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

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

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Click here for the full text of Georgia’s Royal Charter from 1732.

Click here to see the oldest copy of Georgia’s Royal Charter, which was presented to Georgia by South Carolina.

The Battle of Bloody Marsh was fought between Spanish forces and colonists under James Oglethorpe on St Simons Island, Georgia in 1742 on a date that is variously cited as June 9 or June 7, 1742. Thus began the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

On June 9, 1772, the first naval attack of the Revolutionary War took place near Providence, Rhode Island, as HMS Gaspee, a British tax enforcement ship was baited into running aground and attacked by a boarding party the next day.

Richard_Henry_Lee_at_Nat._Portrait_Gallery_IMG_4471

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution before the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia calling for American independence from Great Britain.

Lee’s resolution declared: “That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.”

Four weeks later, Georgia’s members of the Continental Congress – Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton — voted for a version written by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and called the Declaration of Independence.

On June 9, 1864, Gen. W.T. Sherman moved his troops to Big Shanty, Georgia, now called Kennesaw, and beginning a four-week period sometimes called the Battle of Marietta.

The first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, also called Denali, in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, was completed on June 7, 1913.

On June 7, 1942, Japanese troops occupied American territory in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska.

The first Porsche automobile was completed on June 8, 1948.

Ronald Reagan became the Republican nominee for Governor of California on June 7, 1966.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984.

On June 8, 2004, Georgia hosted the G-8 summit meeting of the world’s major industrial democracies, which included representatives from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom, plus a representative from the European Union. The 30th meeting of the G-8 was held at Sea Island at the Cloister.

June 7, 2016 was declared “Prince Day” in Minnesota under a proclamation issued by Governor Mark Dayton. Prince was born on this day in 1958. Governor Dayton missed his chance to begin a proclamation with “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together today….” The next year, Dayton proclaimed Prince Day on April 21, 2017.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump signed legislation to provide disaster relief to Georgia, according to WSB-TV.

President Donald Trump has signed a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill aimed at helping communities across the country bounce back from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires.

The move comes as a sigh of relief from Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

“We’re glad that this is finally done,” Black told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant. “We’re not knocked out, but we’re certainly knocked down, and our farm families are rising again.”

“This is a good day for Georgia. It’s a good day for America, and we’re doing the right thing standing with the farm families of the state,” Black said.

The $19 billion deal sets aside $3 billion for farmers. But so far, no word how much of that Georgia will see. We also don’t know the specific mechanisms the feds will put in place to get it here.

“I just want to encourage as we move into the funds being appropriated for the federal government and the powers that be to have as much flexibility as possible,” [Governor Brian] Kemp said.

From the AJC:

It will still take weeks, if not months, for any federal money to end up in Georgians’ pockets. Funding must first flow through federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency, many of which must create new formulas and regulations to divvy up the money.

“I want to encourage (agencies) – as we move in to the funds being appropriated – to give us as much flexibility as possible,” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “We want a fast process to put this money forward and help our farmers.”

The new law carves out more than $3 billion for farmers hit by Hurricane Michael and other natural disaster, as well as new money for local blueberry growers whose crops were destroyed by a deep freeze in 2017 and the victims of recent tornadoes in west Georgia and Alabama.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor, will be in charge of parceling out billions. He said his departments looks “forward to implementing this disaster aid package in a fair way and working with state leadership to identify where the true losses and needs are to best serve our fellow Americans in need of a helping hand.”

“Finally, Americans who were ravaged by historic floods, wildfires, and hurricanes across 12 states have certainty for the immediate future,” said Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, spoke in Atlanta yesterday, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reversed course Thursday and declared that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions.

“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment” that makes it more difficult for some women to access care, Biden said at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Atlanta.

The former vice president, who launched his 2020 presidential campaign in April, said he arrived at the decision as part of developing an upcoming comprehensive health care proposal. He has declared his support for a Medicare-like public option as the next step toward universal coverage. He reasoned that his goal of universal coverage means women must have full and fair access to care, including abortion.

Other Democratic Presidential candidates also visited Atlanta yesterday, according to the AJC.

Four leading presidential candidates converged on Atlanta on Thursday to court voters, meet with activists and raise a boatload of campaign cash.

And while they all had different priorities and target audiences during their visits, they each carried the same message: Georgia will be no afterthought in the 2020 election. It’s a sure-fire battleground state.

“What we need to do is get people out to vote,” said [Cory] Booker, a New Jersey U.S. senator. “This is a blue state. What that means is we need to go back to organizing and build a 50-state party.”

Two of the candidates, Booker and [Pete] Buttigieg, tried to impress a crowd of veteran strategists at the African-American Leadership Council Summit in downtown Atlanta. Biden and [Beto] O’Rourke headlined a glitzy fundraiser for the national party in Buckhead.

Booker, who refers to himself as a “junk-food vegan,” appeared at a barbecue and tofu fundraiser. Buttigieg held court with a small group of donors at Manuel’s Tavern, a must-visit for generations of Democratic candidates.

Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston fired back at opponents over allegations of misuse of legislative leave, according to the Daily Report.

Ralston’s attorney James Balli—a member of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission—claims in a June 3 response to the complaints that “a small, disingenuous cabal” is attempting to exploit two women who filed the complaints and use bar disciplinary rules as a “procedural weapon” when “they really only care about attempting to cause political harm” to Ralston.

“This group does not care about either woman and are only seeking to further their self-interested goals and obtain media attention,” Balli said. The bar “should not allow such political nonsense to sully its disciplinary procedure.”

According to Balli, both bar complaints claim the Georgia General Assembly’s legislative leave policy were the sole reason the prosecutions of Ralston’s clients were delayed—claims that Balli argued are false.

Balli said Ralston “never improperly used legislative leave.”

But the lawyer said Ralston does “properly exercise legislative leave” when performing duties as House speaker that include attending meetings, fundraisers, political dinners, tours of state or local facilities or other events that, “but for the fact he is Speaker of the House, he would not attend.”

Balli also said that, while the bar complaints speculate that Ralston had no valid reason to invoke legislative leave in their cases, legislative leave is by law “solely within the discretion” of a state legislator. “Even if a non-lawyer disagrees with that purpose or wildly speculates about the reason, his basis for doing so is not subject to review by any court or the State Bar,” Balli contended.

Georgia is ending Medicaid for 17,000 residents, according to lawyers cited by the AJC.

The state is terminating Medicaid assistance for about 17,000 poor elderly or disabled Georgians, it says, as lawyers for some of them call the move a giant mistake.

The state Department of Community Health said the 17,000 had simply not responded to renewal notices informing them how to continue their coverage. Patients interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution say they never received renewal notices, and their lawyers say their clients’ Georgia Gateway computer accounts show that no such notices were ever sent.

Instead, they say, if they received any notice at all it was a cancellation notice.

Lawyers from Georgia Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that is working for some of the affected patients, have written to the state Department of Community Health to get the move reversed and ask for concrete information about how and why the notices were sent and how many people are affected.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the first testing of oxygen levels in the Savannah River in connection to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Required testing of a system to mitigate oxygen loss from the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is complete, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday.

Before SHEP dredging on the 22-mile stretch of the inner harbor can begin, the dissolved oxygen (DO) system must be shown to work as expected. The inner harbor deepening starts from near Jones Island to the Garden City port. Jones Island is between Fort Pulaski and Tybee Island.

With a deeper harbor, more salt water will enter the river and estuary, decreasing oxygen levels needed by fish and the whole ecosystem.

Preliminary assessments of the (DO) testing data are positive, Corps officials said.

“We’ve completed the testing and data-collecting phase and we are still making progress in the analysis of the data and plan to release a final report in August,” Bryan Robinson, an engineer with the Corps who oversaw the tests, said. “Our general impression right now is that the tests indicate the system is performing better than expected in the three primary aspects of the tests.”

Film Director Spike Lee, who was born in Atlanta and graduated from Morehouse College, is calling on Hollywood to pull out of Georgia, according to AccessWDUN.

Lee said now is the time for Georgia-based productions to “shut it down” and boycott the state’s booming film industry to drive change.

Lee acknowledged that a mass exodus could dent livelihoods, but cited black bus drivers affected by the Civil Rights Movement-era boycott in Montgomery.

 

Floyd County Superior Court Judge Kay Ann Wetherington has started a new Parental Accountability Court, according to the Rome News Tribune.

It’s a voluntary alternate sentencing option for noncustodial parents who are behind in their child support payments and face sanctions including incarceration.

“We have a lot of people in that category. It doesn’t make sense to suspend their drivers license or put them in jail. It sets them back,” said coordinator Jessica Ferguson, who’s assigned to Wetherington from the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Cohutta Police Chief Ray Grossman will retire after having been put on leave by City Council, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Ferguson said the court program runs a minimum of 12 months. The first move is to send them for a mental health assessment, and the child or children must be legitimized. Ferguson can point them in the right direction for legal documentation.

However, her main focus is to determine why the person isn’t making child support payments and address that. Participants can get help with mental health, substance abuse, housing, employment, clothing, education — if they’re willing to commit.

Ferguson said she expects to start with about 15 to 20 participants because it’s an intensive course. There are monthly check-ins with the judge but she’ll be monitoring their progress on all assignments.

A report by the Urban Land Institute recommends demolition of the Savannah Civic Center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office K9 Officer Eddy and his human partner passed their national certification from the U.S. Police Canine Association, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Ángel Cabrera, currently President of George Mason University in Virginia, is the sole finalist to become the new President of Georgia Tech, according to WABE.

The Floyd County Board of Education read their FY 2020 budget for the second time publicly, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County Schools will be receiving an estimated $66.3 million for its 9,324 students bar any austerity cuts, Chief Financial Officer Greg Studdard said. These numbers come from the quality basic education earnings sheet, which is what the state of Georgia uses to determine how much funds systems receive.

The total revenues from state, local and other local sources is projected to be $102.7 million, which will be an increase of around $2 million from FY ’19.

Within this $66.3 million is the $1.4 million the system is receiving for certified personnel. The system will be covering a 2% classified personnel raise which will cost around $1.6 million. Instruction is the largest expense Studdard said, with it being 65% of the systems expenditures. The total estimated expenses for the school system in the FY ’20 budget is $103.5 million.

With the systems expenses rising $5.3 million from last year, the board and school administration had to look for cuts when developing the FY’ 20 budget. The closing of McHenry Primary, ending the free lunch program and not filling 22 empty positions all contributed to cutting the systems expenses for FY’ 20. In total, the system was able to cut $4.5 million of the $5.3 million expense increase.

The Georgia Department of Transportation unveiled plans for a new interchange at I-16 and I-95 west of Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Major General Neil S. Hersey is the new commanding general of Fort Gordon, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Former Muscogee County Deputy Marshall Alicia Narsis Davenport is considering running for Marshall, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

“Right now I am pondering how well my service can best be utilized for Columbus citizens. I’ve received several calls from local lawyers and citizens to run for marshal,” she wrote in an email Wednesday, when asked about her plans since the city settled her lawsuit.

She filed the federal lawsuit against Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman and the Columbus Consolidated Government on Nov. 3, 2014, but then had to put her claim on hold to await the outcome of criminal proceedings, after the city pressed charges against her for violating her oath of office.

The police and marshal have different duties. Columbus police primarily are responsible for daily law enforcement and criminal investigations. The marshal’s office primarily is charged with executing the functions of Muscogee Municipal Court, which handles small claims, wage garnishments and evictions.

The City of Byron has fired its transgender fire chief, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Glynn County Commission has entered into an agreement with a private company to regulate and enforce short term rentals, according to The Brunswick.

hort-term rentals have a relatively short and spotted history in Glynn County. Most don’t present much of an issue for their neighbors, but some create significant hardship, county commissioner Peter Murphy said at the commission’s Thursday meeting, using the notorious Burton house, or Villa de Suenos, as an example.

To address the issue, county commissioners have been mulling over a contract with Host Compliance — a California-based consultant specializing in helping local governments regulate short-term rentals — for nearly a year now.

[T]he commission voted to enter into the first phase of an agreement with Host Compliance, a $5,000 ordinance-writing consultation. In the first phase, the company will help the commission regulate short-term rentals.

In the second phase, the county would contract with Host Compliance for a number of services to help the county track rentals and enforce the new rules.

The annual service fees come out to around $91,795 while company charges a one-time $5,000 fee for ordinance-writing consultation.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are considering a FY 2020 budget that attempts to address poverty, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Mayor Kelly Girtz amended his budget to include a $4 million “prosperity package” at the request of other commissioners, in addition to other measures already built into the budget meant to benefit people with little money. The budget funds a new Inclusion Office and free bus rides for seniors, people with disabilities and county employees. University of Georgia students and workers can already ride for free.

There’s also $100,100 to expand the police department’s Mental Health Co-Responder Unit, money to allow more police officers to take their vehicles home, more money for the Board of Elections and a new housing coordinator job “to support increased creation of affordable housing throughout Athens.”

The second-largest item in a list of projects that could be funded with an extension of the 1 percent Special Local Option Sales Tax is a $44.5 million affordable housing initiative. According to initial plans, the money would be directed mainly at rental housing. The initiative is part of a $278 million list of projects that voters will say yes or no to in a November referendum.

The commission didn’t raise taxes for the 2020 fiscal year, but taxes will go up. The county’s tax digest, an inventory of all taxable property, grew by around 10 percent this year, mainly because of steeply rising property values. The government’s financial planners expect to collect about $65.2 million in property taxes this year, up $5.3 million from a year ago. Property tax is the single largest source for the $140.2 million capital and operating budget.

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