Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 7, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 7, 2019

On May 6, 1789, the Constitutional Convention in Augusta, Georgia adopted a new Georgia Constitution.

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

On May 7, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant disengaged his Army of the Potomac from fighting against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Battle of the Wilderness.

Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant’s forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee’s smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant’s strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861, Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant’s advance was noted by James M. McPherson:

[I]nstead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another “Chancellorsville … another skedaddle” after all. “Our spirits rose,” recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, “we marched free. The men began to sing.” For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center have produced a series called 37 Weeks, which chronicles serially Sherman’s March to the Sea through Georgia in 1864. This is week three of the series, with episodes clocking in at under two minutes. If you enjoy learning about Georgia’s history, it’s great watching.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

Jefferson Davis spoke in Savannah, Georgia on May 6, 1866.

Davis … defend[ed] the South’s cause in the Civil War, stating, “In 1776 the colonies acquired State sovereignty. They revolted from the mother country in a desperate struggle. That was the cause for which they fought. Is it a lost cause now? Never. Has Georgia lost the State sovereignty which … she won in 1776? No, a thousand times no.” Davis’s fiery remarks were captured by reporters for the New York Times and other northern newspapers.

Because of the national attention generated over his visit to Alabama and Georgia, Davis took a more conciliatory tone in a speech that evening, noting, “There are some who take it for granted that when I allude to State sovereignty I want to bring on another war. I am too old to fight again, and God knows I don’t want you to have the necessity of fighting again… . The celebration today is a link in the long chain of affection that binds you and the North together. Long may it be true.”

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute barrier for running the mile.

For years, so many athletes had tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes that people made it out to be a physical impossibility. The world record for a mile was 4 minutes and 1.3 seconds, set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden in 1945. Despite, or perhaps because of, the psychological mystique surrounding the four-minute barrier, several runners in the early 1950s dedicated themselves to being the first to cross into the three-minute zone.

At 6 p.m., the starting gun was fired. In a carefully planned race, Bannister was aided by Chris Brasher, a former Cambridge runner who acted as a pacemaker. For the first half-mile, Brasher led the field, with Bannister close behind, and then another runner took up the lead and reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 3 minutes 0.4 seconds, with Bannister at 3 minutes 0.7 seconds. Bannister took the lead with about 350 yards to go and passed an unofficial timekeeper at the 1,500-meter mark in 3 minutes 43 seconds, thus equaling the world’s record for that distance. Thereafter, Bannister threw in all his reserves and broke the tape in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. As soon as the first part of his score was announced–”three minutes…”–the crowd erupted in pandemonium.

A “sub-four” is still a notable time, but top international runners now routinely accomplish the feat. Because a mile is not a metric measurement, it is not a regular track event nor featured in the Olympics. It continues, however, to be run by many top runners as a glamour event.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 6, 1984, Spinal Tap played a “comeback show” at CBGB’s in New York.

On May 6, 1996, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta was the most dangerous city in America.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succeed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 1997.

Happy Birthday to Bill Kreutzman, one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead. On Kreutzman’s 31st birthday, the Dead played at Boston Garden. The next night was the legendary Cornell show.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia state government revenue is up more than 24% over last April, according to a press release.

Georgia’s April net tax collections totaled $2.87 billion for an increase of $559.7 million, or 24.2 percent, compared to April 2018 when net tax collections totaled $2.31 billion. Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled $19.91 billion for an increase of almost $939.7 million, or 5 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year when net tax revenues totaled $18.97 billion.

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections totaled over $1.58 billion for an increase of $454.6 million, or 40.3 percent, compared to last year when Income Tax collections totaled nearly $1.13 billion.

These components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

▪ Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) declined by $40 million, or -6.5 percent.

▪ Individual Income Tax Return payments increased by $307.2 million, or 48.9 percent, compared to last year.

▪ Individual Withholding payments for the month were up $70.7 million, or 7.9 percent.

▪ All other categories, including Non-Resident income tax payments, increased a combined $36.7 million.

Governor Brian Kemp will sign House Bill 481, the “Heartbeat” bill, this morning at 10 AM. From the AJC:

The governor’s office on Monday confirmed the timing of the signing of the bill, which Kemp said upholds his promise to enact the “toughest abortion bill in the country.” After initially backing a weaker measure, Kemp endorsed the “heartbeat” bill in March and lobbied lawmakers to approve it.

Democrats, medical lobbies and civil rights organizations have forcefully opposed the measure, warning it could force women to take dangerous steps to seek abortions and cost millions in tax dollars to defend. They also say it could jeopardize Georgia’s pro-business reputation.

The new legislation would outlaw most abortions once a doctor detects a heartbeat in the womb – which is usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before most women know they are pregnant.

HB 481 would not take effect until the beginning of next year, so the timing of a legal challenge is not yet certain. But the ACLU and other critics have vowed they will bring a lawsuit targeting the legislation — and promised electoral payback as well.

“Signing this bill is not the end of the HB 481 fight,” said state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, “it marks beginning of women in this state working to take their place at political table because we’re finished being on the menu.”

From the Macon Telegraph:

Exceptions to the law would include:

▪ The abortion would prevent the death or severe physical impairment of the mother.

▪ The pregnancy is 20 weeks or less along, and the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. There must be an official police report alleging an offense of rape or incest occurred.

▪ A doctor determines the pregnancy is “medically futile,” meaning that a severe and incurable birth defect or chromosomal abnormality would result in the child having little to no life expectancy.

Section 15 of the act states the abortion law would become effective on Jan. 1, 2020. That could change if the law is challenged in court.

No state has put a “heartbeat” bill into lasting practice. A federal judge in Kentucky prevented that state’s law from taking effect earlier this year. A state judge struck down Iowa’s 2018 fetal heartbeat law earlier this year. Lower courts struck down North Dakota’s 2013 fetal heartbeat bill, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the North Dakota court’s decision in 2016.

Gov. Kemp has signed House Bill 455, the Shore Protection Act, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed amendments to the Shore Protection Act into law Friday. H.B. 445, sponsored in the senate by Republican State Sen. Ben Watson (District 1), prescribes new ways to define the scope of the state’s influence on private beach-front property.

For its first four decades, the law defined the state’s jurisdiction by drawing a zigzag line connecting 20-foot native trees to each other and to shore-front buildings erected in 1979 or earlier. Many agreed this system worked poorly and was hard to administer. The changes create a 25-foot regulated zone between private beachfront development and the landward reach of the sand dune or from the high tide line on beaches without dunes. The 25-foot line is measured from a functional seawall or bulkhead where those exist.

″(T)he updates made to the Shore Protection Act will help further protect our shoreline with more consistent and clarified boundaries and reduce confusion and unnecessary burdens placed on coastal property owners and businesses,” Watson said in a prepared statement. “We worked with the Department of Natural Resources on this measure and are sure that it will allow for better preservation of our coastline for generations to come.”

Gov. Kemp also signed Senate Bill 8 by State Senator P.K. Martin, creating a new license plate honoring Atlanta United.

“In every game, Atlanta United demonstrates how people from all walks of life can come together and rally behind one cause,” said Governor Kemp. “It’s a testament to the fact that we have so much more that unites us – even though it doesn’t always seem that way.”

Funds raised through the sale of the license plates will benefit the Atlanta United Foundation, which supports Soccer in the Streets, Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations that promote soccer, health, and teamwork.

“As a proud fan of Atlanta United FC, I was honored to champion Senate Bill 8 at the State Capitol,” said Sen. P.K. Martin. “By creating this speciality tag, we not only showcase our loyalty but create a sense a pride and unity throughout Georgia.”

The Georgia Supreme Court will hear an appeal of the court order dismissing a lawsuit challenging the 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s election, according to AccessWDUN.

The lawsuit says tens of thousands of votes were never recorded in the race and the contest was “so defective and marred by material irregularities” as to place the result in doubt. It contends an unexplained undervote in the race was likely caused by problems with the state’s paperless touchscreen voting machines.

Republican Geoff Duncan beat Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by 123,172 votes to become lieutenant governor. Amico is not a party to the lawsuit, which was filed in November by the Coalition for Good Governance, an election integrity advocacy organization; Smythe Duval, who ran for secretary of state as a Libertarian; and two Georgia voters. It was filed against Duncan and election officials.

In an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, lawyer Bruce Brown argues the judge erred by not allowing discovery prior to trial. But even without evidence that might have turned up in discovery, it’s clear that the election was flawed enough to “place in doubt the result,” he wrote.

Generally, almost all voters vote for the race at the top of the ballot in this case the governor’s race and then it drops slightly for down-ballot races, the appeal says. But in November’s election, there was a much bigger drop in total votes recorded in the lieutenant governor’s race than in the governor’s race than normal, and other down-ballot races didn’t experience a similar decline. In recent elections, the lieutenant governor’s race has gotten about 99.2% as many votes as the governor’s race, which means the undercount could be more than 127,000 votes in November’s election, the lawsuit says.

Democrat Jon Ossoff said he’ll consider running for U.S. Senate against Republican David Perdue, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Speaking in Gainesville, Ga., to a local group of Democrats, Ossoff told a questioner, “I’ll take a look at the U.S. Senate race.”

“I want to make sure we have the strongest possible candidate to challenge David Perdue. Whether or not I’m a candidate, I will work to defeat David Perdue,” he said.

“In Georgia, we need a senator who has the decency to stand up for people who are suffering, who has the skill to deliver the resources that Georgia needs, and who has the integrity to uphold the standards of conduct that we expect from our elected officials,” Ossoff said.

“It pains me that now we’re at a point where we’re simply relieved that the president of the United States is not a foreign spy. That’s a pretty low bar for the presidency,” he added. “How do public servants like David Perdue go to work everyday and go meet their constituents everyday, in good faith, knowing that you’re enabling a liar and a fraud who’s abusing his power? And who doesn’t treat people with the basic respect that we demand children treat people with? Those are my thoughts on David Perdue.”

Former Cobb County Democratic Party Chair Michael Owens will run against Democratic Congressman David Scott in the 13th District, according to the AJC.

Owens contends that Scott, 73, has been absent and out of step with his solidly-Democrat southwest Atlanta district, which sweeps from Powder Springs to Stockbridge. He pointed to Scott’s residency outside the district – he lives in the neighboring 5th – and his recent support of Republican incumbents, including U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, ex-Rep. Mia Love and Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce.

“Those relationships aren’t bringing home the bacon,” Owens said in an interview. “What those Republican relationships are doing is making it harder for us to flip seats here in Georgia. It sows discord among those of us who are fighting the most.”

Owens said Scott, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, has gotten too cozy with the payday lending industry and other corporate interests. He singled out Scott’s vote last year in favor of rolling back portions of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul.

“I want to make sure that we stop allowing and supporting policies that are directly attacking our black and brown communities,” the Mableton resident said.

Municipalities in Chatham County presented their wish list project for a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Savannah Morning News.

SPLOST 7, if approved by voters on Nov. 5, would begin collections on Oct. 1, 2020, and run for six years.

The requests are the first step in the process that will include negotiations with the county and municipalities and prioritizing projects. Intergovernmental agreements are needed to allow for a six-year SPLOST collection, otherwise the one cent tax can only be collected for five years.

Chatham County Chairman Al Scott said the lists should be finalized by August.

The United States Navy will name an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer after former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced on Monday that Nunn — who served as the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman for years — will be the namesake of an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer that will be built in the future. The Navy has not specified when the ship will be built.

“Senator Nunn’s impact on the Navy and Marine Corps team cannot be overstated,” Spencer said in a statement. “His leadership in the Senate, specifically as the long-serving chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, helped streamline the military chain of command and strengthen our Navy and Marine Corps team.

“I am pleased that Senator Nunn’s legacy of service to our nation will continue in the future USS Sam Nunn.”

Current U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., praised the Navy’s decision to name the ship in honor of Nunn. These days, Purdue is the senator from Georgia who sits on the Senate Armed Forces committee.

“Senator Sam Nunn is a good friend of mine,” Perdue said in a statement on Twitter. “His knowledge of national security issues is unmatched. As Chairman of SASC, Sam worked across the aisle to solve monumental issues during trying times. Sam is a great American, and I’m delighted to see him honored in this way.”

Chatham County is projecting that the SPLOST 7 would raise $400 million dollars over its six-year course, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Former Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau will be among ten U.S. veterans honored by the French government for his role in D-Day, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division is accepting entries for a commercial food shrimp cast-net lottery, according to The Brunswick News.

For the past 20 years, what’s called a controlled-access system for commercial food shrimp netting’s been in place, with an annual limit of 200 licenses. It won’t be known how many new licenses are up for this year until the license renewal deadline passes June 1.

To be part of the lottery, people need to complete and submit an application to CRD no later than 4 pm. on June 6. Applications are available at coastaldnr.org/commercialfishing, and from the DNR’s Coastal Regional Headquarters at One Conservation Way in Brunswick. Only one application per person is allowed.

Five candidates qualified for an open seat on Thomasville City Council, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A person to fill a vacant Thomasville City Council seat is expected to be chosen at a Monday, May 13, city council meeting.

The vacancy to be filled resulted when Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Greg Hobbs, former District 1 city council member and council-appointed mayor, after Hobbs was indicted in February on city-related charges.

The qualifying period ended Friday, April 26. City council members received the names last week.

“The plan is they’ll be ready to vote Monday night,” Carson said.

The council will vote in the open during the meeting.

Applicants were vetted to ensure they meet qualifications for the council position. Qualifications are the same as if those applying were running in a regular race for a council seat. Those applying must live in District 1 and be a registered voter.

The court disposition of the case against Hobbs’ will determine if or when he can return to the council.

Statesboro City Council will consider a contract for a new City Manager and the proposed FY 2020 budget today, according to the Statesboro Herald.

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