Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 17, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 17, 2016

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at Senate District 21, where Brandon Beach is the most-imperiled incumbent state Senator facing a reelection challenge.

Beach, an Alpharetta Republican, was a big backer of last year’s blockbuster transportation bill and championed horse-racing legislation and MARTA expansion this year. But he faces a GOP primary challenge on May 24 from an investment manager, Aaron Barlow, who both in person and in a flurry of self-funded political mailers attacks Beach over those votes and what he says is a “tax first and ask questions later” approach.

“I’m a conservative Republican trying to get rid of a liberal Republican,” the 41-year-old Barlow tells Kemp. “He’s the one who did the billion-dollar gas tax when we had a state surplus that could pay for the same projects.”

“My opponent is trying to scare people,” said Beach, who doesn’t believe his opponent has presented actual solutions to the problems involving traffic or other issues that upset residents. In lieu of that, Beach said, Barlow has gone negative. “He had to tear me down. … He’s just attacking me.”

[Beach's] supporters have all but accused Barlow of carpetbagging, sending out mailers that say the “invisible” Barlow “wants to buy a Senate district” and doesn’t understand local issues. Legal records show Barlow as recently as last year listing a Chicago mailing address, something Barlow says was the result of a work assignment.

Mailers supporting Barlow have labeled Beach a “liar.” Barlow says Beach can’t beat him on issues, so he is attacking his family by questioning where they live.

The Cobb Board of Elections reports that early voting is down from this point in the last election cycle, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

About 400 to 500 people were voting per day leading up to the 2012 general primary. This year, about 200 vote a day, said Janine Eveler, Cobb County Elections director.

Through Saturday, 2,435 people have voted in person over the course of 11 days of voting and 1,174 mail-in ballots have been returned. Early voting continues through Friday this week.

Eveler said election cycles with contentious races and issues bring more voters to the polls, but she is expecting about 30 percent voter turnout on Election Day next Tuesday. About 31 percent of Cobb County voters participated in the 2012 general primary. She said elections generally only see a surge with November general elections.

If a race requires a runoff, that election will be July 26, and voters are required to vote in the same party ballot.

One major difference between 2012 and this year is timing – in 2012, the Primary Election was held on July 31, a full two months and one week later when schools were out. This year is the first year in my career that Primary Elections in a Presidential years were before Memorial Day.

Oh, how things have changed in Gwinnett County. One of my first political memories is of attending a meeting in Lawrenceville when the school system had banned a book or books by Judy Blume in the mid-1980s. Now, Gwinnett leads in the opposite direction, announcing that gender-neutral bathrooms will be made available to students.

Gwinnett County Public Schools leaders clearly aren’t pleased with federal guidance on school restroom policies, but the district, Georgia’s largest, revealed plans over the weekend to add gender-neutral facilities for transgender students.

“After carefully considering the issue, GCPS will continue to provide students with sex-designated restroom facilities, while offering gender-neutral facilities to any student who does not wish to use the restroom facility designated for his or her biological sex,” the district said in a Sunday statement posted to its website.

Gwinnett school officials blasted the threat of pulled federal money and called the situation a case of federal “overreach.”

“Although the new agency ‘guidance’ does not have the force of law or regulation, it does infringe upon the abilities of school districts to determine appropriate education policy, procedures, and practices for their students,” the GCPS statement, which wasn’t signed by a particular official, said. “We believe our current practice is reasonable, logical, and workable, and therefore, it should not be uprooted by what we consider an overreach by two federal agencies.”

“Given the unique safety and privacy concerns of elementary and secondary school students,” the district said, “this issue should be handled at the local level where school leadership can best address the needs of its students in accordance with the shared values of order, fairness, and respect.”

Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods also has concerns about the federal directive.

“I believe there are safety concerns associated with allowing students of different genders to use the same bathroom,” Woods said in a statement. “For that reason, I do not believe a student of another gender should use a restroom alongside students of the opposite sex. We will communicate with districts when we’ve had time to fully evaluate the issue.”

The Stephens County Board of Education will interview applicants before appointing a new Board member to fill a vacancy.

[Former Board member Jeff] Webb resigned last month after being arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence by the Toccoa Police Department.

Stephens County School Superintendent Bryan Dorsey said that the process that is laid out in board policy for filling a vacancy can be very simple.

“Your current process by law is basically it has to be someone eligible from the District and it requires a motion, second, and a majority vote,” said Dorsey.

Board members noted that when filling past vacancies, the school board has accepted applications, then conducted interviews with the candidates before voting on its choice.

School board member David Fricks said he thinks that is a good process that the school board should use again here.

Hillary Stringfellow and Heath Garrett have resigned from the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission on good terms.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle yesterday launched the Georgia Consortium of Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT) Program with the Central Educational Center, Coweta County’s College and Career Academy.

The program unites the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc. with the Technical College System of Georgia and eight Coweta County manufacturing companies. Beginning in the 10th grade, high school students will now have the opportunity to complete their education with a high school diploma, German apprenticeship certificate and an associate degree in Industrial Mechanics through West Georgia Technical College.

“Today is the culmination of many months of hard work and dedication by numerous stakeholders to ensure our high school students have access to the world renowned German apprenticeship model right in here in Georgia,” said Lt. Gov. Cagle. “Georgia is the first state to secure these kinds of dynamic workforce development opportunities in the nation and our students will see tremendous benefits from this revolutionary program. We will begin by selecting 11 10th grade students to take part in this world class program and I look forward to expanding this model across the state for years to come.”

GA CATT will allow students to begin their apprenticeship in 10th grade with a combination of traditional high school classes, college level manufacturing courses, and apprenticeship modules that will pay $8/hour. By the 12th grade, students will spend 80% of their day learning at the manufacturing site earning $12/hour. The German model has proven effective in securing skilled labor while increasing student motivation by securing a professional career track for students at no additional cost for them or their families.

Governor Nathan Deal has named review commissions following the indictments of Alamo Mayor Debra Joyce Fountain for theft and Mt. Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain for Burglary.

Mayor Debbie Fountain’s indictment along with city clerk Gail Brown stems from allegations of missing money.

The GBI’s Eastman post launched a probe into the alleged theft of government money three months ago.

A source familiar with the case said the alleged theft involved about $50,000.

Alamo, a town of about 3,400 people, is roughly 30 miles south of Dublin.

The mayor’s position there, a part-time job, pays less than $4,000.

Mayor Joey Fountain was indicted in connection with an alleged break-in at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Oconee Circuit District Attorney Tim Vaughn, several people, including Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain and Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy Todd Yancey, have been indicted in connection with items removed from Sheriff Ladson O’Connor’s office hours after his fatal crash.

If you’re named Fountain and serve as Mayor of a town in Georgia, be warned: you might be next.

The GBI is also investigating allegations of misuse of a credit card issued to the Hall County school system.

Gainesville City schools have proposed three percent raises for employees in the 2016-17 school year.

Warner Robins City Council has proposed a 2017 budget that has no fee or millage rate increases.

United States Senate candidate Mary Kay Bacallao will visit Lowndes County voters at Austin’s Steakhouse off 84 at 5:30 tonight.

Two disqualified candidates for Muscogee County Sheriff appealed the decisions of the county elections board in Superior Court.

Georgia’s Department of Community Health is looking for cost savings in the state employees health plan, including auditing covered dependents, and auditing a pharmacy benefits management company.

Wendell Pierce, an actor I’ve never heard of, is certainly feeling the Bern after being arrested in Atlanta.

Actor Wendell Pierce was arrested in Atlanta at the weekend and charged with battery, according to court records, over what TMZ website said was an altercation sparked by differences over the U.S. presidential race.

The entertainment news website said the incident occurred after Pierce, a Hillary Clinton backer, got into a political discussion with a couple who were supporting rival Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

A group of Republicans is raising money to encourage Amish and Mennonite people to vote, something that cuts across the grain of their philosophy toward government and worldly people. Amish voting in particular may be impacted by voter ID requirements, as many do not operate cars, and so do not need drivers licenses, and many Amish avoid being photographed.

Child Sex Trafficking Bust in South Georgia

Eighteen men were arrested in “Operation Riptide,” an anti-sex trafficking sting coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC), the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the Glynn County Police Department.

The purpose of the operation was to arrest those who communicate with children online and then traveled to meet them for sexual activity or exploit them by purchasing sex with a minor.

“The children in our community need people to keep them safe,” said Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering. “We will be their guardian angels.  We will look out for them.”

Garner says this operation should also serve as a warning to parents to monitor their kids online activities. “Know how to monitor (your kids) Snapchat account, Instagram account, Facebook account.”

The US Secret Service arrested eight of the suspects. All of those polygraphed admitted to the crime they were arrested for, according to police. Some admitted to viewing porn and having previous sexual contact with children, the release said.

A Woodstock, GA man was arrested for possession of child pornography.

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