Georgia began its love affair with the regulation of what can and cannot be sold on April 3, 1735, when James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, helped gain passage of “An Act to prevent the Importation and Use of Rum and Brandies in the Province of Georgia.” The act provided that after June 24, 1735, “no Rum, Brandies, Spirits or Strong Waters” shall be imported into Georgia.” Permission was also required to sell beer, wine, and ale.
On April 3, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized “privateers” holding a letter of marque and reprisal to attack British ships. This essentially legalizes what would otherwise be considered piracy. Issuing letters of marque and reprisal is among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, though they have seldom been used.
On April 4, 1776, General George Washington began marching his troops from Cambridge, Massachusetts to New York, in anticipation of an invasion by the British.
President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.
The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.
President William Henry Harrison died in office on April 4, 1841, a month after his inauguration.
At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president.
On April 3, 1898, President William McKinley called on Georgians to contribute 3000 volunteers for the Spanish-American War.
The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.
On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., accompanied by Georgians Hosea Williams and Ralph D. Abernathy, was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a strike by sanitation workers on April 3, 1968. He delivered what is known as the “Mountaintop Speech.”
“[L]ike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis. James Earl Ray would later be arrested and plead guilty to the assassination.
On April 5, 1968, amid racial tension following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., musician James Brown helped keep the peace in Boston.
On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron hit home run 714, tying Babe Ruth’s record.
On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the late Paul Coverdell.
The Atlanta Braves played their first game in Turner Field on April 4, 1997, defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-4. Denny Neagle started on the mound for the Braves and Mark Wohlers earned a save. Atlanta’s Michael Tucker hit the first homerun in the new stadium.
On April 5, 1980, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. played their first show as Twisted Kites in Athens, Georgia.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Governor Nathan Deal urged Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare back to the table for further negotiations.
Gov. Nathan Deal [on Tuesday] directed Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare to return to the negotiating table on behalf of the nearly 600,000 employees, retirees and their families affected by the recent contract disruption. Deal also announced the state and the University System of Georgia will absorb out-of-network claims for affected employees for up to 30 days in order to minimize patients’ financial burdens.
“My administration will not sit idly by during this contract dispute and leave our state and university system employees, teachers and their families in the balance,” said Deal. “My top priority is the well-being of our members. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare must return to the negotiating table, and Blue Cross Blue Shield must honor the contractual obligations made to the state. If an equitable solution is not reached, I’ve directed the Department of Community Health and the State Health Benefit Plan to explore all possible solutions to ensure our members have access to care. The university system stands ready to take similar action on behalf of its employees. This step is necessary in order to protect our citizens from unanticipated costs and interruption to care.”
“We want to make sure University System of Georgia families have access to the care they need and this 30-day extension is a necessary step to provide coverage for our employees,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare must come to a quick resolution to this contract dispute so additional costs are not incurred by employees of the University System of Georgia and the state. We will continue to explore all options to ensure employees and their families have continued access to the healthcare they have been relying on through the University System of Georgia healthcare plans.”
About 600,000 state employees, retirees and their families in all are affected by the recent contract disruption, according to Deal.
The old contract between the insurance company and Piedmont Healthcare expired Saturday night and the two sides have been unable to agree on the terms of a new contract.
Piedmont Healthcare is a major player in Georgia healthcare. It operates 11 hospitals and several more locations, including 21 urgent care centers, 28 Piedmont QuickCare locations, 527 Piedmont Clinic physician practice locations and more than 1,800 Piedmont Clinic members, according to its website.
Hence the desire from the governor’s office and the University System of Georgia to see the two sides reach an agreement on a new contract.
Gov. Deal yesterday announced that state offices on Capitol Hill will be closed on Monday.
Capitol Hill offices will close on Monday, April 9, to accommodate the march planned by The King Center to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State employees in Capitol Hill offices have been advised to telecommute.
Deal will join members of the King family and other dignitaries to give remarks at Liberty Plaza, where the march will end and the “Love for Humanity Tribute” begins.
Finally, Deal has ordered that flags fly at half-staff in honor of Dr. King on April 9, in coordination with the event.
Gov. Deal has not picked up his bill signing pen in April, but you can keep up with the signing of legislation passed in the 2018 session here.
Former President Bill Clinton and President Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway spoke at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta yesterday. From the Valdosta Daily Times:
“I know these are very politically charged times,” Conway said, speaking Wednesday at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit held in downtown Atlanta.
“I can’t think of a more nonpartisan issue looking for more bipartisan solutions than the opioid crisis and the drug demand/drug supply and heroin epidemic that is really roiling our nation,” she said.
“The only silver lining in this whole miserable, heart-breaking mess is that every demographic in every region in both political parties are being crushed by it,” Clinton said.
“If there is one thing we should be able to do together without any partisan rancor, it should be to take this by the throat and squeeze it until it’s gone,” Clinton added.
Clinton mentioned how he has seen the epidemic first hand, from friends to his own family.
He mentioned in his speech that although there have been victories in the battle against opioids, there is still a lot to be done as new drugs like Fentanyl hit the streets.
Clinton said he has seen how the local level is stepping up in many areas across the country to fight the epidemic and wants to see that grow on the national level.
“Get everybody together and figure out how to maximize the results including and fighting this problem with the resources available.”
The Cullman Times and its sister newspapers have a great piece on voters’ current opinions of President Trump.
Colquitt County, Georgia has maintained a deeper shade of red than the state as a whole.
All countywide constitutional officers are Republicans. Six of seven Colquitt County Commission seats are held by Republicans, and in 2016, Trump won more than 72 percent of the county’s vote, eclipsing Mitt Romney’s 69 percent in 2012 and John McCain’s 68 percent in 2008.
Among the people in Trump’s camp is Sgt. Jerome Burgess, who thinks the president is checking off on his list of promises, even though he has a unique style.
“I think we’re trying to recover from eight years of bad policy,” said Burgess, an investigator with the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office’s Drug Enforcement Team. “I think some of the changes of the Trump administration have had a benefit. I think it’s going to benefit working-class people.”
Since Trump’s election, Burgess said he feels more hopeful for his children’s future.
“I think of myself as way right. I’m a right-wing patriot; I’m a constitutionalist,” he said. “Not that people on the left are unpatriotic. They just have different ideas.”
It’s an excellent piece worth reading in its entirety.
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has a new TV ad in his campaign for Governor.
Brian Pritchard of FetchYourNews has an extended interview with Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.
The City of Griffin has proclaimed April as Confederate History Month. Then it went off the rails. From the Washington Post.
A former elected official used the n-word several times during a public meeting, offending a black member of a Georgia city’s board of commissioners.
The tense exchange between the two men happened on the same day that the Atlanta suburb of Griffin, Ga., declared April as Confederate History Month. While speaking about the declaration during the public comments portion of the meeting, Larry Johnson, a former member of the board who is white, immediately turned his attention to Rodney McCord, who appears to be one of two black officials at the table.
“I told you at that time that there were white folks, and there were black folks when I was growing up,” Johnson said, speaking to McCord from the podium. “There was white trash — my family — and there was n—–town. I lived next to n—–town.”
In the next few minutes, as shown in a public video of the meeting, an agitated McCord tried to express his frustration, while the board’s chairman, Douglas Hollberg, stopped him so Johnson can keep talking.
 McCord, with his voice raised, said: “He can get to his point, but I’m not going to sit here … Maybe y’all are comfortable with it, I don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and let this man use that type of language. And if nobody else is offended, then I am. Now if y’all want to clap and think that that’s okay for this gentleman to stand, in 2018, and get here at the board of city commission meeting — 2018 — the Civil War is over and he is using the n-word not once, not twice — three times! And he just continues to say it with not one word about who it offends.”
In Peachtree City, the City Council is considering regulating paint colors for homes, according to The Citizen.
An item of potential interest to those wanting to paint their home’s exterior will be on the April 5 agenda of the Peachtree City Council. The agenda item calls for an ordinance change pertaining to the colors that would be permitted. Bright colors would be out, and subtle, earth-tone colors would be in.
Commenting on the proposed change, City Manager Jon Rorie said, “We have a lot of expiring covenants throughout the city. This is a property maintenance initiative. We will also be pushing for a comprehensive review of all zoning ordinances this year.”
As horrifying as some folks would consider such micro-management by a city government, I’m inclined to think a large number of Peachtree City residents might support this.
Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms has been accused by the Houston County NAACP of abusing his power.
A civil rights organization has accused Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms of using his authority to influence the awarding of a quarter-million-dollar contract to a company.
That allegation, lodged by the Houston County branch of the NAACP, is one of several election-related complaints, including the 2017 mayoral campaign, when Toms was voted into office for a second term. The complaint asks several state offices to determine if Toms — or his campaign committee — broke any campaign finance law.
In particular, the NAACP questions the city of Warner Robins’ dealings involving ICB Construction Group. The Macon company was awarded a $276,943 contract a few months after two executives and another employee contributed a total of $7,500 to Toms’ 2017 mayoral campaign.
Toms called all the allegations in the complaint “100 percent bogus,” and he said he is hiring an attorney to fight them.
Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley has a message for would-be criminals, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
Jolley posted a sign outside his department warning visitors that Harris County residents have concealed weapons – and would use them. “If you kill someone, we might kill you back,” the sign reads. “We have ONE jail and 356 cemeteries. Enjoy your stay!”
Jolley said he changes the signs outside his office every seven or eight months, and pays for them himself.
“The verbiage of this is just tongue-in-cheek to the fact that we have a lot of concealed weapon cards going out right now, and I truly believe in my citizens in the county protecting themselves, that if someone comes up here and tries to harm them, they will use [their weapon] in a lawful manner,” he said.
Rome City Commissioners will seek to take control of the former Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property after a new Governor is sworn-in, according to the Rome News-Tribune.
“The state wants it redeveloped as a package … but we’d have a lot of support here to move that fence behind those houses and let them be used for some good in the community,” Commissioner Wendy Davis said Wednesday.
Plans are to establish a citizens committee to focus on getting at least some of the property back on the tax rolls. Board members agreed with Davis’ suggestion that they start pitching to the gubernatorial candidates as soon as the nominees are chosen in the May 22 primaries.
Commissioner Bill Irmscher said the city needs backing that goes higher than local legislators, who have failed to move the needle in several years.
Rabun County will see a prescribed burn today by the United States Forest Service.