Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 31, 2017

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May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 31, 2017

The Treaty of Augusta was signed on May 31, 1783, between the Creek Indians and Georgia Commissioners. A second, identical document would be signed on November 1 of that year.

The first graduation ceremony for the University of Georgia was held on May 31, 1804.

Savannah-born John C. Fremont was nominated for President of the United States by the Radical Republicans on May 31, 1864. Fremont had previously been nominated for President by the Republican Party as their first presidential candidate in 1856.

The Capital City Club in Atlanta was chartered on May 31, 1889.

Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appeared on the cover of Time magazine on May 31, 1971.

Time Magazine May 31 1971

Gregg Allman will be buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon on Saturday.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is warning of counterfeit pills.

The GBI said it has seen 454 samples across the state in the past two years of counterfeit pills, which often contain a more serious or dangerous drug.

One example given by the GBI involved a pill marked as oxycodone, a painkiller, that actually contained fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl and a drug called U-47700.

The GBI released a warning in April about furanyl fentanyl and U-47700, which led to 17 deaths in the first four months of 2017.

“By a significant margin, the top counterfeited logos represent alprazolam and oxycodone,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles wrote in a news release. “The two most common substances found within the counterfeit tablets were depressants and opiates.”

In the Northeast Georgia area, Hall and Forsyth counties had the highest number of counterfeit drugs. Forsyth had seven cases in the past two years, Miles said.

Cobb County Elections is seeing higher than usual turnout in the Special Runoff Election for the Sixth Congressional District.

In the first day of early voting for Georgia’s 6th District congressional runoff, 712 Cobb voters showed up to cast their ballot early, according to Cobb elections.

Turnout Tuesday was more than four times greater than the first day of early voting for the original race on April 18, which only saw 160 Cobb voters vote in person.

“We had a decent in-person turnout (Tuesday), but with a short ballot, there was never a line,” said Janine Eveler, director of Cobb elections.

The early voting numbers do not include Cobb’s mail-in ballots or any votes cast in DeKalb or Fulton.

Early voting runs through June 16 with Election Day set for June 20.

A [Karen] Handel aide says the Republican candidate will vote when regular polls open on Election Day.

FiveThirtyEight says African-American voter turnout was down in the 6th District Special Election.

Thanks to an impressive Democratic turnout, Jon Ossoff, the Democrat who advanced to this month’s runoff, almost cracked 50 percent of the vote in a district that’s nearly 10 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole.1

The result, moreover, was a reversal of some turnout trends we saw in 2016, when President Trump outperformed the polls on the back of higher turnout in Republican-leaning areas. And if the runoff election on June 20 features a similar electorate, the race will be too close to call.

But the Georgia 6 April primary was a continuation of some 2016 turnout trends too — trends that should worry Democrats. In 2016, turnout among whites was up across the country, and in highly educated areas like the 6th District in the suburbs of Atlanta. This redounded to Democrats’ advantage. At the same time, black turnout was down precipitously, from 66 percent in 2012 to 59 percent in 2016. This black-white turnout gap continued in the first round of Georgia’s special election, where the Democrats got impressive turnout levels from all races and ethnicities — except African-Americans.

Lower black turnout in 2016 might be explained as a reversion to the mean after that group’s historic turnout for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It’s possible that Clinton could never inspire black turnout the way the first African-American president could. But even if this shift is more of a return to the old status quo, Democrats will still have to grapple with these turnout levels going forward, and there are powerful lessons we can learn from the party’s failure to raise or maintain previous black turnout levels in 2016. Painting Trump as a bigot did not motivate more African-Americans to vote, in 2016 or in the Georgia 6th. Hope and shared identity seem to be much more effective turnout motivators than fear.

Elections are decided by two chief factors: Who turns out and which candidate they vote for.

We saw last year how lower engagement among African-American voters is a serious problem for the Democrats, as black turnout declined nearly uniformly across all the swing states in 2016[.]

Former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland spoke to Sarah Fay Campbell of The Newnan Times-Herald about his long career in Georgia politics.

After 24 years in politics, retirement has been very pleasant indeed.

“Why would I want to run for governor other than some type of ego trip?” Westmoreland said Friday, as he and his wife enjoyed an impromptu vacation.

“I’ve never really considered myself to have a big ego, though I think everybody that is in politics has got to have some type of ego,” he said. “I thought, maybe this is your ego wanting you to do it rather than you really wanting to do it.”

He ran for state senate against incumbent Democrat Bev Ingram, and lost. “She was a really, really nice lady. I didn’t know anything about politics. I didn’t have a chance in the world of winning because of the makeup in the district.”

Two years later, he ran again, and lost by a slim margin.

After redistricting following the 1990 Census, Fayette County, where Westmoreland lived at the time, was divided into two districts. Westmoreland ran for the northern seat and won.

“If you’re new to politics, you may not necessarily know Lynn’s legacy,” said State Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, who previously served as Westmoreland’s chief of staff.

“He is one of the reasons that Republicans have control of both the House and the Senate, and have the governor’s office,” Brass said. “All that work he did as minority leader shouldn’t be forgotten, because the state has come a long way.”

Gwinnett County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Tracie Cason is running for a seat on the Gwinnett County Superior Court in 2018.

Cason is running for Superior Court Judge Debra Turner’s seat, which is up for election next year.

“Having spent 17 years in the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor, I have begun the next step in my public service career by launching my campaign for Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge,” Cason said in a statement.

“I believe my experience as a trial prosecutor concentrating on crimes against children and sex crimes, as well as working with the Gwinnett County Accountability Courts make me uniquely qualified to serve my home county on the bench.”

She was recently involved in “Operation Spring Cleaning,” working with officials at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Gwinnett Police Department, the Gwinnett Sheriff’s Office and about a dozen other agencies on the sting operation.

It resulted in 23 men being arrested and indicted for allegedly attempting to have sex with what they thought was a child, with Cason overseeing the indictment of the men.

State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams will hold a barbecue on Saturday.

Abrams, the state House Minority Leader, will host a family-friendly barbecue and “brief speaking program” that starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The location, though, is what really caught our eye: It’s not in vote-rich metro Atlanta, a slice of which she has long represented. It’s in Chehaw Park in Albany, a deep-blue pocket of rural southwest Georgia.

She’ll need to run up the tally in Democratic bastions like Albany to have any chance at flipping the state in 2018. About two-thirds of Dougherty County is African-American, and Abrams is aiming to be the nation’s first black female governor.

She’ll also need to perform well in those areas in next year’s primary to defeat state Rep. Stacey Evans, her lone Democratic opponent. Evans, who represents a portion of Smyrna, hopes her message has a particular appeal to voters in metro Atlanta’s fast-changing suburbs.

The Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission has opened nominations for a seat on the Richmond County State Court.

The commission will accept names for [Judge Richard A.] Slaby’s replacement until June 12. Each nominee will be sent an application that must be completed by June 27. Interviews will be scheduled after July 5. Afterward, the commission will prepare a short list of “qualified” or “well-qualified” candidates for the governor’s consideration.

Gov. Nathan Deal will appoint the replacement for Slaby, who announced earlier this month that he was retiring effective July 31. Slaby is has been on the Richmond County State Court bench for 20 years.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has charged seven with illegally hunting alligators.

“Back the Badge” car tags will be available soon.

The specialty plate, early in design, says “back the badge” and features a black ribbon with a Georgia-shaped American flag that has a single stripe of blue in the center.

Aaron Cosby, a Sumter County farmer, suggested the idea for the tag to his legislators after the deaths of Americus Police officer Nick Smarr and Georgia Southwestern State University officer Jody Smith, according to a report from WALB News. The men were shot and killed in December while responding together to a domestic call off campus.

Legislation creating the tag was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this month. The public will be able to order them by September, WALB reported.

Savannah Mayor Buddy DeLoach says Alderman Tony Thomas should be censured.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he has scheduled a special council meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday to consider a resolution to censure Thomas for sexist and vulgar comments made to the reporter Saturday — and to make it clear that such language is unacceptable.

The censure meeting was scheduled after Thomas admitted to calling the WTOC reporter, Georgiaree Godfrey, a “c***” and claimed he would make the comment again if given the chance, DeLoach said.

Thomas’ behavior follows a downward spiral for the District 6 alderman, who had put several members of staff and council in compromising positions when he became intoxicated during the St. Patrick’s Day parade in March, DeLoach said. The alderman ended up apologizing and the council agreed to move forward, DeLoach said.

The censure vote would have to be unanimous to pass, under Georgia law.

If approved, the censure would be a condemnation of Thomas’ actions, but would not impact his ability to vote or participate in discussions as a council member. That is the most the council can do and it is up to his constituents to hold him responsible for his actions, DeLoach said.

In a worst case-scenario, Georgia law provides for a recall election of elected officials due to an “act of malfeasance or misconduct while in office,” a “violation of the oath of office,” failure to perform duties or willfully misappropriating public funds. A recall election must have a chairperson, sponsors and petitions, and valid signatures required for a recall election must be 15 percent of the number of constituents who voted in the preceding election, Georgia law states.

AT&T has started building out a new service called Fixed Wireless in rural Decatur County, Georgia.

Select rural areas in the county now have access to high-speed Internet through AT&T’s Fixed Wireless service. Decatur County is one of the first locations nationwide where AT&T is providing this service.

“The more than 19,000 men and women who work for AT&T and call Georgia home, are working every day to turn our investments into the high-speed connectivity that Georgia’s residents and businesses demand,” said Bill Leahy, president of AT&T Georgia. “Through this innovative service, we are further closing the remaining connectivity gap in rural Georgia.”

Plans are in place for AT&T to reach more than 67,000 locations with this technology across Georgia by 2020.

“More and more, whether you are in urban or rural areas, high-speed connectivity is vital, and I am excited to see this newly available service bringing needed connectivity to our rural communities in Georgia,” said State Senator Dean Burke. “And to be among the first in the nation to have access through this service is a testament to the consistent community efforts to raise this issue.”

State Representative Jay Powell said it was a good day for rural residents as they are some of the first customers in the country to have access to this technology.

“We have work that remains to be done, and I will continue to work with my colleagues and private industry to bring increased access to high-speed Internet in rural Georgia,” said State Representative Jay Powell.

This rural internet initiative is part of AT&T’s FCC Connect America Fund committee to serve more than 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and more than 1.1 million locations by 2020.

SouthWind Plantation in Attapulgus, Georgia, was named Orvis Wing-Shooting Lodge of the Year for 2017.

SouthWind Plantation received the award in Mizzoula, Montana, at the Orvis Guide Rendezvous on April 28, where endorsed lodges, outfitters and guides from around the world gathered.

Last year, SouthWind plantation was endorsed as a dog facility as well. One hundred and seventy dogs are living and being bred there now. Smith said SouthWind is working toward build-ing the same reputation in the dog business as in the hunting business.

Several years ago, I got to visit SouthWind Plantation and it is indeed spectacular.

Congressman Sanfod Bishop (D-Columbus) will hold a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, June 1, 2017 at Central Georgia Technical College.

More than 100 Democrats protested at the office of Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).

Three members of the Rome Board of Education will run for reelection in November.

Three other incumbents have yet to make a decision on a re-election bid, and one is sticking to a promise of only serving two terms by not running again.

Board members Richard Dixon and Elaina Beeman said they are going after a second term, following both of them being elected to the board for the first time in November 2013.

Dale Swann, a board member of 28 years, also plans on running for re-election, he said.

Bruce Jones is the lone board member at this point to turn down a shot at another term, sticking to his belief of setting a two-term limit for all elected officials.

The posts are nonpartisan. Those seeking a seat must be 21 or older and be a city resident for at least a year by the election date, Nov. 7, and be registered to vote at least 90 days before qualifying. The qualifying fee is $126, which is 3 percent of the annual salary for a school board post.

Parents in South Hall County are asking the Board of Education to put a hold on school redistricting.

Columbus has an OLOST – Other Local Option Sales Tax – that has been in place since its approval in 2008.

If Columbus public safety officials could have their way, they would receive a combined $9.1 million for capital expenditures in fiscal year 2018.

But in a tight budget season, city officials say dollars in the Other Local Option Sales Tax fund are limited, creating a highly competitive budgeting arena.

The OLOST is a one cent tax approved by voters in 2008. Seventy percent of the money is earmarked for public safety and 30 percent for infrastructure projects.

In an email to the Ledger-Enquirer on Tuesday, Hodge said FY2018 OLOST public safety appropriations will amount to a total of about $24 million. While most of the money is budgeted for personnel, $1,353,167 is earmarked for capital appropriations. The capital amount includes $1,075,404 in Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s recommended budget, plus changes made by City Council amounting to $277,763.

The City of Flowery Branch will hold hearings today on a proposed property tax hike.

Residents can speak out at meetings taking place 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. at Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main St.

A third hearing is set for 6 p.m. June 8 at City Hall.

The city is proposing to set the rate at 3.264 mills, which is the same as the current rate.

However, because of rising property values, the city stands to gain more tax revenues. To keep revenues the same, the rate would have to be 3.012 mills.

Effingham County Board of Education members considering a 13 percent property tax hike, largely to address increased healthcare costs for employees.

The BOE is proposing a millage rate of 18 mills, an increase of 2.09 mills. Without the increase, the millage rate would be no more than 15.911 mills.

The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $150,000 is $125 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market of $100,000 is about $84.

Georgia Shrimp Season starts Thursday at 8 AM.

Effective that date, commercial food shrimp trawlers can operate in Georgia’s territorial waters open to power-drawn trawls. Commercial and recreational cast netters, as well as people using a beach seine, can harvest food shrimp from waters open to the use of these gears.

“The white shrimp abundance in our May coastwide trawl survey is higher compared to historic averages for the month of May,” said Lindsey Aubart, the Coastal Resources Division biologist supervising monthly shrimp sampling. “The shrimp sizes are highly desirable to recreational harvesters and valuable to commercial fishermen. The recommendation to open on June 1 was made after taking into consideration our May survey results and input received from our Shrimp Advisory Panel.”

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