Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2018

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

Lucius D. Clay was born in Marietta, Georgia on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

The building housing Georgia’s original “Zero Mile Post” will be demolished within the coming year, according to the AJC.

The Zero Mile Post is a granite pillar about three feet tall that was erected in 1850 to mark the “terminus” of the Western & Atlantic Railroad. The railroad, which was surveyed in 1837 went into use in 1842, was commissioned by the Georgia Legislature as a way to bring rail into the state from Chattanooga. The W&A rail project was wildly successful and gave rise to a new city at the end of the line, which went by the names Terminus and Marthasville before settling on “Atlanta” in 1847. Other rail lines would later connect to the terminus and turn the city into a southeastern hub of transportation and commerce.

The Zero Mile Post was so important to the city that in 1874, the city limits were expanded and redrawn to form a circle with a radius of 1.5 miles out from the post. The post’s importance also lives on in the Atlanta United’s Golden Spike tradition, where a special guest star is invited to drive a large spike into the “ground” at Mercedes-Benz Stadium before each home game.

As the city has grown, several structures have been built around the Zero Mile Post. In 1853, a “car shed” was built at the corner of it. This structure was destroyed in 1864 by Gen. William Sherman’s Union troops and was replaced by Union Depot in 1871. Union Depot, in turn, was removed in 1929 when a network of elevated streets was built over the tracks, including the Central Avenue viaduct.

A public information session on the Central Avenue viaduct project is scheduled for May 17, from 6-8 p.m. at the Old Council Chambers (68 Mitchell Street).

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Election season is always an occasion for sign wars – between rival campaigns, and by local governments against signs in rights-of-way. Here’s today’s sign story from WRBL in Columbus.

Election season is underway, which means enthusiastic campaign volunteers are out in Columbus streets putting up signs to call support for their candidates. However, staff and special enforcement with the Columbus Consolidated Inspections and Code Department say whenever this time rolls around, they end up rolling down the same streets taking the illegally placed signs right back down again.

”Since election season has started, we’ve kind of periodically gone to some of the more frequent intersections,” says Director John Hudgison. “We try to stay along the major roads right now, but we’re starting to get more and more complaints in neighborhoods and subdivisions because of how many signs are going out.”

“One of the things about the sign ordinance is trying to keep people from detracting from the signs that need to be on the right of way,” Hudgison says while looking at photos of election endorsements directly beneath road caution signs.

“These signs could fall into the roadway, something like that, or if someone is looking to see where they need to turn and instead they’re looking down at a campaign sign. Yeah, these will definitely be removed today,” he adds.

Candidates for Governor are having ethics complaints filed against them to muddy the waters as Primary elections approach, according to Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

Stacey Abrams’ campaign manager lodged a complaint Friday claiming that aides to her Democratic rival, Stacey Evans, violated state ethics rules by forming a third-party organization to take in unlimited contributions to help her campaign.

A day before, a watchdog activist filed a complaint against Abrams questioning about $84,000 in reimbursements from her campaign committees over several years that lack details about how the money was spent.

And the same activist, William Perry of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, also asked investigators to scrutinize Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s use of a state airplane to travel to Savannah in November 2016.

New federal tax legislation classifies parts of Brunswick as “Qualfied Opportunity Zones, according to The Brunswick Times.

Large swaths of Brunswick, primarily west of Altama Avenue and in New Town north of Gloucester Street were designated as “Qualified Opportunity Zones” by the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS earlier this month.

Opportunity zones “offer favorable capital gains treatment for taxpayers who invest in high poverty neighborhoods,” according to Adam Looney, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy think tank. “Invest in real estate or business in a qualified zone, hold it for ten years, and you can not only sell your invests free of capital gains tax, but you also get a break on untaxed capital gains rolled into an Opportunity Zone investment.”

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, both Georgia Republicans, said in a joint statement the zones would be a new tool to spur economic growth.

“For too long, capital investment has been concentrated in a few prosperous regions while many communities, especially in smaller cities and rural areas, have seen little economic growth,” Isakson said in the statement. “Qualified Opportunity Zones will allow businesses to invest in areas that need a boost, providing a win-win for all involved.”

“Encouraging private investment in these Opportunity Zones will deliver a boost to small businesses and create more job opportunities,” Perdue said in the statement. “… These Opportunity Zones will help, and I will continue working with President Trump to improve our economy.”

Floyd County Superior Court Judge candidates Emily Matson and Kay Ann Wetherington will attend two voter forums this week, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Rome will host a community forum with the candidates today from 6-7:30 p.m. at Rome First United Methodist Church, 202 E. Third Ave. Both candidates will give a speech and then take questions.

On Thursday the Floyd County Republican Party will also have a similar event at 6 p.m. at Moe’s Original BBQ at 101 W. First St.

Voters must be registered by Tuesday to cast ballots in the May 22 primary and nonpartisan election.

Democratic candidates for the Ninth Congressional District will debate on April 30th, according to AccessWDUN.com.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is considering hiring a school safety director, according to the Statesboro Herald. The County BOE also endorsed unanimously the negotiation of a multiyear contract to retain Superintendent Charles Wilson.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has a “hog control technician,” which many good ole boys would consider the best job ever. From the Savannah Morning News:

Codey Elrod has a job most Southern hunters would kill for.

“My job,” Elrod said, “is to kill hogs.”

Elrod lives alone on this 40-square mile barrier island below Savannah. He works when he wants — daybreak, late afternoon, middle of the night. His office is the salt marshes, sandy beaches, maritime forests and cypress swamps that make up one of Georgia’s most beautiful sea islands.

He is, officially, a “hog control technician” for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources — the only full-time, government-paid wild boar hunter in the South. The uniqueness of his job owes to the rapaciousness of the hogs. They’re a nasty, eat-everything, invasive species that are alien to Ossabaw and run roughshod over flora and fauna.

While shooting pigs is cool, Elrod embraces the program’s main goal: saving endangered loggerhead sea turtles. Feral pigs stalk Ossabaw’s 13 miles of unspoiled beaches from May to September scrounging for newly laid turtle eggs.

“Hogs are a huge, huge issue because they impact vegetation, forests and wildlife,” says Michael Stroeh, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge manager in Arkansas who says the boars should be eradicated. “They’re an invasive species first and foremost.”

“Our goal on the island is to preserve, as best we can, the sea turtle nests,” says Kara Day, a Georgia DNR wildlife biologist who helps run the public hunts on Ossabaw.

Savannah’s Blight Tax, intended to encourage renovation or demolition of blighted properties, does not appear to be working on owners of the properties, according to the Savannah Morning News.

That pressure has failed so far to convince any of the property owners to make improvements to the properties, however, [code compliance director Kevin Milton] said. And collecting the steep tab hasn’t come easy either.

As of Tuesday, 14 of the cited property owners have paid the blight tax and the remaining now face potential liens and the loss of their property through a tax sale, Milton said.

With amounts ranging from $197 for a house on West 39th Street to the $7,562 tax assessed against the Montgomery Street property, the blight tax bills amounted to a total of about $35,490. The city has raised $12,630 from the tax so far.

The Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Associate’s degree in nursing program received its accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Sandy Springs will spend $607k on technology enhancements for their police force, including more body cameras and upgrading cameras in police cars.

 

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