Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 9, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 9, 2018

Herman E. Talmadge was born on August 9, 1913, son of Eugene Talmadge, who later served as Governor. Herman Talmadge himself served as Governor and United States Senator from Georgia.

On August 9, 1988, President Ronald Reagan announced his nomination of Dr. Lauro Cavazos as Secretary of Education, succeeding William Bennett. Cavazos was the first Hispanic to serve in a Presidential Cabinet position. Interestingly, he was born on the King Ranch.

On August 9, 1990, voters in the City of Athens and Clarke County chose to unify the two governments into Athens-Clarke County government.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed former Gwinnett County Republican Party Chair Rachel Little and Loganville Mayor Rey Martinez to the Immigration Enforcement Review Board.

Gov. Deal also issued a press release on Plant Vogtle:

“I applaud the leadership of Paul Bowers in ensuring this critical infrastructure and economic development project continues,” said Deal. “Georgia Power has pledged that any new price increases with this change in budget will be covered by the company, and not consumers, and I applaud its continued adherence to that commitment. This is the only ongoing nuclear energy construction project in the country, and the first to earn a permit in more than three decades. I support the efforts of Georgia Power in ensuring our citizens have a long-term, sustainable energy source while creating thousands of jobs. I look forward to completion of Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4 and its continued impact on our economy and infrastructure.”

Georgia Power announced that the company will cover some additional costs in the Plant Vogtle project, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia Power officials announced Wednesday the company – not customers – will pay $700 million in additional capital cost increases for Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear plants. Customers, may, however, be on the hook for the $400 million balance of the revised project increase of $1.1 billion.

The revised costs follow a change in project management from Westinghouse to Southern Nuclear. Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in 2017. The total cost is now estimated at $8.4 billion.

Georgia Power officials said in a press release that a $400 million contingency cost “may be presented to the Georgia PSC for evaluation as and when appropriate in the future.”

First Lady Sandra Deal met with new mothers in Dalton, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Deal visited Hamilton Health Care System’s Turner Maternal & Infant Care Center on Tuesday, meeting with new mothers and staff. She talked about the importance of immunizations and safe sleeping for babies.

Deal spoke with Harris and Yudelaisys Pina Linares, who gave birth on Monday to son Dylan.

“I’ve been giving out immunization cards and visiting moms in the hospital for several years,” Deal said. “It’s hard to grow a baby for nine months, then have something happen.”

Deal said that’s why she talks to parents about the importance of taking care of their babies.

“I want moms to know once the baby comes how to take care of it,” she said. “We talk about immunizations, keeping the baby healthy and having regular baby visits so the doctor can see the baby and monitor their weight.”

Democrat Steven Foster, who is running for Congress against Rep. Tom Graves, is in the Whifield County jail after being convicted of DUI, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Foster was arrested for DUI, a misdemeanor, by the Dalton Police Department on Sept. 23, 2017. Sentencing before Judge Cindy Morris is set for Tuesday.

The clerk of court’s office said Foster was found guilty by a jury after 15 minutes of deliberation. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Baxter was the prosecutor and Richard Murray was Foster’s attorney. Murray did not immediately return a phone message left for him late Wednesday afternoon.

The Richmond County Board of Education is looking at accessibility of polling places, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said voters had raised concerns about four polling places after recent elections: the Augusta Aquatics Center, the Wallace Branch Library, Christenberry Fieldhouse and Crawford Avenue Baptist Church.

The elections board selects polling places based on location, accessibility, parking and available space, Bailey said. Poll workers are trained to provide assistive tools, and equipment such as doorbell buzzers is installed when needed to improve access, she said. Disabled voters also can go to the front of the line until 4:30 p.m., Bailey said.

Augusta’s Americans with Disabilities Act officer, Carole Burrowbridge, said a city study of polling place accessibility looked at whether polling places met ADA requirements – which do not apply to churches – or that pedestrian routes to the facilities exist. Some 35 city voting precincts vote at church sites.

Democrat Charlie Bailey campaigned for Attorney General in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Charlie Bailey is calling for law enforcement pay hikes and a statewide network to fight organized crime and gangs in his bid to be Georgia’s next attorney general.

Campaigning in Augusta on Wednesday, Bailey, 35, said he’ll be the first prosecutor to serve as the state’s attorney general in modern history and plans to go after the forces that keep hardworking Georgians down.

“They come in the form of organized crime and gangs,” he said. “They come in the form of special interests that exploit them, payday lenders and predatory debt collectors. They come in the form of fat-cat politicians that care more about their seat in government and protecting their special interest friends than they do about protecting the people.”

Bailey, a Democrat and native of Harris County, worked in the law firm of former Gov. Roy Barnes for four years after law school at the University of Georgia, then spent most of the past four years prosecuting organized crime and gangs for Fulton County District Attorney, he said.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash said a November 2018 transit referendum is no longer possible, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

At the heart of the tug-of-war over whether the referendum can be moved from its scheduled March 19 date to the Nov. 6 general election is the question of what state law allows. Democratic legislators in Gwinnett’s legislative delegation asserted county commissioners could move it as late as the beginning of October.

Nash said, however, that county attorneys have told commissioners that state law regarding publishing public notices for special elections must also be taken into account.

“(County attorneys) advised that, based on the special elections law, action by both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Elections to call the referendum and the publishing of a notice of the call in the newspaper had to be done at least 90 days in advance of the election date,” Nash said. “Thus, it is not possible now to call a referendum for November 2018.”

Washington Memorial Library in Macon will close August 16 due to commissioners’ failure to set a millage rate, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Middle Georgia Regional Library System posted on social media Wednesday that Washington Memorial, the main branch of the library system, will close Aug. 16 because of the lack of county funding. Three other Macon libraries have been closed since late July.

And reduction of force notices likely will be sent out by early next week to employees who work in the recreation and parks and beautification departments and at Bowden Golf Course, according to Chris Floore, assistant to the county manager for public affairs.

Commissioners will resume millage rate talks at noon Thursday as questions remain how some services could be impacted.

Brunswick City Commissioners are expected to maintain the same property tax millage rate for FY 2019, according to The Brunswick News.

City commissioners are set to vote on whether to adopt a millage rate of 13.219 mills, which is the same rate as last year.

If passed, taxpayers will only see an increase in property taxes if their property has been re-assessed at a higher value than last year.

Floyd County Public Schools may consider more school consolidations as enrollment declines, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“The need is clear,” said Superintendent Jeff Wilson, while addressing the school personnel in attendance. The school system needs fewer facilities, he said, because sustaining 19 schools is not feasible under a predicted enrollment drop of more than a 1,000 students over the coming years. And the decision comes down to keeping that many schools and cutting staff, or merging schools to keep staff aboard and teaching to lower class sizes, he said.

“We’re going to have to be very creative,” said Wilson, during his first board meeting of the school year, adding that teachers and administrators are the most important piece of a school system, not the configuration of schools.

The school system is down 144 students at the start of this school year as compared to early last school year, Wilson said. But what has dropped even more is the FTE — full-time equivalent — count, which incorporates student enrollment and the services needed by students to formulate QBE — quality basic education — funding from the state.

Overall enrollment is around 9,000, a total decline of 2,500 students from when it was at 11,500 students years ago. This enrollment decline represents millions less in funding that the school system receives, with an average of $8,000 in funding for each student.

Skidaway Island voters might not vote on incorporation this year as a legislative typo may require correction, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Skidaway Island residents may be getting an extra year to decide whether they want to form their own city, due to a typo in the enabling legislation that could exempt homeowners from property taxes.

Skidaway’s state lawmakers, Rep. Jesse Petrea and Sen. Ben Watson, have requested that the Chatham County Board of Elections postpone the referendum that was to be placed on this November’s ballot after the incorporation steering committee discovered the error in the proposed charter.

“We didn’t put in the exempted amount,” Watson said Wednesday. “That’s what it is.”

The lawmakers said the Georgia Office of Legislative Counsel confirmed that the legislature’s attorney made the error when drafting the bill and recommended the delay so that the bill can be corrected during the next legislative session.

Petrea and Watson requested that the referendum be postponed to an eligible election date in 2019, which Petrea said would likely be during the general election that fall.

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