Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 2, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 2, 2019

On August 4, 1753, George Washington became a Master Mason at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Georgia delegates Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.

16th Amendment

On August 3, 1910, Georgia became the ninth state to ratify the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which allows Congress to levy a tax without apportioning it among the states.

Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President on August 3, 1923 after Warren Harding died in office.

On August 4, 1944, Anne Frank, her family, and two others were found by Nazis in a sealed area in an Amsterdam warehouse. They were sent first to a concentration camp in Holland, then most were sent to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot died from Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March of 1945.

On August 4, 1958, a wagon train left Dahlonega, headed to Atlanta to pay tribute to the mighty General Assembly deliver 43 ounces of gold to be used to coat the dome of the State Capitol.

Gold from Dahlonega on its way to Atlanta. Photo by Ed Jackson via

On August 3, 1982, Michael Hardwick was arrested, setting in motion the prosecution that would eventually lead to the United States Supreme Court in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick.

On August 2, 1983, the United States House of Representatives voted to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday on the third monday in January.

The World of Coca-Cola opened on August 3, 1990 between Underground Atlanta and the Georgia State Capitol.

President Barack Obama visited Georgia on August 2, 2010 – his first trip to Atlanta and second to Georgia after his election in November 2008. The occasion of his 2010 trip, like his trip to Atlanta yesterday, was to deliver a speech to the Disabled American Veterans Conference at the Hyatt Regency. From his 2010 speech:

As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.  Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31st, 2010, America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing — as promised and on schedule….

As agreed to with the Iraqi government, we will maintain a transitional force until we remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of next year.

At the same time, every American who has ever worn the uniform must also know this: Your country is going to take care of you when you come home. Our nation’s commitment to our veterans, to you and your families, is a sacred trust. And to me and my administration, upholding that trust is a moral obligation. It’s not just politics.

That’s why I’ve charged Secretary Shinseki with building a 21st century VA.  And that includes one of the largest percentage increases to the VA budget in the past 30 years. We are going to cut this deficit that we’ve got, and I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary domestic spending. But what I have not frozen is the spending we need to keep our military strong, our country safe and our veterans secure. So we’re going to keep on making historic commitments to our veterans.

The City of Atlanta will install new markers next to some historic monuments, according to the Statesboro Herald.

In Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, the 1911 Peace Monument commemorating post-Civil War reconciliation will get context noting that its inscription promotes a narrative centered on white veterans, while ignoring African Americans.

“That mythology claimed that despite defeat, the Confederate cause was morally just,” states the marker to be placed near the Peace Monument.

“This monument should no longer stand as a memorial to white brotherhood; rather, it should be seen as an artifact representing a shared history in which millions of Americans were denied civil and human rights,” it states.

Another of the new Atlanta markers will be placed near a monument erected in 1935 to commemorate the Battle of Peachtree Creek. It notes that the statue’s inscription describes the U.S. after the Civil War as “a perfected nation.”

“This ignores the segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans and others that still existed in 1935,” the marker states.

Other Atlanta markers will be placed near two monuments in the city’s historic Oakland Cemetery: The “Lion of Atlanta” monument and the Confederate Obelisk.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Macon’s Grand Opera House will screen “The Breakfast Club” Saturday at 7 PM, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“It’s almost a year since we re-opened after remodeling the theater and creating a new lobby and lounges,” he said. “As far as films, we want wide appeal but in our first year also had an eye toward what film buffs would appreciate. Now, we’ve expanded things like showing ‘Kung Fu Panda’ for families on Wednesday before school got going. Ahead are general appeal movies, music and concert films, some cult classics and just a whole lot of great, entertaining movies.”

Coming are more ‘80s-‘90s hits like “Back to the Future” and “Dirty Dancing” as well as a September repeat showing of “Saturday Night in Macon, Ga.,” from the ‘70s. It’s an Allman Brothers Band concert shot by Don Kirshner at the Grand Opera House also featuring the Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie. “The Need for Speed,” which was shot in Macon, is scheduled and where last October for Halloween two silent horror classics were shown, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and “Nosferatu,” this year the campy-cult-horror favorite “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will be featured.

Also this weekend, the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth will host “Trains, Trucks and Tractors,” according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The museum will host Trains, Trucks and Tractors this weekend, starting Friday and continuing until Sunday.

“During the event, participants will display a range of antique tractors and vehicles not generally on display at the museum,” officials at the museum said in an announcement.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

“The special visiting exhibits and other activities are included in regular museum admission, and guests can also purchase rides on the museum’s restored antique handcar,” museum officials said in their announcement.

“Visiting exhibits will arrive and depart at different times throughout the event, and event offerings are contingent upon the weather.”

Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Atlanta today, according to the AJC.

Vice President Mike Pence will be the headline speaker at a conference at a Buckhead hotel organized by conservative pundit Erick Erickson that will also draw Gov. Brian Kemp and U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

A few miles down the road, about 1,000 delegates will gather for the Democratic Socialists of America convention in downtown Atlanta to discuss the group’s future and chart out plans to support U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 bid.

Pence is set to chat with Erickson shortly before noon at his Resurgent Gathering about President Donald Trump’s re-election plan.

Expect Pence and other speakers to lace their remarks at the Grand Hyatt event with attacks on socialism; Perdue’s campaign wrote an op-ed for attendees this week warning of an “ideological war for the future of our Republic.”

Later Friday, Pence is also expected to headline a fireside chat with his former top aide, Georgia operative Nick Ayers, at the annual Teneo retreat.

Teneo’s mission is to recruit and promote young conservatives, and Ayers’ conversation with Pence will focus on how the vice president became a conservative, the ideas that shaped his worldview and foreign policy issues.

Governor Brian Kemp‘s administration will investigate toxin releases in Cobb County, according to WSB-TV.

Gov. Brian Kemp plans on spearheading a series of public meetings this month to connect government agencies and residents in two metro Atlanta counties as they grapple with revelations tied to the unknown release of carcinogenic toxins from local medical plants.

On Thursday, Kemp’s office confirmed it is working with the EPA, CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health to host question and answer sessions about the medical sterilization facilities with neighbors in Cobb and Newton counties.

Sen. David Perdue’s and Rep. Lucy McBath’s offices are also in contact with the EPA and EPD.

“We will work around the clock to address this situation and keep Georgia families safe,” said the governor’s spokeswoman, Candice Broce, in part of a statement.

Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters ruled in a lawsuit by the Ledger-Enquirer that video of a classroom fight must be made public, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters ruled in favor of the Ledger-Enquirer in the lawsuit filed in January 2018 against MCSD. Peters’ order requires the video to be made available to the L-E within 10 days.On Sept. 12, 2016, a behavior specialist who was contracted to work in the school district allegedly body-slammed Montravious Thomas five times at an alternative school for students with severe discipline violations.

A month later, after unsuccessful surgeries, the 13-year-old had his right leg amputated below his knee, allegedly due to injuries from the confrontation with Bryant Mosley, according to the $25 million lawsuit Montravious’ mother filed in March 2017.

David Hudson represented the L-E in the case. He is the Georgia Press Association’s general counsel and an attorney with the Hull Barrett law firm in Augusta..

“This is a fine open-government victory,” Hudson said via email, “and hats off to the CLE for undertaking the fight in this era of diminished resources to bring cases for access.”

Under the Georgia Open Records Act, the L-E asked the school district for the video in October 2016. MCSD refused to release it, saying that would be an invasion of the student’s personal privacy according to state law, and that the video is an educational record protected from disclosure under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly called FERPA.

Intended to guard student privacy, FERPA says schools may lose federal funding if they have “a policy or practice of releasing education records to unauthorized persons.”

A Columbus Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) would raise the local sales tax to its higher rate ever, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus voters could be asked to approve the highest sales tax in the city’s history on the November 2020 ballot.

Why? In order to replace the decaying Government Center and fund other projects, the Columbus Council wants to raise $350 million over 10 years from the same kind of special sales tax that local schools have relied on for the past two decades.

But that would mean either a new tax on top of the existing one, or Muscogee County School District giving up its tax money, at least temporarily.

The school district’s current 1% special sales tax expires June 30, 2020, and the council is banking on the school board not putting another request on the November ballot to keep the tax rate at the current 8%.

The school board hasn’t decided whether or when it would ask voters for another renewal. But if the city council and school board both seek the 1% special sales taxes next year, or any time before the regional sales tax for transportation expires at the end of 2022, they would be asking voters to accept a total of 9% in sales taxes — the highest in Columbus history.

Anonymous cowards posted white supremacist signs at a Jewish temple in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Congregants of Columbus’ 1617 Wildwood Ave. synagogue instead were angry that two men wearing masks brazenly walked past notices warning they were on surveillance video and posted flyers for a national white supremacist group on handicapped parking signs, part of the temple building and nearby utility poles, said Rabbi Beth Schwartz.

It happened about 9 p.m. Monday, according to the camera footage.

The temple’s facilities manager found the flyers about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, and immediately called the police, who retrieved the security video. Officers also took the flyers, which peeled right off, Schwartz said: “There was no damage to our property.”

Police confirmed they are investigating, saying any suspects they find may, at least, be charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass.

Some of the red, white and blue flyers posted at Temple Israel bore images of an eagle grasping arrows in its talons, a shield on its breast and stars arching overhead. “Reclaim America,” those read.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of victory,” read another. “Better dead than red,” said one with a blue arrow through a red hammer and sickle.

Chartered in 1859, Temple Israel built its current facility in 1956, and now serves about 120 families, Schwartz said.

A Cobb County group called “Stronger Together” syas Cobb County schools has racial problems, according to the AJC.

For months, [Mableton Elementary counselor Jennifer Susko] and other members of Stronger Together, a small grassroots organization, have been trying to call attention to what they say are problematic disparities in disciplinary rates for white students and their peers of color. At the same time, they point to lopsided white participation in gifted and talented programs, a disproportion that they believe indicates institutional bias against black and Latino students.

But those statistics don’t tell the whole story, the Stronger Together group says. In some cases, they charge, teachers and students have shown racial insensitivity and hostility toward minorities – concerns that school system administrators have refused to even acknowledge.

Stronger Together wants the district to implement training for teachers and staff on how to identify and correct “implicit bias,” which refers to stereotypes or attitudes that can affect actions unconsciously. Implicit bias can have an effect on how teachers interact with and discipline students, says the group’s co-founder Jillian Ford, a professor of educational equity at Kennesaw State University.

The Cobb County School District is the second largest public school system in the state, behind Gwinnett County. As of March, the district had 111,722 students enrolled. It has 37% of its students identifying as white, 30% as black, 22% as Hispanic, 6% as Asian, 4% as two or more races, and 1% identifying as Pacific Islander or Native American. About 74% of its teachers are white, as are 68% of its principals and 70% of administrators.

Asked by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to respond to Stronger Together’s concerns, the school system issued a statement, saying, “In the Cobb County School District, we strive to provide every student the opportunity to succeed. We only hire the most qualified candidates at each and every position, and our staff is one of the most diverse in the nation. The diversity of thought, experience and race in our community is one of the reasons Cobb was recently named one of the very best places to work in the United States by Forbes magazine.”

AJC writer Mark Niesse says the new Georgia voting system may be problematic.

Any computerized system is vulnerable to malware and hacking, a fact made clear by high-profile hacking of Capital One and Equifax, which compromised personal information of millions of people. Online attacks have also hit governments such as the city of Atlanta and a Georgia courts agency, whose computers were brought offline when they became infected with programs that demanded a ransom payment.

Election officials will have to be on guard against malware, viruses, stolen passwords and Russian interference across tens of thousands of new voting computers. A Russian agent visited websites of two Georgia counties in 2016 but didn’t gain access to election systems, officials said. Elsewhere in the country, Russian hackers targeted voting systems in Florida and Illinois, according to reports from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.

Georgia election officials will rush to install 30,000 voting machines, 30,000 printers, 3,500 scanners and 8,000 electronic voter registration terminals in time for the March 24 presidential preference primary. The national spotlight will be on Georgia, the only state in the nation with a presidential primary scheduled for that day.

The new voting system will soon be challenged in federal court by voters seeking paper ballots filled out with a pen in elections, arguing that touchscreens and printers could still produce inaccurate results.

Georgia may need to rethink its approach to Medicaid waivers, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Georgia officials working to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults got a jolt this week when a key element of Utah’s plan was rejected by the White House.

But Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said he’s hopeful that there’s enough difference in the two plans to make a difference.

“It’s possible that we could be back at the table, but it isn’t the exact plan as Utah’s,” Hufstetler said Thursday. “And I do think there’s a difference in opinion with the federal government and (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).”

Hufstetler said Georgia’s plan would also subsidize private insurance for people earning between 100% and 138% of the poverty level. That could be enough of a difference to net the 90% federal match the state is counting on.

He said he pressed for waivers that would go up to 138% but he’s also happy with the Patients First Act plan.

“Data shows when we get people under preventative care, system costs drop,” Hufstetler said.

Hall County will build more roundabouts, according to the Gainesville Times.

“Roundabouts generally provide a more free-flowing solution to traffic issues, and they also do not require a tie-in to power for traffic signals,” said Katie Crumley, Hall County spokeswoman.

Roundabouts “are fantastic solutions to the problem of (traffic) delay,” DOT district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said. “We have these (projects) going on everywhere in Georgia.”

One of the reasons roundabouts are favored as a project generally is safety.

“In a typical four-way intersection, you’ve got 32 points of (potential collision). Many of them are head-on collisions or angle crashes,” Strickland said. “A roundabout reduces that number to eight … and many of those points are glancing blows. You take away the head-on collision, which contributes to many fatalities.”

Augusta Commissioner Sammy Sias is accused of falsifying invoices, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The invoices Commissioner Sammie Sias is accused of falsifying detail thousands spent on the Jamestown Community Center kitchen, computers, appliances, repairs and extensive heating and air conditioning work.

The Augusta Commission on Tuesday referred complaints made by former Jamestown center manager Willa Hilton to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Division of Children and Family Services and removed Sias from involvement with the center.

Hilton sent an extensive list of allegations against Sias to the commission last week after he fired her from a role at Jamestown summer camp, including that he falsified invoices and pocketed center funds and fees and used porn and alcohol and abused children at the center. Sias is CEO of Sandridge Community Association, which has contracted with the city to operate Jamestown since the late 1990s.

Sias has maintained his innocence and responded last Friday that Hilton was trying to destroy the center to destroy him because he ended their 20-year extramarital affair.

Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler reports lower suicide numbers over the last three years, according to the Albany Herald.

[T]he county’s suicide rate has bucked the national trend. Fowler’s office worked 11 suicide cases in 2016, with the number dropping to nine in 2017 and seven in 2018.

Nationally, suicide numbers have been on the rise.

From 1999 to 2016 the national suicide rate increased by 25.4%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate increased in every state, with the exception of Nevada, which saw a decrease of 1%, from a low of 5.9% in Delaware to 48.6% in Vermont.

The increase in Georgia as a whole was 16.2% during that time, according to the agency.

Through Wednesday, there have been four confirmed suicide cases in Dougherty County. Fowler is awaiting the processing of evidence to make a determination on a possible fifth suicide case.

The Georgia Council on Aging and Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly unveiled its legislative priorities for next year, according to the Albany Herald.

Officials with the Georgia Council on Aging and Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly, or CO-AGE, said they will press lawmakers to increase funding for home- and community-based services, such as home-delivered meals and transportation to the doctor.

Officials said about 7,000 Georgia seniors are currently on waiting lists for these services. CO-AGE members also are pushing for funds to launch a two-year pilot program addressing behavioral health needs of older residents in subsidized living communities.

“We are experiencing explosive growth in our older population,” Vicki Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging, said. “Without more funding and programs, Georgia’s seniors will end up in the less-appealing and more costly option of nursing homes.”

CO-AGE established its 2020 legislative priorities based on voting by its members, including representatives of organizations working with older adults and seniors. GCOA and CO-AGE members will back a Georgia House of Representatives transportation bill addressing the needs of more than 260,000 Georgians age 70 and older who no longer drive.

“Accessible and affordable transportation is one of the most unmet needs seniors have, and the most requested,” Johnson said. “Not having access to transportation can lead to critical social determinants of health, leading to medical problems, social isolation and depression.”

Oconee County will build a new combined public library and county administration building, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

District Attorney Ken Mauldin will not run for reelection in the Western Judicial Circuit, which serves Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Athens attorney Deborah Gonzalez, who served a brief time as a state House representative, announced in July that she intends to run for district attorney.

“I had committed to step down as District attorney if my wife, Allison Mauldin, had been successful last year in her bid to be elected as a Superior Court judge for this circuit. While I had not made the decision about reelection then, it may have been an indicator of what was to come,” he said in a news release.

Mauldin said he will serve through the remainder of his term, which goes through December 2020.

The City of Grantville will hold a public meeting about the proposed property tax millage rate increase, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Earlier this month, City Manager Al Grieshaber recommended raising the property tax millage rate by two mills at the council’s meeting earlier this month.

Three public hearings will be held. The first two will be Monday, Aug. 5, at 9 a.m. and Monday, Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m. during the council’s work session.

The final public hearing will be held Friday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m.

In a press release from Grieshaber, the tentatively adopted millage rate increase will be 41.51 percent.

This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 6.945 mills, an increase of 2 mills.

A millage rate of 6.945 mills restores the city to its financial position in 2012, and partially compensates for the increased cost of materials, supplies and labor while providing employee benefits that have been advocated by councilmembers without impacting the general fund, according to the city’s press release.

The City of Flowery Branch has begun demolition of the old police building and city hall, according to AccessWDUN.

The Glynn County public school system will roll out electronic report cards, according to The Brunswick News.

Qualifying will run August 19-21 for seven municipal elections in Coweta County, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The Coweta County Board of Elections and Registration will handle qualifying for Grantville, Haralson, Moreland, Turin and Sharpsburg, while Newnan and Senoia will handle their own qualifying.

The November ballot will be a busy one for an odd-year election. In addition to the city races, there will be two county-wide ballot questions. Voters will be asked whether to implement a new five-year, 1 percent sales tax for transportation projects, known as the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax – TSPLOST. Coweta voters will also be asked if the school system tax breaks for senior citizens should be increased.

Newnan voters will have a “brunch bill” question. Approval of the question means that Newnan restaurants would be able to begin serving alcohol at 11 a.m. on Sundays, instead of the current start time of 12:30 p.m.

And Moreland voters will decide whether or not restaurants in the town can serve liquor by the drink.

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