Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 26, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 26, 2019

President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 the first “public day of thanksgiving and prayer.”

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fourth Thursday in November as the modern Thanksgiving celebration.

[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

On the same day, a Japanese navy fleet left port headed toward Pearl Harbor.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flags on state buildings and grounds fly at half-staff today in honor of Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Cecil Dwayne Ridley, who was killed in the line of duty on November 19, 2019.

Democrat Stacey Abrams will use her fiction-writing skills previously devoted to making up fictional stories about Georgia politics to executive produce a tv series, according to The Hill.

Abrams, who garnered national attention after her campaign, also has a career of writing mystery novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery.

Abrams is executive producing “Never Tell,” based on her 2004 novel, about a linguistic professor “with a complicated past” who teams up with a “charismatic” investigative online journalist to solve cases with the New Orleans Police Department, according to information CBS shared with The Hill about the project.

The show is in development with CBS and has yet to be picked up.

The pre-election contest for the open U.S. Senate seat has already become a bloody mess, even before Governor Brian Kemp announces the appointee.

Debbie Dooley has called Gov. Kemp’s selection process a “fiasco” and probably doomed the candidacy of Rep. Doug Collins for appointment to the seat. From 11Alive:

One of the resumes came from Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.  Her letter to Kemp describes herself as someone “who will stand with President Trump… and you to Keep America Great.”

But Trump supporter and Atlanta Tea Party founder Debbie Dooley sees something else in Loeffler.

“I think she’s not a conservative. I think she’s a Mitt Romney Republican. She’s not a Donald Trump Republican,” Dooley said. “That’s an important distinction.”

But Dooley wants a proven Trump loyalist.

“I can tell you now, without a doubt, people want Doug Collins,” said Dooley.

The Tea Party Patriots Fund called on Kemp to appoint Collins Monday.

Breitbart has published a piece criticizing Kelly Loeffler, widely considered a frontrunner for appointment to the Senate.

As the weekend broke, the ultra-conservative Breitbart.com weighed in with a piece topped by wordy headline that left little to the imagination: “ ‘A Country Club Republican’: Conservatives Sound the Alarm over Kelly Loeffler’s Potential Senate Appointment, Ties to Planned Parenthood, Stacey Abrams.”

According to the Breitbart piece, Loeffler’s tie to Abrams consists of the fact that last August, Abrams joined the WNBA players’ union. Which would put Abrams in opposition to Loeffler’s management role, but never mind.

The link to Planned Parenthood is a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales were to be donated to six non-profit causes. Planned Parenthood was one of them. But this sounds like Loeffler’s most egregious sin:

Georgia will receive $1.4 million dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the Center Square.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued $1.4 million for distance learning and telemedicine projects for five Georgia organizations.

“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy said in a statement.

The largest grant of $403,000 will be awarded to The Corporation of Mercer University of Georgia for a behavioral health telemedicine project. Ten counties will be linked to the project that will provide services for up to 20,600 rural residents.

The Georgia Department of Justice will receive a $384,000 to establish a distance learning program for employees in 15 counties. The Department of Labor will also launch a similar program for staff and customers with its $352,000 grant.

Oconee Fall Line Technical College and Augusta University plan to use their grants, both under $200,000, for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes and medical studies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also funding a pilot program to address feral hogs, according to the Albany Herald.

These projects are part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program – a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to help address the threat that feral swine pose to agriculture, ecosystems, and human and animal health.

“Feral swine cause significant damage to crops and grazing lands, while also impacting the health of our natural resources,” said NRCS State Conservationist Terrance O. Rudolph. “By collaborating with our partners nationally and here in Georgia, our hope is to control this invasive species – improving operations for farmers while also protecting our natural resources for the future.”

NRCS and APHIS are working with the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District in portions of Baker, Calhoun, Dougherty and Terrell counties on one project. Additionally, the group is working with Tall Timbers Research Inc., in portions of Brooks, Grady and Thomas counties, as well as several counties in North Florida.

Georgia State Senator John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) was named Legislator of the Year by the Rural Jobs Coalition, according to Under the Georgia Sun.

Wilkinson was chosen as Legislator of the Year for his support of agribusiness and policies that help drive job creation, revitalization of small businesses and economic opportunities for small, rural communities across the state.

“Born and raised in rural Georgia, I know firsthand the struggle of our small businesses to access affordable capital in their rural communities in order to grow operations and hire and retain workforce,” said Sen. Wilkinson. “The Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act (GARJA) is one of many programs that I have supported that provides growth opportunities for our rural businesses. Georgia is a national leader in the effort to rebuild our rural areas; I am proud to be a part of that passionate movement.”

The act, sponsored by Sen. Wilkinson during the 2017 Legislative Session, is a program that uses a tax credit for investors in rural funds to increase capital available to small businesses in rural Georgia.

The investments can be made in agribusiness, businesses dealing with health care, transportation, technology or other areas as deemed appropriate by the Department of Community Affairs. You can read more about the program here, and you can find the language of the bill here.

Smyrna‘s elections for Mayor is a high-dollar affair, with more than $150k raised by the candidates, according to the Cobb County Courier.

As Smyrna mayor hopefuls Ryan Campbell and Derek Norton head back out to campaign for voters ahead of the Dec. 3 runoff, they’re also receiving donations to help fund their efforts.

Between them, Norton and Campbell have raised over $150,000 from a wide range of donors in a wide range of amounts. On election day in November, Norton collected by far the most votes with 3,724, good for 47.1% but not enough to avoid a runoff. Campbell finished second with 1,957 votes, or 24.75%. (Read Derek Norton’s campaign disclosure here).

During the initial campaign Norton, a lobbyist for the Medical Association of Georgia, raised more money than the four other candidates combined. Among Norton’s contributors were politicians and political action committees, doctors and groups representing the medical field, lobbyists and lobbying groups, and individuals and companies associated with the development and construction industry.

As of of his most recent report, which was submitted Nov. 1, Norton has now raised $110,030, nearly triple that of Campbell.

Albany and Lee County voters can cast ballots early in the runoff elections through tomorrow, according to the Albany Herald.

Voters were turning out Monday morning in steady numbers on the first day of early voting for the Albany mayoral and Ward VI Albany City Commission runoff contests.

As of about 11 p.m. 137 had cast ballots, with elevators steadily discharging a flow of residents to the line of tables where poll workers checked identification.

Voting hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. through Wednesday on the second floor of the Government Center building at 222 Pine Ave.

In Lee County, early voting also extends through Wednesday from 8:15 a.m.-5 p.m. at 100 Starksville Ave. N., Suite C.

The only contest on the ballot is a runoff for a special election to state House District 152. Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn and Bill Yearta, the former mayor of Sylvester, are squaring off in that race. The winner will serve out the final year of the term of Ed Rynders, who resigned earlier this year.

Smithville voters also will return to the polls in a runoff election to choose between incumbent Mayor Jack Smith and challenger Vincent Cutts.

Johns Creek City Council member Jay Lin announced he will run for State House District 50, currently held by Democrat Angelika Kausche, according to NorthFulton.com.

District 50 represents most of Johns Creek. In 2018, Democrat Rep. Angelika Kausche won an open race for the seat.

Lin is a first-generation immigrant from Taiwan. He is a licensed general contractor and owner of Pacific Ventures, a remodeling and construction firm.

“For Georgia to excel in the 21st century economy, we must avoid the poisoned, partisan politics that have crippled Washington,” Lin said. “We must rally together around common sense solutions that expand access to the middle class and beyond — lower taxes, great schools, workforce development programs and an efficient government that solves problems instead of creating them.”

Johns Creek is likely to be seen as a battleground by both sides. Of the four House seats that represent Johns Creek, three are held by freshman Democrats who won with less than 52 percent of the vote — Kausche, Rep. Beth Moore and Rep. Josh McLaurin. Republican Rep. Chuck Martin retained his seat 54 to 46 percent.

Chatham County Commissioners approved additional funding for the District Attorney’s office and Public Defenders, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Chatham County Commissioners unanimously approved boosting court-system staff for the District Attorney and Public Defender offices during their biweekly meeting on Friday, Nov. 22, addressing concerns that increasing caseloads are overwhelming attorneys from both departments, causing courthouse delays.

When these requests were brought before the board, all commissioners voted in favor of boosting personnel for the District Attorney’s Office with two assistant attorneys and one legal secretary at an annual cost of $325,500, and to increase the Public Defender’s Office workforce with two full-time assistant attorneys and one part-time senior attorney, at an annual cost of $266,973.30.

The Glynn County Commission Finance Committee will address a budget shortfall created by a error, according to The Brunswick News.

The shortfall was caused by $1.65 million in lease revenue being included in budgets for both the fiscal year 2018 and the fiscal year 2019, according to a memo to the committee from county finance manager Judy Dunnagan.

The memo states that $1.65 million in revenue was collected during the fiscal year 2018, which ended on June 30, 2018, and used to balance the 2018 budget.

However, the revenue was collected after the fiscal year 2019 budget had been approved. The 2019 budget included $1.65 million in projects to be paid for with the same lease revenue, according to the memo.

In the memo, Dunnagan recommends the county pull from its general fund to cover the shortfall, as revenues exceeded expenditures by $16 million in the fiscal year 2019.

Alternatively, she suggests finding cuts in the current fiscal year 2020 budget.

Plant Vogtle reactors 3 and 4 are undergoing testing, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia Power said Monday it has begun testing major systems at the Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 site near Waynesboro, a sign that the construction project is transitioning toward systems operations.

The company said its latest phase of testing – open vessel testing – will demonstrate how water flows from key safety systems into the reactor vessel to ensure paths are not blocked or constricted. The testing will also confirm that pumps, motors, valves, pipes and other components of the systems function as designed.

“This is a significant step on our path towards operations,” Glen Chick, executive vice president for the construction project, said in a company-issued statement. “Open vessel testing will prepare the unit for cold hydro testing and hot functional testing next year – both critical tests required ahead of initial fuel load.”

The new reactors are currently the largest jobs-producing construction project in the state of Georgia, with more than 8,000 workers on site. More than 800 full-time jobs will be created when the units are certified to begin operations.

Dunwoody City Council adopted the strongest pedestrian and cyclist protection measure in the state, according to the AJC.

The City Council last week passed a “Vulnerable Road Users” law, giving additional protection to a group that also includes skateboarders, motorcyclists and scooter riders.

Spearheaded by City Councilman Tom Lambert, the ordinance goes further than the current state law, and would stiffen the penalties for drivers who strike or act aggressively toward bicyclists or pedestrians. Based on Lambert’s research, he said, Dunwoody would be the first city in Georgia — as well as in the surrounding states — to pass such a law.

The ordinance codifies state law in mandating that vehicles must be at least 3 feet away from a bicycle when passing one. It also bans drivers from throwing things at vulnerable road users, making an unsafe turn in front of them and maneuvering a car in a way that could cause “intimidation or harassment.”

Dunwoody’s ordinance only allows a car to go into an opposite-direction travel lane to pass a cyclist if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, they must stay behind the bike.

Drivers who break the Vulnerable Road Users law could face up to six months in jail or probation, a $1,000 fine or the suspension of their driver’s license. But those penalties may be reduced or waived if the driver completes a driver safety and pedestrian awareness class.

The law, which the Council passed 6-1, is set to go into effect May 1, 2020, allowing time to educate residents about the new rules and penalties.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Passenger Vehicle Seat Safety Belts is considering , according to the AJC.

Lawmakers are expected to pursue legislation next session that would make it illegal to not wear seat belts while sitting in the front or back seats of a passenger vehicle.

Georgia currently requires drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts, and anyone 17 or under in back seats must be restrained. But adults are not required to buckle up in the back seat.

State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, the chairman of a committee studying seat belt use, said the change will save lives.

“We believe there should be more public service announcements and times put into reminding and educating the public on the importance of wearing their seat belts at all times and in all locations,” Albers said Monday.

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