Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 12, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 12, 2016

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.

Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.

Jimmy Carter announced he would run for President of the United States on December 12, 1974.

Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.

The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000, stopping manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A Macon Telegraph headline sounds like the beginning of a country song: He says he made her breakfast, then she set his house on fire.

[Aaron] Whitfield said he made her something to eat. “She was tired and hungry,” he said. Then he told her he was going to clean his room.

“And she got mad,” he said, “because I asked her to leave.”

She refused, so Whitfield put her out. Then a brick sailed through a window at the back door.

“I heard glass break,” Whitfield said. “Then she said, ‘I’m gonna set this mother (expletive) on fire!’ And next thing I know, the back porch was on fire. … I don’t know how.”

“I mean, I just gave her breakfast,” he said. “I mean, why you want to do that?”

Governor Nathan Deal released a statement on the shootings in Americus, Georgia.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

On behalf of all Georgians, Sandra and I grieve with the family, friends and Americus Police Department over the loss of Nicholas Ryan Smarr, who was killed yesterday in the line of duty. We ask for God’s grace and sustenance for the family of Jody Smith, the Georgia Southwestern State University police officer who remains in critical condition. Our hearts are with Americus and Georgia Southwestern State University. On behalf of the state of Georgia, I pledge the full support of state resources to this heartbroken community as it begins to heal and as we work to ensure that justice is served.

Gov. Deal also presided over the swearing-in of three new Justices of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

“It’s a rare opportunity for a governor to swear in three new Georgia Supreme Court justices,” Deal said. “This is an historic day.”

All three will take their new jobs in January. The governor made a point of starting with Thompson’s successor, currently Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs. That means Boggs will have seniority—by a few minutes—over the other two: Court of Appeals Judge Nels Peterson and Solicitor General Britt Grant, in that order. The sequence of Wednesday’s ceremony will be important years from now, when it’s time for one of the three to take the lead as chief justice. And it will be a factor in much of what they do in the meantime, right down to the order in which they enter the courtroom and take their seats for oral arguments.

“Things have not always worked out as I’ve planned, but I trust they’ve always worked out as God has planned,” Boggs said. He quoted Proverbs 3: 5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Next up, Peterson quoted more Scripture. Micah 6:8. “What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Grant also promised to honor the rule of law with humility and fairness. And she set another goal: “clarity and coherence.” The governor has said he puts a high value on clear legal writing, and complimented all three of his choices on their skills in this area.

Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young is the latest Georgian to make a trip to New York to meet with Trump Transition Team officials.

Bob Young was at Trump tower [December 8, 2016] for a meeting with members of the President-Elect’s transition staff.

Young was also appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Regional Director of Housing and Urban Development in Atlanta.

Young also worked on the “Get Out The Vote” effort for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin.

Donald Trump’s election as President probably killed the Georgia effort to adopt a national popular vote scheme for Presidential elections.

Only a few months ago, the state Legislature had before it two bills that, on paper, were among the most popular of the 2016 session. Each measure, Republican-driven in both the House and Senate, would have pledged Georgia’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes.

Had that pledge been in effect six weeks ago, Georgia electors on Monday, Dec. 19, would be voting for Clinton, who leads Trump by 2.5 million in the popular vote. It’s the biggest winning margin by a losing presidential candidate in U.S. history.

But both House Bill 929 and Senate Bill 376 hit mysterious, invisible walls as last winter edged toward spring. The former received approval from a House committee and then disappeared. According to its primary sponsor, S.B. 376 had the signatures of 50 senators – in a chamber with only 56 members. The bill never even got a hearing.

“I suspended my support of the bill in an effort to better understand the issue,” said David Shafer, R-Duluth, who as Senate president pro tem is the chamber’s ranking member. “We have received new data and I no longer support the bill.”

Trump administration interest in preserving nuclear power plants may provide a boost for Georgia.

President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers are looking at ways in which the U.S. government could help nuclear power generators being forced out of the electricity market by cheaper natural gas and renewable resources.

In a document obtained by Bloomberg, Trump’s transition team asked the Energy Department how it can help keep nuclear reactors “operating as part of the nation’s infrastructure” and what it could do to prevent the shutdown of plants. Advisers also asked the agency whether there were statutory restrictions in resuming work on Yucca Mountain, a proposed federal depository for nuclear waste in Nevada that was abandoned by the Obama administration.

The list of questions to the Energy Department offers one of the clearest indications yet of Trump’s potential plans for aiding America’s battered nuclear power generators.

Trump has voiced his support for nuclear power in the past. In a television interview with Fox News in 2011, he said he was “very strongly in favor of nuclear energy,” while stressing the need for safeguards at plants.

The Department of Homeland Security says an employee doing checks against the Georgia Secretary of State’s professional licensing database may be responsible for reports of an attempted break-in.

An employee in the department who worked far removed from cybersecurity operations visited the Georgia secretary of state’s website for his work, an official told The Associated Press. The employee’s system was configured in a way that caused Georgia’s outside security vendor to misinterpret the visit as a scan of its systems. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to publicly discuss preliminary findings.

The computer address Georgia provided to U.S. officials traced back an internet gateway that funnels traffic for thousands of computers across the 22-agency department. By Friday afternoon, they had followed the trail back to a specific computer.

The employee told investigators that he was checking the state website to determine whether an individual had a certain type of professional license issued by the state. Due to the way the employee’s computer was configured, it appeared his computer was scanning the state system, which can be interpreted as a prelude to a hacking attempt, the official said.

Georgia legislators are unlikely to expand Medicaid eligibility until details are known about the Trump administration’s plans to address Medicaid funding and ObamaCare.

“That discussion probably effectively came to an end election night,” said Republican House Speaker David Ralston.

President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal Obamacare.

“I’m not saying that there aren’t some things that we can do during the period of time of replacement,” Ralston said, “but I think we’re all looking forward to see what the broad outlines of the replacement are going to look like.”

Ralston said he “recognizes” there are “too many uninsured Georgians,” but he said until Congress says how exactly they’ll replace Obamacare, lawmakers here will just have to wait.

Ralston expects the Legislature will try to bolster Georgia’s struggling rural hospitals, and he said he’s concerned the state doesn’t have enough primary care physicians.

Conda Goodson, candidate for Senate District 54 in tomorrow’s Special Election, told the Dalton Daily Citizen she was unaware of alleged campaign finance violations.

On Thursday, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, also known as the state ethics commission, voted 4-0 that there were reasonable grounds to believe Conda Goodson violated state campaign finance laws.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” [Goodson] said Friday afternoon. “The lady I have been talking to told me something different. I guess I will have to call them Monday to find out what’s going on.”

An ethics complaint was filed against Goodson in March by attorney Daniel Laird III for failure to file a personal financial disclosure form. At the time, Goodson said a mix-up on her electronic user name caused her to misfile several key reports with the state ethics commission and she did not realize there was a problem until Laird filed his complaint.

Other candidates in the special election are former Whitfield County Republican Party chairman Chuck Payne, former Whitfield County Board of Commissioners member Debby Peppers, financial representative Shell Underwood and contractor Billy Vinyard.

The 54th District includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

Outgoing State Rep. Earnest Smith will pay an $8000 fine over misreporting of campaign donations.

Dalton City Council is considering whether to make budget cuts or raise taxes.

As expenditures continue to outpace revenue, the city has continued to dip into its reserve fund, and the plan discussed during Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Finance Committee for 2017 would be to have a $3.6 million cushion taken from the reserve and an increase in the millage rate by .287 mills.

The city would have $16.4 million remaining in its reserve fund. The millage rate is currently 2.506 mills. The increase would be $25.83 on a $100,000 home.

“That takes us back to a 2010 or 2011 rate and doesn’t make us cut services,” Councilman Tate O’Gwin said. “Once you cut services, property values will fall and our tax digest will fall, and then you have to raise taxes even more. It is just a spiral. We will have a higher level of taxation, but we will also have a higher level of services.”

Effingham County Commissioners are also having problems with tightening finances.

The Chatham County jail purchases goods or services from companies associated with three local legislators.

Cobb County Commissioners will consider adding $10 million to the county’s share of funding for a ramp at Akers Mill to reversible toll lanes on I-75.

Incoming Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce cancelled a planned inaugural gala.

Gwinnett County Transportation Director Alan Chapman will be among the witnesses before the Georgia Senate Regional Transit Solutions Study Committee, which meets from 2 to 4 PM today in Room 450 of the State Capitol.

The Senate created the study committee during this year’s legislative session with the goal of looking at traffic congestion and whether it could be reduced at least somewhat by a regionwide transit system. It is also intended to look at new models for regional transit governance and funding.

Cobb County Transit Division General Manager Vida Covington is also expected to appear before the committee during the meeting, according to the agenda.

Kevin Harris, former Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party has been promoted to Deputy Executive Director of the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA).

Prior to coming on board with GVRA, Kevin served as the Georgia Political Director for a U.S. presidential campaign, as Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party and as the Political Director for Governor Nathan Deal’s first gubernatorial campaign. He also spent 17 years teaching at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, GA.

Executive Director Sean T. Casey praised Kevin’s devotion to the mission saying, “Kevin is without a doubt the best person to help me lead this organization towards an even further expansion of services, with the goal of helping any Georgian who wants to work and build a career. I’m confident that in the coming years we’ll demonstrate to the state and to the country as a whole that we are an example of how workforce development can flourish within any demographic or population.”

The Georgia Department of Veterans Services will seek authorization to accept contributions, according to

Georgia lawmakers will be asked next year to allow the Department of Veterans Service to accept contributions and private donations, with the money going toward care of people living in the state’s two nursing homes for war veterans.
The proposal, which would allow the department to establish a nonprofit organization as a means to accept the donations, is among three requests it will make of lawmakers when the Georgia Legislature begins work Jan. 9.

Most of the veterans living and receiving care in the homes — located on campuses in Augusta and Milledgeville — are aged and infirm, and many have limited incomes.

The long-sought creation of a female veterans program is another — the department has sought to create the program through budget requests but has not received funding. Now it will ask lawmakers to mandate the program under law.

DeKalb County has reached the status of “functional zero” for homeless veterans. Kudos.

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May said the county housed 378 veterans so far this year through September by finding them permanent housing, distributing federal supportive housing vouchers and connecting veterans to other programs.

The county’s functional zero status was confirmed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

To qualify for the designation, DeKalb showed that the average time it takes to permanently house veterans who were willing to accept housing is less than 90 days and that the community has sufficient housing capacity, along with other benchmarks.

Surterra Holdings, Inc., an Atlanta-based company working on medical cannabis, has raised $15 million in capital, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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