Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 29, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 29, 2016

July 30th could be celebrated as the birthday of democracy in America, as the Virginia House of Burgesses became the first legislative body in the New World on July 30, 1619.

 Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

On July 31, 1777, the Marquis de LaFayette was commissioned a Major General in the Continental Army, serving without pay.

The cornerstone for the first United States Mint was laid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1792, becoming the first building constructed by the federal government under the Constitution.

Former President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded President Lincoln upon his assassination and oversaw much of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, died of a stroke in Tennessee on July 31, 1875.

On July 31, 1906, a bill to create place a Constitutional Amendment on the November election for voters to decide whether to create an intermediate-level Georgia Court of Appeals was approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his eighth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on July 29, 1927.

On July 30, 1931, Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. signed legislation merging Milton and Fulton Counties if voters in each county approved a referendum. Fulton had earlier merged with Campbell County, to the south.

Congress passed legislation establishing the National Aeronautic and Space Admininistration (NASA) on July 29, 1958.

Actor Laurence Fishburn was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare, for seniors, and Medicaid for some low-income people on July 30, 1965.

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” became their first #1 hit on July 29, 1967.

Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, won his 300th career game on July 31, 1990. During eight innings, Ryan threw 146 pitches, while today, many pitchers are pulled at around the 100-pitch count.

“In the old days throwing that many pitches was a normal game,” said Nolan Ryan, who tossed a record seven no-hitters and is the all-time leader in strikeouts, fifth in innings pitched.

Ryan, currently the Rangers’ team president, is an outspoken detractor of the recent trend toward monitoring pitch counts. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Ryan expressed his belief that today’s pitchers are “pampered” and that there is no reason why today’s pitchers cannot pitch as much as he and his colleagues did back in the day. As a result, Ryan is pushing his team’s pitchers to throw deeper into games and extend their arms further, emphasizing conditioning over what some would call coddling.

As Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux told SI: “This generation of players has become a creature of the pitch count. Their ceiling has been lowered. It’s up to us to jack it back up.”

Carl Lewis won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the long jump at the Atlanta Olympics on July 29, 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Hall County Commission candidate Troy Phillips and his wife, Heather, were found dead from gunshot wounds in their yesterday. Our prayers are with their friends and family.

Georgia’s statewide sales tax holiday for back-to-school items begins at midnight tonight and runs through midnight Sunday night.

Click here for more information, including a list of items that are exempt from sales tax this weekend.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Douglas R. Woodruff of Ringgold as Solicitor General for Catoosa County State Court.

The next session of the Georgia legislature may see the removal of nursing licenses from the Secretary of State’s Office, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Georgia Board of Nursing wants a divorce.

After years of poor communication, lingering resentments and suspicious maneuvering, the nurses want out of their long-term relationship with Secretary of State Brian Kemp. It’s been coming for a while, but Kemp’s sudden decision to remove the board’s executive director was the final straw.

When the board meet last week in Macon, the room was filled with nurses and nursing students from around the state. They were concerned about plans, revealed last month, to remove Executive Director Jim Cleghorn and replace him with the executive director of the board of cosmetology, which regulates nail salons among other things.

“We have outgrown the current organizational structure,” [board member Nancy] Barton, an administrator at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, said. “The type of communication — or lack thereof of communication and collaboration — with the board is negatively impacting the board’s ability to move the profession forward.”

State Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) spoke to the Macon Telegraph about the Democratic National Convention.

Georgia state representative Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, said he has been to 10 Democratic National Conventions, and he has never seen as many Georgians on the main stage as he has this year.

Smyre said the Democratic message should not be anti-Trump but rather pro-America, focusing specifically on economic development and empowering Georgians to help each other as opposed to tearing each other down.

“If we can get some help, if we can get some resources, if we can get our activists and our community leaders up and going, we can win Georgia,” he said.

Smyre reinforced one of themes of the week: turning Georgia blue.

“This is a winnable campaign,” he said. “I want us to leave here fired up and know that we can put Georgia back in play. We can help elect the next president of the United States.”

Voter turnout in this week’s runoff elections reached 12 percent of eligible voters.

The [Secretary of State's] office called it a “low” turnout for what was the last election in Georgia before November, although not everyone needed to turn out.

Ninety-six of Georgia’s 159 counties had races on the ballot, which was required for all candidates who did not win outright two months ago during the state’s general primary — when about 20 percent of registered voters turned out.

David Beauboin took a look at Georgia runoff elections, noting several points:

Historically, in Georgia, the odds are against state legislative incumbents in runoffs, winning in only 5 out of 13 instances (38%) from 2008-2014.  Since this includes one very good year in 2012 (when incumbents won 3 out of 4 races), that means that incumbents in runoffs have done very badly in 4 of the last 5 election cycles, dating back to 2008.

[W]hat was surely heart-breaking about the losses by State Reps. Dickson and Yates was how close each man came to winning his primary outright in May.  Rep. Dickson finished first with 49.7% in his three-way primary, and missed getting a majority by only 16 votes.  Rep. Yates received 49.0% in May, falling just 51 votes shy of avoiding a runoff.  The subsequent losses on Tuesday by both men was indeed unprecedented.  From 2008-2014, five candidates had been forced into a runoff after receiving 49% or more in their primary – all 5 went on to win their runoff election.

Former Paulding County Commissioner David Carmichael will take office in January as the next Paulding County Commission Chair after winning the runoff election on Tuesday over Roger Leggett, also a former County Commissioner.

Carmichael said it was “a great honor to have people push the button” to vote for him.

He said the unpredictable nature of runoff elections made him unsure exactly why he was victorious. Runoffs typically draw very low voter interest and the winner typically is able to convince more core supporters than an opponent to return to the polls for a second election.

“It’s one of those things that you can never know who’s going to turn out. I think that a characteristic of a runoff is what voting bloc is going to come back,” Carmichael said.

Leggett attributed the loss to an effort that merely “didn’t work out.”

“It’s just one of those things,” he said.

Leggett, who estimated he campaigned door to door at thousands of residences, said it was “sad” that only 8 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the runoff. Only 14 percent voted in the May 24 primary.

“Either they didn’t care or didn’t care enough about the issues to go out and vote,” Leggett said.

Carmichael said he campaigned door to door at more than 2,000 residences countywide and found many county residents are “waking up” to an issue he campaigned on — the need to recruit new jobs-producing industries to the county.

Debbie Whitlock won reelection as a Stephens County Commissioner.

According to the final unofficial results, Whitlock received 861 votes, or 65.48 percent, to Yearwood’s 454 votes, or 34.52 percent.

Whitlock said she is happy to have the opportunity to continue serving on the county commission.

“It has been a great four years and I am really excited and humbled and honored to be able to serve another four years,” said Whitlock. “I love this community. I love our county. I love the people in it. Stephens County is made up of a lot of different people with a lot of different views and different needs and different desires and a lot of times it is really hard to make decisions because you are serving so many different types of people. I just do the best I can for the good of the county as a whole.”

Whitlock went on to thank Yearwood for running a clean campaign.

“Kenny has been a friend of mine since school, a very good friend, and I just love him,” said Whitlock. “I appreciate him. I was really excited to know he was interested in what was going on in the community and we need more people like that who care and want to make a difference and I hope to see more of him in the future.”

From, runoff results in several North Georgia counties:

BANKS COUNTY – 13/13 precincts reporting

Bobby Eubanks (incumbent) – 482 (42.17%)
Mark Savage - 661 (57.83%)

Keith Gardiner – 594 (50.04%)
Helen Hewell – 593 (49.96%)

LUMPKIN COUNTY – 7/7 precincts reporting

Catherine Ariemma – 614 (30.43%)
Mera Turner – 1,404 (69.57%)

Amanda Jones – 393 (20.84%)
Jim Sheppard – 1,493 (79.16%)

Bobby Mayfield – 1,399 (75.01%)
Steve Shaw (incumbent) – 466 (24.99%)

MADISON COUNTY – 12/12 precincts reporting

Michael Moore – 2,281 (52.78%)
Kip Thomas (incumbent) – 2,041 (47.22%)

John D. Scarborough – 2,583 (61.03%)
Stanley Thomas – 1,649 (38.97%)

Lee Allen – 492 (57.75%)
Wayne Douglas – 360 (42.25%)

In White County, November General Elections voters will choose a new District 2 Board of Education member in a Special Election.

The Bibb County Board of Education tentatively approved a higher property tax millage rate for 2017.

Columbus City Council voted to allow local brew pubs to sell beer to go in growlers.

Councilor Skip Henderson, who is bringing the ordinance to Council, said it is in response to new state Revenue Commissioner Lynne Riley’s interpretation of state law, which is that it allows brew pubs to sell their own wares in growler form.

“The ordinance is to bring it into alignment with the interpretation of the new state revenue commissioner,” Henderson said. “It just makes sense to me because it’s a growing cottage industry and a lot of millennials are interested in this. It allows them to do what a lot of craft beer stores do, fill up the growlers, seal them and let them take them home.”

Under the current local ordinance and the previous interpretation of state law, a brew pub would have to put its beer in kegs, have a licensed distributor pick it up, then bring it back to the pub (and charge for the transaction) before the pub could sell for off-premise consumption.

“The biggest difference will be the ability to sell all of our beers without first selling them to our wholesaler and then them selling them back to us,” said Melvin Baker, general manager of the Cannon. “In the end, it’s all about selling our product and making it as easy as possible for our customers.”

Power and Pokemon

Georgia Power will add significant amounts of solar energy to its portfolio over the next six years under a planning document approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia regulators on Thursday approved a revised Georgia Power plan that will increase the utility’s use of solar and wind but also allow it to charge customers $99 million to investigate the feasibility and then license a new nuclear plant.

The Georgia Public Service Commission passed both measures 4-1.

“Adding renewables and nuclear together makes sense,” said Commissioner Tim Echols in a prepared statement. “I am committed to keeping rates low and energy plentiful, diverse and clean.”

The approved plan includes an additional 1,600 megawatts of renewable energy by 2021. That’s nearly triple what the company initially proposed and is enough to power about 250,000 homes.

Georgia Power also asked Pokemon Go players to stay safe while wandering around looking at their screens.

The power company said it has three simple safety tips for players caught up in the chase for Pikachu and virtual monsters.

First, stay away from electric wires, power poles, electric substations and power plants.

Second, do not enter private property, especially those protected by fences and warning signs. The company adds that trespassing on Georgia Power property is not only illegal but also potentially dangerous.

Finally, watch where you’re walking, including roads, bridges and parking lots.

Newnan City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting internet or cell phone games in the city’s cemeteries.

“We’ve had complaints of damage to a fence that is owned by private property that separates the cemetery and Charles Place,” said Newnan City Manager Cleatus Phillips at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “We had some complaints of blocking roadways. We had some complaints of … actively running on and across the gravesites.”

Newnan Police Chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows said in the last two weeks there were 50 people in the cemetery at one time. They were cleared out, and then another large crowd came in.

“People who were trying to get into visit a grave, from the street, couldn’t get … to the grave,” he added.

Additionally, Newnan Council member Ray DuBose said he had received a complaint about the gaming in the cemetery.

“This is an attempt … to specifically exclude gaming and internet play on cellphones and that type of activity in our cemeteries,” said Newnan Mayor Keith Brady about the ordinance change. “I have no problem at all with the game of Pokémon, how they play it and where they play it … other than in our cemeteries.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation entered into a data sharing agreement with Waze.

According to the DOT, the partnership provides real-time, anonymous, Waze-generated incident and slow-down information to the department directly from the source: drivers themselves.

In exchange, the Georgia DOT said it will provide real-time construction, crash and road closure data to Waze.

Officials said this will result in a succinct, thorough overview of current road conditions.

Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said this will give Georgia motorists real-time traffic information not only on our interstates and state routes, but also on arterial routes, information that is coming directly from the traveling public.

If you’re the owner of a Volkswagen diesel car that is covered by the recent court settlement, here’s how to start filing your claim.

Preacher Confesses to Faked Endorsement

Bishop Kenneth Adkins admitted to faking an endorsement in the Glynn County Commission District 2 election.

Bishop Kenneth Adkins said Thursday that he made up an endorsement he posted on Facebook at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, 15 minutes after polls opened. The post said that state Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, had endorsed retired surgeon J. Peter Murphy in the Republican runoff for the District 2 seat on the Glynn County Commission.

His motivation was the unfairness of Jones’ actual endorsement of Murphy’s opponent, incumbent Dale Provenzano, Adkins said.

Adkins said “cut and pasted” images from Jones’ public Facebook page and his legislative page to create the endorsement.

Adkins said he didn’t ask Murphy or Jones for permission to make up the endorsement and that he was taking full responsibility for it all.

“I told a lie,’’ he said, but added, “Politics is lying and stretching the truth.”

For his part, Jones called it, “Dirty politics, shameful politics. I think Peter Murphy needs to be careful who he associates with.”

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