Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 5, 2022


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 5, 2022

On August 4, 1753, George Washington became a Master Mason at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

On August 5, 1774, Royal Governor James Wright issued a proclamation banning assemblies to protest British policy.

General George Washington created the Purple Heart on August 7, 1782. Click here for an interesting history of the award.

On August 6, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia began debating the first draft of the Constitution of the United States.

On August 7, 1790, a delegation of Creeks met with the United States Secretary of War and signed the Treaty of New York, ceding all land between the Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers to Georgia.

President Abraham Lincoln imposed the first federal income tax on August 5, 1861 at the rate of 3 percent on all income over $800 per year.

On August 5, 1910, Gov. Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing betting on election outcomes.

Theodore Roosevelt, who served as President from 1901 to 1909, was nominated for President by the Progressive Party, also called the Bull Moose Party, on August 7, 1912.

On August 8, 1925, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation outlawing the brazen act of dancing publicly on Sunday.

On August 8, 1929, Georgia Governor Lamartine Hardman signed legislation placing on the ballot for Fulton and Campbell County voters a merger of the two.

The old Campbell County Courthouse still stands in Fairburn, Georgia.

On August 7, 1942, Marine forces landed at Guadalcanal.

On August 4, 1944, Anne Frank, her family, and two others were found by Nazis in a sealed area in an Amsterdam warehouse. They were sent first to a concentration camp in Holland, then most were sent to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot died from Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March of 1945.

Voters ratified a new version of the State Constitution on August 7, 1945. Among the new features was the establishment of the State Board of Corrections to ensure humane conditions.

The board was directed to be more humane in its treatment of prisoners and abolished whippings, leg irons, and chains. Until 1945, prisoners in Georgia could expect to have heavy steel shackles put on by a blacksmith upon arrival. They were then taken out to work under severe conditions.

On August 4, 1958, a wagon train left Dahlonega, headed to Atlanta to pay tribute to the mighty General Assembly deliver 43 ounces of gold to be used to coat the dome of the State Capitol.

The caravan transporting 43 ounces of gold from Dahlonega to the State Capitol to be used in gilding the dome arrived in Roswell/Sandy Springs area on August 5, 1958. At the current price of $1774.10 per ounce, that would be worth $76, 286.30.

On August 6, 1958 the wagon train carrying gold from Dahlonega to gild the State Capitol dome reached Atlanta, where city officials were not prepared to receive them. The caravan bearing 43 ounces of Dahlonega gold to be used in covering the Georgia State Capitol dome reached the Capitol and delivered it to Governor Marvin Griffin on August 7, 1958.

On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which would be used as the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which would be used as the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in attendance and was given one of the pens Johnson used to sign the Act. Here is an auction for one of the pens used in the VRA signing. And another pen auction.

USA Today looks at the history of the Voting Rights Act and the role black women played in its passage.

“Men always got the attention, but the ones who were really organizing it and were really making it work were women,” [author Lynn] Olson said. “And that was true going back to the time of the time of abolitionists.”

When Boynton Robinson’s husband died in 1963, she used his memorial service at Tabernacle Baptist Church as the first mass meeting for voting rights in Selma.

“Mrs. Boynton [Robinson] really was the organizer of this and I think the person who actually wrote the letter that invited Dr. King and SCLC to come to Selma to help them with the voting rights movement,” Dawson said.

President Ronald Reagan began the process of firing all striking Air Traffic Controllers on August 5, 1981.

On August 4, 1993, Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in major league baseball history, hit Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura with a pitch, and Ventura charged the mound.

Divers raised the turret of USS Monitor near Cape Hatteras on August 5, 2002.

John Hughes, director of every meaningful teen angst movie of the 1980s (except Say Anything and Better Off Dead) died on August 6, 2009.

Molly Ringwald wrote in The New Yorker about working as a young woman with John Hughes.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Coweta Circuit Superior Court Judge Bill Hamrick, also a former state Senator, will serve as the next Judge of the statewide Business Court, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Hamrick, a Republican from Carrollton, was elected to the state Senate in 2000 and served until 2012, when then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the Superior Court bench in the Coweta Circuit.

“Having served with Judge Hamrick in the state Senate when I first entered public life, I witnessed first-hand his dedication to the law, to its fair application, and to our state,” Kemp said Wednesday.

“I know he will be a capable and thoughtful presence to oversee the Statewide Business Court, and I am proud to appoint him as only the second judge in state history to hold this position.”

Hamrick succeeds Walter Davis, appointed by Kemp in 2019 as the state’s first business court judge.

The Coweta Judicial Circuit serves Carroll, Coweta, Heard, Meriwether, and Troup Counties. One does not refer to a nonpartisan judge as a member of a political party.

Athens-Clarke County decriminalized marijuana, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Athens possibly goes further than any other city in Georgia with an ordinance that lowers the consequences for those caught with small amounts of marijuana to just a $35 fine.

Athens-Clarke County commissioners on Tuesday approved an ordinance that eliminates jail time and established one of the lowest fees in the state for those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana.

At the state level, a misdemeanor possession of marijuana has a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in prison and/or a $1,000 fine, but commissioners said local law enforcement rarely demanded that large of a price.

Atlanta, Savannah, Macon-Bibb, Statesboro, Tybee Island, Clarkston, Chamblee, Forest Park, Kingsland and South Fulton have also enacted measures to decriminalize marijuana possession. They did away with jail time for possession of small amounts and opted for imposing fines. But the various fines could run residents anywhere from $75 to $500, according to those cities’ ordinances.

In Athens, the $35 fine is for possession under an ounce. Anything over an ounce is considered a felony in Georgia.

Possessing marijuana in any amount is still considered illegal in Georgia and in Athens. The ordinance only prevents jail time and reduces the amount of fines for misdemeanor possession.

While the new ordinance covers residents caught with possession of marijuana, it does not protect those employed at the local government who test positive for THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis that gets a person high.

From the AJC:

Commissioner Mariah Parker said “the victims of the war on drugs are owed reparations” and that the inability to lower the fine to $1 is an example of how the “prison-industrial complex needs crime to sustain itself.”

The measure passed with an 8-1 vote and a smattering of applause from the audience.

The AJC also has a more comprehensive listing of local governments that have decreased the penalties for possession.

Some Georgia counties lack resources needed to implement behavioral health co-responders, according to 13WMAZ.

“Some of these smaller counties don’t have the amount of mental health professionals to serve the population,” [Sandersville Licensed Professionl Counselor Jack] Taylor says.

He went on to say there’s another reason for limited resources and says “it’s an issue of funding.”

Taylor says law enforcement is not fully trained to treat people with mental health problems and they need support.

Hancock County doesn’t have a local hospital if someone is in need, so people in the county have to travel to Baldwin for care.

In Columbus, a number of groups rallied against violence, according to WTVM.

Georgia Moms United, Moms of Georgia, Families United Coalition, and Black Voters Matter continued their fight to end police brutality, community gun violence, and voter suppression outside of the Columbus Consolidated Government building.

The rally was designed to promote peace, provide closure, and hold elected officials accountable. To them, there is an erosion of trust within the justice system, which is why they urge the community exercise their right to vote.

This group of men and women say they are sick and tired of people of color being shot and killed at the hands of law enforcement officers.

The Ledger-Enquirer asked local law enforcement agencies how they will handle abortion case allegations.

The Ledger-Enquirer sent four questions to law enforcement agencies in the six-county region — Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot and Taylor. The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office said these cases were not priorities. The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office said it would refer cases to the GBI. The Columbus Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said they would investigate possible violations.

The Chattahoochee, Marion and Talbot sheriff’s offices did not respond to multiple requests for comments.

District Attorney Stacey Jackson previously told the Ledger-Enquirer that his office would address potential violations of the law on a case-by-case basis, leaving the door open for prosecution. Decisions to prosecute, he added, would depend on whether or not law enforcement agencies made arrests and if the cases are referred to his office.

That means law enforcement agencies in his six counties —Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot and Taylor— could influence the legal process.

United States Senate candidate Herschel Walker challenged Senator Raphael Warnock to a debate in October in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Walker’s proposed debate is to be staged on Oct. 14 in Savannah at a theater-to-be-named later. The timing and locale are significant in that Walker has challenged Warnock in the senator’s hometown – Warnock was born and raised a few dozen city blocks away from Savannah’s theater district – and agreed to do so in front of a sizable crowd, not in a small venue or a closed television studio.

The incumbent has yet to accept Walker’s invite, insisting instead that Walker acquiesce to calls to debate at a Savannah TV station, at Mercer University in Macon or at the Atlanta Press Club.

Warnock’s hesitation makes him appear the wimp for the first time in this election – and changes the tone of what looked like a race that was Warnock’s to lose.

From the Macon Telegraph:

[I]t’s not one of the three debates his opponent Sen. Raphael Warnock agreed to months ago, including a Macon debate put on by the Mercer University Center for Collaborative Journalism, The Macon Telegraph, 13WMAZ and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Walker announced during a Fox News appearance Monday that he’s agreed to take part in an Oct. 14 debate in Savannah hosted by Nexstar Media, which owns several TV stations across the state.

Warnock committed to three debates in late May. In June, he announced he accepted debate invitations from the Atlanta Press Club and another hosted by WTOC in Savannah in addition to the Macon event.

WSAV reports the Nexstar debate will be the only one that Walker would attend. Blount did not tell the Telegraph whether Walker would commit to additional debates.

“This debate will be carried on Fox 5 Atlanta, the Nexstar Media Group Inc. markets serving Georgia in Augusta; Savannah; Columbus; Spartanburg, SC; Dothan, AL as well as on the Sinclair-owned stations in Macon and Albany,” Blount said. “The format and moderators are fair and would allow each candidate equal opportunity to share their message. It also includes a large audience of 500 people, which would allow both candidates to speak directly to constituents.”

But the Nexstar debate may not take place if Warnock declines, online news outlet Politico reports. “We don’t have a debate,” Nexstar’s senior director for local content development Chris Berg told Politico. “We have an offer, and one candidate accepted. So until, you know, we have a second candidate, we don’t have a debate.”

Glynn County Commission Chair David O’Quinn resigned yesterday, according to The Brunswick News.

He told fellow commissioners his work schedule forces him to be out of town too often to be effective as commission chairman.

O’Quinn is not seeking reelection but will continue to serve on the board until his term ends Dec. 31.

Commissioner Vice Chair Wayne Neal is now chairman.

Members of the Savannah Board of Aldermen will be redistricted, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The voting district lines of Savannah City Council will change in the coming months, as the last wave of the once-per-decade redistricting process finally hits the city.

Every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, the political lines of Georgia are redrawn in a process known as redistricting. From U.S. House boundaries to School Board districts, each must be adjusted to account for population changes, with the objective being that district sizes reflect population density.

Districts at the federal, state and county levels have already been redrawn. Municipal boundaries are all that remain, and in fast-growing Savannah, there’s plenty of change to account for.

In the MPC’s redistricting presentation shared on the city’s redistricting website Tuesday, the commission states the goal in redrawing the lines is to keep the districts compact and contiguous while respecting political boundaries and keeping communities of interest together. MPC Executive Director Melanie Wilson said, much like county redistricting earlier this year, “everybody has to give up something.”

The Tybee Island moratorium on new short-term vacation rentals is set to expire, according to the Savannah Morning News.

After a year-long pause on the issuance of STVR permits (the four-month moratorium, passed in the form of a resolution, has been renewed twice so far), stakeholders on all sides of the divisive issue are eager to see what changes the city may propose to the STVR ordinance.

The ordinance, a part of city law, serves as a set of guidelines on how STVRs must operate. Though vacation rentals have existed on Tybee as early as the 1920s, according to planning commission manager George Shaw, formal regulations in the form of a Land Development Code were not defined until 2016.

How to control the number of STVRs allowed on the island is not outlined and is the main source of residents’ strife as well as the primary reason for initiating a moratorium.

Fueled by Tybee’s growing popularity as a tourist destination, the proliferation of vacation rentals, defined as properties rented for 30 days or less on websites such as Airbnb and VRBO, has prompted major concern from the island’s residents and officials.

Those critical of the tourism industry fear that increased visitation, exacerbated by STVRs, is straining the infrastructure and resources of the small barrier island. Furthermore, they argue that the rentals, which make up about 38% of total properties in residential neighborhoods and 48% of properties overall, have diminished Tybee’s sense of community. Residents have regularly complained about loud parties and inconsiderate visitors violating good neighbor policies.

Coffee County law enforcement agencies came together to address gang violence, according to WALB.

Several law enforcement agencies and Coffee County leaders met Thursday to bring not just awareness to the gang-related issues in the community but to discuss a plan of action.

Douglas Mayor Tony Paulk said he’s concerned about the safety of the children in Douglas. Paulk said from recent training and investigations, gangs are recruiting children as young as the fifth grade.

“We need to make sure that we have leadership in place, the policies, the rules and regulations and we don’t get into a turf or jurisdictional situation that, ‘Hey whoever’s there, we’re going to respond to this regardless of what the criminal activity is,’” Paulk said.

Douglas Police Chief Shane Edminsten said drug trafficking and white collar crimes like embezzlement, and forgery, have been very common in their gang-related investigations. The police chief said they are able to catch some of the criminal activity on social media.

Paulk said law enforcement agencies are formally joining forces in monthly meetings aimed at fighting gang crime. They believe communication amongst each of the agencies that attended will be the key to a safer community and school year.

Columbia County Commissioners adopted a partial rollback of the property tax millage rate, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Despite posting higher tax valuations for 2022, Columbia County earlier this week passed a millage at its lowest rate since the 1980s. The Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to establish its annual rate that’s used to compute ad valorem taxes on citizens’ property. The millage is the rate per $1,000 of property value.

Columbia County’s Board of Commissioners has prioritized rolling back millage rates as far as possible to help soften the blow of higher property tax assessments.

“In all the discussions we’ve had, we want a legacy of continuing to lower the millage rate any opportunity we get to do the best we can to offset the increase in values,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Doug Duncan said.

“There are people now who are getting into bidding wars with houses and paying above the asking price because they want to live in Columbia County. That is raising the values of the houses,” County Manager Scott Johnson said. “I think I would rather live in a community where our values were going up and my elected officials were lowering my taxes, as opposed to a place where my values were constantly going down and you were having to artificially arrange taxes or raise the millage rate to be able to balance it out and be able to fund services.”

Public hearings are routinely held before the annual millage is set. But every year, some taxpayers – after seeing their tax bills rise – mistakenly interpret the advertisements for the hearings as announcements of a tax increase.

Columbia County will be taking in more revenue because many properties have risen in assessed value. Whenever circumstances indicate a government entity will take in more tax revenue, public hearings are required and legally have to be advertised as a tax increase.

I think the writer editorializes a little about what taxpayers think.

Winder City Council is discussing Local Option Sales Tax proceeds with Barrow County, according to AccessWDUN.

The City Council is also seeking to end litigation over Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) disputes with the County and called for a Transportation Special Option Local Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) referendum to be added to the November ballot.

LOST funds are distributed to jurisdictions based on a Certificate of Distribution signed by the County and local municipalities according to a press release from the City of Winder.

The distribution percentages have been based exclusively upon the population in the past, which is not the only factor that should be considered according to criteria set forth by the Georgia General Assembly. There are eight criteria that should determine the distribution of the funds collected by the LOST to the municipalities.

“The law states that the sales tax is intended to fund services required in commercial and downtown areas. It’s also intended to provide relief of property taxes to our homeowners,” said Winder’s Mayor David Maynard in a press release from the city.

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