Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 29, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 29, 2021

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

Two years ago, the Georgia Department of Public Health was recommending measles vaccinations. Seems almost quaint now. From the Newnan Times-Herald:

Three Georgians were diagnosed with the illness in January, bringing the total number of cases statewide to six.

Although the risk of becoming sick is low, the DPH is notifying people who may have been exposed to the virus and may be at increased risk for developing measles.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. Health officials say it is particularly dangerous for infants who cannot be immunized until they are at least 12 months old and young children who have only received one dose of measles vaccine.

Nationwide, nearly 700 cases have been confirmed in 22 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC issued a report Wednesday calling the outbreak the worst since 2000, when the illness was considered eliminated in the U.S.

“The longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States,” the CDC said.

The Girl Scouts paid for an archaelogical survey of the Juliette Gordon Low house in Savannah during some renovations, according to WTOC.

“We didn’t know for sure if any evidence of those colonial buildings would be left at all. Because unfortunately, when things get built on top of stuff, it doesn’t just cover them up, it digs into it and destroys the evidence,” said Rita Elliott, Education Coordinator with The Lamar Institute.

Elliott says it was the preservation of the garden area of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace over the centuries that saved Colonial-era artifacts found buried feet below where she was standing.

“When we did that we located some incredible things. A cellar from the colonial period, from one of the first houses in Savannah, 1733. We located a kitchen for that structure as well. We located evidence of what the outbuilding was used for, we think it was used by enslaved African Americans as a kitchen.”

Also found where the cellar once was were hundreds of gun flints, animal bones and pieces of glass bottles and dishes, all shedding light on previously unknown parts of Savannah’s history.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Biden’s Gwinnett County rally will impact traffic, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Biden’s Georgia trip is expected to include a visit to former President Jimmy Carter in Plains early Thursday afternoon. Biden is then expected to fly to Briscoe Field at Gwinnett County Airport in Lawrenceville, where he is expected to arrive shortly before 4 p.m.

Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, will then travel to the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth for a drive-in rally. The president and first lady are expected to leave the center to travel back to Briscoe Field at about 6:40 p.m. They will then fly to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta before heading back to Washington D.C.

Governor Brian Kemp appointed former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine as the first District Attorney for the new Columbia Judicial Circuit serving Columbia County. From the Press Release:

Christine will fill the vacancy created by Senate Bill 9 (Act 7) from the 2021 session of the Georgia General Assembly. His term will begin July 1, 2021, and will end December 31, 2022.

Bobby Christine holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Georgia and a law degree from Samford University. Since June 2020, Brigadier General Christine has served as Assistant to the Chief Counsel for the National Guard Bureau, and National Guard Advisor to the Judge Advocate General for the Army. He is the senior uniformed Judge Advocate in the Army National Guard. Previously, Christine was presidentially appointed to serve as the United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia from 2017 to 2021. He also served as Magistrate Judge of Columbia County and was a partner at Christine & Evans, LLC, where he worked in litigation, criminal defense, probate, domestic relations, school hearings, personal injury, deprivation actions, contracts, and juvenile court.

Governor Kemp issued Executive Order 04.28.21.01 setting a special election for House District 34, vacated by Bert Reeves, on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, and Executive Order 04.28.21.02, setting a special election for House District 156, vacated by Greg Morris for the same date.

Gov. Kemp issued Executive Order 04.28.21.03, naming Jack Sharman as Special Counsel to represent the Office of the Secretary of State in the Fulton County District Attorney’s witch hunt investigation into a calls by then-President Trump to the SOS office. From 11Alive:

The order noted that Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who would typically represent the Secretary of State’s Office in any legal maters, “has declined representation of the Secretary of State in this matter.” It did not explain why.

“We are investigating issues of anyone that, anyone or any actions that were attempting to influence that November election,” [Fulton County District Attorney Fani] Willis said. “So, obviously, it has been reported around the world that phone call. So we have said, ‘yes that is part of the investigation.’ But we aren’t narrowing it to that.”

“This investigation includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration,” a letter sent by Willis in February to state officials stated.

The United States Department of Justice indicted three Georgia men on federal charges related to the death of Ahmaud Arbery, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, were charged along with a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

The indictment charges that the McMichaels “armed themselves with firearms, got into a truck and chased Arbery through the public streets of the neighborhood while yelling at Arbery, using their truck to cut off his route and threatening him with firearms.” It also alleges that Bryan got into a truck and then chased Arbery, using the vehicle to block his path.

The Justice Department alleges that the men “used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.”

At the time Arbery was killed, Georgia was one of just four U.S. states without a hate crimes law. Amid the outcry over his death, Georgia lawmakers quickly passed a law allowing for an additional penalty for certain crimes found to be motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or mental or physical disability.

The men charged with murdering Arbery won’t face hate crime penalties at the state level because the law was changed after the killing.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said the state case remained a priority, and he commended “this positive development and the continued push to get answers for Ahmaud’s family, community and our state.”

The Georgia State Elections Board held its first meeting with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unable to vote because of changes to election law, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

Georgia’s recent controversial election legislation changing mail-in and early-voting requirements included a new rule stripping the secretary of state’s chairmanship of the board and giving state lawmakers authority to appoint its chair.

Vice Chairwoman Rebecca Sullivan led Wednesday’s board meeting in Raffensperger’s stead amid complaints from the board’s sole Democrat, David Worley, who panned the Republican-pushed election legislation as “completely ignorant” and driven by refuted claims of voter fraud.

A new nonpartisan board chair has not yet been picked by the General Assembly or approved by Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the Republican-led elections bill in late March and has repeatedly touted the voting law changes as needed to bolster confidence in Georgia’s election system.

From the AJC:

The board is made up of three Republicans and one Democrat, appointed by the state House, Senate and each political party. Lawmakers didn’t choose a replacement for Raffensperger as the chairman of the board before this year’s legislative session concluded last month, leaving an interim appointment to Gov. Brian Kemp, who hasn’t taken action.

The voting law removed Raffensperger, a Republican whom GOP lawmakers blamed for then-President Donald Trump’s loss after he mailed absentee ballot applications to nearly 7 million voters last spring and rejected allegations of fraud after the presidential election.

Republican members of the board thanked Raffensperger’s office, which will continue to oversee and certify elections, help draft regulations and set agendas even though he’s no longer a board member.

The board will now begin crafting regulations required by Georgia’s voting law, including provisions for performance reviews of county election offices, instant runoffs for military and overseas voters, and redesigned absentee ballot forms that include space for newly required ID numbers.

Rules will be developed in time for municipal elections in November, according to an attorney for the secretary of state’s office.

United States Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) are asking the feds to assist the Georgia EPD in deciding whether to grant a permit to mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We write to you regarding the proposed heavy mineral sands mine near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia and the ongoing permit review process,” Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff wrote in a letter to the [U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service] Wednesday. “Due to the potential impact nearby mining activity could have on native species, basin hydrology, and the overall integrity of the refuge, we ask the USFWS to provide the Georgia Environmental Protection Division with added resources and support in reviewing all relevant applications.”

Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals has applied to state regulators at the EPD for five  permits needed before the company can mine for titanium and other heavy metals on more than 500 acres of ancient beach dunes called Trail Ridge in Charlton County. The site comes within three miles of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, a USFWS property.

The needed permits include a water withdrawal request to pump 1.44 million gallons of water per day from the Floridan aquifer, which supplies drinking water to millions of people in Florida and coastal Georgia. Twin Pines has also applied for permits for storm water discharge, industrial wastewater discharge, air quality and surface mining.

The Georgia State Patrol rehired nine troopers previously fired for alleged cheating during training, according to 13WMAZ.

32 of the 33 rookies fired in 2020 were cleared by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council earlier this year.

There is no information at this time of the 23 other troopers cleared by post.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections is working to address complaints from the Secretary of State’s office, according to 13WMAZ.

Out of the more than 90 complaints across the state, 10 of them came from Central Georgia counties. Two of them came from Macon-Bibb.

“We do and try our very best to make sure things are done accurately, efficiently, and transparent,” says Macon-Bibb Board of Elections supervisor Jeanetta Watson.

She says the two complaints of a ballot drop box and buying votes were made by the public.

“They said that we were not listed as the respondents, so we didn’t get notification, so I’m not really sure what the issues were about, or who made the whatever accusations they were. I don’t have any of the information or any of the case data or correspondence,” she says.

Andy Holland with the Houston County Board of Elections says two of the county’s three complaints were also reported by the public.

Whitfield County Tax Commissioner Danny Sane opened a renovated office that includes drive-through windows, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Among the highlights is the presence of two covered drive-thru lanes behind the building, something that has been on Sane’s radar ever since he took office in 1993 and will make it easier in particular for young moms with children in the back seat and elderly residents who aren’t as mobile as they once were.

“The purpose for this is specifically for one reason, and that is to keep people out of the line,” Sane said. “If you just need to make a property tax payment or pick up a car decal, the staff can process it and send it right back to you and you don’t even have to get out of your car.”

An Athens-Clarke County computer failure continues to affect agencies, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“Basically there was a software bug in some of the hardware that made a number of systems fail,” [Public Information Officer Jeff Montgomery] said. “It’s not every department that was affected and some were affected a bit more than others.”

The problem has affected agencies like planning and building inspections, police department, sheriff’s office and the fire department.

To correct the problem tech employees have had to get replacement hardware, he said.

Some systems were back on line Tuesday, but Montgomery said some of the larger systems, such as planning, inspections and the police department will take more time.

“Public safety is a priority for them,” he said.

The Bulloch County Republican Party is resuming its monthly breakfast meetings, according to the Statesboro Herald.

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