Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 27, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 27, 2019

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invaded England on September 28, 1066.

On September 29, 1526, 600 Spanish colonists led by Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon landed on the Georgia Coast, the first European colonists in Georgia.

Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on Sapelo Sound in present–day McIntosh County. He sailed north from Hispaniola during the summer and first landed in present–day South Carolina. Meeting no natives, he traveled south along the coast before settling in Georgia.

To help establish the colony, Ayllon brought with him the very first group of slaves.  But hunger, disease, and conflict with the natives all took their toll, and the settlement survived for only three months.

Other sources say that the September 29, 1526 landing was in South Carolina and Vasquez de Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on October 8, 1526.

On September 27, 1779, John Jay, who previously served as President of the Continental Congress, was appointed minister to Spain to seek Spanish support for the revolution.

Washington Yorktown

General George Washington led continental troops into the siege of British forces under General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on September 28, 1781.

On September 28, 1863, two Union generals lost their commands after the Confederates routed federal forces at the Battle of Chickamauga.

On September 28, 1889, Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation designating January 19th a state holiday in honor of Robert E. Lee’s birthday. In 2015, Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day were stricken from the Georgia calendar.

President Franklin Roosevelt made his ninth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on September 27, 1927.

WSB-TV took to the airwaves for the first time on September 29, 1948.

September 27 is a red-letter day for the Atlanta Braves and pitcher John Smoltz. The team won a record 14th straight Division Championship on this day in 2005. Smoltz set a team record for regular season wins (24) on September 27, 1996 and extended his team record for strikeouts hitting 276.

On September 27, 2002, Smoltz set a National League record with 54 saves.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Powers That Be announced appointments to the Georgia Behavioral Health Reform & Innovation Commission. From a press release:

Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced nine appointees to the Georgia Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission along with Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker David Ralston, who each named six appointees, and Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton, who announced three appointees.

“This legislative session, we allocated $20 million for local health departments to better treat mental health issues and doubled funding for the successful APEX program in Georgia schools to help students in crisis,” said Governor Kemp. “Working together with communities and families, this commission of legislators, judges, subject-matter experts, and citizens will now examine how the state can improve access and delivery of behavioral health services for the people of Georgia.”

“Mental health is an issue that impacts everyone in our state regardless of socio-economics, race, age or gender,” Lieutenant Governor Duncan said. “Because of this, it is vital we take whatever steps necessary to evaluate the things we are doing right, as well as those things we could improve upon here in Georgia. I applaud the members of this commission who are ready and willing to provide their time and expertise to this important issue. I have no doubt their recommendations will be insightful and meaningful as we work together to ensure our best days are ahead of us.”

“Mental health is a critical quality of life issue to the citizens of our state,” said Speaker David Ralston. “Led by Chairman Kevin Tanner, I know that this distinguished group of legislators and citizens will work together to improve service delivery throughout our behavioral health system. I thank Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Duncan and my colleagues in both the House and Senate for adopting this collaborative approach to achieve better outcomes.”

The Commission was created by House Bill 514.

Governor Kemp’s Appointees

▪ Rep. Kevin Tanner – Chairman
▪ Dr. Sarah Vinson
▪ Dr. DeJuan White
▪ Dr. Michael Robert Yochelson
▪ Jason Downey
▪ Dr. Joseph Bona
▪ Dr. Karen Bailey
▪ Miriam Shook
▪ Nora Lott Haynes

Lieutenant Governor Duncan’s Appointees

▪ Sen. Renee Unterman
▪ Sen. Donzella James
▪ Sheriff Andy Hester
▪ Wayne Senfeld
▪ Brenda Fitzgerald
▪ Cindy Levi

Speaker Ralston’s Appointees

▪ Rep. Don Hogan
▪ Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver
▪ Chief of Police Louis Dekmar
▪ Gwen Skinner
▪ Kim Jones
▪ Judge Brenda Weaver

Chief Justice Harold Melton’s Appointees

▪ Justice Michael Boggs
▪ Judge Brian J. Amero
▪ Judge Sara S. Harris

From the Daily Report:

Georgia executive, legislative and judicial leaders have put $20 million and a bunch of lawyers, lawmakers and judges behind an effort to improve treatment and services for those facing mental health challenges.

Governor Brian Kemp spoke in Hall County yesterday, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp reflected on economic growth in the state and outlined goals of his administration when he spoke Thursday at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors meeting.

Kemp was introduced by former Gov. Nathan Deal, who attended the meeting at Lanier Technical College with former First Lady Sandra Deal.

Georgia got 20,800 new jobs in August, Kemp said. Businesses have invested in 332 projects statewide over the past year, he said, and 74% of those were outside the perimeter.

Kemp said Thursday that other priorities include addressing sex trafficking and gang violence, and state groups have also been formed to research and tackle these issues.

National Public Radio, the soundtrack to most of my writing for GaPundit (and the rest of my life), profiled the collegial relationship between Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

House lawmakers Hakeem Jeffries and Doug Collins couldn’t be more different.

Jeffries is a Democrat and an avid hip-hop devotee, while Collins is a Republican who favors country music. Jeffries hails from a largely urban New York district, and much further south, Collins represents a largely rural pocket in northeast Georgia.

Yet, somehow this duo found common ground to pass a major policy initiative this past year. And now one of the oldest schools in the country will award them with its College Prize for Civility in Public Life.

“Game recognizes game,” Collins says signaling Jeffries in a hip-hop reference from his Capitol Hill office. “This man right here. You want to … partner with him.”

“Although I appreciate Doug Collins quoting … one of the philosophical underpinnings of hip hop — which is game recognizes game,” Jeffries says between Collins’ laughs. It “shows you how much game Doug Collins has at the end of the day.”

Collins and Jeffries both sit on the House Judiciary Committee, ground zero for an ongoing House impeachment inquiry into Trump and on opposite sides of a bitter, partisan fight. Yet, they were able to score a major legislative win this year.

Their first was a bill to protect songwriters in 2013 — and later the two even posted a joint Spotify list of their favorite songs. However, their much tougher work collaboration came with criminal justice reform signed into law in December that helped shorten sentences for some inmates.

Jeffries and Collins say the Allegheny prize for that work is a major honor.

“It’s reflective of the fact that we were able to come together, which meant leadership from Doug Collins, to get things done and make a difference in the lives of the American people in both criminal justice reform and as it relates to the Music Modernization Act,” Jeffries said. “And I was proud to partner with him in that regard.”

Former Congressman Tom Price (R-GA6) responded to a Craigslist ad submitted his application for appointment to the United States Senate, according to 11Alive.

Price submitted an application to the governor’s web site Wednesday, according to his wife, former state Rep. Betty Price.

As a candidate for congress in Georgia, Tom Price won seven elections to a Republican friendly congressional district north of Atlanta. As a successful politician and physician, Price was President Trump’s pick to lead the department of Health and Human Services.

But as a cabinet secretary, Price had a penchant for travel on private and military planes. The inspector general concluded he’d wasted at least $341,000 on such travel during his seven months as secretary. He abruptly left Trump’s cabinet – and has been mostly out of the public eye since.

From the AJC:

Price, a former six-term congressman, confirmed to the AJC that he applied, making him the latest high-profile figure to formally seek the spot. Other applicants include U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols – and many more are expected to join them.

Still, he makes a formidable potential candidate. Indulge us for a bit:

Pros: He’s got nearly $1.8 million in his campaign account. He’s close with Kemp. He’s a trusted voice to conservatives on healthcare policy. He’s got high name recognition, plenty of Washington experience and is comfortable in the spotlight.

Cons: His health policies have drawn bitter opposition from constituencies he’d need to win over. His expense scandal would give Democrats endless fodder. He might entice a GOP challenger. And Trump made clear his displeasure with Price throughout the flight saga.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission filed a raft of complaints against a number of incumbents state legislators, according to the AJC.

The Georgia ethics commission on Thursday announced it had filed complaints against 13 state lawmakers, saying each broke campaign finance laws including, in some cases, not disclosing contributions they received.

David Emadi, the commission’s executive secretary, said when he took over earlier this year that he was told lawmakers weren’t following campaign finance laws. He said a preliminary audit confirmed that the state representatives and senators may have broken campaign finance laws.

Those who received complaints were Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon; Sen. Sheikh Rahman, D-Lawrenceville; Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta; Rep. James Burchett, R-Waycross; Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany; Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta; Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Lithonia; Rep. Colton Moore, R-Trenton; Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero, D-Norcross; Rep. Steven Sainz, R-Woodbine; Rep. Dexter Sharper, D-Valdosta; and Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah.

A complaint was prepared for an ex-lawmaker, but the name was not released because he had not yet been served with it, as of Thursday. Sources told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it was former Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, who resigned earlier this year.

Many of the accusations involve lawmakers who either were late filing campaign reports or didn’t file them at all, issues that, in the past, didn’t always lead to a formal complaint being filed. Some, such as Gardner, acknowledged errors in their reports, while others, including Lucas, recently filed new reports.

In other business, the Commission dismissed a complaint against Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The state’s ethics investigators disagreed [with the complaint] and the complaint was administratively dismissed on the grounds that the allegations against Nash were deemed unfounded, said Robert Lane, deputy executive secretary for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign finance Commission, also known as the State Ethics Commission.

“Basically, she didn’t violate the Campaign Finance Act,” Lane said. “There were a lot of allegations, but none of the actions are violations in and of themselves.”

The ethics complaint filed against Nash in May boiled down to what actions elected officials are allowed to take concerning referendums, such as one to join MARTA or others dealing with special purpose local option sales taxes.

State law says elected officials can’t advocate for or against passage of the referendum and county officials have long held that the law also says county resources can’t be used to advocate one side or other.

Officials can, however, explain the item voters are being asked to cast ballots on.

Voters in State House District 71 will return to the polls on Tuesday, October 2 to choose between two candidates in the Special Runoff Election, according to Ballotpedia news.

A runoff election is scheduled for October 1 in District 71 of the Georgia House of Representatives. Marcy Sakrison (R) and Philip Singleton (R) are competing in the runoff. Sakrison and Singleton advanced to the runoff after defeating Jill Prouty (D) and Nina Blackwelder (R) in the September 3 general election. The runoff election was called since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the overall vote.

The seat became vacant after David Stover (R) resigned on June 25. In his resignation letter, Stover wrote that he wanted to spend time with his family. Stover had represented District 71 since 2013. He was last re-elected in 2018 with 74% of the vote in the general election.

Twenty six short-finned pilot whales stranded themselves on St. Catherines Island on the Georgia coast, according to the Savannah Morning News.

For the second time this year pilot whales have stranded themselves on a Georgia beach.

The latest stranding began Wednesday on St. Catherines Island in Liberty County about 50 miles south of Savannah. Approximately 26 short-finned pilot whales stranded on or near the island, leaving 15 dead.

Staff from the St. Catherines Island and Edward J. Noble foundations, which support conservation, research and education on the privately owned barrier island, first discovered the whales Wednesday morning while surveying for sea turtles. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration joined the response. Staff from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have also helped.

Short-finned pilot whales are a deep-water species usually found off the continental shelf and slope, as far as 100 miles offshore. Yet these social members of the dolphin family — which travel in pods sometimes numbering in the hundreds — are also the most common species to mass-strand in the Southeast. They can weigh more than 3 tons and reach 24 feet in length.

As many as 47 pilot whales attempted to beach themselves in July on St. Simons before a spontaneous effort by beachgoers pushed most of them back in the water. Three whales died in that event despite the intervention of beachgoers who were joined by wildlife officials and emergency responders at the popular East Beach.

Appropriations Committee members met in Atlanta yesterday to begin discussing cuts to the state budget, according to WABE.

Marine salvage workers started pumping fuel from the capsized M/V Golden Ray, according to The Brunswick News.

Operations began Wednesday to pump fuel from the tanks inside the 656-foot ship, which overturned on its port side between St. Simons and Jekyll islands in the early morning hours of Sept. 8 as it was heading out to sea with a cargo of some 4,200 vehicles. Fuel onboard the Golden Ray is being pumped off the ship and onto a barge, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Dean.

Dean said it is too early speculate on how long this phase of the project will take, noting that safety of the workers, the environment and the public will dictate how fast the work can proceed. Removing the fuel accomplishes two things: eliminating it as a further threat to the surrounding marine environment; and lessening the load onboard the ship in preparations for re-floating it, she said. Unified Command has previously stated it hopes to remove the ship in one piece, a task that is still several months away from being achieved.

Unified Command terms the process of removing the onboard oil as lightering, a maritime term that describes “the process of removing oil or other hazardous chemicals from a compromised vessel to another vessel to prevent oil from spilling into the surrounding waters,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lightering also is employed “to reduce a vessel’s draft,” according to NOAA.

“Lightering operations have commenced as of Wednesday,” Petty Officer Dean said. “It’s in the very initial phases. I can’t really give a timeline to remove this fuel from the vessel, but they are working diligently. It’s a very dangerous operation, just to get these crews in there to be able to do this. We are focusing on the safety of the personnel and getting this done as quickly and as safely as possible.”

Gwinnett County Police Chief A.A. “Butch” Ayers will retire, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County Police Deputy Chief Tom Doran will succeed Police Chief A.A. “Butch” Ayers, who is retiring after 35 years of service to Gwinnett County, a county spokesperson said Thursday.

County administrator Glenn Stephens announced Doran’s appointment on Thursday.

“The Gwinnett County Police Department is a prime example of the succession planning and leadership development that the County strives to cultivate and develop in all of its departments,” Stephens said. “Doran is the fifth police chief in a row to begin his career as a police officer and rise among the ranks to assume the role of police chief. I credit the superior level of expertise that exists within the leadership in our police department, including the tremendous leadership of Chief Ayers, for this tradition.”

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton will continue facing federal charges, according to the AJC.

A federal judge says former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton did not provide evidence that the government had tainted its case against her.

By denying her motion to dismiss the case, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Larkins said the next step is to head to trial.

Sutton is accused of accepting two $500 bribes from a subcontractor who was doing business with the county. The charges allege that the crimes happened in 2014 when Sutton served as the chairwoman of the commission’s Finance, Audit and Budget Committee with oversight of contracting decisions.

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