Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 5, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 5, 2019

According to “This Day in Georgia History,” on June 5, 1775, the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised in Augusta, Georgia. Another account holds that the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised June 4, 1775 at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah. Those who fly the “Appeal to Heaven” flag should know that it has some common history with Liberty Poles.

Light Horse Harry Lee, later the father of Robert E. Lee, led a group of Continental soldiers, South Carolina and Georgia militia as the British surrendered Augusta on June 5, 1781. The capture of Augusta led to Georgia’s inclusion in the United States, though it had previously been so divided between Patriots and Loyalists that Georgia was the only American colony to not participate in the First Continental Congress.

The Republican National Convention met in Philadelphia on June 5, 1872, nominating Ulysses S. Grant for President the next day. Twelve years later, on June 5, 1884, William T. Sherman refused the Republican nomination for President, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

Republican candidate for Governor A. Ed Smith died in a car accident on June 5, 1962.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot after winning the California Primary on June 5, 1968 and died the next day.

President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004.

Columbus will celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday at the National Infantry Museum, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Trump Administration may start housing unaccompanied minor immigrants at Fort Benning, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Both NBC and CNN report the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency responsible for housing immigrant children under the age of 18 who cross the border unaccompanied, is operating near capacity with facilities overwhelmed and crowded.

Department of Defense spokesman Major Chris Mitchell told NBC that no decision has been made but HHS would soon be touring Fort Benning with defense officials.

“Health and Human Services will conduct a site assessment of DOD property for potential future use by HHS as temporary emergency influx shelter for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) at Fort Benning, Georgia,” Mitchell said to NBC.

“DOD officials will join the HHS staff as they tour the property available for potential future use. HHS will make the determination if the site will be used for UAC operations. This effort will have no impact on DOD’s ability to conduct its primary missions nor on military readiness,” he told NBC.

Georgia ranks 47th in the nation for access to mental health services, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

According to the non-profit Mental Health America of Georgia, the state ranks 47 out of 50 for access to mental health care, resources and insurance.

In Georgia, one in five people with a serious mental illness has a better chance of ending up in a prison than getting adequate treatment at a mental health facility, according to officials.

“In Baldwin County, a small county, we spend out of the general funds of the county, $150,000 to $200,000 a year just on psychotropic drugs for those who are mentally ill,” [Baldwin County Commissioner Henry] Craig said. “The cost of housing those persons who are mentally ill in the county is very expensive, and in Baldwin County alone, 60 to 65 percent of all of our prisoners in the jail are mentally ill. We must do something different. … The largest mental institution right now in the country is the Los Angeles County Jail, the second largest mental institution right now is the Dade County Jail in Miami. And in Baldwin County, the largest mental institution is the county jail.”

In Thomasville, the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office spends hundreds of man-hours transporting mentally ill people to out-of-town mental-health facilities. To date this year, the sheriff’s office has transported 267 people, driving 8,515 miles requiring more than 53 hours. Last year, transports totaled 986, with 83,884 miles driven in more than 849 hours.

“Ten percent of our jail population is diagnosed mental patients,” said Capt. Steven Jones, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

Southwestern State Hospital, a former Thomasville state mental hospital, closed in 2012 and 2013. The Thomas County Jail immediately saw a dramatic increase in mentally ill inmates, Jones said.

The Georgia Supreme Court will review a lower court decision on racial makeup of juries in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

It’s the issue of how Muscogee County compiles its jury pools — which are lists of potential jurors for court cases.

The issue of fairness and racial makeup of juries has recently been brought to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in 2012 Georgia made a rule to help ensure all jury pools are representative of each county’s overall population and demographics.

In 2017, the state Supreme Court ruled that the way a Canadian vendor called Courthouse Technologies compiled lists of potential jurors for Fulton County violated that rule.

But Muscogee County still uses that vendor.

Judge Gil McBride, chief judge of the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, twice this year held hearings on Muscogee County’s jury-selection issue. After the hearings, on April 10, McBride ruled against the defense, deciding any alterations Courthouse Technologies made to the jury list before Haynie and Phillips were indicted in 2016 were not significant enough to quash the indictment.

The AJC reports that State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) will likely announce a congressional campaign on Thursday.

State Sen. Renee Unterman is set to join the race for Georgia’s 7th District on Thursday, intensifying a polarizing race for one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. House seats and sharpening a debate over abortion rights.

The Republican will announce her candidacy at a rally Thursday in her hometown of Buford, in an attempt to contrast with lesser-known rivals who entered the race with splashy TV ads and polished websites but no public events.

Unterman’s entry into the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall will shift the focus of the campaign squarely toward the anti-abortion “heartbeat” measure that’s divided Georgia politics.

Georgia will receive a $269,000 dollar grant from the federal EPA to develop beach monitoring and notification programs, according to the Albany Herald.

“Ensuring Americans have clean water for drinking and recreation is a national priority, and EPA is doing its part to make sure our coastal and Great Lakes waters are clean and healthy for beachgoers this summer,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a news release.

“These grants will increase public information about water quality at our beaches and help our state and local partners conduct testing and address potential sources of contamination.”

“We want people to feel confident that their beach is healthy and clean,” Jill Andrews, chief of Coastal Management with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division, said. “We test our beaches weekly and notify the public immediately of swimming advisories. Results are posted online and at beach access points. Fortunately for Georgia beachgoers, swim advisories are not the norm.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation will host a public meeting in Garden City to discuss planned transportation improvements, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Harrison Floyd dropped out of the race for the Seventh Congressional District and urged State Rep. Todd Jones (R-Forsyth) to run, according to the AJC.

The Athens Banner Herald spoke with Athens-Clarke County District 1 Commissioner Patrick Davenport.

How much has your faith influenced your politics?

A lot. Jesus was a very caring man regardless of people’s backgrounds, regardless of people’s affiliations, and I believe that’s the message He wants to teach everyone in the world. Just to be kind to everyone. To help everyone. In today’s modernized world, I believe if you have the ability and skill to help someone, do it.

Do you believe that’s the role of a public official? Someone who helps others?

That’s correct. But more than help others. It’s help the community be better. There are a lot of different personalities, a lot of needs and wants in the community, but as a public official you should do what’s best for everyone.

Why did you decide to run for commission?

I had been active in the community behind the scenes for a few years; working with nonprofits, helping other people campaign. When you talk to people you start collecting a dialogue. You start hearing the needs and wants of people. I just felt that I would be able to do a better job in executing those (ideas) the people in the community had.

One of the biggest problems I know we have on the eastside is ambulance service. A lot of the elected officials didn’t talk much about the ambulance service. … A lot of retirees live in that district. I want to be a voice for those individuals, making sure we’re at least addressing some of those issues like ambulance service.

Varnell Police Chief Lyle Grant has been reinstated and will retire by the end of the year, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

A Whitfield County grand jury declined to indict Grant last week for felony theft by taking for providing a county-owned, encrypted radio to a Dalton wrecker service.

Grant, who had been placed on paid administrative leave on April 30 after District Attorney Bert Poston said he would present evidence from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation report to the grand jury, will return to duty on Wednesday. His two-year contract with the city runs through December, and Dickson said Grant will retire after he completes the contract.

Grant declined to answer questions from a reporter after the council members met in executive session for 20 minutes and emerged to vote 5-0 to reinstate him.

Meanwhile, Whitfield County is developing a policy for the use of encrypted radios by municipalities.

Lawrenceville City Council voted to adopt a $167 million dollar FY 2020 budget, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Cave Spring City Council will begin the process of adopting a new comprehensive alcohol ordinance at their meeting next week, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Rome and Floyd County named a litter and blight advisory committee, according to the Rome News Tribune.

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