Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 14, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 14, 2015

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 14, 1791, George Washington addressed the Grand Lodge of Georgia Masons in Savannah.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

One hundred fifty years ago today, on May 14, 2014, the VMI Corps of Cadets marched 15 miles and camped overnight at Mt. Tabor, near New Market, Virginia. The next day they would march into history.

On the same day, the Battle of Resaca was fully engaged in Northwest Georgia.

On Saturday, May 14, the fighting at Resaca escalated into a full-scale battle. Beginning at dawn, Union forces engaged the Confederates along the entire four-mile front. In the early afternoon Schofield’s Army of the Ohio attacked the sharply angled center of the Confederate line. The assault was badly managed and disorganized, in part because one of Schofield’s division commanders was drunk. As the Union attack unraveled and became a fiasco, Johnston launched a counterattack on Sherman’s left flank. The counterattack collapsed, however, in the face of a determined stand by a Union artillery battery. In the evening Union forces pushed forward and seized the high ground west of Resaca, which placed the bridges leading south from the town within artillery range and threatened Johnston’s line of retreat.The following day Sherman renewed his assault on the Confederate center.

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center’s original production “37 Weeks that Changed Georgia” chronicles the Battle of Resaca in this week’s episode.

Tomorrow from 3-4 PM, Georgia Public Broadcasting’s  “Political Rewind” will be live from the Georgia Republican Party State Convention in Athens. The local station to tune-in is WUGA 91.7 FM. If you’re not already in Athens then, you can find your local GPB radio station here.

Georgia Politics

I wrote yesterday that Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis is likely to run for State House District 80, which is being vacated by Mike Jacobs, who will be appointed to the DeKalb County State Court.

Later that day, the AJC published a story about a complaint filed by two former City of Brookhaven employees alleging misconduct by Davis.

Two female Brookhaven employees accused Mayor J. Max Davis of sexual harassment, a spokeswoman for the city confirmed for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

City officials, however, disputed that characterization of the complaint. Late Wednesday, the city released a statement saying Mayor J. Max Davis has been cleared of wrongdoing.

“(City Attorney) Tom Kurrie has concluded that there was no intentional conduct that rose to the level of harassment of any type,” the news release said. “Neither of the employees involved claimed or inferred that this incident involving the mayor was sexual or harassing in nature.”

The Brookhaven Post has more on the dispute.

In an exclusive interview, Mayor J Max Davis told The Post, “It is unfortunate the term ‘sexual harassment’ was ever spoken to the media. This incident was never about that and neither of the parties present ever claimed or made that accusation.”

Mr. Kurrie also said that “There is not presently nor was there any investigation of sexual harassment being conducted by the City of Brookhaven. Furthermore, there has been no claim or complaint filed by anyone, employee or otherwise, alleging sexual harassment by the Mayor.”

[The city released the following statement:]

At the direction of the city manager, the city attorney on March 17, 2015, commenced the investigation of an incident where an aerosol can was sprayed in the vicinity of two city employees by the mayor. After interviewing the two employees, the mayor, the city manager and the human resources director, Mr. Tom Kurrie has concluded that there was no intentional conduct that rose to the level of harassment of any type. Neither of the employees involved claimed or inferred that this incident involving the mayor was sexual or harassing in nature. Mayor J. Max Davis said, “I have spoken with both employees present and they have accepted the sincere apology that I offered. The action was innocent and was not intended to bring discomfort.”

House District 155 has gained at least one candidate, with Scott Downing of Fitzgerald announcing he will enter the special election to succeed State Rep. Jay Roberts. Downing served as a Ben Hill County Commissioner, and resigned that seat to run for State House at a date to be announced.

A special election will be held June 16th to fill Commissioner Downing’s position. Depending on when the state announces their election dates, the House representative position may also be on the ballot.

Ben Hill County Manager Frank Feild said they hope to be able to hold the elections on the same day because it would save the county money. These elections were not budgeted for this year, so the county has to spend extra money.

Unintended Consequences: Homegrown Hope

After this year’s passage by the General Assembly of House Bill 1, “Haleigh’s Hope,” which legalizes treatment of certain medical conditions with cannabis oil and decriminalizes possession of the oil under strict state regulation, we now have a criminal case involving oil made illegally in Georgia and allegedly used for treatment of depression.

Heather Smith is taking anti-depressants now to ease her pain after her close friend and marijuana dealer, Bobby Thornton, was arrested two weeks ago. She is adamant about letting everyone know about the benefits of medical marijuana.

“These prescription drugs aren’t working,” Smith said. “The marijuana was what was working and my own doctor told me that. It doesn’t give me these side effects. It relaxes me and calms me down.”

Thornton was supplying Smith with oil capsules and cupcakes with marijuana baked in them. Smith says she doesn’t want Thornton to be seen as a criminal and wants the law to change.

“The law should recognize that people like me aren’t trying to sit out here and smoke weed all day and throw marijuana parties and act like a bunch of hoodlums running around,” Smith said.

Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby says he’s afraid his deputies may soon see more of these types of cases.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to start seeing more of it and people are going to try using the medical marijuana as an excuse but what you’ve got to realize is if they’re not registered with the Department of Public Health and they don’t have the card in their pocket or prescription from a doctor to have it then it’s illegal to possess it,” Hobby said.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), the leading proponent of medical marijuana legislation the last two years spoke to his local TV station about something not related to cannabis oil, religious liberty.

Rep. Allen Peake said he supports religious freedom. But he said lawmakers will have difficulty carving out legislation that guarantees religious freedom, while making sure it doesn’t open the door for discrimination against gays and others.

“This has been a very difficult issue and one that’s tough to address,” Peake said. “I have a gay brother and I love him dearly and will love him ’til the day he dies, and I want to make sure that he’s never discriminated against for his sexual orientation.”

Peake said he does want legislation that would make sure religious people aren’t required to be involved in activities that would violate their beliefs.

After the taping, Peake said he doesn’t support gay marriage. Marriage, he said, should be between a man and a woman.

Georgia Republican Party State Convention this weekend

The Athens Banner-Herald has a rundown of some of this weekend’s highlights for the GAGOP Convention in Athens.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), 8:30 AM Friday, Athena Ballroom

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), 3 PM Friday, Athena Ballroom

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), 7 PM Friday, Athena Ballroom

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, 2 PM Friday, Athena Ballroom

Governor Nathan Deal, 2 PM Friday, Athena Ballroom

U.S. Senator David Perdue, 10 AM Saturday, Athena Ballroom

This weekend, in addition to voting to re-elect John Padgett as Chair of the GAGOP, I also plan to cast my vote for Mansell McCord for Treasurer of the State Party. I’ve known Mansell for a number of years, as he served three terms as Fifth Congressional District Republican Party Chairman, a member of the State Committee for more than ten years, and as the leader of the Republican Leadership for Georgia program. As far as his professional qualifications, Mansell is an attorney with a degree in accounting and an advanced degree in tax law, which is the perfect set of qualifications for ensuring that the GAGOP’s funds are raised, administered, and spent in compliance with the complicated and overlapping state and federal laws governing political parties.

For whatever it’s worth, the rest of my ballots will look like this:

First Vice Chair – Michael McNeely
Second Vice Chair – Debbie McCord
Secretary – Kirk Shook
Assistant Secretary – Layla Shipman

Speaking of Athens, the local board of elections will send letters to voters who listed a UPS store as their residential address reminding them to change the address on their voter registration.

The board decided Tuesday that sending letters to the improperly registered voters, and giving them 30 days to respond, is preferable to moving directly into a legal challenge of those voters’ registrations.

The letters going out to the voters will include a card allowing them to update their addresses, Elections Supervisor Gail Schrader said after the board’s Tuesday meeting.

State law gives local elections boards the power to challenge the qualifications of registered voters. If the Athens-Clarke County board decides to challenge the registrations of any of the people using the 196 Alps Road address, hearings will be set and the board will determine whether the voters will be removed from the county’s voter rolls.

Elections officials guess that those voters are using mailbox services at the shopping center’s UPS Store, and entered that address, rather than the required residential address, on their voter registration form.

Federal Abortion Legislation

Yesterday in Washington, the House passed federal legislation to ban most abortions after 20 weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A group of lawmakers, led by Reps. Diane Black (R., Tenn.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), worked for weeks to hash out changes to win more GOP support for the bill, which passed 242 to 184.

Some Republicans had balked in January over forcing rape victims to report the assault to law-enforcement officials to qualify for the bill’s narrow exceptions allowing an abortion.

The bill would no longer require rape victims to file a police report. Instead, abortion providers would be required to ensure victims had received counseling or medical treatment at least 48 hours before the abortion.

“It’s a stronger bill,” Ms. Black said of the legislation, which was amended in a Rules Committee meeting Tuesday evening. “Rather than having a woman prove she was raped, let’s give her medical care and counseling.”

The bill also includes new provisions requiring a second doctor be present in cases where a fetus might be born alive during an attempted abortion, and that doctor would be required to provide neonatal care.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.) said Tuesday he still had some concerns with the legislation, including its limited carve-out for incest victims who are minors, but not those who are older. The bill would allow incest victims under the age of 18 to have an abortion beyond the 20-week cutoff.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has expressed support for a 20-week abortion ban, but hasn’t indicated he would bring it to the floor soon.

In late January, controversy over the legislation’s exceptions for cases of rape forced GOP leaders to pull the bill. The vote had been scheduled to coincide with the March for Life in Washington, and the delay was a big blow for many antiabortion activists.

Some in the Pro-Life movement opposed the legislation.

Those against the bill, including Savethe1 and Personhood Alliance objected to the huge push by National Right to Life, Susan B Anthony List and Priests for Life asking pro-life advocates to contact their congressman to support the bill, without mentioning that the bill had exceptions for rape and incest.

The basis of the bill is that preborn babies at 20 weeks gestation feel pain as they are being killed by abortion. Is there any reason to believe that the manner in which a child is conceived impacts their ability to feel pain? Rape conceived babies feel pain too. We are developmentally the same as babies conceive in love.

How illogical is it to say that a baby who can feel pain should be protected in some cases, but not others? We have a concept here in the United States called equal protection under the law. This concept usually governs the enactment of legislation by giving a hearing to bills to be discussed. This bill was scheduled to be brought to the floor for a vote without a hearing last time and it has been scheduled without a hearing again.

Georgia Life Alliance sent out an email lauding Georgia Congressmen who voted for the bill.

The Georgia Life Alliance Committee applauds the following Georgia members of the U.S. Congress for their yes vote in support of H.R.36: Congressman Tom Price, Representative Tom Graves, Representative Doug Collins, Representative Barry Loudermilk, Representative Buddy Carter, Representative Austin Scott, Representative Rick Allen, Representative Lynn Westmoreland, and Representative Rob Woodall.   H.R. 36, known as the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” passed the U.S. House of Representatives today with a vote of 242 yeas and 181 nays.

“The ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’ combines compassion with sound scientific evidence,” said Georgia Life Alliance’s Executive Director Emily Matson. “We’re grateful that nine our Georgia’s ten pro-life Congressmen stood in support of this powerful and rationale bill.   On the other hand, we are disappointed that Representative Jody Hice withheld voting for this measure which clearly moves our cause down the field.”

Congressman Buddy Carter also sent an email regarding his vote in favor of the bill.

“As a healthcare professional, father, grandfather and Congressman, I strongly believe life starts at conception. There is overwhelming scientific evidence proving that precious babies are capable of feeling pain after 20 weeks and this legislation would put a necessary end to the excruciating abortion methods used in late term pregnancies. On the two year anniversary of the conviction of Kermit Gosnell’s murders performed in his abortion clinic, I strongly urge the Senate and President Obama to act swiftly on this legislation to ensure similar tragedies do not continue to occur.”

While he heralded the importance of today’s legislation, Carter vowed to continue his push to protect all life from conception.

“It’s time for the United States Congress to stand up for all those who cannot stand up for themselves and pass permanent federal legislation that will protect innocent lives at any stage of gestation. The sanctity of human life should be protected from conception and I look forward to supporting legislation to do so.”

Carter is a cosponsor of H.R. 426, the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which protects life from conception.

Congressman Rick Allen issued a press release supporting his vote for the bill.

Allen, a cosponsor of the measure, released the following statement after the legislation passed the House:

“We have a responsibility to defend innocent lives of the most vulnerable, and that’s exactly what the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act does. This bill protects unborn children from abortion after five months, the point at which they have the ability to experience pain. I will always fight for the right to life and am grateful the House approved this bill to stop painful late-term abortions, save lives, and give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.”

According to multiple public polls, including surveys conducted by Quinnipiac, Washington Post, and Huffington Post, a majority of Americans support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

Congressman Tom Graves also issued a statement.

Years ago, my wife Julie and I worked with many concerned citizens to keep an abortion clinic out of Northwest Georgia. The mission to protect innocent life, born and unborn, has been at the core of my public service. That’s why I voted today for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), which bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point at which an unborn child can feel pain.

My vote for this legislation is a vote to protect unborn lives, and the conscience of millions of people around the country who, like me, believe every unborn baby has the right to life. While we must continue fighting to save unborn babies in every stage of pregnancy, this bill represents a critical step forward.

Freedom First,

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