of high heat, Ms. Council will be watching from inside her home, her daughter said. The National Weather Service said Valdosta can expect a high of 98 degrees Saturday.

She ran for office in 1974, served a two-year term, was reelected in 1976 for four years and became mayor pro-tem in 1980.

Council ran for the Valdosta City Council in a time when the area was divided by skin color. “You stay your way and we’ll stay our way,” she said of residents’ thoughts at the time. “You live in your community and I’ll live in my community. You just stayed in your race. You knew what was the practice.”

“I say to young people, offer yourself. People will help you,” Ruth Council said in a past interview. “You’re not going to go into anything knowing everything but just offer yourself and accept help, and you’ll be surprised at what you can do. That’s in most things,” she said.

10
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 10, 2024

The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter is close to capacity and is offering free pet adoptions (dogs & cats), according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett’s Bill Atkinson Animal Welfare Center is reaching critical capacity and the county is launching a special adoption campaign in response.

Called 12 Strays of Christmas in July — Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement is offering free adoptions — and a holiday pet care package while supplies last — until Saturday, July 20. All pet adoptions include vaccinations, microchips and spaying/neutering.

“Our largest animals, the big dogs, are always the hardest to find placement for,” said Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division Director Katrina Amaro. “With the care packages and waived adoption fees, we want to generate some holiday magic to help these pets find loving homes or temporary foster placements until they find their forever families.”

For those interested in temporarily fostering pets, Gwinnett County provides food, preventive vet care and basic supplies like leashes at no cost.

For more information about adopting and fostering, visit GwinnettAnimalWelfare.com and follow @GwinnettAnimalShelter on Facebook.

The Bill Atkinson Animal Welfare Center is located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville.

Bando (Pen 143) is a 60.9-pound adult male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Lily (Pen 199) is an 11-month old, 37-pound female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Rowan (Pen 100) is a 4-year old, 62.5-pound adult male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

10
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 10, 2024

On July 11, 1782, British colonists including British Royal Governor Sir James Wright, fled Georgia.

Wright had been the only colonial governor and Georgia the only colony to successfully implement the Stamp Act in 1765. As revolutionary fervor grew elsewhere in the colonies, Georgia remained the most loyal colony, declining to send delegates to the Continental Congress in 1774.

Congress ordered the creation of the United States Marine Corps on July 11, 1798, after the Corps was inactive for a period following the Revolutionary War. From 1799 to 1921, Marine Corps Day was observed on July 11, but is now celebrated on November 10, the date of it’s Revolutionary War establishment.

On July 11, 1804, Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr was the sitting Vice President of the United States and Hamilton a former Secretary of the Treasury.

After he shot Hamilton, Aaron Burr quickly fled the nation’s capitol, making his way to St. Simons Island, Georgia, spending a month as a guest of Pierce Butler at Hampton Plantation.

Burr was a fugitive, but his killing Hamilton in a duel held a certain justifiable reasoning since dueling was not illegal, though morally questionable, to be sure. According to H. S. Parmet and M. B. Hecht in their Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, after the duel, he immediately completed, by mid-August, plans which he had already initiated, to go to St. Simons, “an island off the coast of Georgia, one mile below the town of Darien.”

Jonathan Daniels’ “Ordeal of Ambition” handles the situation this way: “With Samuel Swartwout and a slave named Peter (‘the most intelligent and best disposed black I have ever known’), Burr secretly embarked for Georgia. There on St. Simons Island at the Hampton Plantation of his friend, rich former Senator Pierce Butler, he found refuge…” As Georgia Historian Bernice McCullar, author of “Georgia” puts it, Burr was “fleeing the ghost of Alexander Hamilton” when he arrived on the Georgia island.

“Major Pierce Butler,” she relates, “had fought in the British army and remained in America after the war.” He had married a South Carolina heiress, Miss Polly Middleton, and acquired two Georgia Coastal plantations, which he ran like a general storming after the troops. In fact, he was so strict that none of his slaves could associate with any of the others. He also required anyone who visited his plantations to give his or her name at the gate. With this tight security, Burr should have felt safe..

Actually, Butler’s invitation to visit the island fitted the escapee’s plans nicely. Not only was the Hamilton affair a bother, but also Burr needed to get away from a lady by the name of Celeste; however, the real reason, aside from being near his daughter, who was also in the South, was the nearness of the Floridas. No real purpose is given why the Vice-President wanted to spend “five or six weeks on this hazardous and arduous undertaking.”

Daniels underscores that from this St. Simons point Burr could “make any forays into Florida he wished to make. He traveled under the name ‘Roswell King.” After his Florida odyssey, he planned to meet his South Carolina son-in-law “at any healthy point.”

Parts of the Hampton Plantation survive in the form of tabby ruins on St Simons.

Tabby Hampton Plantation TMR_0549 copy

Tabby Hampton Plantation TMR_0524 copy

A house in St. Marys, Georgia bears a plaque stating that Aaron Burr visited there in 1804.

Clark lived in the home from 1804 until his death in 1848. He was appointed in 1807 by then-President Thomas Jefferson as customs collector for the Port of St. Marys, a position he held until his death. The year Clark bought the house, he is said to have provided a temporary hideout to Aaron Burr, who was traveling in the South to evade federal authorities holding a warrant for his arrest after he killed Alexander Hamilton in their infamous duel in July 1804.

Verification of Burr’s stay in St. Marys is hard to come by. But it is confirmed that he stayed on St. Simons Island and Cumberland Island late in the summer after he killed Hamilton. That Burr knew Clark is not disputed. The two attended law school together in Litchfield, Conn., but there is no mention in either man’s records that Burr stayed in the home.

St Marys Aaron Burr Plaque TMR_1465

Aaron Burr House St Marys GA Front Side TMR_1470

Aaron Burr House St Marys GA Front

Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850, following the death of President Zachary Taylor.

On July 10, 1864, Conferderate forces retreated south across the Chattahoochee and burned the bridge behind them. General Sherman wrote later of the day,

General Garrard Moved rapidly on Roswell, and destroyed the factories which had supplied the rebel armies with cloth for years.

Over General Garrard was then ordered to secure the shallow ford at Roswell and hold it until he could be relieved by infantry, and as I contemplated transferring the Army of the Tennessee from the extreme right to the left, I ordered General Thomas to send a division of his infantry that was nearest up to Roswell to hold the ford until General McPherson could send up a corps from the neighborhood of Nickajack.

General Newton’s division was sent and held the ford until the arrival of General Dodge’s corps, which was soon followed by General McPherson’s whole army.

On July 11, 1877, a Constitutional Convention convened in the Kimball Opera House in Atlanta to replace the 1868 Reconstruction Constitution.

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” began on July 10, 1925, in which a Tennessee public school teacher was tried for teaching evolution, against state law. Three-time Democratic candidate for President William Jennings Bryan volunteered to help the prosecution, and famed lawyer Clarence Darrow defended John Thomas Scopes.

On July 11, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Aid Road Act, establishing a federal program of paying for highway development.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination for a fourth term on July 11, 1944.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on July 11, 1952.

July 11, 1969 was an epic day in rock and roll history, with David Bowie releasing “Space Oddity” and the Rolling Stones releasing “Honky Tonk Women.”

On July 10, 1985, “Classic“ Coke returned, joining the new formula on store shelves.

On July 11, 1985, Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan became the first major league player to strike out 4000 batters.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games broke ground for Atlanta Olympic Stadium on July 10, 1993; after the Olympics, the stadium was modified for baseball and became Turner Field.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia ranked worst among the states for two-day delivery of mail, according to 13WMAZ.

Data released by the Postal Regulatory Commission for fiscal year 2024 Q2 included scores for each state, evaluating on-time service for two-day First Class Single mail. These latest numbers from the postal service show Georgia as dead last, with a score of 63.70% on-time performance, below the national average of 87% and nearly 30 points the target goal of 93%.

In comparison, on-time performance in Georgia for Q1 was 87.68%.

Georgia also ranked low – 2nd worst – for three-to-five day performance, coming in at 51.80%. However, this is an area marked by lower performance overall, with the national average measuring 69.9%.

Georgia’s drop in performance for First Class mail –  which can be measured weekly via the USPS Service Performance dashboard and hit a low of 36% after the facility’s launch – also took the spotlight during a tense April 16 hearing on Capitol Hill. During that hearing, U.S. Senators including Georgia’s Jon Ossoff, grilled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy about the DFA plan rollout and its impact on residents and businesses.

The Georgia State Election Board adopted a new rule, according to Georgia Recorder.

The proposed rule, approved by a 3-1 vote during Tuesday’s state board meeting, would require local election officials to count ballots at the precinct level on election night and investigate any discrepancies prior to certifying the election.

Three Republican board members supported a measure they believe will help reduce the likelihood of inaccurate ballot totals requiring  correction long after an election is over.

The changes to election rules could be in place for this November’s general election if the proposed amendments are finalized next month.

The rule also states that election board members  should be able to examine all election records prior to a certification vote if there is a discrepancy in the voting data.

Democratic party election board member Sara Tindall Ghazal voted against a rule change that contradicts current policies mandating local officials to certify elections even if there are inaccuracies.

Certifying election results is a way to record the vote totals in a given election  and any unresolved issues can later be investigated by the courts, state election board and district attorney, she said.

“We’ve seen elections overturned on numerous occasions because there were votes that were not authorized,” she said “They were certified because they had to be certified. It went to a court, the court overturned the election and we ran a new election.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

The rule would give counties the authority to conduct a “minimum level of oversight” of election results before they’re certified, Salleigh Grubbs, who chairs the Cobb County Republican Party, told the five-member board before the 3-1 vote.

“There is a crisis of confidence in our elections,” Grubbs said. “The oversight of elections in each county is critical to restoring trust.”

But opponents argued that election officials in Georgia do not have discretion to vote against certification.

“Though the petition claims this rule will clarify ambiguity about an election official’s duty to certify results, the Georgia Supreme Court has consistently interpreted that duty as a ministerial one rather than discretionary,” the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University and the voting rights organization United to Protect Democracy wrote jointly in comments submitted to the board before Tuesday’s meeting.

“Therefore, this language conflicts with longstanding Georgia case law and would sow disorder in the state’s election administration processes, which already have safeguards to ensure election results are accurate and reliable.”

Sara Tindall Ghazal, the lone Democrat on the board, said the proper time to address complaints of voter fraud is after an election has been certified.

“There are procedures for investigating after the fact,” she said. “Without certification, a candidate cannot contest an election.”

Most Georgia delegates to the Democratic Convention back President Biden’s reelection, according to the AJC.

The AJC this week attempted to contact each of the party’s 109 state delegates and interviewed nearly half of them. Of the 50 people interviewed, all but two said they would back Biden’s reelection bid without hesitation.

The delegates also voiced broad support for Vice President Kamala Harris as Biden’s successor should he voluntarily step aside, though many stressed it was a moot point until the president deems otherwise.

In the interviews, Georgia delegates made clear that a last-ditch effort on the DNC floor to defeat him won’t go anywhere, even though party rules don’t require them to vote for Biden if it goes against their “good conscience.”

“He just has to ride it out,” state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick said of the turmoil. “I’m not saying the concerns about age aren’t valid, but the reality is we have two choices. Democracy or dictatorship. As long as Democrats stick together and do the work to earn every vote, this brouhaha will blow over.”

While the delegation’s support for Biden was overwhelming, it was not unanimous. Two delegates expressed concerns about the president’s reelection bid on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive topics that could cause them to lose their coveted spots.

One said that it has become clear Biden is not the same energetic candidate who defeated Trump in 2020. The stakes are different now, too, with Trump expressing more authoritarian rhetoric and a fresh U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found presidents have substantial immunity for some official acts.

A second delegate feared Biden was doomed no matter how his campaign scrambles to reposition itself.

“I’m very concerned. I don’t think he should run. I think he’s going to lose and the risks are too great. You’re not going to see a revolt from Georgia delegates. We are pledged to Biden. But it’s incumbent on party elected officials to tell Biden it’s no longer tenable.”

Both said they were skeptical anything could be done to change the party’s course just weeks before the convention. And both said they feared speaking publicly to distract from the party’s focus on defeating Trump.

Byron Hickey was sworn in to Columbus City Council weeks after his appointment was announced, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Superior Court Judge Arthur Smith III administered the oath of office to Byron Hickey on Tuesday morning, after which Hickey took his seat as a Columbus city councilor. After the brief ceremony, Hickey spoke to those gathered in Columbus Council chambers.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Columbus Council changed a city law to help a retired police officer who sued the city and won 14 years ago to finally be appointed to council despite controversy.

Despite the Columbus Consolidated Government’s pension board declining in June to recommend amending the CCG employee pension plan, the council voted to do exactly that Tuesday — Byron Hickey refused to finish his swearing-in process without such a change.

If Hickey accepted the council’s appointment to serve as the District 1 representative without this amendment, his pension would have been suspended. So this amendment allows Hickey or any other CCG retiree to still receive their pension payments while serving on the council.

Nobody mentioned this conflict in city law when the council appointed Hickey on May 28 to succeed the late Jerry “Pops” Barnes and fill the remaining two years of the four-year term. Barnes, who died April 14 at age 80 from an undisclosed illness, was the District 1 representative on the 10-member council for 17 years.

A week after he was appointed, and the same day the city’s probate court judge swore him into office, Hickey received an email from CCG human resources director Reather Hollowell informing him that his city pension would be suspended while he served on the council. That’s because the city’s pension ordinance considers councilors as full-time employees, despite the charter treating councilors as part-time employees.

That’s why Hickey’s other half of the swearing-in process, the one that was supposed to be conducted by a superior court judge at the June 4 council meeting, was indefinitely postponed. But nobody would explain why at that point.

After the council’s unanimous vote Tuesday, Chattahoochee Circuit Superior Court Judge Arthur Smith conducted the oath of office for Hickey, and the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Some McIntosh County residents filed a signed petition for a referendum on zoning, according to The Brunswick News.

McIntosh County voters may be deciding the fate later this year of a 2023 zoning ordinance on Sapelo Island that allows larger homes to be built in one of Georgia’s last bastions of Gullah-Geechee culture, something freed-slave descendant residents there say threatens the culture’s existence.

McIntosh County Probate Court Judge Harold Webster was handed more than 2,300 signed petitions Tuesday seeking a referendum to repeal the zoning law passed in September 2023 that allows for larger homes to be built in the small community of Hog Hammock.

“This is about us asking our local officials and wanting to work with them and them not hearing us, not listening to us,” said Jazz Watts, a Sapelo descendant and justice strategist for the coastal advocacy group One Hundred Miles. “So now we are demanding that they hear us, that they listen to us. The voters.”

The law allows for homes built in the Hog Hammock community, also called Hogg Hummuck, to be as large as 3,000 square feet of interior space. That more than doubled the size of homes previously allowed in the district, which were 1,400 square feet of heated-and-cooled space.

The ordinance also allows for homes to be up to 37 feet tall and for maximum lot coverage in Hog Hammock to be up to 4,356 square feet of impervious surface.

Residents whose families have lived in Hog Hammock for generations, since being freed from slavery following the American Civil War, were and still are staunchly opposed to the zoning changes. They say the new zoning ordinance is unnecessary and is a way to allow others to push them off of their ancestral land and make the mostly state-owned island a haven for wealthy, mostly White tourists and vacation homeowners.

The petition takes advantage of a clause in the Georgia Constitution that has only been used successfully once, when Camden County residents called for a referendum on the proposed Spaceport in 2022, said Megan Desrosiers, executive director for One Hundred Miles, the organization that helped to spearhead the petition.

The effort was truly grassroots, she said. One Hundred Mile staff and dozens of volunteers spread the word, carried paper petitions with them everywhere they went and encouraged registered McIntosh voters to sign it.

“Wherever I made my little rounds, I just took my petitions with me,” said 91-year-old Alberta Mabry, a Sapelo Island descendant who helped in the effort. “In church, meetings, wherever I went, and really, I got a lot of rejections. I said no problem. You know, no problem, whatsoever. But most of the people were very responsive.”

Organizers needed more than 1,764 signatures, at least 20% of the registered voters in the county during the most recent general election, to trigger the referendum, according to Georgia law.

With all petitions submitted to Judge Webster, the court now has up to 60 days to certify the signatures on the petitions through the board of elections. After the signatures are certified, the judge has 30 days to call for a special, countywide referendum.

“There will be a special called election,” Desrosiers said, should the certification process go as planned.

Personally, I think they should have submitted at least 3,528 signatures for a better chance of having their petition certified.

Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson cast his first vote after voters approved a referendum giving the Mayor voting rights in City Commission meetings, according to WJBF.

Before, mayors could only vote to break ties, but that changed after voters approved a referendum in May allowing the mayor a full vote.

“It felt great, you know I tell everybody this is just the beginning,” said Mayor Garnett Johnson following the historic vote. “I’ve campaigned and said many times we needed effective and efficient governance for our people, this is just the beginning of probably a long process. We’re ready for it, we’re excited about it, we’re excited about everything happening in the city.”

For the record, Mayor Johnson’s first vote was yes in favor of going into legal session.

Augusta Transit and Chatham Area Transit will each receive federal funding to purchase electric buses, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News.

Augusta Transit will get almost $12.1 million for quieter, safer, and more reliable electric buses. The agency also will receive funding to buy a bus simulator to use in workforce training.

The Chatham Area Transit Authority in Savannah will get more than $7.8 million to replace old diesel buses with electric buses, furthering the agency’s transition to zero-emission transit vehicles.

“This is about improving our transit services for all riders and converting fleets of diesel-powered buses into clean energy vehicles for the future,” said U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., who made the announcement of the funding Tuesday in conjunction with Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga. “This is a ride to the future.”

The money comes from the bipartisan infrastructure spending bill Congress passed in 2021.

The funding announced Tuesday is in addition to nearly $60 million in federal funding seven Georgia school districts received in January for new electric and low-emission buses.

Besides the money going to Augusta and Savannah, MARTA will get more than $25 million to build a transit hub in South DeKalb County for both bus and rail connections.

The Glynn County Board of Education approved the purchase of vaping detectors for some schools, according to The Brunswick News.

[T]he Glynn County School Board on Tuesday approved the purchase of vape detectors for all bathrooms at the county’s two high schools.

These vape sensors can even detect, and sound the alarm for, the presence of cigarette and marijuana smoke, said Senetra Haywood, the Glynn County School District’s executive director of student services.

The school board voted unanimously to approve purchasing the vape detectors for $174,513 from ProLogic of Acworth. The cost includes installation and four years of licensing.

Glynn County Board of Elections and Registration members heard about plans for backup power for voting equipment, according to The Brunswick News.

The battery packs have enough power to provide backup power when the regular power source drops below an unacceptable level.

Elections officials said they were provided more battery packs than requested, and they take up less space than the old battery packs.

In other business, Christina Redden, deputy elections director, gave an update on cyber and security activities in Georgia.
Redden, who recently attended a conference to discuss the issues, said the current threats are on against elections security. lnstead, the concern surrounds misinformation and malinformation.

Some of the misinformation is spread by people who believe what they have been sent via social media and other sources. While other information sent deliberately and maliciously includes inaccurate information about poll closures and the change in election dates.

Those threats are coming from Iran, China and Russia and include hundreds of fake Facebook pages, she said.

Redden said there will be greater security to ensure accurate election audits.

“They are more prepared than four years ago,” Redden said of state elections officials. “I was impressed with all the tools out there.”

Some Tift County property owners were surprised by rising property tax assessments, according to WALB.

Many homeowners in Tift County are stunned after they received a notice showing the potential for a major property tax increase.

Property owners in Tifton tell WALB that they received their standard tax notice, but they were shocked by the property taxes they may have to pay in the future.

Property taxes are based on a formula that factors both property value and the millage rate. The potential property tax that was shown on the tax notice was calculated from the mil[l]age rate in 2023 which means the increase came from adjusted home values.

There will be an emergency town meeting at the Tifton Municipal Courtroom, 130 E. 5th St. on July 13 at 10 a.m. to discuss this matter, but at the moment, there has been no set tax change.

Cleveland City Council members heard about the potential need to raise municipal service rates, according to AccessWDUN.

The White County community’s council held a public hearing Monday night that addressed the need for increased fees in such areas as water, sewer, garbage pickup, building permits, and other administrative fees.

City Administrator Kevin Harris told the council duiring Cleveland’s first hearing that officials are looking at a three-step increase over the next three years, while trying to keep the impact on citizens as low as possible and not impact residents all at one time.

City Finance Director John Solmon detailed to the council that some areas the fees that the City of Cleveland is charging are the lowest throughout most communities within northern Georgia municipalities.

An example of the increases is homeowner garbage fees which are proposed to increase by about two dollars each year for the next three years.

Cleveland Mayor Josh Turner said the fee increases will only impact those who use the services., telling WRWH Radio, “With inflation rising and the cost of doing business going up, it’s important that the people who utilize these services are paying the user fees that cover the cost of doing business, so we felt like it’s not right for the taxpayers to make up that gap.”

Administrator Harris said they will address this issue again at the August 5 council meeting with possible adoption expected during the August 15 meeting.

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) introduced legislation aimed at reducing human trafficking, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Macon Telegraph.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday to strengthen support for victims of human trafficking.

Ossoff chairs the Senate’s Human Rights Subcommittee, and Blackburn is the ranking Republican on the panel.

The bill would give the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime more flexibility in funding for programs that serve human trafficking victims and help increase training and technical assistance for organizations that receive federal grants to help those victims.

“Human trafficking in Georgia and nationwide is a crisis,” Ossoff said. “That’s why Sen. Blackburn and I are introducing this bipartisan bill to strengthen support and protections for victims of trafficking.”

“The modern-day slave trade of human trafficking is a $150 billion a year global industry that is devastating our communities,” Blackburn added. “By passing the Supporting Victims of Human Trafficking Act, the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime will be more responsive to the needs of organizations serving survivors of human trafficking.”

The new bill is being backed by key organizations that support victims of human trafficking, including Hope for Justice, Street Grace, Wellspring Living, 3Strands Global Foundation, Polaris, and Thistle Farms.

9
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 9, 2024

Rocket is an adult male Boxer who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

My name is Rocket, and I’m a handsome, purebred Boxer with a stunning tricolor coat. I’m 2 years old and weigh 60 pounds. I was brought to the shelter on 07/03/2024 because my family, who had me since I was just 7 weeks old, is having a human baby and couldn’t keep me anymore. But don’t worry, I’m ready to bring joy and love to a new forever family! I’m already neutered and up to date on all my shots. I’m house trained and get along great with other dogs, though I’ve never been around cats or kids. I’m a quick learner and already know how to sit, stay, and lay down. Plus, I’m even more beautiful in person!

If you’re looking for a loyal, well-behaved companion to share your life with, I might just be the perfect match for you. Come meet me at cage #57, and my ID is 660028. I can’t wait to find my new family and start our exciting journey together!

Dorie is an adult female Shepherd & Carolina Dog mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

This beautiful lady is Dorie! She arrived at the shelter as a lost girl on 6/25, and no one has come to reclaim her. Dorie is now hoping for a new, forever home where she will be loved and kept safe so that she never ends up back in the shelter. The volunteers describe Dorie as very sweet and friendly. She is quiet and calm in her kennel. She is also obedient and attentive to the people around her. Dorie is still quite young so we imagine she’ll open up and be more active and playful in a home. Please make sure you have the time and energy to keep up with this beautiful girl!

Dorie is approximately 2 years old, and she weighs 50 lbs. She is UTD on vaccines and spayed; she will be microchipped, and heartworm tested upon adoption. Dorie is waiting in run 79; her ID # is 659831.

Bruce is an adult male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

You can’t get much cuter than Bruce, even though he’s a little thin and has suffered a bit of hair loss. Just look at that sweet little face! Bruce came into the shelter as a lost boy on 05/06 and his family didn’t come to find him. He is about four years old and weighs just 40 pounds. He’s full of personality, loves treats, and will do what it takes to get them. Bruce is current on vaccines, and will be neutered, heartworm tested and microchipped upon adoption. Come meet him in Run 409 using ID#657396.

9
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 9, 2024

On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to General George Washington’s troops at the parade grounds in Manhattan.

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850. Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850.

On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

First Lady Jill Biden visited Columbus yesterday, according to WTVM.Continue Reading..

8
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 8, 2024

Peony (Bella) is a 6-year old, 80-pound female American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Cookie (Pen 210 C) is an 8-month old, 28.5-pound  male Border Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Cinnamon is a 3-year old, 10.6-pound female Chihuahua and Miniature Pinscher mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Pen 220 is a year-old, 24.5-pound male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

8
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2024

On July 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

On July 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Twenty-one year old Brooke Huckaby is the youngest Mayor in Georgia, according to WALB.Continue Reading..

3
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 3, 2024

Ginny is a 2-year old female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter Inc. in Eastman, GA.

Ginny is a terrier/lab who is about 2 years old. She is shy at first, but warms up quickly. She loves to run up and down the fence lines with the other dogs here at the shelter. We think she would do best in a home with another dog who can help her come out of her shell. Ginny is spayed and up to date on vaccines, flea/tick prevention, and heartworm prevention. For more information call (478) 231-6942.Please contact Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter (adoptions@fhanimalshelter.com) for more information about this pet.

Scooby is a young male Jack Russell Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter Inc. in Eastman, GA.

Scooby was adopted but unfortunately returned to us due to no fault of his own. He is a very energetic and loving, plus a little goofy! Scooby is neutered and up to date on vaccines, flea/tick prevention, and heartworm prevention. Scooby is good with other dogs and children.

Lobo is a 3-month old male Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Faithful Hearts Animal Shelter Inc. in Eastman, GA.

Lobo is a 3 month old Lab/Golden mix. He is super playful and active, and looking for his forever home! Lobo has had his age-appropriate vaccines, he is current on heartworm and flea/tick prevention, and he will be required to be neutered upon adoption when he is at the appropriate age. If you are interested in adopting Lobo, please fill out an adoption application

3
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 3, 2024

On July 5, 1737, James Oglethorpe sailed from England to Georgia with a warship and troop transports carrying a regiment to be stationed at St. Simons Island.

On July 7, 1742, General James Oglethorpe was victorious over the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the Battle of Gully Hole Creek; a week later Gov. Montiano would call off the invasion of Georgia from Florida, leaving Georgia to develop as a British colony.

On July 5, 1742, Spanish forces based in Florida sailed past Fort St. Simon, bypassing English forces there. That night, Oglethorpe’s troops left Fort St Simon and fell back to Fort Frederica.

Fort Frederica National National Monument on St. Simons Island

Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island

On July 6, 1775, Congress issued the “Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms” addressed to King George III, stating that they preferred to “to die free men rather than live as slaves.” The document was written by John Dickinson after a draft by Thomas Jefferson.

On July 4, 1776, the United States declared its independence from Great Britain.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826.

The Republican Party was formally organized on July 6, 1854.

The party was born of hostility to slavery.

In February [1854] a gathering in Ripon, Wisconsin, resolved to form a new party and a local lawyer named Alvan E. Bovay suggested the name Republican for its echoes of Thomas Jefferson. In Michigan there were meetings in Kalamazoo, Jackson and Detroit, and after the Act had passed in May, the new party was formally founded in Jackson in July. A leading figure was Austin Blair, a Free Soiler lawyer who was prosecuting attorney of Jackson County. He helped to draft the new party’s platform, was elected to the state senate in Republican colours that year and would become governor of Michigan in 1860.

Union cavalry under Gen. Kenner Garrard reached Roswell, Georgia on July 5, 1864, setting the town alight.

On July 4, 1868, the Georgia General Assembly convened for the first time after passage of the Constitution of 1868 with a legislature comprising 186 members, of whom 36 were African-American.

On July 6, 1885, Louis Pasteur successfully tested a rabies vaccine on a human subject.“

On July 3, 1889, the Georgia General Assembly held its last session at the Kimball Opera House, located at the corner of Marietta and Forsyth Streets in downtown Atlanta before moving into a new Georgia State Capitol. On July 4, 1889, the Georgia State Capitol was dedicated, then housing all three branches of the state government.

Happy birthday to Idaho, which became a state on July 3, 1890.

On July 3, 1913, the Georgia state Senate tabled a motion to allow the Georgia Women’s Suffrage Association to address the chamber.

Sliced bread was invented on July 7, 1928 at the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri.

On July 7, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act.

On July 3, 1970, the Atlanta Pop Festival was held in Byron, Georgia.

Among the artists playing at Byron were the Allman Brothers Band and Jimi Hendrix.

The Clash played their first live show on July 4, 1976 at The Black Swan in Sheffield, England.

The first female cadets enrolled at West Point on July 7, 1976.

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan on July 7, 1981.

Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985.

On July 3, 1986, President Ronald Reagan reopened the Statue of Liberty after a two-year restoration.

 

President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor posthumously to two soldiers involved in the “Great Locomotive Chase,” according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor on Wednesday for “conspicuous gallantry” to a pair of Union soldiers who stole a locomotive deep in Confederate territory during the American Civil War and drove it north for 87 miles as they destroyed railroad tracks and telegraph lines.

U.S. Army Privates Philip G. Shadrach and George D. Wilson were captured by Confederates and executed by hanging. Biden is recognizing their courage 162 years later with the country’s highest military decoration.

Shadrach and Wilson are being recognized for participating in what became known as “the Great Locomotive Chase.”

A Kentucky-born civilian spy and scout named James J. Andrews put together a group of volunteers, including Shadrach and Wilson, to degrade the railway and telegraph lines used by Confederates in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On April 12, 1862, 22 of the men in what was later called “Andrews’ Raiders” met up in Marietta, Georgia, and hijacked a train named “The General.” The group tore up tracks and sliced through telegraph wires while taking the train north.

Confederate troops chased them, initially on foot and later by train. The Confederate troops eventually caught the group. Andrews and seven others were executed, while the others either escaped or remained prisoners of war.

The first Medal of Honor award ever bestowed went to Private Jacob Parrott, who participated in the locomotive hijacking and was beaten while imprisoned by the Confederacy.

The government later recognized 18 other participants who took part in the raid with the honor, but Shadrach and Wilson were excluded. They were later authorized to receive the medal as part of the fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Democrats denied any cause for concern over President Biden’s debate performance, according to the AJC.

Georgia’s top Democrats have closed ranks around Biden, with U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock among the leaders who are leading the charge.

“The first thing we all need to do right now is calm down,” said Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson. “I’ve been working in Democratic politics for more than 20 years now, and I’ve never seen our party in such a panic.”

But more Democrats are going public with their concerns about the president. U.S Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said he was “horrified” by the disjointed debate, while U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas said it should disqualify him from running again.

In Georgia, former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux has become the most prominent state Democrat to call on Biden to withdraw. Bourdeaux, who is a guest on “Politically Georgia” today, said the debate proved Biden doesn’t have “the mental or physical stamina” to serve another four years.

“It’s no one’s fault, and it’s not fair. But life isn’t fair,” the moderate Democrat wrote in a commentary for the AJC. “And the best path forward is an intentional and organized process to select another Democratic nominee to beat Trump.”

The Fulton County prosecution of former President Trump and other may have hit an obstacle, according to the AJC.

Two days after Christmas in 2020, President Donald Trump met with the top two officials at the U.S. Department of Justice. Angry about his loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Trump allegedly told them, “just say that the election is corrupt, and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”

The statement was included in Fulton County’s indictment of Trump, evidence, prosecutors said, that the president had solicited false statements. It was one of dozens of actions Trump took that undergirded the racketeering and other criminal charges against him in Georgia.

But the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling Monday means it won’t be heard by a jury weighing charges against Trump. Under the high court’s decision, the president’s conversations with Justice Department attorneys are immune from prosecution.

The high court’s 6-3 ruling, which grants a president broad immunity for actions he takes as part of his official duties, will eviscerate some of Fulton County’s election interference case against Trump. And it will certainly lead to a no-holds-barred courtroom battle to decide which parts of the indictment remain and which ones must go.

The high court was straightforward in its ruling about the Justice Department contacts. But it was less clear about other key parts of the Georgia case — that Trump spread falsehoods and strong-armed state officials in an effort to steal the 2020 election.

One thing McAfee may not consider is the president’s motives.

Such an inquiry, the court said, “would risk exposing even the most obvious instances of official conduct to judicial examination on the mere allegation of improper purpose.”

University of Pennsylvania law professor Claire Finkelstein, who condemned the high court’s decision, said this greatly complicates the ensuing judicial review to determine what was an official act as opposed to a private or personal one.

That means it is possible there would be no judicial review if Trump actions were part of his constitutional duties as president, which are on an even higher tier of protection than his official duties, Finkelstein said.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #07.02.24.01, suspending Elvis Davis from office as Chair of the Dodge County Board of Education.

White Shrimp are now the Official State Crustacean of Georgia, according to WTOC.

House Bill 1314 has designated white shrimp as the official Georgia State Crustacean.

White shrimp hold significant cultural and economic benefits to Georgia residents.

According to the General Assembly of Georgia, shrimp makes up almost 80% of the value of seafood caught in the state annually.

They report that establishing white shrimp as the official Georgia state crustacean is key to recognize the importance of this crustacean in this state.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Artificial Intelligence proposed areas for regulating Artificial Intelligence in Georgia, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“(AI) will literally cure cancer,” Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, the study committee’s chairman, said during the panel’s first meeting. “However, it also has the propensity to do great harm. … It’s going to impact and change things like never before.”

Several legislative committees held hearings on AI last year, and a bill was introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives during this year’s legislative session to criminalize the use of “deepfakes” generated by artificial intelligence to impersonate candidates in political ads. House Bill 986 overwhelmingly passed the House but died in the Senate.

On Wednesday, the new Senate study committee agreed on a broad range of policy areas AI will affect that need to be addressed in any legislation Georgia lawmakers come up with, including health care, public safety, education, and transportation.

Overlapping all of those categories is how to regulate AI in a way that ensures the technology is being used ethically and transparently. A House committee planning to begin meeting soon will also take up that issue, said Rep. Brad Thomas, R-Holly Springs, who was the chief sponsor of the deep-fakes bill.

Georgia could be among the first states to adopt regulations for AI. While the European Union’s Parliament adopted AI legislation last March, Colorado is the only U.S. state to have done so, Hayley Williams, director of the state Senate Office of Policy and Legislative Analysis, told the Senate panel.

Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, said the study committee’s goal should be to foster innovation in the development of AI in Georgia with less emphasis on imposing restrictions like the EU model.

But Sen. Jason Esteves, D-Atlanta, said regulating AI systems to protect the public also must be an important goal.

“The primary function of government is to protect its citizens,” he said. “We should be ensuring we protect citizens from the potential impacts of AI.”

Albers said he plans to schedule seven or eight meetings of the study committee this summer and fall before the panel makes recommendations to the full Senate. The next meeting is set for July 17.

Douglas City Council Ward 2 member Kentaiwon Durham resigned his seat after pleading guilty to federal charges, according to WALB.

A city of Douglas commission seat is now vacant after the former commissioner plead guilty to wire fraud in federal court. A plea that holds a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In a recent city commission meeting, Douglas city manager Charles Davis announced the vacant Ward 2 seat. While city of Douglas Mayor Tony Paulk told WALB Commissioner Kentaiwon Durham resigned from leading Ward 2 in Douglas, according to Durham he didn’t resign. The seat is vacant per charter rules which states “upon the final conviction, the office of the public official shall be vacated immediately without further action.”

The guilty plea and now vacant seat comes after Durham pleaded guilty to submitting a PPP loan application and accepting over $20,000 from the program.

Although the plea agreement says the government will recommend a term of probation, Durham faces up to 20 years in prison — plus three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and forfeiture of assets.

According to the city of Douglas City Manager, Charles Davis, a special election will be held in November to fill the now vacant seat.

“Anybody from Ward 2 can reach out to the mayor or any of the commissioners, or city managers office to take any calls they need. But there will be a special election along with the general election in November,” Davis said.

The Georgia Court of Appeals denied an appeal by Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez to dismiss a lawsuit, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Georgia Court of Appeals has denied an appeal by Western Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzales who sought to dismiss a suit filed in 2023 that alleged she was not complying with state law in regards to carrying out her responsibilities as an elected prosecutor.

The original suit, called a writ of mandamus, basically ordered Gonzalez to comply with the duties of the office. The complaint was filed by attorney Kevin Epps who represents the plaintiff, Athens businessman Jarrod Miller.

During court proceedings in May 2023, Gonzalez “confessed” to the writ, but on the same day she filed an appeal to the mandamus.

Emerson also heard Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss the mandamus, which was based on statements she had previously made about not prosecuting certain criminal cases such as simple possession of marijuana and certain possession amounts of other drugs.

“The court finds if the defendant has adopted such a policy, she has grossly abused her discretion,” the judge wrote.

Gonzalez appealed to the higher courts, asking that the mandamus be dismissed as she contended that Miller did not have a standing in bringing the mandamus action. But the Court of Appeals did not overturn Emerson’s ruling.

Tybee Island Short Term Vacation Rental Owners are considering how new municipal legislation affects their investments, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Last month, nearly three years after Tybee Island City Council set a 90-day moratorium for issuing short-term vacation rental permits (STRs) in residential zones, the council set in motion a long-term plan to clear out STRs in those areas completely.

The ordinance, which passed 4-1, will drastically limit STRs on the island, making it so that those who have permits for STRs in residential zones can’t transfer them upon sale of the home or death of the owner. Areas zoned residential R-1, R-1-B and R-2 make up around 85% of the island’s land mass.

Although many of those who spoke referenced potentially ruined retirement plans, infringed upon property rights, and potential impacts to the island’s economy and small businesses, not every property owner on Tybee is against the ordinance.

Getting their neighborhoods ― and neighbors ― back was the crux of the issue for mostly year-round residents on Tybee. In 2020, during the pandemic, many of them realized they were the only person on their streets, surrounded by STRs and a revolving door of sometimes loud, disruptive guests. Tybee has 1,575 properties with STR permits, and nearly half, or 747, of those are in residential neighborhoods.

Marsha Marks and her husband purchased their vacation rental in 2008, and have been renting it out for the last 15 years, making their mortgage and property payments through their STR.

“Our dream was to retire there, or at least leave it to our daughter,” Marks said. “But she won’t be able to afford it because the taxes are ridiculous. So, after 15 years of running a very successful rental, after monitoring it very closely with no complaints, it just feels like they’re saying you’re out of luck.”

Property owners who oppose the ordinance, have largely voiced concerns for their own changing or ruined retirement plans, or loss of income. They’ve also insisted that the limitation would have a great impact on the economy – 51% of Tybee overnight visitors stay in vacation rentals, for an average of 4 nights and spend around $100 per day.

West requested an economic impact study in March, which is still going to happen, but the city has not yet signed a contract with a consultant.

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) is asking the feds to protect Georgia election workers, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Ledger-Enquirer.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., is asking the Justice Department (DOJ) and the FBI to make sure they’re taking steps to protect election workers this year and ensure the efficient administration of elections.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Ossoff requested that the agencies detail their processes for receiving and responding to threats, the steps they’re taking to make sure staffing needs are met, and how they plan to enforce laws aimed at protecting election workers..

“Protecting the integrity of our elections depends on protecting those who run them,” Ossoff wrote. “Yet over the last several years, election workers in Georgia and across the country have reported increased intimidation, harassment, and threats of violence.

“(The) DOJ must ensure the safety of election workers across the country in order to protect free and fair elections. I urge the DOJ and FBI to prioritize efforts to protect our election workers and to investigate any such threats expeditiously.”

Ossoff went on to cite a survey of election officials earlier this year in which 38% of the respondents reported experiencing harassment or abuse in their role.

Dozens of Bibb County voters’ qualifications are being challenged, according to the Macon Telegraph.

David Sumrall, head of the local Republican Party, challenged the legality of several voters’ residencies during an elections board meeting Monday. He alleged 45 voter addresses were listed as post office locations, 47 voted from North Carolina and 151 from other states.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections heard Sumrall’s claims but only accepted some of those challenges. The board voted that the GOP chair only provided enough evidence to challenge the 45 voters who had post office addresses, which puts those voters in “challenged status,” according to William Noland, the board’s attorney.

The challenges that revolved around out-of-state voters were dismissed because the board said he didn’t have enough evidence to make the claims legitimate.

“Our only course of legal action under this statute is to send them written confirmation and wait two federal election cycles, unless the voter confirms in writing that they have changed their residence,” board member Tom Ellington said.

A registered voter can be removed from the list if a voter does not respond in writing to the notice, and does not vote or appear to vote between now and two general elections for federal office from now.

“Based on my reading from the Georgia election code, we can’t remove inactive voters from the voting until two federal elections have intervened,” Ellington said.

A new Georgia law that went into effect Monday is meant to make it easier for any resident to challenge another person’s ability to vote.

Senate Bill 189, the law that Sumrall made the challenge under, includes provisions that change the rules for determining residence, eliminate QR codes from printed ballots, and require election results to be released within 1 hour of the polls closing or before 8 p.m., whichever comes first. It also increases the number of things that constitute probable cause for voter challenges, which include an elector being registered at a nonresidential address.