Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 1, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 1, 2020

Benjamin Franklin became Georgia’s agent in England on June 1, 1768, making him also Georgia’s first lobbyist.

On June 1, 1775, Georgia patriots sent a care package to their brethren in Massachusetts comprising 63 barrels of rice and £122 after the battles at Lexington and Concord.

The court martial of Benedict Arnold convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 1, 1779.

Arnold negotiated his defection to the British and the subversion of West Point over several months. The British already held control of New York City and believed that by taking West Point they could effectively cut off the American’s New England forces from the rest of the fledgling nation.

In August 1780, Sir Henry Clinton offered Arnold £20,000 for delivering West Point and 3,000 troops. Arnold told General Washington that West Point was adequately prepared for an attack even though he was busy making sure that that it really wasn’t. He even tried to set up General Washington’s capture as a bonus. His plan might have been successful but his message was delivered too late and Washington escaped. The West Point surrender was also foiled when an American colonel ignored Arnold’s order not to fire on an approaching British ship.

Arnold’s defection was revealed to the Americans when British officer John André, acting as a messenger, was robbed by AWOL Americans working as pirates in the woods north of New York City. The notes revealing Arnold’s traitorous agreement were stashed in his boots.

On June 1, 1942, a Polish newspaper first published information about the gassing of Jews at Nazi concentration camps in Poland.

The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 1, 1967. The album is listed as #1 on the Rolling Stone top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song’s regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of “A Day in the Life,” the 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles’ eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.

Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America, Sgt. Pepper is also rock’s ultimate declaration of change. For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and assembly-line record-making. “We were fed up with being Beatles,” McCartney said decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles’ McCartney biography. “We were not boys, we were men… artists rather than performers.

“It was a peak,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970, describing both the album and his collaborative relationship with McCartney. “Paul and I were definitely working together,” Lennon said….

Rolling Stone should stick to writing about music.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Under the Gold Dome – Legislative Committee Meetings

Monday, June 1 at 10 AM, Senate Appropriations – Judicial Subcommittee, 450 CAP. Livestream here.

Tuesday, June 2 at 9 AM, Senate Appropriations – Fiscal Management Subcommittee, 450 CAP.

Tuesday, June 2 at 9 AM, House Judiciary Non-Civil, virtual meeting. Livestream here.

Tuesday, June 2 at 2 PM, Senate Appropriations – Transportation Subcommittee, 450 CAP.

Wednesday, June 3 at 1:15 PM, Appropriations – Insurance and Labor Subcommittee, 341 CAP. Livestream here.

Friday, June 5 at 10 AM, Appropriations – Community Health Subcommittee, 450 CAP.

Vice President Mike Pence visited Georgia on Friday. From the AJC:

Vice President Mike Pence marked his second visit to Georgia in a week with a fresh endorsement of the state’s aggressive rollback of coronavirus restrictions and a promise that more “help is on the way” for residents and businesses struggling with the pandemic.

Just like his last visit a week ago, Pence flew into Dobbins Air Reserve Base, huddled with Kemp, met with local business executives and honored the memory of the late Ravi Zacharias, the famed evangelist who forged a reputation as a vigorous defender of Christianity.

This time, Pence also addressed the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer used his knee to restrain Floyd’s neck, and the growing unrest over police violence that triggered violent demonstrations in Minneapolis and protests elsewhere in the nation.

“We have no tolerance for racism in America. We have no tolerance for violence inspired by racism. And as President (Donald) Trump said, justice will be served,” said Pence, who also mentioned the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was shot to death near Brunswick in February after a confrontation with several white men who have been charged with his murder.

Pence was unequivocal again Friday as he started a roundtable discussion at Unity National Bank, a minority-owned bank in downtown Atlanta, by heaping compliments on Kemp’s steps to roll back restrictions.

“Georgia’s leading the way in reopening America,” he said. “We want to commend you for the safe and responsible and measured way that you continue to restore not only the economic life but the cultural life of this community.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is taking a turn in the national spotlight after Friday’s rioting, according to CNN.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stepped into the national spotlight on Friday night, denouncing vandalism in her city as “chaos” after demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, who was pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer now charged with his murder, turned violent and destructive “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” an impassioned Bottoms said at a news conference. “This is chaos.”

As thousands of protesters gathered in more than thirty cities, the Atlanta mayor, whose name has been floated as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, is facing a high stakes test of her leadership at home. Bottoms was joined at the news conference by local hip hop artists, civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Bernice King, and law enforcement officials, as she mixed empathy with anger and pleaded with protesters to “go home.” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said he issued a state of emergency overnight at Bottoms’ request that could send as many as 500 National Guard troops to Fulton County.

Bottoms, a former judge and city council member, was sworn in as mayor in 2018 and has quickly emerged as one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars. On Friday night, amid a swirl of increasingly tense and occasionally violent scenes, she faced the cameras, her constituents — and the country.

In a statement Saturday, Biden campaign national spokesman TJ Ducklo applauded Bottoms’ grace under fire.

“Vice President Biden has been grateful for Mayor Bottoms’ support and counsel since the earliest days of our campaign,” Ducklo said. “Her passion, her empathy and her strong and steady leadership are shining through during this difficult moment, and the city of Atlanta is lucky to have her leading the way.”

From the Athens Banner Herald:

The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit by massive protests, has a message for demonstrators: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warned that “there is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”

From the AJC:

“Obviously, we are the home of the civil rights movement. So, we … have a long history of protest in our city,” Bottoms said. “But our organizers in Atlanta, many of whom don’t agree with me quite often as mayor, were very clear that this, by and large, after things turned violent, was not an Atlanta-based protest. It looked differently racially in our city than our normal protests looked. … So, we don’t know who they were, but many of them were not locally based.”

Atlanta police haven’t identified outside groups and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is seeking more information about those arrested at the protests so far.

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Candidate Mark Jones is out on bail, fresh out of jail, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus district attorney candidate Mark Jones held a rally outside his downtown law office Friday after he was released from jail Thursday night, having been charged with six offenses related to the May 17 filming of a campaign ad.

Jones is challenging incumbent District Attorney Julia Slater in the June 9 Democratic Primary, which will decide the race because no Republican qualified to seek the office in the November General Election. All six counties in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit vote in the primary.

During his noon rally Friday, Jones accused Slater of pushing for the case police made against him and two car enthusiasts who cut doughnuts in the Columbus Civic Center parking lot during the video shoot, leaving tire residue on the pavement. The city said the damage would cost $306,000 to repair.

Besides Muscogee, the other counties in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit are Harris, Chattahoochee, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot and Taylor.

Voting locations for the June 9 elections are still uncertain in some places, according to the Capitol Beat News Service, via the Augusta Chronicle.

In Savannah, the Chatham County Board of Elections is pushing to open alternative polling places after 12 of the county’s 92 voting sites “were uncertain.” And Fulton County, the state’s most populous, has lost more than 30 voting sites in recent weeks from its nearly 200-site total and is “struggling with Election Day locations,” said the county’s election director, Rick Barron.

“This has been an unprecedented situation for not only Fulton County but also other counties around the state,” Barron said at a recent news conference.

Contact tracers hired by the state to combat COVID-19 are meeting some distrust from citizens, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Since the program began, the state has conducted case interviews with more than 6,000 coronavirus-positive patients, and has worked with those cases to identify nearly 15,300 contacts.

The state has also upped its army — rallying a contact tracing team of 1,000 people working to keep up with the virus as it spreads throughout the Peach State; as of Friday the total number of cases passed 45,000 and deaths were near 2,000.

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said the biggest hurdle for contact tracing is “gaining the trust” of the public by making sure Georgians share private information with contact tracers and heed the advice of health officials.

Toomey said the process isn’t meant to be “intrusive” or infringe on “civil liberties” and has made several pleas to the press to help correct any misconceptions.

Nine locations for collecting COVID-19 testing specimens will close, according to AccessWDUN.

“The Georgia Department of Public Health will continue to operate 136 specimen collection sites throughout the state, and encourages Georgians wanting to be tested for COVID-19 to contact their local health department to schedule an appointment,” he said Saturday in a new release sent to local media.

Two Democrats running against Republican Senator David Perdue have written large checks to their campaigns, according to the AJC.

Democrat Jon Ossoff stroked his Senate campaign a $450,000 check, finance records show, fueling speculation about his strategy in an unpredictable June 9 primary to challenge Republican David Perdue.

Democrat Jon Ossoff stroked his Senate campaign a $450,000 check, finance records show, fueling speculation about his strategy in an unpredictable June 9 primary to challenge Republican David Perdue.

Ossoff’s advisers hold out the possibility that he could capture a majority of the vote and avoid an August face-off against Amico or former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, though they say the possibility is remote in a 7-candidate race.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan said he supports hate crimes legislation, according to the Henry Herald.

Duncan, who presides over the Georgia Senate, said Friday lawmakers need to craft legislation that gives victims of hate-motivated crimes “certain tools” to bring civil lawsuits and sets a framework for law enforcement officials “to correctly identify, investigate and prosecute hate crimes.”

“This is an important piece of legislation to get right,” Duncan said in a statement. “It is time to make it clear that Georgians will not stand for hate and violence.”

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Chuck Efstration, cleared the Georgia House last year but has stalled in the Senate. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have issued calls in recent weeks to pass the bill. Efstration said he plans to push for its passage once the General Assembly resumes the 2020 legislative session in mid-June.

Local first responders will be notified when their responding to a home with a COVID-19 patient, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the Georgia Department of Public Health provide local 911 centers with a list of addresses, but not names, of people with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

“I flag the address in my system, and it is made to expire in 21 days from entry,” said Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency Director Claude Craig. “If we dispatch someone to a flagged address, it lets us know that there is a positive at that location and responders prepare accordingly.”

Whitfield County Fire Chief Edward O’Brien said he can’t recall the department responding to a call where firefighters were alerted that the address was the home of a COVID-19 patient.

“If we did have a call, personnel will limit contact by utilizing one employee to make contact with the patient,” he said. “The employee will don a gown, face mask, face shield and gloves to wear while making patient contact. All equipment would be disposed of after the call. The unit would stay out of service and return to the station where they can shower, change uniform and clean equipment and apparatus. The process is documented as an exposure to the virus and tracked for employee safety.”

The Coastal Empire Economic Monitor is focusing on COVID-19 damage to the local economy, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Monitor is a quarterly publication that provides snapshot of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area economy, including Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties and is distributed by the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research at Georgia Southern University.

“The clearest signs of economic decline presented themselves in the tourism and hospitality industry, the data we receive is pretty timely, and while the January and February numbers still looked pretty, good things started declining substantially in March,” [Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics at GSU Armstrong Campus Michael] Toma said.

“One example is the occupancy rate in regional hotels, which typically hover around 80 to 85% and are now into the single digits, so basically no one was traveling and that became very clear in March early on.”

The average number of monthly initial unemployment claims saw a sharp increase from 490 in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 2,942 in the first quarter of 2020 — with 7,608 claims being filed in March alone.

Toma said the substantial decline in consumer spending is what will drive both the U.S. and regional economy into a recession.

“A recession is usually defined as two consecutive quarters of economic decline and I don’t think there’s going to be any question that we’ve been slammed into a recession in the U.S. and our regional economy here,” he said.

The Georgia Department of Labor reports falling numbers of initial unemployment claims, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Initial unemployment claims in Georgia fell last week for the third time in the last four weeks, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

However, the agency also released a regional breakdown of April unemployment that showed record highs in many parts of Georgia as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic deepened.

Record joblessness occurred in Atlanta, coastal Georgia, Northeast Georgia, Northwest Georgia, the River Valley Region surrounding Columbus and the Three Rivers Region southwest of Atlanta.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson joined a protest on Sunday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

City leaders including Mayor Van Johnson, Alderwoman Estella Shabazz, Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier, Alderwoman Alicia Blakely, Alderman Detric Leggett, Alderman Kurtis Purtee and Alderman Nick Palumbo joined in the racially diverse crowd of protesters who marched from Johnson Square to City Hall.

“We are tired of the mess and we want it to stop now. We stand here as a united community to say that we are standing with George Floyd and his family, because no man should ever have to die like that,” Johnson said. “We stand here united as a community to say that crooked police officers are called criminals. And in jail, they should be.”

One of the points brought up by Johnson in his speech was the formation of a city-led task force that would use data to examine where racial disparity occurs in various aspects of the city, which drew large cheers from the crowd.

“We have been in city hall for 5 months today. We are instituting a task force to look at data examining every single disparity that exists in the city of Savannah, be it economic, be it health, be it social, be it police,” Johnson said. “And we’re gonna let the data drive us to where we need to be.”

Mayor Johnson also imposed an 8:30 PM curfew, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Floyd County Judicial Center will be closed today after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Statesboro City Hall reopens to the public with limited hours today, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“The city’s buildings will look a little different than they did before the state of emergency was issued for Georgia,” said Statesboro City Manager Charles Penny. “Our staff, following the Centers for Disease Control and Georgia Department of Health’s guidance, has taken considerable measures to ensure the health and safety of our employees and visitors during this reopening.”

Visitors looking to enter City Hall and other city buildings will have to meet certain criteria to be permitted entry. There will be mandatory temperature checks and virus symptom checks at the front door. Also, visitors will be required to wear a protective face mask while inside the building and will be issued a mask if they did not bring one with them. Hours of operation have also been modified for the first two weeks of June. City buildings will be open to visitors from 9-2 p.m. during this time.

Athens-Clarke County continues to reopen government offices, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Athens-Clarke shut down government offices and most parks in mid-March as the mayor and commission declared a state of emergency and adopted a shelter-in-place ordinance as the COVID-19 pandemic grew. The courthouse remained open, but with limited activities.

Most courthouse activities will remain curtailed until a statewide judicial emergency ends; at this time, that’s scheduled to end June 12.

However, the courthouse property tax office and the tag office on Lexington Road will be open during business hours, with a limited number of people allowed in at any one time.

Visitors are “encouraged” to wear face coverings, and at some locations, face coverings will be provided for those who don’t have their own. Visitors should also stay at least six feet away from others, because the risk of COVID-19 transmission has not disappeared.

Advance voting sites at the Board of Elections Office downtown, the Athens-Clarke County Library on Baxter Street, the Miriam Moore Community Center on McKinley Drive and the Athens-Clarke County Extension Office on Cleveland Road will also be open Monday through Friday; hours are posted on the Board of Elections website, accgov.com/elections.

Delta will increase service at Brunswick Golden Isles Airport beginning July 2, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Commissioners are facing a budget shortfall, according to The Brunswick News.

To stay in the black, commission chairman Mike Browning said the budget would have to be cut by 3.5 to 4 percent. Rather than making any top-down cuts, he suggested putting the responsibility on department heads.

Attempting to reduce the county budget by that amount would cut into personnel salaries. There’s no way around it, Ours said.

Commissioner Allen Booker reminded the commission of its decision May 7 not to furlough employees and to cover any resulting budget shortfall with reserves.

The county has a $30 million rainy day fund and a little over $15 million in undesignated cash reserves — termed the general fund balance.

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