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

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

Georgia and American History

President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863.

First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders.

Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

On December 8, 1899, Georgia Governor Allen Candler signed legislation to levy a tax on all dogs older than four months.

The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. Montana Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin, the first female elected to the United States House of Representatives, cast the sole dissenting vote.

John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City on December 8, 1980.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Spotted at Road Atlanta: a Nissan GT-R with “We the People” Constitution graphics and a Ted Cruz sticker.

Kennesaw city council member and former Mayor Leonard Church plead guilty to child molestation charges, losing his council seat and now faces 18 years in prison.

[Cobb County District Attorney Vic] Reynolds said there was a good chance, given his age, that Church would die in prison, but if he were to be released at some point in the future, he would be under strict supervision as a sex offender. The DA acknowledged the case generated a great deal of public interest, especially in Kennesaw, due to Church’s standing there as a former mayor and sitting councilman.

“It’s easier to admit a murder than it is molesting a child and possessing the volume of child pornography that he possessed,” Reynolds said. “I hope and pray that he was remorseful for what he’s done … whether … (his tears were) sincere or not, I can tell you he’s going to have a long time to think about it.”

Church was transported directly to the county jail in preparation for transfer to Jackson State Prison. A special election for this council seat is set for May.

As far as the election to replace Church, it is likely to be held May 24, 2016 in conjunction with state and local primary elections and nonpartisan judicial races.

WSB-TV reports that what appear to be secret bank accounts for the benefit of DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson and former Commissioner Elaine Boyer were maintained by the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.

Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore vetoed an ordinance that would have raised the retirement pay for Mayor and Council members.

“The approval of this increase in retirement pay for elected officials is demonstrative of elected officials placing their personal financial interests above the public interest and the interests of the employees of the City of Statesboro,” Moore gave as the last of three reasons in her written explanation.

She attached the two-page explanation to a copy of the 35-page revised ordinance, with “VETO” written in the space for the mayor’s signature, and delivered it Friday morning to City Clerk Sue Starling.

The retirement raise was adopted, as part of Ordinance 2015-13, by a three-vote majority of the council Tuesday. Councilman Will Britt made the motion, Councilman Gary Lewis seconded it, and Councilman Travis Chance also voted for it. Councilman Phil Boyum abstained, and Councilman John Riggs voted “no.”

That Britt and Lewis did not seek re-election, and that their terms end Dec. 31, figure in the second reason Moore cited for the veto.

But first, she asserted that there was no real justification for the retirement increase.

A ceremony previously scheduled for today to swear in three new members of the Georgia Court of Appeals was cancelled last week, likely due to a lawsuit challenging the governor’s ability to appoint members to newly-created seats.

Fayetteville solo Wayne Kendall, who represents a half-dozen petitioners demanding that the judgeships be filled by elections, said that he in fact speaks for more than 6 million Georgia voters “who have had the right to vote taken away from them.”

Gov. Nathan Deal has already named Amanda Mercier, Nels Peterson and Brian Rickman to the judgeships, which were created by the General Assembly earlier this year. They are slated to assume office on Jan. 1, but a planned swearing-in ceremony slated for Tuesday has been postponed.

In documents and before Superior Court Judge John Goger, Kendall argued that the Georgia Constitution has, since 1906, required that newly created seats on the Court of Appeals must be filled by elections—unlike vacancies, which the governor may fill with his own selections. Although the Constitution has been re-drafted several times, most recently in 1983, Kendall said that the election requirement remains the law of the land.

Since the 1983 constitution, the General Assembly has created three new judgeships on the Court of Appeals, and all three were filled by gubernatorial appointment: one by Gov. Zell Miller in 1996, and two by Gov. Roy Barnes in 1999.

Those appointments were also made in violation of the constitution, Kendall told a reporter after the hearing. The relevant language of the 1983 Constitution states, “All Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Court of Appeals shall be elected on a nonpartisan basis for a term of six years.”

Some Gwinnett County residents asked Commissioners last night to add more money for early voting to the 2016 budget, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county has proposed six days of early voting at eight locations. Members of the elections board and community groups want commissioners to double that voting window to 12 days, which would require an increase in spending on the election.

“People of Gwinnett County may not be able to vote (during a shorter voting window) because … of work (or) they may not be able to come because of other obligations that usurp their coming out to vote,” Tucker resident Penny Poole told commissioners. “That sounds so very despicable to me that our vote has been reduced to a dollar amount.”

The proposed $1.5 billion budget includes $7.5 million to pay for elections next year because of expected interest in the presidential election, which coincides with elections for several key county-level posts.

“It’s going to be very expensive next year to do the elections,” commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.

County officials also have to plan for the extra voting window created for the presidential primary on March 1, which will be followed a couple of months later by a primary for local and state offices.

The eight early voting locations set to be used for the election is up from five for the 2012 presidential election and seven for the 2014 county and state elections, according to figures provided by county officials.

State Senator-elect JaNice Van Ness was cleared to take office after a recount of DeKalb County ballots showed a final tally of 3865 for VanNess to 3781 for Democrat Tanya Anderson. Van Ness will be sworn in at the State Capitol on December 18 at 10 AM.

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