Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 17, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 17, 2019

Five thousand British and Hessian troops surrendered to patriot militia on October 17, 1777, ending the Second Battle of Saratoga, and leading to France recognizing American independence and sending military aid.

An editorial published pseudononymously by Alexander Hamilton on October 17, 1796, accused Thomas Jefferson, then a Presidential candidate, of having an affair with a slave.

Happy birthday to the Texas Rangers, created on October 17, 1835.

In the midst of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed a semi-official force of armed men who would defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana’s soldiers and hostile Indians; the Texas Rangers filled this role. But after winning their revolutionary war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Rangers, both to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier.

Paul Anderson, known as the “World’s Strongest Man,” was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17, 1932. From his New York Times obituary:

As the unknown substitute for the injured American champion at the first Soviet-American dual athletic competition, in Moscow in 1955, the 5-foot-9-inch Anderson was scorned by his hosts.

The scorn turned to snickers when Anderson called for a weight of 402.4 pounds, more than 20 pounds above the world record. The snickers stopped when the 340-pound Anderson lifted the weight. By the time he set another record, in the clean and jerk, he was being hailed by Soviet fans.

The stunning achievement at the height of the Cold War made Anderson an instant American hero, and it was largely an anticlimax when he set three more world records at the world championships in Munich, Germany, later that year.

Although virtually conceded the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Anderson was stricken with a severe inner-ear infection.

Competing at 304 pounds and with a 103-degree fever, he fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt he asked God for a little extra help and got it.

“It wasn’t making a bargain,” he said later, “I needed help.”

Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa is a private park supported by a 501(c)(3) organization.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Public Broadcasting runs down the fundraising totals for Georgia’s federal candidates.

In one of the Senate elections, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) raised about $2.4 million toward his re-election campaign, or about as much as the quarter of Democrats vying to unseat him.

Investigative journalist Jon Ossoff brought in the most money [of the Democratic candidates], raising about $811,000 in three weeks and transferred more than $532,000 from his run in the 6th Congressional District special election in 2017.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) raised over $310,000 in Q3 and has more than $1.3 million cash on hand. That could come in handy if Collins is appointed to fill the other U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Johnny Isaskson (R-Ga.) will step down from at the end of 2019. The appointee would then have to run in a “jungle primary” special election next November.

The AJC looks at the new Fulton County Commissioner, Joe Carn, and Atlanta School Board Member Aretta Baldon, who were elected in runoffs this week.

The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission has suspended Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, according to the AJC.

The Gwinnett County judge at the center of a courthouse hacking investigation has been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case against her.

Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission handed down its ruling against Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader on Wednesday, nearly a month after she and three co-defendants were indicted on felony computer trespass charges. Schrader is accused of triggering a strange — and illegal — series of events by hiring a private investigator to look into her fears that someone was trying to access her work computer.

In its ruling, the JQC’s hearing panel wrote that Schrader’s alleged actions and the subsequent criminal charges had adversely affected her ability to do her job.

“The Panel further finds that Judge Schrader’s personal decision to allow an outside third party to gain access to the County’s network — with its many subsequent repercussions, including the discovery that Judge Schrader’s actions allegedly enabled a convicted child molester to have access to Court data — also adversely affects the administration of that office, as well as the rights and interests of the public,” wrote Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, the presiding officer of the JQC panel.

Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside seeks to aggressively combat crime in local hotels, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Five hotels in Gwinnett were the sites of 271 crime incidents that Gwinnett County police responded to during a 12-month period between September 2018 and September of this year, and Solicitor General Brian Whiteside said it’s symbolic of a problem that his office is taking steps to address.

Whiteside recently sent letters to the owners of seven hotels in the county asking them to meet with him and local police officials by the beginning of November. The solicitor wants the hotel owners to do something to address the amount of crime happening at their properties, ranging from drugs and prositution to rapes, robberies and assaults.

“They’re gonna have 30 days to answer to a meeting with me or I’m going to shut them down for ordinance violations,” Whiteside said. “All of these hotels that consistently have crime, some of the hotels that you’ve heard about that have shootings, such as Knights Inn.

Whiteside said the hotels could face ordinance violations for public nuisance and having a disorderly house because of the ongoing crime issues that occur on their premises.

“They would have to answer to a judge why they have had crime over five or six years, why do they have people selling drugs, why do they have prostitution, who have people been wounded or shot and killed?” the solicitor said.

Gambling interests are in Atlanta for a dog-and-pony show under the Gold Dome, according to the AJC.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brett Harrell, who is one of a trio of chairmen overseeing a House panel tasked with examining the economic benefits of allowing gambling in the state, said the meetings won’t focus on whether Georgia should expand gaming.

“The committee’s focus is not to debate issues on whether or not a specific industry ought to be welcome into the state,” the Snellville Republican said. “Our focus is to compare impacts to existing business and quality of life as we look at new industries, new revenue streams (and) new investment in the state of Georgia.”

Representatives from Wynn Resorts, Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition and others touted gaming success stories in other states.

Virginia Galloway, a lobbyist for the Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, said it felt as though Tuesday’s meeting was a series of sales pitches. But, Galloway said, she believes expanding gaming will lead to a rise in Georgians with gambling addictions and financial problems, and attract criminal activity around casinos and horse tracks.

Georgia senators also are studying the potential economic impact of expanding gambling, which supporters say would bring thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.

Adding horse racing or casino gambling in the state would require Georgians to approve a constitutional amendment allowing the expansion.

Getting a constitutional amendment through the General Assembly is a heavy lift. Two-thirds of each chamber would have to approve sending an amendment to voters.

Kemp has said that while he opposes casino gambling, he will not stand in the way of putting an amendment before voters as long as it guarantees the revenue will benefit HOPE.

Atlanta arts venues want to protect their turf from casinos in the event gambling is allowed, according to the AJC.

A coalition of arts and entertainment venues urged Georgia lawmakers against allowing future gambling facilities from including performance spaces, saying it would undermine their business.

Allan Vella, the president and CEO of the Fox Theatre, said while the coalition didn’t oppose expanding gambling in Georgia, he worried that allowing potential casinos to include entertainment space could force arts and culture venues across the state out of business.

Vella, speaking on behalf of the Georgia Arts and Culture Venues Coalition, said allowing entertainment space at a casino or racetrack would undermine their businesses. The coalition includes the Fox and other venues across the state, such as the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth and the Augusta Entertainment Complex.

Vella said gambling revenue allows casinos to pay artists more to perform at their venue.

“Casinos will set the bar on price, and other venues in the state will not be able to compete,” he said.

WALB covers the campaign by Henry Mathis for Mayor of Albany.

The Pickens County Board of Education adopted a bathroom policy that will drive some liberals nuts. From the AJC:

Bowing to pressure from parents and residents, the Pickens County Board of Education announced today that it will no longer allow transgender students to use restrooms of their choice.

“There have been many serious safety concerns raised in the past few days. School board members, staff, and students have been threatened due to the administration’s implementation of Adams vs. St. John’s County School District,” the board said, referring to a federal court case in Florida, through a press release.

The initial decision to let transgender students use the restroom designated for the sex they identified with, not their birth sex, came after the Florida federal court ruling.

Snellville has adopted a 12-month moratorium on new vape shops, according to the AJC.

The temporary ban was put in place after a formal discussion at Monday’s city council meeting. This makes Snellville the second Gwinnett city to stop new vape shops from opening. Lilburn enacted a permanent ban in June, and Alpharetta denied an application for a new vape shop in late August.

Councilwoman Gretchen Schulz cited rising numbers of deaths from respiratory illnesses that could be linked to vaping as the impetus behind the action. As of last week, 26 people had died in 21 states, including one in Georgia, due to medical issues associated with vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This will give us time to see what, if anything, is going to be done perhaps by the state legislature or by the federal government,” Schulz said. “After 12 months we can determine where we go at that point.”

Renovations to the county courthouse dominates the discussion of a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Commissioner Bill Brunson called needed renovations to the Glynn County Courthouse the “elephant in the room,” during Wednesday’s Brunswick-Glynn County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Brunson said the 25-year-old courthouse was never built to the size consultants originally recommended, and something has to be done to alleviate the overcrowded conditions.

Besides security concerns, Brunson said something has to be done to alleviate the problems with the juvenile court, which he described as “anger on steroids.”

The work on the courthouse is estimated to cost anywhere from $20 million to $50 million, which is a concern because the proposed SPLOST is expected to generate $100 million over five years. Dedicating as much as half the SPLOST revenue on courthouse renovations may be enough to discourage voters from approving the 1-cent sales tax.

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