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


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

James Oglethorpe arrived at Augusta on September 12, 1739, 279 years ago today.

French troops arrived near Savannah to prepare for a siege against British forces there on September 12, 1779.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Entrepreneur Don Panoz has died, according to Jalopnik.

Panoz was instrumental to the growth of American sports car and open wheel racing over the course of the last 20 years, having founded the American Le Mans Series in 1998. While the sport was desperate for leadership in the late ‘90s, Don stepped up to the table and created a path forward.

Don’s early successes were found in the pharmaceuticals industry, where he got his start operating a pair of drug stores in the Pittsburgh area. He later started Milan Pharmaceuticals with Milan Puskar in 1961. While heading a research group at Milan, he developed a transdermal method of time-release medication with myriad uses. When the company refused to invest in the technology, he moved to Ireland to start his own company for the purpose of developing and distributing his invention, the nicotine patch.

Panoz is survived by his wife Nancy; sons Dan and Chris; daughters Donna, Dena, Lisa, and Andrea, as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Panoz was also the founder of Chateau Elan.

Steve Foster, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 14th district, was denied bond while he appeals his DUI conviction, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Foster, who is the Democratic candidate for the 14th Congressional seat currently held by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, could be heard saying “waste of time” as he was escorted out the courtroom by Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies. He did not address Morris.

Foster was sentenced on Aug. 14 to six months to serve in jail and six months on probation after a jury found him guilty of DUI in September of 2017. In video and audio of the arrest released after the trial, Foster rambles and rants through the arrest, a trip to the hospital and eventual booking into the Whitfield County jail.

With Morris’ ruling, it is now more than likely that Foster will be in the custody of the Catoosa County jail on the Nov. 6 Election Day. Because Foster’s conviction is a misdemeanor offense, Foster remains on the ballot as state law says only a felony conviction would bar him from being on the ballot. Foster says he will not drop out of the race.

The Augusta Chronicle discusses five Constitutional Amendments and two statewide referendums on November’s ballot.

The first amendment creates the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund, to which up to 80 percent of sales taxes collected at sporting goods stores, including gun stores, would be redirected.

The second amendment creates a “state-wide business court” with statewide jurisdiction in an effort to streamline and improve handling of business cases.

The third amendment changes the rules for assessing the value of forest land for property tax purposes and allows the state revenue commissioner to collect up to five percent of forest conservation grants to cover certain costs.

The fifth amendment affects counties with more than one school system and allows the system with the most students to call for a sales tax referendum to fund school construction without getting approval from the smaller system.

Brian Kemp (R) and Stacey Abrams (D) will meet in two gubernatorial debates, according to the Associated Press.

Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams announced Tuesday that they will meet Oct. 23 in a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club and broadcast by Georgia Public Broadcasting. They will follow that with a Nov. 4 debate broadcast by WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Marty Kemp, wife of Republican candidate Brian Kemp, spoke in Troup County yesterday, according to the LaGrange Daily News.

“If all of y’all go out there and challenge four people, I think it will be done,” Kemp said.

Kemp said she and her husband are visiting every county. Kemp also encouraged everyone in attendance to volunteer, whether that meant making signs or phone calls.

“We will visit every county, see every group, every neighborhood, anywhere y’all want us to go and see individuals,” Kemp said. “Our biggest thing is to get the vote out. We’ve got to get everybody out and all the way down the ticket. We’ve got to start from the top and go all the way down. Don’t forget about the smaller races because every race is just critical right now.”

A Congressional spending plan would devote $49 million to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, according to the AJC.

A group of House and Senate negotiators unveiled a $147.5 billion spending bill on Monday evening that sets aside $49 million in new federal money for the dredging project.

Work to deepen the harbor from 42 to 47 feet hit its midpoint earlier this year, with full completion expected in late 2021. The nearly $1 billion venture will allow the port to accommodate larger cargo ships from the recently-expanded Panama Canal, which boosters say would be a major economic boon to the region.

The state has already committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the project, but the nearly $680 million in previously-promised federal funds have been slower to come. A breakthrough came in June, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it was setting aside a record $85 million for the project in its 2018 work plan.

“Clearly [the port expansion] , with the highest [return on investment] of any project of its type, should be strongly considered for further investment to ensure timely completion,” said Jamie McCurry, chief administrative officer for the Georgia Ports Authority.

“I will continue fighting for additional federal support and working to ensure President Trump, the administration and the Corps again realize the critical importance of this project,” said Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, whose U.S. House district includes the port.

Rome City Commissioners are considering how to serve an increasingly bilingual population, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Mosaic report found Latinos account for the majority of the city’s growth since 1990 and now make up 16 percent of the population. Estimates are that a tenth of Rome’s residents are foreign-born and about 7 percent have limited English proficiency.

Community Development Director Bekki Fox said more federal programs are requiring bilingual documents, and the state wants to see a communication plan. She also said there’s a need for more Spanish-speaking employees — giving as example a recent case where parents applying to buy one of the city’s HOMEBuild affordable houses relied on their child to translate mortgage details.

“I think, not just for our department, it has to be an issue for the police department, the water department and others,” Fox said.

“The challenge to the city of Rome is, we represent all populations — even those who are generally not heard,” Mayor Jamie Doss said.

Gwinnett County is seeing increasing multifamily development, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Interest from developers in doing multifamily housing projects in Gwinnett has been on the rise in recent years, just as urbanization projects centered around activity hubs begins to take off in the county.

“I think there’s a bit more appetite from the leadership standpoint, the elected leadership standpoint, as long as they’re in the right place,” Warbington said. “Being near major transportation corridors or the Mall of Georgia, Infinite Energy Center, downtown Duluth or downtown Lawrenceville — being near activity centers.

“I think developers have seen that density is not a bad word around activity center and I think that’s kind of what you’re seeing with most of these multifamily (projects).”

One of the trends going in Gwinnett County right now is dense urbanized development around or near activity centers, such as the Infinite Energy Center, the Lawrenceville Lawn, downtown Duluth, Suwanee Town Center, the Mall of Georgia, Sugarloaf Mills and Gwinnett Place Mall.

Some of the projects have gotten a lot of publicity, such as North American Properties’ Revel development at Infinite Energy Center or Lawrenceville’s SouthLawn development.

Glynn County has issued a health advisory to avoid going in the water at a St Simons Island beach because of bacteria levels, according to the Brunswick News.

Augusta Commissioners discussed ambulance fees and garbage service, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Public Safety Committee approved charging $1,150 to transport someone and $16.50 a mile on top of that. Those treated at the scene and not transported would be charged $200. Augusta Fire Chief Chris James said research showed that the fees of other companies were “considerably higher.” Those charges would apply regardless of whether Augusta becomes the designated provider in ambulances his department is already running.

Any subcontractor that’s part of Augusta’s bid would also have to use the fee system. James said the city would use a billing service but wouldn’t send those who cannot pay to a collection agency and not back bill if insurance companies do not pay the whole bill. The service would also accept whatever charges Medicare and Medicaid pay.

The City of Brunswick and Glynn County will now send two separate tax bills to property owners, according to The Brunswick News.

City bills will be sent Monday, while county officials said their bills will go out Friday.

“We want to make sure people understand they’ll get two bills,” Edwards said Tuesday. “They can’t pick and choose — one is for the city and one is for the county.”

The dual bills are a new development. City commissioners voted in December 2017 to sever ties with the Glynn County Tax Commissioner and hire an in-house city tax collector. It is the first time in about 15 years the city has collected its own taxes.

City tax bills must be paid within 60 days of the mailing. After that, the debt will begin accruing interest at a rate of 0.075 percent. Partial payments are not allowed; debt must be paid in full.

Jim Drumm, city manager, has previously told The News in-house collections will save the city about $50,000 annually.

The Macon Water Authority held a ceremony to start a $40 million dollar waste water project, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The City of Big Brother Senoia is deploying a new camera system that integrates body cams and car cams, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Nydia Tisdale will appeal her conviction for obstruction to the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Gainesville Times.

Four years after her arrest at a campaign rally and nine months after she was found guilty of misdemeanor obstruction of an officer, Nydia Tisdale plans to appeal after her motion for a new trial was denied by a Dawson County Superior Court judge.

The self-proclaimed citizen journalist was sentenced Dec. 18 to serve 12 months of probation, 40 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine for her August 2014 altercation with a Dawson County law enforcement officer.

Tisdale was sentenced under Georgia’s First Time Offenders Act, meaning if she completes the sentence without issue, her record would be cleared.

Tisdale was found not guilty of felony obstruction of an officer and misdemeanor criminal trespass. The charges stemmed from her forced removal from Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville at a Aug. 23, 2014, Republican Party campaign rally attended by statewide officeholders including Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

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