Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 11, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 11, 2022

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist. This is what his lobbyist badge looked like:

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate troops surrendered Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island off Savannah, on April 11, 1862. Part of the construction of Fort Pulaski was overseen by a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army named Robert E. Lee.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

On April 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House. In the finest tradition of Georgia Democrats, Carter added a circus to the event.

Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is looking at ways to un-cluster the medical cannabis licensing process, according to the AJC.

Kemp said he was “very supportive” of a broader compromise that could have ended the gridlock in Georgia’s stalled medical marijuana program amid a drawn-out government process to authorize companies to manufacture the drug.

“We were very supportive of that. We were in the fight to get something done, but now that the session is ended, we’re still focused on getting the licenses out and going through the process that we originally had.”

The legislation sought to award production licenses to six companies by June 7, giving over 22,000 patients a way to obtain a medicine they’ve been allowed to consume since 2015.

But the Senate tabled the bill on a 28-27 vote, and it never resurfaced before this year’s legislative session ended shortly after midnight. The legislation had previously passed the House.

Kemp said he’s exploring other options to “keep the process moving” but wouldn’t say if that would involve an executive order.

“We’re talking about what else we can be doing,” he said. “But I haven’t looked at anything specifically in regards to that to see if we have the legal authority.

Governor Brian Kemp discussed the recently-ended legislative session at a campaign event in Dahlonega, according to AccessWDUN.

“This is by far the best legislative session I’ve ever been involved in,” Kemp told the crowd in Hancock Park. “It’s just incredible what we’ve been able to do in Georgia.”

It’s not often that a governor gets all of his legislative priorities passed by the General Assembly, but that happened in Georgia this year. Among the achievements, lawmakers approved a state budget that included the final installment of a $5,000 teacher pay raise Kemp promised in the 2018 campaign.

Other education measures included the Unmask Georgia Students Act, the Parent’s Bill of Rights, and a bill that restricts the teaching of nine so-called “divisive concepts” in Georgia schools. In the 11th hour, lawmakers tacked on an amendment to that bill that addresses transgender students in sports.

“We’re simply making sure in Georgia that we have fairness when it comes to girl’s sports,” Kemp said. The amendment creates a committee to consider the future of transgender athletes in school sports.

“We’ve had a great session,” said Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega. “I can tell you for the 12 years I’ve been down there, this is the most conservative message we’ve ever delivered.”

“I think we’ve got a governor that’s effective. I think we’ve got a governor that shares the same conservative values of this part of North Georgia and the state as a whole,” said Chris Dockery, Lumpkin County Commission Chairman.

From the AJC:

The governor said the teacher pay raise and other items were the last of his original campaign promises, which he was fulfilling. More:

“If (Perdue) wants to be against giving our educators more money, if he wants to be against creating 7,500 new high-paying jobs in rural Georgia, if he wants to be against refunding taxpayers’ money, because we budgeted conservatively, he could certainly do that. But you have to wonder if he thinks he’s running in a Democratic primary or a Republican.”

A Stacey Abrams lawsuit over Georgia elections goes to trial in federal court, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Filed in November 2018 by Abrams’ Fair Fight Action organization, the suit alleged that state officials “grossly mismanaged” the election, depriving some citizens, particularly low-income people and people of color, of their right to vote. The lawsuit originally called for a sweeping overhaul of the state’s elections, but its scope was considerably narrowed after the state made changes that addressed some allegations and others were dismissed by the court. The trial is set to begin Monday.

Even if U.S. District Judge Steve Jones sides with the plaintiffs, it’s unclear whether that will affect elections this year. Jones and other federal judges have been reluctant to order last-minute changes, noting that the Supreme Court has repeatedly said federal judges shouldn’t alter rules “on the eve of an election.”

In the months preceding the 2018 election, Abrams, a Democrat, accused her Republican opponent in the governor’s race, then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, of using his position as Georgia’s chief elections officer to promote voter suppression, an allegation Kemp has vehemently denied.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger accused Abrams and her allies of trying to undermine the integrity of Georgia elections.

“Her 3-year ‘stolen election’ campaign has been nothing more than a political stunt to keep her in the national spotlight, and it’s a disservice to Georgia voters,” he said in an emailed statement.

Fair Fight says it works to promote voting rights and support progressive candidates around the country, and its PAC has raised more than $100 million since its founding. It filed the lawsuit along with Care in Action, a nonprofit that advocates for domestic workers. Several churches have also joined as plaintiffs.

Republican candidates for United States Senate took turns criticizing Herschel Walker at a debate from which the frontrunner was absent, according to AccessWDUN.

You can watch the full debate here.

The results of the post-debate straw poll:

51.8% Gary Black
23.2% Josh Clark
11.4% Latham Saddler
7.7% Kelvin King
5.3% Herschel Walker
0.6% Jonathan McColumn

Georgia State Senate District 13 candidates campaigned at the National Grits Festival, according to WALB.

Incumbent Carden Summers, Ed Perry and George Woods will be on the ballot. Two of them spoke with voters and local leaders at the National Grits Festival on Saturday in Warwick.

Summers has held the office for two years and said he uses events like the Grits Festival to spread his message and to hear the concerns of the community.

“These are all like good friends. The business people here, the leaders of the community. We work hard to bring things to Worth County,” Summers said.

Summers also said he’s proud of the $20 million broadband funding that got passed, but that there’s still work to be done.

“My primary issue is just bringing jobs to rural Georgia (and) bringing infrastructure to rural Georgia. We’re trying to bring the ability to give less taxes in south Georgia, which we voted for by the way,” he said. “Your income taxes are going to be going down. And to bring more incentives for people to live in rural Georgia,”

Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King‘s office has opened a “claims village” to help Bryan County residents impacted by recent tornados, according to WSAV.

“The key message to people who’ve lost homes or who have damaged homes is they’re not alone,” said King. “We’re here, and it’s not the state but local and county governments are here to support people and to help them get back on their feet.”

King says major insurance companies will gather in one place to assist tornado victims. The event is set for Monday, April 11, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lanier Primary School, which is located at 6024 US-280 in Pembroke.

“We want to make it easier for people to come to one place and help them get in touch with their insurance companies. So we can start the claims process to get them back into their homes, repair the damage that’s occurred,” said King. “The range of damage is from minor damage, you know, a couple of shingles off your roof, to catastrophic total loss on homes.”

“We don’t want them taking advantage of folks,” he said. “My biggest concern about fraud is people coming from out of the community, offering to do work, putting pressure on folks to sign contracts and demanding demand large payments to do work that potentially might not be covered and, of course, the consumer is left holding the bag.”

Former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson‘s lawyers have moved to dismiss the indictment related to her handling of the Ahmaud Arbery murder, according to The Brunswick News.

Former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson has filed two sets of motions asking the court to dismiss an indictment charging her with obstructing and hindering officers in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case.

In the March 30 motion, Johnson said there was no evidence that she directed Glynn County police officers Stephanie Oliver, Stephan Lowrey or any other officer not to arrest Travis McMichael after he killed Arbery with a 12-gauge shotgun on Feb. 23, 2020.

The motion, filed by lawyer John Ossick, also said that she already had recused herself from any involvement in the case and that officers themselves had decided McMichael had killed Arbery in self-defense. Johnson said she had immediately stepped away from the case because Travis McMichael’s father, Gregory McMichael, had previously worked for her office as an investigator.

In the court document, Johnson asserts that police had contacted her after 5 p.m. on the day of the slaying seeking to discuss their “investigation, findings and conclusions.” Johnson said she declined and instead asked George Barnhill, her counterpart in the adjoining Waycross Judicial Circuit, to have someone from his office meet with the police.

At no time did Johnson issue any order, advice or communication of any kind advising officers to not take Travis McMichael into custody or anyone else involved in “the brutal slaying” of Arbery, the motion says.

She called the allegation that she did “a complete and utter fabrication of reality.”

Bryan County public schools reopened after tornados hit the area, according to WTOC.

The students in Bryan County were on spring break last week and Monday they will be returning to the classroom for the first time since the devastating tornado.

District leaders say Bryan County Elementary and Bryan County Middle High will work directly with any family or staff member negatively impacted by the storm. If there are any apprehensions, they are encouraging you to work with the administration at each school so they can provide any necessary supports possible.

Augusta is considering divesting its responsibilities for parks and recreation properties that it doesn’t own, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Is it time to get rid of some and focus limited resources on those that remain?

That was the question posed by Augusta Parks and Recreation Director Maurice McDowell at a recent Augusta Commission workshop.

“If the commission is looking at how to save money,” he said, “I don’t think you’ll be trying to get rid of your own property before you take a look at some of the things that you are being responsible for, that you don’t have ownership of.”

With a total budget of $16.2 million, Augusta Parks and Recreation employs approximately 70 people to maintain 1,500 acres of park space, although the department’s responsibilities don’t end there.

The Trust for Public Land believes every resident should be within a 10-minute walk of a park. Since Augusta is nowhere close to that goal, it’s probably not the time to consider divesting or decommissioning parks, said George Dusenbury, Georgia state director for the trust. He’s also the former Atlanta parks commissioner and a Decatur city commissioner.

Solutions other Georgia governments have adopted include creating a parks authority, city and school partnerships, or a business or community improvement district. In Atlanta, a public housing authority partnered with Atlanta parks to blend affordable housing into existing park space, he said.

“What we’re seeing is cities wanting to integrate housing and greenspace,” he said. They might ask, “how can we use that park land then to make that community more resilient?”

Glynn County continues working on a zoning code rewrite that began before COVID and has been delayed by the pandemic, according to The Brunswick News.

Pamela Thompson, the county’s community development director, said there are many technical definitions in the latest version of the 180-page draft ordinance, as well as different enhanced guidelines on St. Simons Island.

There is also a recommendation to establish an historic preservation commission.

The proposed changes include technical edits to simplify language to avoid legalese, improved organization of all sections and regulations, and an easy-to-read master table of allowed and prohibited uses.

Graphics have been added to illustrate key definitions and concepts, duplicate material has been removed, and time limits have been proposed for planning commission deferrals.

Other technical edits include clarified or new definitions, clarifications on setbacks, administrative variances and accessory structure allowances.

Chatham County Commissioners continue working on how to charge residents of unincorporated areas for fire protection, according to WTOC.

The Chatham County Commission put off any changes to the county’s fire service funding once again on Friday. They decided to table the ordinance for a second time.

This comes after Chatham Emergency Services was short $3 million last year because some residents weren’t paying a subscription for fire protection.

After lots of back and forth on finding ways to make sure residents in unincorporated Chatham County pay for fire services, commissioners will spend the next two weeks reviewing options with staff.

At the regular meeting, commissioners pushed back any decision on repealing the fire services tax and replacing it with a service fee after its second reading. No commissioners gave comments on it during the meeting.

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