Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 28, 2016

On November 28, 1777, Congress appointed John Adams as commissioner to France, replacing Silas Deane.

The Grand Ole Opry began live radio broadcasts from Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925.

The Tawana Brawley case began on November 28, 1987; the greatest lasting impact would be the rise to celebrity of community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Marshal Service Deputy Commander Patrick Carothers was honored at a funeral service in Gwinnett County this weekend.

Patrick Carothers, 53, was killed in Long County when he tried to serve a warrant for fugitive Dontrell Montese Carter’s arrest. Carother’s team was entering a single-wide trailer where they’d found Carter hiding when Carother was shot twice.

A little over a week later, a funeral procession guided his body from Flanigan’s Funeral Home in Buford to the Norcross school where his wife Terry teaches. It’s the same school three of his five children graduated. Two more are still enrolled.

GAC President David Fincher said Patrick brought his positive attitude and leadership skill into the school family.

“He was remembered as the calm in the middle of every storm,” [United States Deputy Attorney General Sally] Yates said. “He was famous for saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.’”

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was one of those in attendance who never met Patrick, but said she felt she knew him after talking to those who had worked with him. She said he had taken up the challenge “to close the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be.”

“He pledged his energy, his talent and if necessary, his life to the well-being of the U.S. people,” Lynch said. “It was keeping that pledge until his last breath that made him a hero.”

Patrick Carothers recieved a hero’s send-off Saturday. His family members were presented with folded American flags as a thanks for his service before the fallen deputy’s casket was carried off on a horse-drawn carriage.

Medical cannabis supporters say that passage of measures in eight states to allow in-state growing or production of medical cannabis ratchets up the pressure for similar legislation in Georgia.

“We were obviously encouraged by all the positive votes,” said Shannon Cloud. She and her husband, Blaine Cloud, are two of Georgia’s most vocal medical cannabis activists. Their 11-year-old daughter, Alaina, has taken a liquid made with cannabis to treat the symptoms of a rare seizure disorder.

“The fact that Florida passed medical was a huge win. We’re not that different from Florida. We are hopeful that we could get it on the ballot here in 2018,” Shannon Cloud said.

What Florida passed is the licensed cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis products to Florida patients who have a medical marijuana card.

But in Georgia, unlike Florida, the question of medical marijuana cultivation must go through the state Legislature before a public vote. In Florida, supporters bypassed the state Legislature, instead collecting nearly 700,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot.

The Macon restaurateur who sponsored the bill that created Georgia’s medical cannabis registry said nationwide momentum and poll results favor medical cannabis.

“It’s coming. It’s now in 29 states, after Election Day, that have full-blown medical marijuana programs. It’s coming to Georgia at some point,” said state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, counting medical-only cannabis states such as Florida, plus places like Colorado that allow recreational marijuana too.

Representative Allen Peake also appeared in a brief video by McClatchy news discussing the issue.

Atlanta area mom Katie McCoy will be among those pushing for greater availability in Georgia.

McKoy was in the hospital with one of her sons when the legislature shot down a bill that would have given everyone prescribed cannabis oil legal access.

“I got to see the bill fail from the ICU bed,” she said.

Currently, in state cultivation is also illegal. So someone with a medical marijuana license can possess it in Georgia, but they can’t buy it here.

McKoy said the restrictions place a cruel burden on families who are already suffering so much.

“Why is my child more worthy of a medication even though there are other children who are equally in pain and equally suffering,” she said.

State Rep. Alan Peake said they’re working with the governor’s office right now to expand the list of approved illnesses.

He said they’re targeting autism, Tourette syndrome and chronic pain in 2017.

The Georgia CARE Project is pushing for de facto decriminalization on a city-by-city basis.

The campaign is based, in part, on a July decision by the city council in Clarkston, in metropolitan Atlanta’s DeKalb County, that reduced the city fine for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from as much as $1,000 to $75. The city’s new ordinance also eliminated the possibility of serving jail time for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

The new Clarkston ordinance does not eliminate the possibility that a person in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana could still be charged under state law, which classifies a violation as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, a misdemeanor conviction in punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Marijuana reform advocates in Athens have repeatedly pushed Athens-Clarke County’s mayor and commission to consider an arrangement like the Clarkston ordinance for Athens. That approach is dubbed a “parallel ordinance” in that the local, less punitive, law would exist in tandem with the state law. That would, proponents argue, give police officers some discretion in determining whether an individual violation merited the potential state misdemeanor punishment or could be handled much more simply, and with less consequence, through the issuance of a local citation.

In announcing the “City by City” campaign recently, James Bell, the director of the Georgia C.A.R.E. (Campaign for Access, Reform and Education) Project contended that “public opinions and attitudes have changed in Georgia and the nation” with regard to marijuana laws.

Bell also tied the “City by City” effort to Georgia C.A.R.E.’s initiative to influence state law on marijuana. That initiative, the “40 Days” campaign, aims to have a representative of Georgia C.A.R.E. lobbying state lawmakers for every one of the 40 days the state legislature is in session next year, beginning on the second Monday in January.

Colorado, whose voters legalized recreational marijuana, is seeing more cases of driving under the influence of marijuana.

[WSB-TV’s Justin] Farmer rode along with Cpl. Roger Meyers, a Colorado State Patrol officer who has been trained as a drug recognition expert.

Meyers said when he suspects someone is driving while impaired by marijuana, he starts a conversation with the person.

“How much cannabis have you smoked tonight or how much cannabis have you used tonight?” Meyers said he asks the person.

An estimated 12.4 percent of the deadly crashes in Colorado in 2015 involved a driver who tested positive for cannabis. That’s up 8.1 percent since 2013, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Police in Georgia do not have a roadside breath test for drugs, as they do for alcohol.

The Colorado State Patrol is running a pilot program with marijuana DUI devices that test saliva. But there are concerns about those devices.

The Chatham County Narcotics Team found ten pounds of marijuana believed to have originated in a state with legalized recreational marijuana.

In one of the largest busts tied back to Colorado marijuana, $200,000 worth of marijuana is off the streets of Savannah after a huge bust in Port Wentworth.

Here’s what’s interesting about the drugs seized Thursday—they started off perfectly legal. The growing number of states legalizing recreational marijuana is bumping up the supply in states that haven’t—like Georgia.

CNT agents said they’re targeting those who go to the states where the drug is legal to buy it and then come back here to sell it. They said they have one of the biggest dealers in Chatham County now behind bars.

“There is no doubt that they know what they’re doing is illegal. They’re going to a state where it is legal to buy it in large amounts and then bring it back to Chatham County for the purpose of distributing it,” said Sergeant Gene Harley with the Chatham Narcotics Team.

This makes at least five busts tied back to a legal purchase of marijuana in other states. Now with eight states and D.C. allowing the recreational use of the drug, that number might keep climbing.

“Number 1, it’s simply illegal in the state of Georgia, and number 2, despite what a lot of people may think, violent crime is regularly associated with marijuana,” said Sgt. Harley. “We hope that this is a lesson to anyone who may think about taking their place, that CNT is out and about, and we simply will not tolerate it.”

Firearm manufacturer Daniel Defense will break ground today for a new 250,000 square foot facility in Ellabell, Georgia.

“We’re excited about physically breaking ground on our new facility, as it will play a big role in helping us increase efficiencies in manufacturing and day-to-day operations, which is good for the company and our customers,” said Daniel Defense president/CEO Marty Daniel.

“It also represents the creation of many new jobs and overall growth for the company—which is good for Bryan County and the local economy.”

Daniel Defense has been located in Bryan County since 2009, when the company moved operations from Chatham County.

Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election is causing some women to consider running for office themselves, according to the Washington Post.

Among young, liberal women who expected to see the country elect its first female president Nov. 8,…. many are responding to Hillary Clinton’s defeat with a new sense of obligation to seek political power. After years of never imagining a career in the public eye or only vaguely entertaining the idea of working in politics, these women are determined to run for elected office.

They don’t speak for all women, many of whom voted for Trump – 42 percent of them, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research. Notably, a majority of white women favored the Republican. But Clinton still benefited from an overall gender gap, and young women supported her by a margin of 32 percentage points.

For many of those rooting for Clinton to break the glass ceiling her campaign repeatedly invoked, her loss, painful as it was, could be an even greater mobilizing force than a victory might have been.

Michele L. Swers, a professor of government at Georgetown University who specializes in gender and policymaking, said this response has historical precedent.

In the early 1990s, televised hearings brought the Senate debate over the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court into living rooms across the country. The all-male Judiciary Committee’s treatment of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment, helped motivate women to run for office, Swers said. In 1992, four successfully ran for the U.S. Senate, increasing the number of women in that body threefold. They were Patty Murray of Washington, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, all Democrats. Their electoral success branded 1992 the “Year of the Woman.”

You had people who decided they didn’t like what they saw,” Swers said. “In general in politics, anger is a very motivating factor.”

Swers said this year’s election may be another pivotal consciousness-raising event for women “deciding the only way to change things is to get into the halls of power.”

House Bill 202 from 2015 may help some property taxpayers in disputes with their local government, according to the AJC.

One provision, for example, provides that taxpayers won’t be charged interest on the unpaid balance of their property taxes while an appeal is pending. As it stands now, taxpayers have to pay interest if the final value shows more taxes are due.

Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, one of the sponsors, speaks from experience on this provision, having been billed $11.13 in interest on his tax bill. “The taxpayer had no ability to impact the time it would take…to reach the conclusion,” Harrell said. “For me, $11.13 was not a significant amount of money, but it was the principle of the thing. I had no control.”

Early voting begins today in the December 6 runoff election for Muscogee County Sheriff.

Monday is the first day of early voting for the Dec. 6 Muscogee County Sheriff’s runoff between incumbent John Darr and Donna Tompkins.

Voters can cast ballots FROM 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday in the community room of the Citizens Service Center, 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library.

The service center’s public access off Rigdon Road at Midtown Drive is more convenient because visitors must enter through the rear of the building by the parking garage, as the front doors remain locked for security.

Each voter must show a government-issued photo ID to prove identity and residence.

Anyone registered to vote by the Oct. 11 deadline for the General Election is eligible to vote in the runoff. They do not have to have voted in the Nov. 8 election.

Residents with online access can check their voter registration status at Georgia’s “My Voter Page.” Others may call the elections office at 706-653-4392.

Berrien County voters will also choose a sheriff in a December 6 runoff.

Interim Sheriff Ray Paulk won a special election to finish the current term, but he’s in a runoff to win a new term as Berrien County’s Sheriff.

“A candidate must have 50 percent plus one of the votes to take the election,” said Melanie Ray, Elections Supervisor.

In the general election vote, Paulk pulled in just under 49 percent of the vote in a four-man race. “Ray Paulk and Frank Swanson took the top two percentages. So they will both be in a runoff,” said Ray.

Paulk and Swanson will face off in December to see who will serve a full term as Berrien County Sheriff. “In the end, I was banking on a runoff and that’s what we were dealt with” said Swanson.

DeKalb County “Super” District 7 voters will choose between two candidates for County Commission in a runoff election.

Voters will decide between Greg Adams, an Emory University police officer, and Randal Mangham, an attorney, in the Dec. 6 runoff for Super District 7. They received the most votes out of nine candidates in the Nov. 8 general election. The winner of the race will represent 350,000 people in the eastern half of the county, from Doraville to Stonecrest.

Dozens of officials and employees have been found guilty of crimes over the past few years, including DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis and former Commissioner Elaine Boyer.

“I really don’t believe we have a (corruption) problem to that end at this point,” Adams said. “We just need to focus on moving forward. I will focus on being transparent and accountable for my actions.”

Mangham, who himself has been criticized over his failure to file financial disclosures on time, also said the county should move on from allegations of official wrongdoing.

“We’ve been through some stormy times in DeKalb County, and it’s time to turn a new leaf,” Mangham said. “It’s time to put some of that in the past.”

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