Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 19, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 19, 2016

On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.

On January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia, was arrested by John Habersham, a member of the Provincial Congress.

Delegates to the Secession Convention in Milledgeville voted 208-89 in favor of seceding from the United States on January 19, 1861.

Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807 at at Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia the son of a former Congressman and Governor of Virginia. On January 19, 1871, Savannah, Georgia became the first city to recognize Robert E. Lee’s Birthday as a public holiday.

L.Q.C. Lamar, born near Eatonton, Georgia, was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on January 18, 1888.

Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The legislature is not in Session today and will convene tomorrow at 10 AM.

Joint Budget Committee Hearings begin at 9:30 AM this morning in Room 341 of the State Capitol. Click here for the Budget Meeting agenda. Governor Nathan Deal will speak to the Joint Committee at 9:45 AM.

Gov Deal Budget Speech

Senator P.K. Martin has introduced legislation to allow people who retired from law enforcement agencies outside Georgia to carry concealed weapons in the same places that Georgia law enforcement officers may carry, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Retired officers who served in Georgia enjoy a number of exemptions from our gun laws,” Martin said in a statement on Friday night. “Unfortunately, these same exemptions do not apply to retirees in Georgia who served as law enforcement officers, military police officers and federal civilian police officers in other states.

Martin’s legislation, if enacted into law, would work under the framework established by the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. The 12-year old law says off-duty and retired officers can carry concealed guns in any place where an on-duty officer is allowed to carry one.

Officers and retirees are required to undergo annual certification and training to stay eligible for the exemption.

“SB 270 enhances public safety by empowering and equipping those who spent years in law enforcement,” Martin said in the statement. “Retired officers in possession of firearms can act as a ‘force multiplier’ in dangerous situations or in instances where on-duty law enforcement may be slow to respond, including active-shooter events in schools or other public places.”

Speaker David Ralston said that the Democratic gun confiscation bill will not advance in the State House under his leadership.

“It is taking away the right to possess and bear arms, and you can put lipstick on that pig all you want, but it’s still a pig, and it’s not going to be something that we’re going to deal with in this House,” Ralston said.

Democratic Senator Vincent Fort and Republican Josh McKoon are teaming up on a bill to require greater ethics disclosure.

Fort’s Senate Bill 266 would mean a higher standard of disclosure for the casino industry than for any of the other dozens of industries that lobby at the Capitol in Atlanta.

Some casino firms have been scouting Georgia sites, and a Savannah lawmaker has filed a bill that would legalize casino gambling.

It’s not clear yet how much success the firms or would-be gamblers will have.

Fort said Georgians deserve to know about “every red cent” the industry is spending.

“If they give money to an organization, a sponsorship for a dinner, they’re not doing it out of good government, they’re doing it to curry favor in the community,” Fort said.

Crawford County and the City of Roberta are considering consolidating their governments in Middle Georgia, according to the Macon Telegraph.

State Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella, said he was hopeful to “have some legislation” on the Crawford County matter during this winter’s legislative session.

“I’m trying to strengthen the city,” he said. … “It’s the place where our schools are … (the) library is, technical school, the only sewer system in the county. The industrial park is there. It needs to be a strong, vibrant community and it just makes a lot of sense to me to pull both together, all pulling in the same direction.”

Dickey said he has been considering consolidation there for several years.

“I think the impetus came from when I served many years on the Industrial Authority,” he said. “Roberta was our only place that we could bring industry to look at sites because it had all the infrastructure. … With consolidation, you’re trying to get everybody on the same page. It was awkward at times trying to engage the city and the county.”

Dickey had no details yet on what the charter would contain, such as how many commissioners there would be. He is looking to the results of the public meetings before writing a bill.

If Dickey and Crawford’s other legislator, state Sen. John F. Kennedy, R-Macon, both support the bill, it could move through the Legislature without opposition in just a few days.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will deliver a “State of the City” address today.

North Georgia Medical Center in Ellijay may be near closing, though Piedmont Mountainside Hospital Inc. has applied for a Certificate of Need from the Georgia Department of Community Health to lease and operate the emergency room facility at the hospital.

[] spoke with Executive Director Chuck Scragg of the Greater Gilmer JDA who said

The UGA study said the Hospital and nursing home has a yearly $31 million dollar economic impact to Gilmer County. We will lose very high paying jobs here, as well as other sources of revenue as people will go to Mountainside Piedmont in Jasper for hospitalization.  This change will take effect unless we contest it.  We only have until January 27th to do so.

North Georgia Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Earl] Whiteley indicated in the interview that rural hospitals are ‘under the gun’ with this making six rural hospitals to close in Georgia in the last two years. Currently the hospital employs 332 employees throughout all campuses.


Former State Rep. Jeff Brown (R-LaGrange) announced that he is exploring a run for the Third Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

During his 12 years as a Legislator Brown represented precincts in Carroll, Coweta, Heard and Troup counties all of which are in the 3rd District. During his last term he served as Chairman of the Health Appropriations Sub Committee and on the Ways and Means, Rules and Health and Ecology Committees. In 2006 he announced he would not seek re-election due to a number of factors including a possible run for Congress if Congressman Westmoreland ran for Governor or U.S. Senator which were being speculated at the time.

Prior to his time in the legislature he served as a LaGrange City Councilman and was the first Republican elected to LaGrange City Council and the Georgia House of Representatives from Troup County.

Employment included Business Manager for Milliken and Company in LaGrange and he founded Comprehensive Search which had as many as 200 employees and they did two thousand personnel searches in N. American. He sold this business in late 2012. Since then he has been a real estate investor and regularly writes an opinion column.

Jeff is a conservative Christian who worships at First Presbyterian Church in LaGrange where he was an Elder, Deacon and Sunday School teacher. He is active with their Wednesday Ministry where anyone in the community can share their problems. Issues of poverty are an active part of his volunteer time and articles since he believes many government programs keep people in poverty but too many charitable efforts are toxic.

The Times-Herald in Newnan notes that Senator Mike Crane is still considering a run for Congress and Paul Hyatt of Coweta is also taking a look at a camaign.

“This is a great opportunity to add to the team of constitutionally minded conservatives already working to restore the proper balance of power and begin the wind-down of overreaching federal intrusion into our lives. We are currently doing everything necessary to be ready for a successful campaign,” Crane said.

Hyatt, a 1985 graduate of Newnan High School, was a member of the 82nd Airborne and parachuted into Panama. “I’m the underdog. I’ve never been in politics before,” Hyatt said. “Washington DC is not educated on what is going on out there with the American public and they need an education.”

Crane said a joint press conference on the Congressional race most likely will be Wednesday. Crane said those involved will include himself, Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Peachtree City), Rep. David Stover (R-Palmetto), Rep. Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton) and a few others.

“It will be an important announcement related to the Third District,” Crane said.

The Times-Georgian in Carrollton has more on local potential candidates.

Another name being mentioned is Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler of Carrollton, who formerly represented Georgia House District 18, which includes portions of Carroll and Haralson counties.

“Anytime you have an opportunity like this, you’re going to take a look at it,” Butler said Friday. “However, I’m happy in the job I’m in now. I’m keeping an eye on it, but I’m nowhere close to making a decision.”

Matt Brass, a Westmoreland field representative, has also made the list of potential candidates. “I’m looking at it, but I’m waiting to see who else is going to run,” Brass said Friday. “There could be potential for me there. If I don’t like who gets in the race, I’ll definitely consider it. I’m going to wait and see how it shakes out.”

One name making the Friday rumor circuit was Tee Green, CEO of Greenway Health in Carrollton. The speculation began after a Twitter account was opened under the name “TeeGreenforGA3.” But Green told the Times-Georgian Friday that the rumor is false and he has no desire in running for the office.

Larry Savage of Marietta will run for Cobb County Commission Chair.

Bryan County Sheriff Clyde Smith will run for reelection this year for a job he has held since 1994.

Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey is not running for reelection after 36 years in office.

Sheriff Greg Coursey, who was first elected in 1980, when the department had about a dozen employees and drove “whatever cars (they) could get,” told his staff last week that he will step down in December while he’s healthy enough to enjoy life.

“I’m just getting to that age and I wanted spend time with my grandchildren and my wife, and do some mission trips with my church,” Coursey said in a phone interview with The Augusta Chronicle on Monday.

Coursey, 69, said he’s done all he could imagine doing since leaving his job as manager of a furniture company to become the county’s youngest sheriff at 33. He beat James Striggles in a runoff to replace retiring Sheriff Ralph Elliot in 1980, according to Chronicle archives.

During his first term, Cour­sey said he made a promise to serve seven more. He’s serving his ninth.

Former Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Bryan McDuffie will campaign against incumbent Sheriff Richard Roundtree, who fired McDuffie in 2013.

How not to do a political photo op.

A city official who wanted to include an elderly woman in a photo op about a snow shoveling program persuaded a middle-aged man to dress up in a wig, earrings, lipstick and a dress.

The man stood next to the mayor of Cranston at a news conference touting the program and wore a name tag that said “Cranston Senior Home Resident.”

WJAR-TV uncovered the ruse in reports this week.

It is unclear why officials decided to use a stand-in for a woman during the Jan. 5 news conference, which was held at the senior center where the man worked as a van driver.

Mayor Allan Fung, the 2014 Republican nominee for governor, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Two city councilmen told The Providence Journal they believe the stunt was meant to deceive the public. City Council President John Lanni said he would ask the mayor for an explanation.

The Good News

A ninth-grade student with cerebral palsy was given a custom-made AmTryke tricycle because he can’t ride a two-wheeled bicycle.

A very wide smile spread across the face of Will Howell Monday night as he took his new tricycle on its maiden voyage around Savannah’s Knights of Columbus clubhouse.

Howell, a ninth grade student at McIntosh County Academy, suffers from cerebral palsy, and is unable to ride a traditional bike because of his disability. Monday night, he mounted the seat of a custom-made AmTryke tricycle. AmTryke is a company owned and operated by American Business Club, or AMBUCS. AmTryke builds therapeutic tricycles for disabled children who cannot operate a traditional two-wheeled bicycle.

Will’s parents Melanie and Carey Howell were at the clubhouse for the event, and watched on as their son smiled ear-to-ear as he navigated the shiny red tricycle for the first time.

Kevin Sheehan, president of AMBUCS Savannah, says his organization’s primary goal is to make differently-abled children feel normal.

Sheehan approached Howell’s parents at a McIntosh football game last October. Will and his parents were entering the stadium, and Sheehan noticed Will’s disability. He introduced himself and the AmTryke program, he asked Melanie and Carey Howell if their son could ride a bike. Howell’s mother became very emotional.

“I might have cried a little bit,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan discussed the possibility of their son being a recipient of a tricycle, and the process of building Will’s bike began. The bike’s cost was negated by two donors, Calvin Haupt and Lynn Fogarty, and after months of fitting an AmTryke to Will’s specifications, the 16-year-old finally got behind the handlebars.

In Gainesville, a private company helped a long-time employee get a new van that is wheelchair accessible for transporting his son.

The Morales family was in desperate need of a new van to transport Eric to his numerous doctor appointments in Atlanta. The family’s 1999 Chevy Astro was “on her last leg” and wasn’t technically wheelchair-accessible anyway.

They started a GoFundMe account to raise money, but Roberto Morales’ employers at Conditioned Air Systems decided to step in and give the family what it needed.

“A couple months ago, I saw an article in the paper about Roberto’s family needing a van,” said Doug Magnus, president of Conditioned Air Systems. “I thought about it and said, ‘What can we do? We need to do something.’ This company’s been here 33 years — Roberto’s been with us 15, and he’s a wonderful and dedicated employee.”

Magnus presented the Morales family with a new wheelchair-accessible Honda Odyssey in a company party Tuesday.

Magnus worked with Butch Miller and Milton Martin Honda to get the van for the Morales family.

“A lot of people seriously come to me and say they know someone I should give a vehicle to,” Miller said. “But Doug and Diane Magnus and their children, and their children’s spouses — and the associates and employees of Conditioned Air Systems — put their money where their mouth is. I respect that, especially with my background in the automobile business and having two disabled children.

“I know what it takes to care for a disabled child, and I know it’s 24/7.”

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