Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 28, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 28, 2015

On July 28, 1868, United States Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified and was now part of the Constitution. The first section of the 14th Amendment often forms the basis for litigation and reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Georgia at first rejected the 14th Amendment in 1866, later ratifying it on July 21, 1868 as a condition for readmission.

On July 28, 1978, Animal House was released, instantly becoming one of the greatest films of all time. In case you’ve never seen the film, there is some adult language in the following clip. +1 for Otter’s plaid pants.

On July 28, 1994, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating “The General” locomotive, which was stolen in 1862 during the Great Locomotive Chase. Today, The General may be viewed at The Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

Georgia Politics

Longtime Republican activist Betty Voyles died on Friday at the age of 84. From the obituary,

Betty was deeply committed and involved with the Republican Party, locally and nationally. She was proud to promote conservative causes long before Georgia became a Red State.

Betty was a Goldwater Girl. She volunteered countless hours over the years for prominent politicians including managing Senator Johnny Isakson’s very first state office campaign and staying on his campaign for every election thereafter. One of her most favorite memories was flying up with Johnny Isakson for his federal Congressional Inauguration. She had a double thrill when she was able to witness his Senatorial Inauguration in 2005.

Other friends for whom she worked hard were Newt Gingrich, Congressman Tom Price, and a slew of others who are indebted to her victorious efforts.

Her smiling face could always be seen at County and State Conventions, usually registering countless numbers of delegates and alternates. She was also a willing volunteer at fundraising dinners for the GAGOP and serving on the State Committee since 2000.

She earned the GAGOP State Volunteer Award in 1998. Her energy was only surpassed by her humility. Betty was totally surprised to be awarded the 2005 Connie Russell Midura Volunteer Legacy Award from the Fulton County Republican Party. She was a longtime member of the Fulton County GOP Circle R Club and was an active member and volunteer with the North Fulton Republican Women’s Club.

Governor Nathan Deal said that concern over the carving on Stone Mountain is misplaced,

I would ask those who think this is such a big issue, if they would exert the same amount of influence and time and effort to try to make sure that the children in our school systems in this state who are in failing schools get a good education, it will erase any of the things that they think the memorials symbolize. I would hope they see that in the same light in which I do.

The 2016 election for Cherokee County Sheriff is already well underway, and the first disclosures are in, according to

Campaign disclosures were submitted to the Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration on June 30 and candidates Frank Reynolds, David Waters, Jeff Donley and James “Chip” McCarthy are showing contributions to their respective campaigns.

Cagle’s Family Farm in Canton will host a candidate forum tonight.

The Cherokee County Farm Bureau, the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and Cagle’s Family Farm are hosting a candidate forum and meet and greet at 6:30 p.m. at Cagle’s Family Farm, 362 Stringer Road, Canton.

Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor Rebecca Johnston and Mike Searcy of WLJA radio will emcee the event.

Shirley Pahl of the farm bureau said more than 425 people attended last year’s event and she is expecting a big crowd again this year.

All local, state and national candidates running for office in both 2015 and 2016 have been invited to attend.

So far, Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood, State Court Judge Michelle Homier, Probate Court Judge Keith Wood, Chief Judge of Magistrate Court James Drane III, candidates for Cherokee County sheriff Frank Reynolds and Chip McCarthy, School Board Chair Kyla Cromer, state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, Burton Fronebarger, candidate for tax commissioner and Ward 3 Canton City Councilman Farris Yawn have indicated they are attending.

Pahl said she is expecting more to call in and some to just show up Tuesday night.

“If any candidates would like to attend, they can call (770) 479-1481 ext. 0 or they can just show up on Tuesday night,” she said. “They are welcome to bring signs and political materials to distribute at forum.”

A Cherokee County Superior Court judge rejected a motion for a new trial by former Cherokee School Board member Kelly Marlow Trim and political consultant Robert Trim, according to

Former school board member Kelly Marlow Trim and her former political adviser and now-husband Robert Trim filed a joint motion for a new trial in May.

Kelly Trim, Robert Trim and a third defendant were found guilty in 2014 of lying to police for falsely accusing Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo of trying to run them over after a heated school board meeting on June 13, 2013.

A Canton Police investigator determined after a several-week investigation that those claims were false. Events captured on a surveillance video also did not match up with the defendants’ statements, police said.

Following their convictions, Kelly Trim resigned from her District 1 seat on the Cherokee school board, Robert Trim resigned from his post as a precinct chairman in the local Republican Party and Knowles resigned from her position as secretary for the local Republican Party.

All three defendants were required to pay a $10,000 bond for each conviction, but will not have to serve jail time or perform community service until the appeal process is complete.

All other conditions of the trio’s probation were ordered to continue, including, but not limited to: no contact with witnesses in the case, remaining 500 yards away from Petruzielo, not attending school board meetings, not seeking or accepting any leadership role for political groups nor offering service of any kind to a political organization.

The Marietta City Council has kept its property tax millage rate the same as last year, but will raise an additional $500,000 in tax revenue due to higher assessments, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Bibb and Houston Counties have combined to issue more than 30 licenses for same sex marriages, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The bulk of the applications — about 20 — were taken in Bibb County, with another 10 or so in Houston County.

Probate courts in Bibb and Houston counties don’t keep track of applicants’ genders though, court officials said. The Telegraph analyzed the names of applicants for the figures used in this story.

Although courts soon will be required to record gender data at some point, the requirement isn’t in place yet, said Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, the state agency that keeps vital statistics.

Many county Probate Court offices use third-party software that doesn’t include a space to indicate an applicant’s gender. The requirement won’t come into play until after the software is updated or counties swap to free state software that includes a drop-down box to record gender, Nydam said.

Court officials in Crawford, Monroe, Peach and Twiggs counties said no same-sex applications had been submitted in their offices during the first month after the ruling. Three applications have been taken in Jones County.

The website for the Gwinnett County Clerk of Courts won a Top 10 award from the National Association of Court Management.

The award follows the launch of a new and improved website,, which was completed in April.

“The website was transformed by the Clerk’s Technical Services web developer, Ming Li,” [Clerk of Court Richard] Alexander said. “This award recognizes the hard work our CTS team puts into improving communication and electronic services via the website.”

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will hold the final town hall meeting on her proposal to “thaw the property tax assessment freeze.”

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will hold the final of four summer forums espousing her effort to “thaw” the city’s’ property tax assessment freeze Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Columbus Public Library on Macon Road.

Under the city’s property tax assessment freeze, which was implemented in 1982, the property taxes of homes receiving a homestead exemption are based upon the value of the home at the time it is purchased. That value is then “frozen” or fixed until the property is substantially altered or sold, at which time the value of the home is reassessed and then frozen again at the new value.

The freeze creates significant dispatities among homeowners, depending on how long they’ve owned their homes. Long-time owners can pay a fraction of the taxes that a more recent homeowner pays for an identical house next door. It also costs the city millions in potential revenue every year.

Past efforts to lift the freeze at the ballot box and in the courts have failed, but Tomlinson said her plan is different because it does not involve removing the freeze. Under her plan, anyone currently under the freeze would be able to stay on it for as long as they desire. When their house changes hands through a sale or when they die, it would then come out from under the freeze.

Students in Georgia public schools will see less standardized testing as State School Superintendent Richard Wood moves to reduce overall testing.

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, students will take fewer tests due to a reduction of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) required for schools to administer.

“I have always believed that we test our students too much,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Eliminating some of the Student Learning Objectives is a step toward reducing the overall number of tests given to students, which will give our teachers more time for instruction and help our students focus on learning instead of testing. This change is another step toward a more responsible accountability model.”

Superintendent Woods added, “We have to get back to the business of personalizing, not standardizing, education for our students, and the fewer standardized tests we have in place, the more our teachers can do what they do best – teach.”



The extended failure to appoint two new members of the DeKalb County Ethics Board meant that a quorum could be maintained only if 4 out of 5 currently-appointed members showed to a meeting. Lack of a quorum caused the board chair to cancel a meeting to address ethics charges against Commissioner Stan Watson, according to the AJC.

Board Chairman John Ernst canceled a scheduled meeting Monday because too few board members could attend. The board lacked the required quorum of four out of seven members needed to do business.

The board had been scheduled to hold a final hearing involving Commissioner Stan Watson, who voted twice to award a $1.5 million contract to a company that was paying him for consulting. A preliminary hearing was planned to determine whether there was probable cause to move forward with a complaint that Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton allegedly misused her county purchasing card for personal gain.

The irony is that the same iCEO Lee May who complained about the Board of Commissioners failing to fill the vacancy caused by May’s ascent to iCEO failed to name new members of the Ethics Board for months until yesterday, after the AJC published that story.

Yesterday, a complaint was filed with the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, alleging that Democrat Taylor Bennett failed to file his required Personal Financial Disclosure Statement.

Taylor Bennett Ethics Complaint

Attorney Mark Dehler resigned as the Special Master overseeing the State Bar complaint against House Speaker David Ralston, as Dehler has now taken a job as Executive Director of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, according to the AJC.

The Brookhaven City Council continues to tie itself in knots over its response to Open Records Requests. From the AJC,

Tom Kurrie, the former city attorney who lost his position because of the subterfuge, has asked the city council to waive attorney-client privilege on the issue. Presumably, he would be free to explain why he altered a city email and put misleading statements in a press release…

Council members would have to vote on it, but interim City Attorney Christopher Balch says he’s not putting the option in front of them until Kurrie narrows his request.

The state Attorney General’s office has since ruled that withholding the email, and holding closed city council sessions to talk about whether to release it, violated Georgia’s sunshine laws.

Georgia Ports Hit New Records

The Georgia Ports Authority moved a record 3.66 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in Fiscal Year 2015, an increase of more than half a million TEUs.

“The deepwater ports of Savannah and Brunswick are cornerstones of Georgia’s success, and major factors in creating new jobs and prosperity across the state,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “The wave of economic impact created by our logistics network supports virtually every industry, from manufacturing and agriculture to mining, distribution, technology and transportation.”

Strong performances across business sectors also led to records in total tonnage and roll-on/roll-off cargo in the year ending June 30.

“Georgia’s ports have seen phenomenal growth over the past fiscal year, due to a combination of West Coast cargo diversions, U.S. economic recovery and regional gateway shifts placing more demands on Georgia’s terminals,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “Our people and our infrastructure rose to meet that demand flawlessly, handling record volumes while maintaining world-class customer service.”

The 3.66 million TEUs crossing Savannah’s docks in FY2015 constitutes a 17 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal year. FY2014 was the first year in which GPA moved more than 3 million TEUs.

“Part of ensuring reliability is investing in port infrastructure,” GPA Board Chairman James Walters said. “Our development plans will follow our current practice of maintaining capacity at least 20 percent above demand – not only in Brunswick, but in Savannah, where we are buying four new ship-to-shore cranes and 30 more gantry cranes. Investments such as these will enable GPA to handle expanding cargo volumes both now and in the future.”

Total tonnage in FY2015, reached a record 31.69 million tons, up 7.8 percent or 2.29 million tons. Of that amount, containerized cargo accounted for 25.89 million tons, also up 7.8 percent or 1.86 million tons more than in FY2014.

Fiscal 2015 also saw the highest-ever volume of intermodal rail moves. The Port of Savannah moved 369,347 containers by rail in FY2015, up from the previous record of 332,996 containers set in FY2014. The growing volumes moved by rail resulted in an increase of 10.9 percent or 36,351 containers for the year.

In other cargo sectors, the GPA achieved an 8.1 percent improvement in bulk cargo tonnage for a total of 2.95 million tons, an increase of 221,601 tons. GPA terminals moved 7.6 percent (200,875 tons) more breakbulk cargo in FY2015 than in the previous year. Total breakbulk, which includes commodities such as paper, rubber and steel, reached 2.83 million tons.

The GPA moved more autos and machinery than ever in the year just ended. Combined, Brunswick and Savannah moved 714,021 units of roll-on/roll-off cargo, an improvement of 13,313 units or 1.9 percent. Of the total, Brunswick handled 680,427 units.

Comments ( 0 )