Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 24, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 24, 2019

On July 24, 1778, Georgia ratified the Articles of Confederation.

Georgia’s John Walton was present on July 9, 1778, and signed the document then. Georgia’s other two delegates – Edward Telfair and Edward Langworthy – did not sign until July 24, 1778, which is the date most often used for Georgia’s ratification of the Articles.

An interesting sidenote is that John Walton‘s brother, George Walton, signed the Declaration of Independence on Georgia’s behalf.

At 12:51 EDT, we mark the safe return from the moon of Apollo 11.

The number one song in America on July 24, 1982 was “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor, from the Rocky III soundtrack.

On July 24, 2000, former Georgia Governor Zell Miller was appointed to the United States Senate to serve in the seat vacated on the death of Senator Paul Coverdell.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Nearly 40 million opioid pills were delivered to Clarke County from 2007 through 2012, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

That’s about 49 pills per person per year in Athens. Georgia received about 2.3 billion pills in the seven-year period.

A federal judge last week ordered the federal government to release the Drug Enforcement Agency data to two newspapers that had sued for the data. The Washington Post and the parent company of the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail filed suit a year ago to gain access to the information, and last week the Post published a searchable database allowing users to see the numbers for each state and county.

The database shows the number of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills delivered to each state and county during those years. Oxycodone and hydrocodone account for about 75 percent of opioid shipments to pharmacies, the Post reported.

Clarke County’s rate of 49 per person is in the middle range for Georgia, like several other counties in the area, including Madison (48), Jackson (49) and Barrow (49). Two neighboring counties were much lower: Oconee at 19 and Oglethorpe at 21.

The federal information also showed a huge increase nationally in the number of opioid pills prescribed and distributed over the seven years, from 8.4 billion pills in 2006 to 12.6 billion in 2012.

The so-called opioid epidemic resulted in 100,000 deaths during the seven years, the newspaper reported.

Georgia Supreme Court candidates John Barrow and Sara Doyle have combined to raise more than half-a-million dollars, according to the Daily Report.

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow and Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle are seeking to win the seat that Justice Robert Benham will leave when he retires at the end of 2020. In the first reporting period that ended June 30, Barrow reported $304,100 raised, and Doyle reported $223,470.

A walk through their reports shows Barrow has more big donors and Doyle has more total contributors thus far.

Barrow’s supporters include some big names in Georgia Democratic politics: former Gov. Roy Barnes of Barnes Law Group, former congressman Buddy Darden of Pope McGlamry, former Attorney General Mike Bowers of Balch & Bingham.

Doyle’s supporters include some well-known trial and appellate lawyers in the state: Marietta plaintiffs’ attorney Lance Cooper—who gave $7,000, as did his wife and his law firm—plus Malone Law Office, the firm of Tommy and Adam Malone.

Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation will speak to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, according to a press release.

Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for “Election Integrity: Facts, Fraud and Fiction,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon keynoted by Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky on Tuesday, August 27, at the Georgian Club in Atlanta.

The topic is especially relevant in Georgia, as allegations of impropriety linger over Georgia’s November 2018 elections, and it’s one von Spakovsky is uniquely qualified to tackle.

This event is open to the public but registration is required at Eventbrite. Media who wish to attend must contact Benita Dodd.

President Donald Trump appointed him to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in 2017.

Closer to home, Hans also served as Chairman of the Fulton County Republican Party and on the Fulton County Board of Elections, as well as in the George W. Bush Justice Department.

Abortion advocates are seeking to delay implementation of the state’s heartbeat bill, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

Opponents of a Georgia law that bans most abortions on Tuesday asked a judge to keep it from taking effect while their legal challenge plays out.

The law is set to become enforceable Jan. 1. Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued on behalf of Georgia advocacy groups and abortion providers last month to challenge the measure.

The court filing Tuesday argues that viability, or the likelihood that a fetus can survive outside the womb, doesn’t occur until several months into a pregnancy. That means Georgia’s law directly contradicts the precedent set by the Supreme Court, which “has repeatedly and unequivocally held that a state may not ban abortion at any point prior to viability,” the filing says.

The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta now has a braille flag, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

On Tuesday, a braille U.S. flag was unveiled at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center’s Blind Rehabilitation Center. The rehab center is the second one in the nation to receive such a flag .

“This is a great honor for the VA. We are the first in Georgia to receive a braille flag,” said Herman Jefferson, the assistant chief of the rehab center. “It is quite an honor for Charlie Norwood to have that displayed on one of the walls in the medical center.”

The flag, bronze in color, has the Pledge of Allegiance written on it in braille. It was designed in 2005 by Randolph Cabral, the president of the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, to honor the memory of his father, who was blind. In 2008, a bill was passed to placed a braille flag at Arlington National Cemetery to honor blind members of the armed forces, veterans and other Americans.

Peters said those who are interested in getting a flag should contact the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute. The flag was donated by Disabled American Veterans through the Blinded Veterans Association.

I’ve never heard of such a thing before, and it’s awesome.

The police report is out in the Erica Thomas Publix affair, and the event still remains a “she said, he said.” From the AJC:

A witness to a heated grocery store encounter between state Rep. Erica Thomas and a man she accused of uttering racist comments told authorities she didn’t hear him make those remarks, according to a Cobb County police report.

A Publix employee told a Cobb County officer that she witnessed part of the conversation and heard Thomas “continuously tell Eric Sparkes to ‘Go back where you came from!’” but did not hear Sparkes utter those words to Thomas.

Cobb authorities, meanwhile, said Tuesday they don’t intend to file criminal charges in the case after what the police department said was a “thorough” investigation into the confrontation.

Rick Thompson, a former Executive Director of the Georgia State Ethics Commission has been appointed to the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission by Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, according to the AJC.

Duncan, who paid Thompson’s company — RTA Strategy — to file his campaign disclosures during his race last year, had a spot to fill on the commission after appointing ethics panel member Allen Yee to the State Road and Tollway Authority.

“Open government is an essential element in fostering confidence in a free, democratic society,” Duncan said in a statement. “Rick Thompson’s expertise and decades of experience will be integral to ensuring Georgians can have faith in our government and its leaders.”

The commission oversees compliance with campaign finance laws as well as lobbyist registrations and expenditures.

The Cobb County Commission adopted a FY 2020 budget and property tax millage rate that increase revenues while keeping the rate the same, according to the AJC.

Cobb Commissioners approved a $475 million general fund budget for 2020 in a split vote Tuesday night.

That’s up five percent from last year, an increase attributed to growth in the tax digest as commissioners kept the property tax rate flat.

The budget includes a four percent raise for non-sworn county employees and a seven percent raise for sworn public safety personnel following months of lobbying by advocates of police, fire and sheriff’s deputies.

Democrat Derrick Wilson wants Governor Brian Kemp to remove Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Derrick Wilson’s campaign said he sent the letter to Kemp on Monday. He is asking the governor to, if not remove Hunter so a special election for his seat could be held in November, to at least suspend him from office.

“Hunter must be held accountable for his actions,” Wilson said in the letter. “The frivolous lawsuits against the county and his colleagues, for repercussions to his prior outbursts, are a waste of time and valuable county resources.

“It has also made working relationships more strenuous for both his colleagues and the public.”

Wilson is one of a few Democrats who have announced plans to run for Hunter’s seat in 2020.

Political grandstanding, nothing more.

Floyd County Commissioners adopted the same property tax millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year as for the current year, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County commissioners approved their 2019 tax levy at the same rate as was imposed a year ago. The end result though, is likely to be a slight increase in taxes for most property owners because value of most properties was increased this year.

The county school’s rate was set at 18.25 mills, which is a decline of 0.05 mills. The county government maintenance and operation levy remains at 9.48 mills, the fire protection levy was set at 1.65 mills and the solid waste fund levy was set at 0.656, bringing the total levy to 30.036 mills or $30.03 per thousand dollars of value.

The real property digest was up 6.6%, however several other areas went down, resulting in an across the board increase that averaged out to 2.17%.

Savannah City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement with Chatham County to split proceeds of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The vote approved Mayor Eddie DeLoach’s suggested projects for the special purpose local option sales tax, known as SPLOST.

The SPLOST issue will be on ballots for voters Nov. 5. If approved, collections would begin on Oct. 1, 2020.

The agreement calls for the city of Savannah to receive $156 million of a potential $400 million in revenue from the SPLOST VII collections. That amount includes a separate line item for the Eastside Early Learning Center of $3.125 million. The county has agreed to pay the same amount for the project.

SPLOST is a county tax and the county is the only government that can call for the referendum.

Monday’s council vote followed a tense discussion on July 18 that ended with only an agreement for council to meet again.

Valdosta City Council will consider two requests by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority to accept federal grants, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The City of Hahira will consider voting changes to address an increasing population, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Dalton City Board of Education Chair Rick Fromm will resign his chairmanship and will not run for reelection, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The board seats of Fromm, Tulley Johnson and Pablo Perez are up for election this year. Evans and board member Palmer Griffin were elected in 2017.

I believe Mr. Fromm will retain his seat on the Board of Education through the remaineder of his term, but will not continue as the Chair, which is elected by fellow BOE members.

Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta will announce he is running for reelection for Ward IV, according to the Albany Herald.

Glynn County has issued a water quality warning for beaches on St Simons Island and Jekyll Island, according to The Brunswick News.

The Deputy Director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynn County discussed the Center’s role in law enforcement, according to The Brunswick News.

Fallon explained at a St. Simons Island Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday how the training center has evolved over time to now be under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security.

The center’s mission statement says its role is to prepare “the federal law enforcement community to safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values.”

Fallon said the training center is world renowned with no comparison. At any given time, the center has as many as 3,000 employees and anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 students training.

The good news is Fallon said the center in Brunswick had its best year of federal funding in nearly two decades. The extra funding will be used to build more housing at the center. He predicted the center will continue to have a long presence in Brunswick.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources tranquilized and relocated a bear from Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Monday, Duluth Police Department officers were called out to “several homes” on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard by River Green Parkway after residents reported a bear, which was likely the same one that was spotted last month, was climbing fences to get food.

Duluth police said in a social media post on Tuesday that the bear returned Monday night to “munch on more apples,” which is when the Georgia Department of Natural Resources was called.

DNR tranquilized the bear then relocated it, police said.

Duluth police previously said residents should not feed bears and should make sure their food, garbage and recycling is secured. They should also remove bird feeders, never leave pet food outdoors and clean stoves and store grills to avoid unwanted bear visits.

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