The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 18, 2022

Daisy Mae
is a two-year old, 35-pound female German Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Daisy has come such a long way since living in her foster home. Daisy is silly, sweet, and cuddly. Her favorite thing is taking long walks around the neighborhood. She has perfect leash manners! Daisy thrives with routine, where she knows what to expect and what’s expected of her. Daisy is house-trained, crate trained, not destructive, good with cats, and so worth the time it takes to get to know her. She loves to run in the yard with her friends.

Ajay is a 2-year old, 50-pound male Pointer mix who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Ajay is doing fantastic with leash training. He does great in his crate at night. He plays well with other dogs. Ajay would not be good with cats in the house. Ajay needs a home with no young children. He will need someone that will give him a good balance of exercise and continuing his training. He does get over stimulated at times outside the house but we are working on that.

Schwarber is a young male Labrador Retriever and Pointer mix who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Schwarber is a sweet 9-month-old boy that weighs around 50 lbs. His foster family has been working very hard to teach him how to balance his puppy tendencies with acceptable behavior. He would benefit from an adoptive family that also has experience raising a puppy and the training that comes along with it. Schwarber loves to cuddle. If he can’t find a human willing to cuddle with him, he will accept a canine friend as a second choice. He loves his toys, will hoard them and then lay in the middle of his pile throwing them in the air and rubbing his scent on them. Schwarber would do well in a home with another active dog (or no dog) and older children. Cats would not enjoy Schwarber’s company. Schwarber is neutered, microchipped, current on vaccinations and crate and house trained.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 18, 2022

On January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia, was arrested by John Habersham, a member of the Provincial Congress.

L.Q.C. Lamar, born near Eatonton, Georgia, was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on January 18, 1888.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today: Joint Appropriations Committee Meeting , 9AM in Room 341-CAP (hybrid). From the AJC:

Gov. Brian Kemp raised a few eyebrows at the Capitol last week when he proposed a $3 billion increase in spending over the current state budget.

His $30.2 billion plan includes pay raises and bonuses for teachers, school staff and state employees, a refund for income tax payers, $600 million for new prisons, and hundreds of millions more for health care and mental health programs.

Kemp will speak to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations committees. He’ll be followed by his chief economist, who will give legislators an outlook on the state’s economy, which will have to be strong over the next 18 months to pay for the record spending.

That will be followed by nearly three-dozen state agency leaders who will explain what it all means and how they will spend the money.

Over the next few months the budget committees will decide which of Kemp’s proposals get a green light and make it into the budget, and they also will likely add a few of their own.

Governor Brian Kemp spoke about President Biden’s visit to Atlanta touting election legislation, according to FoxNews.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 14, 2022

Tilda is a young female Doberman Pinscher and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Tilda is right around 3 months old. We aren’t positive of her breed, but our best guess is Doberman Pinscher. She has a velvety smooth coat, and a triangular shaped head, long legs and a slender body. At 3 months old, she weighs about 20 pounds, so we feel that she may be 50-60 pounds when grown. She has a bubbly, friendly personality. She plays with all of the dogs….and the cat! She has never met a stranger! Tilda is crate trained. She sits for her meals and is learning manners, but she does like to chew wires! She is, after all, a puppy! She is super smart and will take to training very easily!

Pica Pepper is a young female Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Starlight is a sweet senior female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Hero Dog Rescue in Cumming, GA.

Starlight is an absolute delight! She is a typical senior dog that loves to nap, but also loves to get petted and wag her tail. Starlight is completely housebroken and quickly learned how to use a doggy door. She enjoys trotting and sniffing around the yard! She is also great on a leash. Starlight tends to ignore cats and other dogs smaller than her.

Starlight will need to eat soft/canned food. She is only 23 lbs and will need to gain several. She doesn’t bark at all and is partially deaf. Starlight would be a great addition to a quieter house seeking a perfect companion dog. She has been a great shadow to us, always wanting to sleep in a dog bed nearby.

Six-month old Labradoodle Hank has a new job as a Therapy Dog at Forsyth County Senior Services Center, according to AccessWDUN.

“Just a couple of days ago, I had a lady come in, it was her first time meeting Hank and she’s petting him smiling and she said, ‘Hank, I love you,’” said Hunter Bennett, Community Relations person for Forsyth County Senior Services and Hank’s handler. “In our memory support program, we had a gentleman in there that was petting [Hank] one day and he looks at me with clarity in his eyes and he tells me that his grandfather had a dog just like Hank.”

Naturally, everyone at the senior center loves Hank. Visitors and staff will scratch Hank’s head, ears, and happily receive some doggie kisses.

Last year, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office announced seven Labradoodle puppies were making their way through the Forsyth County Pups with Purpose program.

Hank was one of those pups.

“By the time I got Hank, he had already had so much love poured into him,” said Bennett. “There were two different times on the day I picked him up from the jail that I thought people were going to cry, talking about how special he was.”

The Pups with Purpose program pairs inmates at the Forsyth County Jail with unwanted dogs from the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.

Inmates train the dogs for the purpose of helping them to find a home. But Hank and his six siblings were trained for a higher purpose- to serve as therapy dogs at government buildings, schools and even a hospital.

“We actually just yesterday completed our beginner obedience class, which I think is mostly for me as handler than it is him,” Bennett said, chuckling. “We’re now going to be moving on to an advanced obedience course, and that is being conducted through Scot Rucker Dog Training.”

Dolly, my Hound who inspired the legislation naming the Adoptable Dog as the Official State Dog of Georgia, trained as a therapy dog. We hoped she’d be able to visit patients at the Hospice Atlanta facility in our neighborhood. She failed the final exam. Vacuum cleaners remain on her list of enemies.

More information on the Forsyth County Pups with Purpose program are available at their website.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 14, 2022

Representatives of three cities in Connecticut adopted the “Fundamental Orders,” the first written Constitution in an American colony and one of the first founding document to cite the authority of “the free consent of the people.”

On January 14, 1733, James Oglethorpe and the rest of the first colonists departed Charles Town harbor for what would become Savannah, and the State of Georgia.

On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.

An elected Provincial Assembly first convened in Georgia on January 15, 1751. The Assembly did not have the power to tax or spend money, but was to advise the Trustees.

On January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia, was arrested by John Habersham, a member of the Provincial Congress.

The state of New Connecticut declared its independence of both Britain and New York on January 15, 1777. In June of that year they would decide on the name Vermont. Vermont would be considered part of New York for a number of years, finally being admitted as the 14th state in 1791.

The Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War on January 14, 1784. The Treaty was negotiated by John Adams, who would later serve as President, and the delegates voting to ratify it included future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.

On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Virginia General Assembly.

On January 14, 1835, James M. Wayne took the oath of office as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A Savannah native, Wayne had previously served in the Georgia House of Represestatives, as Mayor of Savannah, on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and in Congress. His sister was the great-grandmother of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and his home is now known as the Juliette Gordon Low house. When Georgia seceded from the Union, Wayne remained on the Supreme Court.

On January 14, 1860, the Committee of Thirty-Three introduced a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow slavery in the areas it then existed.

The donkey was first used as a symbol for the Democratic Party on January 15, 1870 by cartoonist Thomas Nash.



On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, when Nebraska became the 36th of the 48 states then in the Union to ratify the Amendment.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was one of eleven African-American Georgians elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965. After his election, on January 10, 1966, the State House voted 184-12 not to seat him because of his publicly-stated opposition to the Vietnam War. After his federal lawsuit was rejected by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the United States Supreme Court ordered Bond seated.

True story: Julian Bond was the first Georgia State Senator I ever met, when I was in ninth grade and visited the state Capitol as part of a school assignment.

On January 14, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring Japanese-Americans, including American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry, as well as Italians and Germans to register with the federal Department of Justice. The next month, Roosevelt would have Japanese-Americans interned in concentration camps in the western United States.

Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.

At 4:30 PM on January 16, 1991, the Persian Gulf War began as air attacks against Iraq launched from US and British aircraft carriers, beginning Operation Desert Storm.

On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Click here for the full text of Governor Kemp’s State of the State.

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday delivered his State of the State address. From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Gov. Brian Kemp’s State of the State address touted what he called “unprecedented success,” despite unforeseen challenges of the pandemic.

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia remained open for business, bringing record levels of jobs and investment, he said.

“We now have the opportunity to build a safer, stronger Georgia for all who call the Peach State home,” Kemp said.

“I also look forward to working with the House and Senate to pass, and sign, a parental bill of rights in our education system and other pieces of legislation that I strongly support to ensure fairness in school sports and address obscene materials online and in our school libraries,” Kemp said.

Democrats said the controversy in many states over critical race theory is not an issue, though Republicans have called the concept divisive.

“We have a made-up issue that’s been manufactured to support cultural war and distract persons in our state from the real issues students and teachers face with budget shortfalls,” said Democrat Sen. Harold Jones II during the Democrat press conference. “It’s remarkable that made-up issue would come first, when we fail to give teachers the support they need and threaten to punish them for teaching accurate facts about American history. We’re pushing good educators out of the profession.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Augusta Chronicle:

In his fourth and final State of the State address of a four-year term, Kemp told a joint session of the Georgia House and Senate education, health care and public safety will top his agenda as he seeks reelection.

“It invests historic levels of resources in our students and educators,” the governor said toward the end of a 26-minute speech. “It reduces the cost of health insurance for Georgia families [and] recruits 1,300 new nurses and doctors into communities where they’re needed most.”

Kemp also announced his fiscal 2022 mid-year budget will include $425 million to fully fund the K-12 school funding formula, doing away with “austerity” cuts that have plagued Georgia school systems for most of the last two decades.

On health care, Kemp asked for $1 million for the University System of Georgia to expand nursing programs to support up to 500 students a year for five years and funds for the Technical College System of Georgia to add up to 700 nursing students.

“Physicians and nurses are in short supply across the country, but especially in rural Georgia,” he said.

From the Associated Press via Statesboro Herald:

Kemp aims to show voters what he can deliver, hoping to use the legislative session to elevate his standing. His proposals, laid out in the speech and in recent days, include bombarding teachers, public schools, universities and their employees and state employees with more money. Kemp also wants to provide $1.6 billion of state income tax rebates, but didn’t mention that in his speech.

“I have fought hard to live up to the commitments I made on the campaign trail and ultimately do the right thing, even when no one was watching,” Kemp said.

The governor appealed to conservative voters by saying he wants to end the requirement for permits to carry concealed weapons, protect students from ideologies, ban transgender girls from playing school sports, create a parents’ bill of rights, and remove obscene materials from school libraries and online resources.

Kemp’s agenda also includes anti-crime initiatives including creating an anti-gang task force in Attorney General Chris Carr’s office to complement the one established by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Kemp said state assistance is needed because “in too many jurisdictions across our state, soft-on-crime local governments and prosecutors have been unwilling to join our fight to rid their communities of these criminal networks.”

Democrats have targeted Kemp on COVID-19, saying he has mishandled the pandemic. Kemp on Thursday again defended his choice for an early business reopening and minimal restrictions afterward, citing low unemployment and new industrial announcements.

“Georgia is on the move because we chose freedom over government shutdowns,” said Kemp, who also has backed lawsuits against federal vaccine mandates. “We trusted our citizens to be part of the solution — instead of part of the problem.”

From the AJC:

“Hardworking Georgians in our schools — the school staff, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and teachers — all do a terrific job keeping our kids safe and investing in their futures,” Kemp said in his address to lawmakers.

“To support their heroic efforts day in and day out,” he said, “I believe we as state leaders must continue to do everything we can to ensure they have the resources necessary to fulfill their mission and prepare the next generation of leaders for successful lives and careers.”

Lawmakers had cut k-12 and college funding in mid-2020 when they feared a pandemic recession. Kemp’s plan would restore that lost funding in the budget, costing about $650 million a year.

“We are pleased that Gov. Kemp continues to keep public education at the forefront of his agenda,” said Lisa Morgan, a kindergarten teacher and president of the Georgia Association of Educators. “We applaud his efforts in fulfilling his promise of a salary increase, including added bonuses, as well as fully funding the QBE formula for the coming school year. We hope and expect the General Assembly will approve his budget priorities.”

From WTOC:

During Kemp’s speech, he talked about his promise in 2018 to raise teacher pay in Georgia by $5,000. To date, teachers have received a $3,000 raise. Kemp announced that his Fiscal year 2023 budget proposal will include the money for the other $2,000 that was promised.

He also announced that the amended Fiscal Year 2022 budget will recommend a one-time pay supplement of $2,000 for full-time, state-funded instructional staff, school support staff, and school administration and a $1,000 supplement for school bus drivers, nurses, nutrition workers and part-time employees.

Kemp also announced the budget for this year will include an initial $1 million to be used for the expansion of the University of Georgia’s nursing program. His proposal will also include $.5 million for 136 residency slots and $1 million for Mercer University to use to address rural physician shortages.

Next, Kemp announced his budget proposal will include nearly $28 million to allocate a 10% provider rate increase for all foster parents, relative caregivers, child caring institutions and child placing agencies.

From 13WMAZ:

[Governor Kemp] announced plans to give $1 million to Mercer University to help them fight the doctor shortage in rural Georgia.

Governor Kemp says his proposed budget is all part of his effort to keep the state’s economy strong as we fight through the pandemic. The money is supposed to help Mercer’s School of Medicine continue providing doctors and clinics in some of the state’s most-underserved areas.

According to a WalletHub report, the Peach State ranks 35th in the nation for access to health care. There’s one primary care physician for every 1,500 Georgians, but on the county level, it’s worse. County Health Rankings data from 2018 shows there is one primary care physician for every 740 people in Macon-Bibb County. In Putnam County, it’s 1 to 2,730 people.

“Rural communities deserve the same quality of care as urban areas,” Doctor Jean Sumner, Dean of Mercer’s School of Medicine, said. Sumner says they will use the $1 million effectively.

“We want to be the best money the state ever spent on trying to change our state,” Sumner said. “We want them to feel every dollar that comes this way is used to make our state a healthier state in the areas that have the most need.”

Also from 13WMAZ:

Governor Brian Kemp is allocating $900,000 to Middle Georgia State University’s Dublin’s campus to help the college to graduate more nurses and address the state’s critical nursing shortage.

Dr. Tara Underwood, the Dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences, explains the need for state-of-the-art technology, simulation labs being high on the list.

“Our health science students in particular, to practice on mannequins and practice various situations they will encounter in the hospital or various healthcare settings,” said Underwood.

Altogether, the state has funded $5.7 million  in improvements to Middle Georgia State University’s nursing program in Dublin. They expect to complete their expansion there this summer 2022.

Georgia Democrats had a wish list, according to WRDW.

Democratic state Sen. Harold Jones said the governor instead should have discussed funding to support schoolchildren who live in poverty.

The Democrats said Kemp should use the budget surplus for Medicaid and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in addition to helping state employees.

House Minority leader Dr. James Beverly said the governor is more concerned about getting guns in the hands of people than vaccines in the arms of Georgia’s residents. He also said constitutional carry — the governor’s plan to allow people to carry guns without having a permit — is 100% political and 0% public safety.

Mercedes-Benz stadium will host a COVID-testing mega-site, according to the AJC.

Georgia Department of Public Health announced Thursday that the site will be hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The stadium was home to a massive site supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that administered 300,000 doses the first half of last year.

The drive-up site will be located at the Home Depot Backyard, 1 Backyard Way.

This new operation will be open every day except Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until further notice. These PCR tests are free to all Georgians, but insurance will be billed if available.

State officials last week announced two more mega-sites in the metro area: one at Jim Miller Park (Gate 1) at 1295 Al Bishop Drive in Marietta and another at 2994 Turner Hill Road in Stonecrest.

The State House Governmental Affairs Special Subcommittee on Cityhood, chaired by Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia) voted to recommend passage of a bill allowing the creation of a City of East Cobb, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The legislation, sponsored by Republican state Reps. Matt Dollar and Sharon Cooper, both of whom represent east Cobb, calls for a city of about 55,000 centered around the Johnson Ferry corridor. It would stretch from the Chattahoochee River on the south to Shallowford Road on the north and from the Fulton County line on the east to Old Canton Road on the west.

A study conducted last year by the Fiscal Research Center at Georgia State University found the proposed city to be financially feasible.

The city would be governed by a six-member council with three at-large posts and three district seats, all elected citywide. The six would elect a mayor from among themselves.

House Bill 841, which Dollar and Cooper introduced last year, is the second legislative effort at forming a city in East Cobb. A 2019 bill was abandoned due to lack of public support, Dollar said.

Democrats captured control of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners in the November 2020 elections, while east Cobb is heavily Republican.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth County) assigned Senate legislation allowing a City of Buckhead City to the Democratic-majority Urban Affairs Committee, according to the AJC.

Duncan’s move on Thursday effectively bottled up the legislation sponsored by Republican state Sen. Brandon Beach, though it’s far from scuttled. A similar House measure is pending, and the provision that allows for a cityhood referendum could be tacked onto other legislation.

The fate of the legislation will now be up to the Senate Urban Affairs Committee, which is composed entirely of Democrats, including several who are outspoken critics of the cityhood effort. State Sen. Lester Jackson, who chairs the committee, said the panel would be “transparent and fair” with the proposal.

“The details matter here. The financing issues. The education issues. The governance issues. These are all issues that must be fixed before — and not after — a referendum is passed,” Duncan said in a recent interview. “My hope is that we’re able to figure out a way to help all of Atlanta significantly cut crime.”

The Republican-backed bill, if passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, would allow a November ballot referendum in which Buckhead residents would vote on whether to leave Atlanta and form a new city.

The DeKalb County Board of Elections voted for a new Elections Director, according to the AJC.

The local elections board voted unanimously Thursday to hire Keisha Smith — who currently leads the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority — to the prominent position. She is expected to start work on Feb. 14.

“[Smith’s] dynamic vision for the department, her clear approach to leadership and extensive background in navigating high-profile professional environments, coupled with her enthusiasm for this position, gave us the collective confidence that she was the candidate best suited to lead DeKalb into a bright future,” elections board chair Dele Lowman Smith, who is not related to the new hire, said in a news release.

The elections board began its search for a new director in October, about two weeks after the resignation of former department head Erica Hamilton had been finalized. Hamilton, who was heavily criticized by local leaders during the 2020 election season, had been on an “extended leave of absence” since the previous month.

Doraville City Council voted to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, according to the AJC.

Doraville councilmembers passed an ordinance Wednesday to allow up to two dispensaries to open in the city, which can sell medical cannabis, including THC oil, edibles and other products. The vote wasn’t unanimous, with Councilman Andy Yeoman criticizing the policy as overly restrictive and unnecessary.

“I’m disappointed in this. I feel like I’m in Dalton tonight, not in Doraville,” he said, comparing the more conservative-leaning north Georgia city to his left-leaning home.

The rest of the council felt the ordinance, which also lifted a temporary moratorium on medical cannabis dispensaries in Doraville, was a necessary precaution. While no current business in the city sells these products, the city attorney previously said he’s heard there is interest in the metro Atlanta market.

State law dictates that only 30 medical marijuana dispensaries can open in Georgia. Recreational marijuana, which is illegal in Georgia, typically has a much higher proportion of THC than medicinal cannabis. State law also requires THC products to be prescribed by a doctor and filled by a pharmacist.

Georgia allows for the manufacturing and dispensing of oils with a THC content up to 5%. While there’s a statewide commission over licensing, it’s up to local governments to dictate zoning restrictions.

State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) unveiled a massive warchest for his campaign for Lieutenant Governor, according to the AJC.

Republican Burt Jones will report about $3.4 million in cash on hand for his campaign for lieutenant governor.

It’s a formidable warchest for a contender in a down-ticket race, and the GOP state senator is set to use the money to amplify his endorsement from Donald Trump.

Jones, an executive at the petroleum firm owned by his family, will report amassing $3.75 million since he entered the race. He pumped about $2 million of his own cash into the contest and collected another $1.75 million from donors.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan isn’t seeking a second term. Jones is squaring off against Senate GOP leader Butch Miller, also a prodigious fundraiser, for the party’s nomination. Republican activist Jeanne Seaver is in the race as well.

The United States Supreme Court struck down the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for large employers, according to the Associated Press via AcccessWDUN.

At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S. The court’s orders Thursday came during a spike in coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant.

The court’s conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees. More than 80 million people would have been affected and OSHA had estimated that the rule would save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over six months.

“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.

From WSAV:

“This afternoon, the Supreme Court affirmed what we all know to be true: Joe Biden has no right to force federal government mandates on private businesses,” tweeted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

The governor said he’s proud to have taken part in legal action against the Biden administration.

“I’ll keep fighting to ensure hardworking Georgians are not forced to choose between their livelihood and a vaccine,” Kemp added.

Congressman Buddy Carter, who represents Georgia’s 1st district, said it appears the federal government has “a blind spot” when it comes to health care workers [speaking of the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers that the Court left intact].

“At a minimum, this will negatively impact the workforce in our healthcare community, which is already struggling due to a worker shortage,” said Attorney General Chris Carr of Georgia. “We look forward to continuing our fight against the unlawful vaccine mandates for federal contractors and the Head Start program.”

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) is co-sponsoring legislation to prevent members of Congress and their families from trading stocks, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia introduced a bill this week with fellow Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona called the Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act, which would require lawmakers, their spouses and dependent children to place their stock portfolios into blind trusts. If passed, the legislation would not allow lawmakers to use inside information to trade stocks and make money.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced a very similar bill Wednesday called the Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act, which would also ban lawmakers from trading stocks while in office.

There are some key differences between the two proposals: Ossoff’s legislation would apply the ban to any dependent children in addition to the spouses, while Hawley’s bill would not. Also, Ossoff’s legislation would have the congressional Ethics Committee oversee the issue, while Hawley’s bill would have the Government Accountability Office audit.

And probably the biggest difference: Ossoff’s legislation would fine the lawmakers from their salaries if they broke the law, while Hawley’s would require lawmakers in the wrong to return their profits to the American people through the Treasury Department.

The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee voted to recommend passage of legislation to amend the state Constitution to prohibit non-citizen voting, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

The Senate Ethics Committee voted 7-2 on Thursday to advance Senate Resolution 363. It moves to the full Senate for more debate. A constitutional amendment needs a two-thirds vote in each chamber to advance to a ballot referendum, meaning unified Democrats could kill the measure.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller of Gainesville and other supporters argue the current constitutional provisions that say all citizens of Georgia shall be entitled to vote needs to be clarified to reflect state law that says only citizens of the United States and residents of Georgia can vote.

“It sends a clear message that in Georgia, the right to vote is sacred, and citizenship matters,” Miller said.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been campaigning in favor of the change. Sam Teasley, of Raffensperger’s office, said the state should “move to this level of clarity” and predicted “there would be broad bipartisan support of a measure to make it clear that only citizens should be voting in elections.”

Whitfield County Commissioners voted to pay bonuses to deputy coroners, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 Tuesday to use federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to provide two $1,000 bonuses each to three deputy coroners.

“We considered them the last responders when, unfortunately, someone passed away from COVID(-19),” said Board Chairman Jevin Jensen. “They must deal with challenging situations and possible infections just like first responders do when going into victims’ homes.”

The commissioners voted in December to give firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and 911 dispatchers a $2,500 bonus in December and another $2,500 bonus in February.

“The deputy coroners are part time,” said Jensen. “This is why their bonus is smaller than full-time firefighters and sheriff’s deputies.”

Department heads, such as the fire chief, and constitutional officers, such as the coroner and the sheriff, did not receive a bonus.

Delta Air Lines, the Metro area’s second-largest employer, said nearly 11% of its workforce has been sidelined by COVID, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Delta Air Lines said Thursday that 8,000 employees — or nearly 11% of its workforce — have contacted COVID-19 over the last four weeks, a factor that has contributed to thousands of canceled flights since the holidays.

The airline lost $408 million in the final quarter of 2021, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 surge fueled by the highly-transmissible omicron variant and severe winter weather. Delta predicted that it will suffer one more quarterly loss before travel picks up in the spring and summer.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a pickup in bookings or travel during January and probably the first part of February,” CEO Ed Bastian. “It’s always the weakest part of the year, and it’s going to be that much weaker because of omicron. We need confidence in travel returning once the virus recedes.”

Both storms and crew calling out sick forced airlines to cancel or delay thousands of flights over the busy holiday travel season, including airlines like Delta, United and JetBlue. Delta alone had to drop more than 2,200 flights since Dec. 24.

The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office has invested in equipment, supplies, and training to prevent the spread of COVID in the jail, according to WTVM.

Thunderbolt adopted a short-term rental ordinance that includes a $700 permit fee, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Town of Thunderbolt has updated their recently implemented short-term vacation rental (STVR) regulations, adding a $700 registration fee. Recertification for an existing STVR will cost $580 thereafter.

The fees were approved by the town council at Wednesday’s meeting by a 4-0 vote, with members Edward Drohan and Bethany Skipper recusing.

City manager Robert Milie explained that the fee was “not intended to make money” but to ensure the existing tax base, or its permanent residents, aren’t incurring costs from the STVR business.

Thunderbolt Town Council passed their first ordinance regulating STVRs in December, which set a limit of 70 rentals allowed in the city. The cap is the estimated number of existing rentals out of a total of 1,316 housing units in the city.

Valdosta City Schools are closed today due to COVID, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“Positive COVID cases are on the rise across the country and in our community,” the statement said. “We have seen a large increase in COVID exposures and are experiencing higher than normal absenteeism rates in our faculty, staff and students.”

“We will close all Valdosta City Schools Friday, Jan. 14, through Tuesday, Jan. 18. Schools will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 19.”

The school system noted it was already scheduled to be closed Monday, Jan. 17, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Long County Schools are closed today due to COVID, according to WTOC.

The Long County School System will be closed Friday, Jan. 14 due to a critical staff shortage caused by COVID-19, according to a news release from the school system.

The district is set to reopen Tuesday after undergoing a deep clean. Superintendent David Edwards says the district made the decision after not having enough staff available for classes, and some parents say they’re concerned about the rest of the school year.

Superintendent David Edwards says the school district is missing about 25 percent of its staff due to COVID, leaving about 40 staff vacancies for the day, even when trying to fill in with substitutes.

“It’s just to a critical point where we’re missing staff from teachers to cafeteria staff to transportation,” said Edwards.

The portraits of President and First Lady Obama are at the High Museum in Atlanta now, according to the Albany Herald.

But the exhibition is more than two paintings in a large room. The High Museum tells the stories of the Black artists who captured the Obamas in a way the world had never seen before.

Georgia native and Clark-Atlanta University alumni Amy Sherald is the face behind the iconic six-foot-tall painting of Michelle Obama, which captures the former first lady in a flowing colorful dress reminiscent of the quilts of Gee’s Bend. Her skin, notably painted in gray-scale, is not only a response to early portraits of African Americans but also reminds viewers of the absence of Black people in the history of large-scale photography. Sherald’s approach is to challenge her viewer to look beyond the superficial differences of race.

Barack Obama’s seven-foot-tall portrait, portrayed by Los Angeles native Kehinde Wiley, shows the president sitting before a lush green backdrop with distinct flowers appearing throughout the painting. But, as the exhibition shows, the artwork is more than meets the eye.

For Wiley, the portrait tells a story. The jasmine flower references Hawai’i, where the former president was born. The African blue lilies; a tribute to Obama’s father who was from Kenya. Vibrant chrysanthemums are on full display as the official flower of Chicago, the meeting place of Michelle and Barack and the city where his political career took flight.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 13, 2022

Betty Spaghetty is a senior female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Renegade Paws Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Betty is a 9yr old sweet and gentle girl that is housebroken, crate trained, walks well on a leash, and is good with cats, dogs, and kids. Her favorite thing is to be outside taking a leisurely walk and enjoying nature. Miss Spaghetty may be a senior gal, but she still has plenty of love left to give and can’t wait to live out her days in a forever home.Would love a calmer household where she enjoys the slower pace and access to either a fenced yard and/or frequent leisurely walks because this senior lady loves the outdoors!

Betty White is a female Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from Hootie’s Haven Animal Rescue Inc. in Cedartown, GA.

Betty Lou is a senior female Basset Hound who is available for adoption from Basset Hound Rescue of Georgia in Fayetteville, GA.

Betty Lou is a tri-colored girl who is 8-9 years old. She was picked up as a stray. Betty Lou had malignant cancer removed from her leg, but she still limps. She is also fighting kidney disease. Her foster family is taking wonderful care of Betty Lou.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 13, 2022

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah.

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. History.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

January 13, 1987 saw the inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris to his second term in office.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COVID has become the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers, according to WTVM.

According to the National Law Enforcement Fund, COVID was the leading cause of death among law enforcement.

301 officers have died across the United States from COVID. Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman says they have seen this first hand.

Countryman says since the inception of COVID-19, 97 of their deputies have tested positive for COVID and two have died. He was brought to tears as he remembered Sergeants Bobby Williams and Sherman Peebles.

“We have families that are suffering because they don’t have their husbands or their loved ones at home with them that when they die in the line of duty from these COVID related deaths that there is no other way that we can see justice. There’s no victim besides the family that there is no person that we can go and arrest for us to even seek and to have a little justice in this,” said Countryman.

Under the Gold Dome Today


8:00 AM – Senate Ethics Committee – 307 CLOB

10:00 AM – HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 3) – House Chamber

10:00 AM – Senate Floor Session (LD 3) – Senate Chamber

Governor Brian Kemp spoke to the Georgia Chamber’s “Eggs and Issues” breakfast yesterday. From a press release:

On his administration’s plan to provide a $250 refund to single tax filers and $500 to those filing jointly:

“At the state-level, that success has meant record revenues, and as Governor, I believe we should continue to fund our priorities as a state – education, healthcare, and public safety… but also be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

“Last fiscal year, because we kept Georgia open and fought alongside you all in this room to keep businesses and communities afloat, the state collected a record budget surplus. I believe that when government takes in more money than it needs, surplus funds should be sent back to the hardworking men and women who keep our state moving forward.

“Because that is your money. Not the governments.

“That is why my Amended FY22 budget proposal authorizes the Department of Revenue to provide $1.6 billion in refunds to every taxpayer in Georgia. Under my plan, every citizen filing their income taxes this April will receive a refund credit ranging from $250 for single filers to $500 for joint filers. As Georgians seek to recover from the economic impact of a global pandemic, we as state leaders should do everything we can to empower families to keep more of their money in their own wallets.”

On fulfilling his commitment to exempting military retirement income from state income tax:

“These men and women deserve more than our words of appreciation, even though we have many to give. They deserve action that shows our gratitude. One of the key points of my platform has been to enact a retirement-income exclusion for retired military.

“And thanks to the hard work of leaders under the Gold Dome these last few years – work that put our state in a position to invest in our citizens – I’m proud to announce that my team will introduce legislation this session to make this tax exclusion a reality for Georgia’s retired military!”

On raising HOPE Scholarship award rates to at least 90% in all public post-secondary education institutions:

“Additionally, we know the HOPE scholarship and grant programs have helped millions of Georgians afford their post-secondary educations, and as tuition has increased at some institutions, the program must keep pace.

“My budget proposal allocates an additional $25 million to fund growth in scholarship and grant needs and ensure that HOPE programs cover at least 90% of tuition at all Georgia public higher education institutions. For eight straight years, Georgia’s economy has been unmatched across the country and it’s our responsibility to develop a workforce that furthers that success.

“By cutting costs for students and their families, we can achieve that goal.”

From 11Alive:

He’s been on a roll recently, penning a letter encouraging a $5,000 pay bump and other benefits for state employees and pushing for a new law that would loosen the state’s handgun requirements in just the last week.

From WSB-TV:

State Democrats didn’t think much of the governor’s proposal. They believe the money could be put to much better use helping secure health insurance for Georgians who need it.

“I think it’s another misguided initiative from the Governor,” said House Minority Leader State Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon. “It’s misguided because there are 500,000 Georgians right now who don’t have health insurance. We can cover the coverage cap right now with that money. When part of that money can be used to expand health care and to make sure that people who lost their job through no fault of their own are now put in the deal flow.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Kemp said the record $3.7 billion budget surplus the state posted at the end of the last fiscal year in June resulted from Georgia’s ability to recover quickly from the recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. While some states shut down businesses during the pandemic’s early months, Kemp chose to keep Georgia’s economy open.

“We chose hope over fear, freedom over lockdowns,” he said. “As a result, our state led the nation in economic recovery.”

Kemp also announced plans to reverse the budget cuts to higher education the state imposed during the Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s.
He said he will ask the General Assembly for $262 million to remove “institutional” fees the University System of Georgia slapped on students during that economic downturn and $25 million to increase the HOPE Scholarship program’s coverage to at least 90% of tuition costs at the state’s public colleges and universities.

The mandatory institutional fees, which were not earmarked for specific purposes such as athletics, have been a major source of complaints by students and their parents. The lottery-funded HOPE program, which used to provide full tuition coverage for eligible students, was reduced in 2011 because growing student enrollment was failing to keep pace with HOPE revenues.

Also during the Eggs and Issues breakfast, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan pitched his proposal for a $250 million state tax credit to raise money to support law enforcement.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said he will introduce a comprehensive bill aimed at improving mental health services in Georgia by, among other things, providing parity to mental health-care workers.

“For too long, our state has ranked among the worst in the nation for delivering mental-heath services,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “That is a distinction that’s going to change.”

Governor Kemp also appointed two new members of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, according to the AJC.

Kemp named longtime businessmen Richard “Tim” Evans and Jim Syfan to the powerful 19-member board, replacing Kessel D. Stelling, Jr. and Philip A. Wilheit, Sr., whose seven-year terms expired this month.

The governor last year backed former two-term Gov. Sonny Perdue for chancellor. Two people close to Kemp said the Republican’s chances for the coveted post are still alive.

The incoming regents are prominent business leaders. Evans founded Evans General Contractors in 2001, leading the company as president and chief executive officer until January 2021. He now serves as its board chairman.

Syfan and his sons founded Turbo Logistics, Inc. in 1984, which was sold in 2006. Syfan has been involved in several economic development organizations in Hall County. Kemp appointed Syfan in 2020 to serve as a member of the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority.

“For many years as strong business leaders, Tim Evans and Jim Syfan have worked hard to make their communities and our state better,” Kemp said in a statement.

“With decades of experience, they are eminently qualified for these posts, and I am honored to name them to the Board of Regents to serve our top-ranked university system.”

Governor Kemp ruled out changes to Georgia’s election laws this year, according to the AJC.

Asked about proposals to ban ballot drop boxes, Kemp said he doesn’t want to overhaul “the best elections integrity act in the country.”

“You need to speak individually to those legislators. I think the action we took on drop boxes to make them available is the right thing to do for Georgians, but it also needs to be a secure process,” he said. “And I think that’s what the General Assembly has done.”

We hear he’s planning to wear a red-and-black UGA tie. After all, there’s no flag for excessive celebration after the football season is over, especially when the state’s flagship university wins the national championship.

Speaking of the State of the State:

Gov. Brian Kemp will deliver a State of the State address on Thursday to outline his election-year agenda ahead of a challenging battle for a second term.

Democrat Stacey Abrams swears she didn’t snub President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. From the AJC:

Stacey Abrams’ campaign slammed the “false rumors” about her decision to skip President Joe Biden’s voting rights event in Atlanta and called on anonymous operatives to stop spreading inaccuracies about the Georgia Democrat.

“Stacey did not presume she would receive an invitation, nor did she or any member of our team ask for her to have a speaking spot at an event she could not attend,” Bringman said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Her decision triggered speculation in Washington – and attacks from Republicans in Georgia – that she was avoiding the president’s souring approval ratings.

But that narrative hasn’t reflected her strategy. She has closely aligned herself with Biden, campaigned to be his running-mate and launched her bid with a promise to back the president’s agenda.

“I’m running to be the governor of Georgia and anyone willing to invest in Georgia and improve our infrastructure and keep our voters safe is welcome to come work with us,” she said in a recent interview of her plans to ally herself with Biden throughout the campaign.

The AJC reviewed correspondence between the White House and the Abrams campaign that showed there was never a request or an inquiry about a speaking slot, nor were there any conditions on attending.

The emails, which redacted personal information, also show Abrams was given rough details of the event on Jan. 9 and never confirmed she would attend.

A scheduling conflict also apparently affected the Committee hearing on Buckhead Cityhood, according to the AJC.

The delegation heard from stakeholders who outlined their arguments against the secession movement, including questions they still have about the specifics of the cityhood proponents’ plans.

There was no one from the Buckhead City Committee at the virtual meeting to answer those questions. Rep. Betsy Holland, who represents a Buckhead district and chairs the Atlanta House delegation, said committee CEO Bill White was invited to speak during the meeting, but said he had a scheduling conflict. The delegation asked for a time that would fit his schedule, but didn’t hear back, Holland said.

“We all regret that Bill White deemed it not necessary for him to participate in this process,” state Sen. Nan Orrock said. “It would’ve been a very valuable opportunity for an exchange.”

Sam Lenaeus, the president of the pro-cityhood group, attended the virtual meeting but did not speak. He said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that “the joint delegation is free to meet whenever it wants to talk about whatever it wants. We offered to send a representative to answer questions from members, but they said no.”

UGA Terry School of Business Dean Ben Ayers spoke about Georgia’s economy, according to The Brunswick News.

He said the business climate in the state remains positive, with a 95% employment rate for the business school’s graduates.

Georgia’s economic outlook for 2022 is positive, with steady growth forecast throughout the year. Ayers predicted growth of 4.3%.

The private sector, which he said has “an abundance of unfilled jobs,” is expected to be the main strength of the economy.

State and local governments will also grow and the housing boom will continue, he said.

As for risks that could slow down the recovery, supply side problems, a shortage of workers, transportation bottlenecks, inflation and a possible stock market correction or debt crisis are all concerns.

The state has a 3.2% unemployment rate, below the 4.1% national rate. Consumer spending is expected to increase by 4.5% and personal income growth is expected to rise 1.9%, he said.

Will the Georgia State Capitol see thawing relations with the local beverage company? From an AJC article several days ago:

When House Speaker David Ralston wielded a Pepsi in Coca-Cola country during the closing hours of the last legislative session, he seemed to signal an impending war with corporate powers in Georgia over the state’s new voting law.

Ralston and other top GOP leaders were infuriated in April that Coke and Delta had joined the chorus of critics who blasted the state’s election rewrite. Back then, he suggested there would be payback: “You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand.”

Now, though, it seems that the rift has been healed.

“Redemption is always possible,” Ralston said Thursday. “There has been discussion over the last year and I think some people may now see the error in their ways.”

He added: “They just did what I asked them to do. I said, ‘Go read the damn bill. I’m not even going to argue with you. Read the bill.’”

This could go further in improving the relationship.

And is it correct to call them the National Champions for 2021 or 2022?

Two candidates for Augusta Mayor lead the pack in fundraising, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In their first required report, Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick has raised $75,581 and business owner Garnett Johnson reported $127,600 – $125,000 of it his own funds – to drum up support over the next few months.

The other 10 mayoral candidates reported little or no campaign cash. Only one, former Commissioner Marion Williams, has enough on hand to cover the $1,950 qualifying fee, while retired educator Lori Myles and race newcomer Christopher Leggett haven’t filed the required reports.

Johnson, who founded a successful office supply and equipment business, listed a $125,000 loan to himself on the report. His largest individual contribution was from company official Michael Dunbar.

The Valdosta Board of Education cast two tie votes on adopting a mask mandate, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Following the second 4-4 vote to reinstate masks, resulting in a dead motion, the mask mandate reinstatement was tabled until the next board meeting.

The Glynn County Board of Education voted to remove the option of mask mandates from COVID-19 procedures, according to The Brunswick News.

Murray County schools are going online temporarily due to COVID, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Last week, the school system had 57 student cases of COVID-19 and 21 staff cases, which is about 3% of the school system’s total staff and “less than 1% of students,” Loughridge said. However, “we’re higher this week, by quite a bit.”

As of Wednesday, there were 57 new student cases of COVID-19 since last Friday, and 21 new cases of COVID-19 among staff members, according to the school system.

Consequently, the school system is using distance learning for middle and high schools Thursday and for all schools Friday, according to Derichia Lynch, executive assistant to the superintendent.

Whitfield County public schools are seeing a dramatic increase in COVID numbers, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The number of COVID-19 cases among Whitfield County Schools students and staff is “like an avalanche right now,” said Deputy Superintendent Karey Williams.

It’s “been a big” surge since the school system returned from holiday break last week, and “we’re using support staff” to cover openings in buildings, as finding substitutes has been a challenge, but “we’re hanging in there,” Williams said. Central office personnel have also been going to buildings “to keep things up and running,” as it’s “all hands on deck.”

For the week that concluded Dec. 17, which was the final week before Christmas break, Whitfield County Schools reported five student cases of COVID-19 and the same number of staff cases. Those figures jumped to 41 for staff and 131 for students for the week that ended Friday.

The surge of cases among staff members fueled by the highly-transmissible omicron variant has stressed a school system that was already operating short of needed personnel in areas like School Nutrition and bus drivers, Williams said.

Johnson County schools, citing staff shortages, go online on Friday, according to 13WMAZ.

Sumter County schools are closed today and tomorrow due to COVID, according to WTVM.

Evans County schools canceled classes for the rest of this week, according to WSAV.

Lee County public schools will enforce a mask mandate, according to WALB.

Starting Wednesday, Jan. 12, all students are required to wear a mask in schools. The mandate will be in effect until Jan. 25.

The school system also said they are struggling to keep schools open facing a shortage of bus drivers and substitute teachers.

WALB has a list of school closures and procedural changes due to COVID.

Turner County Schools

On Jan. 12, the school system went to 100% virtual instruction.

“With the spread of this new variant, it’s very contagious. We’re a small school district. We’ve had an issue at our high school and elementary, really district-wide with both students and teachers. So we made the decision to go virtual for a week or two to help slow the spread and to keep everyone safe. Safety and security is our highest priority,” said Dr. LaShonda Flanders, assistant superintendent for Turner County Schools.

Savannah City Manager Jay Melder spoke to the Savannah Downtown Business Association about the city’s priorities, according to WTOC.

Melder spoke about the newly created and city funded Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, explaining what the program’s director will be focusing on.

“The person that will and the work engaged is really about being there and engaging with folks who are most at-risk of using a gun, and those most at-risk of being a victim of gun violence.”

Another Savannah budget priority some in the room were more curious about was the city’s involvement with the creation of affordable housing, which is an issue that directly affects the downtown workforce.

“I think you’re going to see, on the more subsidy end, some ground breakings here pretty soon on the west side, hopefully to extend opportunities for deeply affordable housing, and kind of a cross section of our homelessness work as well.”

Melder followed up by saying money set aside in the affordable housing fund will allow the City to work with developers to help make affordable housing part of the framework for private development projects.

Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan expects to return to work after being sidelined by a December stroke, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Congratulations and condolences to LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton and his three city council colleagues, who took the oath for another term, according to WTVM.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 12, 2021

Betty White is a young female Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Looking for a fabulous family dog? Betty White is a petite female Boxer mix that thinks she is a lapdog. Friendly and affectionate, she is one year old and only weighs twenty-eight pounds. Betty loves everyone and is as gentle as a lamb. This sweetheart loves giving kisses and is all about snuggles. She is wonderful with children and great with other dogs. A snow-white beauty, Betty is wonderfully well-behaved and already housebroken. She enjoys playing outdoors and will need a fenced in backyard. Betty is easy to walk and enjoys getting out and meeting new people. This Golden Girl has stolen all of our hearts and truly is a gem.

Betty Rubble is a female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from Two Tailz Rescue in Roswell, GA.

Betty is a Senior English Bulldog who is available for adoption from Royal Animal Refuge in Tyrone, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2022

On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

On January 12, 1872, Benjamin Conley stepped down as Governor of Georgia, the first Republican to hold the office and the last until January 13, 2003, when Sonny Perdue was sworn in.

He joined the Republican Party and became president of the state Senate after the Civil War. That was the office he held in October 1871 when Gov. Rufus Bullock, also an Augusta Republican, left the state under pressure from state Democrats. According to the Georgia Constitution, Conley became governor, holding the job until a replacement could be elected and take office two months later.

On January 12, 1906, the American Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass. Some credit Georgia Tech coach John Heisman as having popularized the idea of making the forward pass legal after seeing it in a game between Georgia and North Carolina.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected the first Commissioner of Baseball on January 12, 1921. Judge Landis was named after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where his father was wounded fighting for the Union.

Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome Today

10:00 AM – Senate Floor Session (LD 2) Senate Chamber
11:00 AM – HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 2) House Chamber
1:00 PM – House Governmental Affairs Special Subcommittee- Cityhood 406 CLOB HYBRID
2:00 PM – Senate Retirement Committee 310 CLOB
3:00 PM – Senate Finance Committee 450 CAP

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris appeared yesterday in Atlanta. From the AJC:

Joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden — on the campus of Morehouse College — also called on Congress to pass election legislation in a passionate speech about protecting voting rights.

“Today, I’m making it clear: protect our democracy,” the president said. “I support changing our Senate rules whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.”

In her speech, Harris took aim at Georgia’s new restrictive election law.

“We must not be deceived into thinking a law that makes it more difficult for students to vote is normal,” she said. “We must not be deceived into thinking a law that makes it illegal to help a voter with a disability vote by mail is normal. There is nothing normal about a law that makes it illegal to pass out water or food to people standing in long voting lines.”

Biden spoke for 40 minutes on the importance of passing federal voting legislation, especially in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol fueled by election misinformation, plus new laws that Georgia and other Republican-led states passed that make it harder to cast a ballot.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called Biden “out of touch with reality” Tuesday for advocating for new federal laws. Georgia’s new law, Senate Bill 202, helped build confidence in election security, Kemp said.

”The facts are simple: SB 202 expands early voting opportunities, secures drop boxes around the clock, reduces long lines at polling places and implements the very same voter ID requirement for absentee ballots that we’ve had for in-person voting for well over a decade,” he said.

Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s most prominent voting rights activist and a candidate for governor, also did not attend, citing a scheduling conflict. Biden told reporters prior to departing the White House on Tuesday morning that he had spoken to Abrams and they are on the same page.

Dear reader, in what must have been an early(ish) morning haze, my native cynicism, honed by thirty years of being lied to by politicians, failed me yesterday. I didn’t think twice about the statement that Stacey Abrams had another commitment that a note from the President wouldn’t have gotten her excused from.

From the Associated Press:

During a day that was shrouded in the city’s legacy as a bastion of the Civil Rights Movement, the absence of one of the nation’s most prominent voting rights activists created something of an awkward moment.

For Biden, it was an unexpected snub at a time when he faces mounting vulnerabilities, including skepticism from Black voters who elected him and now question his dedication to their priorities. And for Abrams, who once openly lobbied Biden to pick her as his vice president, her absence left the impression that she was now distancing from the leader of her party as she campaigns for Georgia governor.

Biden and Abrams quickly sought to smooth over any damage. An aide said late Monday that an unspecified scheduling conflict would prevent Abrams from attending Biden’s event, but after Biden spoke, she released a statement saying she welcomed his commitment to changing the filibuster to allow voting bills to come to a vote. “I look forward to continuing to work with them to make progress for Georgians,” Abrams said.

“We have a great relationship,” Biden said. “We got our scheduling mixed up.”

“Not being in attendance because you have something to do is a way for you to not alienate the president, who’s the stand-in for the establishment wing of the party,” said Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie. “But it also shields you from criticism from progressives, who might be critical if it looked like she was accepting of a symbolic gesture that didn’t come with any substantive announcement.”

It was videos and photos with Biden that she feared, dear reader! Stacey Abrams knows that Biden’s support is tanking and correctly surmised he could sink her effort to become Emperor Governor.

From the Hill:

Stacey Abrams helped Biden steal the 2020 Election in Georgia but now she won’t even share a stage with Joe,” Trump said in a statement, repeating his false claim that the 2020 presidential election in Georgia was marred by widespread voter fraud.

“Stacey knows that Biden actually lost BIG in Georgia, and in the 2020 Presidential Election as a whole, and he’s been so terrible she now wants nothing to do with him,” Trump added. “Even the woke, radical left realizes that Joe Biden’s Administration is an embarrassment!”

From an opinion piece that ran in the Hill:

It is stunning, to the point of disturbing, that the president and most of his party are focused on voting rights when the subject isn’t on the minds of most Americans. A recent AP poll shows that 66 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. (The number was just 49 percent when Biden took office.)

But the rubber truly meets the road when those surveyed are asked what the government needs to prioritize moving ahead in 2022: 68 percent said the economy, which is experiencing 40-year high in inflation. Voting generated just 6 percent.

In order to apply maximum pressure and gain maximum media attention for the Georgia visit, Biden-Harris needed the presence and support of Abrams, the Democrats’ most high-profile voting rights activist. But out of nowhere, she pulled out, citing a scheduling conflict and only offered support via Twitter.

So why the snub? One reason is that even before completing one year in office, Biden and Harris are toxic to members of their own party. A December Hill/Harris-X poll found that 37 percent of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek reelection, a remarkably high number so early into a first term. Most voters overall don’t want Biden to run, including nearly 6-in-10 independents. And some of the harsh criticism is now on the record, a real sign of Biden’s weakness within the ranks.

“We do not need any more speeches, we don’t need any more platitudes,” James Woodall, former president of the N.A.A.C.P. of Georgia, told the New York Times this week. “We don’t need any more photo ops. We need action, and that actually is in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, as well as the Freedom to Vote Act — and we need that immediately.” Needless to say, Woodall and the NAACP of Georgia also declined to join the president and vice president on Tuesday.

From the New York Times:

Voting rights groups looked to Mr. Biden, who had pledged to protect the right to vote, for an aggressive response. He delivered a forceful speech last summer in Philadelphia, and assigned the voting rights portfolio to Ms. Harris. But the administration poured its energy into passing Mr. Biden’s economic agenda, including the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the sweeping Build Back Better plan.

The failure to press as hard for voting rights legislation has soured some of those advocates for voting rights on the administration.

From 11Alive:

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger held a press conference Tuesday morning where he presented four proposals he wants federal lawmakers to consider to reform elections nationwide.

“I am calling on Congress to take steps to strengthen our elections systems and restore the confidence that decades of stolen election claims have stolen from our elections infrastructure,” Raffensperger said during his press conference.

The Secretary of State’s proposals include:

• Amending the U.S. Constitution to ban noncitizens from voting in elections
• Nationwide voter ID requirements
• A nationwide ban on ballot harvesting
• Federal law to shorten the blackout period for elections officials to conduct voter roll maintenance prior to an election

Gov. Brian Kemp also held a press conference Tuesday afternoon amid the presidential visit.

“I’m going to stay on the side of fighting for the bill that we got passed last year,” he said.

“I believe it does exactly what we needed. It restores confidence in the elections process here in our state,” he said.

“Municipal elections last year went incredibly smooth,” he said.

Governor Kemp is asking the General Assembly to move quickly on $2000 raises for teachers to be delivered as bonuses, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Gov. Brian Kemp wants teachers to get the remaining $2,000 of his proposed $5,000 raise as soon as possible, with plans to ask lawmakers to give teachers a one-time $2,000 bonus before the current budget year ends, according to information obtained by The Associated Press.

The information indicated Kemp would seek to make the increase a permanent part of their salary when the next budget year begins July 1.

“Students from all walks of life are confronted with mental health struggles, teachers are asked to do more and more every year, and the need for a world-class K-12 education to prepare our children for an ever-changing workforce has never been greater,” Kemp plans to say in his annual State of the State speech Thursday, according to draft remarks obtained by the AP.

Kemp also plans to seek a one-time $2,000 payment to other full-time K-12 employees and administrators who aren’t teachers, while asking them to pay a $1,000 one-time bonus to part-time employees, school nurses, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

Fewer ballots were put in drop boxes in 2021 after adoption of new state election rules, according to the AJC.

Roughly half as many absentee voters returned their ballots in drop boxes in metro Atlanta’s core counties in 2021 compared to the 2020 general election, according to ballot collection forms obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Now, Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would eliminate drop boxes entirely in future elections.

Most absentee voters in metro Atlanta relied on drop boxes in 2020 rather than depend on the postal service to deliver their ballots before polls closed on Election Day.

Georgia’s voting law limited drop boxes to early voting locations and hours, meaning voters were unable deliver ballots in the evening or during the three days before election day.

The law also capped the number of drop boxes at one per 100,000 active voters in each county. As a result, the number of drop boxes in Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties decreased from 87 in 2020 to 20 last year.

One-third of absentee voters returned their ballots in drop boxes in last fall’s elections, according to drop box collection forms obtained by the AJC through records requests to Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties. Gwinnett County didn’t run local elections in 2021.

By comparison, 60% of absentee ballots were delivered in those three counties’ drop boxes during the 2020 election, when they were more widely available.

Gwinnett County will pay for voting materials in four additional non-English languages, according to AccessWDUN.

Gwinnett County will soon be making voting materials available in more languages. Last week Gwinnett Commissioners approved a budget that will fund voter materials and sample ballots into four Asian languages.

The budget will mean that everything that isn’t an actual ballot will be provided in multiple languages. Actual ballots will still be provided in English and in Spanish as is required by federal law. Other materials include sample ballots, registration paperwork, and other informational materials about voting and working at the polls.

This year’s Gwinnett budget contains $4.4 million in expanded election services, including the new translation initiative and eight new elections division positions. Also covered by that funding is a pay increase for poll workers and postage for absentee ballots.

Georgia State Senator Clint Dixon (R-Buford) will pursue again making Gwinnett County Board of Education eections nonpartisan, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

After looking at the possibility of changing school board elections across Georgia to make them nonpartisan, state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, says will not pursue a statewide change — but he will introduce legislation specifically targeting the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

Dixon confirmed his plans with the Daily Post on Monday. He said he plans to introduce a bill within the next few weeks to switch the Gwinnett school board from partisan to nonpartisan elections, although he added that there are some details that need to be sorted out first.

“After talking to stakeholders as far as education professionals and elected officials statewide, I mean it was certainly a mix is being in favor and being in opposition of it going statewide,” Dixon said. “(That was) bipartisan, both Republicans and Democrats. I’m definitely going to focus on Gwinnett though.”

As local legislation, Dixon, who is the only Republican in Gwinnett’s Senate delegation, would need to get some Democrats in Gwinnett’s House and Senate delegations to sign on to the proposal.

“I’ve not determined exactly how it will look, but I want to move forward on it pretty quickly,” Dixon said.

Brunswick Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Stephen Scarlett heard arguments on a lawsuit to halt the Spaceport Camden, according to The Brunswick News.

Camden County Attorney John Meyers argued the request by opponents for a countywide referendum to determine if the voters should decide if the county should be allowed to purchase the property from Union Carbide is too late.

Meyers said organizers of the petition drive intentionally submitted petitions signed multiple times by the same people and questioned the motivation and timing of the petition.

Dana Braun, a lawyer representing two plaintiffs who filed the complaint, said the civil complaint in Superior Court to stop the land purchase could not be filed until the petitions went to Probate Court in Camden County.

County officials said the deal to close on the property this week could be jeopardized if Scarlett grants the request to delay the purchase until Probate Court certifies if there are enough valid signatures to hold a referendum. About 3,200 valid signatures from registered voters are needed to hold the referendum.

Evans County Charter School System will remain virtual this week due to staff shortages, according to WTOC.

Due to an excessive amount of COVID-related employee and student absences, the Evans County Charter School System will be closed January 12-14, 2022.

Superintendent Martin Waters said the district will observe MLK Holiday on Monday, January 17th and reopen on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.

“We don’t have enough employees to operate, not enough teachers to operate, not enough school nutrition workers to serve lunch. I mean, it went from 63 yesterday to 83 today and we know we’ll have potential cases tomorrow so we simply just didn’t have the staff to operate school. All of the indications from medical advisors, is that Omicron is extremely contagious and it appears that’s what happened. We’ve had a case or two and it’s spread like wildfire,” said Dr. Waters.

More Richmond County schools are going online, according to WJBF.

Staff shortages are affecting school bus service in the Columbus area, according to WTVM.

A nationwide school bus driver shortage is causing stress to families in our area.

For the past several mornings, [a local mother] explained her children have been standing in the cold weather for up to an hour – missing the school bus and late for school.

Just Monday, over in Harris County, the School District released a statement urging parents who rely on a school bus to have a back up plan in place for the time being.

Justin Finney, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services and Technology for Harris County explains routes haven’t had to be altered yet, but they want to be prepared.

“Right now, out of our 80 drivers, we do have 15 drivers off their routes,” Finney explained. “Five vacancies, some COVID numbers and other various reasons. If we do have to alter a bus route, we determine the route we have to alter then we call parents as quick as we can.”

In Harris County they are also in desperate need of bus drivers. It takes up to eight weeks after being hired for drivers to start a route.

Chatham County Health Department is also affected by staffing shortages, according to WTOC.

Three Savannah-area schools switched to virtual attendance due to staff shortages, according to WSAV.

Dalton public schools face rising COVID numbers, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Augusta Commissioners have heard from residents opposed to fireworks, according to WJBF.

“I don’t see a reason why on a regular evening, that fireworks should be going off until midnight, we should cut back to ten or 11 o’clock,” said Commissioner McKnight.

Fireworks are legal until midnight, in Georgia and 1 AM New Year’s Eve, McKnight saying she got a lot of complaints about noise into the wee hours on New Year’s Day, that’s why she’s saying they should end earlier.

McKnight taking her request to do something about fireworks noise to the commission Public Services Committee, where commissioners were told if you want earlier hours for fireworks, create a local ordinance.

“If the commission, it’s there will to change pretty much any of these local ordinances I believe you have the ability to do so,” said City Administrator Odie Donald.

The ability is there for a local fireworks ordinance, but it appears right now, not the will.

Two new Dougherty County Commissioners were sworn in, according to the Albany Herald.

The new Commissioners, Jalen Johnson in Ward II and Vilnis Gaines in Ward III, took the oath of office with Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who won a sixth term during the 2021 municipal election.

Judge Ronald K. “Ronnie” Thompson was appointed by Gov. Kemp to the Superior Court for the Ogeechee Circuit, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Politics and preparations to add a fourth judge in the circuit, which includes Bulloch, Effingham, Jenkins and Screven counties, began several years ago. The new judgeship was created, but postdated to begin this year, with the Georgia General Assembly’s passage in early 2020 of House Bill 786, which also created additional judgeships in two other circuits. Funding was approved in 2021 with the current budget.

“I’m glad Governor Kemp picked me,” Thompson said Tuesday.  “The other two individuals, Martha and Matt, they’re very well qualified. But I’m glad he picked me. You know, I’ve been doing this for 19 years and I just felt it was time to try something different, and I’m qualified, ready to serve, looking forward to serving.”

He took office as full-time Effingham County State Court judge on Jan. 1, 2003, after winning an election over two other candidates, and has since been re-elected without opposition multiple times.

Thompson is slated to be sworn in Tuesday, Jan. 18, in a ceremony at the Capitol in Atlanta. He is limited to 15 seats for guests, and plans to be accompanied by his wife, Crystal, and some other family members, friends and local officials.

With the expansion to a fourth judge, the circuit is also receiving state funding for a legal assistant or secretary for Thompson, an additional staff attorney to work for all of the judges, an added attorney for the District Attorney’s Office and another for the Public Defenders Office.

Meanwhile, Effingham County is in need of a new State Court judge. Thompson would have been up for re-election to that office this year, with his term set to end Dec. 31. Now, the governor will probably appointment someone to serve out the year, and candidates can qualify to seek a full term, Thompson said.



Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 11, 2022

Sweet Pea is a female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg, GA.

Sweet Pea is a very very sweet girl who is shy upon meeting but loves belly rubs! She will also talk to you! Sweet Pea’s Adoption fee is $130. This includes spay, rabies, microchip, distemper, kennel cough, and heartworm testing. Sweet Pea is light positive for heartworms.

Nugget is a male Black Mouth Cur mix who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg, GA.

Nugget is a Sweet 2 year old Cur mix. His adoption fee is $120 which includes Neuter, Rabies, Microchip, Distemper and Kennel cough, and his heartworm testing. He is heartworm negative.

Tucker is a male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Lee County Animal Shelter in Leesburg, GA.

Tucker is a playful 2 year old Lab Mix. His adoption fee is $120. The price includes neuter, rabies, microchip, distemper, kennel cough and heartworm test. Tucker is heartworm negative.

From the Albany Herald:

In 2021 the Lee County Animal Shelter was able to find homes for 528 cats and dogs, a remarkable achievement that was the direct result of the efforts by the facility’s staff.

The animal shelter, located on the corner of Georgia Highway 32 and Mossy Dell Road, is under the supervision of Marshall Jim Wright of Code Enforcement. It is staffed by Jessica Walker, Dana Mathis, Tanner Apperson and Tiffany Malszycki. Most of the animals at the shelter are strays that are brought in by Animal Control Officers Sherman Martin and Kathy Mills. A small few are drop-offs by citizens who are no longer able or willing to care for a pet.

For such a small shelter, which is able to house only a maximum of 47 animals, staff is able to find permanent homes for almost all the animals taken in. The pet-friendly folks who work there are dedicated to their jobs of caring for the animals, keeping the shelter clean, and posting notices of adoption potentials, among other duties. With the exception of severely injured, sick or aggressive animals, almost all animals taken to the shelter were adopted last year.

“This is all about the staff’s efforts,” Wright said. “They love what they do and take great pride in their jobs of caring for all the animals brought into the facility.”

For persons who are so inclined, the shelter also accepts pet food drop-offs from citizens, as well as cleaning supplies and other monetary donations throughout the year. Donations to neighborhood shelters, officials note, have more impact on a local community than donations to nationwide organizations.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 11, 2022

On January 11, 1765, Francis Salvador of South Carolina became the first Jewish elected official in America when he took a seat in the South Carolina Provincial Congress. Salvador’s grandfather was one of 42 Jews who emigrated to Georgia in 1733. Salvador later became the first Jewish soldier to die in the American Revolution.

On January 11, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument.

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Marvin Griffin of Bainbridge was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 11, 1955.

Marvin Griffin Monument

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will stop in Atlanta today for a photo opportunity. From WTOC:Continue Reading..