Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 22, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 22, 2014

James Edward Oglethorpe was born in London, England, on December 22, 1696. He was elected to Parliament, where he worked on prison reform and had the idea of a new colony where “worthy poor” Brits could be sent. In 1732, Oglethorpe was granted a charter to create a colony of Georgia in the new world.

On December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony premiered on December 22, 1808 in Vienna, Austria.

Governor George Gilmer signed legislation that prohibited teaching slaves or free African-Americans to read or write on December 22, 1829.

Martha Bulloch and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. were married at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia on December 22, 1853. Their son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. would later be elected President of the United States.

On December 22, 1864, General William T. Sherman wired to President Abraham Lincoln from Savannah, Georgia,

His Excellency President LINCOLN:

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.

W.T. Sherman,
Major General.

From the Savannah Morning News, an African-American perspective on Savannah’s role in the Civil War.

First Bryan Baptist Church, known as Third African during this time, was the only church sitting in the middle of the battlefield.

As citizens fled the city of Savannah out of fear, officers of First Bryan refused to close the church’s doors.

Alexander Harris, a deacon of the church, was a Confederate soldier. Deacon Harris understood First Bryan Baptist Church’s defenseless position and led officers of the church down to the Confederate defense line for the city at the Ogeechee Canal to request that the church be saved from destruction.

Dr. William Pollard, an officer of the church, lived on Bryan Street across from First Bryan Baptist Church. As Sherman’s army came down Bay Road, Dr. Pollard gave the captain one of the torches that was used for light in the front of the church.

The captain used the torch so the army could see their way into the city. Gen. Sherman summoned Dr. Pollard and gave him the assignment of contacting all Afro-Americans in Savannah to request that they gather in Greene Square on Jan. 1 for the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Garrison Frazier, a retired minister and First Bryan’s eighth pastor, was the spokesman for the leaders of the Afro-American churches and minsters who met with Gen. Sherman and U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

The Rev. Ulysses Houston, First Bryan’s ninth pastor, and officers of the church Deacon Andrew Neal and the Rev. Alexander Harris were in attendance.

The Rev. Ulysses Houston was elected to the Georgia Legislature while he still was the ninth pastor of First Bryan Baptist Church. He asked the legislature to establish Georgia State Industrial and Agriculture College, now known as Savannah State University.

First Bryan Baptist Church was constituted in 1788 is located on the oldest piece of land owned by African-Americans in the United States.

One Way to Give Today

After the murder of New York Police Department officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, the Silver Shield Foundation announced it would pay for the education of the two sons of Officer Ramos, as it has done for thousands of other children of Officers who died in the line of duty.

[Late New York Yankees owner George] Steinbrenner started his foundation in 1982 after seeing a news account of four children flanking their mother and folding an American flag at the funeral of their father, an NYPD officer who had been killed in the line of duty.

“Who’s going to take care of these kids,” Steinbrenner asked his friend, former Olympian Jim Fuchs, who would run the foundation until his death, also in 2010. “We are.”

The foundation, now run by Fuchs’ daughter Casey, has paid for the educations of thousands of children of fallen NYPD, FDNY, state police and Port Authority workers in the tri-state area, as well as 700 children who lost a parent in the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

You can donate online to the Silver Shield Foundation.

Georgia Politics

My latest column in looks at the idea being promoted by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for a “SEC Presidential Primary” on March 1, 2016.

2016 Southern States Primary Corrected

More than just an SEC affair, it’s shaping up as a Southern Super Tuesday.

Eric Tanenblatt, a Republican strategist in Georgia who held leadership roles in Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, said, “an SEC primary in early March will definitely put the south in the national spotlight. However, as we have seen in the past, the field will be a lot smaller after the primaries and caucuses occur in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.”

After that winnowing process in the early states, on March 1, as many as 564 delegates from Texas (155) and Florida (100), Georgia (76), Tennessee (58), Alabama (50), Mississippi (40), and Arkansas (36) will be allocated among the remaining candidates. Based on 2012 Republican delegate allocation of 2286 convention seats, those states represent nearly a quarter of the delegates up for grab in the entire Republican primary process.

Under RNC rules, delegates in these states will be awarded proportionally among candidates according to each state’s rules. This too has implications for how candidates will campaign in these states.

“Given the new national party rules, an early March primary date will take away the guarantee of winner takes all primaries. There will be a lot of targeting done by campaigns as proportionality of delegates will be the name of the game,” said Tanenblatt.

Many within the socially conservative wing of the GOP see a Southern Super Tuesday as a way to put their own stamp on the eventual nominee. But it also means that no candidate can take all of the delegates by winning slim majorities in these states.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Sally Q. Yates, who currently serves as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, will be appointed Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice.

In her 22 years as a prosecutor in Georgia, Yates has experience in a wide variety of cases, specializing in public corruption . She was the lead prosecutor in the Atlanta prosecution of Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.

“She did a phenomenal job putting that difficult, complicated case together,” said former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, who worked with Yates on the Rudolph investigation and has known her for 20 years.

“She’s remarkably talented and has a solution to every problem,” Freeh said in an interview. “Her biggest fans are the FBI street agents, the DEA agents, the postal inspectors and the Secret Service. Everybody sings her praises. And she has no ego. She would rather be writing a sentencing memo than get up and have a press conference.”

Yates also oversaw the prosecution of former Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Fanning-Lasseter and former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer; Yates personally tried former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell on federal corruption charges and led the investigation of former Fulton County Commissioner Michael Hightower that led to his pleading guilty to bribery.

Jack Kingston continued his farewell tour with a stop in St Simons Island to pin the Purple Heart on Staff Sergeant Jaime Perez.

As he has done numerous times, Kingston pinned a medal on Perez, in this case a Purple Heart awarded to Perez for his injuries suffered in Iraq when his convoy was hit Feb. 23, 2007, by rocket propelled grenades.

Kingston thanked Perez for the honor of letting him pin the medal on him.

“After another 22 years, I’m out of work,’’ Kingston told Perez. “To end my career doing this is one of the greatest honors you can give me.”

Kingston spoke of attending memorial services at Fort Stewart, the headquarters of the 3rd Infantry Division, in which Perez served. Generally, there are two or three families who have lost loved ones, he said.

“If you really want to see the face of war, see the faces of survivors,’’ he said.

With Perez’s wife, Melanie, and daughter, Yashira, watching, Kingston pinned the Purple Heart on Perez.

Perez, who came from Puerto Rico and now lives in Hinesville, spoke glowingly of what it means to be in the American commonwealth.

With his war done, Perez said the country can’t shrink from the battle.

“We can’t do this. We can’t back up,’’ he said. “If I had to do it again, yes. I would not hesitate.”

Our heartfelt thanks to Staff Sgt. Perez and his family.

A plan by the Chatham County Superior Court to handle major cases faster appears to have been successful.

Now as Karpf’s two-year term in the Major Crimes Division ends and he prepares to resume his duties in the other crimes division and domestic cases, Karpf said he is confident the plan adopted by the court is working as designed.

“I am always reluctant to claim victory, but I am satisfied we have accomplished what we set out to accomplish,” Karpf said.

For example, the recent trial of Norman Smart in the June 7 slaying of his wife at their Wilmington Island home was disposed of during the first week of December — an almost unheard of crime-to-disposition time frame.

“You never saw (such quick) trial of a case like that before,” Karpf said. “We’re trying them in a pretty timely fashion, and that is important.”

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners has asked the General Assembly for raises for themselves and about 20 other local officials, but State Sen. Judson Hill (R-Cobb) thinks the legislature shouldn’t be setting local salaries, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

In Cobb County, about 20 positions have salaries controlled by the Statehouse, including judges, the Board of Commissioners and various staffers. On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners approved sending a resolution to the Legislature stating the county has budgeted for these positions to receive a merit-based raise of up to 3 percent in the coming year should the Statehouse decide to adjust those salaries.

“That item was a message to the legislators that there’s money set aside for the other elected officials that may desire to go after a raise that has to be administered through local legislation,” said Cobb Chairman Tim Lee.

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), chairman of the Cobb Legislative Delegation and the Senate Finance Committee, said it would be “wise” for Cobb’s delegation to review the process in the coming session.

“Many (members) of the Cobb County Delegation believe that it’s not our role to be approving or denying salary increases for a select group of county employees,” Hill said. “However, under old local legislation dating back 20-plus years ago, the Cobb County Delegation was required to do so, unlike, perhaps, every other county in the whole state.”

Hill said he doesn’t think the legislators should be the ones to make the decision for offices other than those required by the Georgia Constitution, such as the county’s sheriff or Superior Court judges.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the role of our delegation unique to Cobb County. If the Cobb County Commissioners want to provide pay raises for their employees, then I believe that they and those who supervise them are best suited to assess that, not somebody who’s distanced from the day-to-day operations of their agencies.”

Former State Sen. Hardie Davis was elected Mayor of Augusta in May, but takes office next month, meaning his predecessor has had a seven-month lame duck status.

“Having early elections, then not taking office until the following year complicated the issue of having individuals sitting in office knowing that they would not return,” Davis said. “I think the term is lame-duck status.”

Davis, who is completing his second full term in the state Sen­ate, said he expects the Gene­ral Assembly to tackle the issue by making start dates for the newly elected earlier after it convenes Jan. 12.

By then, Augusta will have inaugurated its first black mayor since the city and Richmond Coun­ty consolidated in 1996. (Ed McIntyre was elected mayor in 1981 before consolidation.)

Davis also has mostly avoided the local spotlight since the election and instead worked to assemble a transition team and committees to prepare for his term.

“We’re targeting a February timeframe to have all that work done and an associated report done toward the end of February,” he said.

His limited involvement in city government since winning the election has been stymied by the Augusta Commission, which declined to include his requests to fund additional staff and expanded office space on the remodeled Municipal Building’s second floor.

Davis said he hoped for further conversation with the commission about making “Augusta the best place it can be” in the new year.

Warner Robins municipal offices will be shuffled around as Mayor Toms decides how to use two buildings the city bought across the street from City Hall.

Bibb County offices are also moving, as the Macon-Bibb consolidation takes effect.

Georgia Charter Schools Association will begin a Charter School “incubator” to help prepare school administrators.

The charter school incubator, New Schools for Georgia, is designed to particularly assist charters in their infancy, often their most challenging time, by helping them establish effective governing boards, boost financial sustainability and develop clear missions.

“It’s (incubator) going to significantly help with the quality of our charter schools, which is good for kids,” said Lou Erste, associate superintendent for policy and charter schools at the Georgia Department of Education. “We need higher quality (charter school) applications if we want to have higher quality schools.”

Georgia has 115 charter schools, close to 4 percent of the schools in the state; five years ago, the number was 110. Charter advocates and state education officials say the number of charter schools should be higher.

“I’ve seen a number of charter schools that have opened and run for a few years and then just basically faltered because they were unable to focus on their mission and vision,” said Allen Mueller, executive director of the new incubator, who previously was director of innovation for Atlanta Public Schools where he helped authorize the creation of charter schools in the district. “They were unable to … focus on serving kids because they were too busy trying to figure out how to deal with facilities or how to run a board meeting or how to deal with open records requests or how to hire good staff.”

The AJC profiles “Travelin’” Joe Gerrard, the Brigadier General who will take over command of the Georgia National Guard.


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