Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 30, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 30, 2020

July 30th could be celebrated as the birthday of democracy in America, as the Virginia House of Burgesses became the first legislative body in the New World on July 30, 1619.

Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

On July 30, 1931, Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. signed legislation merging Milton and Fulton Counties if voters in each county approved a referendum. Fulton had earlier merged with Campbell County, to the south.

Actor Laurence Fishburn was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare, for seniors, and Medicaid for some low-income people on July 30, 1965.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former President Barack Obama is expected to speak at today’s funeral for John Lewis, according to the AJC.

Another news outlet in Atlanta also reported Obama would be attending Thursday’s service, with former President George Bush and President Bill Clinton.

Deanna Congelio, a spokeswoman for President Jimmy Carter said the President and Rosaylnn Carter are “not traveling these days” but are sending their condolences in writing. Carter had appointed Lewis to a federal position when president.

Services for Lewis, the civil rights hero and longtime congressman who died July 17 at age 80, will be at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta at 11 a.m.

Although Lewis did not originally endorse Obama’s 2008 campaign against Hillary Clinton, Lewis came around, and the two formed a close relationship. Obama awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Ebenezer’s Rev. Raphael Warnock will be presiding over the invitation-only funeral service. Lewis will be buried Thursday afternoon next to his wife, Lillian, at South-View Cemetery.

Governor Brian Kemp delivered remarks at a ceremony honoring the late Congressman John Lewis.

“Today, Marty, the girls, and I join countless Georgians and Americans in mourning the loss of Congressman John Lewis – a titan of the Civil Rights Movement, a beloved Georgian, an American hero, and a friend to all who sought a better, fairer, and more united society.”

“Congressman Lewis changed our country in profound and immeasurable ways, and his legacy of passionate service is truly unmatched. The son of sharecroppers, John Lewis felt his calling at a young age and devoted every waking moment to the fight for justice, equality, access, and opportunity for all people – no matter their skin color. He built quite a reputation along the way, and the “good trouble” that led to real change inspired a country and changed the world. No matter where you go, everyone knows the name of John Lewis, and more importantly, they know his record of standing up, speaking out, and shaking up the status quo.”

“At home in the 5th District, this legendary freedom fighter was a friendly neighborhood face, serving his constituents selflessly and with open arms. In our country’s most trying moments, Congressman Lewis taught us the lesson of joyful, steadfast commitment to ideals bigger than one man or one movement. When faced with fierce, violent opposition on a bridge in Selma, Alabama, John Lewis stared evil and injustice in the eye. He didn’t turn back that Sunday, because he was grounded in a deep belief that our worth was given by God – not by man. His example taught us that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by working together and loving one another. And even today, as our country faces a public health crisis and new challenges rooted in injustice, I know that the example left behind by Congressman Lewis, the man who literally crossed the aisle to embrace retiring Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, will inspire us all to do the hard, necessary work to overcome our shared challenges and emerge stronger.”

“The Congressman put it best saying, “We love our country, we love our democratic society, so we have to move our feet.’ As we mourn his passing, we should all recommit ourselves to the principles he fought for: our country’s core foundation in liberty, freedom, and justice for all. America and the State of Georgia will be forever stronger, freer, and more just because of Congressman John Lewis, but we must do our part to build on his work and keep his legacy alive. He urged us to love one another, to walk and work together – despite our differences, and push our state and nation toward a better tomorrow. His leadership in the Civil Rights Movement and more than 30-year career in public service embodied our highest ideals, and we are each – as Georgians and Americans – better for his work. So now – in honor of his memory – we have to ‘move our feet.’”

“May his words, actions, and legacy continue to serve as our country’s conscience. The prayers of my family and all Georgians are with Congressman Lewis’ family, his loved ones, his staff, and all those he inspired. God bless you all, and may God continue to bless our great state and nation.”

Governor Kemp nominated Angie Davis to serve as the first clerk of the Georgia Statewide Business Court, and she has been confirmed by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, according to a press release.

“With over thirty years of experience, Angie Davis will bring invaluable court management expertise to this statewide court,” said Governor Kemp. “It is an honor to nominate her for this important role, and I know she will play a pivotal role in the court’s long-term success.”

Angie Davis previously served as the elected clerk of the Cobb County State Court. During her tenure, she successfully modernized the court by making court records available online and instituting an electronic filing system for civil cases. Prior to that role, Davis served as a court mediator, clerk and court administrator of magistrate court, and chief deputy of the state court. She is a designated Fellow of the Institute for Court Management, the only nationally accredited court management program in the nation, having completed the National Center for State Court’s Court Executive Development Program. Davis received her bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and master’s degree from Kennesaw State University. She and her husband, Shawn, live in West Cobb with their daughters, Riley and Reagan, and attend Stonebridge Church in Marietta.

The U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chair Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) has some questions for Gov. Kemp about Georgia’s handling of the pandemic. From CBS46:

On Wednesday, July 29, the subcommittee announced that a letter was sent to Governor Brian Kemp urging him to “comply with science-based protective measures” that were outlined by the White House Coronavirus Task Force in a report not shared with the public. The letter also calls out Georgia for following the lead of the Trump Administration in reopening the state and loosening the reigns on COVID safety restrictions.

“This unpublished report recommends far stronger public health measures than the Trump Administration has called for in public – including requiring face masks, closing bars, and strictly limiting gatherings,” wrote Rep. James E. Clyburn, chairman of the committee., in the letter sent to Vice President Mike Pence. “Yet many states do not appear to be following these unpublished recommendations and are instead pursuing policies more consistent with the Administration’s contradictory public statements downplaying the seriousness of the threat.”

As a result of Kemp’s approach to handling the virus, the subcommittee listed a number of recommendations that the state is not in compliance with.

•  Mandate use of masks in all current and evolving hot spots – optimally a statewide mandate.

• Move to outdoor dining and limit indoor dining to less than 25% occupancy.

• For counties in the red or yellow zone, “ensure that all business retailers and personal services require masks and can safely social distance.”

• Close establishments where social distancing and mask use cannot occur, such as bars.

• For counties in the red zone, “close … gyms.” For counties in the yellow zone, “limit gyms to 25% occupancy.”

• Limit social gatherings to fewer than 10 people.

“For all these reasons, I request that you produce the following documents and information to the Select Subcommittee by August 12, 2020. These requests are consistent with House Resolution 935, which established the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis “to conduct a full and complete investigation” of “issues related to the coronavirus crisis,” including the “preparedness for and response to the coronavirus crisis,” continued Chairman Clyburn in the subcommittee’s letter to Kemp.

Voter registration is approaching an all time high, according to the AJC.

Georgia is on track to reach a record number of voters within days, passing a high-water mark reached last fall before state election officials canceled nearly 287,000 registrations in December. Registrations were canceled because individuals had either moved away or stopped participating in elections for several years.

Voters under 25 years old make up the fastest-growing age group, increasing by 4% since the May 11 voter registration deadline for the state’s primary election last month. Meanwhile, the number of voters over 65 decreased slightly.

There are nearly 70,000 more voters in Georgia today than there were in May. Election officials processed an average of over 1,800 new registrations a day, which roughly aligns with registration rates in advance of previous elections this year and in 2016.

About 53% of the state’s voters identified themselves as white when registering, and 30% said they were Black. The race of 10% of voters was unknown. Smaller numbers of voters listed their races as Hispanic, Asian, American Indian or other.

Georgia’s automatic voter registration program allows eligible residents to register when they obtain their driver’s license. Voters can also sign up online through the secretary of state’s website, or they can mail paper registration forms.

Personally, I’d be curious about how many of the new registrants were done by each method. For example, I think someone who mails in paper forms is more likely to become an actual voter than someone who is registered automatically when they get a driver’s license.

Florida is asking the United States Supreme Court to hear its water lawsuit against Georgia, according to the Gainesville Times.

“Denying Florida relief not only would spell doom for Apalachicola, it would set the bar so high for an equitable apportionment that it would effectively invite states to raid water as it passes through their borders,” Florida lawyers said in a brief filed Monday, July 27, in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Florida is trying to convince justices to hear its case against Georgia, alleging “overconsumption” of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which includes Lake Lanier in the headwaters.

Georgia, meanwhile, wants the court to accept U.S. Circuit Judge Paul J. Kelly’s recommendation that justices not grant Florida’s request for an equitable apportioning of waters in the basin. Kelly was appointed by the Supreme Court to make a recommendation to the court on the matter.

United States Senator David Perdue (R-Sea Island) proposed legislation honoring the late Congressman John Lewis, according to the Albany Herald.

“Throughout all of human history, in every generation, there are a handful of people who rise to the level of greatness,” Perdue told his Senate colleagues. “Despite adversity, danger, and sometimes impossible odds, these great men and women fight for what is right, push our society forward, and make America better for the next generation. Rep. John Lewis, who just passed away last week, was certainly the embodiment of this type of greatness.”

“John was a titan in the struggle for civil rights and the equality of all races. Because of him, more Americans can enjoy their God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Senate voted unanimously to commemorate Lewis’ life after Perdue told them, “John Lewis never backed down from the fight for what is right. He always remained peaceful, despite receiving physical violence and going to jail for his protests. His commitment to nonviolence served as a guiding force in John’s life.”

“Today, our country is mourning a hero, a truly great American, and a great Georgian. As we continue to say our goodbyes, we should also take this time to reflect on John Lewis’s life and what he stood for. We should take this as a call to action to continue the effort to which he dedicated his life.”

Two state legislators from Savannah propose renaming the Talmadge Bridge after the late Congressman John Lewis, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Two Savannah lawmakers said Wednesday they are planning to pre-file a resolution that would rename the Talmadge Bridge as the “John Lewis Freedom Bridge” after the Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights icon who died July 17.

State Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) and outgoing State Rep. Craig Gordon (D-Savannah) plan to pre-file the resolution as soon as possible in October. The legislative session begins in January.

The effort would not exactly be a renaming, said Gordon, who will serve as an escort for Lewis’ body as the funeral procession makes its way from the Georgia Capitol to Ebenezer Baptist Church on Thursday, he said.

“What Chairman Ron Stephens and our delegation found out a number of years ago when we even started this effort was that the bridge technically was never named,” Gordon said. “So it I think was assumed that it carried on the name of the Talmadge Bridge from its brick and mortar predecessor, but it actually was never named.”

State Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), whom the late Mrs. GaPundit held in high regard, has an Op-Ed remembering Congressman Lewis in the Savannah Morning News.

The truth is, there are no words that can truly capture everything that John Lewis embodied and what he meant to the civil rights movement and to Black people in this country. His passing leaves extremely big shoes behind that may never be filled.

However, we can all strive to be exceptional human beings, as he was.

I met Congressman Lewis on several occasions. At the Democratic National Convention in 2008, I was seated next to him while we waited for the keynote speaker. It was clear to me that John loved all people. I had the time of my life as we engaged in a four-hour conversation that would ultimately reshape my political career and my commitment to serve.

At that time, I had served for 10 years in the Georgia House of Representatives and had just been elected to the state Senate. I was thinking about retiring, but as John and I talked, his emphasis on public service and the need for more leaders to change social justice had a great influence on me. I recommitted myself to public service, believing as John did that change can happen nonviolently, with respect for each other.

To honor this wonderful man and to keep his legacy alive, fighting injustice, we should all do as Congressman Lewis would do and “Get into some good trouble!”

The City of Brunswick is reviewing a proposed mask ordinance, according to The Brunswick News.

Mayor Cornell Harvey said he learned about the governor’s decision to drop his mandate preventing municipalities to adopt mask ordinances during a conference call Wednesday.

Harvey said he has the authority as mayor to issue an executive order but has decided to let the city commission make the decision. He said he plans to notify commissioners in an email today about the governor’s decision.

The ordinance proposal will be discussed no later than the Aug. 5 city commission meeting, Harvey said.

Glynn County commissioners advise residents to wear masks when in public places but have not mandated them in unincorporated areas.

Georgia Southern University students will pay full tuition if classes go online-only, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Albany City Commission voted to retain a 2010 ordinance prohibiting saggy pants, according to the Albany Herald.

Chattahoochee County public schools revised its reopening plan, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Chattahoochee County schools will reopen Sept. 9, one month after the previously scheduled date. ChattCo teachers will use that time for planning and professional development.

The Chattahoochee County Board of Education approved the revised plan recommended by superintendent Kristie Brooks during its meeting Tuesday night.

ChattCo schools will use a hybrid instruction model for at least the fall semester. Students will be assigned one day per week to attend in person, allowing schools to operate with greater ability for social distancing.

Families will be grouped to ensure that siblings attend on the same days. Bus transportation will be provided to students on their assigned day.

When not attending school in person, each grade level and subject will have assigned days and times for remote instruction. That information will be available online at each teacher’s page on the school’s website.

Hall County has delayed students’ return to schools by a week, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Hall County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday evening to extend the teacher pre-planning period an extra week, through Aug. 21. The calendar change would push the first day of classes to Aug. 24.

Pickens and Dooly Counties have both postponed school reopening, according to the AJC.

Pickens County Schools is pushing back the start of school two weeks due to coronavirus exposures among staff at one of its elementary schools. The 4,400-student district in north Georgia was due to resume in-person classes on Monday, but now plans to open Aug. 17.

Wednesday night, the superintendent in Dooly County posted this message to parents:

A school staff member has recently tested positive for coronavirus, and we are therefore delaying the first day of school for students until August 19th.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners will consider moving “last call” up to 10 PM, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The ordinance currently closes alcohol sales during weekdays at 2 a.m. in bars.

The measure, proposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will go into effect Friday, according to Mayor Kelly Girtz, who posted the notice on his Facebook page and confirmed the meeting via email.

The meeting will be available for public view on a link on the commission website at acc.gov/video and is on Spectrum channel 180. It is also accessible from Facebook and YouTube links.

“We will credit/refund half of the pro-rate monthly license fee to every license holder for each month that this remains in effect,” the mayor wrote.

While alcohol sales under the proposal would stop at 10 p.m., Girtz said restaurants would be able to serve food beyond that hour.

Waynesboro Mayor Gregory Antonio Carswell turned himself in to face charges of identity theft and felony theft, and was arrested, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Carswell was reportedly employed by Check Into Cash in Statesboro while simultaneously serving as mayor, said Statesboro Police Sgt. Patrick Harrelson.

While managers at the Zetterower Avenue check cashing and title pawn business would not comment Tuesday, Harrelson said Carswell was fired from the business in February in connection to at least two cases of theft and fraud.

“We have identified two victims,” he said, adding that the case is still under investigation and there may be several other victims. In addition to identity theft and fraud, Carswell is charged with stealing “a felony amount of money” from the business as well.

Carswell claims it is all a mistake. Unreachable for comment Tuesday, he had previously claimed his attorney, Grady Blanchard of Evans Ga., advised him not to comment.

Atlanta City Council Member Antonio Brown has been indicted on federal charges, according to the AJC.

A federal grand jury has indicted Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown on multiple counts of fraud, for allegedly lying about his income on applications to obtain loans and credit cards which he used for personal purchases — including a Range Rover and Mercedes Benz C300.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has also accused Brown of lying about being a victim of identity theft to defraud the financial institutions that gave him the money.

Brown is charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud and making false statements on a bank loan application.

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