Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2019

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta. George Washington departed Waynesboro, Georgia on May 18, 1791, headed to Augusta. On May 19-20, 1791, George Washington spent his second and third days in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy.

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

Blue jeans with copper rivets were patented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis on May 20, 1873.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

On May 20, 1916, more than 20,000 visited Stone Mountain for the dedication ceremony to mark the beginning of a Confederate memorial on the north face.

On May 19, 1933, the Atlanta City Council voted to allow beer sales in the city.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

On May 20, 1995, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to automotive traffic.

The 400th episode of The Simpsons aired on May 20, 2007.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Five years ago today, Georgia voters went to the polls in the earliest Primary elections in modern history. In the Republican Primary, 605,355 ballots were cast in the Senate contest, while the Democratic Primary for Senate saw 328,710 ballots.

NS Savannah, the first civilian nuclear-powered ship, will be decommissioned, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The N.S. Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship, which is docked at Canton Marine Terminal, Pier 13, in Baltimore, will be decommissioned in the coming years, federal officials say.

First proposed in 1955 as part of President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative, the Savannah was designed to be a combination cargo and passenger ship. It was christened in 1959. It had 30 air-conditioned staterooms, each with its own bath. It looked more like a sleek luxury cruise liner than the bulky cargo ships of the day.

Savannahians got a first look at the new type of ship Aug. 22, 1962. The shiny new Nuclear Ship Savannah arrived in its namesake city to the cheers of thousands of spectators, gathered along the riverfront or sailing alongside in their own boats.

The decommissioning — a ship’s formal retirement — will remove the rest of the N.S. Savannah’s nuclear systems and allow the U.S. Maritime Administration, also known as MARAD, to terminate the ship’s license. The process is expected to take more than a year and be completed between October 2023 and September 2024.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck (R-Carrollton) was suspended from office by Executive Order issued by Governor Brian Kemp.

From WSB-TV:

The move came shortly after Beck sent a letter to Kemp, saying he was going to voluntarily suspend himself from office after he was indicted in an alleged $2 million fraud scheme.

Right now, the state of Georgia has no insurance commissioner. Since the position is an elected office, it’s up to Kemp to appoint an acting commissioner for the duration of Beck’s suspension.

From the AJC:

Beck announced late last week that he was voluntarily taking a suspension. The insurance department said that in his absence, Drew Lane, the chief deputy commissioner, would perform the duties of commissioner as outlined under state law.

The agency said Beck, who took office in January, voluntarily suspended himself. An executive order from Gov. Brian Kemp said that Beck asked to be suspended and that the governor ordered an immediate suspension.

In a letter to Kemp, Beck maintained his innocence.

“As you know, under our federal and state constitutions, I am presumed to be innocent until and unless convicted by a court of law,” the letter said. “I am, in fact, innocent of these charges. In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to resign as commissioner of insurance.”

“Nonetheless, I recognize the importance of having a commissioner of insurance who is able fully to devote all of his time carrying out the duties of managing the Department of Insurance and serving the citizens of Georgia. In the coming months, it will unfortunately be necessary for me to spend a significant amount of my time defending myself against these false charges. Preparing for that trial will be a significant distraction from my public duties.”

Georgia law says that in the event of a vacancy in the office of the commissioner, ‘’the chief deputy shall perform all the duties of the commissioner.’’ But a possible complication could arise with Lane taking over the commissioner’s duties because he has his own connection to GUA. He served as the organization’s staff attorney before he was named to his state post in January.

The insurance department said it anticipates that the governor will soon appoint an acting commissioner who will serve until the case against Beck is resolved.

Governor Kemp addressed the Georgia Republican Party State Convention in Savannah on Saturday, according to the AJC.

Speaking at the Georgia Republican convention, Kemp nodded to the growing fallout from Hollywood celebrities and some production firms who have called for boycotts of Georgia after he signed the “heartbeat” law that seeks to ban most abortions.

“I understand that some folks don’t like this new law. I’m fine with that,” he said. “We’re elected to do what’s right – and standing up for precious life is always the right thing to do.”

Kemp added: “We are the party of freedom and opportunity. We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”

Kemp said his administration will ensure “our guns are not up for grabs here” and said he would press Congress to provide aid for farmers devastated by the October hurricane “even if I have to get in my pickup truck and drive to D.C. and get it myself – and yes, I just said that.”

“We fought every liberal activist in the country – and we won,” said Kemp. “And I’ll say it again for the folks in the back of the room: we won. But make no mistake, we cannot rest on our laurels. We have to double down and do it again.”

“I still believe our best days are ahead in this great state,” he said. “Folks, this is a battleground state in 2020. And it’s time to hunker down and fight. The left is angry, they’re radical and they’re ridiculous.”

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan spoke at Savannah Classical Academy on Friday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan visited Savannah Classical Academy Friday, a charter school within the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, to speak to elementary students and their parents at an end-of-year ceremony, where he encouraged them to keep working hard.

Duncan named Savannah Classical’s director Barry Lollis to the Georgia Department of Education’s Charter Advisory Committee in Februrary and the school’s governing board elevated him to director of the school in late March when the state Board of Education approved the school’s five-year charter renewal. Lollis, who previously worked for Savannah-Chatham County public schools and also for a charter system in Georgia, had worked as director of curriculum and instruction at Savannah Classical and took over as interim director after Savannah Classical’s founding school director Benjamin Payne resigned last year.

“I think it’s important for local school systems to be able to partner in a way that works with an organization like this that is obviously producing results, obviously helping kids and families in unique situations achieve what ultimately we should all care about and that’s the education of the child, not the growth of the system, not the protection of a pressing way of doing something but the absolute center around the child and educational outcome.”

“You have all done such an amazing job here,” he said. He told students he learned two lessons as a baseball player at Georgia Tech and as a professional ball player. “One was to work hard. I learned the harder I worked, the better opportunities I got. Hard work does pay off,” he said.

“The second thing I learned was how to chase a dream. Chasing a dream is a lot of fun,” Duncan said.

Former Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer was elected Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party on Saturday in Savannah, according to the AJC.

A former executive director of the state GOP, Shafer is well-known to many of the activists long before his run for the state’s No. 2 job. And his campaign pledge was focused on beefing up a “neglected” grassroots in dozens of counties that have no local GOP organizations.

“I believe our Republican Party is in trouble,” he said. “The last election we found ourselves on the defensive for the first time in a decade.”

Shafer will inherit a fractious, but powerful, party that was stabilized by Watson after he was elected in 2017. Back then, the party was mired in a costly racial discrimination lawsuit, facing fundraising troubles and struggling with poor ties with elected officials.

Shafer said he would reverse that trend [of suburban losses] by reviving more confrontational tactics that Republicans used when they were in the minority decades ago.

“We need to go back on the offensive,” he said.

As has happened in previous years, most delegates fled the building after balloting was finished, and before resolutions could be taken up.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Shafer is not the only person with Gwinnett ties who was elected to a leadership position within the state GOP on Saturday, however. Peachtree Corners resident B.J. Van Gundy was elected assistant secretary. He is a former leader of the Gwinnett GOP, a 2016 Republican National Convention delegate and former vice-chairman of the state GOP.

Other statewide officers elected Saturday include Carolyn Fisher as first vice-chairman, Brant Frost as second vice-chairman, Michael Welsh as secretary, Joseph Brannan as treasurer and Vikki Castiglio as assistant treasurer.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston spoke to The Brunswick News.

“I tell members sometimes, you have to kind of filter what you hear, and the voices that are the loudest may not really be representative of your district,” Ralston said. “I tell people, I’ve got a lot of political activist types in my district, and they run candidates against me in the primary the last three primary seasons. They’re kind of loud and vocal, but I try to keep this in my mind — I represent not only them, but I represent the family that is struggling to make a living.

“Husband may be a builder, wife may teach school, trying to keep their bills paid, helping their kids with homework at night, going to Little League games, going to church on Sunday. But they don’t have time to go to political meetings because they’re busy, and those are the people I try to think about when I’m making decisions, and not just those who live on the internet, pounding away on Facebook and all that kind of thing.”

“They’re going to vote on who will keep their taxes low, who will be committed to making education better, who is committed to creating a good climate for jobs to come here,” Ralston said. “So, I don’t think they’re going to vote on some issue like this. I tell people that the only people you hear that from are the same people that you hear from the negativity about. It’s kind of like, if a fireman gets called to a house fire, you can either put it out or you can keep throwing gas on it. And if you throw gas on it, you can say, ‘This is going to burn the whole town down.’ So you put the fire out.”

Independent Democrat Socialist Bernie Sanders spoke in Augusta on Saturday, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders brought a message of restoring power to the American people and away from the “one percent” in a rally in Augusta on Saturday.

The independent senator from Vermont, the first major presidential candidate to appear in Augusta in many years, spoke for about 40 minutes in the 93-degree heat at Jessye Norman Amphitheater. The amphitheater, which seats 1,800 people, appeared about three-quarters full. The campaign said it had tallied 1,576 attendees.

“Here in the beautiful state of Georgia, we intend to win the Democratic primary here and after we win the Democratic primary, we damn well intend to defeat and defeat badly the worst president in the history of the United States,” he said.

“And I know that Gov. Abrams agrees with me,” he added in a reference to Democrat Stacey Abrams’ close loss to Republican Brian Kemp in last year’s race for governor.

Mercer University will open a four-year medical school in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Mercer University School of Medicine will expand its two-year Columbus program into a full-fledged campus. It is scheduled to open in August 2021.

Mercer expects to eventually increase that number to 240 students in the downtown Columbus campus it will construct at a location officials declined to mention Friday because the real estate deal hasn’t closed. But people at Mercer and in Columbus involved with the project told the Ledger-Enquirer that the site will be what’s known as the Rothschild Building, a former Synovus call center at on 11th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

Friday’s announcement in the lobby of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce was the culmination of an eight-year effort that launched this $25 million project through a public-private partnership.

“Today is a very vivid demonstration of the good that can come when local communities and institutions and our state government identify a problem and say we’re going to come together and solve this,” Mercer President Bill Underwood told the crowd.

Emory will expand its healthcare facilities significantly in Brookhaven and elsewhere, according to the AJC.

The biggest project is Emory at Executive Park. Emory wants to build a $1 billion medical complex in Brookhaven that would include a hospital, hotel, apartments and miles of walking trails and paths. It could take 15 years, Emory says. Emory filed rezoning paperwork earlier this month and has organized a community meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

In Midtown, Emory is building a a tower for its Winship Cancer Institute. The master planning process may not conclude until early 2020.

The Albany Herald looks at the city’s proposed $288.3 million dollar FY 2020 budget.

Candidates for Mayor of Macon-Bibb County are preparing for 2020, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis, County Commissioners Elaine Lucas and Virgil Watkins, and former educator Stanley Stewart have either decided on or are considering a run for mayor next year.

Already in the mix are County Commissioner Larry Schlesinger, Bibb County school board President Lester Miller, Verbin Weaver, an officer with the Macon-Bibb County Democratic Party, and entrepreneur Chatavia Callaway.

Those four have already filed paperwork with the Bibb County election’s office that allows them to raise money for their mayoral campaigns. The election will be held in May 2020.

The Macon-Bibb mayor is limited to two consecutive terms under the consolidation charter. Commissioners can run for three terms in a row.

A foster family shortage is affecting Georgia children, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

In Georgia, there are 13,873 children in foster care — and that number is increasing. In every county, the number of children needing foster care easily outpaces the number of available foster homes, according to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.

Gail Finley, Division of Family and Children Services director for Lowndes County, said putting kids in a foster care unit is a last resort. They try multiple measures before having to put them in care.

“Anything we can do that would be less traumatizing to the kids, we’re going to do that,” she said. “When you have stronger families, you have a stronger Georgia. We want to keep them at home without compromising safety.”

The Glynn County Commission will consider expanding the courthouse, according to The Brunswick News.

“It’s on [the agenda] because the judges have been telling us they have pretty much run out of space,” said commission Chairman Mike Browning. “We’ve had some talks with them, a couple of them anyhow, to find out exactly what that means and to paint a picture. Do they need more courtrooms, office space, just so we know how we can help them.”

The commission is already working on a list of project to propose for a 2020 SPLOST, Browning said. Right now, they don’t have much to go on as far as courthouse expansion is concerned so establishing what the judges need and when they need it is the first step.

A study conducted five years ago, which Browning called the Heery study, determined the county may need to spend as much as $40 million to accommodate the space needs of the court system, he said.

What the commission wants to determine is how best to meet the space needs — an expansion of current facilities, a new building or rearranging the current building.

The Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court, serving Bulloch, Effingham, Jenkins, and Screven Counties, will begin hearing cases July 1, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Melissa M. Calhoun, an attorney from Effingham County, and Donald O. Sheppard III, an attorney from Screven County, are preparing to begin service July 1 as the judges of the new Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court.

With the creation of this court, the Ogeechee Circuit ceases to be the only one of Georgia’s 49 judicial circuits without separate juvenile court judges. Until now, the three elected Superior Court judges have divided up the juvenile cases from Bulloch, Effingham, Screven and Jenkins counties.

Each of the two Juvenile Court judges will work part-time, officially. They can also continue in private practice as attorneys except that they cannot handle any cases that would go before the Juvenile Court or otherwise conflict with their service as judges.

Rome City Commission will vote on whether to issue bonds to create a new College and Career Academy within the city school system, according to the Rome News Tribune.

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