The blog.

17
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 17, 2018

On Saturday, the DeKalb County Animal Service shelter will waive adoption fees on all dogs over 25 pounds and all cats and kittens.

Giggles DeKalb

Giggles is a 44-pound, 5-year old female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Chamblee, GA.

Giggles wants to make you smile! This happy girl will turn on the charm with her very sweet and calm behavior. She is SUPER friendly with people. Giggles loves to carry her toys around and would love someone to play with her. She’s also ready to show off the commands that she knows! Need a friend and a smile? Meet Giggles today!

B-Dawg

B-Dawg is a young female mixed breed (Lab?) dog who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Chamblee, GA.

Parsnip

Parsnip is a young male Lab mix puppy who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services in Chamblee, GA.

17
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 17, 2018

On August 18, 1591,the English settlement at Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks of what is now North Carolina was found deserted.

On August 18, 1795, President George Washington signed a treaty with Great Britain called the Jay Treaty, after Supreme Court Justice John Jay who negotiated it. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison led opposition to the treaty.

USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” in battle against the British ship Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia on August 19, 1812. Launched in 1797, Constitution is today the oldest commissioned vessel in the United States Navy. Live oak from St. Simons Island were cut and milled for timber used in the constructions of Constitution. From a 1977 New York Times article:

The Constitution won her way into Americans’ hearts in 1812, when she defeated the British Guerriere off Nova Scotia in an exchange of broadsides. The spirit of the Constitution crew was noted by the Guerriere’s commander, James Dacres, who boarded the Constitution to present his sword in surrender.

”I will not take your sword, Sir,” the captain of the Constitution, Isaac Hull, replied. ”But I will trouble you for your hat.”

In the battle, a sailor — whether British or American is disputed by historians — is said to have cried out, ”Huzzah, her sides are made of iron!” as he watched an English cannonball bounce off the side of the Constitution. It was the birth of her nickname.

Part of the ship’s secret lay in the wood used in the design by Joshua Humphreys. He picked live oak, from St. Simons Island, Ga. The wood has proved so strong and resistant to rot that the original hull is intact, said Anne Grimes Rand, curator of the Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Mass.

On August 18, 1862, Confederate Major General of Cavalry J.E.B. Stuart was nearly captured, losing his distinctive hat and cloak and written copies of Lee’s orders near Verdiersville, Virginia.

Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation creating the State Board of Health on August 17, 1903.

Georgia Tech was designated the State School of Technology on August 17, 1908 by joint resolution of the State Senate and State House.

In a quaint bit of Georgia history, on August 17, 1908, Governor Hoke Smith signed legislation prohibiting corporate donations to political campaigns. Cute!

The Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution urging the creation of a federal Health Department on August 18, 1908.

The Georgia Department of Insurance was created on August 19, 1912 when Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation regulating companies selling policies in the states.

On August 18, 1916, the Cherokee Rose was designated the official state flower of Georgia by a joint resolution of the State House and Senate.

Governor Nathaniel Harris signed the first state law requiring school attendance for children 8-14 years of age on August 19, 1916; on the same day, Harris also signed legislation authorizing women to practice law in Georgia.

The practice of tipping service employees was outlawed by legislation signed on August 18, 1918.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation regulating the practice of architecture and licensing practitioners on August 18, 1919.

The Georgia Board of Public Welfare was also created on August 18, 1919 when Gov. Dorsey signed legislation establishing that body and a companion bill that created the Community Service Commission.

“Georgia” was designated the official state song on August 19, 1922 with Gov. Thomas Hardwick’s signature on a joint resolution passed by the General Assembly; in 1979, “Georgia On My Mind,” replaced it.

On August 18, 1924 Gov. Clifford Walker signed legislation that would allow a referendum on a Constitutional Amendment to allow Atlanta, Savannah, or Macon to consolidate their respective municipal governments with their county governments. Macon-Bibb County merged in 2014 after voters passed a referendum in July 2012.

Adolf Hitler became President of Germany on August 19, 1934.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency supported a coup in Iran that restored the Shah of Iran on August 19, 1953.

The Beatles played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on August 18, 1965. AtlantaTimeMachine.com has a couple images from the night.

On August 19, 1976, President Gerald R. Ford was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Ford received 1,157 (52.6%) delegates to 1,087 for Ronald Reagan (47.4%). Georgia’s 48 delegates voted for Reagan on the first ballot.

Dr. Betty Siegel became the first female President of a state college or university in Georgia when she was named President of Kennesaw College on August 19, 1981; under her leadership, it became Kennesaw State University in 1996. Siegel served until 2006. Kennesaw State was recently named the 4th best college for food in the nation.

Also on August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

On August 19, 1984, President Ronald Reagan was nominated for reelection by the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas.

On August 18, 1991, hardline Commies in the Soviet Union arrested Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev as part of a coup against Gorbachev’s reforms.

On August 17, 1998, President Bill Clinton testified as the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The testimony came after a four-year investigation into Clinton and his wife Hillary’s alleged involvement in several scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment, potentially illegal real-estate deals and suspected “cronyism” involved in the firing of White House travel-agency personnel. The independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, then uncovered an affair between Clinton and a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. When questioned about the affair, Clinton denied it, which led Starr to charge the president with perjury and obstruction of justice, which in turn prompted his testimony on August 17.

On August 18, 2015, Jeb Bush visited The Varsity in Atlanta. Here’s the funniest line from the CBS46 story:

Recently, Bush put a series of “Jeb No Filter” videos on YouTube and some say it’s a way to bring up his popularity.

“We’re going to work hard to earn the support of Georgians in the March 1 primary. It’s the second largest state in the primary, it’s our neighbor to our north, we’re going to be working hard,” Bush said.

While the instinct behind “Jeb No Filter” may have been good, it would take Donald Trump to show what No Filter really means.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced that Georgia hosted 455 movie projects last year, a record for the state.

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Georgia-lensed feature film and television productions generated a total economic impact of $9.5 billion during FY 2018. The record 455 film and television productions shot in Georgia represent $2.7 billion in direct spending in the state.

“With a record 455 productions shot in Georgia, the film industry continues to support jobs for Georgians, boost small businesses and expand offerings for tourists,” said Deal. “Today, Georgia is one of the world’s top destinations for film production and communities across the state are seeing the benefits of welcoming the industry. I am proud to see our success continue, as the $9.5 billion in total economic impact reflects the sustainability of the film industry and the benefits of our competitive incentives program.”

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the motion picture and television industry is responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and nearly $4.6 billion in total wages in Georgia, including indirect jobs and wages. Since 2010, more than 300 new businesses have relocated or expanded in Georgia to support the industry.

“We are very fortunate to have state leadership that understands the vital role that the entertainment industry plays in Georgia’s economic prosperity,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “The film industry creates jobs across almost every profession, in addition to camera, lighting and audio, film companies hire Georgians with skills in a myriad of support services including construction, catering, transportation, accounting and payroll and post-production. Thank you to all our friends in the industry for helping to make Georgia the top filming location in the country.”

Since the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act was signed into law in 2008, Georgia has become the nation’s most popular site for on-location filming. Direct spending by the film industry has increased from $93 million in 2007, the year before HB 1100 was revised, to $2.7 billion in FY 18.

In addition to the increase in production expenditures, Georgia has attracted major investments from studio and stage facilities. Georgia is now home to more than 1.1 million square feet of purpose-built soundstage space and over 1.2 million square feet of retrofitted soundstage space, up from 40,000 square feet of purpose-built soundstages available before 2010.

“The significant increase in production infrastructure is what sets us apart from our competitors. No other state has seen the growth that we have and it proves that the industry in Georgia is here for the long term,” said Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office. “The amount of stage space and support businesses we have here now gives every production the confidence not only in Georgia’s ability to host them, but in our ability to accommodate larger tentpole franchises as well as television shows. With the unwavering support from our legislature, Georgia sends a powerful message to the film industry – attracting greater commitments that will continue this growth for years to come.”

Democrats are claiming voter turnout records, according to the Washington Times.

Turnout records were broken in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, with Democrats outdistancing Republicans in the gubernatorial race and collecting more votes in numerous primary fights as both parties picked their nominees.

Those are all states where President Trump led Republicans to gains in 2016, but where Democrats say things are swinging back their direction.

“You are seeing a huge turnout in every race from dog catcher to governor,” Jared Leopold, spokesman of the Democratic Governors Association, told The Washington Times. “That sign bodes well for November.”

“What you are seeing in instance after instance after instance is there is surge in Democratic enthusiasm relative to Republican primary voting,” said John Couvillion, a pollster and political strategist. “That surge has happened enough times for me to conclude that it is just not a fluke.”

Mr. Couvillion said his analysis found that Democrats have accounted for 54 percent of the primary electorate, compared to 46 percent for Republicans. It was the other way around in the 2010 when the GOP flipped control of 63 seats on its way to winning the House and 2014 when Republicans captured the Senate, he said.

Overall, Mr. Couvillion said Democratic turnout this year has increased 82 percent compared to 2014 and 48 percent since 2010. Republican turnout, meanwhile, has increased 24 percent since 2014 and increased 4 percent since 2010, he said.

But a Pew Research poll of registered voters released Thursday found Democrats are more engaged, showing more up at rallies, donating to candidates and volunteering for campaigns.

Mr. Leopold said Democrats experienced similar levels of voter enthusiasm in the 2017 governor’s race in Virginia and New Jersey, where high turnout in the primary races served as a preview of the big victories to come in the general election.

“Everywhere you are Democrats are excited to come out in vote,” he said. “That is true in the primary and that is going to continue to be true in November.”

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners adopted a property tax millage rate increase, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The new millage rate is 20.652, or 3 mills higher than the previous year. A homeowner with a homestead exemption will pay about $129 more for a property valued at $125,000.

The county will reap about $12 million in new revenue from the increase.

The new millage rate was passed by a 5-4 vote Thursday. Those supporting it were Commissioners Al Tillman, Bert Bivins, Elaine Lucas, Virgil Watkins and Scotty Shepherd, whose reversal provided the fifth vote needed to pass.

Commissioners Mallory Jones, Valerie Wynn, Larry Schlesinger and Joe Allen voted it down.

Whitfield County municipal leaders met publicly to discuss a potential Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

“I think you can see we’ve done some pretty good stuff with it,” [Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock] said, pointing to photos of projects funded by the 1 percent 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). “We are proud of what we’ve done.”

The current four-year SPLOST expires June 30, 2019. It is projected to collect $64 million. The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners is talking about a six-year SPLOST which would be expected to bring in $100 million.

Thursday night, commissioners and officials from Dalton, Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell gathered at the community center to show off what they’ve done with the current SPLOST and to seek the public’s input on what they’d like to see funded with a future SPLOST.

Richmond County opens qualifying for five seats on the Board of Education starting Monday, according to WTVM.

Randolph County is considering closing seven of nine voting precinct, according to WJBF.

Randolph County is in southwest Georgia, about an hour south of Columbus.

The director of elections there announced in the newspaper plans to only keep two precincts open, even though all of them were used for the primary and July runoff.

One civil rights attorney calls it voter suppression, and says it appears racially motivated.

“We’re talking about a county that is 60 percent black. It’s in the black belt and has twice the rate of African American population compared to the rest of the state. When you cut out 75% of those polling places, it’s going to have an affect on African Americans and all but guarantee lower turnout,” says Sena Young, Legal Director at the ACLU of Georgia.

From the AJC:

[T]he office of Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican candidate for governor who oversees elections, added its objection to the proposed closures. Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said Thursday the office’s elections director advised the county to ditch the proposal.

Several of the residents at Thursday’s meeting said closing the polls would force voters to drive or walk additional miles to cast their ballots. There’s no public transit in Randolph County and roughly one-third of residents live below the poverty line.

The county plans to hold a second hearing on Friday and has scheduled an Aug. 24 vote on the changes.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp now supports new voting machines, but not until after this year’s elections, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The secretary of state is asking companies for proposals to implement new machines that produce verifiable paper records in time for the next presidential election in 2020.

Voting-integrity advocates have asked a federal judge to force Kemp to use a new paper-based balloting system in time for the November midterms. Attorneys for Kemp’s office responded in court this week that Georgia would be “plunged into chaos” if ordered to move that fast.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Candice Broce says the system is “accurate and secure, but we must plan for its eventual replacement.”

“There is not enough time to acquire the right inventory, train local elections officials, educate voters, and ensure the necessary safeguards to prevent chaos at the polls if a judge orders Georgia to convert to a new system virtually overnight,” her statement said.

Georgia’s second inland port is scheduled to begin operations next week, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Appalachian Regional Port, located on 42 acres in Northwest Georgia’s Murray County, will provide a powerful new gateway to the Port of Savannah with a direct, 388-mile rail route to GPA’s Garden City Terminal.

The inland port is expected to create and expand international markets for regional businesses as well help reduce carbon emissions and truck traffic through the state.

Located in an industrial belt — which features the production and export of carpet and flooring, automobiles and tires — the Appalachian Regional Port will initially be capable of handling 50,000 containers annually.

The new facility joins the Cordele Inland Port, located in Crisp County in the south-central part of the state, which offers a direct, 200-mile rail route into Garden City Terminal for the area’s extensive agricultural production.

Some Valdosta residents spoke against a millage rate that would increase revenues, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Valdosta City Council has set a tentative millage rate that will remain at its current 8.001. However, due to the city’s property tax growth, this means a property tax increase of 2.72 percent, City Manager Mark Barber said.

Barber said the city would have to lower its millage rate to 7.916 to prevent a property tax increase, which would cost the city about $286,000 in revenue, he said.

Republican Joe Profit opens his campaign for the Fourth Congressional District on Saturday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Glynn County‘s hotel-motel tax produced record revenues for the fifth consecutive year, according to The Brunswick News.

Gainesville will see a protest against a statue of a Confederate soldier on Saturday, according to the Gainesville Times.

A year after a nonviolent protest against “Old Joe,” the confederate statue in the center of Gainesville’s square, another demonstration is set for Saturday, Aug. 18 at 11:30 a.m.

The monument, erected in 1909 by the Gen. James Longstreet Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, sits on about an acre of land owned by Hall County located in downtown Gainesville. The Longstreet Chapter of the UDC’s lease on the property was renewed in 2008 and ends in June 2033.

While the statue honors Confederate veterans, Old Joe himself is not a Confederate soldier. When purchasing the statue, due to financial constraints, the UDC settled for a Spanish American War soldier statue and made some adjustments so he would look like a Confederate soldier.

The groups that organized Saturday’s protest “do not wish to see Old Joe removed or thrown into a landfill,” according to a flyer for the event. Organizers just want the statue to be modified so it does not explicitly honor the Confederacy.

Georgia’s unemployment rate is the lowest seen in fifteen years, according to the Albany Herald.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that the state’s unemployment rate dipped below 4 percent for the first time in more than 15 years. At the same time, Georgia set records for jobs, labor force and number of employed residents as the state’s economy continued to boom, Butler said.

“Georgia, like the nation, is in a period of continued economic growth,” the commissioner said. “We continue to set records in all the key metrics. This is a great time to live and work in Georgia.”

The July unemployment rate came in at 3.9 percent, down from 4.1 percent in June. Last July, the rate was an already low 4.6 percent. The last time the rate was 3.9 percent was July 2001.

In July, Georgia added another 5,300 jobs to push the state’s total number to 4.54 million – a record. Over the past year, Georgia has added 83,200 new jobs.

Brunswick City Commissioners voted to adopt a new stormwater fee, according to the Brunswick News.

16
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 16, 2018

The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville will waive adoption fees on Saturday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Saturday, the shelter will participate in the fourth annual Clear the Shelters initiative with an “adoption jamboree,” a national effort involving hundreds of shelters that offers free pet adoptions to help empty shelters and provide homes for dogs, cats and other animals.

“We’re not at capacity, but we don’t want to be at capacity,” said Animal Welfare and Enforcement Manager Alan Davis. “This will help ensure we have adequate space should we have a surge in pickups or have a hording case, which could happen at any time.”

Dogs and cats adopted from the shelter are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped, and adoption fees will be waived at the event.

In addition to pets, the jamboree, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature a DJ, face-painting, Kona Ice, popcorn and giveaways for pets.

Clear the Shelters, which is sponsored nationally by NBC and Telemundo as part of National Adopt a Pet Day, is one of several specials offered by the Gwinnett shelter in August.

Pen 212

Pen 212 is a young male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville.

Pen 214

Pen 214 is a 2-year old male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville.

Gwinnett Baby Odie

Baby Odie (Pen 237) is a male Border Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville.

16
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 16, 2018

The State Highway Department was created on August 16, 1916 to comply with federal funding requirements, when Georgia Governor Nathaniel Harris signed legislation by the General Assembly.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation creating the State Department of Banking on August 16, 1919.

Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation changing the method of execution in Georgia from hanging to the electric chair on August 16, 1924.

On August 16, 1974, The Ramones played their first public show at CBGB in New York.

Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that Jaguar Land Rover Classic will create 75 jobs in Chatham County.

The new operations hub in Savannah will be Jaguar Land Rover Classic’s first facility in the U.S.

“Georgia’s business-friendly climate and world-class logistics infrastructure continue to attract industry leaders like Jaguar Land Rover Classic,” said Deal. “I applaud the leadership of Jaguar Land Rover Classic for recognizing the strength of Georgia’s automotive sector and for creating high-wage jobs for our deep talent pool. By choosing Savannah for its first facility outside of Europe, Jaguar Land Rover Classic will enjoy the benefits of close proximity to the Port of Savannah while streamlining services for American customers. We appreciate Jaguar Land Rover Classic’s investment in the Chatham County community and look forward to the growth of this partnership in the years to come.”

Jaguar Land Rover Classic’s new facility will be located near Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and the Port of Savannah, the largest single container terminal in North America. Construction of the new facility will begin in autumn.

“Creating a dedicated facility in the U.S. – one of the largest markets for classic car enthusiasts – is an important and exciting step for Jaguar Land Rover Classic. We’re delighted to bring the future-proofing classic expertise and support we’ve nurtured in the UK direct to US clients,” said Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director Tim Hannig. “The Savannah site is the perfect location for us: a charming setting combining a passionate community and excellent transport links that will make it easier for US clients to benefit from the authentic services and expertise Jaguar Land Rover Classic provides.”

The new facility, Jaguar Land Rover Classic’s first facility outside of Europe, will provide access to a range of authentic Jaguar and Land Rover Classic cars, services, parts and experiences. The facility will also include a state-of-the-art 42-bay workshop for comprehensive vehicle health checks, service and repairs for all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles out of production for a decade or more.

“Today Jaguar Land Rover Classic, a world-class company with a renowned reputation, chose Savannah to produce world-class products,” said Trip Tollison, president and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Association (SEDA). “The high-wage jobs and investment they will bring to the Savannah region will make an immediate impact on our region. The success of securing this project could not have been possible without the help of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) and our many other partners. We are excited to win this project and cannot thank Jaguar Land Rover Classic enough for their decision and vote of confidence.”

GDEcD Logistics, Energy, Agribusiness and Food Team Director Wylly Harrison represented the Global Commerce Division in partnership with SEDA and Georgia Power.

“Jaguar Land Rover Classic is joining a league of automotive companies that have found a home in Georgia,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Georgia’s automotive sector is one of our strongest, and we are thankful that this industry continues to see substantial growth. Jaguar Land Rover Classic has made an incredible decision by choosing Savannah.”

Robins Air Force Base will add 1200 jobs in logistics, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The new jobs were created because of new work that’s come to the base during the past year, Brig. Gen. John Kubinec, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex commander, said in a news conference held on the base’s flight line.

“Just over a year ago they rolled out the very first Global Hawk we did here,” he said. “We have inducted our very first J-STARS aircraft for (programmed depot maintenance). We have brought in our first Marine Corps C-130 for overhaul.

“I would say that this has been the most consequential year for new workload growth at Robins in over a decade.”

Paper ballots for the November election could cause chaos in polling places, according to the AJC.

The upcoming general election in Georgia will be “plunged into chaos” if a federal judge grants a request to immediately switch the state to paper ballots, according to attorneys for Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

The court filing Tuesday came in response to a lawsuit that is trying to prevent Georgia from using its 27,000 touchscreen voting machines, which the plaintiffs say are vulnerable to hacking.

But imposing paper ballots less than three months before the Nov. 6 election would create more problems than it would solve, according to the attorneys for Kemp, former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes and John Salter. Kemp is a Republican candidate for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

“There is no ‘paper-ballot fairy’ who, with magic wand at ready, can save plaintiffs’ half-baked ‘plans’ from devolving into a fiasco,” according to their response.

The Lowndes County Board of Elections is hiring poll workers for the November elections, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Georgia Rural Development Council is considering how to attract investment and new jobs to rural Georgia, according to the Moultrie Observer.

Lawmakers are now looking at other ideas for spurring economic growth, such as revamping the state’s tiered jobs tax credit program that some say causes confusion for companies and puts counties at odds with one another. They are also considering incentives that would nudge cities and counties toward adopting a regional approach to luring industry.

“You will have a community that has everything going for them,” said Amy Carter, a former state representative who now works for the state Department of Economic Development. “They’re sitting right on an interstate. They have rail. They have a thriving downtown. It is a great place to live.

“But you have a city and county that cannot get along. Y’all, it kills it,” she said. “The sooner we get all of our cities and counties to understand that, the better off we’ll be.”

“There has been some frustration in rural Georgia that we don’t know what will work and what will move the needle, so we’ve been throwing stuff at the wall and hoping that something sticks,” [State Rep. Jay] Powell said to the state’s economic development officials.

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez spoke in Doraville yesterday, according to the New York Times.

The head of the Democratic Party insisted Wednesday that allegations of domestic abuse against his second-in-command would not hurt his party ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez addressed the situation directly only when pressed by reporters as he campaigned Wednesday in Georgia.

The DNC boss said he takes “very seriously” any accusation of domestic abuse, but downplayed the political fallout.

“Democrats have been winning everywhere,” Perez said. “That, I think, continues.”

The allegations from Ellison’s ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, are testing Democrats’ resolve at a delicate moment. The party is relying on strong support from women, particularly in America’s suburbs, to fuel their bid to seize the House majority this November. But after being quick to seize on allegations of Republican misconduct in the #MeToo era, Democrats have, so far at least, adopted a wait-and-see approach in a case that involves a senior DNC leader competing to become Minnesota’s chief law enforcement officer.

Gwinnett County Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks delivered a State of the School System address to the Gwinnett Chamber, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks talked at length about the district’s new “performance-based awards” during his State of the School System Address to the Gwinnett Chamber on Wednesday. The new program is part of the district’s efforts to address a national issue of district’s struggling to retain teachers.

But, one thing is clear: Wilbanks does not want to hear the awards referred to as “merit pay.”

“It’s not merit pay, it’s not a bonus,” the superintendent said after his speech. “It’s a performance award for being recognized as being a good teacher.”

“The salary schedule, that’s where we need to make sure we’re competitive with Forsyth, Fulton, DeKalb (and) Walton, but this is for the purpose of recognizing those teachers that are really doing a great job,” Wilbanks said. “It has nothing to do with the degree that you’ve got or the years of experience.”

Floyd County Commissioners plan to meet with Sheriff Tim Burkhalter to discuss dealing with mental health calls, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Floyd County Commissioners came back from a statewide mental health summit with a list of initiatives aimed at keeping people with mental illnesses from ending up in the jail, over and over again.

“Justice Boggs said we have ‘a moral and fiscal responsibility’ to take action,” Commissioner Allison Watters noted.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Michael P. Boggs was among the speakers at the summit in Macon. Hancock, Watters, McCord and Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace were among more than 200 city and county leaders attending.

[County Manager Jamie] McCord said the board has already taken some steps. He cited the new mental health and drug courts, the addition of mental health screenings at the jail after a 2016 spike in suicides, and plans to bring community leaders together as a task force.

“The big thing is verifiable data, to see if what you’re doing is working,” McCord said. “We need to develop a plan that has some measurable goals we can track.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources solicited bids to salvage or relocate a home lived in by songwriter Johnny Mercer, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The state had acquired the Robert Mercer Cottage in 1978 when it acquired the nearby Ossabaw Island Heritage Preserve. On June 27, the Board of Natural Resources adopted a resolution seeking an executive order from the governor to demolish the house, which had fallen into a dilapidated condition that the state agency attributed to years of damage from wind, fallen trees and most recently Hurricane Irma. The Department’s Historic Preservation Division had previously determined the house is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but DNR staff determined it was cost prohibitive to repair the structure.

The bid request comes after the HSF joined the Ossabaw Island Foundation and Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in raising concerns about DNR’s demolition plan due to the cottage being one of the original Vernon View structures, its architectural style and connection to Johnny Mercer.

Swainsboro City Council member Johnny Ray Stafford is under fire from the NAACP, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The president of the Emanuel County NAACP is calling for the resignation of Swainsboro City Councilman Johnny Ray Stafford after Stafford allegedly made a racially offensive statement at a council retreat.

When Mayor Pro Tem Rita Faulkner asked at the retreat to find “something for the kids to do,” Stafford’s response was “let them go pick cotton,” according to chapter NAACP President Al Huston.

Stafford, a local realtor, said he planned to “make an apology” but would not step down from the council.

“I don’t remember saying anything out of the way to anybody,” Stafford said. “If I did it wasn’t directed to anybody and I apologize for any inconvenience it caused anybody.”

Newnan City Council adopted a millage rate higher than the full rollback rate, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The 6-0 vote took place during Tuesday’s city council meeting, during which the third public hearing discussing the rate adjustment was held.

Last year, the city’s tax digest increased $33 million from reassessments of current property, and $58 million from new construction for a total digest of $1.4 billion. That’s a 6.5 percent increase in the digest, according to City Manager Cleatus Phillips.

“It’s good growth, but I was hoping for more, considering we have projects like CTCA and Healthsouth with tax abatements,” Phillips said. “But overall, it’s a solid number.”

The Gulfstream G600 has entered flight testing, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We continue to make steady progress toward certifying the all-new G600 later this year and beginning customer deliveries in 2019,” said Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream. “With the exceptional performance we’re seeing from the five flight-test aircraft in this program, I am highly confident our clients will be impressed with the aircraft we deliver. Its high-speed range, superior comfort and unmatched efficiency have already exceeded our expectations.”

Burns said that the G600 is already proving to be a star.

“Even at this stage in its development, the G600 is garnering attention, with its award-winning interior and seats, increased range capability and performance at high speed,” Burns said. “The recent type certification for the G500 is added motivation and inspiration for us to bring the G600 across the finish line and into the hands of our customers.”

The Gulfstream G500 earned FAA type certification and its production certificate on July 20. Customer deliveries of the aircraft will begin later this year.

Donalsonville Hospital has received $625,000 in donations under a state tax credit plan, according to the Albany Herald.

Donors from all over the state of Georgia have chosen the Seminole County hospital as their rural hospital of choice through the tax credit program. Officials said the donation amount is 412 percent more than in 2017.

“Thanks to these generous donors from all over the state of Georgia, including our local community, we can begin plans for upgrading diagnostic equipment, improving our communication tools and continuing to expand hospital services,” hospital Administrator Chuck Orrick said of the money raised.

Donors hailed from as far away as Atlanta, Macon and Albany, and there were supporters in Donalsonville, Decatur and Leesburg. The Georgia Heart tax credit program allows donors to offset their tax liability and choose where their money is donated.

While the credit limit has been reached for this year, Georgia Heart will begin taking pre-applications at 9 a.m. on Oct. 1 for the 2019 tax year. Donors are encouraged to apply early to take advantage of the 100 percent tax credit.

15
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 15, 2018

Dolly 7159

Dolly 7159 is an extra-large female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Emily 1639

Emily 1639 is a young female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Rory 2430

Rory 2430 is a female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

15
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 15, 2018

On August 15, 1903, Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation requiring that Georgia schools teach elementary agriculture and civics. Two days later, on August 17, 1903, the General Assembly condemned the practice of whipping female inmates.

The Panama Canal opened on August 15, 1914.

Georgia Governor Thomas Hardwick signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Forestry on August 15, 1921.

On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock Festival began in upstate New York.

Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppolla was released on August 15, 1979.

Paul Anderson, known for years as the “Strongest Man in the World” for his weightlifting feats, died on August 15, 1994 in Vidalia, Georgia. Anderson was born in 1932 in Toccoa, Georgia. He won an Olympic gold medal in the sport of weightlifting in 1956.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a candidate who was removed from the ballot, according to the Associated Press.Continue Reading..

14
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 14, 2018

Quinn Macon

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

Liberty Macon

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

Quincy Macon

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

14
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 14, 2018

On August 14, 1784, Russians invaded settled Alaska, founding the first permanent Russian settlement at Three Saints Bay.

Dentist, gambler, and gunfighter Doc Holliday was born on August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia.

On August 14, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln hosted a group of African-American men at the White House to discuss emancipation of American slaves outside the United States as colonists.

The Second Battle of Dalton was joined on August 14, 1864.

The County Unit System of elections was created on August 14, 1917 when Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation by the General Assembly.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. The road to perdition is paved with good intentions.

On August 14, 1945, the Japanese surrender to the Allies was made public in Japan.

In the afternoon of August 14, Japanese radio announced that an Imperial Proclamation was soon to be made, accepting the terms of unconditional surrender drawn up at the Potsdam Conference. That proclamation had already been recorded by the emperor.

A Special Session called by Governor Miller to address legislative redistricting after the United States Supreme Court threw out Georgia’s Congressional redistricting map was convened on August 14, 1995.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former President Jimmy Carter endorsed Democrat Stacey Abrams for Governor, according to the AJC.

“Stacey Abrams’ experience, vision, and proven track record of building consensus across party lines are beyond compare, and I will work as hard as I can to elect her in November,” said Carter. “With Stacey Abrams in the governor’s mansion, our state will be in good hands and the Georgia of tomorrow will be bright.”

He’s the third U.S. president to weigh in on the nationally-watched race between Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, a contest that’s already being seen as a warmup to the 2020 race for the White House.

Obama lined up behind Abrams earlier this month, and President Donald Trump’s support for Kemp in July powered the secretary of state to a dominating runoff victory. A late visit from Vice President Mike Pence helped the seal deal.

Some early voting forms sent out by the Democratic Party of Georgia contained errors, according to WABE.

Errors on forms for requesting absentee ballots that were sent to 30,000 potential Georgia voters by the campaign of Democrat Stacey Abrams are leading to questions from county election officials and threaten to confuse administrators ahead of the November midterms.

“We were concerned when we learned about this clerical error,” said Rebecca DeHart, executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party in an emailed statement. “But were relieved upon speaking with dozens of county officers that this would not impede counties’ ability to process the absentee ballot applications of Georgia voters exercising their rights.”

Incorrect voter identification numbers were included on pre-completed requests for absentee ballots prepared by Deliver Strategies. Over the weekend, the political mail vendor based in Virginia confirmed it was the source of the error.

The mailed requests, sent by the Abrams campaign on Aug. 1, include the name and address of the potential voter receiving them, and the address for the corresponding county election office.

These pre-completed absentee ballot requests are meant to make it easier for people to vote without going to a polling place. A potential voter can simply sign the form they receive and put it in the mail. In return, they should later receive an absentee ballot to complete and submit at their convenience.

U.S. Representative Karen Handel will host an opioid summit on Wednesday, August 15th at 2:30 PM at Sandy Springs City Hall.

Both candidates for Governor will appear at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Congressional Luncheon in Macon next Tuesday, April 21st.

The Georgia Ports Authority announced July was its second-busiest month ever, according to the Savannah Morning News.

For the month starting July 1, the GPA moved 378,767 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), an increase of 12.7 percent, or 42,668 TEUs, compared to the same month last year.

“July was an incredible start to our fiscal year, with double-digit growth across our container, breakbulk and dry bulk operations,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch.

From July 2017 to June 2018, rail cargo rail cargo at Garden City Terminal increased by 16 percent (60,000 containers) for a total of 435,000 intermodal rail lifts.

Intermodal cargo in July was the busiest month on record with 41,070 container moves, for an increase of almost 21 percent (7,087 containers) compared to July 2017.

“Greater capacity, via cost-effective 14,000-TEU vessels transiting the Panama Canal, makes Savannah an even more competitive option to serve the Eastern U.S.,” said Lynch. “This, in part, is driving an increase in rail moves to markets such as Memphis and Nashville.”

Lula City Council member Vince Evans resigned his office this week, according to the Gainesville Times.

Joseph Homans, Lula’s city attorney, said Monday that a special election to fill Evans’ seat could not be held in conjunction with the Nov. 6 statewide general election because the 90-day cutoff date had already passed. Lula could hold its own special election entirely separate from all other ballot issues in the general election, but that may create voter confusion and lead to low turnout.

The next available special election date would be March 19, 2019, Homans said. The council will discuss the special election at their Monday, Aug. 20 meeting.

Breatheasy Rome is asking the City Commission to adopt a smoke-free ordinance, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“Rome is known for being a healthcare community,” said Gena Agnew with the Northwest Georgia Cancer Coalition. “I think we deserve to be a healthy community.”

The group, called Breatheasy Rome, appeared before the commission during caucus Monday night to appeal for support of the ordinance which is modeled after proposals supported by the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society. The aim is to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke and vapor, and their associated risks.

The coalition is supported by Rome Floyd Cancer Initiative, the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition, the Floyd County Health Department, Floyd Medical Center, Harbin Clinic, Redmond Regional Medical Center, Rome Radiology and Southeastern Pathology.

Beyond the Georgia Smokefree Air Act, signed by Governor Sonny Perdue in May 2005, tough smoking ordinances have been passed in other cities including Savannah, Augusta and Canton. The latter two cities approved new ordinances, similar to what Breatheasy is proposing, earlier this year.

Augusta University hosted a symposium on opioid abuse titled, “Working Together to Combat the Opioid Epidemic,” according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Dr. Patrice Harris, an Atlanta physician and president-elect of the American Medical Association, was one of the symposium’s guest speakers. She said there are many factors that have led to the epidemic and there is no single solution, but people need to work together to find ways to combat it.

“People that have substance use disorders don’t have a moral failing. It’s not a character flaw,” she said. “These are brain disorders and we have to make sure that we treat substance use disorders in the same manner that we treat every other chronic illness like diabetes or high blood pressure, with compassion and with care.”

Dr. Steffen Meiler, chairman of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, said that different departments in the medical college are working together to find ways to treat patients without opioids. Meiler said they have found ways for patients to have operations and never receive opioids during or after them.

Meiler said the rise in prescription of opioids to patients fueled the problem. According to Meiler, the number of opioid prescriptions more than tripled to about 210 million from 1991 to 2011. He is optimistic that those numbers can be lowered.

Democratic State Senate candidate Evan Ross is raffling off 200 trigger locks, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“Part of it is a contrast to (Republican gubernatorial candidates) Michael Williams or Brian Kemp giving away bump stocks,” Evan Ross said with a laugh.

“But, look, I’m a gun owner, I have a concealed-carry permit, I support the Second Amendment,” he added. “I just want to emphasize that Northwest Georgia gun owners are very responsible people and they want to be safe.”

Ross — a 49-year-old husband and father who manages deliveries for two local organic farms — is challenging incumbent Republican Chuck Hufstetler for the District 52 seat. The district covers all of Floyd and parts of Chattooga, Gordon and Bartow counties.

“There’s nothing wrong with raffling off trigger locks as a political gimmick,” Hufstetler shrugged. “But I don’t think it’s as effective as people locking up their guns separately.”

“We need to enforce existing laws and put an increased focus on mental health,” Hufstetler said. “We also need to continue to lift people out of poverty. I think that would have more of an effect.”

Statesboro, Bulloch County, and the Bulloch County Board of Education have approved a new Tax Allocation District, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Council’s vote the morning of Aug. 7 was key because the city is the “redevelopment agency” creating the TAD, or tax allocation district. But the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners later that day and the Board of Education on Thursday joined an intergovernmental agreement that also commits their property tax revenue gains in the district after Dec. 31 to public infrastructure for the project.

Centered on The Clubhouse family entertainment center and an area between it and Veterans Memorial Parkway where Tormenta’s 5,000-seat pro soccer stadium complex is planned, the district will encompass almost 290 acres. Also envisioning businesses along the outside of the parkway from the Old Register Road intersection to a proposed extension of Akins Boulevard, the plan was presented as $160.5 million in potential private investment in search of an estimated $4.75 million in public spending, mostly for roads.

“We’ve got the support of the three taxing entities,” South Georgia Tormenta FC President Darin Van Tassell said Thursday evening. “This sends a pretty clear signal to the grocery store group, so there’s that piece, as well as we now start preparing to develop the Old Register Road area. It’s an exciting day for Statesboro.”

The Whitfield County Board of Education adopted the same property tax millage rate as last year, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Board members voted 4-0 to keep the tax rate at 18.756 mills. Because of the growth of the tax digest, that rate will bring in $73,127 more in revenue than in 2017, so it’s considered a tax increase under state law and required public hearings. Board members held their final public hearing before voting to set the tax rate, but no members of the public were present.

The board has not raised the property tax rate since 2012.

“We are trying to be consistent,” said board Chairman Bill Worley. “We certainly don’t want to raise the rate.”

The property tax rate is forecast to bring in $32.838 million this year.

13
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 13, 2018

Jake Rabun

Jake is a male senior Bluetick Coonhound who is available for adoption from Rabun Paws 4 Life, Inc. in Clayton, GA.

Sadie Rabun

Sadie is a young female Labrador Retriever & German Shepherd Dog mix who is available for adoption from Rabun Paws 4 Life, Inc. in Clayton, GA.

Bojo Rabun

Bojo is a senior male Treeing Walker Coonhound who is available for adoption from Rabun Paws 4 Life, Inc. in Clayton, GA.

13
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 13, 2018

President Jimmy Carter was nominated for reelection as President by the Democratic National Convention in New York City on August 13, 1980.

President Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act on August 13, 1981.

The ERTA included a 25 percent reduction in marginal tax rates for individuals, phased in over three years, and indexed for inflation from that point on. The marginal tax rate, or the tax rate on the last dollar earned, was considered more important to economic activity than the average tax rate (total tax paid as a percentage of income earned), as it affected income earned through “extra” activities such as education, entrepreneurship or investment. Reducing marginal tax rates, the theory went, would help the economy grow faster through such extra efforts by individuals and businesses. The 1981 act, combined with another major tax reform act in 1986, cut marginal tax rates on high-income taxpayers from 70 percent to around 30 percent, and would be the defining economic legacy of Reagan’s presidency.

Reagan’s tax cuts were designed to put maximum emphasis on encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship and creating incentives for the development of venture capital and greater investment in human capital through training and education. The cuts particularly benefited “idea” industries such as software or financial services; fittingly, Reagan’s first term saw the advent of the information revolution, including IBM’s introduction of its first personal computer (PC) and the rise or launch of such tech companies as Intel, Microsoft, Dell, Sun Microsystems, Compaq and Cisco Systems.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released on August 13, 1982.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From Governor Nathan Deal’s office:

“Smart on crime is not the same as soft on crime, which our results bear out,” said Deal. “In Georgia, we are addressing barriers to successful reentry through job training programs, ban-the-box legislation and operating a charter school in our prison system. We have implemented such initiatives while making our communities safer, with a 10 percent decrease in the violent crime rate and a 20 percent decrease in overall crime, all while saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We have also seen the African-American percentage of our prison system drop significantly since 2009, as incarceration rates for black males have dropped almost 30 percent and incarceration rates for black females have dropped 38.2 percent. Overall African-American commitments to our prisons are at the lowest level since 1987. I am pleased to share any information that might be helpful for a national model of reforming criminal justice.”

Additional results of Georgia’s criminal justice reform initiatives include:

  • The recidivism rate for an individual who graduates from an accountability court is just 2 percent.
  • There has been a 24 percent decrease in recidivism for those who complete vocational training programs while incarcerated.
  • Recidivism rates for those who earn a GED while incarcerated have decreased by 19 percent.
  • Total commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice are down 46 percent since 2014.

“Our first duty is to our citizens, including those who have taken the wrong path but are seeking redemption and a new beginning,” said President Trump. “We’ve passed the First Step Act through the House, and we’re working very hard in the Senate to refine it and pass it into law. We think we’ll be successful in that regard. The bill expands vocational educational programs to eligible federal inmates so that more of them can learn a trade. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re teaching them trades. We’re teaching them different things that they can put into good use, and put into use to get jobs.”

The Georgia Department of Community Health Board approved no insurance cost increases for the State Health Benefit Plan, according to AccessWDUN.

The White County Board of Commissioners voted to allow fishing in the lake at Yonah Preserve, according to AccessWDUN.

The Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County appointed Bill Forbes as interim CEO for the South Georgia Medical Center, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Judy Gilreath has a new contract through 2021, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Newnan Times-Herald looks at the impact of methamphetamine on the community.

In Coweta County, meth still ranks supreme over all other drugs tested by the GBI forensic science lab. In the last calendar year, its lab tested 91 cases of suspected meth. A distant second was cocaine, 26, followed by oxycodone at 10.

Byung Jin “BJay” Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said a community like Coweta is primed to be on the receiving end of a meth resurgence thanks to cartels hoping to flood the market with methamphetamine that’s cheaper and more pure than ever.

A 2011 survey by The Georgia Meth Project showed that one in five Georgia teens report meth is easy to get, and 28 percent of Georgia teens see little or no risk in trying meth. Pak estimated the stats have only increased since then.

Because of Atlanta’s reputation as a transportation hub, the distribution of Mexican meth across the entire country is originating out of local labs that convert liquid methamphetamine into crystal product.
“With Newnan so close to the interstate, the area is now a benefactor to the high level of trafficking happening in Atlanta,” Pak said.

Democratic Strategist Tharon Johnson spoke to the Coweta County Democratic Party, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Democratic candidates attending the dinner were [former Congressman John] Barrow, who is running for Georgia secretary of state; Janice Laws, Georgia insurance commissioner; Chuck Enderlin, U.S. House District 3; Tom Thomason, Georgia House District 71; Georgia House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, District 132 and County Commission Chairman Al Smith.

“Can an African-American woman become governor of Georgia?” Johnson asked, drawing applause.

“That’s exactly the conversation the Republicans want us to be having,” Johnson warned. He said the Democrats are in trouble “if this conversation is about gender and about race.”

He said Democrats instead need to focus on transit, jobs, the availability of health care and “making sure our children get a first-rate education.”

He talked about gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her issue-based approach to campaigning.

“We’ve got to buy in to what the next governor of Georgia is telling us,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to put all this dissension and all this disappointment behind us.”

That article is worth reading in its entirety.

Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus in Mississippi, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Abrams returned to her state of birth Friday and regaled attendees of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s annual policy conference in Tunica with stories of her upbringing in Gulfport and Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region, using the vignettes to explain why she’s vying to become the nation’s first African American woman governor.

“I’m not running for me,” Abrams told a conference luncheon Friday. “I’m running for my family, I’m running for my community, I’m running for the South. And when we win the South, we win America.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., a Congressional Black Caucus member, said he invited Abrams, a former Georgia House minority leader, to Tunica because of her Mississippi roots and her potential history-making run.

“On election night, when she’s victorious, we’ll claim her and we’ll say ‘We won,’” Thompson said.

Thompson said Abrams’ candidacy, along with former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy’s Democratic bid to fill Thad Cochran’s Senate seat in November, could potentially change the 2020 electoral map in the South if they win.

The Augusta Judicial Circuit‘s drug court program notched its 10th anniversary, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“It’s been a team effort,” Superior Court James G. Blanchard Jr. said of drug court. He credits the other judges for supporting his efforts to get the court started a decade ago. Augusta-area defense attorney Tanya Jeffords has been with the court from the beginning, when she worked for free, he said. Blanchard also credits the Rev. Sam Davis at Beulah Grove Baptist Church, where graduations are held.

Ten years ago, the participants were mainly using marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, Blanchard said. Now the drug of choice is often heroin and opiates. At first, participants often said they started with smoking marijuana with friends at 16. Now it’s age 5 to 7 with marijuana or cocaine, Blanchard said.

The opiate crisis has hit the area hard. People are dying, including a drug court graduate who tried a new drug from China that causes what’s called the gray death, Blanchard said. The extent of the epidemic has prompted police to carry Narcan, medication to counter the effects of opiates when someone is going into respiratory failure.

Since the drug court program began, 524 people have participated and 180 graduated – maintained sobriety for at least 365 days, said Elaina Ashley, the program’s coordinator.

Columbus Clerk of Council Tiny Washington has been placed on paid leave ahead of an audit report, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen drafted a resolution to eliminate the Planning & Zoning Commission, according to the Macon Telegraph.

It proposes the creation of a planning and zoning department under the control of the county commission. Four other county commissioners signed on as sponsors of the resolution, but one is already backing out.

“I keep hearing over the years how planning and zoning has put restrictions on people and putting a lot of hardships on a lot of people,” Allen said Wednesday. “And the costs. … My problem with P&Z is I don’t think they look after the people the way they should. There are too many tight restrictions. A lot of people don’t want to come to Bibb County.”

The resolution says the decisions of the zoning board have a significant impact on the community, and the “Macon-Bibb County Commission has further determined that the members of the (county commission) should have the responsibility for making planning and zoning decisions as they are elected to serve by the voters (of Bibb County).”

The Bulloch County Commission will set the property tax millage rate for FY 2019 in its Friday meeting, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is slated to set its property tax millage rate, with a quarter-mill rollback, during a called meeting at noon Friday, Aug. 17, at the board’s central offices, 150 Williams Road.

With a rollback from last year’s rate of 9.685 mills to 9.427 mills, the school board avoids a requirement of a tax increase notice and hearings that would have been triggered by an increased in appraised values.

Superintendent Charles Wilson had recommended the rollback in July. It was not on the agenda for their regular meeting Thursday, but board members had indicated support, and staff issued a notice Tuesday of next Friday’s called meeting.

Newnan City Council will vote on whether to buy a trolley funded from the 2013 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Coweta County Commissioners are considering raising the impact fee to preserve rural areas from it’s current level of $0, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Technically, Coweta County still has impact fees, but the fees are set at $0, and have been since Jan. 1, 2014.

Impact fees are set fees that are charged on all new development and are designed to pay for specific projects. The county first implemented impact fees in 2006, to help fund recreation, fire services, the jail and the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. Fees for transportation projects were added in 2007.

Commissioner Tim Lassetter asked if impact fees would discourage industry from coming to Coweta. He said the company he works for likely would have been happy to pay impact fees to locate in Coweta with its talented workers.

“But on the other hand, the last thing I want to do is deter investment and increasing the tax base,” Lassetter said.

Savannah‘s smoke-free ordinance could become a model for other communities, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah bars and restaurants have been smoke free since Jan. 1, 2011. The county passed a similar ordinance for the unincorporated area in 2012.

After Savannah’s ordinance passed, the state Department of Public Health used funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the results. A qualitative study of bar and restaurant owners on Bay and River Streets concluded patrons were going out more frequently and restaurants weren’t having to wash smoke residue off their walls and furniture. A look at health outcomes showed a decrease in hospital admissions for heart attacks.

But the most convincing study for other cities had to do with revenue. Receipt data from the Georgia Department of Revenue showed businesses’ bottom lines were unharmed by going smoke-free.

For Augusta, those results took away a big fear and led to Augusta adopting a similar ordinance in June after twice rejecting the idea.

Virginia could provide a model for switching to paper ballots, according to WABE.

Liz Howard, a former deputy commissioner with Virginia’s Department of Elections, said that state pulled off very quick transitions across dozens of counties, twice.

“We have hands on experience with ‘this is doable,’ how it’s doable, the partners that we worked with and working with local election officials while they’re making the transition,” Howard said.

“We had multiple election officials who said ‘Look, the transition to paper ballots, away from the touchscreens, was much more intuitive, certainly for the poll workers – whose age skews older – and it also seemed to be intuitive for the voters,” she said.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has called the idea of implementing a change before November an “absolute disaster.”