Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 4, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 4, 2017

On August 4, 1753, George Washington became a Master Mason at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

On August 5, 1774, Royal Governor James Wright issued a proclamation banning assemblies to protest British policy.

On August 6, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia began debating the first draft of the Constitution of the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln imposed the first federal income tax on August 5, 1861 at the rate of 3 percent on all income over $800 per year.

On August 5, 1910, Gov. Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing betting on election outcomes.

On August 4, 1944, Anne Frank, her family, and two others were found by Nazis in a sealed area in an Amsterdam warehouse. They were sent first to a concentration camp in Holland, then most were sent to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot died from Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March of 1945.

On August 4, 1958, a wagon train left Dahlonega, headed to Atlanta to pay tribute to the mighty General Assembly deliver 43 ounces of gold to be used to coat the dome of the State Capitol.

Gold from Dahlonega on its way to Atlanta. Photo by Ed Jackson via http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu

The caravan transporting the gold from Dahlonega to the State Capitol arrived in Roswell/Sandy Springs area on August 5, 1958. At the current price of $1270.10 per ounce, that would be worth $54,614.30.

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in attendance and was given one of the pens Johnson used to sign the Act. Here is an auction for one of the pens used in the VRA signing.

President Ronald Reagan began the process of firing all striking Air Traffic Controllers on August 5, 1981.

The first public website went online on August 6, 1991.

Divers raised the turret of USS Monitor near Cape Hatteras on August 5, 2002.

John Hughes, director of every meaningful teen angst movie of the 1980s (except Say Anything) died on August 6, 2009.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Jere Wood was removed as Mayor of Roswell yesterday in a lawsuit over term limits.

A Fulton County Superior Court Judge ruling on Aug. 3 resulted in Jere Wood’s immediate removal from the office of Mayor of Roswell.

Judge Craig L. Schwall, Sr. ruled in favor of the plantiff, Michael Litten in Litten v. Wood.

“Mayor Wood’s political enemies-unable to accomplish his defeat at the ballot box-chose to continue their battle through the courts. While this Court cannot ignore the overtly political nature of this dispute, it must ground its decision solely in the law. Unfortunately, the plain reading of the text of the city charter makes Mayor Wood the victim of this political war,” said Judge Schwall.

The order states that “Because Mayor Wood was ineligible to qualify for office in 2013 under the City Charter, this Court hereby grants the requested writ of ouster, removing Mayor Wood from office effective immediately. The office of Mayor of Roswell stands vacant and shall be filled pursuant to the terms of the City Charter.”

Pursuant to terms of Roswell city charter, in the case of a vacancy of the office of Mayor, there are two courses of action, a special election or election of mayor pro-tem.

Mayor Wood announced he will appeal the ruling.

On Thursday, Wood said he will, in fact, appeal the court’s ruling.

“However, I will not be seeking reelection this coming November,” he said in a statement issued through city spokesperson Julie Brechbill. “I will continue to serve the city until my current term comes to an end or the appellate court rules on Judge Schwall’s decision.”

The charter amendment imposing term limits was done through local legislation approved by the Georgia General Assembly.

In his ruling Schwall notes the sole issue before the court was to determine if Wood was qualified to hold office during the 2013 election. Schwall states the text of the charter’s language is clear, and that any reasonable reader would “conclude that the ineligibility limit applies to an individual who has served three or more terms.”

“The text does not make any qualification or exception for when the terms were served, whether they were served consecutively, or were designed only to apply prospectively,” he writes.

Macon lawyer Jeffrey Monroe received more welcome news in the form of a call from Gov. Deal’s office.

Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Macon attorney Jeffery Monroe to fill a judgeship vacancy on Bibb County State Court.

He said he had just returned to the office Thursday from attending the groundbreaking for the new Elaine H. Lucas Senior Center when he got word from his secretary that Deal was on the phone.

Monroe was one of four finalists for the job, created by the retirement of Judge William P. “Bill” Adams this summer.

Chief State Court Judge Jeff Hanson said Monroe will be an asset to the court.

“He is all about public service, and I know that he and I will work well together,” Hanson said. “It is a great day for the State Court.”

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network released a report suggesting Georgia should raise the tax on cigarettes.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network lobbies for public policies to fight cancer. It recommends Georgia raise its excise tax by at least $1.50 on a pack of cigarettes.

Georgia Health News editor Andy Miller believes the additional revenue could help struggling health care providers.

“You could put it into a fund to help rural hospitals in terms of if they have to expand, if they have to upgrade their equipment, recruiting doctors,” Miller says.

He believes the idea of raising the tax in Georgia could gain traction soon.

“The political arithmetic is going to be changing in the next year with the gubernatorial election, and so it may take leadership at the top to make this happen,” he says.

Georgia Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) may have a shot at serving as Chair of the House Budget Committee.

House Republicans tend to stick to seniority when it comes to selecting who will lead committees. Woodall is currently the sixth most senior member on the panel.

The current committee chairwoman, Diane Black, announced Wednesday she plans to run for Tennessee governor. Under a House Republican rule that bars lawmakers from leading committees while they’re running for another office, she’ll eventually need to step down or seek a waiver.

Likewise, the panel’s No. 2 Republican, Todd Rokita, is said to be preparing a bid for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat.

Moving down the list, the next two Republicans, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Tom Cole of Oklahoma, are already chairmen of subcommittees on the Appropriations Committee. They’d have to agree to give up those powerful perches to assume the House Budget chairmanship, possible but not all that likely.

That leaves California Republican Tom McClintock and Woodall. McClintock is technically more senior, yes, but the former Freedom Caucus member has voted against his share of budget and government spending bills over the years that party leaders had been pushing. That could very well come back to hurt him as he looks to appeal to those very leaders who help control the House Steering Committee, which selects chairmen.

Vector Space Systems successfully launched a small rocket from the proposed site of the Camden Spaceport.

The rocket was launched at 12:15 p.m. and the rocket parachuted back to the ground still inside property owned by Bayer Crop Sciences that formerly manufactured pesticides there. The company said the launch would not reach 10,000 feet, but John Simpson, a spokesman for Camden County, said he could not provide the exact altitude reached.

Camden County promised two years ago, “we’d make history again. Well today, we did just that,” County Manager Steve Howard said.

The liftoff of Vector-R’s rocket was the first ever commercial launch from Georgia, Howard said, and “we anticipate many more launches at Spaceport Camden in the future.”

The State House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding approved language for an RFP seeking a consultant to study the state’s transit needs.

The chosen consultant will recommend short- and long-term investments in mass transit, as well as a governance structure to oversee the system. In metro Atlanta, an alphabet soup of agencies – MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, Gwinnett County Transit, CobbLinc – provide various mass transit services. Some lawmakers believe consolidating those agencies might yield better, more efficient service.

The House commission – a group of local and state elected officials and representatives of various transportation agencies – is expected to study such issues for the next year and a half. However, with the consultant’s help, it may identify some interim measures that could be taken up by the General Assembly next year, according to Rep. Kevin Tanner, the commission chairman.

The Atlanta Regional Commission hopes to hear from citizens about improving economic competitiveness.

ARC officials announced they will hold an open house input session from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Aug. 8 at the Gwinnett Chamber. The strategy is being renamed CATLYST — emphasis on the “ATL” — and the goal is to visualize the region’s future and sort out what will be the biggest issues facing metro Atlanta over the next five years.

“Attendees can offer their opinions and can also learn about the strategy, see the results of a regional survey and see highlights of the research to date,” ARC spokesman Jim Jaquish said in an email.

The session will be conducted as a drop-in and drop-out format so residents and business owners can visit the chamber building at any time during the two-hour window to offer their input. The ARC will serve light refreshments for attendees.

A questionnaire can also be found at http://atlantaregional.org/catlyst.

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