Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 1, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 1, 2018

Original Communist (O.C.) Karl Marx published Das Kapital on October 1, 1867.

Voters in the state of Washington adopted the state constitution on October 1, 1889.

The first World Series of baseball opened on October 1, 1903.

On October 1, 1908, Ford introduced the Model T.

Former President Jimmy Carter was born on October 1, 1924 at Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, the first American President to be born in a hospital.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the 21st time beginning on October 1, 1931.

In a Special Election October 1, 1940, Florence Gibbs became the first woman elected to Congress from Georgia, completing her late husband’s term and serving through January 3, 1941, but no standing for a full term of her own.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

The Carter Center in Atlanta was dedicated on October 1, 1986.

Mikhail Gorbachev named himself Chairman of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet on October 1, 1988.

President George H.W. Bush condemned Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait in a speech to the United Nations on October 1, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Democratic Party of Georgia trolled Republican Brian Kemp at the UGA game on Saturday, according to the AJC Political Insider.

There, in the clouds above Athens, was a plane towing a banner reading “@BrianKemp says … Go Vols” as tens of thousands of fans tailgated ahead of the Bulldogs rout of Tennessee.

“I only read the first part of that,” Kemp said Saturday, returning to his stump speech as someone in the crowd mocked the sign as “fraudulent advertising!”

The stunt was pulled off by the Democratic Party of Georgia, which aimed to get under Kemp’s skin as he races for governor against Stacey Abrams.

But fans who went to the Twitter handle @BrianKemp featured on the plane-towed banner found a spoof account with a photo-shopped picture of him decked out in Tennessee gear and critiques of his policy platforms. (His official campaign account is @BrianKempGA.)

It’s not the first time Democrats have hijacked Kemp’s name. A visit to BrianKemp.com will direct you to Abrams’ campaign website; a California public relations executive by the same name has routed all traffic to Abrams for months.

First Lady Sandra Deal read to students at  J.D. Davis Elementary, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia has denied payment for emergency room visits by hundreds of Georgians, according to the AJC.

“No prudent person who has in mind the best interest of the patient reviewed any of these charts or they would not have denied a single one of them,” said Dr. Chip Pettigrew, a member of the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians, who read the list.

He was speaking to a committee that the state House of Representatives formed to study the issue of surprise billing in emergency rooms.

“We’ve got families paying $1,600 for premiums,” said the committee’s chairman, state Rep. David Knight, R-Griffin. “They’re seeing higher deductibles and a higher co-pay. My concern with this policy is we’re seeing on the back end, sort of in hindsight, the delay or denial of a benefit that the insured paid for and believed that they were entitled to.”

“Anthem’s Emergency Department Review aims to reduce the trend in recent years of inappropriate use of EDs (emergency rooms) for non-emergencies,” it said. “If a consumer reasonably believes that he or she is experiencing an emergency medical condition, then they should always call 911 or go to the ED. But for non-emergency health care needs, EDs are often a time-consuming place to receive care and in many instances 10 times higher in cost than urgent care.”

The Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Recovery Center in Gainesville aims to support people recovering from opioid addiction, according to the Gainesville Times.

“I really believe if Jeffrey had had this type of organization available to him at that time, that he would most likely still be with us today. I just see it as being such an important component of stopping the relapse and reducing the relapse rate,” Dallas Gay said.

According to a 2016 article in the Journal of Addiction, the relapse rate after detoxification from opioids “ranges from 72 to 88 percent after 12 to 36 months.” Of those that relapsed in the study, more than 61 percent had been using for more than three years.

Deb Bailey, government affairs executive director for Northeast Georgia Health System, said the Georgia General Assembly budgeted $4 million for recovery community organizations. The behavioral health department awarded 16 grants, including one to the Gainesville/Hall community, in September.

“It was their goal to basically … partner with communities that have established both interest and motivation to do something around the opioid epidemic and addiction problems that we have in our community,” Bailey said.

The recovery community organization is not a treatment center, but a collection of services that Bailey said will help create an environment “conducive to recovery in mind, body and spirit.”

Bailey said the recovery center could be the missing piece in the Northeast Georgia area, a way of “shepherding these people into a true opportunity to recover.”

The Gainesville Times looks at the education proposals of candidates for Governor.

Chris Whalen, a professor at the University of Georgia, will track the spread of infectious diseases using cellphone records, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

Researchers at the University of Georgia have received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to understand the local epidemiology of TB in African urban settings and help these communities develop targeted interventions to reduce transmission.

Led by physician and epidemiologist Christopher Whalen at UGA’s College of Public Health, the team will estimate where TB is being transmitted by combining information about patient movement with genetic information from the bacteria itself. Understanding where transmission is happening is the key to effective control, said Whalen.

From 2012 to 2017, Whalen conducted a study to track how TB moves within communities, but his findings were perplexing. The infection didn’t seem to spread within known social networks. That begged the question, where is transmission occurring?

“Then it dawned on me,” said Whalen. “Everyone is carrying a cellphone. By using archived cellphone records, we would be able to map where TB cases move and measure how much time they spent in different places.”

Whalen’s team collected preliminary data using cellphone records from 15 TB patients, and they found that these patients tended to go to the same spots.

“There are hot spots, or places where TB patients spend a lot of time. With this information, you can target areas with the usual community control strategies, such as TB screening, active case finding, and education. If you collect this cellphone information going forward, you’ll be able to see if your control strategies worked,” explained Whalen.

Gwinnett County Public Schools dedicated the Paul Duke STEM High School this weekend, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Paul Duke STEM is not only unique in its curriculum and focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics but also who it is named after.

GCPS superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said the naming of the school is fitting because of the opportunities it will afford current and future students.

“This will allow students in the coming years to future their education and enter the workforce with a STEM education,” Wilbanks said. “We pay tribute to the Paul Duke family for allowing us to use the name of a man that will inspire thousands of students to become all they can be and perhaps become a visionary.”

Paul Duke passed away in 2009, but his impact is still felt today in the development of Peachtree Corners. A Georgia Tech graduate, Duke is known as the “Father of Peachtree Corners,” for his development on Technology Park.

“Today we recognize yet another dimension of Paul Duke’s vision,” GCPS school board member Mary Kay Murphy said. “It is a school developed with the community in mind, true to its Technology Park roots and role of innovation and job creation.”

Richmond County Public Schools is rolling out a program that will eventually provide computers to all students, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“It really takes down the walls of the classroom and provides instant access to information for students,” said Shelly Allen, the system’s director of curriculum and instruction.

The computers were given to students in third through eighth grade to be used at school and home, while pre-K through second-grade students will have devices to use at school only. Students who take the computers home are responsible for damage or misplacement.

School counselor Shea Beasley said that in the past, some students had to use computers at the public library to complete assignments if they did not have internet access or a computer at home because of the cost. With the need for computers growing every day, the new devices will help those students bridge the digital divide.

Allen said the digital versions [of textbooks] will be more cost effective for the county as the program is unveiled at additional schools. She estimates each student in Richmond County receives five to seven textbooks each year at an expense of $170 to $200 each. The tablets have the ability to hold all of those textbooks, along with access to the internet and learning apps for additional instruction.

Growth in Augusta is causing increasing traffic problems, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Gainesville property owners will receive tax bills this week, according to AccessWDUN.

Jack Padgett and A.K. Hasan will meet in the General Election for Richmond County Board of Education District 6, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With no major challenges over the past three elections, Padgett has retained the District 6 school board seat, despite the district’s “swing” status derived from having a growing majority of black voters. Augusta voters elected the district’s first black commissioner, Ben Hasan, in 2014, and electing his younger brother A.K. Hasan to the school board could end the current 5-5 balance of white and black trustees on the board.

Sharpsburg Mayor and City Council candidates spoke in a pair of forums last week, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Polly Garlington and Blue Cole are running for the mayor’s post. Longtime mayor Wendell Staley resigned earlier this year for health reasons, and passed away in July.

Celene Davenport and Tom Teagle are the candidates for the council post previously held by Garlington.

Newnan City Council District 1 candidates spoke to voters about their campaigns, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Greg Heller, Walter Krauth and Paul Guillaume are running for the District 1, Post A seat that was vacated by Clayton Hicks when he resigned earlier this year to move to Florida.

The City of Columbus is considering how to reduce the amount of trash left after evictions, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman said deputies conduct 5,800 to about 6,000 evictions or dispossessory proceedings every year. Some people rent a place, live there three months and leave. “You have some people that just play the system,” he said.

Under the law, Countryman said household items are placed on the right of way but deputies make sure clothes and other loose items aren’t dropped on the right of way but neatly placed in bags. When the deputies leave, everything is piled up but items don’t remain that way.

“It’s considered abandoned property. People go through it and that’s what causing that,” he said of the littering. “We make sure they put it down neatly and secure. It has to be in a bag.”

In some neighborhoods, deputies are trailed by drivers in U-Haul trucks to scavenge items from the curb. Deputies who watch workers clearing the property have seen fur coats, new Nike sneakers, big screen TVs and other valuable items on the curb.

Gloria Weston-Smart, executive director of the Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission, said the city of Albany, Ga., requires a roll off container to store items during evictions. To get a program in Columbus, she doesn’t know whether the city can get donated containers or would have to purchase them but the property owner would be responsible for the item.

The Macon Telegraph looks at how title loans may extend the cycle of poverty.

With rollbacks of consumer protections being talked about in Washington, the working poor could become a softer target.

Title-pawn shops are highly concentrated in the poorer neighborhoods near Robins Air Force Base and near Fort Benning.

“It’s an abundance of them over here,” said Alice Womack, a thrift-store clerk in Warner Robins, who added that, thanks to “being raised right by my mama,” she knew not to borrow against her car.

Still, Womack was surprised to find, upon the death of her husband in 2012, that he’d borrowed against his car without telling her. On top of being a grieving widow, she was faced with having to buy back the car from a title-pawn company.

In 2004, Georgia, banned so-called payday loans, where lenders offer high-cost, short-term loans in exchange for getting dibs on a borrower’s next paycheck.

Yet it is one of 22 states to allow title-pawn operations with triple-digit annual interest rates. Three of the top national title-pawn companies are headquartered in Georgia — TMX Finance, Select Management Resources and Community Loans of America.

Savannah is considering expanding its use of red light cameras, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Drivers caught by the cameras running red lights are issued $70 citations, although no points are placed against the driver’s license. In 2017, the city collected $727,880 in revenue from the fines.

The city pays Redflex Traffic Systems $166,800 annually to provide the photo enforcement software and system maintenance under a contract that the city council renewed on Aug. 30 for another two years. The city has contracted with Redflex for the service since the city began operating the first camera in late October 2003 at Abercorn’s intersection with White Bluff Road.

“The goal was to modify driver behavior,” said Stephen Henry, traffic engineering administrator with the city. “When people are aware there is a camera in place, they won’t take the chances they might have.”

The cameras have reduced the number of right-angle crashes — the most severe crashes associated with red-light running — with some intersections experiencing decreases by more than half, according to city officials. For Abercorn and White Bluff, the city reported that the average number of right-angle crashes each year has dropped from 11 to 4.4 since the cameras were installed. However, city staff say they are not sure it would be appropriate to install any more systems.

“We don’t want red-light cameras to be the solution for every intersection,” said city spokesperson Michelle Gavin. “The intention is to make the intersection safe, and we need to look at all avenues to figure out what we need to do.”

Savannah‘s decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana has reduced the number of people jailed, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In the first 50 days of Savannah’s new marijuana ordinance, 43 people received citations for possessing less than an ounce of weed.

The ordinance changed a few things. Weed is still illegal, but first-time offenders — at the discretion of the officer who caught them — found within the city of Savannah for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana can now be issued a $150 citation rather than be arrested.

For police, the ordinance aims to cut down on the time officers spend on small drug offenses. Prior to the ordinance, finding even a small amount of marijuana meant officers must arrest, process and transport the suspect.

“The ordinance itself is something that you’re seeing being done by communities and police departments all over the country,” Savannah’s Director of Police Roy Minter said. “That is, looking at something that’s having a significant impact on the workload of our law enforcement professionals and seeing: Is that something that really needs to be addressed that aggressively by law enforcement?”

Camden County’s proposed Spaceport is under fire from opponents, according to The Brunswick Times.

Opponents of a proposed spaceport expressed their concerns about how launches could impact them during a public meeting Thursday in Kingsland.

Most of the opponents who spoke at the meeting lived on Little Cumberland Island, Cumberland Island or were charter boat captains from Glynn County.

Steve Weinkle, of Camden County, criticized the Coast Guard for not providing adequate notice of the public meeting. He questioned how Coast Guard could be trusted to give adequate notice of a safety zone.

Little Cumberland Island resident Jackie Eichorn said the proposed safety zone is for a private enterprise and described it as “an exclusion zone.”

If an accident happens during a launch, she said some areas could become a “dead zone that will alter the area forever.”

Little Cumberland Island resident Jackie Eichorn said the proposed safety zone is for a private enterprise and described it as “an exclusion zone.”

If an accident happens during a launch, she said some areas could become a “dead zone that will alter the area forever.”

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