Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 23, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 23, 2016

President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 the first “public day of thanksgiving and prayer.”

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go. Washington


On November 23, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters. Sherman’s forces left the capitol city on November 24th.

On November 25, 1864, Sherman’s 14th and 20th Corps moved toward Sandersville while the 17th Corps fought briefly against a mix of Kentucky Militia, Georgia Military Institute cadets, and Georgia convicts.

On November 27, 1864, Sherman ordered the courthouse in Sandersville, Georgia burned.

On November 25, 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel filed a patent for dynamite. On November 25, 1895, Nobel wrote his will, leaving the equivalent of roughly $186 million (2008 dollars) to endow the Nobel prizes.

On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fourth Thursday in November as the modern Thanksgiving celebration.

[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

On the same day, a Japanese navy fleet left port headed toward Pearl Harbor.

President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

Construction on the Georgia Dome began on November 24, 1989.

On November 24, 1992, Republican Paul D. Coverdell defeated Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler in the runoff election for United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voter turnout reached a new record, with more than 76% of registered voters making it to the polls for the November 2016 General Election.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced the final results Tuesday. His office had previously predicted turnout in the Nov. 8 general election would break a state record for votes cast in an election.

The turnout numbers were even higher in Hall County, where 78.5 percent of voters cast ballots, a total of 71,396 out of the 90,878 people registered.

Kemp says more than 4.1 million people voted early or on Election Day this year statewide out of 5.4 million active registered voters.

The record previously was more than 3.9 million votes during the 2008 fall elections.

“I am thrilled to see Georgian’s enthusiasm this cycle,” Kemp said. “Voters turned out in record numbers for the (March) SEC Primary, and that trend has continued all year long.”

Forsyth County voters turned out at more than 80% in the General Election.

More than 80 percent of registered Forsyth County voters turned out Nov. 8, voting to extend an education sales tax and pass a revision to the county’s homestead exemption.

The education sales tax passed with 63 percent of the vote. It establishes a one-cent sales tax for education that runs five years or until the cap of $195 million is reached. By law, special purpose local sales taxes imposed for schools can only be used for capital projects and to make payments on bonds. Forsyth County voters approved similar referendums in 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2011, with the current SPLOST expiring in June 2017.

The second major ballot issue was a senior homestead exemption which would reduce a property owner’s eligibility for school tax exemptions. Forsyth voters approved this measure with 60 percent in in favor.

In 2001, Forsyth voters approved a 100 percent senior, or age 65 and up, homestead exemption for school taxes. Since that time, Forsyth County’s population has grown from 98,407 to 212,500, and school enrollment has increased from 17,249 to 46,061. In 2015, senior exemptions amounted to over $19 million in lost revenue.

In the presidential election, Republican Donald Trump garnered 71 percent of the votes, while Democrat Hillary Clinton received 24 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson took 4 percent.

On the local level, incumbents District Attorney for the Bell-Forsyth Circuit Penny Penn, Probate Judge Lynwood Jordan, Superior Court Clerk Greg Allen, Tax Commissioner Matthew Ledbetter, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, Board of Education District 3 representative Tom Cleveland and Board of Education District 4 representative Darla Light all won their spots with 100 percent of votes.

Some new faces will be joining the county including Ron Freeman as sheriff, Lauren McDonald as coroner, Rick Swope as District 2 County Commissioner and Laura Smanson as District 5 County Commissioner.

The Board of Education District 5 seat was up for grabs, but incumbent Nancy Roche held onto that seat with 79 percent of votes.

Incoming Department of Community Health Commissioner Frank Berry announced leadership changes that will become effective when he takes the lead at the agency.

Joseph W. Hood III, Andrew Johnson, and Kate Pfirman will serve as Deputy Commissioners, and Lisa Walker will assume the role of Chief Financial Officer.

“As I plan for my role as Commissioner of the Department of Community Health (DCH), I am pleased to announce the addition of several executives to the DCH leadership team,” said Berry. “The combined experience and knowledge-base of this team will be an asset to accomplishing the agency’s mission.”

Joseph W. Hood III serves as the Division Director of Public Safety at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. Prior to his current position, he served as Comptroller for the Georgia Department of Public Safety. He was a staff member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for more than 10 years, serving as the Grants Division Director for five years. He also served as an auditor with the Georgia Department of Human Resources and as Finance Director at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Hood earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia.

Andrew Johnson is currently Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities where he has served for four years. Prior to his service to the state, he worked with the office of Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey, M.D., for five years, as well as in the private sector as a mortgage banker.  Mr. Johnson studied Political Science at Kennesaw State University.

Kate Pfirman has been with the state over 20 years. She currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Public Health and has held a variety of roles including Division Director at the Governor’s Office of Planning (OPB), and Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Human Resources (DHR). Pfirman received her Bachelor’s degree in economics from Emory University and her Master’s degree in accounting from The American University in Washington, D.C.

Lisa Walker is currently the Division Director of Health and Human Services for the Office of Planning and Budget. She has worked in multiple state agencies during her 20 years of public service with the State of Georgia. She serves on the Board of Georgia Health Information Network. Walker earned a Bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgia State University and also holds a MBA with a concentration in finance.

The Fayette County Republican Party is considering putting together a bus trip to Washington for the Inaurgual, to leave on January 19 and return January 22, 2017. If you’re interested, get in touch with the county party’s leadership.

State Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) will introduce legislation outlawing “upskirting” after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the existing statute.

“It’s something we all recognize as unacceptable behavior,” said state Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, sponsor of House Bill 9.

But this year, a Georgia court reversed the conviction of a man for one count of criminal invasion of privacy for what’s called “upskirting.” That man, Brandon Lee Gary, admitted to police about three years ago that he had secretly snapped cellphone videos up the skirt of a woman shopping at the Perry Parkway Publix, where he then worked. He was pretending to tie his shoes.

But the Georgia Court of Appeals said that, technically, Georgia laws guaranteeing privacy don’t apply to the space under peoples’ clothes.

“All this (bill) does is patch that up, allow this to be deemed criminal behavior,” Blackmon said.

GPB News takes a look at wildfire-fighting operations in North Georgia.

“It was bad last night when it was flaming up real high,” [Dolores] Duncan said from her back porch the following morning. “First, it was coming down the mountain over there–you could see it coming down the mountain–so we went down to see how bad it was. I guess it was about 50 feet from the bottom when we went down, and that was before dark.”

As night fell, the fire moved up the hill, threatening Duncan’s home. That’s when rangers from the Georgia Forestry Commission arrived on the scene.

They worked through the night and stopped the flames about 100 feet from Duncan’s back door. The next day, their work continued.

Once a fire is contained within fire breaks bulldozers have plowed through the trees, rangers have to make sure it’s actually out: work known as “mopping up.”

“The duff layer out here–the actual leaves and the pine straw–are so thick that it’s not just burning on the surface. It’s actually burning underneath,” Evans explained. “So, we’re having to remove some of that fuel to get to the real heat, which is under the ground. We use different hand tools, try to put some water on it, and just at least cool it off so it won’t restart.”

“You know, we’ve got a lot of folks up here that’s going to miss Thanksgiving at home, but it’s part of the life,” said Byron Haire, who works for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Armstrong State University inked a research agreement with the United States Army to study injury prevention.

Health care spending is up in Georgia, partly because of increasing costs for prescription drugs.

In Georgia, average per capita spending was slightly above the national average, at $5,194, and average out-of-pocket spending per capita was $942, significantly higher than nationally.

Spending in Georgia, though, was less than the average for the South, which, at $5,240 per capita, was the second-highest-spending region.

Spending on prescription drugs grew faster than spending on any other health care service. In 2015, $649 per capita was spent on brand prescriptions, an increase of 11.4 percent from the previous year.

The average price per dose on brand-name drugs almost doubled from 2012 to 2015, Frost told []. Those increases were especially high for “anti-infective’’ drugs that treat conditions such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

“The only place we’re not seeing price increases is with generic prescriptions,’’ Frost told GHN.

David Howard, an Emory University health policy expert, when asked to comment on the report, said that “it’s striking how much of the spending increases is related to prices.”

He said a key factor could be the rampant consolidation of hospitals systems and physicians, sparked by changes in reimbursements from insurers and government programs looking to emphasize quality of care.  Bigger health systems, experts say, are able to pursue cost savings and also negotiate better pricing from insurers, an industry that’s also seeking to consolidate.

The payment changes were driven by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and repeal of the law, which Republicans have promised since their recent electoral victories, could ease the pressure of medical providers to merge, Howard said.

Camden County Commission Chair Jimmy Starline spoke about creating a technology corridor in Coastal Georgia.

Starline said the county’s strengths in coming years will be Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, sports tourism and a proposed spaceport.

While launching spacecraft is an important part of the county’s long-term plans, it is the support companies that have potential to have the biggest impact to the county, he said.

“The technology corridor is what we’re really after,” Starline said. “We have a real opportunity for a nice lifestyle here.”

He discussed the agreements between the cities and county such as mutual aid for fire protection, a shared health care clinic and a new pact with St. Marys to lower flood insurance rates as examples of positive changes locally.

Cobb County Commissioners will consider allowing open alcohol containers in and near the new Braves stadium.

Cobb commissioners at their work session Tuesday afternoon were presented with a draft plan that would designate the open container areas within and near SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta, its adjoining mixed-use development. Under the proposed plan, which could receive commissioner approval next month, The Battery would be designated as an open container area where alcohol could be consumed outside as well as sold by properly licensed vendors.

Dana Johnson, the county’s community development director, said similar areas have been designated within the Cobb cities of Acworth and Smyrna, as well as other metro Atlanta cities, and within special event areas such as Six Flags Over Georgia in Cobb, the Avalon mixed-use development in Alpharetta and Atlantic Station.“This is not a new concept,” Johnson said. “This is something that has been done and managed appropriately throughout Cobb County and throughout metro Atlanta, and this is something we think will be a very big benefit to the visitors and the public as they come to enjoy a great ballgame.”

LaGrange City Council is considering changes to its sign ordinance.

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