Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 25, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 25, 2019

On June 25, 1788, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the tenth states to vote for ratification of the United States Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. A committee was appointed to be chaired by George Wythe to draft a proposed Bill of Rights.

On June 25, 1868, the United States Congress provisionally readmitted Georgia to the Union following the Civil War with the requirements that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and never deprive any citizens of voting rights.

On June 25, 1876, Indians under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention nominated Benjamin Harrison for President of the United States; Harrison’s grandfather was WIlliam Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.

On June 25, 1990, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Georgia v. South Carolina, a boundary dispute. From Wikipedia:

A… 1922 Supreme Court decision, also called Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U. S. 516, also held that all islands in the river belong to Georgia, but that the border should be in the middle of the river between the two shores, with the border half way between any island and the South Carolina shore.

Since the 1922 case, a number of new islands were created in the river between the city of Savannah and the ocean, due to the deposit of dredging spoilage or the natural deposit of sediments. In some cases, the new islands were on the South Carolina side of the previously drawn boundary, and Georgia claimed that once a new island emerged, the border should be moved to the midpoint between the new island and the South Carolina shore of the river. In some cases, the state of South Carolina had been collecting property tax from the land owners and policing the land in question for a number of years.

When an island causes the border to leave the middle of the river, it raises the question as to how the border line should return to the middle of the river at each end of the island. South Carolina advocated a right angle bend at each tip of the island, while Georgia advocated a “triequidistant” method which kept the border an equal distance between the two shores and the tip of the island (resulting in a smooth curve.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Slow Your Roll, Hipsters: the Atlanta Beltline will lower the speed limit for e-scooters, according to the AJC.

Riders on e-scooters must now abide by an 8 mph speed limit along a portion of the Beltline Eastside Trail between Monroe Drive and DeKalb Avenue, which has been designated as a reduced speed zone for scooters, Atlanta Beltline officials announced in a news release. The city previously set a speed limit of 15 mph for scooters in the city.

The reduced speed zones are in effect every day from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and on state holidays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., including the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

The new scooter rules were announced Friday, days after Atlanta police announced they were beginning to enforce scooter laws after a period of leniency. Riders face a fine of up to $1,000 if they do not follow transportation laws.

Parking zones for scooters have also been identified along the Eastside and Westside Beltline trails to reduce the clutter of discarded scooters, allowing residents to easily enter the trails.

Scooters will not be allowed anywhere on or along the multi-use trails except in the authorized zones, which will be marked with signs.

In January, Atlanta passed legislation regulating scooters and imposing fines on companies for violations. Under the law, scooters must be parked upright on sidewalks in a manner that allows pedestrians five feet of space.

Scooter companies can be fined up to $1,000 per day for violations.

The Atlanta History Center will host a Civil War flag painted in Philadelphia and carried by an African-American regiment, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Six feet wide and more than four feet tall, the silk flag was painted by an African American artist in Philadelphia. It is now in the collection of the Atlanta History Center, and represents the most expensive artifact the center has acquired.

It shows a black soldier carrying a rifle and bidding goodbye to a white figure dressed as “Columbia,” representing the U.S.

According to the history center, at least 180,000 African Americans served in the United States Colored Troops, a branch of the U.S. Army formed after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

The flag had previously been displayed at the Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library in Philadelphia. Silk is a particularly fragile material, said Jones, and much of the flag had deteriorated. He said fragments of the original painting had been reassembled, “like pieces of a puzzle,” during extensive restoration of the artifact.

Liberty County Commissioners adopted a resolution opposing offshore drilling, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The June 4 resolution notes the seismic airguns used for oil exploration fire intense blasts of compressed air, “one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean every 10-12 seconds for days, weeks or months on end, that “has been shown to harm and injure dolphins, whales, endangered sea turtles, fish, and other marine life.”

It goes on to note that drilling poses “a significant risk of an oil spills and chronic leakage” and that the associated infrastructure “would harm the character of the coast, and local communities.”

As did the Georgia General Assembly in a similar resolution passed earlier this year, Liberty County emphasized the threat to tourism and fisheries on the coast.

“Liberty County recognizes that the tourism and fishing industries, which depend on a healthy and vibrant coastal environment, both serve as major economic drivers benefiting the current and future residents, property owners, and visitors to Georgia,” the resolution reads.

Savannah added two new electric vehicles to their parking enforcement fleet, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“This vehicle is really an efficient way of getting things done, especially in the metropolitan area around here,” said Mayor Eddie DeLoach, who took a test drive around Warren Square.

A pilot program in Savannah in 2018 compared the efficiency of Parking Services’ Nissan Versas with the LEAF, equipping each vehicle with an onboard computer to record data during actual use for a week. The electric vehicle was the clear winner. The gas-powered Versa, while rated at 35 miles per gallon highway by the EPA, was getting closer to 12-14 mpg doing the work of issuing parking tickets. Parking Services officers typically drive 25-30 miles in a day, meaning they’d go through two or three gallons of gas.

“The way they work requires them do a lot of start and stopping,” said Sean Brandon, director of Mobility & Parking Services.“We don’t like idling but sometimes they’re trying to give someone a chance to move a vehicle so they’re just going to sit there and wait. When you factor that all in, the Versas weren’t that efficient. The electric vehicle turns out to be pretty perfect for this use.”

Adding electric vehicles to the city’s fleet is in accord with the Savannah Forward strategic plan that calls for 15% of the city’s vehicle fleet to be powered by alternate fuels or hybrid technology by 2023.

The strategic plan came from public input, including feedback that talked specifically about not only cost savings with electric and hybrid vehicles but also reducing the city’s carbon footprint to reduce its contribution to global warming, Sustainability Director Nick Deffley said.

Brunswick and Savannah have rolled out a program using goats for vegetation control, according to The Brunswick News.

Brunswick and Savannah began sharing a herd of goats earlier this month, and interim assistant city manager Beatrice Soler said the animals have been effective. She said they cleared an area in the Magnolia Park neighborhood in a span of three days.

“The goats have been able to address multiple areas within the city other than College Park, including Magnolia Park area, areas by the hospital and other overgrowth in other ditch areas,” Soler said. “Currently, Public Works is working with Get Your Goat Rentals on a list of areas that need to be addressed within the city before heading over to Savannah.”

Soler said that, aside from inclement weather, there were few issues getting the goats to Brunswick from Savannah.

The goats have not only been a positive addition to the city, but they have also helped cut back on the use of chemicals that hurt the environment. Soler said the city would like to continue using them if the program is sustainable.

“Having the goats around has been an informative and enlightening overall,” Soler said. “Instead of using hazardous chemicals that can be costly and unhealthy for the environment, having goats is a greener way of approaching overgrowth and mitigating areas — especially because we’re in hurricane season.”

Whitfield County Commissioners will extend the deadline to apply for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Citizens Committee, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

At their work session Monday, members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners agreed to extend the deadline to apply for the SPLOST 2020 advisory committee to Monday, July 8, when commissioners have their next meeting. The application deadline had been Monday, July 1, at 5 p.m.

“There was no vote. We don’t vote at work sessions,” said board Vice Chairman Harold Brooker, who presided over the meeting in the absence of Chairman Lynn Laughter. “But there was unanimous consensus.”

The committee will help select the projects for a SPLOST that is expected to be put before county voters in the May 2020 general primary. The committee will be composed of 16 individuals and two alternates. Each of the five commissioners will appoint two people to the committee from their district. Laughter is elected county-wide. And the board will appoint one alternate. The Dalton City Council will appoint three members and one alternate, and the three smaller cities in the county — Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell — will appoint one member each.

Even with the applications that came in Monday, no one from the town of Cohutta has applied and only one person each has applied from Tunnel Hill and Varnell.

Dougherty County Commissioners adopted a budget for FY 19-20, according to the Albany Herald.

The budget accounted for $69,829,147, with $15,000 in funding added Monday to mow rights-of-way on state roads on a complaint basis from the public.

Dalton Public Schools have implemented new security measures, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

From the Dalton Board of Education funding four new school resource officers to the installation of “intruder locks” on all classroom doors, administrators and school board members have stressed security and safety since a Dalton High teacher barricaded himself in his room and shot a bullet through a window.

The newest tool teachers and administrators have is a crisis management system. Earlier this month, the Dalton Public Schools Board of Education approved a $325,000 purchase to install the CrisisAlert system from Centegix, an Atlanta-based company specializing in safety and security technology for schools.

At the heart of the system are badges that staff and administration at the school wear that are linked by wireless communication beacons. The badges, which match the size of the plastic identification badges all school employees wear, can relay alerts from any employee to a designated response team at the school.

Pressing a button on the badge three times signals an alert — an injury, a medical emergency, etc. — and seven presses of the button in rapid succession can place the entire school under lockdown for more serious situations.

The Hall County Board of Education adopted a FY 2020 budget and property tax millage rate rollback, according to AccessWDUN.

Thanks to lower than expected expenditures at the end of the year, the Hall County School Board rolled back the millage rate more than originally planned for the FY 2020 budget.

Board members Monday night set the rate at 17.55 mills, down from the proposed rate of 17.8. The current millage rate is 18.2.

“We are about 3.4% behind on expenditures, so we could have either added that to the ending balance for this year…or we could reduce the millage rate,” said Board Chairman Nath Morris. “We always wanted to reduce the millage rate to the extent that we could without dipping too much into reserves.”

The bulk of the $270 million budget for the new year, which goes into effect on Monday, July 1, will be spent on employee salaries and benefits. Superintendent Will Schofield noted that 87% of the budget goes to salaries and benefits, and a large portion of that expenditure is dictated by the state.

The Georgia Department of Public Health awarded funding for the Georgia Strong Families Program, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Funds will support the Georgia Strong Families Program that will be implemented in South Health District (Valdosta District) and the West Central Health District (Columbus District), state health officials said.

“Healthy Start programs provide information, resources, and support to pregnant and parenting women and their families to ensure a healthy pregnancy and to help nurture their newborns,” said George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D., HRSA administrator. “This support is critical to addressing the significant racial and ethnic disparities in preterm birth and infant death in the U.S.”

The Georgia Strong Families Program will allow existing services through South Health District’s BABY LUV/PAT program to expand into Brooks and Echols counties while continuing to serve families in Lowndes.

“The Healthy Start funding fills a tremendous gap in Echols and Brooks counties,” said Dr. William Grow, district health director. “Families in these counties will now be afforded the opportunity to receive evidence-based home visiting and other valuable Healthy Start services. We are certainly excited and glad to be a part of this initiative and we anticipate these services will improve the wellbeing of families in our area.”

The Muscogee County Board of Education voted to drop a proposal to extend school hours, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

In a unanimous vote during its monthly meeting Monday night, the board dropped from the agenda the action item that was Superintendent David Lewis’ revised proposal.

It would have extended the elementary school schedule by 15 minutes in the afternoon. It also would have made the middle school day 10 minutes longer, starting 5 minutes earlier and ending 5 minutes later. The high school day would have remained the same amount of time but would have shifted the start and end times 5 minutes later.

Board chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1 began Monday’s meeting by asking Lewis to pull his recommendation from the agenda. She said the delay will allow the administration more time for a more accurate survey of parents. She noted the survey allowed anyone to submit multiple responses.

The Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau recommended policies on film production to the City Commission, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The visitors bureau, which showed its board members a draft of the regulations Thursday, presented them Monday at a meeting attended by Mayor Hardie Davis, two Augusta commissioners, several city employees and the director of the Augusta Regional Film Office, an independent production-assistance company.

The Monday meeting to discuss the regulations that ostensibly will become city policy was held in a city hall conference room. Davis said the meeting was not open to the public and asked the Augusta Chronicle reporter in attendance to leave.

Documents the visitors bureau provided to The Chronicle before the meeting show a nine-page application form that includes a property-use release and an indemnification agreement.

The bureau said the film registration process was created with the input of several city departments, including Central Services, Recreation and Parks, Traffic and Engineering and Planning and Development. It also said it studied the permit systems of several Georgia cities to determine best practices.

The Hall County Commission is considering regulations for “agri-entertainment” facilities, according to AccessWDUN.

The topic came up at Monday’s Hall County Commission work session as commissioners considered a special use agri-entertainment application made by Michelle Gibbs regarding a 4.65-acre tract on Ransom Free Road in the northern end of the county.

Hall County Planning and Development Director Srikanth Yamala explained Gibb’s request to the commission. “The application is for…wedding and similar gatherings that would occur (at) an existing barn on the property. As a part of the request the applicant has requested two variances.” Both requests, Yamala explained, concerned required property line setbacks.

District 1 Commissioner Kathy Cooper asked how many agri-entertainment applications had been approved. Planning Department Manager Sarah McQuade said thirteen, as best she could remember.

Powell looked at his fellow commissioners and asked if developing similar rules for agri-entertainment business license holders as were in place for short term rental business license holders was something they thought needed to be undertaken.

Chairman Richard Higgins and Commissioner Cooper agreed the need was there.

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