Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 17, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 17, 2015

On August 15, 1903, Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation requiring that Georgia schools teach elementary agriculture and civics. Two days later, on August 17, 1903, the General Assembly condemned the practice of whipping female inmates.

Georgia Tech was designated the State School of Technology on August 17, 1908 by joint resolution of the State Senate and State House.

The Panama Canal opened on August 15, 1914. On September 7, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty promising to give the Canal to Panama.

The State Highway Department was created on August 16, 1916 to comply with federal funding requirements, when Georgia Governor Nathaniel Harris signed legislation by the General Assembly.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation creating the State Department of Banking on August 16, 1919.

Georgia Governor Thomas Hardwick signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Forestry on August 15, 1921.

Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation changing the method of execution in Georgia from hanging to the electric chair on August 16, 1924.

On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock Festival began in upstate New York.

On August 16, 1974, The Ramones played their first public show at CBGB in New York.

The famous awning of the club is on display at the Rock and Roll Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. If you attend the Republican National Convention in 2016, you should visit the Museum, where you can also see Janis Joplin’s Porsche and one of the greatest guitar collections in the world.

Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977.

Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppolla was released on August 15, 1979.

Paul Anderson, known for years as the “Strongest Man in the World” for his weightlifting feats, died on August 15, 1994 in Vidalia, Georgia. Anderson was born in 1932 in Toccoa, Georgia. He won an Olympic gold medal in the sport of weightlifting in 1956.

On August 17, 1998, President Bill Clinton testified as the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The testimony came after a four-year investigation into Clinton and his wife Hillary’s alleged involvement in several scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment, potentially illegal real-estate deals and suspected “cronyism” involved in the firing of White House travel-agency personnel. The independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, then uncovered an affair between Clinton and a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. When questioned about the affair, Clinton denied it, which led Starr to charge the president with perjury and obstruction of justice, which in turn prompted his testimony on August 17.

R.I.P. Julian Bond

Many others are eulogizing the late Julian Bond, so I’ll just tell you about the first time I met him. In 1985, as a freshman in High School I kept getting in trouble for falling asleep in class, most notably the one on American government. When asked why, I told the teacher “I already know all this, I had the same textbook in 7th grade already.” I was given the year-end exam, which I passed handily, and the teacher, along with the gifted program instructor, decided to give me my own independent study progam. The major project they gave me was to go to the Georgia State Capitol and watch sessions, tour the building, and interview my State Representative and Senator.

That day, when I went to find my Senator, the doorman couldn’t find him. When he learned I had to interview a Senator, he said, “wait here, I’ll find you one,” and he came back with a very tall African-American man named Julian Bond. I asked him the questions I had on my 3×5 cards and he answered and gave me his business card. When I found my father, I gave him Senator Bond’s card. Having lived during the period of the civil rights movement, my dad was very impressed that I got to meet Julian Bond, and if you went up to him today, thirty years later, he’d remember that day.

The last time I saw Julian Bond was a year or two ago at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. Thirty years later, I’m still scribbling questions on 3×5 cards and asking them of politicians.

If you enjoy stories about political history, Jim Galloway of the AJC has a neat one about Julian Bond here.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

This weekend, two Floyd County elected officials, elected as Democrats, were born again as Republicans.

Floyd County Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and Clerk of Superior Court Barbara Penson got the Floyd County Republican rally off to a rousing start Saturday.

The longtime Democrats each announced their switch to the GOP Saturday….

The rally started with Floyd GOP Chairman Layla Shipman revealing that Burkhalter and Penson are joining the GOP.

“Over the last several years I’ve put a lot of thought and prayers into this,” Burkhalter said. “Once I made the decision, I’m 100 percent all in.” Burkhalter said deep family ties with the Floyd County Democratic Party, which his mother Sarah Burkhalter chaired for many years, made the decision all the more difficult.

“I’m not leaving the Democratic Party, they left me,” Penson said.

She said she has always been a strong family-values oriented person and a fiscal conservative.

The Times-Herald of Newnan writes that Coweta County’s political influence is rising.

In recent days, it has been clear that Coweta County is important politically as well. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz brought his campaign to Newnan on Saturday. A sign-waving, cheering crowd of nearly 1,000 welcomed him at a field adjacent to Sprayberry’s Barbecue on Jackson Street.

Presidential campaigns are planned, targeted and prioritized. Campaign stops are calculated to put the candidate in view of the most voters possible and in areas where the candidate’s appearance can have a real impact on the election night results. Someone in the Cruz campaign decided – among a number of options – that Newnan was a place Ted Cruz needed to go.

The Southern Crescent area south of Atlanta is increasingly flexing its political muscle, and Coweta County is at the center of that heightened standing in the state.

Members of the Coweta County Board of Education will vote tonight on a new member to fill a vacancy.

The finalists for the vacant District 3 seat on the school board are Dr. David Gregory and Beth Barnett. Gregory and Barnett were two of 5 people who applied for the seat, vacated by the resignation of longtime member Harry Mullins in April.

“At the outset of nominations, the board agreed that if no candidate received a majority vote of the board, then candidates who received at least two votes would be considered for a second round of voting, and consideration would be postponed until a later meeting of the board,” said Dean Jackson, public information officer for the Coweta County School System (CCSS).

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) told his local newspaper that the state legislature is unlikely to raise the state minimum wage.

State Rep. Allen Peake of Macon said an increase to the minimum wage “would be detrimental to our economy and would only hurt those making minimum wages because their hours would be cut and many positions would be eliminated, especially in the food service business,” he said.

Peake’s view on the minimum wage is twofold. He also is co-owner of C&P Restaurant Co., a franchise group that includes Cheddars, Captain D’s and Fazoli’s.

“Raising the minimum wage will have a significant negative impact on our business,” he said. “We will be forced to raise prices and/or cut hours for employees or cut positions.”

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms agreed that raising the minimum wage as much as $15 an hour “would be devastating to a lot of folks.”

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson continues her quest to get a “Tax Freeze Thaw” on the November 2016 ballot.

Another Cruz Tour

Rafael Cruz, father of United States Senator and Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, is doing his own mini-tour of Georgia. In addition to headlining an event on Wednesday, August 19 in Buford with Hispanic Patriots, the senior Cruz will appear on Thursday, August 20 at Olive Tree Restaurant in Villa Rica, Georgia, hosted by City Council Member Leslie McPherson and Georgia Christian Coalition Chair Jim Beck. If you’d like to join the event on Thursday, please email Jim Beck.

Oglethorpe County GOP Straw Poll

The Oglethorpe County Republican Party held a straw poll for President and Georgia Public Service Commission this weekend at their pancake supper. Approximately 75 people voted in the Presidential contest, with fewer choosing a candidate for PSC.

For President
Ted Cruz 29%
Donald Trump 13%
Jeb Bush 12%
Mike Huckabee 8%
Marco Rubio 8%
Scott Walker 8%
Undecided 6%
Ben Carson 4%
Carly Fiorina 4%
John Bolton 2% (write-in)
Chris Christie 2%
John Kasich 2%
Rick Perry 2%
Rick Santorum 2%
Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, and Lindsey Graham each scored 0%.

Public Service Commissioner
Tim Echols 46%
Undecided 43%
Michelle Miller 8%

DeKalb County Ethics Board

On Friday, the DeKalb County Ethics Board voted to find that DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson violated the county ethics code.

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics reprimanded Commissioner Stan Watson on Thursday, finding he was guilty of ethical lapses but deciding against suspending him from office.

The board ruled that Watson had a conflict of interest when he voted twice to give his employer a county contract.

Watson was being paid as a consultant for APD Solutions, a property development company, at the same time as when he voted April 10, 2012, to award a $1 million contract for the company to rehab foreclosed homes. Watson voted again nine months later to add $500,000 to the contract. The DeKalb Commission approved the contract unanimously both times.

APD Solutions paid Watson $19,800 for his strategic advice from 2012 to 2014, according to an investigator for the Board of Ethics.

Board of Ethics Chairman John Ernst said he believed Watson should have been suspended. The board voted 4-2 against suspending Watson.

“I believe some form of a suspension is necessary to tell the public and elected officials that bad behavior will be punished,” Ernst said. “Mr. Watson failed to recuse himself and gave the impression he was under an undue influence of an employer.”

Later that day, John Ernst resigned as Chairman of the DeKalb Ethics Board.

Ernst, who has served on the Board of Ethics since June 2013, stepped down a day after the board reprimanded Commissioner Stan Watson for voting to award a county contract to his employer.

“When I joined the board over two years ago, we had a budget of $16,000, lacked full membership, were in a suspended state and had a number of old and languishing complaints,” Ernst wrote in his resignation letter. “Today, I’m proud to say that we have dealt with dozens of complaints and have a more robust budget for counsel and investigators to root out unethical behavior.”

Clara Black DeLay, the board’s vice chairwoman, will replace Ernst as its chairwoman.


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