Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2021

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Click here for the full text of Georgia’s Royal Charter from 1732.

Click here to see the oldest copy of Georgia’s Royal Charter, which was presented to Georgia by South Carolina.

The Battle of Bloody Marsh was fought between Spanish forces and colonists under James Oglethorpe on St Simons Island, Georgia in 1742 on a date that is variously cited as June 9 or June 7, 1742. Thus began the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

On June 9, 1772, the first naval attack of the Revolutionary War took place near Providence, Rhode Island, as HMS Gaspee, a British tax enforcement ship was baited into running aground and attacked by a boarding party the next day.

On June 9, 1864, Gen. W.T. Sherman moved his troops to Big Shanty, Georgia, now called Kennesaw, and beginning a four-week period sometimes called the Battle of Marietta.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

My sincere condolences to State Rep. Patty Bentley, (D-Butler) whose husband died this week of COVID, according to 13WMAZ.

Rep. Bentley remembers her husband Darryl Bentley as being a great partner, father to five, and friend to many.

The couple celebrated their 12th anniversary this past Sunday.

Darryl got sick at the end of December.

Patty says there were no hospital beds in Macon or Atlanta, so they transferred him to Savannah for a bed.

“That was really hard on me. However, I did what I needed to do to be there to support my husband. He’s sick, he was in the hospital, and I needed to be there,” Bentley said.

In the first few months after he tested positive, she says coronavirus restrictions kept her from being by his side.

“I want people to think a lot about that. You could be in the same predicament if you contract this virus and have to be sent miles and miles away from your family. Please protect yourselves,” Bentley said.

Crime was a major issue at a forum for Atlanta candidates for Mayor and City Council, according to the AJC.

The candidates were asked about issues other than crime, such as income inequality and their relationships with business and government leaders. But it was their ideas about addressing the city’s ongoing wave of violence that weaved through most of the topics.

Three council members are running for the city’s top job — council president Felicia Moore, along with councilmembers Antonio Brown and Andre Dickens. They were joined on stage by Dentons attorney Sharon Gay and Walter Reeves, who described himself as a “legal scholar” with “blue-collar street cred.”

The candidates never mentioned [Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance] Bottoms by name, but they all tried to distinguish themselves from the mayor — who has been roundly criticized for her administration’s response to crime. Bottoms announced in May that she will not seek a second term.

The candidates agreed the Buckhead cityhood movement would likely end if the new mayor effectively addresses crime. Brown promised to hire a public safety commissioner and create a Department of Public Safety and Wellness to respond to nonemergency calls. He also wants to form community policing units.

Atlantans will vote on November 2 for mayor, council president, and all city council seats.

Governor Brian Kemp‘s Office released May 2021 tax income data:

The State of Georgia’s May net tax collections approached $2.66 billion for an increase of roughly $1.08 billion, or 68.1 percent, compared to May 2020 when net tax collections totaled $1.58 billion. Year-to-date, total net tax collections totaled almost $24.40 billion for an increase of roughly $3.59 billion, or 17.2 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year when net tax revenues totaled $20.81 billion as of May 31, 2020.

Year-over-year comparisons of state net tax collections for the spring quarter of April-June are made difficult by both the deferral of 2020 state tax filing deadlines for quarterly and annual income taxes to July 15th and the 2021 deferral of the annual individual income tax filing deadline to May 17th. While annual totals will be comparable as of June 30th, monthly year-over-year comparisons may not be appropriate since financial results were impacted by the economic implications of the Coronavirus pandemic and the aforementioned shifting of return filing deadlines.

Individual Income Tax: Net Individual Income Tax collections for May totaled roughly $1.57 billion, for an increase of $708.8 million, or 82.7 percent, compared to May 2020 when net Individual Tax revenues totaled $857.1 million.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

•  Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) increased by $239.6 million, or 150.9 percent

•  Individual Withholding payments increased by $71.5 million, or 7.6 percent, from May FY 2020

•  Individual Income Tax Return payments were up $830.9 million, or 2030.7 percent, over last year

•  All other categories, including Estimated income tax payments, were up a combined $46 million

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections in May increased by $381.5 million, or 42.1 percent, to a total of roughly $1.29 billion for the month. Net Sales and Use Tax increased by $207.8 million, or 46.2 percent, compared to last year, when net sales tax totaled $449.9 million. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $626 million for an increase of $176.4 million, or 39.2 percent, while Sales Tax Refunds fell by $2.6 million, or -37.3 percent, compared to May FY 2020.

Corporate Income Tax: Net Corporate Income Tax collections for the month totaled $51.2 million, which was an increase of $26.8 million, or 109.6 percent, over last year when net Corporate Tax revenues totaled $24.5 million.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net increase:

•  Corporate Income Tax refunds (net of voids) were up $21.3 million, or 765.7 percent, over last year

•  Corporate Income Tax Estimated payments increased by $34 million, or 156.1 percent, from May 2020

•  Corporate Income Tax Return payments were up $10.3 million, or 425.3 percent, compared to FY 2020

•  All other Corporate Tax categories, including S-Corp tax payments, were up a combined $3.8 million

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections were up $56.5 million, or 49.7 percent, compared to last year, when motor fuel gallons purchased and driven were diminished due to the Coronavirus driven economic slowdown.

Motor Vehicle – Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees increased by nearly $2.5 million, or 8.7 percent, in May, while Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections increased by $41.1 million, or 125.5 percent, over FY 2020.

From the AJC:

The state’s budget year ends June 30, and new tax collection figures suggest the government will run a surplus of more than $3 billion, possibly the largest in Georgia history.

On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced the state had taken in $3.59 billion more in taxes — mostly from rising income and retail sales — during the first 11 months of the fiscal year than in the same period last year.

The figures show Kemp will have a huge surplus heading into his reelection year, 2022. That will give him money to spend on the teacher pay raises he promised when he first ran in 2018 and possibly fund the kind of tax cuts GOP candidates traditionally like to run on.

Besides the boon in state tax collections, Georgia is also receiving $4.7 billion or so from the latest federal COVID-19 relief plan.

The General Assembly in June 2020 cut the budget by 10% because it feared tax collections would plummet. That didn’t happen, and Kemp last month signed a new state budget for fiscal 2022, which begins July 1, that backfills 60% of the cuts made to education and most state agencies, provides targeted raises and borrows more than $1 billion for construction projects.

Governor and Mrs. Kemp spoke at the groundbreaking for a new anti-human trafficking facility, according to CBS46:

On Monday, Governor Kemp and Georgia’s First Lady spoke at the groundbreaking for a new facility that will house human trafficking victims. The Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Lawrenceville will care for children who are exploited and sold for sex.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Marty Kemp said, “because of this facility more survivors will have a safe place to receive treatment and transition to whatever their next steps will be.”

A spokesperson with the governor’s office noted resources at the 26-bed facility will include “physical and mental health, safe and secure housing, and educational services.”

Gov. Kemp spoke to shop owners in Lawrenceville, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“The partners at D’Floridian met Governor Kemp at another event and shared with him how grateful they were he hadn’t completely shut down the state, especially since their new restaurant in Lawrenceville had opened shortly before the pandemic,” Lawrenceville spokeswoman Melissa Hardegree said. “Gov. Kemp said he wanted to visit Lawrenceville, D’Floridian, and have the chance to talk with several merchants about their experience. And he kept his word.”

The business owners who participated in the meeting included Jaime Ochoa, Yonis Martinez and Richardo Mauricio from D’Floridian, Universal Joint’s Bruce Kennedy, Local Republic’s Ben Bailey, McCray’s Tavern’s Scott McCray, Golomb and Golomb’s Rozalie Golomb-Hollis and L. Campbell and Company’s Linda Campbell. Lawrenceville Mayor David Still and Assistant City Manager Barry Mock also attended the meeting.

Kemp praised D’Floridian’s owners in a video he posted on his Twitter account on Monday.

“These guys bought this restaurant, opened it a month before the pandemic and it says a lot about the grit and determination of Georgia business owners,” Kemp said in the video.

Georgia Public Broadcasting wins the “GaPundit Headline of the Day” for “Long-Delayed Camden Spaceport Decision Nears Final Countdown.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is planning a June 18 release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the controversial Camden Spaceport and the agency plans to either sign off on the project or stop the countdown.

And as the FAA’s July 19 permit date nears, critics who complain the proposed rocket launches pose safety hazards to nearby barrier islands continue to urge the agency to delay the review process or kill Camden’s space dream.

Meanwhile, the Camden County Commission and other supporters say they remain optimistic that the Spaceport will become a significant job generator that ignites Georgia’s aerospace industry.

Derrick McCollum announced he will run for State House District 103, according to AccessWDUN.

“Service has been the calling of my life. I enlisted in the Marines to fight for my country. I served as a fire fighter to protect our families,” said McCollum. “Today, as a small business owner, I remain called to serve – as your voice at the State Capitol, where you have my word that I will be unwavering in the fight to preserve our conservative values, our way of life, and the American Dream.”

McCollum is running for the seat currently held by Timothy Barr. Barr announced his intention to run for Congress last month. McCollum and Barr ran against one another for Barr’s seat in the previous election.

“I’m ready to serve, and over the next year, I will be working hard to earn the trust and support of the people of this district…together, we can take on the radical left and the woke mob – and protect life, preserve our gun rights, stand with law enforcement, use my common-sense business experience to keep our economy rolling, defeat the cancel culture and preserve the American Dream for future generations,” said McCollum in his statement.

The Floyd County Board of Elections voted to recommend that Vanessa Waddell be hired as permanent Chief Elections Clerk, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Waddell has been working in the elections office since 1994 and up until November 2020, served as the elections clerk in the office.

After former chief elections clerk Robert Brady was terminated, she stepped into the interim role and oversaw the Jan. 6 runoff election in Floyd County.

The Floyd County Commission still has to approve the recommendation before Waddell officially steps into the position.

During the meeting, Waddell also made the announcement that all poll workers from now on must register with the Cartersville-based temp agency Express to work during the elections.

Floyd County government is using the agency for all temporary or seasonal positions, such as lifeguards at the pool.

Athens-Clarke County Internal Auditor Stephanie Maddox held a press conference alleging harassment at her job, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

During the news conference, held at the Athens-Clarke County Library in conjunction with the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, Maddox delved into her claims that several high-ranking Athens-Clarke officials, including Mayor Kelly Girtz and County Manager Blaine Williams, have been harassing her for several years, after she filed an open records request.

“So there has been retaliation, age discrimination, racial discrimination, hostility, verbal assault, isolation, lack of support, lack of staffing and that is what I have been going through and that is the testimony that I wanted to share with you today,” Maddox said.

In 2018, Maddox filed an open records request for the 2018 Athens-Clarke County Compensation Study, after several on her staff did not receive pay raises.

Subsequently, Maddox claimed she experienced harassment and retaliation. She said she wanted to bring attention to her experience, adding it was not unique within the local government.

The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department has launched a drone, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“We thought in a county as big as ours, with as much population as we have, a drone program would be helpful to our citizens and our mission of keeping the community safe,” said Lt. Greg Collins, who is supervising the program.

Collins said the Sheriff’s Office purchased seven drones last November from Airworx Unmanned Solutions using seized drug funds and funds allocated from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Among many potential uses, Collins said the drones would be used to work with “the Sheriff’s Office Lifesaver Program to help search for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and also children who suffer from autism and may wander off from home.”

Two of the drones are equipped with FLIR technology, which will be particularly helpful in outdoor searches.

The five drones not equipped with FLIR will be used for more tactical purposes.

“These aircraft will work in unison with our SWAT call outs and are capable of flying into buildings,” said Capt. Marcus Nesmith with the Crime Suppression Team. “This allows us to make entry, fly a small unmanned aircraft inside a building to search hallways and bedrooms. These aircraft also have been used in crime scene reconstruction for major offenses.”

Collins said he has heard some concerns from residents that the drones may be used for purposes other than what the program is intended for, but he said that would never be the case.

Glynn County’s Board of Elections and Registration is looking for more room to expand, according to The Brunswick News.

During a workshop before Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, board members said they need more room because of a state mandate to purchase 30 new voting machines. Some equipment is currently being stored on the floors because of a lack of shelf space.

One discussion focused on hand delivering ballots to people hospitalized. Board members decided to continue the practice within the county, but they will not drive to Golden Isles residents hospitalized in Jacksonville, Fla., and other areas outside the county. Those ballots can be mailed.

Absentee ballot changes include a deadline of 10 days before an election is held to receive a ballot.

Board members also discussed confirming inaccurate drivers license numbers or the last four digits of a social security card for an absentee ballot.

Election officials are also looking at new polling place locations after they were told by the Glynn County Schools police chief that the school district wants all polling places removed from school properties.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson discussed the search for a new City Manager, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Following two days of closed session interviews last week with four finalists vying for the position of Savanah City Manager, council hopes to narrow the field to three candidates within the next seven to 10 days. Those three finalists will likely make a visit to Savannah toward the end of the month.

“I’m thoroughly pleased with what we have and I think that easily we can consider one of these folks to be our city manager,” Mayor Van Johnson told the Savannah Morning News last week.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce announced its opening of a new satellite office in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

“We are excited to officially open our third office location at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber,” Clark said. “As we plan our state’s future, being a voice for business across all regions of Georgia is paramount to our legislative activity and ability to maintain Georgia’s top business climate.”

Clark said the state is struggling with short-term issues such as lack of child care, transportation, skills for available jobs and a labor shortage.

“The labor crisis is much worse than we were thinking,” he said.

The City of Cleveland and White County are discussing consolidating their fire departments, according to AccessWDUN.

“Let’s run the numbers, let’s see financially if this is going to be a win-win, but at the end of the day are we giving enhanced service to not only the City of Cleveland but also to our citizens of White County,” said Chairman Turner. The White County Board of Commissioners gave unanimous approval to the proposal to study the consolidation.

Cleveland City Council also voted unanimously to approve the idea after Mayor Josh Turner floated the idea to council members Monday night.

Mayor Turner asked for a motion for approval, and there was a long pause before Councilwoman Nan Bowen finally made the motion to approve; Councilwoman Rebecca Yardley seconded the motion.

“There will be ample opportunity for the public to provide input and share concerns throughout this process, including a public hearing,” Mayor Turner said.

Rome City Board of Education voted to approve their FY 2022 budget, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Rome City school system will fund 28 additional teacher positions, using money replaced in its Fiscal Year 2022 budget from last year’s state austerity cuts.

The school system originally planned to cut three instruction days to recoup the lost funding, but federal CARES Act funds helped balance the state level cuts. However, the school system is still down $1.5 million in funding this year because of state cuts, Byars said.

The largest chunk of the school system’s $85 million budget goes to instruction — including teacher and counselor salaries and benefits as well as supplies and technology.

The school board approved the budget after a second public hearing and vote at its Tuesday meeting; the first public hearing was held in May.

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