Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 18, 2019

18
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 18, 2019

The United States government took out its first loan on September 18, 1789, the proceeds of which were used to pay the salaries of the President, and First Congress. On the same day, future President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to E. Rutledge in which he requested that a shipment of olive trees be sent via Baltimore.

President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793.

We know from that newspaper article, and from Masonic ritual, that Washington placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone at the southeast corner of this building. However, we do not know whether that meant the southeast corner of the Senate wing, the first section of the building to be completed, or the southeast corner of the whole building as intended, which would locate it over on the House side. Two centuries later, the Architect of the Capitol is still searching for that cornerstone. Metal detectors have failed to locate the silver plate.

President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850, requiring that slaves be returned to their owners even if they were in a free state.

General Robert E. Lee retreated from Antietam Creek on September 18, 1862, following the bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War.

On September 18, 1973, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter filed a report claiming that he saw an Unidentified Flying Object in the sky above Leary, Georgia in 1969.

Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m (EST), one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. It was said to have appeared to have closed in on where he was standing but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance. Carter felt that the object was self-luminous, but not a solid in nature. Carter’s report indicates that it was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.

Click here to view a copy of the report, allegedly on file at the Carter Center.

The Georgia General Assembly approved a new state Constitution on September 18, 1981, which was placed on the 1982 ballot and after approval by voters, went into effect in 1983.

On September 18, 1990, Atlanta was announced as the location for the 1996 Summer Olympic games.

Ted Turner announced on September 18, 1997 his intent to donate $1 billion to the United Nations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is now accepting applications for appointment to the United States Senate on his website. Note that applications are probably subject to the Open Records Act, but may be exempt.

From the AJC:

The website is an attempt to be transparent in vetting potential candidates for the seat, an appointment that will likely be Kemp’s most consequential political decision. But it will also put some contenders in a vexing spot.

Politicians who are not openly jockeying for the position will have to quickly decide whether to apply, since not doing so will take them out of consideration.

It could be a particularly complicated situation for Republicans already seeking other office and private-sector officials who could face blowback from customers, employees and shareholders.

His office said the website will be open to all applicants as long as they meet the three requirements set out in the U.S. Constitution: Each candidate must be 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years and a resident of Georgia.

The dual Senate races also ensure that Georgia will be a 2020 battleground for Democrats, who hope to erase the GOP’s 53-47 edge in the chamber. Four Democrats have already lined up to challenge Perdue, and about a dozen others are weighing whether to compete for Isakson’s seat.

Governor Kemp spoke at the Cobb Judicial Circuit Parental Accountability Program’s graduation, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Governor Kemp along with Cobb County Superior Court Judge Ann Harris celebrated graduates of the Cobb Judicial Circuit Parental Accountability Program.

Parental Accountability Courts are a partnership between the Department of Human Services and Superior Court Judges.

The partnership is designed to improve the support children receive from their parents.

Former President Jimmy Carter doesn’t think much of Donald Trump’s presidency. From the AJC:

Former President Jimmy Carter took aim at President Donald Trump on Tuesday night, calling him “a disaster.”

Carter’s wife, Rosalynn, also criticized Trump, saying he has encouraged racism.

“I voted for Bernie (Sanders) the last time. But one of the major factors I have in my mind is who can beat Trump. Because I think it would be a disaster to have four more years of Trump,” [Carter said.]

It’s not the first time Carter has criticized Trump. In June, he made international headlines by questioning Trump’s legitimacy, saying he believed Trump only won the 2016 election because Russia interfered on his behalf.

Trump, a Republican, responded at the time by saying Carter was “a nice man” but “a terrible president” who is loyal to Democrats.

“I think we need a new president,” Rosalynn Carter said. “I am so disturbed about white power. He [Trump] says he is not a racist and maybe he is not. But some of the things he says, encourages racism.”

Perhaps we’ll hear President Trump’s assessment of the Carter administration via Twitter today.

Former Perry City Council member Randall Walker won the special election for Mayor yesterday, according to the Macon Telegraph.

With all votes counted, Walker defeated Robbin Jackson 964 to 181, or 84% to 16%. The turnout was 10.2%.

Most of the votes were from early voting, where 666 people cast ballots. Walker won those 599 to 67.

“I’m really proud it,” he said of the wide margin. “I thank the citizens of Perry for having confidence in me.”

The election will have to be certified by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, then Walker will take office Monday after he is sworn in at a special called meeting of the City Council.

All voting was done at Rozar Park, so there was only one precinct to count.

Perry voters are going back to the polls on Nov. 5 to select a councilman in the regular election. There are four open seats but only one is contested.

William Jackson, who has served on council for 10 years, opted not to run for reelection to his District 2, Post 2 seat. John Jack James, Joy Peterson, Gary Moulliet and Jimmy McLeod have qualified to run for the post.

There will be one more new councilman. Darryl Albritton, former Perry High School principal, was the only person to qualify for the post vacated by Walker.

Two machines used to check voters in to polling locations were stolen in Atlanta, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The theft occurred overnight, just hours before local elections began Tuesday.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Tess Hammock says Fulton County and Atlanta police are investigating the break-in at Grove Park Recreation Center. Hammock says replacement machines were deployed and the election wasn’t affected.

The machines, called express polls, contain voter names, addresses, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers. They are password protected.

The AJC has results from special elections for Atlanta Board of Education District 2 and Fulton County Commission District 6.

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman will kick off his 2020 reelection campaign, according to the Forsyth News.

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman is set to kick off his 2020 re-election campaign next weekend with a wild game dinner event at the Reid Barn on Majors Road in Forsyth County.

Freeman, a longtime law enforcement officer and resident of Forsyth County, was elected to office in 2017, defeating incumbent sheriff Duane K. Piper in every precinct with 12,393 (64%) votes, according to the Secretary of State website.

“Having the privilege to serve as your sheriff is the greatest honor I have ever had and one I never take lightly,” Freeman’s candidate website states. “Since taking office in 2017, I have kept my word; we have taken every opportunity to keep Forsyth safe. We have increased our presence greatly on all fronts and our crime rates are the lowest in all of Metro Atlanta.”

John Q. Williams will run for Clarke County Sheriff in 2020, according to WGAU.

John Q. Williams says he will be a candidate for Clarke County Sheriff, challenging incumbent Ira Edwards in next year’s election. Williams has worked as sergeant with both the University of Georgia Police Department and the Athens-Clarke County PD. His campaign says the official kickoff event will take place later this month.

Sgt. John Q. Williams has 20 plus years of experience in law enforcement, working his way from a communications officer at the UGAPD to his current role as a Sergeant and lead detective for cases related to domestic violence or missing persons.

The Joint Study Committee on Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers met yesterday in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Nurse practitioners would like the state to take the shackles off what they are allowed to do on their own, a joint legislative study committee was told Tuesday. But some aren’t sure the state should change those restrictions, as South Carolina did last year for nurse practitioners and last month for physician assistants.

The House & Senate Study Committee looking at physician supervision of mid-level practitioners, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, met for a session at Children’s Hospital of Georgia to hear from health professions schools at Augusta University on their programs. College of Nursing officials made a strong plea for Georgia to join most other states in allowing greater flexibility for advanced practice nurse practitioners to be allowed to do more.

For instance, in Georgia they cannot prescribe Schedule II drugs, which are defined as drugs that are dangerous with a high risk of abuse and include the opioids OxyContin and fentanyl. Georgia is one of only five states that don’t allow them and physician assistants to do that, said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, who co-chairs the study committee with Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta. Georgia is also the only state that does not allow nurse practitioners to order advanced imaging, such as CTs and MRIs, said J. Dwayne Hooks Jr., executive associate dean for the College of Nursing.

Nurse practitioners in Georgia have to have a practice agreement with a physician on file at the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners, Hooks said, and that board, which oversees physicians and their licensure, wrote the rules for their practice. But there is no evidence that requiring physician supervision improves the quality of care, Marion said.

Georgia law expressly forbids that prescriptive authority but even some physicians are coming around about it. Hufstetler, who is a physician assistant anesthetist, said some of the cardiothoracic surgeons he works with have asked that their physician assistants have that authority so they can discharge the patients with pain relief post-surgery instead of the surgeon having to do it at the end of a long day in the operating room.

The country is also in the midst of an opioid crisis although Georgia has started to see a drop in its prescription opioid deaths and “we’re proud of that,” Newton said. State officials have been very cautious about doing anything that could be perceived as adding to the supply of those drugs, he said.

But as an emergency room physician and medical director/CEO of the MedNow Urgent Care clinics, Newton said he works alongside those mid-level practitioners and knows the value of their contributions. The committee “is looking at things that can make practice in Georgia more attractive for people who want to move here,” he said, but wants to be careful about lifting any restrictions.

Some state officials want money from an opioid-lawsuit settlement to fund recovery programs, according to the AJC.

“I want to see it used for recovery programs across our state. And I think there should be tight oversight to make sure that that’s done,” said state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, the chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Salvage operations continue on the M/V Golden Ray, capsized off St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

The massive salvaging operation is being headed by Donjon Marine Co. Inc., a company headquartered in Hillside, N.J., that specializes in solving complex and large-scale maritime calamities such as the one now foundering in local waters. That said, Coast Guard officials say the view of the Golden Ray’s massive starboard side sticking out of the water between St. Simons and Jekyll islands could be visible the watery horizon here for some time to come.

In these early stages, salvaging experts are as concerned with what not to do as they are with how best to proceed, [Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Luke] Pinneo said. Protection of the local waters and marine life from pollutants is the paramount objective, and the overall scope of the project must be painstakingly planned out from start to finish before the heavy lifting begins, he said.

“At the top level right now you’re looking at removing pollutants and protecting the environment,” Pinneo said. “And, ultimately, the question turns to, how do you remove the vessel? It’s a complex question, and it really requires a long-term solution. It takes time to get the plan down.”

Norm Witt, Coast Guard Commander and Captain of Ports from Brunswick and Savannah, said last week that salvagers hope to remove the 25,000-ton Golden Ray in one piece.

Habersham County Commissioners voted to move forward on a plan to sell Habersham Medical Center, according to AccessWDUN.

The Habersham County Commission is moving forward with agreements that set up the eventual acquisition of Habersham Medical Center by Northeast Georgia Health System by 2025.

That 4-0 vote Monday night to approve the asset purchase agreement and the option agreement came on the motion of Commissioner Natalie Crawford that was seconded by Commissioner Jimmy Tench.

The agreement between the Habersham County Commission, Hospital Authority of Habersham County and the Hall County/Gainesville Hospital Authority, was approved by both the hospital authority and county commission in Habersham in separate meetings Monday night.

The five-year plan is intended to transform Habersham Medical Center’s campus, ultimately making the hospital part of Northeast Georgia Medical Center while lessening the debt burden on Habersham County’s taxpayers, a joint press release from the two hospitals states.

“Many people in Habersham County have asked for a deal like this for years, and many before us have tried to make it happen,” said HMC Chief Executive Officer Lynn Boggs in a statement. “We’re thrilled to deliver this agreement, which can lead to security and stability for this community’s local hospital. We are truly working together for healthier tomorrows.”

Georgia Gwinnett College met with elected municipal leaders, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

To lay the foundation of what GGC hopes will develop into a partnership, Joseph hosted representatives from seven cities in Gwinnett County at a breakfast in the boardroom of the presidents’ office on Tuesday. Joseph and city officials discussed what future partnerships between the college and city could look like.

If the first step in the partnership is to engage with the community, the next step is to embed the GGC student and graduate pipeline into Gwinnett County’s commerce. That could come in the form of two-year programs and satellite classes.

Representatives included six mayors and one city councilman — Sugar Hill’s Brandon Hembree. The contingent of mayors included Norcross’ Craig Newton, Lilburn’s Johnny Crist, Grayson’s Allison Wilkerson, Snellville’s Barbara Bender, Lawrenceville’s Judy Jordan Johnson and Peachtree Corners’ Mike Mason, who also teaches economics classes at GGC.

Gwinnett County appointed Tyler Richards as Director of the Department of Water Resources, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Georgia Ports Authority Chief Administrative Officer James C. McCurry Jr. spoke to a group in Hall County, according to the Gainesville Times.

Some nine months after its announcement, the Georgia Ports Authority’s planned inland port in northeast Hall County is still in early phases, said the authority’s chief administrative officer on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

The authority has bought most of the property for the Northeast Georgia Inland Port and is “in a permitting and engineering phase right now,” said James C. McCurry Jr., speaking at the Hall County Farm Bureau’s annual membership meeting at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

“We expect engineering of the site and design will be finished sometime around the first of the year,” McCurry said. “Then we will proceed from there to try to identify the source of capital that will pay for construction of the facility. We hope we can see that come to reality by the end of the next couple to three years.”

Officials have estimated 150,000 containers per year could pour into the 104-acre port by way of Norfolk Southern railroad, which cuts through Gateway.

McCurry said he foresees early on about 100 to 150 trucks per day “coming and going from the facility, where they’re dropping off boxes or picking up boxes.”

Glynn County Commissioners discussed a potential 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum, according to The Brunswick News.

“Time is getting of the essence now in terms of what we have to do before the May 2020 referendum,” said County Manager Alan Ours.

In past interviews, all seven commissioners told The News they supported imposing a new penny sales tax as soon as SPLOST 2016 collection ends in September 2020. The commission decided to put SPLOST 2020 to a public vote on the May 2020 primary election ballot.

Commissioners were presented with a list of possible projects at their Tuesday work session. The draft list includes 84 projects divided into 10 categories, most falling into the realm of infrastructure.

According to County Attorney Aaron Mumford, the commission needs to shave down and finalize the list by the end of December.

The commission is also planning to meet with the Brunswick City Commission on Oct. 1 to discuss SPLOST 2020.

Portal Middle School in Bulloch County will open a new agriculture education facility, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Portal Middle High School will dedicate its new Bill Brown Agricultural Building at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, immediately before its inaugural event, the annual Portal FFA Livestock Show, starts at 7 p.m.

The building, costing $647,777 to construct, was paid for with revenue from the current Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or ESPLOST. Designed by James W. Buckley & Associates of Swainsboro and built by Pope Construction of Statesboro, the new 10,151-square-foot buidling replaces two former vocational agriculture facilities, the original Portal agriculture building and the previous Bill Brown Livestock Barn.

This new facility resembles one already in use at Southeast Bulloch High School. After school administrators proposed an agriculture building for Portal, two different countywide community committees appointed by the Bulloch County Board of Education listed it as a top-20 priority for E-SPLOST.

“Agriculture is a vital and integral part of the Portal community,” Dr. Tom Marshall, Portal Middle High’s agricultural education teacher, said at the March 8 groundbreaking ceremony. “Moving forward, we are excited about the opportunities this new facility will afford. While livestock showing will be its primary function, there are unlimited and creative possibilities for the engagement of student learning and community involvement.”

State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Savannah-Chatham County students, according to the Savannah Morning News.

He handed out “The Words that Built America,” a booklet that contains the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights and other amendments and other documents important to this nation and its citizens.

The visit was timely — September 17 is recognized nationally as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the document in 1787.

Woods and several school board members discussed what the Constitution and its amendments mean to Chatham County.

“No one else in the world lives like we do in the United States. I’ve had the privilege to visit different countries around the world and I can tell you, there’s no place like home, no place to visit like Georgia, no place like the United States and the freedoms we have, the opportunities we have throughout the nation,” he told students and teachers at Gadsden Elementary School Monday.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach attended a Constitution event at Gadsden Elementary Monday, where he told a reporter the Constitution isn’t as staid as some might think. “We need to realize it is a document that is alive and always in flux. If you go to the 13th Amendment, in 1865 it was changed to make sure we did away with slavery.”

From WSAV-TV:

Woods [visited]:

Haven Elementary School
Butler Elementary School
Gadsden Elementary School
Jacob G. Smith Elementary School
Hodge Elementary School

Chris Shiflett, chair of the Whitfield County SPLOST citizens advisory committee spoke to a local group, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Chris Shiflett reminded members of the Dalton Tea Party Tuesday night that he opposed a six-year, $100 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) defeated by Whitfield County voters in March.

“My primary concern was that it was too long,” he said.

Shiflett, chairman of a citizens advisory committee that will make recommendations to elected officials for projects to be funded by a planned 2020 SPLOST, said more members of the 16-member committee supported the SPLOST than opposed it.

A SPLOST is a 1% tax that is levied on most goods sold in the county. The revenues generated can only be used for certain types of projects.

Shiflett said no matter how they stood on the March SPLOST, members of the committee are united in their desire to produce a SPLOST that voters will seriously consider.

“But our recommendations aren’t going to be final,” he said. “The (Whitfield County Board of Commissioners) will have the final word, and I’m sure they will make some changes.”

Shiflett said he believe commissioners will give serious consideration to the committee’s recommendations.

Chamblee City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession, according to the AJC.

The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night eliminating the possibility of jail time and severely reducing the fine for possessing one ounce or less of weed. An adult caught with marijuana by a Chamblee police officer will be cited and fined $75 for their first offense, according to the ordinance. That charge can be paid online and a court date isn’t required.

The DeKalb County city previously defaulted to state law for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, which is classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment under state law could be up to one year of jail time or a $1,000 fine. An ounce of marijuana can make up to about 40 joints, according to online resources.

“For me, this isn’t about whether smoking marijuana is right or wrong, it’s about preventing people from entering the criminal justice system and having their lives ruined over a simple possession charge,” said Brian Mock, the Chamblee councilman who proposed the change in city code.

Mock said the change in the law will also save the city time and money.

“It takes a lot of manpower to arrest, transport, process and detain a prisoner, not to mention the court process to follow,” he said.

Municipal rules can’t impact every case involving weed. If someone is charged with marijuana possession on top of a more serious criminal offense, the case has to go to state court and the defendant would be subject to the harsher penalties.

Augusta Commissioners don’t appear impressed with Mayor Hardie Davis’s plan to combat blighted properties, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

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