Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 8, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 8, 2015

Georgia and American History

On September 7, 1864, General William T. Sherman sent a letter to his Confederate counterpart, General John Bell Hood, offering to transport civilians out of Atlanta for their safety.

The Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1 million for construction of a new State Capitol on September 8, 1883.

President William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901. He is buried in Canton, Ohio, not far from the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

Alonzo Herndon founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company on September 6, 1905, one of Georgia’s great success stories.

The Fulton County Courthouse was dedicated on September 8, 1914.

On September 6, 1941, Margaret Mitchell christened the cruiser USS Atlanta – Atlanta would later sink after being hit by 50 shells and a torpedo during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The Professional Football Hall of Fame opened on September 7, 1963 in Canton, Ohio.

The Summerhill Race Riot broke out in Atlanta on September 6, 1966.

President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974 for“all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.”

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter returned to the Little White House in Warm Spring, Georgia, on September 6, 1976 to kick off the final phase of his presidential campaign.

Future Atlanta resident Curtis Mayfield saw his song, “Superfly” turn gold on September 7, 1972.

Here’s my favorite song by Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready.”

On September 7, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, which promised to turn over control of the canal to Panama by 2000.

On September 8, 1976, the Georgia State Board of Education began reviewing the FY 1977 Department of Education budget, the first to exceed one billion dollars.

On September 8, 1986, Herschel Walker made his professional football debut with the Dallas Cowboys.

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin on September 7, 1998.

Happy 77th birthday to Sam Nunn, who graduated from Emory College (1960) and Emory University School of Law (1963) before being elected to the United States Senate in 1972. If you were born before November 6, 1972, you’ve never seen his name on your ballot.

On September 6, 2014, USS John Warner (SSN-785), a mighty Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding. Big John calls Naval Station Norfolk its homeport. USS John Warner was commissioned on August 1, 2015 at Norfolk Naval Station.

The submarine’s namesake, John W. Warner served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as United States Senator from Virginia from 1979 to 2009. As a Senator, Warner chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee during three different periods, and chaired the Senate Rules Committee.

A graduate of Washington & Lee University and the Commonwealth’s public law school, Warner served in the United States Navy during WWII and in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.

Chick-fil-a founder S. Truett Cathy died one year ago today.

Tomorrow, the Macon Vet Center will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 The New York Times writes that Hillary Clinton is “methodically building a political firewall across the South in hopes of effectively locking up the Democratic nomination in March,” but perhaps her strategy is based on memories of cratering across the Deep South in 2008 after then-upstart Barack Obama set her packing. Early wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina set in motion a collapse of Clinton’s campaign that also saw her lose the entire Deep South, as well as North Carolina and Virginia. Here’s the map we’ve used multiple times before:


But back to the Times article:

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers, struck by the strength of Senator Bernie Sanders in those [Iowa and New Hampshire], have been assuring worried supporters that victories and superdelegate support in Southern states will help make her the inevitable nominee faster than many Democrats expect. They point to her popularity with black and Hispanic voters, as well as her policy stances and the relationships that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have cultivated. Mrs. Clinton was similarly confident at this point eight years ago, before Barack Obama and his superior organizers began piling up delegates, including in many Southern states.

In interviews, advisers said the campaign was increasingly devoting staff members and money to win the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27 while laying the groundwork to sweep Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia on March 1.

Mrs. Clinton’s Southern strategy shows in sharp relief the imprint of the data-driven, organization-focused nature of the Obama 2008 campaign on the Clinton operation.

“There’s so much focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, but Secretary Clinton and her team know that the South will deliver a huge number of delegates that will essentially seal the nomination for her,” said DuBose Porter, the Georgia Democratic Party chairman and a Clinton supporter.

Southern states will play a far bigger role than usual in this nominating cycle, with most voting by March 15, and black and Hispanic votes will be crucial in many of those Democratic primaries.

This week will see a visit to Atlanta by Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders, who is running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. From the AJC Political Insider:

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and insurgent Democratic presidential candidate, makes his first Georgia visit of the campaign on Friday [September 11, 2015] for an Atlanta fundraiser.

The 6 p.m. event at 200 Peachtree will cost you a minimum of just $50 to attend and, unlike most candidates, Sanders opens his fundraisers to the press.

News of the Sanders visit comes a day after Hillary Clinton canceled a Sept. 17 campaign appearance. Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a run, spoke at an Atlanta synagogue on Thursday.

This weekend on the way to Dragon Con, I saw this button, the first Bernie Sanders piece I’ve seen in person. Is it any wonder there’s a strong overlap between people who live in a fantasy world and those who attend Dragon Con?

Bernie Sanders Pin 2016

I award the Bernie Sanders supporters 2 points for having a sense of humor about their candidate.

“Bernie, y’all” buttons and brochures titled, “Who the hell is Bernie Sanders” got Georgians for Sanders a feature in the New York Times.

Speaking of Dragon Con, longtime Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) was there to discuss March 2, the second comic book graphic novel based on his experiences during the Civil Rights movement.

Lewis and Aydin touched on everything from the Freedom Rides to Lewis’ relationship with Malcolm X and what Lewis thinks of the Black Lives Matter movement:

On making young people aware of the Civil Rights movement: Lewis said we have to find a way to make the movement “plain and clear,” which he thinks the “March” books are trying to do. He related a story about Martin Luther King Jr.’s father saying “Son, you have to make it plain” when he was writing his sermons.

On the 1961 Freedom Rides: Lewis, who was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, recalled the white and black activists eating a meal of Chinese food before they left from Washington, DC. “Eat well,” someone said. “This might be our last supper.” He said an interracial group being able to sit down and eat together in the U.S. capitol created a “circle of trust” amongst the activists, “a band of brothers and sisters.”

MARTA is considering adding wifi and cell service in part of the tunnel under downtown Atlanta. From the AJC:

If all goes as planned, a six-month pilot project would start in January with three stations — Five Points, Peachtree Center and Georgia Dome/Georgia World Congress Center and inside a tunnel that connects them. All 38 stations would feature cellular connectivity and Wi-Fi access by July 2018. The $25 million system would be designed, installed and maintained at no cost to MARTA.

In fact, the transit agency would profit from the deal.

MARTA would get $1 million up front by signing the contract prior to construction. After the vendor signs up cellular carriers, it would provide MARTA with a 55 percent profit share for the first 10 years and 60 percent for the next decade.

The profit-sharing agreement could bring in as much as $10 million in revenue to MARTA in the first decade and almost double that amount in years 11 through 20, according to the vendor’s estimates. However, MARTA officials acknowledge those projections may be rosy and said they aren’t counting on getting that large of a return.

During the legislative session, I frequently take MARTA and one sore spot from the ride is the cell phone and internet blackout that starts once you get into the tunnels.

In addition to the five pounds of crazy that will be Snellville’s elections, Norcross will also see a contested Mayoral race this November.

The talk about Snellville’s mayoral race has focused largely on Mayor Kelly Kautz and former Councilman Tom Witts, but the final list of candidates released on Friday shows they are not the only people seeking the city’s top elected post.

Garry Lapides, a former representative of the city on the Evermore Community Improvement District board, also qualified to run for the mayor’s seat as the race, which was already expected to be hotly contested, becomes a three-way battle.

Meanwhile, each of the council seats up for election this year in the city will be contested. Post 1 Councilman Dave Emmanuel will be challenged by Barbara Moston, while Dexter Harrison and Roger Marmol are running for the Post 2 seat currently held by Councilman Diane Krause, who opted to not seek re-election.

Mike Sabbagh and Cristy Lenski will face off for the Post 3 council seat that Witts vacated to run for mayor.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson will be challenged by Gordon Tomlinson. Meanwhile, Councilman Craig Newton faces a challenge from Vincent Maiello and fellow Councilman Charlie Riehm is opposed by Pierre Levy.

On Tuesday, the Cobb County Commission will vote on a 2016 budget that totals about $785 million dollars.

Gasoline was available for under $2 in Valdosta this weekend.

In Richmond County, your next traffic citation could be issued electronically.

Currently, officers in the three-man High­way Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic unit are the only ones with the technology, but the sheriff’s office hopes to expand it.

Electronic citations work with the aid of small, handheld machines that resemble a BlackBerry. Officers can enter licenses, vehicle identification numbers and license plates into the system and print out a citation from the patrol car.

The job of Mayor of Gordon, Georgia pays $3,600 per year, but the legal bills racked up by current Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue in an effort to keep her job have totalled more than $95k, with the bill being sent to taxpayers.

Legal bills for Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr and Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce in their lawsuits against the city government total nearly $400k, with the bill to be footed by the taxpayers.

All told, the latest expenses total $389,980 for the two city officials. The city’s tab for expenses in defending the case is almost $500,000.

Council’s approval of the fees and expenses is sought after Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller of Stone Mountain, Ga., ruled April 23 that the city must pay legal expenses for both elected officials from the city’s general fund and not from their budgets. Fuller was appointed to hear the cases because local judges recused themselves.

Four ordinances must be approved to pay all the expenses. It takes six votes from council to approve each request.

Bob Coggin is making a gentlemanly exit from Newnan City Council, declining to run again after a 2013 redistricting because, he says, both of his potential opponents “ do a heck of a good job in their service on the city council.”

Declining docks and derelict boats on Lake Lanier are a problem for local governments and neighboring homeowners, according to the Gainesville Times.

Forsyth County commissioners are seeking a crackdown on spas and massage parlors that may be fronts for prostitution.

Cherokee County school superintendent Frank Petruzielo will retire this coming February after 17 years on the job.

Solarize, a project in Savannah for bulk purchase of solar panels, resulted in 60 installations of panels, tripling the county’s installed base.

Port Wentworth will host contested elections for two district seats on City Council and one At Large seat.

In Cumming, one incumbent City Council member faces no opposition, while two incumbents who previously announced retirements will face reelection against challengers.

Longtime Mayor of Carrollton and legendary Georgia politician Wayne Garner changed his mind about seeking a fourth term and will retire at the end of his current term.

DeKalb County gets weirder

Lee May or someone in DeKalb County may be in hot water after releasing to the media copies of search warrants that had been ordered sealed by the judge issuing them.

Earlier this week, May’s office released search warrants that they had received pertaining to some of his emails. CBS46 has now learned that information was sealed in Superior Court to protect the investigation and should not have been made public.

“I was told that the information was open and available to the public anyway,” DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said.

Brennan was asked if he was informed that the warrant should have been sealed.

“No, there was no discussion of that at all. As a matter of fact, on the documents it says, ‘filed in open court’ and courts are open to the public,” Brennan said.

The FBI is investigating whether a company won a county contract in return for a contribution. In 2011, Water Removal Services of Alpharetta allegedly wrote a $4,000 check to May after doing some work on a sewer in front of May’s home. The company later won a county contract for $300,000.

Brennan said May did nothing wrong and that someone forged the CEO’s signature on the check.

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