Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 22, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 22, 2019

General William Tecumseh Sherman gained the upper hand in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Estimated casualties were 12,140 (3,641 Union, 8,499 Confederate).

On July 22, 1964, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia released their opinion in the case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States. The court held that the Commerce Clause gave the federal government the ability to order private businesses to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

Notwithstanding such states’ rights–based challenges, the Court in the Heart of Atlanta Motel and McClung cases unanimously held that the sweeping antidiscrimination provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were a proper exercise of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. In effect, the Court reasoned that race discrimination by even very localized businesses, when viewed in the aggregate, had such far-reaching negative effects on the interstate movement of people and products that Congress could remove these impediments to commerce whether or not its true motives centered on a moral condemnation of racism.

Ensuing enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to the dismantling of many of the most overt forms of racial discrimination, which in turn contributed to the emergence of the “New South” and the explosion of economic activity that spread throughout the region in ensuing decades.

On July 22, 1975, the United States House of Representatives voted to restore U.S. Citizenship to General Robert E. Lee posthumously.

Though President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation of amnesty and pardon to the Southern rebels in 1865, it required Lee to apply separately. On Oct. 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Va., he signed the required amnesty oath and filed an application through Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Nonetheless, neither was Lee pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. After receiving it, Secretary of State William Seward gave Lee’s application to a friend as a souvenir. Meanwhile, State Department officials, apparently with Seward’s approval, pigeonholed the oath.

In 1970, an archivist, examining State Department records at the National Archives, found Lee’s lost oath. That discovery helped set in motion a five-year congressional effort to restore citizenship to the general, who had died stateless in 1870.

President Gerald Ford signed the congressional resolution on July 24, 1975, correcting what he said was a 110-year oversight. The signing ceremony took place at Arlington House in Virginia, the former Lee family home. Several Lee descendants, including Robert E. Lee V, his great-great-grandson, attended.

On July 22, 1977, Elvis Costello released his first album, My Aim is True.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The AJC’s Greg Bluestein points to three polls showing statewide Republicans in good shape.

The first, conducted by Morning Consult, showed both Gov. Brian Kemp and Sen. David Perdue – who is seeking another term next year – hovering just above or just below the 50-percent mark. In today’s political climate, that’s tolerably good shape.

Then came a poll of 602 voters from left-leaning Public Policy Polls which showed President Donald Trump slightly underwater: A 45% approval rating and 49% disapproval. No margin of error was provided. In a head-to-head matchup with a generic Democrat, Trump trailed 50-46.

We got even more nuance from an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll that offered a few key findings.

• this poll had Trump’s approval rating at 48%, four percentage points higher than the same surveyors had him a year ago.

• though it didn’t include a question on Perdue, the poll found Kemp earned a 61% approval rating (30% of those voters “strongly” approve), while 37% disapprove.

The NBC News poll found about 60% of Georgia voters oppose “completely” overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, slightly fewer than a similar question in an April AJC poll.

Delta Air Lines will stock Narcan on flights, according to the AJC.

Delta Air Lines plans to stock its on-board emergency medical kits with Narcan, which can reverse the effects of opioid overdose, starting this fall.

Narcan is a brand name of the medication naloxone. The Association of Flight Attendants has called for the Federal Aviation Administration to require airlines to stock naloxone on all commercial flights and to train flight attendants to administer it.

Meanwhile, Emory University has displaced Delta as the largest employer in metro Atlanta, according to a press release by the University.

Emory University is the largest employer in metro Atlanta, according to a new list published today by The Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Emory University President Claire E. Sterk told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that “the size and quality of Emory’s diverse faculty and staff reflects record demand among students from around the world to learn and live in our city, historic growth in research awards, and increasing demand from the community for the highest quality healthcare.”

According to Patsy Conn, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s research director, Emory’s trajectory has been on the upswing. A decade ago, Emory was 5th among all metro employers; the university had been 2nd to Delta since 2013. The publication reports Emory has 31,214 full-time employees in the 20-county metro Atlanta region as of Dec. 21, 2018. Altogether, Emory employs a full-time workforce of 37,716 and directly or indirectly supports nearly 77,400 jobs statewide.

As its workforce has grown, so has Emory’s effectiveness, says Sterk. “Bolstered by the contributions of the more than 44,000 alumni who live in Atlanta, Emory has a profound economic impact upon the region — $11.4 billion in 2018 — as we create thousands of jobs, generate millions in tax revenues, undertake capital investment, and contribute to communities through service, health care, research, and civic engagement.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that proposed mining near the Okefenokee will negatively impact the environment, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The written comments from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were provided to The Associated Press on Friday by the Army Corps of Engineers, which disclosed last week that it is considering a permit request by the mining company Twin Pines Minerals LLC of Birmingham, Alabama.

“We have concerns that the proposed project poses substantial risks for significant affect to the environment,” the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote in a five-page response to the Army Corps dated Feb. 20. “Should impacts occur they may not be able to be reversed, repaired, or mitigated for.”

Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, said Friday the company first met with the Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies last year.

“We really took their questions and comments to heart and tried to incorporate their comments and concerns in our program,” Ingle said.

He added the company has since conducted environmental studies that it believes will “prove that during mining, and after mining, we will be very much environmentally friendly.”

Judge Tadia Whitner has taken the bench as the first African-American on the Gwinnett Superior Court, according to the AJC.

Weeks after Kemp announced he was appointing Whitner to the Gwinnett Superior Court seat vacated by the resignation of Judge Melodie Snell Conner, he swore her in at the State Capitol as her family and friends looked on.

The historical aspect of the event comes from the fact that she will be the first black Superior Court judge in Gwinnett’s 200-year history. For Whitner, however, it was the people who supported her throughout her life that were forefront in her mind rather than the history-making nature of the proceedings.

“Thank you Gov. Kemp for allowing me to continue serving my county and the state of Georgia,” Whitner said after she was sworn in. “I especially want to thank my family, (husband) Brian (and children) Xander and Jade. They are the most supportive people. They believe in me when I don’t even believe in myself.”

The swearing in drew a high profile group of jurists, including U.S. District Court Judge William “Billy” Ray, Georgia Supreme Court justices and judges from the Georgia Court of Appeals. Several current and retired Gwinnett judges also attended the swearing in.

“Tadia (has brought) an invaluable leadership and legal expertise to her work as a prosecutor, private attorney and judge for the municipal and juvenile court,” Kemp told attendees at the swearing in. “It is truly an honor to appoint her to the Gwinnett judicial circuit Superior Court where I am confident the she will govern her courtroom with the utmost integrity and impartiality.”

Gwinnett State Court Judge Carla Brown introduced Whitner at the swearing in. Brown said Whitner is the daughter of an airline pilot and lived in various states while she was growing up, and later graduated from Howard University.

Georgia State Senator Renee Unterman leads the field in fundraising in the Seventh Congressional District, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Recently filed second quarter fundraising figures show Unterman’s campaign reported about $677,494 in revenues for the quarter. That was higher than any another candidate — Republican or Democrat — for the quarter.

Unterman is just ahead of the $654,195 in receipts which the Federal Elections Commission’s wesbite says has been reported by Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux since she officially launched her campaign in January. Bourdeaux reported about $282,657 in receipts during the second quarter reporting period, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Following Unterman in second quarter fundraising, according to FEC records, were Republicans Lynn Homrich (about $500,321) and Richard McCormick (about $314,125). Bourdeaux was fourth, followed by Republicans Benjamin Bullock (about $147,143) and Mark Gonsalves (about $123,103), Democrats Nabilah Islam (about $108,247), Brenda Lopez Romero (about $72,040), John Eaves ($70,179) and Marqus Cole ($24,748) and Republican Lerah Lee ($8,650).

While Unterman leads the field in total dollars raised so far in the race, the FEC website shows there was a $602,840.89 loan listed among the Unterman campaign’s revenues.

Coweta County Commissioners voted to place a T-SPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) on the November ballot, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

If approved by voters, the 1 percent tax would be collected beginning April 1, 2020, and would last five years. The new tax would bring Coweta’s total sales tax rate to 8 percent. Some products –particularly gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel – are not subject to the TSPLOST.

The commissioners also voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the county’s municipalities for the division of the TSPLOST funds.

The tax is expected to raise between $100 and $125 million over five years, and the money will be used for transportation projects through the county and its cities.

The money will be divided among the cities and the county, with the county retaining 66 percent of the total. The city of Newnan will get approximately 27 percent. Senoia will get roughly 3 percent, Grantville will get 2.2 percent, and the smaller cities will get between 0.13 and 0.35 percent.

The agreement also gives the county and cities the ability to issue bonds, to be repaid with TSPLOST proceeds, that can allow projects to be completed more quickly.

Former Hall County Commissioner Jerry Carpenter died Saturday, according to the Gainesville Times.

A store owned by Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas was evicted from their space in the Savannah Mall, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Sheriff’s deputies [] had served an eviction notice for Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas’ business, Stuff Stores, Inc. at the Savannah Mall.

Inside the mall, signs were posted on the store windows about the eviction and notices telling shoppers to not enter.

Thomas has 24 hours to pick up the items from the four spaces he had at the mall, or they will be disposed of, according to a deputy.

Savannah Mall Realty Holding, LLC filed suit against Thomas in November of 2018 regarding his contract and account.

“We did close in January and have been fighting with them for several months,” Thomas said. “At this time we are consulting with attorneys about future remedies.”

Columbus City Council will consider an ordinance to allow e-scooters, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Scooter rental company Lime proposed placing 300 scooters in the Uptown area for a period of 90 days. That way, city officials and the business owners can measure the success of the personal transportation devices.

Council must first approve an ordinance to place a moratorium on the use of shared electric scooters. A first reading will be held at 5:30 p.m. July 23, and a vote could come at the August 13 meeting at 9 a.m.

Creating an ordinance to regulate similar businesses would be the goal for the city, while Lime would be gauging if there is enough interest and usage by the citizens of Columbus to make placing the scooters here permanently a smart business investment.

Chamblee City Council will consider decriminalizing marijuana possession, according to the AJC.

“Take away the criminal aspect. Take away the pipeline of sending people to jail,” said Brian Mock, the Chamblee City Councilman who introduced the ordinance.

The city currently defaults to state law for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, which is classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment can include one year of jail time or a $1,000 fine. An ounce of marijuana can make about 40 joints, according to online resources.

Chamblee’s proposal would treat the offense more like a traffic ticket that is handled in municipal court, with no jail time and a fine of either $75 or $150. Officials are still working out the details of the ordinance and plan to continue discussing it next month.

It would be the ninth local jurisdiction in Georgia with the reduced penalty, following large cities like Atlanta, Savannah and Macon-Bibb County, as well as smaller ones like South Fulton and Forest Park.

Life jackets placed near the Columbus River Walk have been removed, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The donated life jacket stand has been removed from next to the downtown Columbus whitewater, where a 6-year-old boy drowned three weekends ago in the Chattahoochee River after slipping off the rocks.

Uptown Columbus president Ross Horner cited safety as the reason he removed the approximately 20 life jackets Friday morning after consulting with other officials. His nonprofit is the sole member of Whitewater Management LLC, which contracts with Whitewater Express and leases the Waveshaper Island property from the city.

Public safety officials were concerned, Horner said, that people were using the life jackets to swim in the rapids, which is prohibited, and that the life jackets aren’t designed to be used in whitewater.

Horner told the Ledger-Enquirer, “In this instance, we’ve had Ms. Peavey and other individuals who have done something really good to try to prevent something, and this good deed has had unintended consequences. We’ve leaned on the experts, and when the experts have told us that they need to be removed, … we’ve made that decision to ensure that people aren’t going to misuse these life jackets.”

Rome City Council will adopt a property tax rate for FY 2020 that is unchanged, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The 2019 property tax rate is broken down into 17.45 mills for the Rome City Schools system, 1.935 mills for city capital projects and 8.151 mills for the city’s maintenance and operations budget.

The city M&O rate was calculated at 13.254 mills, but the permanent 1-cent local option sales tax produced enough revenue to offset that by 5.103 mills, equal to $5.103 per $1,000 of value.

Property taxes are due by Nov. 15. A late penalty of 7.5% will be assessed on the balance due and another 5% interest fee will be levied after 120 days.

Three Coastal Georgia organizations will receive $439,000 in grants to fight homelessness, according to The Brunswick News.

Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, Inc. was awarded two grants, collectively worth $90,000, for homeless prevention and rapid rehousing.

Gateway Behavioral Health Service was awarded four grants worth more than $129,000 to help support rapid rehousing, street outreach, shelter plus care support services/harm reduction programs.

Safe Harbor Children’s Shelter, Inc. was awarded five grants worth over $220,000 to help support emergency shelter, street outreach, hotel motel voucher, Emergency Solutions Grants support services and Georgia Homeless Management Information System programs.

The grants awarded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs were announced Wednesday by state Sen. William Ligon, R-St. Simons Island.

Three Statesboro City Council members announced they will run for reelection, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Three Statesboro City Council seats are up for election Nov. 5, and the incumbents – District 2 Councilman Sam Lee Jones, District 3 Councilman Jeff Yawn and District 5 Councilman Derek Duke – all plan to seek re-election.

As with other nonpartisan city elections throughout Georgia, candidates must file their paperwork and pay their fees the week of Aug. 19-23. In Statesboro, candidate qualifying will be overseen by City Clerk Sue Starling at City Hall between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. those five days. The qualifying fee, 3 percent of a council member’s salary, is $227.

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