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

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

The British ship Mayflower landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18, 1620.

MayflowerHarbor

Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who founded Methodism, and one of the great hymn-writers, was born on December 18, 1707. Wesley accompanied James Oglethorpe to Georgia in 1736.

The first national day of thanksgiving was observed on December 18, 1777 commemorating the American victory over the British at Saratoga the previous month.

Congress wrote, “It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn THANKSGIVING and PRAISE; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor”.

On December 18, 1834, Governor William Lumpkin signed legislation chartering the Georgia Methodists Conference Manual Labor School at Oxford, Georgia, which would later become Emory College in 1836 and Emory University in 1915.

On December 18, 1865, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward issued a statement verifying the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the United States.

The office of Superintendent of Public Education and Georgia Schools was created on December 18, 1866 when Gov. Charles Jenkins signed legislation passed by the General Assembly; on December 18, 1894, Gov. William Atkinson approved a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment to make the State School Commissioner elected statewide.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters was eulogized after his death in Pensacola, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Roughly 400 people, including dozens of uniformed service members, gathered at a Savannah church to remember 21-year-old Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters of neighboring Richmond Hill. His casket, draped with an American flag, stood at the front of a stage adorned with Christmas trees.

Walters was among three sailors killed Dec. 6 when the gunman opened fire at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Federal authorities said the gunman also wounded eight other people in the rampage before a sheriff’s deputy killed him.

The slain sailor’s father, Shane Walters, has said his son had recently arrived in Florida after completing boot camp and was standing watch at the entrance of a classroom building where the attack occurred.

Mourners in the front row at Walters’ funeral in the large sanctuary at Compassion Christian Church included Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who ordered flags lowered to half-staff at all statewide buildings to honor the sailor.

The Navy posthumously awarded all three slain sailors the gold wings badge they had been training to earn.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger‘s office completed the purge of more than 300k inactive voters, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A federal judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order on the Secretary of State’s plans to purge the thousands of voters.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said Monday court will reconvene Thursday to further examine the issue, but he will not stop voters on the list from being purged as planned.

Bryan Tyson, secretary of state’s counsel, said that there is a misconception when using the word “purge” that records of inactive voters will be wiped, which is not true. The voters are changed in status in the system.

Tyson said that federally mandated voter maintenance is only allowed every odd year and not within a 90-day period before the presidential primary. The clean-up needs to take place before Christmas Day or maintenance will not happen until 2021.

Jones decided the purge could continue, and if he ruled against the voters being removed on Thursday, the Secretary of State’s office would need to reverse the process.

Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections will host one of the new voting machines for voters to learn about, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“The new voting system is easy to use, provides opportunities for voters to review their votes on a screen and on paper before casting their ballot, and also provides our office with multiple ways to review election results if necessary,” Charlotte Sosebee, Athens-Clarke County director of Elections and Voter Registration, said in a news release.

Voters will use a touch screen to mark ballots, then print out a paper ballot they can scan into an optical reader after reviewing it. Elections officials will keep the paper ballots for possible use in recounts or audits.

One unit is at the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections office at 155 E. Washington St. Voters can test out that unit through early February during the office’s normal hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) spoke about impeachment during the House Rules Committee meeting, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

 “We’re talking today about reversing America’s last election. Candidly, I have every bit as much concern about the time that we will reverse the next election or the election after that,” Woodall said during the committee’s debate. “It is not more divided in this Congress today than it was in 1998 when folks found a process on which they could work together.”

“As much as we cared about the presidency then, we cared more about the Constitution later. We found a way to move forward in a bipartisan way then, and moving forward in a partisan way today is going to have serious repercussions. I truly believe America will judge us harshly because of the process that has come forward.”

The Rules Committee decided to have six hours of debate split between Republicans and Democrats, as well as one hour of additional debate on a procedural vote about the rule governing the debate.

Woodall did vote to instead set the debate length at 12 hours, but it was defeated in a 9-4 party line vote.

“The most severe constitutional remedy in existence has been weaponized as just another way to attack the president of the party that isn’t yours,” [Congressman Doug] Collins said in his opening statement to the Rules Committee. “To attack this president, Democrats are willing to tear down every inch of this and every other institution necessary.”

United States Senator-designee Kelly Loeffler pledged to fight impeachment of President Trump, according to the AJC.

“I’m an outsider to Washington. I’m not even sure where my office is going to be. But I can tell you with certainty my first vote is an easy one,” Loeffler said Tuesday on the eve of a House vote that is set to result in Trump’s impeachment.

“This impeachment sham is an attack on what was a free and fair election, and I will stand strongly against impeachment and vote no,” she said. “This is something that’s been going on for years, and it’s time to end it and get back to work for Georgians.”

Early next month, Loeffler will be sworn into office and thrown into a debate about whether Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his top 2020 rivals.

“I know impeachment will take up a lot of news coverage, but it doesn’t affect everyday lives,” Loeffler said. “We need to get past the impeachment sham and see what we can do to help Georgians.”

Loeffler also discussed her basketball team’s opposition to religious liberty legislation, according to the AJC.

“I bought the Atlanta Dream because I love basketball. I wanted to do something for the city of Atlanta, for the Southeast, for sports. I did not buy the team for political purposes or political statements,” she said. “I believe that people of faith should be free to make statements without fear of persecution.”

Pressed on whether that meant she supported the legislation, she indicated that she did.

“I think people of faith should be protected,” she said. “And we should all be able to act according to our religious beliefs.”

She added: “And we should treat all people with love and respect.”

Former Governor Nathan Deal has spoken to Loeffler, according to the AJC.

“She understands that she’s going to have to work hard, she’s going to have to introduce herself to a lot of people, and that’s hard work. I think from what she told me she’s willing to undertake that. That’s what it’s going to take for anybody who tries to run for anything these days, especially statewide.”

Asked if he felt confident in her ability, he elaborated:

“I feel pretty positive about her. She’s a very smart lady and has a lot of experience in the business world and of course has been involved on the sidelines at least in the political arena, so she’s not a novice, by any stretch of the imagination. Just because people may not know her name in a widespread fashion does not mean she’s a total newcomer. She’s not.”

Glynn County Commissioners took a round of cuts to the project list for a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (“SPLOST”), according to The Brunswick News.

Commissioners unanimously favored implementing a five-year SPLOST this time around, which could collect as much as $110 million accounting for fluctuations in the economy, according to county manager Alan Ours. Because of widespread predictions of an imminent economic downturn, he recommending keeping the projects list under $100 million.

The commission felt they would be safe setting a cap on the list at $105 million. Proceeds would be split between the county, city of Brunswick, Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and Jekyll Island Authority.

Commissioners unanimously favored implementing a five-year SPLOST this time around, which could collect as much as $110 million accounting for fluctuations in the economy, according to county manager Alan Ours. Because of widespread predictions of an imminent economic downturn, he recommending keeping the projects list under $100 million.

The commission felt they would be safe setting a cap on the list at $105 million. Proceeds would be split between the county, city of Brunswick, Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and Jekyll Island Authority.

The Muscogee County Board of Education unanimously adopted a project list totaling $189 million for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (“ESPLOST”), according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus voters will be asked next year to renew a tax that would pay for 22 projects totaling an estimated $189 million, including the consolidation of two schools into a new building, the construction of a postponed sports complex and the replacement of a public library.

During its monthly meeting Monday night, the Muscogee County School Board unanimously approved Superintendent David Lewis’ recommendation for the final list of proposed projects.

The projects would be funded by the 1% Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax if Columbus voters renew it. That referendum will be on the March 24 ballot, along with the presidential primary.

Gainesville City Council adopted new regulations on hotels, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gainesville hotels have some new regulations after the City Council approved a set of code amendments Tuesday, including restrictions on lengths of stays and record-keeping requirements.

Hotels are allowed to provide lodging in a room for up to 15 days, while guests at extended-stay hotels can stay for up to 30 days. Any hotel that has fixed cooking appliances or a kitchen in at least 5% of the rooms would be designated as extended-stay.

Gainesville also adopted new rules for vape shops and hookah lounges, according to the Gainesville Times.

New businesses of these types will not be allowed to open in the city’s midtown overlay zone, an approximately 350-acre area bordered by E.E. Butler Parkway, Jesse Jewell Parkway, Queen City Parkway and the railroad. Retail sales of alternative nicotine products will also not be allowed in that area. Existing businesses will be grandfathered in as “legal, non-conforming uses.”

The businesses would need approval from the council to open in an area zoned light or heavy industrial. They could not be located within 500 feet of a similar business or within 1,000 feet of a school or day care, library, church, community or recreation center, liquor store, sexually oriented business, tattoo parlor, pawn shop, bar or nightclub, card room, check cashing business, park or residential zoning district.

The rules also prohibit anyone under the age of 18 to be in the businesses or work there. It is illegal to sell the products to anyone under 18.

Chatham Area Transit will roll out an app-based ticket system, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Daniel Hofman resigned as City Manager for Guyton, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Clarke County Board of Education voted to name Xernona Thomas as interim superintendent, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The First Right Whale Calf of the birthing season has been spotted off Sapelo Island, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Researchers with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium spotted the first right whale calf of the season off the coast of Sapelo Island Monday.

Both the “girthy” mom and her days-old baby appeared healthy.

“It’s a little peanut, a little 2,000-pound peanut,” said Barb Zoodsma, right whale biologist with NOAA Fisheries.

This is the first calf for the mom, who was born in 2005 and is known by her number in the New England Aquarium Right Whale catalog as #3560, wrote Clearwater Marine Aquarium spokeswoman Kelsy Long in an email. Unlike some right whales, she has no nickname.

“[The mother whale] is everything you’d hope to see in a right whale,” Zoodsma said. “She jet black. She’s very girthy, which is good if you’re a North Atlantic right whale. The bottom line is she herself looked very healthy.”

The calf sighting comes in the middle of the month Gov. Brian Kemp proclaimed as Georgia’s North Atlantic Right Whale Month. Including the calf, eight right whales have been spotted in the Southeast so far this calving season.

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