Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 4, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 4, 2021

According to “This Day in Georgia History,” on June 5, 1775, the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised in Augusta, Georgia. Another account holds that the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised June 4, 1775 at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah. Those who fly the “Appeal to Heaven” flag should know that it has some common history with Liberty Poles.

On June 4, 1785, James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, met with John Adams, the first ambassador from the new United States to Great Britain.

The expulsion of the Cherokee from Georgia began on June 6, 1838 as 800 members left by riverboat.

The Republican National Convention met in Philadelphia on June 5, 1872, nominating Ulysses S. Grant for President the next day. Twelve years later, on June 5, 1884, William T. Sherman refused the Republican nomination for President, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

On June 4, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to always be right vote. In August 1920, enough states had ratified the 19th Amendment that it took effect.

The Battle of Midway began on June 4, 1942. During the battle, four Japanese aircraft carriers that had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor and one cruiser were sunk at the cost of one American carrier and one destroyer.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower began the invasion of France, called D-Day.

On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

On June 6, 1949, George Orwell published 1984.

Republican candidate for Governor A. Ed Smith died in a car accident on June 5, 1962.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot after winning the California Primary on June 5, 1968 and died the next day.

This is the 31st Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, China.

President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Floyd County Superior Court’s Drug Court program graduated seven people, according to the Gainesville Times.

As he spoke to the seven graduates of the Floyd County Drug Court on Thursday, Floyd County Superior Court Judge William “Billy” Sparks congratulated them on their efforts and recovery to date.

“There are people in the state who think that (alternative sentencing programs) cost too much money,” Sparks said. “I think you all can prove a lot of people wrong.”

Legislators have proposed cutting funding to alternative sentencing programs during budget negotiations in the past few years.

However, during the 18- to 24-month treatment program, participants earn income, support their families and pay taxes. Participants also pay fees in order to help defray the costs of running the program.

Floyd County has three accountability courts aimed at helping offenders as opposed to incarcerating them.

“You’ve made remarkable strides,” [Keynote speaker U.S. District Magistrate Judge Walter Johnson] said. Then he quoted the Winnie the Pooh character Christopher Robin by saying, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

“At first I wasn’t very open or receptive,” Tyler Moss said. But through the program he has seen opportunities open up. He’s pursuing a leadership position at his job and is in a healthy relationship.

“Drug court kept me sober long enough to gain a life I’m no longer willing to lose,” he said.

Former United States Senator David Perdue will introduce Governor Brian Kemp at the Georgia Republican Convention this weekend, according to the AJC.

After staying mostly out of sight since his loss in January to Sen. Jon Ossoff, we’re told that former U.S. Sen. David Perdue will introduce Gov. Brian Kemp on Saturday when Kemp addresses hundreds of GOP activists.

Kemp and Perdue were never particularly cozy, and the former senator’s decision to return to the spotlight — albeit briefly — to champion Kemp should be seen as an important circling-of-the-wagons for the GOP ahead of 2022.

Perdue was one of Trump’s most loyal allies in the U.S Senate, and Kemp’s team hopes his support for the first-term governor goes a long way in tamping down the backlash he still faces for refusing to illegally overturn Trump’s loss.

Separately, the former senator’s first-cousin, former governor and Trump USDA chief Sonny Perdue, offered his own endorsement of Kemp in an interview with one of your Insiders. (Sonny, it should be noted, is also jockeying for a powerful higher education post with Kemp’s blessing.)

“Anytime anybody runs for reelection, they have work to do. I think Gov. Kemp is prepared to do that work, and at the end of the day, people will unite around a candidate they believe will be successful in November 2022,” Sonny Perdue said. “Gov. Kemp will do what it takes.”

The Georgia State Board of Education voted to discourage the teaching of some theories of race relations, according to the Associated Press via WTVM.

Thursday, the state board of education held a special meeting on the subject of race and the classroom. It was approved with 11 “yes” votes and 2 “no” votes.

The resolution, which does not address any one particular concept, is written to prevent theories, including “concepts that impute fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilt or anguish to persons solely because of their race or sex violate the premises of individual rights, equal opportunity, and individual merit underpinning our constitutional republic, and therefore have no place in training for teachers, administrators, or other employees of the public educational system of the State of Georgia.”

The resolution is not a policy or curriculum change. Governor Brian Kemp wrote a letter to the state’s board of education saying the subject is “dangerous ideology.”

From 13WMAZ:

Macon state Representative Dale Washburn is one of several Georgia Republicans who’ve spoken out against critical race theory.

Washburn said, “I believe it is theory and don’t believe it’s fact. As far as America having systemic racism, I just do not believe it’s true, and I think teaching that and exposing our kids to that thought is divisive and I just think it’s not true. Like anything else that’s not factual, I wouldn’t want that taught in our public or private schools.”

However, Mercer University Director of Africana Studies Chester Fontenot says racism is not an individual thing, it is systemic.

“It is grounded in the ways of which our institutions in our country functions and operates,” said Fontenot. “It is ingrained in our educational system, for example. Why should there be limits if you’re teaching the truth?”

Cherokee County State Representative Brad Thomas says he plans to introduce legislation next session to ban critical race theory statewide.

[Georgia Association of Educators] President Lisa Morgan says non-educators are encroaching into the classrooms, and that, “Educators want to teach the facts, but will be seriously hindered and censured by this ill-conceived resolution.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune:

Critical Race Theory defines racism as a tenet upheld through legal and social structures rather than just individual bias. According to the theory, racial disparities in matters like wealth or education arise from policies that favor White people over Black people.

Critical race theory is a divisive ideology that should not become a standard taught in Georgia classrooms, board Chairman Scott Sweeney said before Thursday’s vote.

“Is there racism within this country? Absolutely,” Sweeney said. “Is the entire country racist? I don’t agree with that.”

Board member Mike Royal said the resolution is intended to ensure the teaching of American history in Georgia isn’t one-sided.

But board member Kenneth Mason, who is Black, said the resolution sends the wrong message by stifling discussion of racism in Georgia classrooms.

“It says, ‘If you have experienced racism in your life, you should be silent,’ ” said Mason, who voted against the resolution. “That’s extremely disappointing to me.”

U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta) toured sites in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Warnock visited Georgia Ports Authority, the Seapoint Industrial Complex and the headquarters of JCB manufacturing in Pooler, all of which he pointed to as examples of crucial private sector businesses in the state. He said supporting state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities to creating and retaining clean-energy job opportunities across Georgia is one of his top priorities as a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“As we’re coming out of this pandemic and looking to the future, what better time than now to invest in America? America needs a home improvement project. One that will lay out for all our people a vision of the work that we can do together, and a future that is worthy of all our children,” Warnock said. “The American Jobs Plan is a major step in that right direction.”

Warnock took a tour through the Five Hives and Vines facility at Seapoint Industrial Complex, a site built less than 100 yards from a solar power array, atop the former City of Savannah Deptford Landfill.

Home to over 240,000 honeybees, the Statesboro-based beekeeping and meadery aims to establish a pollinator garden to help bolster the honeybee population in Savannah with a wildflower garden.

“What we need is vision and innovation, and that’s what the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act is all about. It’s about investing in our R&D,” Warnock said. “It’s the creative, out-of-the-box solutions that marry public and private for the sake of building the kind of industrial future that can sustain the high-wage jobs of the future.”

“I was absolutely inspired by what I’ve seen all day. I got up on the crane, I think 152 feet up. I saw the work that’s being done, the expansion of the port, but most importantly, I saw a vision of the future and what’s possible,” Warnock said. “And that future unfolds only when we have the collaboration of private industry and federal governmental investments. Georgia, and this region in particular, is on the cutting edge of that work.”

Savannah wasn’t the full extent of Warnock’s trip across the state. On Wednesday, he visited the Kia Manufacturing Plant in West Point and the Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.

From WTOC:

Sen. Raphael Warnock got an up-close look at port operations, even seeing first-hand how the massive ship-to-shore cranes pull containers off ships calling on the Port of Savannah.

On a dreary, rainy day, Sen. Warnock made the most of his visit, touring the Garden City Terminal and even getting in the cab of a ship-to-shore crane hundreds of feet in the air for a bird’s eye view.

The senator was asked about the progress of the upcoming infrastructure bill, and if it can pass.

“In a word, yes. And we have to find a way to do infrastructure. America needs a home improvement plan,” Sen. Warnock said. “And when I say infrastructure that means ports, it means airports, it means highways, bridges, yes, it means housing.”

Columbus voters will decide on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the November ballot, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus city leaders will ask voters to pass a special purpose local option sales tax on Nov. 2.

Mayor Skip Henderson said Thursday that a list of projects to be funded by the tax is not yet complete, but renovating or replacing the Columbus Government Center remains a priority.

A new city sales tax would be set to expire not on specific date, but when a set amount of money cited in the referendum is collected, he said.

“You would issue bonds to do some of the projects, which we would have to, then you get to continue it until you achieve all the money necessary to do the projects,” he said.

The overall sales tax rate in Columbus currently is 8%. Here’s a breakdown of each penny charged per dollar spent:

•  4% is the state’s sales tax that doesn’t expire.
•  1% is the city’s LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) that doesn’t expire.
•  1% is the city’s OLOST (Other Local Option Sales Tax) that also does not expire. Passed in 2008, its revenue pays for public safety (70%) and infrastructure (30%).
•  1% is the school district’s ESPLOST, renewed last year after it expired June 30.
•  1% is a regional TSPLOST that expires Dec. 31, 2022. That revenue funds capital transportation projects throughout 16 counties.

Were voters to approve the city’s proposed SPLOST in November, the overall tax rate would rise to 9%.

A referendum this November would be Muscogee County’s second special election this year. Early voting is now underway to choose a District 2 school board representative to replace Mike Edmondson, who died this past February.

The date of that special election is June 15.

Former State Senator Steve Farrow announced he will run for Dalton City Council, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Former state senator Steve Farrow said he will run for the Ward 4 seat on the Dalton City Council.

That seat is currently held by Gary Crews and the term is for four years. Candidates must live in the ward they seek to represent. The election will be Nov. 2 and is nonpartisan. The position is voted on by all eligible residents in the city.

“I have always felt that public service is the highest of callings, and feel that my entire professional and public service career have led to this juncture,” Farrow said. “Based upon my extensive and varied legal and government experience, I feel uniquely qualified to serve in this position.”

Crews said Farrow invited him to coffee Thursday morning to tell him he would be running.

“Steve and I have been friends for years,” he said. “This city, and our friendship, is bigger than this election. I look forward to getting out there and talking about ways to make Dalton a better place to live. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of support in my past elections. I’m sure he’ll have his support, and maybe between the two of us we can really get the turnout up for this election.”

Morgan House announced he is withdrawing his candidacy for Gainesville City Council, according to AccessWDUN.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Ben Ku (D) announced he will run for reelection, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“I am officially seeking re-election for the Gwinnett county commission next year,” Ku said in a message to constituents and supporters on his Twitter page. “I want to hear if you like what I’m doing or if there’s something you think could be done better.”

Ku and commission Vice-Chairwoman Marlene Fosque became the first Democrats to serve on the Board of Commissioners since the 1980’s after they were elected in 2018. They were also the first minorities elected to serve on the commission.

They were joined by three more Democrats — Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson and Commissioners Kirkland Carden and Jasper Watkins — who were elected in 2020, creating a commission made up entirely of Democrats.

But, that also means Ku and Fosque will be the first members of that new majority to face the voters in what may be a referendum on how the all Democrat commission is doing in addition to how the pair, as individual commissioners, are doing.

Hall County is helping some residents with rental assistance, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall County started sending out checks last month for its Emergency Rental Assistance program for renters and landlords whose income was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those eligible for rent assistance included households earning less than 80% of the area’s median income, with those under 50% of area median income prioritized more highly, and those who faced significant costs or loss of employment due to the pandemic. Applicants can find full eligibility requirements here.

The county received federal funding from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the program. The program’s application opened on April 6 and so far has given out about 15% of its available funds, Financial Services Director Dena Bosten said. The county was granted $6,153,845.20 for the program, and it must give out 65% of funds by the end of September in order to retain funds, Bosten said.

So far the county has received 461 applications. Funds granted vary based on need. The highest amount possible is either $12,500 or 12 months of rent, whichever comes first.

Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education members heard a presentation on Covid measures for the next school year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

When Savannah-Chatham County public school students return to class on Aug. 4, much will be the same, but much will be different. Same will be students in the classroom with their teachers. Different will be that younger students should still wear face masks.

The school board discussed these issues at its Wednesday meeting, including returning to face-to-face instruction, and transportation, which is still being worked out. The board also heard public comments regarding the teaching of critical race theory.

As for mandating the wearing of face masks, the school district will show some flexibility, in alignment with recent rulings from the city of Savannah and the state of Georgia. The city’s mask mandate was allowed to expire this week basically saying fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear face masks while out in public, but once inside city buildings, masks are still required.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order last week basically prohibiting school districts from mandating face masks for students. Levett said that by the time the first day of school rolls around, mask wearing should be optional, based upon current COVID transmission levels and number of people vaccinated. However, parents would still have the authority to make the decision regarding face masks for their children.

Two members of the public addressed the board regarding the teaching of critical race theory. Both speakers expressed their opposition to including CRT in the curriculum.

“I’ve learned that Chatham County Public Schools wants to incorporate critical race theory or CRT into the curriculum, and I have just say no,” said Meghan Holbrook. “From my research, I gathered that CRT is just another Marxist practice that attempts to judge a person by their skin color, instead of the content of their character.”

“CRT has no place in the classroom,” added Jeanne Seaver. “CRT explicitly divides all people by race into one or two classes: the oppressor or the oppressed. We will not tolerate indoctrination and racism in our schools. Parents of all races and backgrounds in our district do not want CRT.”

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