Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 13, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 13, 2016

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers; Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp gets his day in the spotlight, after a lawsuit was filed, according to the AJC.

A north Georgia investment company has filed a lawsuit against GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp and an agricultural business he invested in after company officials say he failed to repay a $500,000 loan.

According to [plaintiff Rick] Phillips, Kemp sat in his Toccoa, Georgia, office and asked for a $500,000 loan so his company, Hart AgStrong LLC, could purchase raw canola seeds.

Phillips said since Kemp and Hart AgStrong paid back an earlier $600,000 loan, he thought the new loan was safe. He produced documents showing a personal guarantee agreement between him and Kemp.

In a statement, Kemp campaign spokesperson Ryan Mahoney pointed out that Kemp is only one of the investors in Hart AgStrong and accused Phillips of being one of political rival Casey Cagle’s top donors.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced that a U.S. District Court issued an injunction against the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) law, according to the Albany Herald.

“For almost three years, Georgia has led a multistate coalition fighting against the WOTUS Rule, which infringes on the states’ traditional role as primary regulators of land and water resources within their borders,” Carr said. “This order shows that the court agrees we are likely to succeed on the merits of our claims, including that the 2015 WOTUS Rule violates the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“We are proud to have obtained this relief for Georgia citizens and will continue to fight against federal overreach in this case and others.”

In its order issued Friday evening, the court also agreed that if the WOTUS rule became effective, the states would suffer irreparable harm in the form of both a “loss of sovereignty and unrecoverable monetary losses.” The court concluded that blocking the WOTUS Rule also favors the public interest because it saves “farmers, homeowners and small businesses” from having to “devote time and expense to obtain federal permits … to comply with a rule that is likely to be invalidated.”

Jill Nolin writes for the Valdosta Daily Times about the current status of water litigation between Georgia and Florida.

Georgia has so far emerged on the winning side of a case that centers on Florida’s claim that its northern neighbor is not allowing enough water to flow south to the Apalachicola Bay, which Florida claims has devastated its once-thriving oyster industry.

Florida officials are arguing that southwest Georgia farmers, as well as Atlanta homeowners and businesses, are allowed unchecked water use. They are pushing for a court-ordered cap on water consumption that they argue is needed to save its bay.

“Many of the questions [by Supreme Court Justices] were kind of implicitly acknowledging that there is this harm that Florida is suffering,” said Gil Rogers, who attended the arguments and who is an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is not directly involved in the case.

“Georgia’s position – practically, politically, and legally – can be summarized as follows: Georgia’s agricultural water use should be subject to no limitations, regardless of the long-term consequences for the basin,” [Court Special Master] Lancaster also wrote.

The University System Board of Regents voted to hire Pamela Whitten as President of Kennesaw State University, according to a press release by the university.

Whitten currently serves as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Georgia (UGA), a position she has held since 2014.

“Dr. Whitten brings a deep commitment toward building an outstanding academic experience for students, as well as an uncompromising dedication toward quality research and leadership that will serve KSU and its community well,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “We are excited about the feedback from students, faculty and staff who participated in Dr. Whitten’s campus visits last week. I look forward to seeing KSU thrive as she takes this important role.”

“It is an honor and privilege to join the KSU community,” Whitten said. “I am thrilled to be able to partner with the entire Owl Nation to champion our students, faculty and staff across Georgia and beyond.”

Valdosta Mayor John Gayle will read to students in ten schools across the city in “Read Across Valdosta,” according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The local effort supports Gov. Nathan Deal’s goal to have all of Georgia’s children reading on grade level by third grade and is based on First Lady Sandra Deal’s “Read Across Georgia” initiative, according to city officials.

The mayor will be reading “Behind the Little Red Door,” a new children’s book written by Georgia author Coy Bowles of the Zac Brown Band to observe the 25th birthday of Georgia’s pre-K program.

“Children model their reading habits by listening to adults,” Gayle said. “It is important for children to learn proper pronunciation, expression, pauses and cadence. It is our hope that Read Across Valdosta will encourage our children to read to others and possibly one day become young teachers themselves.”

A federal lawsuit over Georgia’s voter roll purge was withdrawn after a United States Supreme Court decision.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court held that Ohio is not violating the National Voter Registration Act by sending address-confirmation notices to registered voters when they fail to vote in a federal election — and then eliminating their names from the rolls if they don’t respond and fail to vote in the next two federal elections over a four-year period.

The decision reversed a lower court ruling that found Ohio’s policy violated the voter-registration law by using non-voting to trigger the confirmation notices.

In Georgia, people who haven’t voted or had contact with the elections system for three years are placed on an inactive list and then removed from the rolls altogether if they don’t respond to confirmation-of-address notices within 30 days – and then vote in the next two general elections.

Because Georgia’s and Ohio’s policies are so similar, the Supreme Court’s decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute “essentially disposes, unfavorably, of our NVRA claim,” said Emmet Bondurant, lead attorney for Common Cause Georgia, which had challenged the state’s voter roll maintenance efforts along with the Georgia NAACP.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson‘s FY 2019 budget includes higher garbage fees and raises for city employees, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Ossabaw Island Heritage Preserve turns 40 on Friday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Ossabaw Island Heritage Preserve is about to turn 40, with Friday marking the anniversary of the day in 1978 when then-governor George Busbee signed the Executive Order making the barrier island Georgia’s first heritage preserve.

As it’s been for millennia, the 26,000-acre island in Chatham County is home to alligators, otters and bald eagles. It plays nursery to sea turtles, with 314 loggerhead nests erupting with hatchlings on its beaches last year. And there’s still not a single condo near the 13-mile stretch of beach on this island, which is 12 times bigger than neighboring Tybee.

The Heritage Preserve designation prohibits construction of a bridge or a causeway connecting Ossabaw to the mainland or other barrier islands. The order places Ossabaw Island under the management of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, who continues to be its manager.

In 1998, the not-for-profit Ossabaw Island Foundation and the DNR signed an agreement giving the foundation the right and responsibility to manage programming and facilities on Ossabaw Island in accordance with the Heritage Preserve guidelines. Over the last 20 years, the foundation has shared Ossabaw Island with thousands of people from across Georgia and around the world through natural, scientific and cultural programming on the island and on the mainland; and has restored, renovated or stabilized 10 historic buildings on Ossabaw Island for related use.

The Augusta Commission will consider ordinances addressing junk cars and earlier Sunday alcohol sales, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The city’s current law allows for Sunday alcohol sales to start at 12:30 p.m. Commissioner Sean Frantom pushed for the commission to pass a resolution that would add a November referendum on that change.

Ironically, Sunday sales are allowed in convenience and liquor stores but not in bars, said Rob Sherman, the interim director of planning and development. The city defines bars as establishments making less than 50 percent of gross revenue from food. But state law defines a bar as a business making 75 percent or more of revenue from alcohol, so there is a gap between the state definition and the city’s, Sherman said. That’s where bar owners would like to get some relief, said Bryan Birmingham of Allie Katz Bar and Grill.

Having an extra day a week of revenue will hopefully “take care of the losses” bar owners are expecting from the smoke-free law, he said. Changing the definition from using food to nonalcohol-related revenue would also allow bars to count merchandise sales and revenue from coin-operated machines, which also allow more places to qualify as restaurants, Birmingham said.

The brunch bill would allow alcohol service to begin at 11 a.m. but also cut off sales at 12:30 a.m., while the city currently allows service until 2 a.m., Sherman said.

The Port of Brunswick will receive more than $5 million in federal funds, according to The Brunswick News.

The bill — H.R. 5895, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2019 — passed the House of Representatives on Friday by a vote of 235-179, mostly on party lines. The funding is scheduled to run through Sept. 30, 2019.

“(I am) very pleased with the amount of money we got for that,” U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, said about the legislation Monday at the Golden Isles Republican Women meeting on St. Simons Island. “Remember, we’ve been a donor port for so many years, both in Savannah and in Brunswick. That is, we’ve been sending more money to Washington than we’ve been getting back. Well, finally that’s beginning to level off and we’re getting more money back for our port maintenance than we’ve been sending up there, and that’s very significant.”

According to the Army Corps’ fiscal year 2019 budget, of the $5,258,000 marked for the Port of Brunswick, $4,304,000 is for dredging. That allows for $777,000 for operations and the balance, $177,000, for placement area maintenance.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) was named Georgia Chamber of Commerce Legislator of the Year, according to the Dawson County News.

The Georgia Chamber’s Government Affairs Council recognizes legislators annually at the conclusion of the legislative session and the release of its legislative scorecard, where Tanner received an A plus rating.

Senator Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, was awarded the chamber’s Senate Legislator of the Year award.

Tanner, R-Dawsonville, was chosen for his work on House Bill 930, which passed the general assembly this year and was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal in May. The bill establishes a new regional governance structure for transit in the metropolitan region.

“I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks to the Georgia Chamber for this honorable recognition,” Tanner said. “Georgia is the No. 1 state for business in the nation, but in order to keep this prestigious title, we must improve and grow our state’s transportation system and provide Georgia’s businesses with the connectivity needed to thrive. Locally, approximately 58 percent of the citizens in House district 9 commute to the metro Atlanta area for work, and I am proud that this legislation will offer a positive benefit for those commuters.

“I’d like to thank Speaker Ralston, House leadership and my colleagues in the General Assembly for their overwhelming support of this monumental legislation, and I’m thankful to the Georgia Chamber for this award,” he continued.

State Rep. Dan Gasaway (R-Homer) has filed suit alleging voters were given incorrect ballots in his election, according to the AJC.

State Rep. Dan Gasaway, R-Homer, filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that at least 67 votes — the margin of his defeat in the Republican primary — were cast on ballots that listed state House districts that didn’t match the districts where they live.

Gasaway lost re-election during the May 22 primary to Chris Erwin, a business director for a construction company and a former Banks County schools superintendent.

No Democratic Party candidate is running in the race, so the winner of the Republican primary will fill the House seat.

Some voters in Gasaway’s House District 28 incorrectly received ballots for House District 10, where state Rep. Terry Rogers ran unopposed in the Republican primary, according to the lawsuit. Other voters in Rogers’ district were able to vote for or against Gasaway.

Gasaway used a map to plot the location of voters who received ballots that didn’t match their street addresses, the lawsuit says. Gasaway compared addresses with a list of voters to identify 350 registered voters in Habersham County who had been assigned to an incorrect House district.

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