Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 2, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 2, 2016

On June 2, 1774, Britain’s Parliament passed the Quartering Act, the last of the Coercive Acts, meant to punish the American colonies and reassert British control. Eventually, the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution would prohibit the forcible quartering of soldiers in private homes.

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding forces west of the Mississippi, surrendered on June 2, 1865, and this date is generally considered the end of the Civil War.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2, 1953.

On June 2, 1962, Georgia-born Ray Charles hit #1 on the charts with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Last night, Shahriar Zolfaghari was found shot in his car in Atlanta and later died at the hospital. Our prayers are with his wife, Camila Wright, the Georgia Assistant Attorney General in charge of sex trafficking cases and their daughter, as well as his friends and family.

Attorney General Olens issued the following statement to 11Alive’s Duffie Dixon:

“We at the Attorney General’s office are heartbroken by the tragic loss of Camila’s husband. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.”

John Yates is not only the oldest State Representative in Georgia, he’s thought to be the oldest legislator in America, and he has a reelection runoff on his hands.

Yates is the oldest member of a state legislature in America, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.   John Yates’ father was born in 1869 – four years after the Civil War ended.  But Yates says at age 94, he’s young enough to serve two more years at the Capitol.

“There’s nobody in the legislature in better health than I am,” Yates said at his home Wednesday.

Yates is chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, a World War II veteran and he says, a health enthusiast to whom his age, 94, is merely a number.  He is running for a thirteenth term in the House of Representatives – after which, he says, he plans to retire.

“That’s what I’m trying to try to do,” Yates said, “if I can whup this woman.”

Karen Mathiak is the woman trying to unseat Yates. She is a longtime Republican activist in Spalding County who says she has happily voted for John Yates many times—but now thinks, enough.

“I do believe in term limits,” Mathiak said.  “And twenty plus years is a long time to be in office.  How stale do we get after that many years?”

Gwinnett County is planning to eliminate red light cameras because of the costs, according to Adam Murphy of CBS 46.

CBS46 learned that the county budgeted $262,000 in 2014 to operate the red light cameras.  They also set aside more than $1.4 million for the past five years.  Not to mention it was going to cost them another $30,000 to relocate cameras.

Gwinnett County Police told CBS46 they will reevaluate the program in a few years to see if it’s worth bringing back.  That said, statistics did show a decrease in accidents at intersections with the cameras.

A group launched in Georgia – Farmers for Trump – may affect national politics this November, according to Politico.com.

A group called “Farmers for Trump,” launched recently in Georgia, has been working with the campaign to answer farmers’ questions about where the real estate mogul stands on their issues — topics he has mostly avoided on the campaign trail.

Chad Etheridge, who founded the group after learning how Trump saved a Georgia farm from foreclosure in 1986, made a YouTube video about the little-known episode. Since then, Etheridge’s group has made about 300 calls to farmers asking them if they would support the businessman, and all but 10 have answered “yes.”

“I am positive not all farmers support Trump,” Etheridge said, “but it sure seems like the numbers are in his favor.”

Efforts by such fledgling groups to turn out the rural vote could be crucial to the presumptive nominee’s hopes of winning Rust Belt states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania in November — all of which also happen to be big farm states. Rural residents account for 25 percent of Michigan’s population, 22 percent of Ohio’s and 21 percent of Pennsylvania’s, according to the 2010 census — and agriculture remains an anchor of rural economies.

“When you look at the states that Trump wants to put in play … agriculture could play a bigger role in this election than in the recent past,” predicts Marshall Matz, principal at Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz, a law and lobbying firm, who chaired Obama’s rural council in 2008. “People don’t realize those states have significant agricultural economies.”

“With Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, the farm vote is in play,” Matz contends.

The view from the ground is different: From the rural South through Nevada, the magnate has polled especially well in rural counties — notwithstanding his hardline positions on illegal immigration and trade, which might have ruinous consequences for farmers.

“Donald Trump says things that I would never say but the voters want change,” John Block, an Agriculture Secretary under Ronald Reagan who works for the same firm as Matz, wrote in a recent column.

Brandon Phillips, the director of the Trump campaign in Georgia, saw the video — which has been viewed almost 127,000 times — and reached out to Growing America with “an interest in developing a deeper relationship with farmers,” said Etheridge.

Etheridge, who said he has never worked for a campaign, was receptive, later founding Farmers for Trump and chairing the Georgia Farm Team for Trump — roles he’s assumed as a private citizen.

Congressman Jody Hice has a speed bump potential Independent challenger between him and reelection.

Leonard Ware, a Democrat from Gwinnett County, is working to challenge incumbent Jody Hice as an independent for Georgia’s 10th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the upcoming Nov. 8 general election. The northeast Georgia district includes the cities of Athens, Evans, Augusta, Watkinsville and Toccoa.

The 52-year-old Ware is an ordained minister with 30 years of political campaign experience, including grassroots work on Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign, John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s campaigns. Additionally, Ware has worked for a number of public interest research groups.

Ware did not meet the qualifying deadline for the May 24 Democratic primary election, but he plans to file and qualify later this month as an independent candidate in the 10th District contest.

The Savannah-Chatham County school board approved a .5 mill increase in the property tax rate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannah-Chatham Public School Board tentatively adopted a $530.75 million budget and a millage rate increase of .5 mills on Wednesday — with the expectation that they meet again in the coming weeks to look for possible budget cuts.

A lower than expected county tax digest forced the school board to choose between raising school property taxes and cutting planned expenses.

“The board will have to decide what they want the most,” said Budget Director Larry Jackson.

A newly created school board budget committee spent months working with district staff to carefully plan out a $530.75 million expenditure budget for 2017. That plan called for leaving the millage rate at the same level as last year — 16.631 mills. That would have enabled them to add several new expenses, from hiring nurses, school resource officers, a Latin teacher and grant writer to funding the DEEP writing program, buying bus cameras and offering 2 percent cost of living increases.

But the state informed staff late Tuesday that the county tax digest revenue for 2017 will be $1 million less than anticipated.

Savannah City Council is expected to consider a food truck ordinance this month.

Fort Benning unveiled a massive new solar array to provide power for the facility.

The $40 million facility, built in about two years after it gained the required state approval, has 134,000 solar panels over more than 240 acres off 101st Airborne Road near the Uchee Creek recreational area on the Alabama side of the post.

Brig Gen. Eric Wesley, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, said the expanded use of renewable energy sources is a national security issue.

“First, every dollar that we save goes to the readiness of soldiers and training,” Wesley said. “There is no doubt that a number of shared interests aligned here. There were very few road blocks and that tells you it was the right thing to do.”

It will produce about 17 percent of the electricity needed to power Fort Benning, officials said. The project is a response to a directive from President Barrack Obama to secure renewable energy sources on U.S. military installations. In addition to Fort Benning, similar Georgia projects are underway at Fort Gordon, Fort Stewart and the Naval submarine base at Kings Bay.

There is also one planned for the Marine Corps Logistic Base in Albany. Georgia Power invested $70 million in the Fort Benning project and will put about $400 million in the combined Georgia military projects. The government has provided a 35-year easement on the property for Georgia Power to construct the facilities.

In at least one neighborhood in Columbus, GA, the feral cat population is getting out of hand, according to WRBL.

This morning, some neighbors in an east Columbus neighborhood tell News 3 feral cats have taken over their neighborhood. They now want city leaders to revisit the Trap, Neuter, and Release program policy.

Under the city’s TNR program, feral cats are caught and given a rabies vaccination and released. The goal is to save the lives of the animals while helping the city rid itself of vermin.

While some Columbus residents say they appreciate the city’s efforts to find a compassionate solution to deal with feral cats, they add it’s not working.  The residents of this particular east Columbus neighborhood contacted News 3 On Your Side because they say the situation has gotten out-of-control. They say the cats are taking over their neighborhood, destroying their yards, coming into their homes, and even attacking their own pets.

In Cherokee County, incoming Sheriff Frank Reynolds spoke to the Tribune-LedgerNews about his plans and priorities for the office.

DeKalb County School Board member Stan Jester writes that the board is considering raising millage rates by 8.71% right after the passage of the E-SPLOST.

The DeKalb County School District announced last week its intention to increase property taxes this year by 8.71 percent.

When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced.

Without the tentative tax increase, the rollback millage rate will need to be no more than 21.829 mills.

All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearings on this tax increase to be held at the Administrative & Instructional Complex, J. David Williamson Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd, Stone Mountain, Georgia

June 06, 2016

5:45pm – 2nd Public Budget Hearing
6:15pm – 1st Public Millage Rate Hearing
6:45pm – Community Input Session

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