The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 19, 2024

Sausage is a young male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

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

Piggy is a young female American Bulldog mix puppy who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 19, 2024

According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Rome was founded. The one in Italy, not the one in Floyd County.

On April 21, 1732, King George II signed the royal charter creating the colony of Georgia. The King’s signature did not make the charter effective as several additional steps were required.

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes mounted up on horseback to warn of British troops on their way to confiscate American arms and to warn patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who the British sought to capture.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured….

About 5 a.m. on April 19, 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington’s common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded; only one British soldier was injured. The American Revolution had begun.

On April 19, 1775, British troops entered Lexington, Massachusetts, encountering 77 armed Minute Men.

British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

Two hours later, another confrontation between the British and American patriots took place in Concord, Massachusetts.

On April 21, 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first Vice President of the United States.

On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the blockade of ports in “Rebellious States.”

Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue can not be effectually executed therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States; and


Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned and to the protection of the public peace and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States and of the law of nations in such case provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid.

On the same day, the first blood of the civil war was shed in Baltimore as rioters protested against federal troops. Four soldiers and twelve civilians died.

On April 20, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned his commission as a Colonel in the United States Army.

On April 21, 1904, Ty Cobb made his debut in professional baseball for the Augusta (Georgia) Tourists in the South Atlantic League in center field; Cobb hit an inside-the-field home run and a double.

President William H. Taft learned on April 18, 1912 of the death of his military aide, Major Archibald Butts of Augusta, Georgia on RMS Titanic.

Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron,” was killed in action on April 21, 1918, shot by either an Australian gunner or a Canadian. At the time of his death, Richthofen has shot down 80 aircraft in aerial combat.

The honeybee was recognized as the official state insect of Georgia on April 18, 1975.

On April 20, 1982, the Atlanta Braves set a major league record, winning the first twelve games of the regular season.

Former President Jimmy Carter was appointed Distinguished Professor at Emory University on April 21, 1982. Carter holds an annual Town Hall in which he takes questions from students.

On April 20, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation authorizing a $165 billion dollar bailout for Social Security, saying,

“This bill demonstrates for all time our nation’s ironclad commitment to Social Security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have one pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire.”

On April 21, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Israel. From the press statement released that day,

The MOA reiterates for the public record our long-standing relationship of strategic cooperation with Israel. Strategic cooperation can only succeed when there are shared interests, including the commitment to building peace and stability in the region. It reflects the enduring U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. That commitment will never flag. The U.S. commitment to peace will also not flag. The President knows that a strong Israel is necessary if peace is to be possible. He also knows that Israel can never be truly secure without peace.

Thousands of Chinese students protested against their government on April 18, 1989.

By early 1989, peaceful protests against the government began in some of China’s largest cities. The biggest protest was held on April 18 in the capital city of Beijing. Marching through Tiananmen Square in the center of the city, thousands of students carried banners, chanted slogans, and sang songs calling for a more democratic political atmosphere.

On April 20, 1992, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation naming Pogo ‘Possum the official state possum of Georgia.

On April 19, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation declaring the peanut the Official State Crop.

On April 20, 1999, two students entered Columbine High School in Colorado and killed twelve student and one teacher, and wounded 23 others before shooting themselves.

On April 18, 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation establishing February 6 of each year as “Ronald Reagan Day” in Georgia and celebrating the date of President Reagan’s birth.

April 18, 2014 was the deadliest day on Mount Everest as sixteen local guides died.

The avalanche, which occurred around 6:30 a.m., swept over the Sherpas in a notoriously treacherous area of Everest known as the Khumbu Icefall, at approximately 19,000 feet. At the time, the Sherpas had been hauling loads of gear for commercial expedition groups.

The disaster, in which no foreigners were killed, reopened debates about the dangerous risks undertaken by Sherpas for their typically affluent clients (in addition to lugging most of the supplies for an expedition, Sherpas are responsible for such tasks as setting lines of fixed ropes and ladders for climbers), as well as the over-commercialization of Everest, where human traffic jams during the spring mountaineering season and massive amounts of litter have become common.

Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band died April 18, 2024, according to 13WMAZ.

Betts, a guitarist and singer, joined with brothers Duane and Gregg Allman in the late 60s and early 70s as the band from Macon broke through to stardom. Betts penned and sang what is widely regarded as the band’s biggest hit “Ramblin’ Man.”

“It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that the Betts family announce the peaceful passing of Forrest Richard ‘Dickey’ Betts (December 12, 1943 – April 18, 2024) at the age of 80 years old,” Betts’ family announced in a statement to Rolling Stone. “The legendary performer, songwriter, bandleader, and family patriarch was at his home in Osprey, Florida, surrounded by his family. Dickey was larger-than-life, and his loss will be felt worldwide. At this difficult time, the family asks for prayers and respect for their privacy in the coming days. More information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Attorneys for the Catoosa County Republican Party were in court to attempt to suppress Republican primary voters by allowing the county party to pick and choose candidate who can run in GOP Primary elections. From the Rome News Tribune:

U.S. District Court Judge William Ray heard the Catoosa County GOP arguments Wednesday, April 17, in Rome, Ga. They’re essentially requesting that he overrule a superior court judge’s order to qualify candidates the party didn’t feel reflected its “political positions or values.”

The case is representative of a move by far-right subgroups within the Georgia Republican Party — such as the Georgia Republican Assembly — to restrict which candidates get a valued “R” next to their name on the ballot in deeply conservative districts.

During arguments Wednesday, April 17, Judge William Ray showed a healthy degree of skepticism for the proposal.
“(Voters) really decide who is Republican on election day,” Ray said.

From the AJC:

The group crusading for the new rules, the Georgia Republican Assembly, unsuccessfully pushed last year for policies that could have given the Georgia GOP the final say over who can run as Republicans for governor, legislative seats and other state offices.

The organization vilifies Gov. Brian Kemp and other state incumbents who rejected then-President Donald Trump’s demands to overturn his 2020 defeat, and it has targeted legislative leaders deemed unworthy of the party’s brand.

But the movement has gained more traction in smaller, conservative counties, where most races for commission seats and other local offices are decided in GOP primaries. (In Georgia, the two major political parties handle the process for candidates to qualify for office.)

Superior Court Judge Don Thompson ultimately ordered the Catoosa election board to allow the four to qualify, and he threatened to slap a major fine on the Catoosa GOP if it doesn’t heed his order.

Bryan Tyson, an elections law expert who represents Henry in a separate state challenge, said a Catoosa GOP victory could change the face of politics in Georgia.

“If they are right about the law on this, it means the state party can control who runs for governor and other state races, and the county party can control who runs for county offices,” he said.

“That would outsource the power from the voters to the party,” he added. “The party could pick just one candidate for each position, and that would be it.”

No stranger to politics, Ray reminded the packed courtroom that he was the Gwinnett County GOP chair and a longtime Republican state senator before he was appointed to a superior court judgeship in 2002. In 2018, Trump elevated him to the federal bench.

Ray seemed amenable to arguments from Christopher Harris, an attorney for the local election board, who said the federal judge should abstain from the case because two other state court proceedings involving the same issues are still pending.

But Ray also explored the more substantive consequences of the rule change. He pressed Alex Johnson, a Georgia Republican Assembly leader who represents the Catoosa GOP, on the potential implications of his policy.

“At the end of the day, the Republican Party is who shows up to vote,” the judge said. He then questioned whether Johnson agreed with this notion:

“Voters really decide who is a Republican on election day.”

Think about this for a moment. I believe that if the state party had the authority to reject candidates who wish to run for office, they might very well have excluded Donald Trump from the 2016 Presidential Preference Party in Georgia, as Trump was not considered a mainstream Republican at the time.

Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 1015, a state income tax cut, and four other pieces of legislation that reduce state taxes,  according to a Press Release.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 17, 2024

On April 17, 1944, a fifteen-year old Martin Luther King, Jr., a junior at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, traveled to Dublin, Georgia to give a speech in a contest sponsored by the local black Elks club. During the bus ride to Dublin, King and his teacher had to give up their seats to white riders and stand for much of the ride. King won the contest, delivering his oration, “The Negro and the Constitution.”

On April 17, 1950, the United States Supreme Court dismissed South v. Peters, a complaint against Georgia’s County Unit System of elections.

Each county is allotted a number of unit votes, ranging from six for the eight most populous counties, to two for most of the counties. The candidate who receives the highest popular vote in the county is awarded the appropriate number of unit votes. Appellants, residents of the most populous county in the State, contend that their votes and those of all other voters in that county have on the average but one-tenth the weight of those in the other counties. Urging that this amounts to an unconstitutional discrimination against them, appellants brought this suit to restrain adherence to the statute in the forthcoming Democratic Party primary for United States Senator, Governor and other state offices. The court below dismissed appellants’ petition. We affirm.

On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang debuted at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. The world has been a better, if somewhat louder, place ever since.

Also present at the 1964 World’s Fair was the Coca-Cola Pavilion, which included a 610-bell electric carillon that would later be installed at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia, where it can be heard most days.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Kemp spoke in Cobb County about the 2024 Legislative Session, according to Atlanta News First via WRDW.

Touting another round of income tax refunds and pay raises for the state’s teachers, police officers and child welfare workers, Kemp, the event’s keynote speaker, once again called Georgia the best place to do business, mainly because of a thriving workforce.

“It’s probably our biggest recruitment tool but also our biggest challenge,” he said. “Every state in the country, coming out of COVID, was dealing with workforce issues and thankfully we have done better than most.”

He also noted another drop in the state’s income tax this year, from 5.75% to 5.39%. The legislation to eventually bring the income tax in Georgia below 5% was signed two years ago.

Kemp also discussed additions to the budget, including an added $1.5 billion to the state’s Department of Transportation for upcoming and ongoing road projects, and $100 million for school safety improvements, an issue Kemp ran on in his second campaign for governor.

Governor Kemp’s office website tracks 2024 legislation that he has signed and legislation that he has vetoed, though he hasn’t yet broken out his veto pen this year.

Elsewhere, Gov. Kemp discussed how he instructed the Georgia State Patrol to deal with protesters, according to the AJC.

After pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted traffic and blocked bridges in Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and other big cities, Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday he won’t allow demonstrations to shut down Atlanta traffic, too.

The Republican said he called Col. Billy Hitchens, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, late Monday to reinforce his position.

“I know I don’t need to make this call,” he said, recounting his conversation, “but you know how I feel about people blocking bridges, airports, and other things like we’re seeing around the country. I said if they do that, lock their ass up.”

The governor’s remarks drew wild applause from the roughly 300 attendees of the annual gala for Greater Georgia, the conservative political organization started by former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

In coordinated demonstrations, protesters blocked rush-hour traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge in California, squatted on roads leading to airports in Chicago and Seattle, and held protests in Miami, New York and Philadelphia.

United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was questioned in Congress about service delays, according to 11Alive via 13WMAZ.

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was castigated by Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff on Tuesday in a hearing on oversight of the United States Postal Service amid ongoing mail delays in metro Atlanta and elsewhere.

In a tense exchange between Sen. Ossoff and Postmaster General DeJoy, the Democrat said just 36% of mail in the north Georgia region is being delivered on time. Ossoff asked DeJoy when service reliability would normalize, and the postmaster general said “I think we’ll get where we need to be in about 60 days.”

“You don’t have months to fix 36% of mail being delivered on time,” Ossoff countered. “I’ve got constituents with prescriptions that aren’t being delivered. I’ve got constituents who can’t pay their rent and their mortgage. I’ve got businesses who aren’t able to ship products or receive supplies.”

In his concluding remarks, Ossoff again put DeJoy on the hot seat.

“You’ve got weeks, not months, to fix this,” he said. “And if you don’t fix it, 36% on time delivery, I don’t think you’re fit for this job.”

DeJoy responded to Ossoff’s questions about what USPS is doing to fix the issues in metro Atlanta by saying the agency had “engaged over 50 different management executives on site,” was “looking at truck schedules, revamping our truck schedules” and was “stabilizing the operation in terms of our machinery that we have deployed there” among other efforts to restore normal service.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

The Atlanta-area consolidation involved moving nearly 10,000 employees from 10 locations to the new Palmetto distribution center, he said.

“The issues that we had here were in fact management issues on the ground, were in fact employee attendance issues,” DeJoy said. “Now that the organization is engaged … I see the whole team getting better, understanding the transition we have to make.”

DeJoy said he expects to have the problems at both Atlanta and Richmond corrected by this summer.

“Richmond and Atlanta and the whole Georgia area will be the finest run part of the organization very shortly,” he said. “We have to allow time to transition.”

United States District Court Judge William Ray (ND-GA) heard arguments about whether the Catoosa County Republican Party could turn away prospective candidates from qualifying, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The county’s Republican Party decided in early March to block four candidates — three incumbents on the current Board of Commissioners, plus a former commission chair — from qualifying as Republicans on the grounds they don’t adhere to the Georgia Republican Party’s platform.

The candidates are Catoosa County Commission Chair Larry Black, District One Commissioner Jeff Long, District Two Commissioner Vanita Hullander and Steven Henry, a former commission chairman. All four candidates had previously won their seats running as Republicans.

During the qualifying period earlier this year, county level party officials refused to allow the candidates to qualify as Republicans. They argue that the candidates could have gone through the process to qualify as independent candidates.

“The party did not and does not believe the independent candidates are Republicans, or that they share the values, principles and policy goals of the party and does not want to be associated with those candidates,” the lawsuit states.

In early March, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Don Thompson ordered the candidates be allowed to qualify to run on the Republican primary ballot. To emphasize his point, Thompson imposed a fine of $1,000 per hour per candidate on the Catoosa GOP until it complied with his ruling.

Catoosa County Republican Party Chair Joanna Hildreth, and secretary of the Georgia Republican Assembly, stated the party would not comply and Thompson instructed the candidates to qualify with the Catoosa County Elections office instead.

On April 2, the Catoosa County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, following a hearing, voted 4-1 to keep the candidates on the GOP ballot.

Some Georgia prosecutors have picked up their lawsuit over the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Qualifications Commission legislation, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

Three district attorneys in Georgia have renewed their challenge of a commission created to discipline and remove state prosecutors, arguing it violates the U.S. and Georgia constitutions.

Their lawsuits filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta challenge Georgia’s Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, a body Republican lawmakers revived this year after originally creating it in 2023.

Democrats fear the commission has one primary goal: derailing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis ‘ prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation last year creating the commission, but it couldn’t begin operating, because the state Supreme Court refused to approve rules governing its conduct. The justices said they had “grave doubts” about ability of the top court to regulate the decisions district attorneys make.

Lawmakers then removed the requirement for court approval, a change Kemp signed into law. The commission began operating April 1.

The challenge is being led by Sherry Boston, the district attorney in the Atlanta suburb of DeKalb County; Jared Williams of Augusta and neighboring Burke County; and Jonathan Adams of Butts, Lamar and Monroe counties south of Atlanta. Adams is a Republican, the others are Democrats. Boston said their “commitment to fight this unconstitutional law is as strong as ever.”

The prosecutors say the law violates Georgia’s constitutional separation of powers by requiring district attorneys to review every single case on its individual merits. Instead, district attorneys argue they should be able to reject prosecution of whole categories of crimes as a matter of policy.

They law also violates the federal and state constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech by restricting what matters of public concern district attorneys can talk about when running for office, they say.

“There is no valid governmental purpose for restricting prosecutors’ speech regarding their prosecutorial approach, and that restriction undermines core values of self governance by weakening voters’ ability to evaluate and choose among candidates,” the suit states, arguing the law illegally discriminates in favor of viewpoints favoring harsher prosecution.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted for higher tuition in the 2024-25 school year, according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

Regents voted Tuesday to increase tuition and fees at the system’s 26 schools. The typical Georgia school will charge in-state undergraduates $6,466 in tuition and mandatory fees for two semesters next year, up 2.4% from $6,317 this year.

Tuition and fees will range from $3,506 at Swainsboro-based East Georgia State College to $12,058 at Georgia Tech.

The typical student will still be paying less than in 2022, though. After that year, regents eliminated a fee that was charged on top of tuition, lowering costs at almost all institutions.

University System Chief Fiscal Officer Tracey Cook told regents that universities are paying higher costs for items including technology, software, food, utilities and insurance, while they are also having to spend more on employee salaries. While state appropriations fund pay raises for most academic employees, universities must fund pay raises for most support employees out of their own funds.

“We must at times increase tuition to maintain a consistent standard of quality, to improving how we graduate and retain our students, and as discussed, keep pace with rising costs, while we look for ways to be more efficient,” Cook told regents during a Tuesday meeting at Gordon State College in Barnesville.

Costs to rent dormitory rooms and buy meal plans will also rise systemwide.

Regents had generally held tuition flat for four straight years and six years of the previous eight. Georgia’s typical tuition and fees are lower than all but two states in the 16-state region covered by the Southern Regional Education Board.

For students receiving lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships, the scholarship will pay for higher tuition. However, students and their families must themselves pay for mandatory fees. Although many Georgia students receive other types of financial aid, more than 35% now borrow to pay for college with some students borrowing more than $5,500 on average.

The university system also approved a further increase in tuition for students coming from outside the country. They will now pay 2% more than students from outside Georgia, who already pay tuition rates that are three times or more what in-state students pay. Institutions sometimes waive out-of-state charges.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

System Chancellor Sonny Perdue attributed the increase to inflation.

“Our institutions face increasing costs to operate, and we must sustain their momentum as some of the best in the nation at helping students succeed on campus and in the workforce,” he said.

Even with the tuition hike, Georgia offers the third-lowest average tuition and required fees among the 16 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states, according to national data.

The regents also adopted a new mandatory fee structure for the growing number of students taking classes fully online. Those students at 20 of the 26 institutions will be charged an online learning fee equivalent to their institution’s technology fee, as well as 50% of their institution’s mandatory fees.

In other business Tuesday, the board voted to extend the system’s temporary waiver of test score requirements. With state colleges already test optional, no test scores will be required for admission to 23 of the 26 institutions during the 2025-26 academic year.

The temporary waiver does not apply to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College & State University.

Test scores will continue to be required to apply for Zell Miller scholarships, which go to students who earned at least a 3.7 grade-point average in high school.

The university system began waiving the test requirements in 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The waiver has been in effect for all but 10 months since then.

Gwinnett County launched a new microtransit service pilot program, according to AccessWDUN.

The Gateway 85 Community Improvement District and the city of Norcross will combine resources to improve mobility in a zone around Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Interstate 85 starting later this year according to officials.

Approximately 36,000 residents in Norcross will have access to the new Southwest Gwinnett Microtransit Pilot. The area to be served has been identified as having socioeconomic disparities, with more than half of household incomes falling below 60% of the area median income, officials said Tuesday.

“By leveraging our resources and expertise to expand microtransit, we’re charting a new course that will serve our diverse community’s transportation needs,” said Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson. “Strong partnerships like this one are instrumental in helping us achieve mobility for all.”

The pilot will operate 14 hours a day Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays, for one year. Gwinnett County will provide four vehicles and manage operations.

The estimated $1.3 million cost of the program will be funded 44% each by Gwinnett County and the Gateway85 CID, with the city of Norcross contributing the remainder, according to officials with the program.

The agreement between the three entities will be in effect from Aug. 1, through July 31, 2025.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are considering measures to address complaints over short term rentals, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

At its Monday meeting, the Government Operations Committee instructed county staff to look at a number of options, including an outright ban on new short-term rental properties, at least in residential areas.

Short-term rental properties (STRs), many of which routinely host large crowds during University of Georgia football games, graduations and popular community events like the AthFest music and arts festival, have become a pressing issue for residents of many single-family neighborhoods.

STRs, made available to the public through third-party online platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb, have spurred complaints of crowds, noise, parking and other persistent nuisances, particularly from residents of Five Points and other neighborhoods close to the UGA campus.

Primarily at issue is an ordinance provision establishing a two-year “sunset” for non-conforming STRs, properties that were legal when established, but have since fallen out of compliance with local regulation.

The Glynn County Board of Education is moving forward with plans for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County School Board gave school district staff the green light Tuesday to present voters with a proposed new 1 percent countywide sales tax, known as ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).

The board voted unanimously to approve the proposed ESPLOST V, which would seek to raise $114.6 million within four years.

The board’s approval means school district staff can now begin preparing to submit ESPLOST V to the public for a vote in November.

Like the county government SPLOST tax, ESPLOST is a 1-cent tax on all retail sales countywide with the intention of raising money for specific public projects. Many perceive it as a more equitable way to pay for needed tax dependent projects.

The proposed ESPLOST tax would end sooner than the 48-month timeframe if the goal of raising $114.6 million is achieved earlier. Michael Blackerby, the school district’s assistant superintendent of operations, said that is a good possibility.

If passed by voters, ESPLOST V would address school district staff’s priority list of multiple school renovation projects, equipment purchases and new construction.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced public meetings to hear feedback on plans for the Civic Center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced the city’s public input process during his weekly press conference Tuesday. Public input will include a stakeholder meeting with arts groups, business groups and neighborhood associations, and a series of open houses.

More details on the public engagement opportunities will be released by the city in the future….

According to a press release from the City, “these sessions will include a review of the project background; provide updates on technical analysis, cultural landscape analysis, survey, and archaeology assessment; an opportunity for community feedback on questions focusing on the facility, community, and the future of the site with consideration to arts, land uses, community and public space.”

“Our goal is to make sure we left no one out of the conversation,” Johnson said.

Tybee Island is putting out barricades and other crowd control measures to address an expected “Orange Crush” crowd, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The founder of Orange Crush reacted to the city’s measures, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“I think it’s horrendous they’re doing all this because this is a public beach,” [Kenneth] Flowe said. “I think that it’s important for African Americans to be able to access public space without being harassed by policy makers. When you take that tactic, then you get folks who are saying, ‘I’m coming on that beach, come hell or high water.’”

Two decades before Flowe decided that a huge beach bash was the best way to put SSU on the map for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 11 Black students were arrested at Georgia’s first wade-in, a demonstration similar to a sit-in, on Tybee.

Prior to the wade-in demonstrations, Black people were forced to travel outside of the city for public beach access. After three years of wade-ins, Tybee’s beaches were integrated by October 1963.

“They were jeered at by beachgoers and arrested for disrobing in public,” Flowe said. “As a result of this, those young folks who were simply trying to use public water had criminal records. I just anticipated that the authorities would try to figure out a way to prevent the beach party if I didn’t conduct myself properly.”

The festival continued to be held and sponsored by SSU, drawing in students from HBCUs in Georgia and along the East Coast, until 1991. SSU severed ties with the event after a dozen arrests, a stabbing and drowning at a singular festival, but by that time Tybee Island had been solidified as a place for HBCU spring break celebrations. It continued, unpermitted, drawing crowds year after year.

In attempts to combat the large crowds and the potential for violence, the City of Tybee has implemented aggressive regulations in the past. In 2018, it prohibited open alcoholic beverages and implemented traffic stops and property searches, limited housing rentals, noise and some restaurants and businesses closed.

This resulted in a mediation between the group Concerned Citizens of Tybee and the city by the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement states that officials should not treat Orange Crush differently than any other special event, permitted or not.

The now unpermitted event known as Orange Crush by locals is shaping up this year to look similar to the event of years past: with lots of law enforcement and barricades to prevent the strain on Tybee Island’s resources that it brought last year.

In 2023, the third weekend in April brought more than 111,000 people over the course of three days, and the high volume of people caused clogged roads, traffic accidents, a road rage incident resulting in a shooting, crowding and complaints around drug and alcohol abuse, noise, illegal parking and litter, according to the city.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell visits Savannah April 23, 2024, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and other national, state and local officials will visit Savannah April 23 to celebrate $30 million in federal funding to address drainage issues around the Springfield Canal that have long impacted the historic Carver Village and Cloverdale neighborhoods.

The grant represents one of the largest Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) awards through the Justice40 Initiative, a program introduced in 2022 by President Joe Biden to advance environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

Enmarket Arena will host a gathering of leaders expected to include FEMA’s Criswell, Mayor Van Johnson, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director and Senior Adviser to President Biden Tom Perez, Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director James Stallings, City Manager Jay Melder and District 1 Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier.

Macon-Bibb Commissioners voted to spend $2 million dollars on jail upgrades, according to 13WMAZ.

The City of Perry will install new surveillance cameras in municipal parks, according to 13WMAZ.

More technology is on its way to Perry after a city council vote Tuesday. The goal is simple: make the community safer.

Several of the city’s larger parks already have security cameras, like in Rotary Centennial Park. Micah West can be found out enjoying the park occasionally.

Police Chief Alan Everidge says they want anyone walking or parking their car to have a safe experience.

“Every park in every community deserves to have the same service and that’s our goal,” he shared.

He says having the camera has already proven to be successful. They even used it as evidence in a 2022 homicide.

“The video from that park was basically the final evidence needed for a conviction,” Everidge shared.

Depending on the park, Everidge says they could get anywhere from one to three of the 360-degree multi-sensor surveillance cameras.

Everidge says video is kept for only 30 days, and no one sits and monitors it. He says the department has to track when they’re using it and the case they’re using it for.

The city will partially use a state grant to pay for the project. Last year, they received $1.5 million to bring technology that will help reduce crime. The grant would cover $390,000 and the city would pay $5,000.

Lorraine Cochran-Johnson is running for DeKalb County CEO, according to the AJC.

She is one of three vying to replace a term-limited Michael Thurmond. She is competing against fellow commissioners Steve Bradshaw and Larry Johnson, and because no Republicans filed to run, the position will go to whichever Democrat wins the May 21 primary.

Cochran-Johnson was first elected to the District 7 seat representing the eastern half of the county in 2018, winning a runoff election against an incumbent who was accused of sexual harassment by an aide and who had controversially voted to give himself and other commissioners a 60% pay raise.

Cochran-Johnson sees the DeKalb CEO position as a calling.

“DeKalb County has become my ministry,” she said, adding that her message for DeKalb is a prosperity gospel.

Both of Cochran-Johnson’s opponents have outraised her, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. She reported raising $118,556 through the end of January and had $53,157 on hand. Bradshaw raised $292,487 and Larry Johnson raised $216,206.

Former commissioners Kathie Gannon and Jeff Radar, who were political mentors, are backing Cochran-Johnson, as are the mayors of several DeKalb cities.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 16, 2024

Ace (Pen 154) is a 4-year old, 42-pound male Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Dobby (LC 17) is a 4-year old, 28-pound male Beagle mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Little Bit (Pen 134) is a 2-year old, 46-pound female Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 16, 2024

George Washington, recently elected President, left his Mount Vernon home on April 16, 1789 for his inauguration in New York.

“I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.”

On April 16, 1865, Columbus, Georgia fell to Union forces. The Battle of Columbus is widely considered to be the last battle of the Civil War. Though it is not unanimously held to be, a 1935 Act of the Georgia General Assembly declared it the war’s last battle.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw his first no-hitter on April 16, 1940 against the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1965. On April 16, 2006, a new, larger portrait of Dr. King was unveiled in the Georgia State Capitol.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Augusta, Georgia on a campaign stop this week in 1964.

He came with Gov. Carl Sanders, an Augusta native, as well as U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge, an influential state leader.

Johnson’s national election over Republican Barry Goldwater appeared certain, and a week later he would easily trounce the Arizona Republican.

Lyndon Johnson, however, would not carry Richmond County on Election Day 1964, and he probably got a hint of things to come during his speech before a crowd gathered in front of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

He was heckled.

At least four times during a routine stump speech, calls from the crowd interrupted the former vice president who had taken office less than a year before with John Kennedy’s assassination.

“We want Barry!” people would shout.

Johnson didn’t carry The Peach State because he had become unpopular among whites in the Deep South for his civil rights initiatives, according to Merle Black, an Emory University professor who has spoken and written on Southern politics over the years.

Black recalled the Augusta incident in his 1992 book The Vital South: How Presidents Are Elected, which he wrote with Earl Black. He also described Johnson gaining the crowd’s support with the anecdote about his earlier abuse by hostile crowds.

“Earl Black and I wrote in The Vital South that, ‘There was no more booing from the young Goldwaterites after he finished his story,’” Merle Black wrote in an e-mail from Atlanta. “President Johnson’s leadership in passage of the civil rights bill was the main reason he lost Georgia that year.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Court Judge JP Boulee (ND-GA) opened the trial over Georgia’s ban on third-party mass mailing of absentee ballot applications, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 15, 2024

Shorty is a young male English Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Valdosta Lowndes County Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

Catalina is a young female Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Valdosta Lowndes County Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

Harley is a young male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Valdosta Lowndes County Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

All hound all the time! Harley is loud and very proud of his houndness and is happy to tell you all about it. As a Hamilton Hound (our first ever true hound!), his handlers have learned that the off switch for the howls is to hold him in their arms. Which he loves. You can also turn it back on with some food!

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 15, 2024

On April 15, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress issued “Rules and Regulations,” which would serve as an interim state Constitution until the Constitution of 1777 was adopted.

On April 15, 1783, the United States Congress ratified a preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain, which was signed in November 1782.

RMS Titanic sunk at 2:20 AM on April 15,1912.

Jackie Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, became the first African-American professional baseball player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson scored the winning run in that game.

The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed on April 15, 1966 to assist and honor Confederate veterans. One of its most well-known projects was the “Lion of the Confederacy” memorial in Oakland Cemetery.

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and intellectuals in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, mourned the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaoban, considered a liberal reformer.

DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta and known for playing Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Star Trek series, was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 15, 1992.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

April 22d is the last day to register to vote in order to be eligible to vote in the May 21, 2024 General Primary Election and Nonpartisan General Election, according to AccessWDUN.

April 22 is the last day for Forsyth County residents to register to vote or to make changes to their name or address on the voter registration list for the May 21 General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election.

Forsyth County residents can verify their current voter registration status and Election Day polling place at Changes to multiple precincts and polling places were approved in Dec. 2023. This means a voter’s assigned Election Day polling place may be different from where they voted in previous years.

A general primary is an open primary held for each political party to select their nominees for the office to be elected in the upcoming general election. The general election for the contests that appear on the general primary ballot in May will be held on Nov. 5.

A Nonpartisan general election is an election in which candidates are listed on the ballot with
no designation of party affiliation, officials said.

Georgia voters do not register by party. Voters must select a Democratic, Republican or Nonpartisan general election ballot at the time of voting in a primary. A nonpartisan primary ballot selection will not include candidates from the Democratic party or the Republican party. The Democratic and Republican ballot styles will also include the Nonpartisan General Election contests. A voter’s choice of ballot style for the GP is independent of previous or future choices of ballot styles for primaries, according to officials with Forsyth County.

Mail delivery continues to be delayed in Metro Atlanta, according to 11Alive via 13WMAZ.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 12, 2024

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

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

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


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

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.

On April 12, 1861, Confederates in Charleston, SC opened fire on Federal-held Fort Sumter opening the Civil War.

During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

On April 13, 1861, Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter after 33 hours of bombardment by Confederates.

“The General” Locomotive was hijacked at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia on April 12, 1862, leading to “The Great Locomotive Chase.” The locomotive is now housed in the Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House; Lincoln survived nine hours before dying the next day.

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”

“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”

“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”

“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.

On April 12, 1961, Russian Commienaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to go to outer space and the first to orbit earth.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963; while there he would write his famed, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The Braves played their first home game in Atlanta on April 12, 1966.

Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.

By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus

The Space Shuttle Columbia became the first reusable orbital vehicle when it launched on April 12, 1981.

A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.

Thirty-five years ago, on April 14, 1989, “Say Anything” was released, marking the directorial debut of Cameron Crowe, who wrote “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and later directed “Singles.”

John Cusack, four years past playing a college freshman in The Sure Thing, plays graduating high school senior Lloyd Dobler. Ione Skye, three years after her debut in the very dark drama River’s Edge, plays the brilliant and shy Diane Court. And John Mahoney, four years before he found sitcom immortality as Frasier Crane’s father Martin, plays Diane’s adoring and deeply flawed father, Jim. Writer and first-time director Cameron Crowe was best-known at the time for the screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High — which is fondly remembered now as the launching pad for many respectable careers, but which Roger Ebert had called “a failure of taste, tone and nerve.”

On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Sunday is National Pecan Day, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Georgia is the largest pecan producing state in the nation, experts say. Making Georgia the right place to be for National Pecan Day.

“We produce somewhere around 100 million pounds annually,” said Lenny Wells, professor of horticulture and extension pecan specialist at the University of Georgia based in Tifton. “But we’ve been as high as 150 pounds. So we’re the largest producer.”

An average pecan harvest in Georgia is about 88 million pounds, enough to make 176 million pecan pies, according to experts.

April 14 is National Pecan Day It was created by the Shellers Association in 1966 to recognize and honor the workforce behind the cultivation of pecans in America.

“Pecans are not native to Georgia,” said Wells. “The industry started here in the early 1900s. Pecans are actually native to Oaxaca, Mexico, up through the river systems of eastern central Texas, up into the Mississippi River Valley and its tributaries all the way up to Iowa. So it’s got a really big native range.”

A nut that’s not a nut

“They’re actually what’s called a drupe,” said Wells. “So we’re actually eating the seed, not necessarily the fruit part. Tree nuts kind of have the fruit and seed all together. But with a drupe, you have a kind of fleshy fruit on the outside and the hard dry seed is on the inside. That’s the part that we eat.”

“They make a really good snack,” said Wells. “One of my favorite ways to eat them is roasted with olive oil. There are a lot of health benefits to eating pecans. Pecans are good for your heart. They’re good for lowering your bad cholesterol. They have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re high in antioxidants.”

Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia Executive Director Pete Skandalakis will take up the question of whether to prosecute Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones (R-Jackson) for his role in the aftermath of the 2020 election, according to the Associated Press via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia announced Thursday that its executive director, Pete Skandalakis, will handle the matter after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was barred from prosecuting Jones as part of her election interference case against former President Donald Trump and others.

Jones was one of 16 state Republicans who signed a certificate stating that Trump had won Georgia and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors even though Democrat Joe Biden had been declared the winner in the state. As a state senator in the wake of the election, he also sought a special session of Georgia’s Legislature aimed at overturning Biden’s narrow win in the state.

As Willis was investigating possible illegal election meddling by Trump and others, Jones argued that Willis should not be able to pursue charges against him because she had hosted a fundraiser for his Democratic opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race. Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled in July 2022 that Willis’ actions created an “actual and untenable” conflict of interest.

McBurney’s ruling left it up to the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council, a nonpartisan state agency that supports district attorneys, to appoint a prosecutor to decide whether Jones should be charged. Right after Trump and the others were indicted, Skandalakis said he would begin looking for an appropriate prosecutor. But he instead decided to appoint himself.

The statement announcing Skandalakis’ appointment cites state bar rules and says that “no further comments will be made at this time.”

“I’m happy to see this process move forward and look forward to the opportunity to get this charade behind me,” Jones said. “Fani Willis has made a mockery of this legal process, as she tends to do. I look forward to a quick resolution and moving forward with the business of the state of Georgia.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Macon Telegraph:

A Fulton County judge disqualified Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis nearly two years ago from looking into Jones’ connection to the election interference case, ruling her hosting of a campaign fund-raiser for Jones’ opponent in the 2022 race constituted a conflict of interest.

The investigation of Jones has been in limbo since then, while Willis went on to gain a grand jury indictment last summer charging former President Donald Trump and multiple co-defendants with taking part in a conspiracy to overturn Democrat Biden’s win in Georgia and award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Republican Trump.ward to a quick resolution and moving forward with the business of the state of Georgia.”

Meanwhile, Willis continues to move ahead in prosecuting Trump and the other co-defendants. The case hit a snag in January when a lawyer for one of the co-defendants filed a motion accusing Willis of having an improper relationship with Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she hired to lead the case.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled last month that Willis could remain on the case only if Wade resigned, which he did several hours after the judge handed down the decision.

Former President Trump highlighted Brian Jack’s campaign for Congress from the Third District, according to the AJC.

The former aide turned U.S. House candidate was the only person to greet Trump as he arrived in Atlanta and joined the former president as he delivered impromptu remarks to reporters. Between questions about Arizona’s abortion ban and the Fulton County election interference case, Trump introduced Jack to the national media.

“Do you know Brian Jack?” Trump asked. “He is going to be a fantastic congressman. District 3. Very simple name, don’t turn it around, Brian Jack, Jack Brian.”

Jack recently joined the wide-open race for Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District, and his campaign will test the power of Trump’s endorsement in one of the South’s most conservative districts.

Jack is also the rare candidate who is attempting to meld together Trump’s MAGA base with a more mainstream strain of conservatism. He also served as a deputy to ex-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and can tap the Californian’s vast fundraising network.

Later today, Jack reports the early fruits of his labor: His campaign said it has raised more than $600,000 since entering the race about three weeks ago. That could give him a big early boost over his Republican primary rivals, which include former Senate GOP leader Mike Dugan, ex-state Sen. Mike Crane and ex-state Rep. Philip Singleton.

Jack also rolled out endorsements from Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. And he unveiled a 30-second ad replete with images of Jack and Trump in the Oval Office and on the campaign trail. It ends with Trump calling Jack a tough, conservative “fighter.”

Former President Trump also discussed abortion laws, according to the AJC.

Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday while in Atlanta for a fundraiser that a 160-year-old Arizona law that bans nearly all abortions is too restrictive, and he called on Republicans to overhaul the measure “very quickly.”

But Trump stopped short of elaborating on what level of abortion restrictions he would support even as he defended the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

Trump said earlier this week that abortion should be left to the states to decide, even though he took aim Wednesday at Arizona after its state Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law that bans the procedure in most cases.

“It’ll be straightened out. And as you know, it’s all about states’ rights,” Trump told reporters. “It’ll be straightened out, and I’m sure that the governor and everybody else are going to bring it back into reason and that’ll be taken care of very quickly.”

Pressed during a stop at an Atlanta Chick-fil-A, Trump again tried to sidestep questions asking for specificity on his abortion stance, including when asked whether physicians should face punishment for performing the procedure.

“Let that be to the states. Everything we’re doing now is states and states’ rights. And what we wanted to do is get it back to the states,” he said. “Because for 53 years, it’s been a fight. And now the states are handling it.”

Polls show Biden and Trump in a tight race in Georgia, and Republicans say they can’t just rely on the Democrat’s low approval ratings to recapture the state in November.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R-Cobb County) spoke at the Jekyll Island Convention Center, according to The Brunswick News.

“We have to continue to build our workforce,” he said. “Tomorrow’s workforce is in today’s classrooms.”

The state’s strong right to work laws help attract employers, he said.

The state must continue to invest in the ports in Brunswick and Savannah.

The lack of workforce housing is a concern, he said.

“People want to live in the community where they work,” he said. “Georgia is the best place to live and work,”

One reason for the state’s robust economy is the decisions made to keep much of the state open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We made tough decisions even when they weren’t popular at the time,” he said.

Public safety is a priority for his office, Carr said.

“People don’t go to places where they don’t feel safe,” he said.

A gang prosecution unit has been created to address the problem of crimes created by gangs across the state, he said.

“They are responsible for the majority of crimes in Georgia,” he said. “It is a paramount responsibility to protect everyone.”

The unit is credited for 32 convictions for gang-related crimes, Carr said.

State Sen. Mike Hodges, R-St. Simons Island, said the past General Assembly session began with a “boatload” of bills that didn’t get passed last year.

State Rep. Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island, said building relationships on both sides of the political aisle is key to passing legislation. He said technical education and increasing pathways for students are important.

State Rep. Buddy DeLoach, R-Townsend, said he remembers what Jekyll Island looked like a few years ago.

“It’s always been a special place for me,” he said.

State Rep. Steven Sainz, R-St. Marys, praised Carr for transforming his office into the “front line of public safety” across the state.

Sainz said a common-sense workforce development policy is needed to take advantage of the highly skilled military retirees in the area that can help fill the job vacancies.

United States District Court Judge Eleanor Ross (ND-GA) upheld Georgia’s requirement for citizenship verification for voters, according to the AJC.

A federal judge upheld Georgia’s citizenship verification requirements for new Americans, dismissing the case midway through the trial Thursday after three days of testimony.

U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross granted a directed verdict in court, finding that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the voting rights of naturalized citizens are violated when they have to show papers or get a new state ID before they can vote.

The quick ruling brings an abrupt end to a lawsuit that has been pending since 2018 over state laws that prevent new citizens from casting ballots until they show that they’re eligible.

Attorneys for Georgia said in court this week that citizenship checks are needed to prevent the possibility of illegal voting. Zero noncitizens have voted in recent elections, according to a 2022 audit by the secretary of state’s office.

Ross, an appointee of President Barack Obama, found that Georgia’s elections are open to all citizens and that the state has an interest in ensuring that only citizens are allowed to vote.

New citizens must either provide naturalization documents with their voter registration application, send papers to election offices, show citizenship information when they vote or present proof within three days of an election.

They can also pay $32 to update their driver’s licenses to reflect that they have become U.S. citizens and then re-register to vote.

The plaintiffs argued that Georgia’s citizenship verification process violated protections against discrimination in the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act.

There’s no government system that automatically informs election officials when a Georgia resident earns citizenship.

Some disabled Georgians continue waiting for state-paid caregiver services, according to Atlanta News First via WALB.

The New Option Waiver Program (NOW) and Comprehensive Support Waiver Program (COMP) support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

According to the Georgia government, they are “for eligible people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who require an intermediate care facility.”

In 2023, Commissioner Kevin Tanner said the program was in a state of crisis. There are more than 3,000 adults with disabilities in Georgia waiting for caregiver services.

State lawmakers recommended raises for caregivers. They currently make $10 per hour. Kaiser feels $16 is not enough.

Families and advocates like Kaiser pushed for change at the state capitol. They prioritized several bills that didn’t pan out.

Lawmakers didn’t pass two bills that Kaiser said could have made a real difference. HB 1125 would end the 14c certificate, which makes it legal to pay people with disabilities below minimum wage. SB 198 would have created a commission of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities “review the conditions, needs, issues, and problems related to support for Georgians with [intellectual and developmental disabilities].”

“I feel like they dangle a carrot in front of you and say ‘I’ll give you just enough this year to go away,’” said Kaiser.

Glynn County Public Schools are considering placing a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) on the ballot, according to The Brunswick News.

To help finance the future needs of public school students, Glynn County School District officials are requesting a new 1 percent countywide sales tax, known as ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).

During a school board workshop meeting Thursday, school district staff proposed presenting a new ESPLOST tax for public approval as early as November of 2024.

Staff will seek the school board’s formal approval to begin preparing plans for the tax at the School Board’s 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

“We are asking to move forward with a referendum to put (the tax) on the ballot in November of 2024,” said Mike Blackerby, the school district’s assistant superintendent of operations. “If it’s approved (by the school board), we would move forward with writing the measure for the referendum.”

Before Tuesday’s presentation, board members recommended staff work out key details. Those include the length of time the 1 cent retail sales tax will be in effect countywide, and how much money it would be projected to earn. Staff said it would likely be a four- or five-year ESPLOST.

As with the county government’s SPLOST taxes, ESPLOST taxes must be approved by public referendum. If school board members give staff the OK to proceed, Blackerby said they hope to have a new ESPLOST referendum ready for public consideration in November.

Savannah City Council voted to adopt a revised firearms ordinance that requires secure storage in cars, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a gun storage ordinance that has long been a priority of Mayor Van Johnson. Now, the city will lead a 90-day public awareness campaign on the ordinance before beginning enforcement.

The ordinance requires firearms left in motor vehicles be “securely stored” in compartments or in a locked trunk while also requiring lost or stolen firearms be reported to Savannah Police Department. The approval was made with a host of supporters from the local chapter of Moms Demand Action, which included State Rep. Anne Allen Westbrook.

Here are the full provisions approved by council.

• Any owner or other person lawfully in possession of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun who suffers the loss or theft of said weapon shall within 24 hours of the discovery of the loss or theft report the facts and circumstances of the loss or theft to the Savannah Police Department.

• Every person with a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle shall ensure that each such firearm, rifle, or shotgun is securely stored in a glove compartment, console, a locked trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk at all times while such vehicle is unoccupied.

• Every person with a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle shall ensure that no firearm, rifle, or shotgun is visible at any time while such vehicle is unoccupied.

• Every person with a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle shall ensure that all doors and hatches are locked while such vehicle is unoccupied.

The final ordinance was passed with a few changes from a previous draft. One of the main items left out of the law’s final version was a requirement to report specific details of a stolen firearm such as make, model, manufacturer and serial number. Another item left off the final version would have required SPD to retain that information for use in locating those firearms.

From WTOC:

This comes after data shows that 83% of firearms stolen from vehicles in Savannah in 2023 were from unlocked cars.

A violation of any part of this ordinance would be penalized of up to a $1,000 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

“We need common sense gun laws in Georgia, and I’m committed to doing all I can to make sure that we’re able to find balance between someone’s right to exercise the second amendment rights, but the responsibility of people to be safe in their communities. That we’re able to balance the rights of the second amendment and the safety of second graders. That we’re able to balance the right of someone to carry a gun, and my right not to be shot by that gun,” said Mayor Van Johnson, City of Savannah.

Now that this ordinance has been approved, Mayor Johnson is calling for an intense awareness campaign throughout the city in the next 30 days.

From WSAV:

“This year and we are only in the eleventh day of the fourth month, we’ve had 69 firearms stolen from vehicles,” Mayor Johnson said. “Fifty-six of those were stolen from unlocked cars.”

He said in 2023, 244 firearms were stolen. Two-hundred and three of those were from unlocked vehicles.

“For us that was an issue,” he expressed. “That was 244 opportunities for someone to be shot victimized or killed by those weapons.”

“This ordinance creates the opportunity for someone to either take it with them or secure it when the car is not in use… in a glove compartment or a trunk,” Mayor Johnson explained.

Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill wants to influence the next round of elections in the county, according to the AJC.

Hill has vigorously opposed the reelection of former protege Sheriff Levon Allen on social media posts, just two weeks after being released from FCI Forrest City where he served about 10 months for a 2022 federal conviction for violating the civil rights of detainees in the Clayton County jail.

The federal bureau of prisons said Hill is now living in community confinement overseen by Atlanta authorities.

“Based on disappointing job performance and poor results, sadly, I will not give any further endorsements to Levon Allen,” Hill wrote in an April 1 Facebook post that also includes a raft of allegations against Allen.

The about face is a big deal in Clayton.

Despite being a convicted felon who has been the subject of an avalanche of lawsuits, Hill has a loyal following. Almost 300 people commented on the post criticizing Allen and more than 160 reposted the message.

“He does have a lot of juice,” said Patricia Pullar, a Clayton resident and former deputy director of the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Clayton has always been forgiving of him.”

Hill was sheriff of Clayton between 2005 and 2009 and again from 2012 until 2021, when he was suspended by Gov. Brian Kemp pending the outcome of the federal indictment on the civil rights violations charges.

Allen responded to Hill’s accusations on the social media site Nixle, claiming Hill had reached out to him from prison and tried to influence his decisions. Allen said he refused the requests. He did not say what Hill allegedly asked of him.

“Power and vengeance has become his life (sic) mission and I will not succumb to his tirades,” Allen wrote.

Others vying for the office against Allen are Jeff Turner, chairman of the Clayton County Commission; Clarence Cox, chief investigator for the Fulton County Solicitor General’s Office; and Charlene Watson-Fraser, a 24-year veteran of law enforcement who is currently working for the Clayton County Police Department.

Hill has not yet publicly endorsed a candidate.

Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher has raised more than $230,000 dollars for his reelection campaign, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher has raised more than $230,000 for his re-election campaign since 2016, including a portion from contractors operating in the Chatham County Detention Center (CCDC), according to a review of campaign filings obtained by the Savannah Morning News. That total far outpaces the money raised by the other two other sheriff candidates.

Kevin Burns, a former Chatham County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Advanced Deputy, has raised about $934, mostly from ActBlue donations, according to campaign filings. ActBlue is a nonprofit fundraising organization that allows Democratic candidates to receive donations from supporters.

“Politics is what [Wilcher] does best, instead of what he’s sworn to do,” said Burns. “At the end of the day, it’s not about how much money you raise. It’s about the numbers at the ballot boxes.”

Richard Coleman, a law enforcement officer who has served in multiple departments throughout Georgia, hasn’t filed campaign contributions because he filed to run for sheriff after the campaign contributions were due on Jan. 30. A second round of campaign contributions is due on April 30.

“He’s an incumbent chair, that’s to be expected,” said Coleman, who said everything he has paid so far for his election has been out-of-pocket but wasn’t able to provide how much he has spent by publication time. “This election is not about money at all; it’s about change.”

A disqualified candidate for Bibb County Sheriff is appealing a decision by the Board of Elections that he did not meet the qualifications to stand for the office, according to 13WMAZ.

Marshall Hughes and his attorney, Joseph Siegelman, want a judge to decide whether he can stay in the race. Siegelman Wednesday pointed to a 2016 case in Muscogee County where Donna Tompkins, disqualified over a similar paperwork issue, appealed her disqualification and won the sheriff race.

Judge Gary McCorvey issued a nearly identical ruling in 2016 for Mark LaJoye, who was also disqualified from the sheriff race in Muscogee County for the same problem.

“He made, in my opinion, made the right, qualified decision to put us back into the election,” LaJoye said.

In the 2016 case, Judge McCorvey decided the important thing was that the two candidates turned the information in — not the time frame. McCorvey also found that in the context of the law, ‘shall’ doesn’t mean ‘must.’ In his ruling, he wrote judges must look at laws as broadly as possible in favor of the candidate appealing.

Early voting starts April 29 for the May 21 primary election.

Candidates for Columbus City Council District 4 met in a public forum, according to WTVM.

Members of the District 4 community were invited to a “Meet the Candidates” forum to learn more about current councilwoman Toyia Tucker and opponent Tyrone Thomas.

Tucker was first elected as city councilor in 2020. She has served in the Air Force and is the co-founder of the River Valley Black Chamber of Commerce.

Thomas is the senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church and retired from his 30-year career with the Columbus Police Department.

Several people took to the podium to ask the candidates about their priorities and plans if they won the May 21 election.

The election for the City Council At-Large Seat will also be held May 21 where four candidates are vying for the spot.

Democrat Daughtry Melton IV withdrew from the race for Tift County Commission District 2, according to the Tifton Gazette.

Initially vying for the position against fellow Democrats Cal Russell Thomas and incumbent Melissa Hughes, Melton rescinded his campaign during a Board of Elections qualification hearing held March 28.

Board of Elections officials stated that the decision came as a result of an error in documentation submitted during qualification.

Thomas and Hughes are still expected to face off in the upcoming May 21 primary, with the winner then campaigning against sole Republican candidate Priscilla Prince in the November election.

Early voting for the May election will begin April 29 at the Tift County Elections office, every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 4 and 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until May 17. On election day, polls will remain open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Registration must be completed by April 22 to be eligible to vote.

Democratic candidates for the Thirteenth Congressional District will meet in a televised debate, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Atlanta Press Club announced on Thursday that it will host a televised debate on April 28 for the Democratic primary election candidates running for the 13th Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga. It is one of seven debates the APC will host this spring as part of its Loudermilk-Young Debate Series.

Daily Post reporter Curt Yeomans will be one of the panelists for the 13th District Debate. The debate will be conducted in a studio at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta.

It will only involve the candidates for the Democratic Party primary — Scott is being challenged by six other Democrats. It will not include the two Republican candidates running for the seat.

The Democrats running against Scott include Brian Johnson, Marcus Flowers, Rashid Malik, Karen Rene, Mark Baker and Uloma Kama. The Republicans running for the seat are Johsie Cruz Fletcher and Jonathan Chavez.

The seat had traditionally been been on the western side of metro Atlanta, but redistricting last fall flipped it to the western side of the region. It is one of four congressional districts that include parts of Gwinnett County (the others are the 4th, 9th and 10th districts).

The district now includes parts of Fulton, Clayton, Henry, Newton, Rockdale and Gwinnett counties. The northern most tip of the district reaches into the Lawrenceville area.

The other debates that the Atlanta Press Club will host on April 28 include: Democrats running for the 6th Congressional District (which is now on the west side of metro Atlanta) at 10 a.m.; Republicans running for the 3rd Congressional District at 1 p.m.; Republicans running for the 2nd Congressional District at 3 p.m.; the Georgia Supreme Court at 4:45 p.m.; DeKalb County CEO at 5:45 p.m.; and Fulton County District Attorney at 6:45 p.m.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 10, 2024

Mindy is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA.

Tucker is an adult male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA.

Daisy Mae is a young female Black Mouth Cur & Beagle mix who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA.