Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 5, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 5, 2019

On August 5, 1774, Royal Governor James Wright issued a proclamation banning assemblies to protest British policy.

President Abraham Lincoln imposed the first federal income tax on August 5, 1861 at the rate of 3 percent on all income over $800 per year.

On August 5, 1910, Gov. Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing betting on election outcomes.

Gold from Dahlonega on its way to Atlanta. Photo by Ed Jackson via http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu

The caravan transporting 43 ounces of gold from Dahlonega to the State Capitol to be used in gilding the dome arrived in Roswell/Sandy Springs area on August 5, 1958. At the current price of $1461.80 per ounce, that would be worth $62,857.40.

President Ronald Reagan began the process of firing all striking Air Traffic Controllers on August 5, 1981.

Divers raised the turret of USS Monitor near Cape Hatteras on August 5, 2002.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Atlanta on Friday, according to 11Alive.

Vice President Mike Pence thanked a conservative audience in Buckhead for a “warm Georgia welcome” and rallied supporters to President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign on Friday.

The vice president repeated many of the “promises made, promises kept” themes driving the president’s campaign. That included touting the strength of the economy, recounting the president’s record on appointing conservative judges, and endorsing the president’s immigration policies.

“Let me say the president and I are both grateful for the strong stand for life that Governor Brian Kemp and your legislature has made,” Pence said.

Governor Brian Kemp appointed former State Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R) as Chair of the Jekyll Island Authority. Rep. Wilkinson was the original sponsor of the legislation designating the adoptable dog as the Official State Dog of Georgia.

The author, Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, didn’t want to have to pick a specific breed for the honor, and he wanted to recognize the thousands of dogs currently available for adoption in Georgia’s animal shelters, humane societies and private groups.

Governor Kemp is considering ways to trim state spending, according to the AJC.

With tax collections flagging, Kemp administration officials were concerned in May that the state might not raise enough to fund the state’s $27 billion budget as the end of the fiscal year neared.

On Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp vowed to rein in state spending, cutting back to meet his priorities, such as another teacher pay raise on top of the $3,000 most educators received this year.

Even with a growing economy, state officials face potential revenue headwinds, in part because of the decision lawmakers made last year to cut the state income tax rate.

Kemp said he is exploring a proposal to limit state spending and “start reeling things back,” though it will fall short of his campaign promise to implement a cap on spending to limit growth in the budget.

The governor said he has no timetable for when he would unveil a cap, one of his key campaign promises. But he said the state would soon have to tighten spending “with an economy that’s not expanding as much as it could.”

Gov. Kemp also discussed plans to dismantle the Common Core academic standards in an AJC Op-Ed.

During the most recent legislative session, Republicans and Democrats partnered at the State Capitol to advance a series of reform measures and budget priorities that put Georgia students ahead of politics.

While we are proud of rising graduation rates and assessment scores, there are still serious challenges that cannot be ignored. 44% of Georgia educators leave the profession before five years of employment. This mass exodus of teachers has fostered a shortage and undeniable ‘brain drain’ in school systems throughout our state. Such high turnover rates undermine academic success and put added stress on educators all across Georgia.

To help incentivize the best and brightest to remain in the classroom, we championed – and passed – the largest pay raise for educators, counselors, and specialists in Georgia history. This $3,000 pay raise, which is a down payment on my promise to increase salaries by $5,000 annually, is an investment in Georgia’s future. By boosting retention rates, we can strengthen our workforce, stay competitive, and provide the educational experience and learning opportunities that our students deserve.

In the months to come, we will convene a Citizens Review Committee to analyze the feedback, a Working Committee of Teachers to offer their insight, and an Academic Review Committee to review recommendations that will then be considered by the State School Superintendent and State Board of Education.

This process, while laborious, will help us eliminate the remnants of Common Core and ensure that our students are given the best opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed. We will do the heavy lifting now to ensure a better, brighter tomorrow. We will reject the status quo and put students first.

Tim Tebow will headline the Southeast Georgia FCA’s Spring Fundraising Banquet next February, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Actress Ashley Bratcher, who starred in “Unplanned,” will speak at the 30th annual Haven Health Friends for Life fundraising banquet next month, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“Bratcher was an unplanned baby herself,” Haven Health volunteer Christa Jackson said. “She’s a wonderful speaker to have to share her testimony at this event.”

Haven Health Clinic for Women, 311 Redmond Road, is an organization dedicated to offering free assistance to women during unplanned pregnancies, with no insurance billing and no income requirements.

“Haven gives women the tools they need to make the best decisions about their pregnancy with the goal to either keep the baby or give it up for adoption,” Jackson said.

This year, Haven has seen a sharp increase in the number of women assisted, which means the need for donations has also risen.

“With five months left, Haven has already seen more clients than during all of last year,” Jackson said. “The total from 2018 was 516, and this year we’ve already helped 633. Obviously this brings an increase in operating costs.”

To purchase a table, or for more information, folks can call Haven Health at 706-235-6833. Tables sponsorship levels range from $500 up to $5,000. Two attendees from the first 10 tables sold this year will be able to attend a meet and greet with Bratcher prior to the dinner.

The Floyd County Republican Party will host its annual event at the Tillman Hanger at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is among the announced headliners at the Floyd County Republican Party’s annual rally set for Saturday at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Rome.

“Basically, we’re jump-starting the 2020 campaign season,” [Floyd GOP public relations chair Mickey] Tuck said. “It will be a pro-conservative, pro-Trump type rally.”

“The Trump bus is going to be there. Even though he’s not going to be there, we’ll have a lot of his representatives,” Tuck said.

In addition to Carr, statewide officials include David Shafer, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party….

Local officials include Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson, County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock, Tony Daniel, who chairs the county school board, and the state legislative delegation – Sen. Chuck Hufstetler and Reps. Katie Dempsey, Eddie Lumsden and Mitchell Scoggins.

Rockdale County is seeking a new Elections Board Chair, according to the Citizens.

Rockdale County residents who are registered voters can apply through Aug. 9 to be the non-partisan at-large member and chair of the Rockdale County Board of Elections and Voter Registration. The two-year appointment will be made by Chief Superior Court Judge David B. Irwin after he interviews the candidates.

The three-member Board of Elections is made up of one representative each from the local Democrat and Republican parties, and one at-large member who is normally chosen by the representatives. The at-large member also serves as the chair of the board.

Board member responsibilities include the oversight of County elections, discussion of and decisions pertaining to election policies and ongoing communication with the public. Board members are not involved in the day-to-day operations of the Elections Office or in administrative decisions. Georgia Election Code 21-2-70 provides for the powers and duties of the Board of Elections and Registration.

Bartow County may be one of the first to implement Georgia’s new voting system, according to the Daily Tribune News.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday that Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems had been selected as the vendor for the State’s new paper ballot system. The news is especially intriguing for the local community, Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk said, since Bartow is on a shortlist to pilot the new equipment later this fall.

“They’ve had to drop that number down from 12 to six, and we’re on the list of 10 counties that are still in contention to do that,” he said.

If Bartow is chosen as a pilot site, the County could have the new system online in time for November’s municipal-level elections. If not, he anticipates the equipment being installed by March, just prior to the presidential primaries.

“I should have at least some piece of equipment here in the next month to start demonstrating,” he said.

An Augusta Commission committee will study whether the procurement process discriminates, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta Compliance Director Treza Edwards said the city has a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program for federally funded projects and a Local Small Business Opportunity Program, but both are race- and gender-neutral.

Augusta is enjoined from implementing a race- and gender-conscious program based on a previous court case but could proceed with a new one with a new disparity study, General Counsel Wayne Brown said.

The study would look at whether there is currently discrimination against minority- and women-owned businesses and whether there is a need for such a program, Edwards said.

The Gainesville Times looks at what local school systems are doing to enhance security.

Whether installing modern security technology or implementing mental health support, each year Hall County and Gainesville school systems continue to find ways to enhance safety for staff and students.

Both systems have renovated vestibules in multiple buildings, routing traffic into these entrance areas to limit access to other parts of the schools.

Adrian Niles, chief operating officer at Gainesville City Schools, said all of the district’s schools and facilities now have card reader checkpoints. This gives employees access to their respective schools when locked.

Hall County is also expanding a card access system at school buildings. Schofield said the doors automatically lock and unlock during certain times of the day, and only staff members can enter.

An updated intercom system is in the works in Hall schools that will be able to send out emergency notifications. If the pilot is successful, Schofield said more may be installed this fall.

Duluth City Councilman Kirkland Carden cordially invites the Gwinnett County Commission to join him in trashing Sheriff Butch Conway, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Duluth City Councilman Kirkland Carden has filed a petition calling for the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners to condemn Sheriff Butch Conway for inviting a “white nationalist and anti-immigration activist” to speak.

D.A. King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, which is labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigrant hate group, was one of three pro-287(g) speakers at Wednesday’s meeting. He was joined by Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Shannon Volkodav and U.S. Immigration and Customs Southern Region Communications Director Bryan Cox.

In the petition, Carden, a Democrat who is running for the District 1 commission seat, wrote the meeting was “hijacked by D.A. King.”

“King was elevated into this position as official ‘representative’ for the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office by Sheriff Butch Conway. The Republican Sheriff has avoided accountability on his policy positions for years and refuses to speak with the people whom he serves,” the petition reads. “If the Sheriff is too afraid to defend this policy, then he should either resign or choose a different course. King’s inciting and bigoted rhetoric should never have been given the legitimacy of this platform by Conway’s office, which is funded by taxpayers, in one of the most diverse counties in the nation.”

“We are demanding that the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners pass a measure condemning Sheriff Conway for his actions, and begin investigating correspondence between his office, D.A. King, the Dustin Inman Society, and any other hate groups,” the petition said. “This calls into question the Sheriff Department’s ability to fairly pursue justice. As citizens who are supposedly protected and served by the Sheriff, we have the right to know why he selected King to represent his office.”

Proposed restrictions on free school lunch programs won’t affect Athens public schools, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Trump administration and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue want to tighten restrictions on which children are entitled to receive free or reduced school lunches, but that won’t affect students in Clarke County.The school lunch program cuts could reduce the number of children receiving the lunch benefits by 500,000, according to the government.

The proposed cuts are part of a larger slate of cuts designed to reduce the number of people enrolled in the federal government’s “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ” or food stamps.

Even without the proposed changes, food stamp rolls have shrunk in recent years as unemployment decreased.

Critics have said the new rules would cut 3 million people from the food stamp rolls. A Democratic U.S. representative from Virginia estimated it would eliminate half a million children from automatic eligibility for free or reduced school lunches.

The cuts are part of a plan to eliminate nearly $10 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget.

The plan would also roll back a system designed to reduce paperwork, instead requiring people to go through two separate qualification processes rather than one application for both programs.

The school lunch program in Clarke County this year will be the same as it was last year; however, said school district spokeswoman Mary Walsh Wickwire.

The school district doesn’t charge children for lunch or breakfast served in school cafeterias.

Four cities in Bulloch County will hold candidate qualifying this month, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Brooklet and Portal are the two towns in Bulloch County that have mayors up for election this year. Statesboro and Register do not, since their mayors are two years into a four-year term. All four towns have some council seats due to go before voters. But officials can cancel municipal elections, declaring an unopposed winner, if only one candidate qualifies for each seat.

Aug. 19-23 is the qualifying period for Nov. 5 nonpartisan city elections throughout Georgia. However, not all cities extend the qualifying opportunity to all five days.

“The towns can do three days or five days, depending on their charter, and our charter says five days,” Wirth said.

All four of the cities in Bulloch County conduct their own candidate qualifying. But only in Brooklet do city officials conduct the elections, and paper ballots are used there. Register, Portal and Statesboro have the county Board of Elections staff conduct city elections, using the state-issued voting machines, which are slated for replacement next year.

Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason has begun his reelection campaign, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Mason confirmed during his State of the City Address in July that he would run for re-election, but he officially kicked off his campaign with a news release — which referenced his comments at the State of the City Address — that was sent to the media Friday night.

“The State of the City is great,” Mason said. “We’re following our vision and I am committed to stay the course. We’ve made much progress in our 7-year history such as the Town Center, which provides a place for our citizens to make memories with their families.

Mason is the only mayor Peachtree Corners, which turned 7 this year, has ever had. This year, the mayor’s office and City Council Posts 1, 3 and 5 — which are held by Phil Sadd, Alex Wright and Lorri Christopher respectively — are up for election.

“There are key elements of our vision that need to be completed and I intend to see them thru,” Mason said. “I believe this is remarkable progress in seven years, especially from a city with a zero property tax millage rate on citizens and businesses.”

Chatham County has a five-year plan to reduce homelessness, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County’s homeless population grew by 443 people last year, the second increase in as many years, but the local homeless collaborative is already at work on their next five-year plan to combat the problem.

That plan will address, in part, the ongoing lack of affordable housing as the key solution which remains a constant in the conversation.

Cindy Murphy Kelley, now in her sixth year as executive director of the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless, has pitched the need for affordable house as an annual challenge.

Now, she said Friday, Aug. 2, “People are actually paying attention for the first time.”

Authority board member and Savannah alderman Julian Miller cautioned that, “We will never solve the problem, but the idea is to reduce the problem. … At the very least there are people who can be helped and want to be helped and let’s help them.”

Overtime for Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office exceeded $1 million last year, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Despite efforts to reduce costs, the overtime totals for all departments of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office more than doubled last year to more than $1 million.

Sheriff Noel Brown said pay increases, continued short staffing and a high volume of transportation calls are contributing factors, as well as his opinion that the county has not had adequate staff to keep up with growth in the past 20 years.

Bulloch County commissioners have added three positions since Brown took office, he said; two more were added for fiscal year 2020, bringing the total to five. Brown also switched captains and higher-ranking officers to straight salary pay, thus eliminating some overtime, effective this past January.

During his campaign prior to the 2016 election, Brown promised to try to reduce overtime for the sheriff’s department, but three years into his term, he has been unable to make a significant dent in spite of some changes.

Susan Treadaway will serve as the new Chief Assistant Deputy District Attorney in Cherokee County, according to the Tribune Ledger News.

Superior Court Chief Judge Ellen McElyea will swear in Treadaway at 9 a.m. on Friday in Courtroom 2A.

“I am excited to be back in Cherokee County, where I can be part of law enforcement in a growing community that still has small town charm,” Treadaway said. “I look forward to partnering with law enforcement to ensure justice is served here.”

Treadaway comes to the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office with more than 15 years experience, including 11 years in the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office where she held positions as senior assistant district attorney and, most recently, chief assistant district attorney. During her time in Cobb County, she also served as an assistant supervisor of the Special Victims’ Unit, which prosecuted cases involving physical and sexual abuse against children and sexual abuse against women.

Prior to her work in Cobb County, Treadaway served four years as an assistant district attorney in Cherokee County under District Attorney Garry Moss. Earlier in her career, she worked for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia. She earned her law degree from Georgia State University in 2004.

Brunswick Landing Marina is hoping to expand, according to The Brunswick News.

The Brunswick Landing Marina is seeking permission to expand its dock space and add a concrete sidewalk to provide pedestrian traffic from the north.

The Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources are considering the request and are seeking public comments until Aug. 11.

The proposed dock will extend an estimated 282 feet into the waterway in an area where the waterway is 900 feet wide, according to the notification.

The committee will consider if the project could obstruct or alter the natural flow of water, if it creates harmful or increased erosion, shoaling or stagnant areas of water, and if the granting of the permit could unreasonably interfere with shrimp, fish or other aquatic life or other resources, including water and oxygen supply.

The St Simons Island Turtle Project hosted a public excavation of a sea turtle nest, according to The Brunswick News.

The St. Simons Island Sea Turtle Project hosted its second public nest excavation during the final hours of sunlight Thursday. The event, per usual, attracted many interested beach visitors, all wishing to learn more about the sea turtle nesting process and hoping to see hatchlings.

The purpose of the excavation was to inventory the second and third nests laid this season on St. Simons. Both nests hatched this week. The project team digs up each nest five days after it hatches, to count hatched and unhatched eggs and look for trapped hatchlings.

The St. Simons Island Sea Turtle Project is part of a larger, coast-wide effort called the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative. The goal of the cooperative is to conserve loggerhead turtles in Georgia and the habitats on which the turtles depend.

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