Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 8, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 8, 2019

The first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence arrived in Savannah on August 8, 1776 and was read publicly for the first time on August 10, 1776.

On August 8, 1863, General Robert E. Lee offered his resignation in a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, following the Battle of Gettysburg.

On August 8, 1925, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation outlawing the brazen act of dancing publicly on Sunday.

On August 8, 1929, Georgia Governor Lamartine Hardman signed legislation placing on the ballot for Fulton and Campbell County voters a merger of the two.

The old Campbell County Courthouse still stands in Fairburn, Georgia.

Campbell County Courthouse Fairburn GA 3

Historic Campbell County Courthouse in Fairburn, GA.

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were nominated for President and Vice President by the Republican National Convention on August 8, 1968.

On August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned, effective at noon the next day.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp spoke in Columbus yesterday, according to WTVM.

Gov. Kemp first spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. Following that, he participated in the ribbon-cutting for Global Callcenter Solutions, located at 500 11th St. in Columbus.

Global Callcenter Solutions was first announced to be coming to Columbus in Sept. 2018 by then-Governor Nathan Deal, who said the company would be investing approximately $4.9 million in Muscogee County.

Gov. Kemp is also traveling to Moultrie and Thomasville to participate in similar events.

United States Senator David Perdue (R) is concerned about potential red flag legislation, according to the AJC.

In an attempt to formulate a response to the weekend massacres in Dayton and El Paso, some Republican senators are coalescing around “red flag” legislation that would empower judges to order the seizure of weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

Moving slightly beyond remarks made earlier in the week, the Republican expressed doubts about “red flag” legislation. “I haven’t seen it. Let me take a look at it when we get to see some legislation,” he said. “To say I’m for ‘red flag’ — that would be an overstatement because of concerns I have about due process.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger hosted an election security roundtable, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger hosted a roundtable on election security alongside David Becker, founder and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research. Joined at the Capitol by more than a dozen experts from organizations including Microsoft, the Department of Homeland Security, and Augusta University, Becker led a wide-ranging discussion on the status of Georgia’s election security.

“Georgia is making great strides in ensuring that elections in the state are more secure than ever before,” Becker, founder and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, said after the meeting. “I was honored to co-host this roundtable discussion about election cybersecurity with experts from all over the country, including computer science and election technology experts. Our discussions were another step toward protecting Georgia’s voters, along with Georgia’s move in 2020 to paper ballots, with effective audits to confirm the technology counted those ballots properly.”

Becker and his panel of experts were joined at the roundtable by a number of county elections officials, including Bartow County Elections Director Joseph Kirk and Muscogee County Elections Director Nancy Boren.

“The roundtable provided an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about the new devices we will be implementing and the steps I can take to better secure elections in my county,” Boren, Muscogee said.

Chatham County Board of Assessors Vice Chair Tommy Boondry has resigned after he was arrested in November 2018, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Tommy Boondry, 67, was charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine, possession of drug-related objects, permitting an unlicensed person to drive and open container, during a traffic stop on Nov. 26.

As of the board’s July 28 meeting, Laura Hegstrom was appointed to the position vacated by the resignation of Boondry, according to documents acquired by Savannah Morning News through a Georgia Open Records Act request. The documents did not state the resignation date. Hegstrom’s term will expire on June 27, 2023.

The board voted to appoint Betty Ellington to Hegstrom’s former position. Her term will expire on June 27, 2020.

In the police report, officers wrote, “It should be noted, that while attempting to cuff Boondry, he constantly tensed his muscles, and stated that he “would have my job for this.”

The Board of Assessors is responsible for notifying the public of changes in property tax law.

Clayton County has hired a lawyer to look at whether the Clayton County Ethics Commission acted properly in reprimanding some County Commissioners, according to the AJC.

The Clayton Ethics Board in July ruled that Commissioners Gail Hambrick and Sonna Singleton Gregory and former Commissioner Michael Edmondson erred when they pushed through a Dec. 18 vote for a member of the Clayton Development Authority board.

The vote on the appointment should not have taken place because the question was put on the agenda after the deadline for adding agenda items, the ethics board said.

But a resolution introduced by Gregory on Tuesday argued that the ethics board failed to hold a public meeting on the matter and should have given the accused commissioners an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges.

An Athens man was arrested for violating state law in failing to notify a sexual partner that he is HIV-positive, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

A 52-year-old Athens man with HIV was arrested this month after police said he had sex with a local woman and never informed her that he was HIV positive.

Ernest Buchanan of Baxter Drive is alleged to have had the intimate encounter with the woman in June, according to Athens-Clarke police.

Buchanan was arrested on July 13 on a charge of reckless conduct by a HIV person, which is a felony. HIV is a virus that causes AIDS.

An Associated Press story recently reported that Georgia is one of about 20 states that have laws that make it a crime for people with HIV to have sex without first informing their partner of their infection, regardless of whether they used a condom or were on medication that made transmission of the disease effectively impossible.

I don’t think I knew such a law exists.

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico‘s political future is in question after the company she leads filed for bankruptcy, according to the AJC.

One of the nation’s biggest car haulers, led by a former candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor, filed for bankruptcy court protection late Tuesday, citing auto industry challenges, steep labor costs and $2 billion in potential pension liabilities.

Sarah Riggs Amico, who ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor last year and is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican David Perdue, is executive chairperson of Jack Cooper Ventures. The trucking company, which delivers vehicles for some of the biggest carmakers in North America, has its executive offices in Kennesaw and headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.

Amico and her family have had voting control of the business. But that looks like it won’t last.

“This is a difficult process but this is also a very good story about how you save jobs and put a company on the right path,” Amico said in an interview.

With the challenges faced by the company, Amico said her focus is on that, not a decision on whether to run for the U.S. Senate.

Amico lost her bid for the lieutenant governor seat against Republican Geoff Duncan. The Georgia Supreme Court is considering a legal challenge that contends tens of thousands of votes may have gone uncounted.

The Democratic Party of Georgia will work with Stacey Abrams’s group Fair Fight PAC to contest state legislative elections next year, according to the AJC.

The Legislative Victory Fund, unveiled on Wednesday, is a joint initiative of the Fair Fight PAC and the state party focused on winning 16 Republican seats in next year’s election. Republicans now hold a 105-75 advantage in the chamber.

The fund also aims to take Republican-held seats in the Georgia Senate, though that chamber is more secure for the GOP. Republicans hold a 35-21 majority and Democrats would have to pull off multiple upsets to flip seven Senate districts.

The organization hired Craig Walters, who was a field organizer for Abrams’ 2018 campaign for governor, to serve as its director.

Abrams said the initiative will work to protect incumbents in swing districts while pushing to elect more Democrats “with an eye on a House majority.”

Democrats are targeting the 16 seats where a Republican won with less than 58% of the vote last year. In addition, Democrats couldn’t afford to lose many of the 11 House seats they picked up last year, including some in districts long represented by conservatives.

The Muscogee County Jail is no longer under federal Department of Justice oversight, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Twenty years have passed since the U.S. Department of Justice sued Muscogee County over jail conditions so unsafe and unsanitary they violated inmates’ constitutional rights.

For two decades the county has worked under Justice Department supervision to correct a multitude of issues threatening the health, safety and security of those housed in the Muscogee County Jail.

In a consent agreement approved this past July, the U.S. District Court dismissed Justice Department claims the jail violates inmates’ constitutional rights, ending the federal monitoring that required twice-yearly inspections to ensure the facility made steady progress in correcting its deficiencies.

“We are in compliance after 20 years, and that’s a very good thing,” said Sheriff Donna Tompkins, who took office in 2017 after serving about 30 years in the sheriff’s department. The sheriff by law is responsible for running the jail.

Richmond County Schools Superintendent Angela Pringle will leave the system to take over Winston-Salem, NC’s public school system, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Statesboro City Council voted to allow the police department to sell 40 seized or forfeited guns to a licensed gun dealer, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Police Department became owner of each of the guns through court orders, Police Chief Mike Broadhead stated in a memo to City Manager Charles Penny. Some had been held in evidence but were never reclaimed and were no longer needed for prosecution. One is a long gun, a Mossberg .22-caliber rifle, but the other 39 are handguns, in other words pistols and revolvers.

In the winning bid, GT Distributors of Georgia, based in Rossville, agreed to prices ranging from $5 each for three handguns – including a Rohm RG-14, the same model of cheap .22-caliber revolver Wikipedia uses as its lead illustration of a “Saturday night special” – up to $185 for a Ruger SR9, a popular 9mm semiautomatic pistol. The rifle brought $35.

Asked Monday by email what choices the Police Department has in getting rid of seized and forfeited guns, Broadhead listed three options: convert them to departmental use, destroy them, or sell them.

“We could auction them off to the highest bidder, but we would rather only sell them to a licensed gun dealer with a Federal Firearms License (FFL),” Broadhead wrote. “That way they can control who owns them in the future (through licensed transactions, background checks, etc.), and we can actually get some use of the items through a store credit.”

Qualifying for municipal elections in Chatham County will open on August 19, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Elections for city offices will be held in Savannah, Port Wentworth, Garden City, Tybee Island and Pooler.

Bloomingdale and Thunderbolt are on different schedules. They will hold their next municipal elections in 2021.

Qualifying for the posts begins on Aug. 19 for all municipalities and runs through Aug. 23 for Savannah, and ends Aug. 22 for Garden City, Tybee Island, and Port Wentworth. The hours vary for each city but all stop accepting candidates at 4:30 p.m. on their final qualifying day.

Qualifying is done in person at the city hall for each city.

Rome and Cave Spring are ready to use paper ballots for municipal elections this year if required by a federal judge, according to the Rome News Tribune.

A federal judge is deciding if she’ll order the use of paper ballots in the municipal elections this fall — and Cave Spring is ready.

“That’s all we’ve ever used,” said City Clerk Judy Dickinson, who’s also the elections supervisor. “We’re fine. We’re fine.”

Rome is also holding elections, although the city contracts with Floyd County to conduct them. Voters there use the electronic machines U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg has called archaic.

However, Elections Clerk Vanessa Waddell said the county purchased a Balotar system in 2016, which prints ballots for absentee voting. The on-demand printer and ballot-scanning equipment could be used for the whole election if necessary.

Cave Spring has about 600 registered voters and the turnout was 50% during the last mayoral election in 2015.

Cave Spring voters will fill the Post 1 and Post 2 City Council seats and choose a mayor this year.

Rome’s Ward 1 and Ward 3 City Commission seats — six of the board’s nine — are on the ballot. Residents also will vote on the “brunch bill,” which would let restaurants serve alcohol as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays.

A grand jury indicted a Savannah man for threatening to kill a United States Attorney, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Kent Allen Crawford, 61, on June 18, “while suggesting the death of Bobby Christine with the purpose of otherwise causing serious public inconvenience threaten to commit any crime of violence to wit: ’i will come to the federal building. When i get there i will come to your office and kill you,” the Chatham County grand jury said in returning a single-count indictment for terroristic threats.

“if you are not there i will murder whichever U.S. attorney is there,” the threat continued, according to the indictment.

An indictment is only a charging document to get a felony case before Chatham County Superior Court for trial or a plea. It is not a finding of guilt.

Christine is U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, headquartered in Savannah.

“The U.S. Attorney has a conflict because he is the target,” Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap said Wednesday. “At this time my office has elected to prosecute the case.”

Leah McGowan withdrew from consideration for appointment to a seat on the Athens-Clarke County Board of Education, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

McGowan’s withdrawal leaves one candidate, UGA marine science professor Patricia Yager, to fill the District 4 seat left empty with the resignation earlier this year of Jared Bybee.

Under state law, a school board is responsible for picking someone to fill an empty seat when a board member steps down before the completion of his or her term. Bybee’s term expires at the end of 2020.

The Clarke school board is scheduled to vote on Bybee’s replacement at its monthly meeting Thursday.

Columbia County public libraries will begin offering tablet computers for one-week checkout, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“Our main purpose is to get patrons more aware of the services we offer – all the databases and resources we have,” GCHRL director Mary Lin Maner said.

Resources include eBooks, eMagazines, eAudiobooks, research and foreign language databases and a music databases that range from classical to heavy metal. Those services are also available on the library system’s website for those who have a library card through GCHRL. The iPads will allow those who do not have access to a computer or tablet the ability to do so from home.

“We want to see how it works and decide if we want to expand it or add more things to the iPads for patrons to use,” Maner said.

The tablets are available for a one-week check out but are not available for renewal. Patrons must be 18 or older to check out one of the devices. All iPads come with an Otterbox to protect them.

The Lowndes County Commission will meet with the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Two special called meetings have been scheduled to be held jointly between the Lowndes County Commission and the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County on the second floor of the administrative building, in the overflow room, which is right next to the commission chambers, according to a county statement.

The purpose of the meeting is for Lowndes County to help refinance some of the Hospital Authority’s bond debt, which will create a significant savings for the hospital, the county statement said.

In 2011, the Hospital Authority issued revenue certificates, which are similar to bonds, and entered into an intergovernmental contract with the county providing additional security for the 2011 certificates.

To refinance the 2011 certificates, the authority is issuing refunding revenue certificates. This means the hospital will pay a lower interest rate.

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