Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 11, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 11, 2016

Casimir Pulaski, a Polish aristocrat who fought with the colonists in the American Revolution, died in Savannah on October 11, 1779.

Former Georgia Governor and President of the United States Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, 2002.

Bobby Cox managed his last game in Game Four of the NLDS on October 11, 2010.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Tybee Island appears to have weathered Hurrican Matthew well, according to the Savannah Morning News.

City Manager Diane Schleicher said during a tour around the streets and beaches Monday that although the city was warned that Matthew could potentially be a Category 4 hurricane by the time it reached Tybee, the island was fortunate to only bear the brunt of a weaker Category 1 or 2.

Even so, Mayor Jason Buelterman said, it was the most powerful storm to have struck Tybee Island since 1898. Tybee Public Works Director Joe Wilson estimated that about 1,000 tons of debris would have to be removed from Tybee in the hurricane’s aftermath.

And he said the Georgia Emergency Management Agency played a critical role in restoring a major city service to island residents before they arrived. The mayor said that during the weekend, delivery on parts needed for 10 new pumps for the wastewater system had been delayed, and it had appeared that residents returning after the mandatory evacuation order was lifted would be unable to use their home plumbing.

But GEMA provided a Black Hawk helicopter for the island’s use, the mayor said, and the needed parts arrived before most of the returning residents did.

Georgia Power says that 90% of customers who lost power should be back online by Wednesday night.

Continued progress was made throughout the day across the Coastal Region. Our goal for the overall restoration is for 90 percent of the customers that can accept power to be restored by Wednesday night. We expect to have power restored for nearly 100 percent of impacted customers who can accept power in Statesboro by Monday night with Brunswick, St. Simons and Jekyll Island following on Tuesday.

Jackson EMC has sent some of its crews to South Carolina to help bring power back there.

Jekyll Island reopened on Monday, with residents able to return home.

Residents were allowed to return beginning at 8 a.m. Monday morning, according to the Jekyll Island Authority, the community’s governing body. The island is not under a boil-water advisory.

Jones Hooks, the authority’s executive director, on Monday spoke from a makeshift workspace at the Jekyll Island Fire Department because the JIA’s administrative offices remain without power.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has confirmed that the Jekyll Island Downing Musgrove Causeway bridges are safe for travel.

Ninety percent of the roads on the island have been cleared, according to the DOT. All homes and businesses are accessible, but there may be some detours.

St Simons Island residents and workers are expected to be able to return to the island beginning today.

Glynn County reopened Jekyll Island to residents and business owner at 8 a.m. Monday, and reentry will begin at noon Tuesday for St. Simons Island residents and business employees with proof of entry.

There will be a checkpoint for entry onto the island at Warde Street in Brunswick, near the corner of U.S. 17 and the FJ Torras Causeway.

St. Simons Island opened at 10 a.m. Monday for business-critical and emergency workers with ID whose names are on emergency management’s disaster re-entry business-registry list.

Only those who have proof of residency, or are employed by a business located on St. Simons Island and have proof of same, will be allowed access to re-enter the island on Tuesday. An ID card, such as a driver’s license, other government ID, or business ID, that shows your home address or business address on St. Simons is sufficient. An ID with a non-resident of Glynn County with your name matching a business card with a business address on St. Simons is sufficient for access.

There are still power lines down on the islands, and residents were asked to use the utmost caution and allow power crews to work without interruption. Any questions about individual properties should be directed to Georgia Power at 888-660-5890.

Power has been restored to a portion of the islands, but there are areas that remain without power.

Glynn County Animal Control and the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia have returned after evacuating their animals to Waycross.

Turtles from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center took a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium as part of the Center’s evacuation.

Faculty and students at Kennesaw State University have protested the upcoming vote on the appointment of Sam Olens as President of KSU.

Billed as a faculty-sponsored silent protest for a national search for a new president, the midday gathering drew an estimated 200 to 300 participants as it got underway about at 12:20 p.m. The protest saw participants stand in silence with their backs toward Kennesaw Hall, which houses the university president’s office and other administrative departments.

The “silent” part of the protest was visible on many participants’ faces, as their mouths were covered by strips of paper with messages such as “National search” and “No voice,” referring to Olens’ selection as the sole nominee for the president job.

“Everybody I’ve talked to generally understands the fact that there hasn’t been a search for somebody, and they’re upset about that, especially the fact that Sam doesn’t have any kind of experience in education, like he hasn’t been a dean or anything like that,” Ryan said. “I definitely want somebody who is going to understand what it takes to run a university, the different ins and outs of education, of getting more students to come, of having undergraduate research available for all students, different things like that. And if you don’t have any experience in how that works and building those relationships, then how are you going to run the whole university?”

A string of Cobb leaders have said KSU would benefit from having Olens as president. Cobb Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Connell has said Olens would be able to “put forth the business case for what the university needs to take itself to the next level.”

Personally, I’ve known Sam Olens since 1998 and the years since his first election as a Cobb County Commissioner have shown him to be a gifted executive and administrator. I suspect that running Cobb County as its elected Commission Chair has more in common with being President of a University than chairing an English department does.

Emory University’s Antibiotic Resistance Center is studying the issue of antibiotic resistance and the role of medicine in that development.

James Hughes, MD, is an infectious diseases expert and co-director of the center. “This problem of antibiotic resistance is here to stay, but it has become particularly severe recently because of the emergence of these so-called ‘super-bugs,’ multiply-drug-resistant bacteria that cause very severe and life-threatening infections for which in some cases there is no currently effective antibiotic available.”

Monica Farley, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, describes the present situation this way: “We’re not at the point where most infections have no treatment, but there are some infections that have no treatment and we are very concerned that if we don’t interrupt that progression toward resistance, we will have more untreatable infections in the coming years.”

Columbus voters will decide whether to “thaw” a property tax assessment freeze that prevents higher property taxes for homeowners.

Early in her six-year tenure in office, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson set her sights on the freeze, but in a different way. Instead of asking voters to simply abolish the freeze, which failed so thoroughly in 1991, Tomlinson proposed a referendum asking voters to “thaw” the freeze.

Under her proposal, should it succeed, current homeowners would remain under the freeze as long as they owned their homes. Once they sold their home or bequeathed it, it would come out from under the freeze and be placed in a more typical fair market value system that most communities use.

Homeowners who purchase their homes after Jan. 1, 2017 also would be in the fair market system. So eventually, all the homes currently under the freeze would change hands and the freeze would effectively have been thawed.

Opponents say her proposal is unconstitutional and possibly threatens the freeze should it be challenged in court and be declared unconstitutional.

Drew Ferguson will almost certainly win election to Congress from the Third District, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

There is no question about the direction that the Georgia 3rd Congressional District leans — hard right.

The district, with a median annual household income of more than $50,000, leans to the right, according to numbers from the May primary. There were more than 58,000 votes cast in the Republican race and about 13,000 on the Democratic side.

The Republicans also had a huge advantage in the ability to raise contributions. The Drew Ferguson for Congress Committee raised more than $785,000 as of July 6, the last date a campaign disclosure was on record with the Federal Election Commission. That was also about three weeks before his primary victory.

[Democrat Angela] Pendley’s most recent financial disclosure shows no money raised and no money spent.

State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) faces Republican Matt Vaughn to retain her seat in the General Assembly.

“I am running for re-election to continue to put families first and fight for the issues that affect them the most, particularly education and the economy,” Evans said.

Vaughn, a psychotherapist interested in drug addiction and recovery reforms, decided to “take the plunge” and enter the District 42 race after lobbying with the Professional Counselors Association of Georgia for Senate Bill 319, which gives licensed counselors the ability to diagnose, evaluate and recommend a course of treatment for patients with emotional and mental health problems.

“I have been waiting for politicians to pass meaningful drug law reform to deal with the heroin/opioid overdose epidemic for years,” Vaughn said. “I got tired of waiting, while seeing good people die, and decided to run myself. It was a ‘I’ll do it myself, said the little red hen’ type moment.”

“The most important issue on my agenda for my next term is to continue to fight to cover more technical college students with full tuition grants so that we can get more Georgians trained with relevant trade skills and get them into the work force to help close our skills gap (the gap between those jobs that remain vacant and the skill set of unemployed Georgians),” Evans said.

Interestingly, both candidates support casino gambling.

Evans: I support the idea, but want to make sure that the funds from any expansion of gambling in our state go to support students who need more financial aid to attend college.

Vaughn: I support them. They would contribute greatly to an increase in tourism and job production. Also, the increase in tax revenue would take away some of the tax burden on common folk.

Denise Askin resigned from her District 4 seat on the Carroll County Board of Education after being re-elected in May.

Board Chairman Dr. Jon Anderson said the school system is still developing its plan of action following Askin’s resignation, with Superintendent Scott Cowart working with the Georgia Department of Education and the state Board of Education to find a solution.

“Since she was just elected to a new term that would start in January, if we were to appoint someone to fill her seat, they would only have a few meetings to fill between now and the first of the year,” Anderson said. “There will most likely need to be a special election held, either at the end of this year or the beginning of 2017, to fill her seat.”

Villa Rica seniors may receive different tax exemptions under the same municipal ordinance depending on whether they live in Douglas County or Carroll County.

The reason is because of what is being called a “misinterpretation” of an ordinance the city passed in 2004, one that was aimed at assisting low-income residents living on a fixed income. Tax officials in Douglas and Carroll counties are interpreting the ordinance differently, so the city’s Carroll County seniors can earn the discount even if they have a well-stocked retirement fund.

The discovery of this error in early September has city officials scrambling, both to figure out how the miscommunication occurred and what steps should be taken to correct a disparity among how those aged 65 and over are taxed in both counties.

On April 6, 2004, the City Council approved an ordinance to “provide tax relief to the elderly citizens” of the town. Tracking language found in state law, a 100 percent exemption from paying city property tax “in its entirety” would be phased in over the next three years.

The Georgia law cited by the council allows an exemption from all ad valorem (property) taxes to those 65 or over, provided that the household’s total income does not exceed $10,000 above retirement income.

In an email exchange with Villa Rica leaders, Douglas County tax officials said they use an income threshold to calculate which senior citizens living on their side of the border are eligible for the 100 percent exemption.

But a similar communications with tax officials in Carroll County — and dated Sept. 7 — said that, if a person is 65 and older, “anybody is eligible for the exemption regardless of the income.”

Oakwood City Council adopted a higher millage rate for 2017 that is expected to produce the same amount of revenue after declines in the tax digest.

Nolan E. Hertel, Professor of Nuclear & Radiological Engineering at Georgia Tech, writes that nuclear power is essential for a reliable electricity supply.

Despite record-breaking heat in large parts of the United States this summer, there were no electricity shortages. Air conditioners kept humming and power reserve margins stayed within required levels during two major heat waves in July and August.

This was due in no small measure to the excellent performance of the nation’s nuclear power plants, which account for about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity-generating capacity and 26 percent in Georgia and are the only clean-air source that produces power around the clock. Reactors in 30 states operated during the summer with an average capacity factor of 96.1 percent – a measure of efficiency, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Thanks to the outstanding performance of the Vogtle and Hatch nuclear plants, there was plenty of generating capacity to meet electricity demand in Georgia.

Those expecting renewable energy sources to replace base-load nuclear, natural gas and coal plants have been disappointed. Solar and wind power combined account for 7 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, even with federal subsidies and action by many states mandating the use of renewables. Solar and wind – though carbon-free like nuclear power and helpful in the battle against climate change – are available only intermittently, when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. The rest of the time, when the weather isn’t cooperating, they require backup power from fossil-fuel plants.

Nuclear power’s reliability and importance as a supplier of base-load electricity is most apparent during extreme weather conditions. Because they are built to withstand tornadoes and hurricanes, nuclear plants consistently post weekly average capacity factors in the mid- to high 90s, even as other power plants drop off the grid because of low natural gas supplies and mechanical failures.

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