Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2018

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from the Constitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776. In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia. A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

Abraham Baldwin, founder of the University of Georgia, arrived in Philadelphia on June 11, 1787 to attend the Constitutional Convention. Baldwin was joined by three other delegates, William Few Jr., William Houston, and William Pierce; Baldwin and Few would sign the Constitution on behalf of Georgia.

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Happy 94th birthday to former President George H.W. Bush.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Henry County Commissioner Reid Bowman died last Wednesday at the age of 70, according to the Henry Herald.

Bowman served on the Henry County Board of Commissioners from 2007 to 2014 and was instrumental in a number of projects throughout Henry County, such as the Eagles Landing Parkway project, the East Lake Extension project, Henry County Fire Station No. 9, the North Police Precinct, Moseley Park, Rock Quarry Road Bridge and Kelleytown Park.

“Commissioner Bowman was a well-respected man in Henry County, not only as a District 4 commissioner, but as a strong and influential leader in this community,” said Melissa Robinson, communications and public information director for the county. “As a county commissioner for eight years, he was instrumental in the advancement and completion of many capital and road projects, and county leadership and staff often relied on his vast expertise and knowledge of business, contracting and construction when determining and vetting projects.”

Bowman is survived by his wife of 51 years, Janice, as well as four children and nine grandchildren and three siblings. The family received friends Friday at the Cannon Cleveland funeral home in McDonough.

Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington questions the wisdom of a solar deal approved by City Council, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

“Goldman Sachs forecasts the solar panel industry will drop over the next few years, 40 percent in China alone,” Pennington said.

Earlier in their meeting, commissioners had voted 4-0 to approve a deal with Hanwha Q Cells Korea that will give the company some 800,000 square feet of land in the Carbondale Business Park as well as tax abatements. The total value of the local incentives, according to economic development officials, is about $15 million.

“People have been trying to diversify the county’s economy for years,” said Commissioner Roger Crossen. “We finally did something that will help do that. When this thing is finalized, I think people are going to appreciate it. But I guess you can’t please everybody.”

Board Chairman Lynn Laughter said the environment for economic development is “very tough.”

“There are states around us that give 20 years of tax abatements,” she said. “We have given 10 years before, but we think this project will be our game changer, so we went with 15. For that, we are getting 500 new jobs, and we hope this starts the process of diversifying our economy, so that when the next recession hits we will not be hit as hard.”

Hall County Public Schools got a sweet deal on some buses, according to AccessWDUN.

“I had just heard that our friends in Fayette County were getting rid of some relatively new buses because they had a windfall,” Schofield explained.

“That’s a personal friend down there,” Schofield said of the district official who told him of the development.  “So I just called up the superintendent; and legally you can sell surplused equipment from one school district to another.”

“So we went down and took a look at those buses, and when we saw what they were selling and what they were asking, we just said we’d take them all.  So we picked up twenty buses.”

“They’re about ten years old, some with less than 100,000 miles.  We typically will put a quarter-of-a-million to 400,000 miles on a bus.”

“Those buses are worth at least twice what we paid for them,” Schofield said of Hall County’s accepted offer of $7000 per bus.  “Buses that (are) probably in the $20,000 range.”

Lilburn City Council passed a budget for FY 2019, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The city of Lilburn passed its annual $7.9 million budget Monday night, including a 2 percent pay raise for all city employees and a sanitation fee of $13.12 for each residential property owner.

“This makes our entry-level salaries competitive with the market,” Lilburn City Manager Bill Johnsa told the panel.

The millage rate for homeowners will remain the same at 4.43, and is scheduled to be adopted at the July 9 City Council meeting.

Columbia County Fire Department rolled out its new $2.7 million dollar, 100-foot aerial firefighting truck, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

An Augusta Commission subcommittee is working on revisions to its personnel policy manual, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) arranged the transfer of Earle May Recreational Area to the City of Bainbridge, according to the Post-Searchlight.

Congressman Bishop delivered the below remarks on the House floor during the consideration of the amendment:

“I thank the Chairman for yielding. I would like to thank Chairman Shuster and the committee staff for their assistance in helping to get this matter to the floor for consideration. This amendment would convey three parcels of land, known as the Earle May Recreational Area, from the Army Corps of Engineers to the city of Bainbridge, Georgia. Mr. Chairman, the Earle May Recreational Area is vitally important to the city of Bainbridge, Georgia. The city has had a long-term lease from the Army Corps of Engineers and it has invested nearly $150 million in improvements to this area for public use. These investments include a $25 million water control plant, several sporting complexes and many other facilities that attract visitors. It is a destination for people from across the southeast for its unique beauty and the recreational opportunities that are offered by the Flint River. Continued improvements, however, could be done much more efficiently if the land were conveyed from the Army Corps to the city of Bainbridge.”

“Since the original lease was initiated in 1980, any improvements that the city attempted to make had to undergo the very long and arduous process that the Army Corps of Engineers utilizes, and therefore, it increased substantially the cost to the city as well as introduced bureaucratic delays. By transferring this land to the people of the City of Bainbridge, I am confident that a proper balance can be struck between the city and the Army Corps, and that we can better facilitate the recreational activities on the Flint River as well as navigation and flood control. I thank the Chairman for his assistance and for agreeing to accept this amendment. With that, I yield back.”

Savannah City Council is asking for a tank and/or a helicopter to pursue the war against Florida display in a park honoring veterans, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Veterans Memorial Park is being planned for a grassy lot along Abercorn at the southern end of the Truman, which was donated by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The park is also expected to include a walking trail, brick-lined honor garden, a small parking lot with an entrance on the access road that serves Plantation Oaks Apartments, and a 30-foot by 65-foot American flag on a 100-foot pole, Thomas said.

“That flag is going to be pretty significant when you’re coming down the Truman or coming down Abercorn,” he said. “I think it’s going to be an outstanding park.”

If provided, the military equipment would be extended loaned for free, but the city would have to pay for transportation costs, Thomas said. The project is expected to cost about $190,000 and is being funded using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds dedicated to district improvements, he said.

The Feds have devoted an additional $85 million dollars toward the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Previously, the Trump administration had allocated $50 million for SHEP in the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget request. Coupled with the Army Corps’ updated plan, the total for the fiscal year 2018, which ends Sept. 30, is now $85 million.

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga.-01, who had lobbied for additional SHEP funding to keep the project on track, praised the funding in a joint statement on Monday.

“I thank President Trump, (Office of Management and Budget) Director (Mick) Mulvaney and the Corps of Engineers for demonstrating their commitment to completing this project that is so critical to our economy,” said Isakson.

“The Port of Savannah is boasting record numbers each month. Ensuring the on-time completion of this project is a win for trade, a win for the economy and a win for the hundreds of thousands of jobs the Port of Savannah supports.”

From a Press Release by Senator Perdue’s office:

“Finally, the Port of Savannah will receive long overdue investment from the federal government,” said Senator Perdue. “President Trump pledged to make infrastructure a priority, and again, we are seeing his Administration deliver on promises. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project has the best return on investment of any Army Corps of Engineers project in the country at 7.3 to 1. As the fourth largest and fastest growing port in the United States, this project not only benefits Georgia, but also the entire Eastern half of the country. There is no doubt SHEP is Georgia’s top infrastructure project and will help our country compete globally.”

“I am thrilled that President Trump and OMB Director Mulvaney and the Corps of Engineers have shown that they realize the critical importance of this project by committing strong federal funding,” said Congressman “Buddy] Carter. “With a return on investment of 7.3 to 1, every step closer to completion is a step closer to realizing the full economic impact this project will have on the nation and the world. We will continue fighting for this federal support to keep the project moving forward and on time until it becomes a reality.”

U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor L. Ross dismissed a lawsuit against Georgia Gwinnett College over a prior speech code, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Former GGC student Chike Uzuegbunam, who graduated from the college in August 2017, filed the 83-page, 470-paragraph suit in December 2016, arguing that during a period of several months, college police and other officials restricted his speech to “two tiny speech zones” that were open 18 hours per week.

Another GGC student, Joseph Bradford, who also wanted to preach on campus, later joined joined the suit as a plaintiff.

“The Court has found that Plaintiff Uzuegbunam’s claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are moot because he has graduated from GGC,” Ross’ court order said. “The Court has also found that Plaintiff Bradford’s claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are moot because GGC has unambiguously terminated the Prior Policies and there is no reasonable basis to expect that GGC will return to them.”

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul is asking the County Commission to fund pay raises for employees in his department, according to the Albany Herald.

Sproul pointed out that the sheriff’s office is losing deputies to a large number of surrounding law enforcement agencies because of low salaries. He said it is making recruitment and retention harder than it should be.

“The Albany Police Department starts its officers at $34,501 per year; our deputies start at $27,888,” Sproul said. “I beg you to search your hearts because we are trying very hard to recruit people. A 15 percent raise would get to where we need to be competitive for people.”

Dougherty County has set early and advance voting hours for the July 24 runoff, according to the Albany Herald.

Advance voting will be available weekdays for both Democratic and Republican voters during the three weeks leading up to the election. The early voting period starts July 2 and continues Mondays-Fridays until July 20. All advance voting will be conducted in the Elections office, Room 220 of the Albany-Dougherty Government Center, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Voters are reminded that they must select either a Republican or Democratic ballot based on which they chose during the May 22 primaries.

“If a person voted in the Democratic primary, they may only select a Democratic ballot in the runoff,” Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. “Same thing for those who selected Republican ballots in the primary. Those who chose nonpartisan ballots on May 22 will not have the opportunity to vote in the runoff.

“If there are those who did not vote in the primary but want to vote in the runoff, they may do so. But they’ll have to select one ballot or the other.”

The Brunswick News writes about Georgia’s oyster industry.

Georgia, unlike other states, does not allow oyster aquaculture. All commercially sold Georgia oysters are collected from the wild.

In other states, farmers can use systems of mesh bags filled with baby oysters and grow them to harvestable size in floating cages tethered to the bottoms of estuaries. The oysters can be mechanically sorted by size and age and re-bagged every few months to maximize profit and predictability.

In Virginia, the oyster industry was worth slightly less than $200,000 in 2004. A decade later, after the state aggressively shepherded growers toward aquaculture, oyster harvesters brought in almost $30 million. North Carolina has invested tens of millions of dollars toward oyster-bed restoration since 2003, and improved its watershed management and research program. South Carolina is behind those states, but ahead of Georgia in its use of oyster-growing cages.

Oyster aquaculture remains illegal in Georgia. That’s despite a decades-long undertaking by state researchers and regulators to spawn a new industry that could be worth more than $5 million by 2022 and directly employ dozens of coastal workers, according to state experts.

Earnest L. McIntosh, a commercial oyster grower in Harris Neck in McIntosh County, was one of the 10 growers who participated in the UGA study.

“They’re much more beautiful oysters,” he said of the crops grown in cages. “You do maintenance on them twice a week — keeping them flipped, shaking them — and it puts a shape to the oysters. It keeps them with a nice cup, and that’s what the restaurants want.”

Georgia oysters, McIntosh and many others have said, are superior in taste to those grown in the Gulf of Mexico or Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. The Georgia variety, whether wild-harvested or grown in cages, have a salty, meaty taste with undertones of lemongrass. The taste has a lot to do with the clean, remote waters where the state permits shellfish harvesters to grow their crops.

It’s an excellent article, worth reading in its entirety if you’re interested in economic development or tasty shellfish. I recently had Georgia oysters from McIntosh & Sons, served at the Kimball House in Decatur, and they were exceptional.

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