Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2017

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert R. Livingston of New York to draft a declaration of independence from Britain. Language in the original draft that condemned the introduction of the slave trade in the colonies did not make the final draft.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from the Constitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776. In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia. A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

Abraham Baldwin, founder of the University of Georgia, arrived in Philadelphia on June 11, 1787 to attend the Constitutional Convention. Baldwin was joined by three other delegates, William Few Jr., William Houston, and William Pierce; Baldwin and Few would sign the Constitution on behalf of Georgia.

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued proclamation 3542 ordering Governor George Wallace of Alabama to allow two African-American students to register at the University of Alabama, as ordered by a federal court.

On the morning of June 11, the day the students were expected to register, Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama campus auditorium flanked by Alabama state troopers while cameras flashed and recorders from the press corps whirred. Kennedy, at the White House, and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, in Tuscaloosa, kept in touch by phone.

When Wallace refused to let the students enter for registration, Katzenbach phoned Kennedy. Kennedy upped the pressure on Wallace, immediately issuing Presidential Proclamation 3542, which ordered the governor to comply, and authorizing the secretary of defense to call up the Alabama National Guard with Executive Order 11111.

That afternoon, Katzenbach returned with the students and asked Wallace to step aside. Wallace, knowing he was beaten, relented, having saved face with his hard-line, anti-segregation constituency.

On June 11, 1986, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was released.

[T]he most memorable performer may have been an automobile: the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California, a custom-built car revered by auto collectors.

According to Motor Trend, the first Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California—colloquially known as the “Cal Spyder”—was produced in 1957 and the last was built in early 1963. In addition to the long-wheelbase (LWB) Spyder, Ferrari also produced a sportier, short-wheelbase (SWB) model. Though estimates vary as to exactly how many were made—Cameron says “less than a hundred” in the film—approximately 46 LWB and between 50 and 57 SWB Spyders were produced in all. For “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the filmmakers used a modified MGB roadster with a fiberglass body as a stand-in for the Ferrari. The filmmakers reportedly received angry letters from car enthusiasts who believed that a real Ferrari had been damaged.

One 1961 250 GT SWB Spyder California, with chassis number GT 2377GT, belonged to the actor James Coburn (“The Magnificent Seven”), who died in 2002. On May 18, 2008, at the second annual Ferrari Leggenda e Passione event at Maranello, Italy, the British deejay Chris Evans bought that car at auction for 6.4 million Euros, or $10,894,400 (including fees), the highest price ever paid for an automobile at auction.

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Happy 93d birthday to former President George H.W. Bush.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Spending in the Sixth Congressional District Special Runoff Election is nearing $39 million dollars.

A lot of green — almost $39 million, according to the latest campaign financial filings — is flowing toward Georgia’s 6th Congressional District as part of the GOP’s efforts to keep the district Republican red while the Democrats aim to paint it blue.

Federal Election Commission reports retrieved Saturday show that the two candidates had received nearly $28.2 million and spent almost $25.7 million on their campaigns by May 31, the end of the last completed campaign finance reporting period.

Nearly $10.8 million has been spent by independent political groups for and against the two candidates, according to the FEC, though such funds are not given directly to or spent by either campaign. The totals reported by the FEC are based on the groups’ quarterly, monthly and semi-annual reports.

Of the $10.8 million total, more than $8.5 million was spent by groups in opposition to Ossoff, while the Democrat received more than $348,000 in support. Expenditures by groups opposing Handel spent nearly $1.4 million, while the Republican saw several groups spending nearly $528,000 in her favor.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed his former attorney, Ben Vinson, to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

Vinson is a partner at Dentons US LLP, where he is a member of the public policy and regulation practice. He previously served as chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven. Vinson sits on the boards of the Federalist Society, the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce and the TAG Education Collaborative. He formerly served as majority caucus counsel in the Georgia House of Representatives.

From the AJC:

In 2011, Deal appointed him to a new investigative panel aimed at cracking down on government officials who fail to enforce the state’s immigration-related laws. The Immigration Enforcement Review Board’s members quickly elected him chairman.

Vinson represented a political action committee – Real PAC – that was created to push Deal’s agenda, and he was one of the lawyers who represented the governor’s campaign in cases before the state ethics commission.

The three-member State Board of Workers’ Compensation is responsible for administering workers’ compensation laws in the state. The jobs historically have gone to lawyers with political connections to the administration in power.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston appointed James Balli to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, also reappointing Richard Hyde.

James Balli, who is the Speaker’s attorney-appointee to the JQC, is a partner with the law firm of Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli LLP of Marietta, Ga. In accordance with state law, Balli’s appointment to the JQC will expire on July 1, 2020.

Richard Hyde, who is the Speaker’s citizen-appointee to the JQC, is an investigator with the law firm of Balch & Bingham LLP in Atlanta. In accordance with state law, Hyde’s appointment to the JQC will expire on July 1, 2019.

In November 2016, Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment reforming the JQC to ensure fair and impartial consideration of complaints. The amendment and enabling legislation also removed undue influence of special interest groups on this important public body. In the recent legislative session, House Bill 126 was adopted which further restructured the JQC. HB 126 was signed into law by Governor Deal on May 1, 2017.

Georgia colleges and universities are working on rules and education in advance of Campus Carry becoming legal on July 1st.

House Bill 280 makes it legal for those with a Georgia weapons carry license to have a concealed weapon in some campus areas previously prohibited. But the law continues to make it illegal to carry a concealed weapon in many areas, including: sites of athletic events; student housing; any preschool or child care space; any space used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school; any space used for classes where high school students are enrolled, faculty, staff or administration offices and any rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted. A person must be 21 years old to apply for the license.

“I don’t think it will affect my job at all simply because our job right now is to enforce the law anyway, albeit the law has changed,” said UNG Police Chief Justin Gaines. “The law has changed, but we will enforce the law, so it really doesn’t change a lot for us.”

The university has set up a webpage ( to answer questions about the law. A list of frequently asked questions and answers are on the page dealing with general information about the law, enforcement information, information for faculty and staff, as well as information for students who are dually enrolled in classes that give both high school and college credit. The law prohibits guns from being brought into classrooms where high school students are present, and dual enrollment students are considered both high school and college students.

In addition, nine town hall meetings have been scheduled to give members of the university family the opportunity to ask questions about the law. At least one meeting has been scheduled at each of the five UNG campuses. Two of those meetings are scheduled at the Gainesville campus — June 29 and Aug. 15 — both at 10 a.m. in the Continuing Education Auditorium. Another pair are scheduled at the Dahlonega campus for June 28 and Aug. 14 — each at 10 a.m. in the Hoag Student Center Auditorium. A list of town halls on the other campus sites is available on the webpage.

Gaines said the new law is not complicated since it puts the burden of finding out whether a gun can be brought to a specific area of campus completely on the person who holds the weapons carry license.

“It’s pretty clear-cut,” he said. “The state has made it very clear that it is the carry holder’s responsibility to comply with the law. It is their responsibility just like if I’m driving a car, it’s my responsibility that I follow the laws of the state of Georgia while I’m driving my car.”

Broadband access in rural Georgia, or the lack thereof, is an education, and ultimately, economic development, issue, according to the AJC.

Sixteen percent of Georgians do not have high-speed internet access, and the vast majority of those broadband deserts are in rural counties. While all public schools in Georgia have broadband internet, many students don’t. And in an age when web access is required for homework and other assignments, students go where they can to get online.

And that’s a problem, Tifton Mayor Julie Smith told a panel of state leaders researching the needs of rural Georgia.

“The availability of that is so important, especially for schoolchildren,” Smith told the House Rural Development Council at a recent meeting in her South Georgia town. “If they cannot get their homework done when they’re home … they can’t learn. If they can’t learn, they can’t go to secondary education. If they can’t get to secondary education, we don’t have a trained workforce.”

It’s not just students. Small businesses, the backbone of most rural communities, increasingly rely on the internet for ordering, sales, payroll and more.

A recent study by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute asked rural Georgians to share information about internet access at their home or business.

Out of more than 11,000 responses, only 29 percent said their internet speeds were sufficient, while 79 percent said access to broadband was very important to their quality of life. More than 60 percent said it was very important to their ability to earn a living.

Floyd County is working to begin a drug court under a state grant.

The Floyd County Commission is slated to sign off Tuesday on a dedicated drug court aimed at rehabilitating offenders rather than jailing them.

Superior Court Chief Judge Tami Colston sought a state grant to establish the new accountability court and has said she hopes to have it operating by August.

The voluntary two-year program will provide treatment, counseling and heavy oversight in lieu of sentencing. Commissioners plan to add six new positions — a program coordinator, two counselors, two law enforcement officers and a drug-screening technician — that would be funded by the grant.

A 2.5 earthquake shook middle Georgia just after midnight Sunday morning.

The implosion of the Georgia Dome will shake Atlanta at 7:30 AM on November 20th.

Another suspected overdose is being investigated in Macon.

Georgia’s peanut crop looks good this year.

The forecast is for 785,000 acres to be planted in peanuts this year, up from the 720,000 acres of peanuts planted last year, when the average yield was slightly less than 3,900 pounds per acre.

“Acres should be up about 10 percent in response to stronger prices at contracting for the 2017 crop,” Koehler noted. “Consumption of peanut products continues to be strong.”

Georgia is the nation’s top producer of peanuts, accounting for half or more of U.S. production each year. In 2015, Georgia produced about 1.7 million tons of peanuts, which were planted in 75 of the state’s 159 counties. Each year, the peanut industry contributes about $1.3 billion to the Georgia economy.

Fort Gordon’s cyberwarfare center continues to grow.

Gwinnett Democrat David Kim is making his case against Republican Congressman Rob Woodall.

One sign of the shift is the fact that Democrat Hillary Clinton won Gwinnett in last year’s presidential election.

The DCCC plans to go after Republicans in its targeted districts on issues such as health care and by linking them to President Donald Trump. Kim offered a taste of that strategy in his campaign announcement.

“Congressman Woodall has been more interested in partisan purity than getting things done for the people,” he said. “From health care to our budget, he’s been completely ineffective at building consensus or finding common ground. Instead, he’s just been a rubber stamp for an administration gone off the rails.”

Kim’s campaign compared the District 7 race to the neck-and-neck battle for neighboring District 6 in a special election run-off, saying they have similar partisan makeups. He also expects his campaign against Woodall to also be as closely fought as the fight between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handle has been in District 6.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office is struggling with vacancies.

More than 100 employees of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department have vacated their posts since early November — leaving the law enforcement agency with a high rate of unfilled positions and and even higher overtime costs.

Of the former employees who left the sheriff’s department or the county jail since Nov. 1, more than 70 resigned, about 20 retired and another 10 or so were terminated, according to county personnel records. The Savannah Morning News in April requested the documents, along with case files associated with accusations of sexual harassment at the department, after receiving tips from readers.

It’s clear, however, that under-staffing in the two departments has played some part in overtime costs in this year’s budget, which are now double what was originally set aside this fiscal year. A report provided by the Chatham County finance department puts the total overtime costs at the sheriff’s department and jail so far this year at more than $2.4 million. The county originally budgeted a combined $1.2 million for overtime in both departments.

Tifton City Council heard an update on the Zika virus.

Kenneth Lowrey, South Health District epidemiologist, presented the City Council with a Zika update for the area at the June 5 workshop meeting.

According to Lowrey, one of the types of mosquito that carries Zika, Aedes albopictus, is prevalent in Georgia.

“The Georgia Department of Public Health has devised an action plan that mirrors what the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has come out with in the event that we have local transmission within our community,” Lowrey said.

Currently, Georgia has only had instances of travel related transmission, which means that people contracted Zika elsewhere, Both Florida and Texas have had local transmission in 2016, but as of now no local transmission cases have been reported in the US for 2017, according to the CDC.

U.S District Court Judge Clay D. Land writes in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer about the importance of civics education.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson writes about what she calls the rise of “Pragmatic Progressives.”

In Columbus, Georgia, we believe in good government, and we have a long history of it. At the local level, we do not care for the partisan hooey – a technical term – that may impede the delivery of that good government.

As a longtime Democrat, I’ve had the privilege of being elected twice to the non-partisan position of Mayor of Columbus. There, I learned something useful to our current national dialogue: people embrace progressive ideals, they simply want them pragmatically implemented. Sure, this pragmatism is more work because the elected leaders cannot rely on either the partisan appeal or moral objective of the proposed policy, but must provide a transparent assessment of how the policy and its process impacts all citizens. The resulting information touches everyone and presents an opportunity for broader consensus.

As voters in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia begin voting in the June 20 Jon Ossoff/Karen Handel run-off, politicos and uber-engaged voters around the country are wondering if this election will signal a new dawn in our long partisan darkness. It could be that a new pragmatic leadership style is emerging: one that is easier on the eyes and ears of independents, suburban moderates, blue-collar workers, and millennials. The Pragmatic Progressive is a strong Democrat in economic and social/civic policy, but understands these policies benefit many beyond their base and are not afraid to go into the lion’s den, if need be, to let them know so.

A Pragmatic Progressive – and Ossoff sure seems like one – can explain to you why Democratic policies are not special-interest politics but are sound economic strategies for citizens at every economic level. A Pragmatic Progressive believes government is meant to be a partnership with you, your business, and your community. It is government’s role to create a framework within which a citizen can prosper.

Jon Ossoff’s unlikely success thus far has signaled that the dawn is coming. The only question is: Will it arrive on June 20?

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Forsyth) spoke to his local Republican Party about his campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Duncan, A Republican who represents east and northeast Forsyth as the District 26 state representative and who recently announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor, spoke to members of the Forsyth County Republican Party on Thursday about his campaign and the issues he is facing.

“I’m not the next guy in line. There are others down there that are higher on the ranks, who have spent more decades down there than I have,” he said. “I’m doing it because I believe I can truly make a difference. I truly believe I can impact the state as the next lieutenant governor.”

“As lieutenant governor, I get to stay home every night, raise my kids, coach their teams. I get to be involved in the policy here in Georgia. As lieutenant governor, you run the Senate. I want to create the golden standard at the Senate.

“I want everybody in this state to realize that if you’re going to bring a piece of policy through the Georgia Capitol, it’s going to have to pass through the Senate, and we’re going to vet it out.”

Among the policies he supported as state Representative was a law to help financially struggling rural hospitals by allowing those who donate to receive an income tax credit. At the meeting, Duncan said multiple times he wanted to tackle old problems with new solutions.

“What I got to see firsthand was if you empower folks in the community, groups in the community to go take care of the issues around poverty, it’s amazing what you can do and not have to rely on a government program,” he said. “We have 54 rural hospitals that every single day may not reopen.”

Other Republican candidates for the lieutenant governor so far are District 17 state Sen. Rick Jeffares of McDonough, District 48 state Sen. David Shafer of Duluth, who serves as senate president pro temp. Duncan said one of his opponents’ criticisms did not have its desired effect.

Drones in Campaign Videos

Drones have been making news for their role in political campaigns at least since 2014, when Montana Republican Matt Rosendale shot one out of the sky to illustrate his opposition to government surveillance.

Apparently, drone campaign video is the new thing. Campaigns & Elections has been writing about it for two years.

Media consultants have started incorporating the so-called quadcopters into TV spots. GOP consultant Fred Davis recalled to Politico recently how Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) had to dodge a drone that was capturing footage during a 2013 ad shoot.

Still, campaigns don’t need to rely only on their media consultants to shoot quality video with commercial drones. They can do it themselves and, with a modest outlay, generate content for a campaign YouTube or Facebook page.

Now, drone video is beginning to appear in Georgia political campaigns. I noticed two different recent videos by Democrats that appear to include drone or aerial video.

John Noel, Democratic candidate for Public Service Commission uses drone video on the opening page of his website.

Also using aerial shots is Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Evans.

Maybe there are earlier examples, but these are the first I’ve noticed. Perhaps the FAA will be the next venue for allegations of campaign shenanigans?


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