Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 27, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 27, 2020

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his eighth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on July 29, 1927.

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” became their first #1 hit on July 29, 1967.

On July 27, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved the first impeachment article against President Richard M. Nixon.

The first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century, it charge[d] President Nixon with unlawful activities that formed a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in and to cover up other unlawful activities.

The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House.

The majority included three conservative Southern Democrats and three conservative Republicans.

A bomb exploded at a free concert in Centennial Park in Atlanta on July 27, 1996.

Police were warned of the bombing in advance, but the bomb exploded before the anonymous caller said it would, leading authorities to suspect that the law enforcement officers who descended on the park were indirectly targeted.

Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the concert, was charged with the crime. However, evidence against him was dubious at best, and in October he was fully cleared of all responsibility in the bombing.

Former Georgia Governor Zell Miller took the oath of office as United States Senator on July 27, 2000. Miller would go on to win a special election for the remainder of the term in November 2000.

On July 27, 2014, former Braves manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with former White Sox player Frank Thomas, who was born in Columbus, Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COVID-19 has led to the closure of a hospital in rural Georgia, according to AccessWDUN.

A hospital in Georgia has announced it will close in October due to financial difficulties officials say was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It has become increasingly difficult for small, critical access hospitals to survive in rural areas across the country and here in Georgia,” Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center CEO Kim Gilman said Friday in a news release announcing the hospital’s closure.

The Randolph County Hospital Authority, which oversees the hospital, unanimously voted in favor of the move, WFXL-TV reported. “Within a few months, our financial situation would be such that we would not be able to make payroll,” news outlets quote Steve Whatley, chairman of the hospital authority, as saying.

Settlement talks in the lawsuit by Governor Brian Kemp against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms have apparently hit a rocky patch, according to the AJC.

Both sides support Bottoms’ decision to emphasize that the city’s “phase one” rules urging new economic limits are voluntary and not mandatory, according to two senior officials who requested anonymity to discuss private negotiations.

But deep divisions remain over whether Bottoms can require masks within Atlanta’s limits. State officials have agreed to allow cities to require masks on city property – but not beyond – as part of the settlement offer, according to the officials.

Atlanta officials want Kemp to remove a provision in his latest executive order that explicitly outlaws mask requirements, giving them leeway to require the use of masks anywhere within city limits. The governor’s office has insisted that cities can’t require masks on private property.

Officials describe the prospect of a compromise as uncertain ahead of a mediation session on Monday. One said the negotiations effectively stalled over the dispute, while another said some progress was made toward a potential agreement.

Governor Kemp on Friday issued Executive Order 07.24.20.01, renewing the State of Emergency relating to unlawful assembly.

  • The State of Emergency declared on July 7 and renewed July 13 is again renewed through 11:59 PM on August 10;
  • Georgia Department of Defense troops called up under these orders have the same powers of arrest and apprehension as law enforcement officers if needed to protect people or property; and
  • It appears that authorization remains for the call-up and deployment of up to 1000 Georgia National Guard troops.

From Fox5Atlanta:

The State of Emergency was declared on July 6 and renewed for the first time on July 13, in response to a surge in violence. The order allows for the continued assistance from the Georgia National Guard to keep the peace.

Up to 1,000 National Guard troops ha[ve] been deployed to various Georgia cities, including Atlanta.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms previously said she did not agree with Kemp’s order to mobilize the National Guard in her city as the surge in violence became a political talking point.

Amazon will release the latest work of fiction by documentary about Stacey Abrams, according to Variety.

“Today, we are 100 days out from Election Day — a pivotal moment in our mission to protect our democracy — and we need to come together as a country and make sure every voice and vote is counted,” said Abrams. “The title ‘All In: The Fight for Democracy’ speaks to the importance and necessity that every American has the right to have their voice be heard and their vote counted. We know that if our votes were not important, so many folks wouldn’t be working so hard to take our right to vote away.”

“With 100 days left until one of the most important elections in American history, we are thrilled to officially announce ‘All In: The Fight for Democracy’ which will tell a powerful and harrowing story of the fight for the right to vote as well as arm citizens with the tools they need to protect this right,” Garbus and Cortés said. “The film will be accompanied by an ambitious and visionary action plan to reach voters and educate them across the nation.”

The filmmakers and Amazon will also launch the #ALLINFORVOTING social impact campaign with community-based organizations, non-profits, corporations, artists, activists and influencers. The campaign will develop content to combat misinformation about the voting process, and launch programming to educate and register first-time voters, mobilize communities to have their voices and values counted, and train citizens to know how to recognize and report voter suppression.

The online content will include resources and tools for visitors to register to vote, check registration status, get election reminders, find their polling place, access state by state election information, see “what’s on my ballot,” and request an absentee ballot. A local grant program to support grassroots organizations working to educate and mobilize voters will launch in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Georgia Department of Education will send money to local school district to replace federal funds sent to private schools, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The state Board of Education voted Thursday to give Georgia’s 180 local school districts an additional $15.8 million from what was originally a $457 million pot of federal money. After the disbursement, the state will have $19.7 million in coronavirus relief funds remaining. Of that amount, $14 million is to replace money shared with 260 private schools statewide.

Clarke County and Oconee County school districts are both among recipients of the repayments, receiving $501,127 and $49,179 respectively.

A total of 66 Georgia districts will be reimbursed. Districts getting the most money back include $2 million to DeKalb County, $1.9 million to Fulton County, $1.2 million to Atlanta, $906,000 to Savannah-Chatham County and $664,000 to Richmond County. At least two districts — Terrell County and Rabun County, had lost more than 20% of their original CARES Act allocation.

Georgia State House members appear poised to recommend revising the current citizen’s arrest statute, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

During a second House committee meeting on Thursday, lawmakers said they are nearing an agreement on amendments to the law or a flat-out repeal.

Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said in his more than three decades as a prosecutor he has never seen it used.

“I do think that it’s time to look at this statute to discuss — like this committee is doing — whether or not it needs to be repealed in total or it needs to be reformed,” he said “ … I don’t think you would see prosecutors object to repeal of the citizen’s arrest law.”

Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said the groups in favor of amending the law and those against are “not far apart” in their views.

Democrat Jon Ossoff is waiting to learn results of a COVID-19 test after his wife tested positive, according to the Albany Herald.

Republican Marjorie Greene appears unfazed by the many local and non-local Republicans criticizing her. From the Dalton Daily News Citizen:

“I’m tired of seeing weak-kneed, spineless Republicans not defending our president,” Greene said in response to written questions. “The establishment Republican Party failed the people who voted for them. They didn’t fund President Trump’s border wall. They didn’t defund sanctuary cities and they didn’t defund Planned Parenthood.”

“Our country is under attack against the very real threat of socialism,” she said. “America cannot afford any more weak-kneed Republicans. If we’re going to save America and stop socialism, we need people who will take the fight to AOC (U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York), (U.S. House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (U.S. Rep.) Ilhan Omar (D-Minn., and a Muslim). We have to fight back against these radicals.”

Asked about her embrace of QAnon posts, Greene said, “Everybody knows there’s a deep state trying to undermine President Trump. It’s made up of the fake news media, the DC swamp, Democrats and even some spineless Republicans. The same people attacking me are the same people who shoved Russian collusion conspiracy theories down America’s throat and divided our country because the deep state, the DC Swamp and the fake news wanted to remove President Trump from office. These people need to be exposed and defeated.”

“I’ve been campaigning in Northwest Georgia more than any other candidate for office,” she said. “The people want a fighter who will back the blue (police), and stand up to Antifa and BLM (Black Lives Matter). That’s why I received over 43,000 votes on Election Day, nearly doubling John Cowan’s support. The people know me, they know I’m a fighter, and I will fight for Northwest Georgia values. People over politicians!”

The Rome News Tribune covers fundraising by Greene and her opponent, Dr. John Cowan.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Dr. John Cowan have each reported taking in over $1 million so far during their bids to win the nomination. The winner of the Aug. 11 runoff will face Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal in November.

Greene took in $365,834 during that period — including a $200,000 loan from herself — and ended with a cash balance of $254,885.

Cowan loaned his campaign $100,000 at the same time, bumping his contribution total to $312,005 and his ending balance to $255,878 as of June 30.

Neither balance includes their personal loans, which are on the books as debt to be paid back.

Of the $1,534,400 in total donations to Greene’s campaign, $900,000 came from her. Cowan’s reported $1,011,306 in overall donations includes $200,000 of his own money.

Republican candidates for Floyd County Sheriff, Tom Caldwell and Dave Roberson, met in a forum ahead of the August 11 Runoff Election, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Hundreds of Glynn County voters turned out in the first week of in-person advance voting for the Primary Runoff election, according to The Brunswick News.

A total of 802 people cast a ballot in-person during the first week of early voting for three primary runoff races.

The number is not far behind that of the first early voting week during the primary election itself when 1,180 voters cast their ballots.

University System college presidents overwhelmingly support in-person classes while many faculty members oppose returning without more safeguards in place, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Harris County School District revised its mask policies ahead of school reopening, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The DeKalb County Board of Education approved a $1.15 billion dollar FY 2021 budget, according to the AJC.

The Houston County Superior Court Clerk has temporarily closed its office after an employee tested positive for COVID, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Chief Judge Edward D. Lukemire ordered the closure Wednesday, noting in the order that the deputy clerks within all divisions of that office work in proximity to each other.

The order requires all deputy clerks to quarantine. The clerk’s office, located in the Houston County Courthouse in Perry, will be closed until further order of the court.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) tried to expedite the FAA review of the proposed Camden County Spaceport, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Late last month, Congressman Buddy Carter proposed an amendment to a transportation bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Through spokesperson Mary Carpenter, Carter declined to comment. But Carpenter did comment to Jill Helton of the St. Marys-based Tribune & Georgian.

“(A)t the request of the spaceport, Congressman Carter offered an amendment to the transportation bill that was recently considered by the House,” Carpenter wrote in an email to Helton later forwarded to Camden resident and spaceport opponent Steve Weinkle, who shared it with the Savannah Morning News. “It was not made in order, so it won’t be moving forward.”

“Any claims that the amendment would have ‘watered down’ current law are absolutely incorrect,” she wrote in the July 13 email. “The amendment would not have changed current law or weakened environmental review requirements.”

Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden Project Lead Steve Howard said the amendment would have “reinforced and ensured the efficiency” of the review process for spaceports and required the FAA to follow its own guidelines.

The City of Sugar Hill will tentatively retain the same millage rate for the next fiscal year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The city announced it tentatively plans to keep its millage rate — the rate used to determine how much someone owes in property taxes — the same on Friday. Since property values have increased and new construction in the last year has grown the tax digest, however, keeping the millage rate the same as last year actually means at least some property owners in the city can expect to see a tax increase.

City officials said owners of a homestead property in Sugar Hill that has an average fair market value of $300,000 can expect to see their city property tax increase by $19.68 per year. Meanwhile, owners of non-homestead property that have an average fair market value of $275,000 can expect to see their property tax increase by $18 per year.

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