Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Politics for April 9, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Politics for April 9, 2021

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist. This is what his lobbyist badge looked like:

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814.

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate troops surrendered Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island off Savannah, on April 11, 1862. Part of the construction of Fort Pulaski was overseen by a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army named Robert E. Lee.

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM on April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

From the account by Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain:

“At such a time and under such conditions I thought it eminently fitting to show some token of our feeling, and I therefore instructed my subordinate officers to come to the position of ‘salute’ in the manual of arms as each body of the Confederates passed before us.”

“When General Gordon came opposite me I had the bugle blown and the entire line came to ‘attention,’ preparatory to executing this movement of the manual successively and by regiments as Gordon’s columns should pass before our front, each in turn.”

“The General was riding in advance of his troops, his chin drooped to his breast, downhearted and dejected in appearance almost beyond description. At the sound of that machine like snap of arms, however, General Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse’s head swung down with a graceful bow, and General Gordon dropped his swordpoint to his toe in salutation.”

“By word of mouth General Gordon sent back orders to the rear that his own troops take the same position of the manual in the march past as did our line. That was done, and a truly imposing sight was the mutual salutation and farewell.”

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American professional major league baseball player when the Brooklyn Dodgers bought his contract.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

On April 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House. In the finest tradition of Georgia Democrats, Carter added a circus to the event.

Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005). Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp called on President Joe Biden to overturn a ruling that threatens a Georgia manufacturing plant, according to AccessWDUN.

Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement calling for President Biden to overturn the International Trade Commission ruling on SK Innovation.

On Feb. 11, the federal government agency ruled SK Innovation, which happens to be one of North Georgia’s largest employers, stole trade secrets from a competitor.

The statement from the governor’s office said the long-term prospects of SK Innovation’s facility in Jackson County would be “harmed significantly” without presidential action.

According to the ITC’s order, President Biden has 60 days in which he can overturn the findings.

From a Press Release by the Governor’s office:

“There is no doubt that President Biden’s disinformation campaign and public support for MLB moving the All-Star Game from Georgia hit the paychecks and bottom lines of hardworking Georgians and small businesses in the metro-Atlanta area,” said Governor Kemp. “However, the president now has yet another decision before him that will make or break a $2.6 billion investment in our state. The jobs of at least 2,600 Georgians depend on President Biden’s upcoming decision on the ITC ruling, and I sincerely hope he will use his authority to do the right thing.”

The AJC looks at potential 2022 election matchups.

[Governor Brian Kemp] still faces a potentially formidable primary challenger — state Sen. Burt Jones, a wealthy Middle Georgia oil executive, is the most prominent Republican weighing a run — but the governor’s critics and allies agree that his footing has significantly improved from just a month ago.

“Thanks to MLB, the likelihood of a successful primary challenge to Gov. Kemp just went from unlikely to unthinkable,” said Scott Johnson, a veteran Republican activist and Kemp supporter who was runner-up to lead the Georgia GOP in 2019.

Abrams hasn’t yet announced another campaign, though state Democrats widely expect her to launch her bid by year’s end. Since her defeat, her national profile has only grown and she’s built a constellation of influential groups to promote voting rights and her agenda.

The other marquee race involves Warnock, arguably the nation’s most vulnerable Senate Democrat in next year’s election. An array of Republicans is considering a challenge, though to the surprise of many GOP activists, none has yet entered the race.

Many are watching University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker, who is under pressure from Trump to run but has few ties to the state GOP’s base and has lived for years in Texas. He’s been silent about a potential bid and hasn’t returned the calls of even some senior Republican officials trying to ascertain his next move.

Other potential contenders aren’t standing still. Former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is “seriously” considering a bid, and some grassroots activists say he’s nearing a decision. And former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who edged out Collins last year, is also weighing a run as she launches a GOP voter mobilization group.

The circling of the wagons around the election law could also lift Attorney General Chris Carr, another potential Senate candidate who has vowed to fight the five court challenges lodged against the law since March 25.

But the down-ticket races might rival those blockbuster matchups for attention and intrigue. After alienating many fellow Republicans for his outspoken criticism of Trump, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is not planning to run for a second term, leaving open one of the state’s most coveted positions. Several high-powered candidates are already lining up.

[Atlanta Democrat] State Rep. Bee Nguyen, who won the seat Abrams vacated in the Legislature, is expected to launch a campaign and, if elected, would become Georgia’s first Asian American statewide official.

State Rep. Matthew Wilson will try to become Georgia’s first openly LGBTQ statewide officer with a run for insurance commissioner against incumbent John King, a Latino military veteran who made history when he was appointed to the post.

Chattahoochee Judicial District District Attorney Mark Jones will not prosecute violations of the SB202 food and water provisions, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Mark Jones told the Ledger-Enquirer Wednesday that he didn’t like the law, calling it an “obvious attempt at voter suppression.” Under the new law, it is a misdemeanor to pass out food and water within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building being used as a polling location, inside a poll or within 25 feet of a voter standing in line at a polling location.

“I wouldn’t be interested in prosecuting on something like this,” he said. “I don’t see that there was a problem to begin with (by) giving someone water if they’re waiting outside to vote and they are hot and it’s in the middle of June or whenever it is. It’s just the nice thing to do. …I think it’s biblical. There’s Bible verses about giving people water. I don’t understand it.”

Jones’ office handles the prosecution of misdemeanors in Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Talbot and Taylor counties, he said. A separate office, the solicitor general, handles misdemeanors in Muscogee County after defendants have their initial hearings in either Columbus Recorder’s Court or Muscogee Municipal Court.

Jones joins Gwinnett County Solicitor Brian Whiteside, who told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he would not prosecute residents who passed out food and water to voters.

“I would divert that case and either dismiss it or talk to them and explain the law,” Jones said. “But a fine or something of that nature? No, If it’s just a single person. Now if it’s something more coordinated, I guess you kind of do have to look at it. If money or anything is being exchanged or something of that nature, obviously, that’s inappropriate.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson wouldn’t answer whether the city will enforce the bread and water provisions, according to Fox28.

During his weekly news conference, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson was asked if he would instruct Savannah Police officers to enforce this part of the new bill. Johnson responded, “The law in Savannah, the charter, says that the mayor is in charge of the police department on election day, and I’ll leave it at that.”

The mayor continued by saying, “Maybe they’re [police] busy doing other things. Maybe they’re handing out masks, I don’t know.“ He added, “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it, but the mayor is in charge of the police department on election day.”

Mayor Johnson has been outspoken about the controversial law. When the law was passed, Johnson tweeted this:

“#Georgia has now re-established itself as the leader in legalized #votersuppression. I am not buying @CocaCola products and now re-evaluating my relationships with @Delta @HomeDepot @UPS as long as they are complicity silent. #gapo”

Two candidates qualified for a June 15 special election to Muscogee County Board of Education, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

According to documents from the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registration, Bart Steed, the owner of Kar-Tunes Car Stereo, and Nickie Tillery, the compliance and human resources specialist for road construction contractor J.A. Long, will be on the nonpartisan ballot.

They will campaign to replace retired science teacher Mike Edmondson, who was the District 2 representative on the nine-member board when he died from cancer Feb. 10. The winner would fill the remainder of the four-year term, which will be up for election in 2022.

Athens-Clarke County is lagging in vaccination rates, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Georgia currently ranks 49th for vaccinations out of the 50 U.S. states, according to the CDC data on vaccinated person per 100,000 in population.

So far, 28% of Georgia residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 15% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

As of April 8, in Clarke County, 22% of residents have received at least one dose and 14% are fully vaccinated. Of the surrounding counties, Jackson and Barrow counties have lower vaccine rates and Madison and Oglethorpe counties are identical in its rates to Clarke.

Oconee County, however, is higher than both Clarke County and the state vaccination rate, where 32% of residents have received at least one dose and 22% are fully vaccinated.

Barrow County is the lowest of Clarke’s surrounding counties at 15% of residents with one dose and 10% fully vaccinated. Jackson County is 19% of residents with one dose of the vaccine and 13% fully vaccinated.

WeGo, the vanpool service of Gainesville’s transit agency, is epanding the offer of $1 dollar rides for vaccinations, according to the Gainesville Times.

Through its vanpool service WeGo, the city of Gainesville has provided 366 trips to and from eight Gainesville-based COVID-19 vaccination sites since implementing in February a discounted fare from $3 to $1 for riders with vaccine appointments.

The vanpool service will look to provide even more trips, as the city announced it will extend its reduced $1 WeGo rides to vaccine appointments through June and expand access countywide in July.

“Currently, WeGo only operates within the city of Gainesville, and so the vaccination sites are restricted to Gainesville,” said Phillippa Moss, director of the Gainesville-Hall Community Service Center. “However, when we expand service to remaining parts of Hall County in July, staff will review the vaccination data to determine if another promotional opportunity is warranted.”

Savannah area health care organizations administered the COVID vaccine to some homeless people, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Reaching out to get COVID vaccines into the transient segment of the population is the goal of several community organizations.

On Wednesday, health care staff from the J. C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center were at the Salvation Army shelter on Montgomery Avenue and the Inner City Night Shelter on Arnold Street to vaccinate as many people who are homeless as possible.

“We have 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available,” said Rena Douse, CEO of J.C Lewis Primary Health. Forty of those doses were already administered the first hour of the vaccination event on Wednesday morning. “If we run out, we will restock before going to the Inner City Night Shelter this afternoon.” For anyone who misses these two clinics, there will be more. Vaccines can also be obtained at the health care center’s location at 5 Mall Annex.

According to Douse, vaccinating the people who are homeless is important to the overall health of the community. “It’s important for us to vaccinate the homeless community, because this community is so transient,” Douse explained. “With the pandemic, we saw an increase in homelessness. Essentially you’re putting a pandemic on top of an epidemic.”

At these vaccination clinics, anyone 16 and older may get a vaccine. The pop-up clinics offer the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  At the health care center’s main office, vaccines from the three Food and Drug Administration-approved companies are available: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The homeless population usually lacks at least one of the “three T’s” of time, technology and transportation, Douse said. “Some don’t have the technology to go online to register, so we’re bringing the services here. We have online registration right here. Some don’t have time or can’t take off from their job; or they don’t have the transportation. We’re bringing the services to the community.”

I’ll be getting the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine tonight. I would have preferred to get the J&J single dose, but I am totally fine with it being administered to homeless people, as it’s probably hard for them to get back in for a second shot, and they’ve got to be more vulnerable to the virus.

The Georgia Department of Labor says that nearly 400,000 unemployed Georgians will be removed from the welfare rolls, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

The initial wave of jobless Georgians who filed claims back then are bumping up against a 52-week benefit limit.

“This was the week last year where we saw the biggest spike in UI (Unemployment Insurance) claims,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “The increase in claims this year is not as severe as we encountered in 2020, but the numbers are still substantially elevated from claims numbers prior to the pandemic.”

While the number of unemployed Georgians filing first-time claims last week declined by 5,659 from the previous week, the labor department received 33,623 initial claims during the week.

Butler said unemployed Georgians who need to refile claims because they have reached the end of the 52-week period allowed for benefits must report any additional work history, including temporary, part-time or self-employment work.

Gwinnett County’s government closed on the $23 million dollar purchase of most of Gwinnett Place Mall, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county announced Thursday that the Urban Redevelopment Agency of Gwinnett County — which is also the Board of Commissioners — had completed the purchase of 39-acres at the nearly 40-year-old and mostly vacant mall from Moonbeam Capital Investment Groups for $23 million.

“We are thrilled to add the Gwinnett Place Mall property to the county’s portfolio,” commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson said. “The location offers us an incredible opportunity to create a redevelopment that will serve every Gwinnett resident. With community involvement and careful planning, this site will be a catalyst for future growth in our area.”

The purchase includes interior shops, walkways, the former Belk anchor and the old food court. It does not include, however, the Mega Mart, Macy’s, Beauty Master or former Sears anchors since those were owned separately from the rest of the mall.

Tybee Island is implementing traffic controls due to higher than usual spring traffic, according to WTOC.

Grovetown brought a new water treatment plant online, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The $24 million facility replaces a plant built in 1986 for a much smaller city. In 1990, Grovetown’s population was about 3,500. Now it’s more than 15,000, according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate two years ago, with no signs of slowing.

“Our engineers designed this new plant to treat everything that’s in the city now and if it were to double in size,” said Mike Woods, the city’s water, wastewater and stormwater operations manager. The new daily processing capacity is 3 million gallons, he said.

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