Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 4, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 4, 2015

On September 4, 1682, Edmund Halley first sighted the comet that bears his name.

On September 5, 1774, the Continental Congress convened for the first time at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia; delegates attended from all the colonies except Georgia.

Scheduled steamship service first began on September 4, 1807, when Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began plying the trade on the Hudson River.

General William T. Sherman ordered all civilians out of Atlanta on September 4, 1864.

Vince Dooley was born on September 4, 1932. Happy birthday, coach!

The Heart of Atlanta Motel opened at 255 Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta on September 5, 1956. It included a three-story diving platform reached by spiral stairs and a pool large enough to hold a ski boat. African-Americans were not allowed at the Heart of Atlanta. [Photos © Georgia State University]

heart of atlanta

After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in interstate commerce, the Heart of Atlanta’s owner sued the federal government, asserting that the Act was an overly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The resulting decision by the United States Supreme Court upheld the Act, finding that Congress was within its authority to ban racial discrimination in businesses affecting interstate commerce.

Atlanta Time Machine has a webpage with interesting images of the Motel.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out National Guard troops to prevent the desegregation under court order of Little Rock’s Central High School on September 4, 1957.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Uncle Vice President Joe Biden defended the Obama Administration’s foreign policy achievements Iran Deal in a speech in Atlanta last night, calling it a big f*cking “good deal,”according to

Vice President Joe Biden delivered a forceful defense of the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran on Thursday, telling some of Atlanta’s most influential Jewish leaders that the deal would help bring about a more secure Israel.

Biden told the hundreds crowded into the Ahavath Achim synagogue in Buckhead that the pact would help prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, positioning himself in the process as the candidate who would continue President Barack Obama’s legacy were Biden to run for president.

“I could take a whole evening to speak to this, but this is a good deal,” he said during an evening address on foreign policy. “And if we walk away from the deal, as some of our critics propose, we’d gain none of the benefits.”

“This president has done more to advance Israeli security than anyone in American history,” he said.

A couple of polls released recently show that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are leading their respective primary fields in Georgia. That said, polls this early are entertainment grade only. Ignore them.

The 2016 election calendar has been set, according to MyAJC.

Presidential primary election: Feb. 1 (voter registration deadline); Feb. 8 (early voting begins); March 1 (election date); and March 28 (runoff date if needed).

State and local primary election: April 26 (voter registration deadline); May 2 (early voting begins); May 24 (election); and July 26 (runoff date if needed).

General Election (federal, state and local): Oct. 11 (voter registration deadline); Oct. 17 (early voting begins); Nov. 8 (Election Day); Dec. 6 (runoff date for local and state offices); and Jan. 10, 2017 (runoff date for federal offices)

Pro-tip for potential 2016 candidates – qualifying has been set for March 7-11, 2016.

If you’ve ever lived in the North Druid Hills area, you know that Emory University slowly devours everything around it. The foundation is being laid now for a takeover of the City of Brookhaven government. John Ernst, who is running for Mayor is a graduate of Emory, as are both candidates for District 1 City Council. Linley Jones, the incumbent, who was appointed to serve out the term of now-Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams, was a member of the class of 1985, while challenger Eve Erdagon is a 1999 graduate. District 2 City Council member John Park is also a graduate.

Speaking of Brookhaven, the Brookhaven MARTA Station will be redeveloped by a team that includes Integral Group, which is also the lead redeveloper of the old GM Plant in Doraville.

Yesterday, I wrote that Attapulgus, GA has the lowest qualifying fees I’ve seen, with contestants paying $30 to run for Mayor and $18 to run for City Council. Apparently, I had not yet seen the lowest, as several readers let me know. In Arnoldsville, you can pay $10 to run for Mayor and $5 for City Council; Lexington, Georgia has the same fee structure. Candidates in Crawford, Georgia pay $9 to enter the race for either Mayor or City Council; in return, winners will receive $300 per year. Qualifing for Grayson City Council costs $10.

Congratulations and condolences to Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin and City Councils members Mike Cason, Jim Henson and James Kelly Jr., who are unopposed for reelection.

Some Augusta voters will cast ballots in new locations if they choose to vote in the November sales tax referendum.

Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said the number of registered voters has outgrown Precinct 310’s location at Crossroads Fellowship Church, 3875 Wrightsboro Road.

The elections board decided to split those voters between two new places – a smaller Precinct 310 voting at nearby Providence Baptist Church, 3850 Wrightsboro Road, and new Precinct 309, voting at Sharon Baptist Church, 3434 Sharon Road.

The board also agreed to end decades of voting at VFW Post 649, 2430 Windsor Spring Road, and move precinct 506 and 605 voters to a more modern building, Bailey said. That is at the Augusta Utilities Service Center, 3463 Peach Orchard Road, by the tag office in the Bi-Lo shopping center.

Voters affected are being mailed new precinct cards with the updated information

The board also has mailed notices to about 5,000 voters included on a state list of people who changed their address and haven’t updated it since the 2012 presidential election, Bailey said.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the other shoe to drop in DeKalb County, as the full Bowers Report won’t be released until October 6, 2015.

Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers said Thursday that he and investigator Richard Hyde will be late delivering their final report to Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May, who instigated the investigation.The findings were expected to be made public this week, but that probably won’t happen until Oct. 6.

May, who hired the investigators in March, is frustrated because he wanted a report by early August, said spokesman Burke Brennan. May’s executive order that started the investigation said it would last at least 120 days.

“These delays are counterproductive to CEO May’s goal of restoring trust in county government,” Brennan said. “He is perplexed that it would take 60 days to write a 120-day report.”

Bowers wrote in an Aug. 6 letter to May that he believed they had agreed that the final report would be completed and presented publicly Oct. 6. But May also wrote that day that they settled on the Aug. 26 deadline for issuance of the final written report.

Bowers told May’s staff last week that he needed another week to finish the report, but that timeline proved to be too ambitious.

Today, Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods will travel to Big Shanty Elementary in Cobb County for a ceremony recognizing Georgia’s 2015 honorees in the 2015 Green Ribbon Awards, which include:

Dr. M. H. Mason Jr. Elementary School, Duluth, Ga
Big Shanty Intermediate School, Kennesaw, Ga.
Cherokee County School District, Georgia
Cobb County School District, Georgia

The new “sacks of small bills”

Take Back Our Republic says that unverified credit cards are this decade’s version of greasy paper sacks of cash delivered furtively to officeseekers. According to AJC Political Insider, the group wants to require identity verification for e-donations.

Take Back Our Republic set to launch an effort in Georgia next year for legislation that would require banks to verify that all credit card contributions to campaigns are from a valid U.S. address. Many political campaigns now opt-out of that voluntary requirement.

The group’s executive director, John Pudner, said he has already lined up a Republican sponsor – an unnamed committee chairman – to introduce the legislation. He wouldn’t say who the GOP backer was quite yet.

“We’re going to start it out here in Georgia first and then roll it out nationally,” said Pudner. “This is a conservative solution to a campaign finance problem.”

The legislation would apply to state candidates, but it’s unclear whether it would also apply to federal campaigns who do business through Georgia financial networks.

That last bit is the real money quote, as 60 percent of companies in the electronic payment industry are based or have operations in Atlanta, and as much as 70 percent of electronic payments in the country run through Georgia.

File Under: Unintended Consequences

Earlier this year, the General Assembly in its hubris wisdom passed legislation deannexing portions of Pierce County from the City of Waynesboro.

Waycross cannot cut off water and sewer service to legislatively de-annexed property in Pierce County because it would cause undue harm to customers while not resulting in short term financial harm to the city, a Superior Court Judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Kelly Brooks issued his latest ruling, one enjoining the Waycross City Commission from shutting down the services, less than a week after the third in a series of hearings on a House bill pushed through almost secretly by state Rep. Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear. His House Bill 523 forced the Waycross city limits back to the Ware-Pierce County line and out of territory in Pierce County that had been part of the city since the 1980s.

The first petition filed by Waycross in June challenged Nimmer’s local legislation on constitutional grounds. After Brooks declined to enjoin the July 1 implementation of the act, Waycross tried first to raise water and sewer rates to the newly unincorporated area then claimed the de-annexation killed an agreement signed in the late 1990s enabling delivery of the services.

The city has already appealed Brooks’ original denial of his motion to enjoin House Bill 523 to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Walter Jones of Morris News writes that executives in the hotel industry would like to see the General Assembly revisit the $5 hotel-motel fee that was passed as part of the Transportation Infrastructure Act this year.

Hotel executives are stepping up their lobbying efforts to reduce the $5 nightly tax added to every room in this year’s transportation-funding law.

The tax took effect in July, and industry leaders say it’s too soon to tell what impact it’s having. However, they have heard squawking about it from groups interested in booking multiple rooms for events.

“It is certainly a discussion point for meeting planners,” said Jim Sprouse, executive director of the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association. “They say, ‘I can book my meeting in another state and save all of that money.’ It’s particularly important for border areas.”

That’s also a consideration for leisure travelers, truckers and highway drivers who are stopping for the night, said Michael Owens, president of the Savannah-based Tourism Leadership Council.

“We’re so close to the border that we’re hearing from many of our members that visitors are opting to just keep driving down south to Florida or north to South Carolina,” he said.

The industry is backing legislation proposed by House Economic Development and Tourism Chairman Ron Stephens, R-Savannah. It would reduce the tax but try to collect the same revenue by extending it to vacation rentals and short-term rooms booked through online sites.

“Quite honestly, it’s going to be an uphill battle because a lot of us legislators have vacation rentals,” Stephens said.

I know that he didn’t just say that legislators’ economic interests affect their decisions, but I can see why some folks would think that.

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