Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2019

May 3d is National Widow’s Day.

Georgia delegates convened in Augusta on May 4, 1789 to approve a new state Constitution and consider amendments.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

One year and one day after General Sherman began the Atlanta campaign, on May 4, 1865, Atlanta surrendered. On the same day, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia and into the Wilderness. The Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, between the Army of the Potomac, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

One year after that, on May 4, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet convened in the old Georgia State Bank Building, which was located at the site of the present-day Wilkes County Courthouse in Washington, Georgia.

On May 5, 1886, Jefferson Davis attended a public reception at Savannah, Georgia’s City Hall.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young threw a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers on May 5, 1904.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, making a 15 minute sub-orbital flight that reached an altitude of 115 miles, during which he experienced about five minutes of ‘weightlessness.’ He was launched in the 2,000-lb. capsule Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida… The flight traveled 302 miles at a speed relative to the ground of 4,500 mph. The mission was named Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7.

On May 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played a show at Georgia Southern.

The British band played in Hanner Fieldhouse to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 people, according to a retrospective by Jim Hilliard in the Statesboro Herald. The gym’s capacity was about 1,500.

Hilliard said organizers figured they could sell 1,800 tickets at $2.50 each, which would be enough to pay the band and have some money left over for expenses.

The Stones had played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday, May 2, and advance ticket sales were brisk the Monday and during lunch Tuesday, the day of the concert.

Hilliard said he signed the contract booking the Stones on behalf of Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity. The contract called for the new fraternity to pay the band $3,000 for the appearance. Hilliard said he got a $1,500 loan from First Bulloch Bank to make the deal happen.

The Stones were expected to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play for at least an hour, but Hilliard had lined up three front bands, and “it proved to be a fatal flaw in plans for the concert,” he said in his retrospective.

The noise was deafening as the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — hit the stage nearly an hour late.

Jagger and the other band members were “openly hostile” at having to wait so long to play.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard members shot into a crowd of protesting students, killing four and wounding nine others on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

On May 4, 2003, I married Mrs. GaPundit. Saturday would have been our 16th Anniversary. May the Fourth be with you, my love. The Leia to my Luke Han.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission sent Governor Brian Kemp short lists for three vacancies, according to the Daily Report.

Nominees are now on the governor’s desk to fill vacancies in the Coweta, Macon and Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Courts. They could become some of the governor’s first judicial appointments since taking office in January.

The Coweta Judicial Circuit vacancy was created by the resignation of Judge Jack Kirby. Kirby retired at the end of January after a 40-year legal career. He was appointed to the Superior Court in 2006.

The Macon Judicial Circuit opening comes from the resignation of Judge Edgar W. Ennis Jr. He also retired at the end of January after 11 years in that job and 44 years of law practice.

The Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit spot will fill the seat of Judge Gail Flake. In 1993, then-Gov. Zell Miller appointed her to that post. Flake is retiring from the bench after a 42-year legal career.

Jill Biden, a potential First Lady, will speak in Dunwoody on May 15, according to the Reporter Newspapers.

House Bill 12 by State Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) will require schools to post a number for reporting bullying, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

“These horrific things are happening, and we’ve just got to take a stand and we’ve got to stop them,” Williams said Thursday.

“It’s just encouraging people to speak up, take a stand and be alert, and if you see something, say something,” he said.

The bill stalled in the Senate last year but sailed through the General Assembly this year. The sign will include the 24-hour phone number for the state Division of Family and Children Services.

Senate Bill 48 by State Senator P.K. Martin, mandates dyslexia screenings in public schools, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp has signed off on a measure that requires new teachers to be trained how to spot signs of dyslexia and mandates that – eventually – all kindergartners will be screened for the language disorder.

“Today is a great day. It’s a day that we finally acknowledge dyslexia in our Georgia code,” said state Sen. P.K. Martin, a Republican from Lawrenceville, speaking at a bill-signing event held Thursday at the Wheeler High School library in Marietta.

“From this day forward, we will begin the process of making sure that all students receive the tools that they need to succeed,” Martin said.

Tina Engberg, who is the state leader for the parent advocacy group Decoding Dyslexia Georgia, which was formed in 2013, said she was elated to see years of hard work at the state Capitol culminate with the bill’s signing.

“We’re the parents who know our children are dyslexic,” said Engberg, whose teenage son is dyslexic. “There are vast numbers of people who don’t yet know that about their child, and this is why (the bill) is so important.”

Between 190,000 to 380,000 Georgia students likely struggle with dyslexia, according to the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr spoke to the Albany Herald.

Before speaking at a joint meeting sponsored by the Albany Rotary Club on Thursday, Carr talked with The Albany Herald about the state and national opioid crisis, about Georgia’s gang problem, about storm recovery in southwest Georgia and about his decision to include Georgia in a multistate lawsuit to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional and therefore stricken from national law.

“There are two ways you can deal with the gang problem we face in Georgia,” a slimmed-down Carr said over a cup of coffee at Elements Coffee in Albany. “You can acknowledge there is a problem and deal with it, or you can pretend it’s not a problem and things will get worse.”

“Fortunately, Gov. Kemp appointed Vic Reynolds of the GBI to head a statewide task force charged with tackling this issue. He couldn’t have selected a better man for the job. And, already, there’s buy-in from three U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the GBI, Corrections, Justice, sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys. They’re all saying, ‘Let’s talk.’ That’s a big step.”

Talking about the human trafficking issue that he says is “much more widespread than people think,” Carr said both the federal and state governments are taking steps to halt the “despicable act” of luring children and teens into the sex trade using drugs and other means. The attorney general said almost 800 youngsters from 135 to 140 counties in the state were taken for the purpose of human trafficking last year.

“People can talk about First Amendment rights all they want — and I’m a big First Amendment guy — but I don’t think selling children for sex falls under the First Amendment of the Constitution in any way or form,” he said.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter may run for reelection as a Democrat in 2020, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter pledged Thursday to run for reelection next year for one final term as the county’s top prosecutor.

Whether he’ll do that as a Republican — which he has done every time he’s run since he was first elected in 1992 — or flip parties and run as a Democrat remains to be seen. As Gwinnett’s political demographics change, he’s not ruling out either party for his run in 2020.

“I have things that I want to do over the next five years and if I’m going to run, I’m going to run where I feel I have the highest chance of success because I don’t know the difference between a Democratic prosecutor and a Republican prosecutor,” Porter said.

“I think if a prosecutor changes because they’re either a Republican or a Democrat, then they’re not doing their job. The other thing is I haven’t had opposition since 1992, so I’m going to have to learn again how to run a political race so if I talk to people I trust and we think our best chance is switch parties, then that’s what I’ll do.”

 

WABE‘s Emma Hurt looks at the toll in Southwest Georgia from stalled federal disaster funding.

This week a group of Southeastern Senators, including Georgia’s renewed efforts to pass a federal disaster relief package. For months it’s been stalled in a partisan debate over how much money should be included for Puerto Rico.

In Southwest Georgia, farmers have been waiting for the aid since October, when Hurricane Michael devastated the region.

Garet Franklin owns a Ford dealership in town, and it’s also clear to him agriculture runs this local economy: “There’s me, the hospital and a huge peanut mill. And that’s the economy here. And the hospital’s full of farmers, I sell to the farmers, and the farmers are what allow the peanut company to exist.”

And the farmers have taken a big hit in Southwest Georgia. Hurricane Michael was a category five storm that brought 150 mile per hour winds and destroyed $2.5 billion worth of crops in the state last fall.

Georgia has already lost its top pecan-producing state status to New Mexico, with no quick way to get it back. Pecan trees take a decade to mature.

Steve Singletary is chairman of the Bank of Early in Blakely and runs his family’s farm too. He said if there’s not a good crop this year, it’ll get even worse.

“Everybody’s tied to agriculture. Now that may not be your business but that’s what’s furnishing the money flowing around town, is agriculture,” he said. “And when it’s hurt, everybody hurts.”

The City of Atlanta could allow residents some say in up to 2% of city spending, according to the AJC.

Under the proposal being developed, residents could cast votes to determine how up to 2% of the city’s annual budget — roughly $13 million currently — is spent. The program is modeled after similar ones in Seattle, New York, and Durham, N.C.

At a work session Tuesday, Councilman Amir Farokhi said he proposed it to build trust in City Hall, which has been the center of a federal corruption investigation since January 2017.

Emory Healthcare will spend $1 billion dollars developing health facilities in Executive Park, in the City of Brookhaven, according to Georgia Health News.

Emory University announced Thursday that it’s planning a $1 billion development for Executive Park, which would include a 140-bed hospital.

That facility would focus on orthopedics, according to an article in the Reporter Newspapers. It would not have an emergency room.

The planned “live-work-play health innovation district” would take 15 years to build, Emory said. It would be across the street from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s massive health care project, which includes a $1.3 billion hospital, expected to open in 2025.

After adding DeKalb Medical Center last year, Emory currently operates 11 hospitals. Experts say the new hospital would require a certificate of need from the state in order to be built.

From the Brookhaven Reporter:

The Executive Park site is across the street from a massive new Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta medical complex under construction. Emory already operates several medical offices in Executive Park, including a joint medical and training facility with the Atlanta Hawks basketball team that opened in 2017.

Rezoning plans for the property at North Druid Hills and I-85 were filed May 1 with the city of Brookhaven. If all goes well, construction of a new Musculoskeletal Center building as part of Emory’s existing Orthopaedics & Spine Center could begin this fall, according to Robin Morey, Vice President and Chief Planning Officer for Emory University.

CHOA’s 70-acre medical campus across the street will include a $1.3 billion hospital. The two healthcare campuses will “bookend” each other, Morey said, and the location of both near the interstate makes it ideal for patients having to visit from throughout the state.

North Druid Hills Road traffic is already a concern for anyone who lives and drives in the area. Morey said building out medical offices and a hospital rather than retail at Executive Park would result in fewer cars.

Emory officials say they will be making road improvements within Executive Park to provide easy access from the North Druid Hills corridor in and out of the site and with the addition of roundabouts that will facilitate on-site traffic operation while discouraging cut through traffic to Sheridan Road. Emory is also working with CHOA to align their main entrances.

The city of Brookhaven recently purchased 1.5 acres of an unused parking lot on Buford Highway with future plans for the Georgia Department of Transportation to build a bridge over I-85 and into Executive Park. The city says the new bridge would provide a second entryway into southern Brookhaven and would relieve some of the traffic on North Druid Hills Road.

Middle Georgia tourism generates more than $6 billion dollars in economic activity yearly, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Macon’s culture, history and musical heritage are the biggest tourism drivers of a diverse landscape, said Gary Wheat, president and CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

There are museums like the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Tubman Museum and the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Then there’s the history behind the Cannonball House and Hay House.

The top site in Macon is the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Monument which averages about 150,000 visitors a year. The park’s expansion is projected to increase that number by 30 percent, Wheat said.

A hotel-motel tax brought in nearly $4 million in Bibb County in 2017 and a combined $2.9 million for Warner Robins and Perry, according to figures from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Those taxes help fund convention and visitors bureaus and some tourist attractions throughout the state. There’s also a separate sales tax charged for each night stay that goes to local municipalities and the state.

Lee County Commissioners discussed the use of proceeds from a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax passed earlier this year by voters, according to the Albany Herald.

“This meeting was to budget that money and identify some projects, identify the desires of some of our commissioners and get ready to get moving as quickly as we can improving transportation in Lee County for our citizens and hopefully for future investment,” Commissioner Rick Muggridge said.

T-SPLOST will be collected for five years before having to be voted on again, and Muggridge said the extra tax collections would provide an estimated $3 million a year for transportation projects in the county.

Muggridge said that currently, the county has been spending about a million dollars a year, averaging around 8 miles a year of resurfaced roads and almost no paving of current dirt roads.

“This will be a real change for us,” Muggridge said. “This is pretty exciting times.”

Georgia Power will drain the last ash ponds at Plant Yates, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The dewatering process of Ash Pond 2 is set to begin in mid-May, according to Aaron Mitchell, general manager of environmental affairs for Georgia Power.

Draining the water out of the large pond is a major step in completing the ash pond closure on the Plant Yates property, located along the Chattahoochee River in northwest Coweta.

The water will be pumped into a water treatment plant that has been built adjacent to the pond. Once treated, it will be discharged into the river.

Once the pond is drained, the coal ash – known in regulations as coal combustion residuals, or “CCRs,” will be removed from the pond and placed in an unlined Ash Management Area on another part of the Plant Yates property.

Former Flowery Branch Council member Mary Jones has died, according to the Gainesville Times.

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