Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 5, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 5, 2017

On September 5, 1774, the Continental Congress convened for the first time at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia; delegates attended from all the colonies except Georgia.

The Heart of Atlanta Motel opened at 255 Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta on September 5, 1956. It included a three-story diving platform reached by spiral stairs and a pool large enough to hold a ski boat. African-Americans were not allowed at the Heart of Atlanta. [Photos © Georgia State University]

heart of atlanta

After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in interstate commerce, the Heart of Atlanta’s owner sued the federal government, asserting that the Act was an overly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The resulting decision by the United States Supreme Court upheld the Act, finding that Congress was within its authority to ban racial discrimination in businesses affecting interstate commerce.

Atlanta Time Machine has a webpage with interesting images of the Motel.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued a writ of election, scheduling a November 7, 2017 Special Election for House District 89, which was vacated by Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), who is running for Governor in 2018. Gov. Deal previously issued writs of election for Special Elections on November 7, 2017 in House District 89 (formerly Stacey Abrams), House District 117 (formerly Regina Quick), and House District 119 (formerly Chuck Williams).

The Democratic/Media Outrage Machine continues to churn against State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine).

A coalition that includes the ACLU’s Georgia chapter and the Georgia NAACP issued a statement Thursday calling Spencer’s comments “dangerous” and called on House Speaker David Ralston to remove him from the Game, Fish & Parks committee.

“If Rep. Spencer keeps refusing to retract and apologize for his remarks,” the coalition said in a statement, “Georgia lawmakers should demand his resignation from the Georgia General Assembly.”

Both Democratic candidates for governor – state Rep. Stacey Evans and former state Rep. Stacey Abrams – have condemned Spencer. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said Spencer’s remarks were “worthy of censure.”

Some have also urged police involvement. Nita Chaudhary of UltraViolet, a women’s rights group, called on state law enforcement officials to investigate Spencer. And Vincent Fort, a former state senator who is running for Atlanta mayor, said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation should probe the comments.

“When I got a threat like that, I called the GBI,” he said. “That kind of threat warrants it.”

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus asked the GBI to investigate.

State Sen. Lester Jackson, the caucus chairman, said state Rep. Jason Spencer’s “behavior cannot and will not be accepted or tolerated” and urged the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to probe “the threat of physical violence ” from the lawmaker.

A GBI spokeswoman said the agency had not yet opened an investigation.

Conyers voters will get a sneak peek at what could be a new voting system for Georgia.

Express Vote machines will get a trial run in the Conyers mayoral race this November.

“The pilot program in November addresses some concerns that have been raised about the state’s machines,” says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University.

Rockdale County Elections Director Cynthia Welch told CBS46, “If all goes well, the state will probably ask for legislation where we can test the system statewide.”

“Here, you’re getting a verifiable trail,” says Boone. “So it does address a part of the problem. It is certainly an improvement over what presently exists.”

So far, from what he’s seen, Dr. Boone says the Express Vote system is moving Georgia in the right direction.

CBS46 has also learned that in the next couple of weeks, Rockdale County will be doing voter education and demonstrating the system in senior centers and nursing homes.

From the AJC:

“Purchasing a new voting system is no small matter,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office is coordinating the pilot program with Rockdale County election officials. “This is a large investment for Georgia, but voting technology has progressed to the point where I feel comfortable inviting a vendor to demonstrate to Georgians a system that could last us for many years to come.”

Atlanta Public Schools intends to issue up to $100 million in Tax Anticipation Notes – borrowing against expected property tax income.

Pat St. Claire, spokesperson for APS, has sent this statement from Lisa Bracken, chief financial officer for the school system:

“[B]ecause of the assessment freeze and the time it took for the Fulton county assessors’ office to recalculate and resend new notices, we are more than two months behind our typical millage rate process. As September represents a low point in cash flows for most public school districts, this delay required that we seek a tax anticipation note in order to meet expenditure requirements until taxes are received. We anticipate borrowing no more than $100 million.”

We’re told that APS was in the same situation last year, and ended up borrowing $75 million, at a cost of $147,000 or so. Any money from the new loan would have to be paid back by Dec. 31, 2017.

Candidates for Gainesville City Council may be discussing the city’s at-large voting system during their campaigns.

the city charter [requires] that “one councilmember shall be a resident of each ward.” Yet when it comes to electing a candidate the charter states: “The mayor and councilmembers shall be elected by a majority vote of the voters of the entire city of Gainesville voting in the election.”

“The at-large voting system requires that every member of the City Council is accountable to every single citizen in Gainesville,” the statement emphasized. “Instead of posturing for what is best for ‘our district’ we work together for what is best for the city of Gainesville. We believe that the voters should have a voice in choosing all five candidates at the polls, not just one.”

Incumbent George Wangeman faces two challengers in the election Nov. 7. One is former downtown restaurateur Albert Reeves, who previously served a four-year term on the Clermont Town Council. The other is Maria del Rosario Palacios, a young Mexican mother who holds a prominent position with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

Atlanta-based GALEO is a nonprofit group that advocates public policies beneficial to Latinos. GALEO members go into communities with large concentrations of Hispanics — such as parts of Gainesville — to register voters, and encourages them to participate in the process and seek public office.

Last year, GALEO filed a lawsuit against Gwinnett County to end at-large voting there.

GALEO also has had its share of run-ins with Gainesville city officials over the same issue, but has not taken the city to court over it.

The Voter Participation Center will begin a direct mail campaign to register new voters.

The Voter Participation Center, a non-partisan, nonprofit based out of Washington, D.C., announced this week that it will send thousands of voter registration applications to unregistered people of color, unmarried women and millennials in Georgia.

The group plans to send registration forms to 2.8 million potential voters in nine states this month, including 390,230 people in Georgia. The organization said 30.6 percent of voting age Georgia residents are not registered to vote.

More specifically, it said 40.1 percent of millennials, 33.1 percent of unmarried women and 31.2 percent of African-Americans are not registered to vote.

“Nationally, about 46 million people of color, unmarried women and millennials are not currently registered to vote,” Voter Participation Center President Page Gardner said in a statement. “In Georgia, 1.6 million of these historically under-represented citizens are unregistered.

The three demographic groups targeted by the Voter Participation Center are groups that are expected to see voter drop offs from the 2016 presidential election to next year’s election. The group said they makeup about two-thirds of the estimated 40 million voters who voted last year but are not expected to vote in 2018.

In Georgia, they said 790,000 millennials, unmarried women and people of color who voted in the presidential election are not expected to vote in either next year’s partisan primaries or the gubernatorial election.

Springfield Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby Barty Alderman was reelected without opposition.

No one qualified as a write-in candidate, so Springfield’s election Nov. 7 has been canceled.

After qualifying ended Aug. 25, two people were signed up for the mayor’s race in Rincon – incumbent Mayor Ken Lee and current council member Christi Ricker.

Incumbent council members Ann Daniel and Levi Scott Jr. will join newcomers Eric Brierton, Jerome Erwin, Kevin Exley and Patrick Kirkland in the competition for three council seats that currently are held by Daniel, Scott and Ricker.

In Guyton, incumbent alderman Michael Johnson will face Thomas Marshall Reiser for Post 4.

And Michael Gerwig, Joseph Lee and Quinton White will run for Post 3, which has been vacant since early 2016, when Ulysses Eaton moved from the area.

Dalton City Council is expected to adopt a property tax millage rate tonight.

The Dalton City Council is scheduled to set its 2017 tax rate when it meets tonight, and council members could authorize the Dalton Building Authority to issue $18.2 million in bonds for Dalton Public Schools.

The council has advertised that it will leave the city’s tax rate unchanged this year at 2.506 mills. But some council members say they are still considering rolling it back.

Because of the growth of the tax digest, the 2.506 mills rate would bring in more revenue, $8.76 million compared to $8.45 million last year, so it would be considered a tax increase under state law.

According to a city press release, a property owner with a homestead exemption with a fair market value of $150,000 would see its city tax payment rise approximately $9.80 if the rate is not rolled back, and a property with a fair market value of $350,000 without a homestead exemption would see its city tax increase approximately $24.50.

State Reps Allen Peake (R-Macon) and David Lucas (D-Macon) spoke the the Macon Telegraph about redistricting.

“My comments were more of sensing the frustration that most Americans seem to have that Congress is so polarizing; in particular, they can’t get anything done,” the Macon Republican said. “Some of that in my opinion is congressional districts being drawn to favor for Democrats or Republicans.

“You get those elected many times that are on the far right or far left, that may be so dogmatic in their political philosophies that they’ll never come to any consensus,” Peake said. “Seventy percent in America are left wondering why they can’t get anything done. I hear it at the grocery store, at the ballgames, at church, (that) people are mad and fed up and some of it is the result of the polarization of redistricting.”

Peake’s colleague on the opposite side of the political aisle, state Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, says Georgia legislators are able at times to work together across political lines. But it was a different result when Democrats were accused of gerrymandering in the past.

The process of setting up new district boundaries after census data is reported should not be as difficult as it is. Republicans have taken the practice to a new level, Lucas said.

“We drew lines and went to court and it was thrown out and Republicans took control,” he said. “They did the same thing we did, and when they did it the courts went along with it. Republicans drew lines that had less than 35 percent blacks in it and made it conservative, which meant it was going to be Republican regardless.”

State Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville) and Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) were each named legislator of the year by the Georgia State Firefighters Association and the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs.

Roswell will hold qualifying this week for a special election in City Council Post 3.

Ellen Diehl announced she will run for State House District 81, currently held by Democratic State Rep. Scott Holcomb. I’m assuming she’ll run as a Republican.

Republican Matt Reeves, announced endorsements in his campaign for State Senate District 48, being vacated by David Shafer, who is running for Lt. Governor.

Johns Creek City Councilman Jay Lin, Gwinnett Solicitor General Rosanna Szabo, and Duluth City Councilman Greg Whitlock have joined a growing list of elected leaders supporting Matt Reeves in his campaign for State Senate District 48. Also, Columbia Engineering, on Buford Highway in Duluth, hosted a fundraiser for Matt Reeves’ State Senate campaign last week, and over fifty local small businesspeople contributed at the event. Notable donors were Whitlock, Bill Russell, Norwood Davis, and former U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, who Matt worked for in college when he attended Mercer University in Macon and when Senator Chambliss was a Congressman in a competitive middle Georgia congressional district.  Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris and House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman headlined the fundraising event. Reeves has additional fundraising events planned over the next few weeks in Johns Creek and Sugarloaf. Reeves held a fundraising event at Arena Tavern in Duluth in June.

Recently, Reeves spoke at the Fulton County Republican party breakfast in Johns Creek, and launched a campaign Facebook page, and website, Reeves is running on a platform of reducing the state income tax, keeping Georgia as a jobs leader through fiscal conservatism and prioritizing education and transportation, strengthening the family through making Georgia a leader in foster care and adoption, and re-creating Milton County in North Fulton.

Reeves previously announced the endorsement of Former Senator Dan Moody, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, State Representative Scott Hilton, and County Commissioner Jace Brooks. Reeves is running for the seat left open in 2018 by virtue of State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer’s run for Lieutenant Governor.

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