Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 15, 2018

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 15, 2018

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capitol, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution too effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

GOP Slate Landscape

President Donald J. Trump will visit Georgia today to view hurricane damage, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The White House says President Donald Trump plans to visit Georgia on Monday to survey damage caused by Hurricane Michael.

Trump, who will also visit Florida, will be accompanied by first lady Melania Trump. The White House isn’t identifying areas the president will visit.

From the AJC:

Trump spoke with Gov. Nathan Deal on Saturday to discuss recovery efforts. The president “expressed his concerns and said the federal government is fully available and committed to helping state and local agencies,” the White House said.

“People have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I will be visiting both Florida and Georgia early next week. We are working very hard on every area and every state that was hit – we are with you!”

Trump declared a state of emergency in Georgia on Wednesday, a designation that allows the state to tap into federal money, debris removal and other services to supplement local cleanup and rebuilding efforts.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Black took an aerial tour of the damage earlier Sunday.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black met with farmers, according to the Cordele Dispatch.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black met with area farmers on Sunday afternoon at the Cordele Farmers

Sec. Perdue, a former two-term governor of Georgia, told those gathered at the market, “I don’t want to make false promises or get anyone’s hopes up. We are just now learning the extent of the damages and we want to hear your concerns.”

Expectations for area row crops and specialty commodities like pecans were good just 10 days ago. Many growers were looking at bumper crops for this year.

Now losses for some producers could reach as high as 85 percent.

Early voting begins today for the November 6 General Election, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

There are federal, state and local races on Coweta ballots, as well as several ballot questions, including five proposed constitutional amendments. Senoia voters will also decide whether or not to allow Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 11 a.m. instead of the current 12:30 p.m.

Absentee voting looks to be quite popular for this election – there has been a surge of absentee voting applications coming into the Coweta Voter Registration Office.

As of Friday afternoon, the office had already mailed out 1,818 absentee ballots – and gotten 693 returned, said Coweta Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins.

Two years ago at this time, for the presidential election, her office had received “maybe 600 applications at the most,” Scoggins said. For the May 2018 primary, there were fewer than 300 applications received by the start of early voting.

Scoggins thinks one reason for the dramatic increase in absentee ballot requests is that some organizations are sending applications to voters. The applications are pre-filled, and the voter only has to sign and mail it. “People think it looks official so they sign it and they send it in,” Scoggins said. Because multiple organizations are sending out the applications, some people may receive more than one. If more than one application is submitted, only one ballot will be mailed to an individual voter.

If you get an absentee ballot in the mail but prefer to vote in-person, simply bring the ballot with you to the early voting locations or to your polling place on election day. The absentee ballot will be canceled, and you can vote on the electronic voting machine.

From the Statesboro Herald:

In Bulloch County, the state and county ballot also includes a countywide referendum for a five-year extension of the existing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, expected to raise $62 million for projects of the county and the four towns. Statesboro, meanwhile, has a “Brunch Bill” referendum, on a separate city ballot, to move the start time that alcoholic drinks can be served in restaurants on Sundays up from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m.

But the statewide ballot presents five proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution and two statewide referendums. Some could have statewide impact, but two of the questions would have no direct effect in Bulloch and neighboring counties.

Beginning Monday, in-person early voting will be available statewide for 16 days, including 15 weekdays and one Saturday.

Governor Nathan Deal announced on Friday that the Technical College System of Georgia will create an Aviation Academy in Paulding County.

[T]he Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) will establish an Aviation Academy to operate at Silver Comet Field at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport. Chattahoochee Technical College will oversee operations and build a new facility to house the Aviation Academy, where students will train in aviation mechanics and maintenance.

“Here in the No. 1 state for business five times over, we are strategically building upon the economic assets that set us apart from other states and investing in academic resources to produce a highly skilled workforce,” said Deal. “With an investment of approximately $35 million, Chattahoochee Tech’s Aviation Academy at Silver Comet Field is yet another example of a partnership between the state and local levels creating a resource that will benefit both the economy of the local community and that of our entire state.

“Aviation industry leaders including Delta Air Lines, Gulfstream and Pratt & Whitney call Georgia home or have had major operations in our state for decades, and air traffic in Georgia continues to rapidly increase thanks to the world’s most-utilized airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. To remain a suitable home for employers such as these and to connect Georgians with high-paying, quality jobs, we are investing in aviation mechanics and maintenance training through TCSG, which has a proven record of success in providing specialized training.”

With the new facility at the Paulding County Northwest Atlanta Airport, Chattahoochee Tech will offer FAA-certified programs to earn an Aviation Maintenance Technician – Airframe technical certificate of credit (TCC), which allows a student to become certified in all parts of an aircraft except the engine, and the Aviation Maintenance Technician – Power Plant TCC, which certifies a student in all aspects of the engine of an aircraft. Additionally, Chattahoochee Tech will offer diplomas and associate of applied science degrees in Aviation Maintenance, both of which include airframe and power plant training. The HOPE Career Grant funds tuition for eligible students studying aviation through TCSG.

Deal was joined by TCSG Commissioner Matt Arthur, Chattahoochee Technical College President Dr. Ron Newcomb, Paulding County Commission Chairman Dave Carmichael, Paulding County commissioners and members of the Paulding County legislative delegation at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport for the announcement. Paulding County donated the land that will house the Aviation Academy.

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal visited her 900th school since Gov. Deal took office.

“My goal has been and continues to be encouraging children to want to learn to read,” said Mrs. Deal. “I plan to continue my visits to schools as long as I have the opportunity to serve and I hope to visit many of the schools I have not yet been to. Reading is the gift that keeps on giving and education is essential for any student to achieve lifelong success. Knowledge is power, and when we teach students to love reading at an early age, we give them the confidence to acquire that power for the rest of their lives.”

As a former teacher of 15 years in Georgia public schools, Mrs. Deal is dedicated to promoting statewide childhood literacy. In total, Mrs. Deal has completed 900 school visits in all 159 counties and all 181 public school districts during her time as Georgia’s first lady.

“Early in Gov. Deal’s administration, Mrs. Deal quickly set a high standard of work ethic among the staff,” said Chris Riley, Gov. Deal’s chief of staff. “As a passionate advocate for student achievement, Mrs. Deal cares for each of the students she meets and she has inspired countless young people to love reading. Come Jan. 14, 2019, I would not be surprised if Mrs. Deal has visited 1,000 schools across Georgia.”

When visiting a school, Mrs. Deal typically meets with the office staff, reads to a class of students, recognizes educators and discusses the importance of childhood literacy. From Oct. 1-5, Georgia observed Georgia Pre-K Week, during which time Mrs. Deal visited 24 schools. She has visited as many as eight schools in a single day.

Mrs. Deal is a co-chair of the Georgia Literacy Commission, which hosts a series of symposiums to examine and improve low literacy rates. She also plays a significant role in “Read Across Georgia Month” during March and has partnered with the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, an initiative that aims to have all of Georgia’s students reading on grade-level by the end of the third grade.

Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp fired back at Stacey Abrams over allegations of voter suppression, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Kemp campaign is returning fire with charges of a “manufactured … crisis” and a “publicity stunt” as early voting ramps up before one of the premier matchups nationally in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Abrams told CNN on Sunday that Kemp is “eroding the public trust” because his office has held up 53,000 new voter registration applications, questioning their legality under Georgia law. She’s called for Kemp to resign as chief elections officer.

Any voter with a legitimate state-issued ID who filled out the registration form by the deadline, he said, would have no problems, and he rejected any claims that a significant number of would-be voters might have to cast provisional ballots that ultimately aren’t counted.

Kemp discussed the 53,000 “pending” voter registration applications with the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“They should go rally all the 53,000 people and tell them to go vote because they can,” Kemp said. “All they’ve got to do is show their photo ID and they can vote.”

But Kemp disputed the claims that he is suppressing votes while he explained how the affected Georgia residents can cast ballots in the general election.

“First of all, it is a completely manufactured story,” Kemp said. “Every single one of those people can vote, just like you if you’re registered. They just … go down to the polling location, show their photo ID and they can vote. If you look back at about this time in 2016, and this time in 2014, these same groups did the same type things.”

Another issue Kemp answered questions about during his visit was the use of foreign language ballots. Gwinnett County is the only county in Georgia that is currently mandated by the federal government to provide election materials in English in Spanish.

The county has to provide the dual language materials, including registration forms and ballots, because the number of voters in the county whose primary language is Spanish reached a threshold set by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I believe that most of those folks that are citizens and that are voting can deal with the English-only ballot,” Kemp said. “If they can’t, they certainly need to be able to do that. You know, this is our country and they should be able to do that. I know that’s been frustrating but (Gwinnett) really didn’t have any choice because if they hadn’t done it, they would get sued.”

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Kemp stopped by Valdosta Sunday afternoon and called the story a “manufactured headline.”

He said his office is only following a state law passed in 2017 known as the “exact match” law. It requires information on a voter’s registration application to exactly match information on file with the Georgia driver’s license agency or the Social Security Administration.

“You know the only thing those people have to do to go vote? They just have to show up, show their photo ID and go vote,” Kemp said. “That’s what every other Georgian has to do. That’s state law, and for them to blame me is outrageous.”

Kemp redirected the blame back on Abrams’ canvassers, who go door to door registering people to vote.

He said her canvassers are not filling out the paperwork correctly, making it impossible for election officials to verify who they are, he said.

“She’s blaming me for a problem that she created,” Kemp said. “We had a record number of people on our voter rolls. I don’t think they mentioned that in their lawsuit.”

“This is a politically motivated, manufactured story, and we will prevail in court,” he said.

Democrat Stacey Abrams will speak in Statesboro on Tuesday, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is under fire over lawsuits over the family company she led, according to the AJC.

Current and former employees of the truck-hauling business headed by the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor are suing the company and a supervisor, alleging an environment of racial hostility.

Ten employees, all but one of them black, filed a lawsuit in April against yard supervisor Kevin Tumbleson, Auto Handling Corp. and Jack Cooper Transport Co. The Democratic nominee, Sarah Riggs Amico, is the executive chairwoman of Jack Cooper and touts her business experience in her campaign.

In the lawsuit, 10 current and former employees working at a company location in Indiana allege that Tumbleson and other supervisors and employees discriminated against black employees and promoted white employees more quickly.

“Mrs. Amico has based her campaign on her leadership of this company,” Duncan spokesman Dan McLagan said. “Employing an openly racist and sexist supervisor long after being sued over his behavior means she was either an incompetent leader, overstated her role, or she just didn’t care, none of which are acceptable.”

Joshua Silavent of the Gainesville Times looks at the complexity of school safety.

Law enforcement certainly doesn’t want to deter students from reporting potential threats or criminal activity, but there is a balance they must identify, as well.

“While the (Hall County) Sheriff’s Office takes reports of threats on social media seriously, it’s important for citizens to understand that rumors spread quickly on the platforms, whether accurate or not,” Derreck Booth, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, told The Times in a statement. “Of course, if students see a threat or other potential criminal activity on a social media platform, they’re urged to report it to their (school resource officer) and school officials.”

In the most recent incident, Schofield said, rumors morphed over the course of a few days into something unfounded. It was like a game of “telephone” where the story changes each time it’s told to someone new.

“Given the change in times, and the use of social media and technology, we’ve kind of adapted things to include (social media education),” said Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department. “The new generation has kind of grown up behind a screen name.”

The Sheriff’s Office also takes a proactive role in educating students about online behavior through a 10-week Internet safety and cyberbullying program for fifth-graders in the county’s elementary schools.

Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post looks at Constitutional Amendments on the November ballot.

Three amendments involve authorization for the state to create a business court, a trust fund designed to benefit parks, wildlife habitats and water quality, and a tax subclassification and grants to encourage working forest conservation and sustainability. Another amendment would establish rights for crime victims during the judicial process.

One other amendment would spell out new rules for how education special purpose local option sales tax referendums can be called and how the proceeds would be distributed in counties that have more than one school system.

Republican State Senator Ben Watson faced Democratic challenger Sandra Workman in a public forum, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Glynn County Board of Elections will meet tomorrow, according to The Brunswick News.

Gwinnett Republican Commissioners Lynette Howard and John Heard are addressing transportation issues in their reelection campaigns, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Howard said she is running for another term on the commission because there are several projects that she wants to finish. She sees water innovation as the biggest issue facing the county right now.

“We must address providing safe, clean water for 1 million people with minimum impact to our environment while dealing with the ever increasing influx of complex medications,” she said.

Howard pointed to the Water Innovation Center that county leaders broke ground on earlier this week as one way to address the issue, but water is not the only issue she believes the county must grapple with in the years to come.

She also pointed to integrated transportation as something that Gwinnett must address as it inches closer to becoming the state’s most populous county.

“We all need goods to move fluidly for business and for our consumers,” Howard said. “We have to get people to their jobs. We also have an independent elderly population that may not be confident to drive and needs a way to get groceries, be with friends or see a doctor.”

The City of Rome is considering banning pedestrians and bicyclists from the Veterans Memorial Parkway, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The City of Columbus has posted a job notice seeking a new Clerk of Council, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus Riverwalk‘s last two sections are nearing completion, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Some Tybee Island residents have raised safety concerns over a casino boat, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“My biggest concern is that that boat is going to hit that bridge. That boat is so big and that opening under the bridge is so small,” said Tybee resident Laura Schulz.

“After (Hurricane) Matthew and (Hurricane) Irma we couldn’t come back onto the island and no one could leave until the federal inspectors came to inspect the bridge and in both cases it was two to three days for the federal inspector to get here.”

Schulz is one of more than 790 people who have signed an online petition created on Moveon.org to protest the boat, which is owned by Cruises to Nowhere, LLC. On Thursday the residents submitted multiple pages of information, which outlined their concerns, to Tybee Island City Council. No votes were taken and there was no formal discussion from council members.

In August, representatives from Cruises to Nowhere petitioned the Tybee Planning Commission for approval of a site plan for a small office and parking spaces at 3 Old Highway 80 for the 135-foot boat to run off-shore gambling cruises. The item was tabled after the commission found that the plan was incomplete.

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