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


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

Georgia and American History

Happy Birthday to the French, who today celebrate the 225th anniversary of Bastille Day, 14 July 1798, when citizens stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris.

On July 14, 1798, the Alien and Sedition Act became federal law.

The first three acts took aim at the rights of immigrants. The period of residency required before immigrants could apply for citizenship was extended from five to 14 years, and the president gained the power to detain and deport those he deemed enemies. President Adams never took advantage of his newfound ability to deny rights to immigrants. However, the fourth act, the Sedition Act, was put into practice and became a black mark on the nation’s reputation. In direct violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the Sedition Act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or government of the United States. Fourteen Republicans, mainly journalists, were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the act.

On July 14, 1864, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 35, outlining the plan for the Battle of Atlanta.

On July 14, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.

Georgia Politics

It’s election day in Georgia House Districts 24, 48, 80, 55, 146 and 155, DeKalb County Commission District 5, and the Cities of Blakely and Milledgeville.

Click here for yesterday’s rundown of today’s elections.

Click here for links to the candidates’ websites and social media.

Our friend, Greg Williams of GregsListLive weighed in with his analysis and prediction for House District 24.

Sheri Gilligan, a Forsyth County native and previous challenger to Mark Hamilton, nearly achieved an outright win vs. her 3 competitors, coming up 3 votes shy of the critical 50% + 1 vote necessary in Georgia.

I [Greg] had the opportunity to interview her on my radio show last week and she said the attacks from Van Sant (and ensuing investigation by the aforementioned Geary) allowed her some Prime Time advertising that her campaign would have “never been able to afford” otherwise.

Due to her considerable electoral strength exhibited in the June 14 election and continued passion of supporters, Greg’s List predicts a resounding win for Sheri Gilligan on July 14, with a 75%-25% margin.

I concur.

House District 80 had some drama yesterday, when one candidate found her campaign headquarters has been broken into and vandalized overnight.

At the scene, items were rummaged through, thrown and piled up in a hallway and walls were spray painted with graffiti. When asked whether she thought the break-in was politically motivated Bernard said, “The building has never been broken in to before so it seems very strange, and it looks as though my campaign offices were the target.”

By early afternoon, Brookhaven Police had identified and arrested a suspected whom they believe to be connected to a string of similar burglaries and vandalism.

Ultimately, I think that we’ll be looking at a runoff between Republican J. Max Davis, first Mayor of Brookhaven, and Democrat Taylor Bennett. Bennett’s canvassers have knocked on my door three times looking for someone else.

Dave Beaudoin of has published an interesting analysis of donations from within the district.

That Mr. Bennett could receive so many donations as a Democrat in a predominantly Republican district is very impressive.  However, it is impossible to ignore that most of tomorrow’s likely voters will be Republicans.  Furthermore, about half of his contributions came from a single region (what I’ve called DeKalb Co. South), that also featured a significant number of contributors to the campaigns of Ms. Bernard and Mr. Davis.  I believe he will need to win this area outright in order to finish second and make the runoff.

Mr. Davis seems to have very strong support throughout the central and northern parts of DeKalb county, and I expect this is where a significant number of votes will be cast.  I anticipate him receiving large margins from these vote-rich sections of the district.

Three candidates are vying to make a likely runoff in House District 146. My best guess is that former Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke, for whom I’ve worked, will be in a runoff with one of the other candidates, but I have no idea which one.

Non-Election Related

Judge Carla Wong McMillian was the first Asian-American judge to sit on a Georgia Supreme Court case after Justice David Nahmias recused himself in the litigation between Bibb and Monroe Counties.

Bernard Coston, who was widowed by the death of his wife, Fayette County Commissioner Posta Coston, urged the remaining Commissioners to fill the vacancy by district voting, rather than at-large voting.

“The intent of district voting is to allow citizens to be represented and their voices to be heard,” said Coston, whose wife Pota Coston served as commissioner for six months before succumbing to cancer last week. “In the short time that my wife held the position of commissioner, you could see that people were energized and they were looking forward to a bright future. As a citizen of Fayette County, I want us to continue to move forward.”

Coston’s rousing plea, which drew a standing ovation, comes one day before his family is set to memorialize the 57-year-old county leader who represented the mostly-black District 5. A wake will be held Friday. She will be buried Saturday.

Thursday’s commission meeting drew a packed crowd most of whom were there to protest any effort by the county to use at-large voting to fill Coston’s seat. But the four commissioners insisted they had not made a decision on how to proceed in filling the job. They met in executive session to discuss their options.

House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) has proposed what he calls a “Pastor’s Protection Act.”

[T]he bill would be narrowly crafted to ensure that clergy member would never be required by the government to perform a wedding that doesn’t match their religious beliefs.

GOP lawmakers in other states are considering similar legislation, in reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Texas’ governor signed a Pastor Protection Act last month.

Meanwhile, at least two Georgia probate judges have stopped performing all marriages because of their opposition to same-sex marriage.

Macon-Bibb County will consider a countywide drone network to be used for emergency response, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A resolution will go before the city-county commission’s Economic and Community Development Committee on Tuesday about the proposed $5.7 million project with manufacturer Olaeris that could include a dozen drones placed across the county.

If approved, Macon-Bibb would have the first countywide unmanned aircraft system in the world, Olaeris CEO Ted Lindsley said Monday.

The company plans to unveil two cities this summer that could join Macon-Bibb as regional hubs. Macon-Bibb could assist with natural disasters or other major emergencies across seven states in the Southeast.

If commissioners approve the drone deal, it would take a number of months before the flying machines would be used in Macon. A docking station would be built, public safety employees would receive training and new software at the 911 center would be installed.

The drones would be available to the county’s Emergency Management Agency, sheriff’s office and fire department. They could be deployed for everything from assessing a natural disaster to a hostage standoff.

Olaeris is working on the project with $2 billion aviation company Haeco to develop guidelines to present to the Federal Aviation Administration. They also will work with local organizations to address any privacy concerns from residents.

DeKalb Ethics

DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis (D-State Prison) now resides at , near Savannah.

I’d argue that the Georgia Code provides another way to remove Burrell Ellis from office. Section 45-5-1 reads in part that a vacancy occurs

(4) By voluntary act or misfortune of the incumbent whereby he is placed in any of the specified conditions of ineligibility to office;

(5) By the incumbent ceasing to be a resident of the state or of the county, circuit, or district for which he was elected;

(7) By abandoning the office or ceasing to perform its duties, or both.

Ellis still holds the office because his conviction is not final until appeals rare exhausted, but I believe that residing in the State Prison system means he meets at least condition 5 above, and likely 7 as well.

John Ernst, who chairs the DeKalb County Ethics Board writes about how DeKalb can move forward in the wake of Ellis’s convictions.

We must continue to move forward. At our next Ethics Board meeting later this month, we will hold a final hearing on a complaint against one county commissioner and a preliminary hearing on a complaint against another. Our board will also determine whether we have jurisdiction on a complaint against the former chairman of the DeKalb Development Authority.

Many do not know yet that the current Ethics Board will likely be dissolved at the end of the year and replaced by a new board. Legislation enacted earlier this year by the Georgia General Assembly creates a more independent board appointed by organizations in the county such as Leadership DeKalb, rather than the CEO and the Board of Commissioners.

This legislation will be placed on the ballot in November as a referendum for approval by voters.  I strongly support and will continue to advocate for this new board.  I hope you will vote for it this November at the ballot box as it is most certainly is a step in the right direction.

Nothing could more clearly signal a new day in DeKalb County and a new no-tolerance attitude toward official corruption than immediately starting with an Ethics Board that has the membership to get down to work, rooting out corruption.

DeKalb County School Board member Stan Jester raises questions about a million-dollar no-bid contract being awarded by the school system to a company headed by recent former employees.

Due to a shortage of math and science teachers, in July 2013 the BOE approved a $1.7 million dollar contract with IN-TALAGE to provide up to 30 “International Teachers”.  October 2013 the BOE approved another $1.7 million for an additional 30 international teachers.  June 2014 INTALAGE was given a $3 million dollar contract.  The July 13 board meeting has a placeholder for “International Teachers” with no details given for this action item.

Question:  It seems like school district officers left DeKalb Schools and started getting no bid contracts.  2 of the 4 leaders left just a few months before INTALAGE received contracts for millions.  What is the school district’s position on this?

Dr. Ward-Smith:  The correlation between Intalage hiring of former DCSD Administrators and the awarding of a contract for services has had no bearing on the my decision to recommend to the Board of Education that we continue doing business with this vendor. I can simply say that that is a hiring decision of the company.  In my role as an HR professional, I have to work very closely with the vendor to support the teachers.  I cannot say what relationship the above-mentioned former employees had.  Simply that these programs have provided a valuable service to the students of DCSD. Additionally, please note District Policies GAG (regarding employee conflicts of interest) and DJE (regarding purchasing ethics) combine to ensure that contracts are entered into appropriately.

County Commissioner Nancy Jester (R-Dunwoody) will be holding a number of public meetings throughout the district.

Thursday 30 July 7-8 PM – Tucker
The Old Tucker Fountain – 2329 Main Street

Wednesday 5 August 6-8 PM – Chamblee
Vintage Pizzeria – 5434 Peachtree Road

Wednesday 12 August 10-11:00 AM – Dunwoody
Cafe Intermezzo – 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road

Thursday 13 August 6-8 PM – Northlake
Chick-fil-A – 3967 Lavista Road

Saturday 15 August 10-11:30 AM – Brookhaven
Sugar Shack – 4058 Peachtree Road

Wednesday 19 August 6-8 PM – Dunwoody
Cafe Intermezzo – 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road

Thursday 20 August 6-8 PM – Doraville
Han Il Kwan – 5458 Buford Highway NE

Saturday 22 August 10-11:30 AM – LaVista Hills
Panera Bread – 2100 Henderson Mill Road NE


So, Donald Trump has at least one supporter in Georgia, probably many, many more who haven’t yet made their yard signs.


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