Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 25, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 25, 2016

On October 25, 1774, the First Continental Congress addressed a petition to King George III raising concerns about the Coercive Acts passed by Parliament and asserting its loyalty to the monarch.

The wooden keel of USS Monitor was laid at Continental Iron Works at Greenpoint, New York on October 25, 1861.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Molly Shannon said Savannah is a Superstar!

Shannon said she had grown fond of Savannah since her arrival Sunday, and joked about potentially filming here in the future. She said she even purchased her orange J. Crew dress from the Savannah store on Broughton

“Everybody’s been so warm and friendly. I got to speak to the students today, the drama students and the writing students, I’m staying at this beautiful hotel. It’s a dream. It’s all so cute,” Shannon said as Leopold’s Ice Cream grabbed her eye. “Look at this ice cream place. I love everything about it.”

Early Voting Numbers through October 24th.

Ballots cast: 704,872
In-person: 604,310
Mailed: 97,196
Electronic: 3,366

Donald Trump won a University of North Georgia straw poll, according to the Gainesville Times.

Across two days, 578 ballots were cast at a table display in the Nesbitt building sponsored by the school’s Politically Incorrect Club.

Dawson Rogers, president of the club, said the poll was about engaging voters in a meaningful way as much as it was about bragging rights.

“We want to know what people’s opinion is,” he said.

Among students, Trump received 187 votes to 109 for Clinton. The candidates tied among staff, and Clinton bested Trump 22 votes to 8 among faculty.

Attorney General Sam Olens will receive a pay bump of roughly $300,000 when he takes over as President of Kennesaw State, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, president-elect of Kennesaw State University, will be paid slightly more than his predecessor, former president Dan Papp.

Olens’ total annual compensation will be $430,000, including $41,200 for housing, car and subsistence allowances, according to a letter from University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the median total compensation for presidents of taxpayer-supported colleges was $431,000 for the 2014-15 school year.

Cobb County early voting is up significantly over this point in 2012.

The first week of early voting ahead of the November election saw more than 21,000 people show up to the county’s two polling places to cast their ballots early, continuing the trend of increased early voting in Cobb this year.

The county’s two polling places — the main office of Cobb Elections and the Cobb County Civic Center — were open to voters for six days last week. Friday saw the highest turnout with 4,270 people voting early in person, and Saturday saw the lowest with 3,185 early votes.

In total, 21,780 people voted early in person last week. When the 9,988 mail-in ballots that have returned thus far are added in, a total of 31,768 votes have been cast early in Cobb.

Through the first week of early voting in 2012, which only consisted of five weekdays, a total of 7,007 people voted early in person and 3,580 mail-in ballots had been returned for a total of 10,587 early votes.

Kerwin Swint, chair of the political science and international affairs department at Kennesaw State University, said high turnout for early voting doesn’t necessarily indicate that there will be higher turnout on Election Day.

“Turnout is higher in presidential years, so we know it’ll be higher than two years ago. But still, you have to wonder if the nastiness of this particular campaign has turned off some voters. We’ll have to see when it’s all over if that has happened,” Swint said.

Additionally, Swint said voters in Cobb are likely getting used to early voting, which began to be allowed in Georgia in 2003. Before then, an excuse was necessary to receive an absentee ballot and no early in-person voting was held.

“It’s hard to say. It could just be unbridled enthusiasm among the hardcore (Donald) Trump and (Hillary) Clinton supporters, and it could be people choosing to vote early instead of waiting as it becomes more of a habit to do that,” Swint said. “It could portend a big increase in voter turnout. Then again, it may not. It may just be people choosing to vote early.”

Only 40 percent of local school districts passed along the 3 percent raise that Gov. Deal and the General Assembly passed this year, according to the AJC.

While most state employees were expected to get increases, a Georgia Department of Education survey found that only 40 percent of school districts passed along the money as a salary hike.

Deal’s spokeswoman, Jen Talaber Ryan, said Monday that with all the extra state money flowing to school districts in recent years, furloughs should have been eliminated by now and teachers should have gotten raises. She said the governor will mandate that school systems give teachers the raises the state promises to provide in the future.

How school systems used the pay-raise money shows the clear split between urban and rural, have and have-not districts in Georgia. The Department of Education survey shows most urban districts gave pay raises, although not all the full 3 percent. Most who used it to cut furloughs or give one-time bonuses were districts from small-town Georgia.

“There are systems across the state, small systems, that are just struggling to pay the bills,” said Louis Fordham, a school board member in Whitfield County in far North Georgia.

Warren County Superintendent Carole Jean Carey said her district was able to eliminate teacher furloughs with the pay-raise money.

Gov. Deal also discussed other options going forward, according to the AJC Political Insider.

“If the amendment is not successful, then I expect local boards of education to demonstrate more than just simply saying, ‘Don’t intrude on our territory,” he said.

“For example, they have the authority to allow a parent or guardian of a child in a chronically failing school to attend another school that is not failing in their own school district,” he added. “Thus far, they have not seen the initiative to do things like that. That would be a simple change they could make.”

“I want to see that they would be doing something other than say, ‘We’re protecting our monopoly,’” Deal said. “And that’s what they have – a monopoly. And monopolies, as a general rule, have no competition and see no reason to change. I would expect them to show some evidence that they’re willing to change.”

Deal was asked whether requiring school districts to allow students in failing schools to transfer was a “plan B” in case the constitutional amendment fails.

“That’s always been a Plan A. We have relegated the authority to these local school boards forever, and the result is exactly what we’re up against now. I don’t think anybody is really satisfied with that now,” he said. “I expect them to do something other than just sprout rhetoric.”

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston spoke to Columbus State University and the Columbus Chamber.

Ralston’s visit came at the request of Chamber President Brian Anderson and less than three months before the General Assembly returns to work. It also comes after a legislative session where Republican Rep. Richard Smith said that fellow Republican Sen. Josh McKoon’s rocky relationship with Ralston and Gov. Nathan Deal cost Columbus State and the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center funding in the 2016 state budget.

Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge who had not been to Columbus for an official presentation in several years, noted the community’s drive.

“Back then the 2010 economy was in a bad place,” the speaker said. “I was impressed then and I continue to be impressed at this community’s ability to shoulder through, even when it is dark in other places.”

“A community has to be very careful about who it selects as leaders to represent its interest in the General Assembly,” Ralston said. “I tell House members all the time their effectiveness comes by relationships and trust that other members have in you. If you don’t have these, you cannot be very effective. … I don’t make decisions based on personalities. It’s about trust and relationships.”

Macon is considering how to manage downtown parking, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A “vibrant retail environment” usually has a turnover rate of seven cars a day that use the same downtown parking spot. In Macon, that average is two, since people who work and live there are using many on-street parking spaces for lengthy stretches, NewTown Macon President Josh Rogers said.

“The bottom line for parking in downtown Macon is we are not matching the most convenient spaces with the people who need them,” he said. “People coming down to eat or shop or pop into a meeting, those are the people that need spaces on the street.

“Right now since (street parking is) free and not enforced, some people go to their offices and work all day, but it’s not available to people who want to dine and shop.”

The development authority’s parking resolution is scheduled for discussion at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting. According to NewTown, there are about 1,200 on-street parking spaces and another 4,600 off-street parking spots around downtown. At peak hours, about 35 percent of the street parking is vacant, as is about half the off-street parking spots, such as parking lots.

The development authority’s parking resolution is scheduled for discussion at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting. According to NewTown, there are about 1,200 on-street parking spaces and another 4,600 off-street parking spots around downtown. At peak hours, about 35 percent of the street parking is vacant, as is about half the off-street parking spots, such as parking lots.

“The demand for these spaces often far exceeds the actual supply, and this competition leads to people repeatedly circling around the block looking for a space or getting frustrated and choosing to go elsewhere,” according to a resolution.

The Rome-Floyd NAACP will provide rides to the polls to voters who need transportation during early voting or on election day.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) will speak to the Northwest Georgia Council of The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors annual breakfast at the Walker County Civic Center beginning at 9:30 AM Wednesday.

Jim Barksdale, erstwhile Democratic candidate for Senate, spoke to Albany union members.

“We are working very hard to do everything we can to win on November 8th, but we do think that there is a reasonable chance of a runoff,” Barksdale said. “We think, if there is a runoff, we will win it. We will get a lot of attention.”

Are they literally re-using the Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn press releases from 2014?

North Georgia Drought

The City of Blairsville has banned outdoor watering during a drought in North Georgia. Haralson County has also banned outdoor watering, while the City of Canton is asking residents to cut back voluntarily.

North Georgia counties are seeing 1-2 brush fires daily due to drought conditions, according to WSB-TV.

Chief ranger Mark Munns spoke with Channel 2′s Rikki Klaus at the site of a fire that started Sunday in Acworth near Northside Drive.

“Every county in the area is having at least one or two fires a day,” Munns said.

“Due to the drought conditions, the fires that are burning right now are burning a lot heavier material than they normally do, (and) therefore require a lot more equipment to put them out,” Munns said.

Munns said North Georgia had 22 wildland fires on Saturday and another 19 Sunday.

Munns said humans caused the majority of the fires this weekend. Munns advises avoiding outdoor burning and refrain from using tools that spark outside.

Barrow County firefighters worked to contain a fire that covered 50-60 acres near Lake Allatoona.

Bartow County Fire Department said the fire is covering about 50-60 acres in a wooded area near Lake Allatoona. They initially responded to the fire just before 7 p.m. on Saturday and continued working to control it Sunday.

Smoke can reportedly be seen from miles around.

Portions of the state especially central and north Georgia are dealing with an extended drought. That has caused the Georgia Forestry Commission to place a number of areas under a high to extreme danger rating for fires.

According to the United States Drought monitor at least about two-thirds of the state is at least abnormally dry for this time of year with just under one third facing an extreme drought.

North Georgia is at the epicenter of the drought area.

Metro Atlanta and surrounding areas are likely to experience drought through the winter.

The drought covering most of Georgia is expanding, and will likely continue through the end of the year. Much of metro Atlanta is in “extreme drought,” the second-worst category on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s scale. It’s even worse in the northwest corner of the state, where the drought is considered “exceptional.”

In its seasonal drought outlook, released on Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that the drought in Georgia will continue at least through the end of January.

Flows on the Chattahoochee River are low, and Lake Lanier is 7 feet below full pool.

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