Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 14, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 14, 2017

On June 14, 1736, James Oglethorpe ordered plans to be drawn for a new city to be called Augusta.

Happy birthday to the United States Army, established on June 14, 1775.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” One hundred years later, on June 14, 1877, was the first observance of Flag Day.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, two inmates escaped from a prison transport bus, killing two guards.

two inmates on a transport bus got out of a locked prisoner area, overpowered two Georgia correctional officers and shot and and killed the guards in front of 31 other prisoners, according to local, state and federal authorities.

The fugitives, identified by the Georgia Department of Corrections as Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, went on to carjack a dark green 2004 Honda Civic, break into a home in Madison, dump their prison clothes and escape again, officials said.

Officials have increased the reward from $60,000 to $70,000 for information leading to the capture of Dubose and Rowe.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced for the slain Baldwin State Prison officers, identified as Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue.

Governor Nathan Deal released a statement on the escapees.

“Today, two families lost everything in a heinous and senseless act of violence perpetrated at the hands of cowards,” said Deal. “Words do not adequately express our sorrow in losing Sergeant Christopher Monica and Sergeant Curtis Billue in the line of duty. The selflessness and courage of these two brave souls will not be forgotten, nor will their sacrifice and service. Sandra and I mourn alongside their families and communities, and we offer our deepest sympathies to their loved ones. Our heartbreak is matched only in our resolve to bring their murderers to justice. No effort will be spared in pursuit of the killers, and no state resources required in this endeavor will be spared. ”

“Led by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, multiple local, state and federal agencies are assisting in the investigation. State law enforcement agencies involved in the manhunt include the Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Joining them are our federal partners from the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Local law enforcement officers engaged in the effort include the Baldwin, Greene, Henry and Jasper Counties Sheriffs’ Offices and the Eatonton Police Department. ”

“Finally, I urge all those in the surrounding areas to be vigilant and cautious while the killers remain at large. They are extremely dangerous. Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts should immediately contact 9-1-1.”

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills penned an open letter to the escapees.

“You made your escape, but you won’t be out long,” it read in part. “Every lawman in the Southeast is looking for you. Every citizen in the Southeast is looking for you. You may have help hiding out for a few days, but someone is going to snitch you out and then we will find you. There is no one you can trust … and nowhere you can go that we won’t find you. … Stop now, dial 911 and turn yourself in peacefully.”

Asked by a reporter how authorities would go about catching the escapees, Sills, anger welling in his voice, said, “We get these guys by the public looking for this green Honda Civic. We need somebody to find this car. … They are armed. They are dangerous. … We have no idea where they are. … They may well have dumped that vehicle and stolen another car.”

The sheriff added, “I would suggest that they surrender before we find them.”

Overdoses in a recent Middle Georgia outbreak now number thirty.

The GBI identified Tuesday the contents of counterfeit pills that are the suspected causes of more than 30 overdoses in Middle Georgia, and it’s nothing the state has ever seen before.

U-47700, a drug nearly nearly eight times stronger than morphine, and Cyclopropyl fentanyl are two synthetic opioids found in the counterfeit Percocet pills being passed around Macon, according to a GBI news release.

The opioid crisis was a topic of a lengthy discussion Tuesday, where Miles was among other state agency officials present for the Georgia Department of Health’s regular monthly board of public health meeting.

“What we’re finding in general is that there’s a heavy market for counterfeit pills,” [GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles] said. “People make these poisons overseas, they get shipped to our states and they’re marketed as the real thing.”

Nancy Nydam, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Health, said the estimated number of overdose cases in Middle Georgia had reached 30 Tuesday. Toxicology results are pending for five people who died from a suspected overdose here since June 3.

However, Nydam said that number isn’t exact because “some have been ruled out” and “we’ve had a trickle of (overdoses) over the weekend” including at least two Monday.

“It looks like we’ve kind of leveled off with this cluster, but … every day there’s a drug overdose,” Nydam said. “The opioid crisis is ongoing, whether we’re talking about fake Percocet or any other kind of drugs that have (opiates) in there.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle cut the ribbon to open a new diverging diamond overpass at Windy Hill and I-75.

As cars whizzed by on Windy Hill Road behind them, officials with the Cumberland CID, the Georgia Department of Transportation and state and county government gathered on a grassy nook near Papasito’s Restaurant to celebrate.

The cause for their cheer was a major transportation project: a $46.4 million Windy Hill Road project from Cobb Parkway to Powers Ferry Road.

The bulk of that cost came from the Cobb Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, a one-penny sales tax.

“It’s always a great honor for me to be here in Cobb County, particularly looking at the skyline behind you and seeing SunTrust Park and the impact that is having on this community,” Cagle said.

In his speech, Cagle praised Cobb County for having the vision to complete the project in an area that is expected to see rapid growth. He said the diverging diamond interchange and future managed toll lanes will move traffic through the county quicker and more safely.

“None of those things are possible without great vision, and the individuals here in Cobb County continue to work a strategic plan,” Cagle said.

State tax credits for music production are boosting a nascent South Georgia recording industry.

State lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year that creates tax credits for the music production companies.

Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, who sponsored the bill, said she wants to replicate the success of a tax break program that is credited with bringing the film industry to Georgia.

Music production companies will receive a 15 percent tax credit for setting up in Georgia, if they spend $100,000.

The new law, which takes effect in January, also offers a tax break to music companies that agree to kick off large tours in the state, if the performance costs $500,000 to put on.

Carter’s plan also provides a 5 percent tax credit to production companies that send work to the state’s most economically distressed counties, a provision meant to target rural communities. Lowndes County, which is home to Valdosta, is one of those counties.

Carter said earlier this year that she wanted the program to benefit rural Georgia similar to how the film industry helped towns such as Senoia, which has about 4,000 residents. There is no special tax break for filming in rural Georgia.

[Music producer Mark] Neill said he believes Georgia is on the verge of a music revival, if those in the industry — or those who aspire to break into the industry — go to work making it happen.

“We need to get people in the state of Georgia making this stuff. Not little fits and starts like we’ve had all these years. We need to really organize and get this done,” Neill said. “We just need to get busy.”

The City of Valdosta is poised to adopt a FY2018 budget $12 million higher than the current year.

The city’s budget for FY2016-2017 (which ends June 30) included $85 million in expenses.

The proposed 2018 budget projects $97 million in expenses, a 14 percent increase from last year.

For the past two years, the city’s projected expenses have been around $7 million below total revenues, but the 2018 budget doesn’t follow that trend.

Instead, total 2017-2018 expenses come in just below the total projected revenues of $97.8 million. The expenses stay under-budget, but with less leftover (around $650,000) than previous years.

The city will hold three public hearings on the new budget in the next week, starting 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 14.

Hall County and its municipalities are facing a June 3 state deadline to put in place a Service Delivery Strategy.

Failure to reach an agreement — established by state law almost 20 years ago to “minimize inefficiencies resulting from duplication of services and competition between local governments” — could result in the county and cities losing out on state grants, loans or becoming ineligible for permits.

The parties are looking to amend an agreement that’s been in the books since 2004. The agreement delineates districts responsible for the distribution of water and sewer services in unincorporated and incorporated areas of Hall County.

The Floyd County SPLOST Citizens Committee will assess $170 million worth of potential projects for inclusion in the November 1, 2017 ballot measure.

Floyd County could have a new accountability court for drug offenders open by July 1, 2017.

Marietta Planning Commissioner Brent Bennett died from drowning in Montana.

Grantville City Council member Mark King had ethics charges against him dismissed unanimously by a citizen panel.

2018 Campaigns

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) garnered the support of all five Republican members of the Georgia Public Service Commission in his bid for Lt. Governor in 2018.

The Duluth-based legislator announced on Tuesday that every member of the Georgia Public Service Commission is backing his campaign. Commissioners Stan Wise, Bubba McDonald, Doug Everett, Chuck Eaton and Tim Echols join a growing list of officials and high profile Georgia residents who are supporting the Senate’s president pro tempore.

“David Shafer has three times been elected by his peers as president pro tem of the Senate,” Wise said. “They know and respect his ability, experience and work ethic. So do I. He is my choice for lieutenant governor.”

McDonald and Everett, both former legislators themselves, praised Shafer’s work in the state Senate.

“David Shafer has been my ‘go to’ guy in the State Senate,” McDonald said. “He will make a great Lieutenant Governor and I am glad that he is running.”

Everett said, “David Shafer is a work horse, not a show pony. He has delivered for Georgia, not just his Senate district, but all of Georgia. I back him 100 percent.”

“David Shafer is one of the great builders of the modern Georgia Republican Party,” Eaton said. “He has campaigned all over the state for Republicans and he was instrumental in my own election to the Public Service Commission. I am proud to call him a friend and proud to support him for Lieutenant Governor.”

Echols said, “David Shafer has been one of the great conservative leaders of the Georgia General Assembly on issues I really care about — life, family, faith and fiscal responsibility. He has my enthusiastic endorsement and I intend to spread the word throughout the state.”

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) is testing the waters for a bid for Lieutenant Governor, according to the AJC Political Insider.

State Sen. Steve Gooch said he’s exploring a run for Georgia’s No. 2 job after being pressed by several of his Senate colleagues and other GOP leaders who are “not satisfied with the current choices.”

“While my current plan is to run for re-election to the State Senate next year, I am giving it serious consideration,” said Gooch, who represents a Dahlonega-based district. He said he’d make his decision by July after hearing from community leaders and assessing it with his wife and three kids.

The only thing I know about football is that it doesn’t pay to get injured before the big game. That said, I can tell the difference between a metaphor and an actual threat. From the AJC Political Insider:

Nathan Deal’s top aide delivered quite a message at the Georgia Chamber’s annual conference last week: If you’re a Republican and decide to run against the Georgia’s current governor in 2018, you’re going to get hurt.

The message from chief of staff Chris Riley was directed at Republicans already lining up to replace him, and took the cryptic form of a football metaphor. Imagine a wide receiver running a route over the middle, Riley said. Now imagine the free safety on defense, ready to deck him. Hard.

Riley didn’t say who that free safety would be. Just that he’d be there.

Later Tuesday, [State Senator Michael] Williams released a statement that his campaign was “just getting started.”

“It’s clear the establishment is afraid of our message getting out,” the campaign said. “They want to shut us down now because they know we are gaining ground.”

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