Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 19, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 19, 2018

On April 19, 1775, British troops entered Lexington, Massachusetts, encountering 77 armed Minute Men.

British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

Two hours later, another confrontation between the British and American patriots took place in Concord, Massachusetts.

On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the blockade of ports in “Rebellious States.”

Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue can not be effectually executed therein conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States; and

….

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned and to the protection of the public peace and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings or until the same shall have ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States and of the law of nations in such case provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid.

Union forces skirmished against The Worrill Grays, a Georgia Reserve Militia, at the Battle of Culloden, 30 miles west of Macon on a date generally believed to have been April 19, 1865, though it may have occurred later.

On April 19, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation declaring the peanut the Official State Crop.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump called Rome veteran Bill King, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Rome educator and Air Force veteran Bill King said he was so stunned that he actually stood up from his chair — not quite at attention — while waiting to be connected to President Donald Trump.

Somehow, the president got wind of the half-size Tomb of the Unknown Soldier replica that was constructed for the Americanism committee of the Rome Exchange Club.

“I don’t know if it came through Congressman Tom Graves’ office or from the Society of the Honor Guard,” King said. “The Tomb Guards are working with us on our presentations.”

Trump told King he appreciated the patriotism King and the Exchange Club of Rome are doing through this project.

Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter will not attend Mrs. Bush’s funeral, according to the AJC.

“President and Mrs. Carter regret that they are unable to attend,” the Carter Center in Atlanta said in a statement Thursday morning. “President Carter will be on a private trip overseas, and although she is recovering, Mrs. Carter is not yet able to travel following her recent intestinal surgery.”

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order that flags on state buildings and properties be flown at half-staff in honor of the late First Lady Barbara Bush until sundown on Saturday, April 21, the day of her interment.

Gov. Deal also appointed Georgia Power chairman, president and CEO Paul Bowers to the Georgia Ports Authority and Georgia Power executive vice president of external affairs and nuclear development Chris Cummiskey to the Board of Regents.

Southwestern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Plez Hardin committed suicide the day before he was scheduled to accept a plea deal, according to WTOC.

Hardin was scheduled to take a plea deal for fraudulent tax returns the day after he committed suicide.

[Acting Sumter County District Attorney Lewis] Lamb reported there had been plea negotiations discussed prior to that meeting and Hardin was set to take a plea deal on one count of filing a fraudulent tax return on the Monday before he took his own life.

Lamb said it is believed that Hardin had been taking money since he took office in January of 2009 leading up to this last month.

Prosecutors can’t confirm the exact amount of funds that are missing but estimate it is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. The DA’s office does not know the specifics of where the money came from,  but just that it came from the office’s bank account.

The Southwestern Judicial Circuit includes Lee, Macon, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, and Webster Counties.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the state hit a record high employment number, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We set several records last year: We had the most jobs that we have ever had in the state of Georgia; we had the most people in our workforce; and we, most importantly, also had the most number of people ever employed in the state. And interesting fact is, we broke all those records last month, again,” Butler told the crowd of about 100 attendees.

During 2017 the state also saw the least amount of people on unemployment since they began tracking it in 1990, he said.

“To put that into perspective there were two million fewer people working in 1990, so when you can set that record with two million fewer people, that’s pretty impressive,” he said, adding that the current unemployment rate is about 4.5 percent, which has remained steady during the last seven to eight months. The most recent numbers will be released later this week.

The Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Training and Innovation Center in Augusta is due to open July 10 with a ribbon-cutting, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Michael Shaffer, AU’s executive vice president of strategic partnerships and economic development, said construction is on schedule thanks to contractors and other project partners, including the city of Augusta, which he says has “been exceptional in making sure that the process moves along.”

AU President Dr. Brooks Keel said a ribbon-cutting is scheduled the evening of July 10. The first meeting in the center’s 340-seat auditorium – a GTA conference – is scheduled the following day.

“We will start moving our faculty into the building just as quick as we can, and have it up and functioning by the time that fall semester starts,” Keel said.

The second-phase, which is architecturally identical to the first, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Savannah has filed suit against opioid manufacturers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach announced Wednesday that the city has filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division.

“Like much of the nation, Savannah has felt the sting of the opioid crisis. We have grieved with each passing death, and suffered losses both here and throughout the State of Georgia as the promise that each life had in store was taken from us too soon due to prescription opioid abuse,” DeLoach said in a press release Wednesday. “As Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah has a long and storied history, and has, in many ways, set a shining example in paving the way toward a brighter future for the people of our city and state. We owe it to our citizens to set the standard now and do all that we can to protect them as we find our way out of this urgent public health crisis. The opioid epidemic has negatively affected many aspects of our city, including financially, as we are forced to allocate an increasing amount of resources to law enforcement, public health, public assistance, emergency care and other services to those in need and impacted by this epidemic. Everything that we have learned about the opioid crisis points to the pharmaceutical industry as being largely responsible for where we are today. If someone must step up in order to help put a stop to the devastation that opioid abuse has inflicted on our nation, state, and city, Savannah is proud to do so.”

Chatham County filed a similar suit against opioid manufacturers and distributors on March 6, alleging that they misrepresented their products and their addictive nature that caused economic hardships locally.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long says, “Savannah is a ticking time bomb,” according to the Savannah Morning News.

“I think Georgia is a ticking time bomb,” he said. “I think you’ve got a complacent citizenry. I don’t think they realize the Georgia coast got hit 14 times from 1850-1900.”

Long, who served as Alabama’s emergency director and as a vice president for an emergency preparedness consulting firm before President Donald Trump tapped him for the top FEMA job in June, urged the emergency managers to work together to combat what he called “hurricane and hazard amnesia.”

Chatham Emergency Management Agency Director Dennis Jones said his agency was learning from the other attendees, including how New Orleans does its evacuations of citizens who lack their own vehicles. New Orleans has plans to evacuate 18,000 citizens using buses and aircraft, Jones said.

Jones doesn’t consider Chatham County residents “complacent.”

Albany’s Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE) updated residents on legislation affecting seniors, according to the Albany Herald.

CO-AGE’s current priorities are Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) funding, establishing an elder abuse registry, Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) funding, Medicaid assisted living and personal home care requirements. The group received an additional $4.2 million in HCBS funding last year but did not get more this year.

However, other items did receive funding. The Personal Need Allowance, which gives nursing home residents money to pay for hygiene products, clothing and other necessities, was raised from $15 to $65 per month for a total of $4.18 million in combined state and federal funds. The Community Care Services Program’s Alternative Living Services received a total rate increase of $10.5 million. Adult Day Health Care centers now have a rate increase of $400,000.

Welcome elder abuse bills passed during the legislative session and are making their way to the governor’s office. These bills include SB 406, which requires FBI fingerprinting background checks for employees “with direct access to patients in long-term care settings such as nursing homes, personal care homes and home health care;” HB 803, which labels the act of trafficking an at-risk adult to steal their Social Security and other benefits as a crime, and HB 635, which helps “local communities create task forces to investigate the abuse of at-risk adults.”

Another bill of interest that passed with Georgia Coalition on Aging involvement is HB 930, which allows existing transit funds to support senior transit programs. Vicki Johnson, the chairwoman for the GCOA, recorded a video explaining the bill’s importance.

The Augusta Chronicle discusses contributions to City Commission candidates.

Augusta interests are donating heavily in three Augusta Commission races on the May 22 ballot.

The elections have drawn thousands in donations to both sides vying for the seats, with the most raised by District 4 incumbent Sammie Sias in the latest reports available.

Lines are also being drawn in the District 6 contest between incumbent Commissioner Ben Hasan and challenger Paul Sterett.

A Letter to the Editor in the Gainesville Times thanks Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) for working to pass Alzheimer’s disease legislation.

Bibb County Commissioners approved spending $88k on 650 fitbit health monitors for county employees, according to WMAZ.

Tuesday, Bibb County Commissioners approved spending $88,000 to purchase 650 Fitbits for county employees. This money is a part of an incentive fund from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“Health care costs are driven by our claims. Claims are driven by how healthy we are as a body,” says [Commissioner Virgil] Watkins.

This year, the county saw about a $5 million increase in health care costs. With a general fund that is nearing depletion, Watkins says they have to find a way to lower their health care spending. He says one possible solution is Fitbits.

“[The funding is] restricted. We can’t just use it to buy a fire truck,” says [Mayor Robert] Reichert.

Reichert says this money has to be used on wellness programs, but he says this purchase could actually help replenish their savings.

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