Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 22, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 22, 2021

General William Tecumseh Sherman gained the upper hand in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Estimated casualties were 12,140 (3,641 Union, 8,499 Confederate).

On July 22, 1964, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia released their opinion in the case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States. The court held that the Commerce Clause gave the federal government the ability to order private businesses to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

Notwithstanding such states’ rights–based challenges, the Court in the Heart of Atlanta Motel and McClung cases unanimously held that the sweeping antidiscrimination provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were a proper exercise of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. In effect, the Court reasoned that race discrimination by even very localized businesses, when viewed in the aggregate, had such far-reaching negative effects on the interstate movement of people and products that Congress could remove these impediments to commerce whether or not its true motives centered on a moral condemnation of racism.

Ensuing enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to the dismantling of many of the most overt forms of racial discrimination, which in turn contributed to the emergence of the “New South” and the explosion of economic activity that spread throughout the region in ensuing decades.

The Heart of Atlanta Motel case would later be heard by the United States Supreme Court.

On July 22, 1975, the United States House of Representatives voted to restore U.S. Citizenship to General Robert E. Lee posthumously.

Though President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation of amnesty and pardon to the Southern rebels in 1865, it required Lee to apply separately. On Oct. 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Va., he signed the required amnesty oath and filed an application through Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Nonetheless, neither was Lee pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. After receiving it, Secretary of State William Seward gave Lee’s application to a friend as a souvenir. Meanwhile, State Department officials, apparently with Seward’s approval, pigeonholed the oath.

In 1970, an archivist, examining State Department records at the National Archives, found Lee’s lost oath. That discovery helped set in motion a five-year congressional effort to restore citizenship to the general, who had died stateless in 1870.

President Gerald Ford signed the congressional resolution on July 24, 1975, correcting what he said was a 110-year oversight. The signing ceremony took place at Arlington House in Virginia, the former Lee family home. Several Lee descendants, including Robert E. Lee V, his great-great-grandson, attended.

On July 22, 1977, Elvis Costello released his first album, My Aim is True.

The first R.E.M. single and demo tape will be re-released at midnight in Athens, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Record collectors and Athens music enthusiasts are expected to line up at Wuxtry Records late Thursday night in anticipation of an exclusive midnight launch for the reissue of R.E.M.’s debut single and first demo tape.

Available for the first time since 1981, the original Hib-Tone Records version of “Radio Free Europe” will be released Friday as a 7-inch vinyl single for $15. A reissue of R.E.M.’s first demo tape will also be available featuring “Radio Free Europe,” “Sitting Still” and “White Tornado.”

Copies of the 7-inch single reissue and the cassette demo re-issue are available for pre-order from Wuxtry Records via phone or at the store on Clayton Street where the midnight release will take place. Mitchell said that pre-order receipts will function as admission for the 11 p.m. launch party.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will announce the awarding of licenses on Saturday, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission announced Wednesday it will hold a public meeting in Walker County on Saturday to reveal which applicants will be licensed to grow marijuana in Georgia, convert the leaf crop into cannabis oil and sell the finished product to eligible patients.

Under legislation the General Assembly passed two years ago, the commission will issue up to six licenses to private companies to grow marijuana in hothouses under close state supervision. Two licenses will allocate up to 100,000 square feet of growth space each, while the other four licensees will be limited to no more than 50,000 square feet of growth space.

Two other licenses will go to Georgia’s two land-grant universities, the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University, for research purposes.

Licensees will be limited to producing low-THC cannabis oil, containing no more than 5% THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets marijuana users high.

Georgia lawmakers first legalized the use of cannabis oil in 2015. However, the law provided no legal way for patients to obtain the drug inside the state.

The 2019 legislation created the seven member commission to oversee the rollout of Georgia’s medical cannabis program. Nearly 70 businesses have applied for a license.

The Georgia Supreme Court lifted an injunction preventing implementation of the legislature’s split of Columbia County from the Augusta Judicial Circuit, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Before transcripts or briefs were filed, nor arguments heard, in the appeals of Willie Saunders and Black Voters Matter Fund v. the state of Georgia, the Supreme Court dismissed the cases in a two paragraph order.

The order affirms a July 12 decision by Senior Judge Adele P. Grubbs that the new law creating Columbia County Judicial Circuit separate from the Richmond and Burke counties’ Augusta Judicial Circuit, SB 9, did not violate the state’s Constitution.

Republican Devan Seabaugh was sworn in as the new State Representative for the 34 District, based in Cobb County, according to Yahoo News.

Candidates for Mayor of Atlanta discussed crime, according to the AJC.

“Corruption is a crime … We can’t have a mayor that can fight crime in the city of Atlanta when they’re facing federal investigation,” City Councilman Andre Dickens said, eliciting “oohs” in the audience.

Dickens was actually referring to two of his opponents — former mayor Kasim Reed, whose administration has been subject to a years-long federal corruption investigation, is personally under a federal grand jury investigation for alleged wire fraud; and Councilman Antonio Brown is under a federal fraud indictment for incidents that allegedly occurred before he won office.

Reed and Brown have repeatedly said they are innocent.

Reed, Brown and Dickens, along with attorney Sharon Gay and City Council President Felicia Moore are running to replace Keisha Lance Bottoms as the city’s 61st mayor.

Bryan Miller will run for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor, according to the AJC.

Bryan Miller said he will center his Democratic campaign for lieutenant governor on restoring the lottery-funded scholarship program “back to its original promise” promoted by his grandfather, who shepherded the scholarship through the Legislature during the first of his two terms as governor nearly 30 years ago.

“Since my grandfather created it, nearly 2 million Georgians have been able to go to college. And not enough poor rural students and minority students have been able to enjoy the full benefits of HOPE as intended,” the younger Miller said. “That’s something I want to fix.”

Miller is the fourth Democrat to enter the race for lieutenant governor — and the first white candidate in the wide-open contest. State Reps. Erick Allen and Derrick Jackson, and political consultant Kolbey Gardner are also in the running. All three are Black. State Sen. Elena Parent is also considering joining the race.

The younger Miller, too, dabbled in conservative politics, serving as Republican Doug Collins’ campaign manager during his winning 2012 campaign for a U.S. House seat. He calls himself a “Joe Biden Democrat” who is more socially liberal than his grandfather, and his platform embraces many of the president’s issues, including expanding Medicaid.

“My reason to get in this race is the HOPE scholarship. I’m thinking about the people we helped stay in school through the foundation – and the others we couldn’t,” Miller said. “If we’re successful, we’ll be able to deliver HOPE for them and their families. And that will change their lives forever.”

Muscogee County could be particularly susceptible to the Delta variant as vaccination rates lag, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Researchers from Georgetown University have identified five regions in the southeast portion of the United States that are at a higher risk of transmitting the coronavirus if there is a lack of social distancing and masking, according to the report. Columbus is included in one of the clusters that spans across western Georgia, eastern Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

As of July 20, 31% of Muscogee County residents are fully vaccinated, and 35% have at least one dose of the vaccine, according to DPH. Statewide, 40% of Georgia residents are fully vaccinated, and 44% have at least one dose.

Macon-Bibb County will use $3.2 million dollars from the Knight Foundation and the federal government to build affordable housing, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Some $3.2 million — half of it from a Knight grant, the other half from Macon-Bibb County’s available American Rescue Plan Act money — will fund efforts to build new rental units and renovate existing ones in core Macon and the Beall’s Hill community.

$2 million will go to NewTown Macon with the intention of funding local entrepreneurs. NewTown will train folks to build and rehabilitate investment properties in their neighborhoods, funding their work with a revolving loan program to help purchase and renovate 20 blighted properties in the county’s core communities. The homes will then be rented out at affordable rates to Maconites, according to a county press release.

With the remaining $1.2 million, Historic Macon will build 12-to-16 “affordable rental units” in the Beall’s Hill community by next spring. NewTown’s President and CEO Josh Rogers said the goal is to meet housing demand and combat blight in the area as part of the Beall’s Hill Revitalization initiative begun more than 20 years ago. Money will also be used to create a rental housing fund for other neighborhoods.

Lowndes County public schools will return without a mask mandate, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Dalton Board of Education changed four days to virtual attendance on the calendar for the coming school year, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The school board members received “positive feedback from principals on the value of that time,”” as schools will use these student virtual days for enhanced professional development — particularly with teachers in their first and second years in Dalton Public Schools — and deeper dives into formative assessment data from students, said Matt Evans, chairman of the school board. “There are some win-win-wins available.”

Due to COVID-19, Wednesdays were virtual days for students in grades 6-12 during the 2020-21 academic year, and student test results have trended positively, said Superintendent Tim Scott. “We got a lot of great feedback” from teachers and administrators regarding the productivity of those days, “and that’s why we’re doing this.”

With these four days, Dalton Public Schools hopes to provide professional development, especially for new teachers, without having to scramble for substitute teachers, Scott said. At City Park School, for example, more than half of this year’s staff will be in year one or two, so that school would have needed to find substitutes for more than half of the rooms for professional development without these student virtual days.

Bulloch County public schools will offer a virtual option for students, according to the Statesboro Herald.

As of Monday morning, just 449 students at all grade levels were registered for the virtual program, down from more than 4,700 students for whom families chose the virtual option one year ago. But registration remains open to other families, through a link at www.bulloch.k12.ga.us/virtual for the school year beginning Aug.  2.

This year’s strategy for teaching and learning online is also far different than the plan that emerged in summer 2020 in a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the major difference between this year and last year is that we’ll be doing synchronous learning, which means they’ll be teaching and learning daily, meeting at certain class times,” said Katie Johnson, now the virtual program administrator for sixth through 12th grades.

Last school year local “virtual” teachers were expected to provide guidance, pacing and supplementary activities for students working through lessons on the interactive platforms. But this year, the local teachers will teach the classes themselves using, for the most part, the Google software suite and the services of a company named D2L.

Savannah-Chatham County may not provide bus service for charter school students, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In the priority lists for student transportation set up by the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools, one omission stands out: charter schools.

SCCPSS operates five charter schools – free public schools within the district that are independently governed by boards of parents and community members, but that also receive funding from federal, state, and district sources.

The school district informed its families in late June of a bus driver shortage that is forcing it to prioritize students who may receive bus service to schools starting on Aug. 4.

Students in choice programs (elementary, middle and high school) are not being offered transportation at this time, according to the district. SCCPSS offers 25 choice programs at 23 schools. (Groves and Islands high schools each have two programs.)

Charter school and choice program students attend schools not necessarily in their zoned area. These are the families most affected by the bus driver shortage.

Coastal Electric and Darien Communications will team up to provide internet connectivity to underserved areas, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Coastal Electric announced Tuesday the partnership with Darien Communications, to be known as Coastal Fiber Inc, to begin providing broadband service as early as January 2022.

The new company will initially target 9,781 homes in Bryan County, 6,210 in Liberty County and 510 in Long County.

“The first phase goal is for customers in Liberty County to begin seeing availability in January 2022. The system will be built out in phases from that point with the total buildout by 2030. The service to Bryan and Long counties will be as we build out in phases. No dates for Bryan and Long have been determined yet,” said Coastal Electric Communication Coordinator Bethany Akridge.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

Coastal Electric Cooperative of Midway and Darien Communications will invest $40 million with new broadband provider Coastal Fiber Inc., an affiliate of the cooperative, to serve 16,000 homes and businesses in Liberty, Bryan and Long counties. The first phase of the project is due to be completed in four years, with the first customers connected as early as next year.

“I am thankful to Coastal Electric Cooperative for stepping up to help hard-working Georgians gain access to new job opportunities, improved education tools, telemedicine, and much more,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “This project will allow thousands of Georgians to have access to reliable, high-speed internet — which is a fundamental part of continued growth.”

The coastal project is only the latest in a series of broadband expansions launched across rural Georgia since the General Assembly passed legislation two years ago authorizing Georgia electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) to get into the broadband business. In all, EMC broadband projects are bringing high-speed internet to about 200,000 Georgia homes and businesses.

Effingham County Commissioners approved the first project funded by the T-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation) approved by voters in November, according to WTOC.

Although TSPLOST passed in November the county had to wait until April for their $30 million bond to come through allowing them to start taking bids on the work, and Tuesday night voting to award the contract and start the work.

Callanan believes they should have all their TSPLOST projects completed within five years, if not sooner.

 

 

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