Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2021

The first twenty-three cadets at Virginia Military Institute began their service on November 11, 1839.

On November 11, 1918, word reached Georgia that an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending World War One. Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsery declared a state holiday. Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919 and is celebrated on November 11th every year.

In 1938, Congress recognized November 11th as Armistice Day, making it a legal holiday, and in 1954, at the urging of veterans, Congress renamed the holiday “Veterans Day.”

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated on November 11, 1921.

On Armistice Day, in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries, the unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

On November 11, 1942, the draft age was lowered to 18 and raised to 37. At the time, African-Americans were excluded from the draft over concerns about a racially-diverse military.

In 1945, the idea was put forth to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans and in 1954, Congress made the change to “Veterans Day” official.

The “General Lee” first left the ground, using a ramp to clear a police car, during filming of “The Dukes of Hazzard” on November 11, 1978.

Ronald Reagan became the first President of the United States to address the Japanese Diet in Tokyo on November 11, 1983.

On November 11, 1988, the Georgia Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in front of the Sloppy Floyd state government building across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.

On November 11, 1997, a monument to Georgia’s World War I veterans was dedicated, also in front of the Sloppy Floyd building.

Six years ago today, on November 11, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced they would move from downtown Atlanta to Cobb County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia State House of Representatives voted to adopt a redistricting plan for its own districts, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

After nearly two hours of debate, the House approved a map proposed by GOP leadership 99-79, voting mostly along party lines.

The map crafted by House Republicans not only keeps House districts as close to equal in population as possible — the goal being 59,511 residents — Rep. Bonnie Rich, chairman of the House Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee, told her House colleagues.

The map also creates 49 majority Black House districts, an increase of one district over the current House map lawmakers adopted in 2011, as well as 27 “minority-opportunity” districts where minority candidates should be competitive, said Rich, R-Suwanee.

The Republican map splits 69 counties, compared to 73 under the current map, Rich said.

It also pairs only eight incumbent House members in four districts, she said. The House map Democrats drew in 2001, the last time they held a majority in the chamber, paired 37 Republican incumbents and nine Democratic incumbents, she said.

Georgia’s peanut crop is running into supply chain issues amid pent-up demand, according to WALB.

“Those candy bars and those snacks that peanuts are in that some people found as comfort food, some people found as a treat. So, we saw a large increase for demand,” Jamie Brown, American Peanut Shellers Association chairman, said.

“The industry did a very good job in seeing the problem, being prepared for it, and taking care of it so it wasn’t a disruption on the consumer side,” Brown said.

[Whigham, Georgia peanut farmer John] Harrell said that supply chain issues have been a problem for him. It has been in the form of parts for farm equipment. This issue is something he said could take weeks of delays for certain parts.

This year, farmers are concerned that prices are 3-5% higher compared to last year, and the effect that could have.

“We are very concerned about the consumer prices and it costing so much. And we see they are going up anyway,” said Armond Morris with the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Legislation to increase the number of Gwinnett County Commissioners is being criticized by Democrats, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Senate Bill 6EX is sponsored by state Sens. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, and Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown.

Dixon and Anderson also have introduced a bill — Senate Bill 5EX — that would make Gwinnett school board elections a non-partisan affair, a move the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee approved along party lines.

Both of Dixon’s bills came under fire from House and Senate Democrats, who decried the moves as Republican power grabs in a metro Atlanta county that has become more aligned with the Democratic Party.

“This is an overarching abuse of power and an example of meddling in local affairs with total disrespect,” said Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, who is also critical of a proposed city of Buckhead that would be carved out of the city of Atlanta.

“We have people introducing bills who aren’t part of the communities that are being influenced,” Orrock said. “Having a majority vote in this chamber is not a license to abuse power.”

State Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, vice chairman of the Gwinnett legislative delegation, said no Democrats in her delegation were even aware of Dixon’s proposals and called the process an attack on people of color in Gwinnett.

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

The Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee voted 4-3 to approve Senate Bill 5EX on Wednesday, which would change how the Gwinnett County Board of Education is elected from partisan to nonpartisan races. It would also redraw school board districts, taking back that power from the current board.

The committee briefly considered but did not vote on Senate Bill 6EX, which would expand Gwinnett County’s commission from four members to nine. A chair would continue to be elected countywide, but would only vote in future meetings in the event of a tie.

“My constituents are very concerned,” Dixon said. “We’ve gotten in my opinion, currently one of the best school systems in the state. The direction that this current board is taking our school system, I’ve gotten very nervous, along with the parents in Gwinnett are very nervous.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

“The education of our children should be a nonpartisan issue,” said Dixon as he presented SB 5 EX. “The school board members should be prioritized on education of Gwinnett kids over political party.”

State Sen. Michelle Au, who is a member of the committee and the Gwinnett legislative delegation, pressed Dixon on why it was filed in the way that it was. She said Senate rules, as well as the delegations rules, state that a majority of the local delegation must sign off on the bill before it is introduced.

“We didn’t discuss this bill, any of us, or take a vote on it, so I don’t know how that moved forward,” Au told Dixon during the discussion on the school board bill.

Au also pointed to Gov. Brian Kemp’s proclamation calling for the special session, but stated general legislation could only deal with congressional or state legislative redistricting.
Dixon responded to Au by saying the proclamation did allow for local legislation to be dealt with in emergency situations, such as undue hardships that require immediate legislative action.

“It was deemed that if this was approved and signed by the governor, when the school board becomes nonpartisan, their general election would be in May,” Dixon said. “So, to move this forward, it would have to be done now to give our election board time to prepare for that general election.”

“Black people running the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners does not constitute an emergency just because certain people don’t like it,” Clark said.

From the AJC:

“I am disgusted by this hyper-partisan power grab and will do everything in my power, along with my colleagues, to stop it,” said state Rep. Sam Park, a Democrat who chairs the Gwinnett Delegation, during a Wednesday press conference.

The bill affecting the county commission will be taken up Thursday. State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, protested against maps of the new commission and education districts not being included in the bills.

Board of Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson and Commissioner Kirkland Carden intended to testify against the bill, but the meeting adjourned before they could address the committee.

“We’ve got four county commissioners currently that represent right at 239,000 people each,” Dixon said Tuesday. “If you compare that to some of the surrounding counties, it’s one of the smallest commission boards based off our population.”

Augusta’s local redistricting committee voted to try to keep communities together in redistricting, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“Tonight, I felt a little more hopeful than I did at some of the other meetings,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight, whose district saw two historic communities split in a first draft map.

The committee voted to have the Augusta IT department draw maps that reunite six communities either split or moved in the draft map or that were split during prior redistricting.

“We’re going to be looking at individual neighborhoods and see how keeping them together could be done,” Hannah said. “There’s absolutely no way we’re going to avoid some slicing and dicing.”

The committee also shut down an offer by Sen. Harold Jones and another local legislator to have the state Redistricting and Reapportionment Office, which drew the draft, to try again.

The committee previously set a Dec. 15 deadline to finalize a map to send to the commission and school board for approval then to the legislature for final passage. The hard deadline, Bailey said, is March 7, when qualifying for five open commission seats begins.

The City of Warner Robins had a lien filed against it for more than $800,000, according to 13WMAZ.

The IRS has filed a nearly $800,000 tax lien against the City of Warner Robins.

That lien covers problems dating back to 2015, and says the city didn’t file important records or filed incorrect records for several of those years. The cost to the city is more than $792,000 in penalties, interest, and more. Mayor Randy Toms held a press conference to say he just recently heard about the city’s tax troubles.

“Like you, I was shocked and deeply disappointed to hear these claims, I’m especially ashamed at the misunderstanding of the subject matter of these claims,” Mayor Randy Toms said in a press conference.

“This is not an issue of back taxes being owed but an issue of mistakes in reporting and notices of reports of mistakes being ignored,” Toms said.

Toms is running for a third term and faces LaRhonda Patrick in a November 30th runoff.

From the Macon Telegraph:

The city received penalties for the years 2015, 2016 and 2018 under section 6721, which generally penalizes institutions for failing to correct information when reporting returns, including late filings, incorrect formats or misinformation.

“There are obviously those who would love nothing more than to make this an issue which derails my continued service to this city, but don’t be confused. Let me be clear… the office of the mayor does not keep the books for the City of Warner Robins,” said Toms.

The Floyd County Board of Elections paused the search for a new Director, pending state legislation that would reconstitute the Board, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“The board of elections has determined that in light of the pending legislation we cannot in good faith move forward with the scheduled interviews for chief clerk on Friday,” Board Chair Melanie Conrad said. “We have decided to postpone those interviews.”

Under House Bills 9EX and 8EX, the three-member Floyd County Elections Board would be dissolved and replaced with a five-member board. The five members would be appointed by the Floyd County Commission.

Floyd County’s state delegation — Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, and Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville — jointly filed the bill in the state house on Monday.

State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, has voiced support for the bill.

Tybee Island City Council passed a short term vacation rental ordinance, according to WTOC.

An ordinance to limit occupancy and capacity, as well as a resolution to limit new permits took center stage Wednesday night at Tybee Island’s city council meeting.

Council approved one section of the short-term vacation rental ordinance along with a resolution that extends the moratorium on issuing new permits.

More than a dozen people spoke before council Wednesday night. A majority expressed support for short term vacation rentals saying they help Tybee’s economy.

One section of the short-term vacation rental ordinance makes an occupancy limit for rentals to two adults per bedroom, with two additional adults and anyone 16 or older would be considered an adult.

Council also approved to extend the mortarium on issuing new permits until April 30, 2022. The Tybee Island Association of Rental Agents says the city has 811 short-term rentals in zoned residential areas.

“Our guests as well as our visitors are major contributors to our economy. I would hope that any considerations for policy changes that they take in the economics of the situation that our guests, our visitors and our owners contribute to the livelihood of our community,” said Amy Gaster, co-owner of Tybee Vacation Rentals.

Houston County Superior Court Judge Katherine Lumsden held lawyer Christopher Breault in contempt of court during the criminal trial of elected Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones. From WTVM:

“I have instructed him both inside and outside your presence – as a member of the bar, he is well aware of what the rules are and he continues to disregard them,” said Judge Katherine Lumsden.

Judge Katherine Lumsden then made the decision to charge Breault with contempt of court after sternly warning Breault to stop contradicting her while he was on the witness stand.

When court was over, she brought him back into the courtroom and that’s when she went over why he was being charged with contempt of court. One of the main reasons she pointed out was Breault mentioning DA Mark Jones’ previous Civic Center case that ended in a mistrial and was dismissed. Breault denied mentioning the so-called “donut case” but the judge says she believes Breault was trying to cause a mistrial.

Judge Lumsden told Attorney Chris Breault, a state’s witness that he was one of the most argumentative witnesses she had ever seen. She added “if you contradict me one more time, I will take you out of here in handcuffs and deal with you first thing in the morning.

“My understanding is typically is that witnesses ask a question, they give their answer and they’re allowed the chance to explain it and so my responses to him, were doing that. And that’s what I was doing. I was not trying to offend the court or act in an unlawful manner or anything like that,” said Breault.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

[Deputy Attorney General John] Fowler alleges that Jones committed bribery by offering staff prosecutors a $1,000 bonus for murder convictions, and threatened the nephew of a homicide victim for filing a court motion complaining about how the case was being handled.

Defense attorney Katonga Wright said jurors should hear all the evidence before they pass judgment on Jones, who she said tried diligently to perform his duties after taking office in January, though he’d never worked as a prosecutor before he was elected DA last year.

Jones angered critics who didn’t like what he said or did, but that’s all, she said.

State Rep. Don Hogan (R-St Simons) announced he will not run for reelection, according to The Brunswick News.

“It is always difficult to make a decision like this, but I feel it is the right time to let my constituents know that I will not be seeking re-election next year,” he said. “I have enjoyed serving the people of Glynn County, and I sincerely appreciate the support and kind words of encouragement I have received from my friends and neighbors.”

Murray County public schools had record-setting monthly receipts from the E-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

 

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