Author: admin


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 6, 2023

Dixie is a young female mixed breed dog (who looks like a pointer of some sort) who is available for adoption from the Effingham County Animal Shelter in Springfield, GA.

Peach is a young , 35-pound female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Effingham County Animal Shelter in Springfield, GA. Looks like a Hound mix to me.

Asper is a young 33-pound female (Hound-looking) mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Effingham County Animal Shelter in Springfield, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 6, 2023

On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.

On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.

On December 6, 1847, Dr. William White spoke to a group of Atlanta residents about a proposal to move the state capital to Atlanta and was met with cheers.

On December 7, 1864, federal troops under W.T. Sherman engaged Confederate forces at Jenks’ Bridge on the Ogeechee, and Buck Creek and Cypress Swamp, near Sister’s Ferry, Georgia Confederates burned the bridge over the Ogeechee.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the Amendment outlawing slavery.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

On December 6, 1932, the legislation repealing Prohibition was introduced by Senator John Blaine of Wisconsin. It was ratified on December 5, 1933. Georgia never took action on the Amendment.

Thursday is the 81st anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,

U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”

U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”

U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”

On December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel in downtown Atlanta, previously considered fireproof, burned in the worst hotel fire to date.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Chatham County Superior Court Judge Penny Freesemann said the backlog of defendants needing mental health assessments can stretch as long as a year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Statewide, Georgia has experienced a 40% increase in court orders for pretrial evaluations since 2006, yet the state has 35% fewer forensic psychologists to determine defendants’ competency, said DBHDD Commissioner Kevin Tanner at an October budget proposal meeting.

Tanner said that, as of Sept. 1, more than 1,200 defendants statewide were awaiting a pre-trial evaluation, a number that has exploded in recent years.

There is also a waitlist for defendants found incompetent to stand trial and referred for treatment at a state hospital. At the end of September, 523 people around the state were waiting for a bed in one of the state’s five in-patient mental health facilities, including Georgia Regional Hospital on Eisenhower Drive. The current wait time in Georgia is 275 days, much higher than most states, where wait times typically average 30 days (although three states have reported wait times ranging from six months to a year, according to academic research).

In Chatham County, the issue is as acute. According to court records, as of Oct. 17, 26 people were awaiting a pre-trial evaluation and 15 people were awaiting bed space at a DBHDD facility.

Chatham County Courts in 2015 implemented the competency docket, modeled after the Northeastern Judicial Courts. Back then, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Penny Freesemann said the court would receive an initial opinion on competency from DBHDD within 30 days.

Freesemann, who presides over the mental health court and competency docket, said in late October that the wait is now at least six months. “I know that when I get on a docket when someone’s talking about, ‘I’m going to need an evaluation,’ I cringe a little bit and there’s probably a year away and that person is just sitting in the jail.”

The first [delay] occurs in getting the initial forensic evaluation. “[It] can take months, and months and months,” said Freesemann.

Most defendants remain in jail as they await the initial evaluation. And even after the lengthy process to determine competency and treatment options, Freesemann estimated that lawyers agree on the defendant’s competence 80% of the time.

The Houston County Board of Elections referred complaints alleging that WR City Council member Charlie Bibb broke election laws in a race he won by a single vote, according to 13WMAZ.

Charlie Bibb is accused of breaking election laws on election day by several people.

The Houston County Board of Elections did not explicitly say whether they find the allegations against Councilman Bibb to be true or false at Tuesday’s meeting.

However, the board announced it will turn the results of their findings from their board’s investigation to entities with authority to discipline.

That includes the city and county attorney, Secretary of State’s office and State Election Board.

If Georgia finds the allegations against Bibb to be true, he would have broken two election laws. By state law, candidates cannot be inside a polling place during an election unless they’re there to vote nor can anybody wear campaign gear inside a polling precinct.

The board’s declaration about their committee’s findings was not clear to most folks in the room when the committee’s chair, Andrew Bennett, made the announcement.

“What we’re saying is there are other forces now who are going to be completing their investigation,” Bennet said. “Our role became one of preservation. Preservation of evidence, preservation of statements from people who were at those polling locations. Those are the items that are going to be turned to both the city and the county attorney as well as the state election board and the secretary of state.”

If the state finds the allegations against Bibb to be true, he would be guilty of a misdemeanor in Georgia.

Former Brookhaven City Council member John Park was elected Mayor in yesterday’s Runoff Election, according to the AJC.

John Park earned 59% of votes in the runoff election against Lauren Kiefer, according to unofficial results. Park will succeed Mayor John Ernst, who was term-limited.

“Tonight, after a long and tough campaign, the people of Brookhaven made their voices heard and elected me as our city’s next Mayor,” Park said in a statement. “Our victory is proof that hard work and unwavering commitment to the people will always win in Brookhaven.

Park, a technical consultant who tracks disease spread for the Centers for Disease Control and other laboratories, campaigned on his experience as a longtime Brookhaven council member. He was first elected in 2014.

Under Ernst, the city’s growth has been ambitious, culminating in the October groundbreaking of a new $78 million City Hall. Park has said that as mayor, his focus will be on finishing what has been started.

“My plan is to execute and see our vision through,” he said previously.

A number of runoff elections were held in Middle Georgia, and 13WMAZ covers the results in Fort Valley, Forsyth, and Davidsboro.

WALB in Albany covers local runoff elections in Southwest Georgia, including the City of Enigma, Vienna, and Willacoochee.

The Georgia State Senate voted to pass a Congressional redistricting plan over Democratic opposition, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

Brushing aside concerns that they may be breaking law that protects coalitions of nonwhite voters, Georgia state senators on Tuesday passed a new congressional map that would maintain a likely 9-5 GOP edge in the state’s delegation.

The Senate voted 32-22 to pass the plan, which seeks a wholesale reconfiguration of a suburban Atlanta district now represented by Democrat Lucy McBath. It goes to the House for more debate.

Meanwhile, lawmakers gave final passage to maps likely to keep each chamber of the General Assembly under the control of Republicans, sending House and Senate maps to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature or veto.

Senators voted 32-21 to give final passage to a new state House map, despite Democrat concerns that the map harmed minority coalitions and would likely preserve all but one or two seats in the Republicans current 102-78 House majority.

The House voted 98-71 to pass the Senate map, which aims to keep Republicans 33-23 majority. Democrats lambasted the map, saying it did not do enough to enhance Black opportunities in the 10 districts found to be illegal.

Republicans say the plans meet Jones’ requirements to draw more majority-Black districts.

“This map maintains the partisan balance this Legislature endorsed and voted on two years ago while at the same time fully complying with Judge Jones’ order,” said Senate President Pro Tem John Kennedy, a Macon Republican.

But Democrats say all the maps fall short. Sen. Ed Harbison, a Columbus Democrat, lambasted Republicans for how they are treating McBath, saying she “has been shuffled around like a chess piece.”

An audit of the City of Columbus has identified millions of dollars missing, according to WTVM.

Back on July 25th Columbus City Council initiated an internal audit to be conducted on the finance department. Five months later, the findings are in.

Internal Auditor Donna McGinnis says there have been checks from business owners trying to renew their business licenses that never made it to the bank with one check dating back to 2006.

“So the bulk of them are stale checks. You also have waiting credit card authorizations. In some cases, your are not just talking about licensure. You’re talking about pawn shop ownership you talking about a wide variety of things,” Donna McGinnis.

Director of Finance Angelica Alexander disagrees with McGinnis when it comes to the uncollected 45.1 million dollars. Alexander says that it is impossible to believe that 45.1 million dollars is an accurate amount, she says 2.5 million would be more accurate.

“It is inaccurately stated that there is $45.1 million upon process transactions catalog that CCG lock box that’s inaccurately stated. That the lockbox activity has not been deposited into the city’s bank. All transactions have been cataloged in blocks in Excel spreadsheets. What we refer to as lock box is cash. These accounts are cash that has been deposited in the city bank account so there is no missing money,” Angelica Alexander said.

Augusta Commissioners adopted a budget for 2024, according to WRDW.

After multiple conversations around a future $4 million to $5 million shortfall that Interim City Administrator Takiyah Douse says will hit next year’s budget, commissioners asked for a 1% cut across all departments to save money.

The budget passed 9-1 with the 1% cut going into a reserve fund. Commissioner Bobby Williams was the sole “no” vote.

Even with the cut, the budget is the city’s largest ever.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson spoke about recent violent crimes, according to WTOC.

“We will continue to do what we can… as a matter of fact, we believe that the technology that we have employed, that we have invested in will hopefully lead us quickly to apprehend those quickly who were involved in these senseless acts of violence. I understand that there has been some good information, some good intel out there and we will continue to follow those leads to make sure that those who pull triggers in our community our brought to justice.”

United States Representative Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) co-sponsored legislation designed to protect parental rights in social media, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter, R-1; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida; Kim Schrier, D-Washington; and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa; introduced Sammy’s Law on Tuesday. The critical child safety legislation would help parents be better informed about a child’s dangerous interactions on social media and fill in critical access and awareness gaps when children face problems on popular platforms.

The bill is named after Sammy Chapman, who family and friends described as a sweet, funny, curious A-student. His parents worked hard to keep him away from danger but had no idea drug dealers stalked children via social media. On Feb. 7, 2021, a seller reached out to Sammy on social media and delivered drugs to him at home, which tragically were poisoned with a lethal dose of the opioid fentanyl. The 16-year-old died later that day.

“Parents have the right to know when their child is engaging in dangerous online activity,” Carter said. “There are sick, evil people who will prey on our youth to make a quick buck by selling illicit, sometimes fentanyl-laced, drugs. Sammy’s life was worth living, and this bill will help parents get the information they need to keep their children safe.”

The bill would create a parental right to know about dangerous or concerning interactions children under the age of 17 may have online.

Social media companies would be required to provide access to data pertaining to a parent’s child through registered third-party safety apps. These apps can provide alerts to parents when dangerous content is shared through children’s social media accounts, enabling life-saving interventions at critical moments.

For example, if a child is expressing thoughts of suicide via social media, then a parent, who has received an alert through a third-party safety app, can immediately provide mental health support.

U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) co-sponsored broadband legislation, according to the Albany Herald.

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr., D-Ga., and Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Mich., introduced the Broadening Online Opportunities Through Simple Technologies (BOOST) Act Tuesday.

Joining them in introducing the bipartisan bill were Congressman Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Congressman Bill Huizenga, R-Mich. The legislation would allow households in rural, low connectivity areas to claim a $300 tax credit after purchasing a mobile internet hotspot or a signal booster to increase their internet speeds.

“I am happy to reintroduce the bipartisan BOOST Act with my colleagues, which will help make broadband internet access more affordable and accessible to rural communities,” Bishop said in a news release. “Dependable access to high-speed internet is vital for a whole range of day-to-day activities including individuals teleworking, children doing homework, and families accessing telemedicine.

Effingham County Commissioners debated changes to their gun ordinance, according to WTOC.

The ordinance in question went into effect in 1997 and said that it is illegal to discharge a firearm within a 300-yard radius of a place where someone is living without getting permission from them. While the commission was proposing to make changes to it, some members of the community called for it to be completely removed.

“The way that this ordinance is written if you left it wide open, and you need to throw this ordinance away and come up with something different that is clearly defined and doesn’t take our rights away.”

Ultimately, the commission did not vote on this agenda item but instead stated that they would want to look at the state law, the county ordinance, and have a workshop meeting.

Effingham Commissioners approved an agreement with Live Oak Libraries, the public library agency, according to WTOC.

Columbus City Council voted to move forward with plans to build a new Judicial Center, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Construction on Columbus’ new judicial center got the final green light from city councilors Tuesday as they committed to building the new courthouse on the north side of the existing Government Center block.

Council proceeded with that plan for the $200 million project despite objections from the Springer Opera House and other opponents.

The plan council approved Tuesday was the same one the architectural team previously presented: to renovate and reuse the central plaza and east and west wings of the current complex, preserve the three-deck underground parking garage beneath them, and build the new tower on the north side.

When the new building is finished, the courts will move there from the existing 12-story tower to the south, which will be demolished to make room for additional parking.

The Georgia Ports Authority approved plans to build an inland container port in Gainesville, according to WTOC.

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has approved spending $127 million to build a rail terminal connecting the Port of Savannah with northeast Georgia.

The project, called the Blue Ridge Connecter, is an inland rail terminal in Gainesville, Ga.

“Through improved connectivity, developments like the Blue Ridge Connector maximize the impact of Georgia’s extensive logistics network,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in a prepared statement. “Inland terminals have a proven track record of powering economic development for rural Georgians by extending port services to the doorstep of manufacturing and supply chain operations.”

Funding for the Blue Ridge Connecter is a mix of GPA internal capital and a grant from the Federal Maritime Administration, according to the GPA.

Currently, GPA said approximately 18-20 percent of container cargo is moved by rail.

“This important investment will help our customers streamline their supply chains while reducing congestion on Georgia highways,” said GPA President and CEO Griff Lynch in a prepared statement. “As we have seen at the Appalachian Regional Port in Murray County, improved rail service to the region will increase transportation efficiency and act as a magnet for jobs and economic development. Every container moved by rail will avoid a 600-mile roundtrip by truck between Savannah and the Gainesville, area,” Lynch added. “That’s a massive benefit to cargo owners seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.” Hybrid electric rubber tire gantry cranes will be used.”

Andy Harville was elected Mayor of Guyton, besting incumbent Mayor Russ Deen in yesterday’s Runoff Election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With less than 15% of eligible voters casting ballots, Andy Harville won the runoff election for mayor Tuesday, unseating sitting Mayor Russ Deen, 156-129.

Guyton residents had just four weeks to mull over who they wanted in city hall when neither Deen nor Harville reached the necessary 50% plus one vote during the Nov. 7 general election. Deen finished with 181 votes, Harville secured 166, and Michael Garvin drew 159 that night.

James “Chick” Jones defeated incumbent Bill Tinley to win the runoff election for Mayor of Waynesboro, according to WRDW.

On Tuesday night, officials announced the election results; there were a total of 720 votes cast out of 3,345 eligible voters.

Jones defeated the incumbent Bill Tinley by a count of 378 to 342, according to the election results.

Former Sugar Hill City Council member Meg Avery beat incumbent Jenn Thatcher to win the District 3 runoff election, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Councilwoman Jenn Thatcher was defeated by former Councilwoman Meg Avery by a 19-vote margin in the Council Post 3 runoff, according to unofficial results. Avery received 600 votes while Thatcher received 581 votes.

There are two pending absentee ballots.

Last month, former Sugar Hill Mayor Gary Pirkle defeated Councilman Marc Cohen in the Council Post 2 race while Joshua Page defeated Councilman Mason Roszel in the Post 1 race.

Pirkle, Page and Avery had run together as a slate against the incumbent council members, raising concerns about development in the city by taking an anti-apartments stance. They also raised concerns about city financial issues.

“Big Nick” Harden was elected to the at-large District 7 seat on Valdosta City Council, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Harden received 1,519 votes to Love’s 754.

In all, 2,277 ballots were cast, a turnout of 7.58%. Lowndes County Elections Superintendent Deb Cox said that’s actually pretty high for a municipal runoff with a single race on the ballot; municipal runoffs generally run 3-5% turnout, she said.

Four provisional ballots have not been counted, Cox said, but they will be once they’ve been “cured.” Provisional ballots are ones in which there’s a question about the voter’s eligibility, such as a question about where they live; they’re allowed to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day, and between then and the votes being certified, officials determine whether the voter was eligible, a process called curing. If the voter was eligible, the provisional ballot is counted just like any other.

More than half of the votes were cast during the early voting period — 1,239 versus 983 cast on Election Day and 51 absentee by mail ballots.

Norman Carter won election to Snellville City Council in the runoff election, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Carter defeated Catherine Hardrick by a 62-vote margin in the runoff to replace Councilman Dave Emanuel, who was prohibited by term limits from seeking another term.

Carter received 749 votes while Hardrick received 687 votes, according to unofficial results released by the city on Tuesday night.

Amber Brantley launched her campaign for District Attorney in the Augusta Judicial Circuit, which covers Richmond and Burke Counties, according to WRDW.

Brantley got her start at the DA’s office in Lowndes County and then worked for the Solicitor General’s Office in Richmond County.

She currently works as the Assistant District Attorney in Columbia County.

“I believe people should vote for me because our community needs change- restoring justice in our community,” she said.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 5, 2023

Buttercup (Pen 191) is a ten-month old, 36-pound female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Buttercup is a young female mixed breed puppy (visually-impaired) who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

Buttercup is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation, Inc. in Milledgeville, GA.

Meet Buttercup! This little sweetie is about 15 weeks old and is ready for her forever home! She is a typical roly poly puppy, snuggly and affectionate. She has a mark on her head that will go away with time from when her mother let her know that she was not welcome to continue nursing. It already looks so much better! If you would like to meet Buttercup, please fill out an application at

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 5, 2023

On December 5, 1887, Georgia voters approved a new State Constitution and voted to keep the state capital in Atlanta instead of moving it back to Milledgeville.

On December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending prohibition. Earlier that day, Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified the Amendment.

On December 5, 2000, the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou was released.

On December 5, 2006, Republican Chuck Eaton won the General Election Runoff for Public Service Commission District 3, beating incumbent Democrat David Burgess. Total votes cast: 215,092.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters across Georgia are going to the polls today in municipal runoff elections, including Mayor of Willacoochee and two City Council seats in Enigma according to WALB. If you’re in the WALB viewing area, they do a great job of listing elections being held today.

A particularly juicy runoff election is being held for Mayor of Brookhaven. From the AJC:Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 4, 2023

Kris Rotonda, founder of Jordan’s Way LLC, will host a Facebook live event today at Butts County Animal Control with Butts Mutts, according to the Jackson Progress Argus.

Rotunda will host a three-hour live Facebook fundraiser with Butts Mutts at Butts County Animal Control, 158 Bibb Station Road, Jackson, Monday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be filled with non-stop challenges, high energy fun while raising awareness for the animals and much needed money for the organizations. Jordan’s Way aims to make a difference in the lives of animals across the country.

Rotonda founded Jordan’s Way after his best friend, Jordan, passed away. Jordan was a shelter dog who spent the first 3.5 years of her life being overlooked in a shelter. He spent 11 years with her before she died of cancer. After she died, Rotonda made it his mission to honor her life by helping raise awareness for overlooked shelter animals and helping them get the attention they deserve.

“No animal should have to spend their life in a shelter, and I am passionate to highlight and support the many organizations across our country who work relentlessly to ensure these pets find loving homes, despite their age, breed, or heath issues”, said Rotonda. “Each stop on the Jordan’s Way tour offers the ability to bring awareness to the importance of the saying “Adopt, Don’t Shop” to an entirely new community”. “The system with animal welfare is broken, and Jordan’s Way want to help become the voice to fix it,” said Rotunda.

To learn more about Jordan’s Way and follow their journey, visit or their Facebook page at: for more details.

Pretty sure I just heard a $1000 donation from “Burt Jones,” whom I suspect is the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.

Jeremiah is a bull frog 6-month old Hound (and Shepherd?) mix puppy who is available for adoption from Butts Mutts in Jackson, GA.

Jeremiah was dumped with his siblings on a rural county road and is doing well in foster care. He was with a foster who wanted to adopt him but their dog became a little too rough with him so he is back at the shetler. However she reports he was making great progress already with commands and potty training. Soon to be neutered and brought current on his shots, he is ready to adopt. He currently weighs 25lb and loves to play, and will benefit from being with another dog to help show him the ropes. Apply online at to make him part of your pack!

Bodhi is an 18-month old, 40-pound male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Butts Mutts in Jackson, GA.

This young and very handsome boy is Bohdi. He plays well with other dogs and loves to be out running in the play yard. Bodhi would make a great companion for hiking, kayaking and other outside activities. He would also like to snuggle on the sofa, watching movies and eat popcorn. This all around great dog is waiting for his perfect family. Please apply to adopt Bodhi at

Bandit is a 4-month old Hound and Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Butts Mutts in Jackson, GA.

Bandit and his brother Benny were picked up for roaming on a busy road. Sadly they weren’t claimed by a loving owner. Both appear to be a little shy likely due to the noisy shelter environment, but they warm up once they trust you and are playful pups who are eager to eat and sniff and cuddle. Apply to adopt this sweet boy online at


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 4, 2023

On December 4, 1783, General George Washington told his officers he would resign his commission and return to his life at Mount Vernon.

The Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia was fought between Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry and Kilpatrick’s federal troops on December 4, 1864.

Governor William Northen signed legislation placing on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to increase the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from 3 to 5 on December 4, 1893.

On December 4, 1932, a 12-foot tall statue of Tom Watson, former state legislator, Congressman, and United States Senator from Georgia, was placed on the State Capitol Grounds.

On December 4, 1945, the United States Senate voted to approve full U.S. participation in the United Nations. Georgia’s Senators voted in favor.

On December 4, 2018, Brad Raffensperger won the General Election Runoff for Georgia Secretary of State and Chuck Eaton was reelected to the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters in Snellville and Sugar Hill head back to the polls tomorrow for Runoff Elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 1, 2023

Pacman (Pen 123c) is a 2-year old, 60-pound male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA. Love the look of this low-rider.

Pen 182 is a 2-year old, 30-pound female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Sok (Pen 195) is a year-old, 35-pound female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Minty is a 10-week old, 60-pound male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 1, 2023

John Wesley left Savannah on December 2, 1737.

John Wesley’s strict discipline as rector of Christ Church in Savannah irritated his parishioners. More trouble followed when he fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Georgia’s chief magistrate. When she married another man, Wesley banned her from Holy Communion, damaging her reputation in the community.

His successful romantic rival sued him; but Wesley refused to recognize the authority of the court, and the man who would eventually found a major Protestant denomination in America left Georgia in disgrace on December 2, 1737.

Touro Synagogue, the oldest existing synagogue in the United States, was dedicated on December 2, 1763 in Newport, Rhode Island.


On December 3, 1775, the Grand Union Flag, comprising the Union Jack with thirteen red-and-white stripes was raised for the first time by Lieutenant John Paul Jones over the USS Alfred, a colonial warship. The flag would be used by Continental forces thorugh 1776 and early 1777.

USS Alfred

On December 3, 1776, General George Washington wrote Congress that he had moved most of his army across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

General George Washington set up winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey on December 1, 1779.

On December 1, 1824, the election for President of the United States, in which no candidate received a majority of electoral votes, went to the United States House of Representatives.

Andrew Jackson of Tennessee won 99 electoral and 153,544 popular votes; John Quincy Adams–the son of John Adams, the second president of the United States–received 84 electoral and 108,740 popular votes; Secretary of State William H. Crawford, who had suffered a stroke before the election, received 41 electoral votes; and Representative Henry Clay of Virginia won 37 electoral votes.

As dictated by the Constitution, the election was then turned over to the House of Representatives. The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House. Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected.

The Skirmish at Rocky Creek Church took place near Waynesboro, Georgia on December 2, 1864.

On December 3, 1864, Union forces under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman skirmished against Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry at Thomas’ Station in Burke County, Georgia.

The City of Sandy Springs began operations at one second after midnight on December 1, 2005. Three years later, Dunwoody became a new city, on December 1, 2008.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has died, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court and a crucial swing vote during her twenty-five year tenure, died on Friday. She was 93.

A key figure in landmark Supreme Court cases dealing with abortion, affirmative action and civil rights, O’Connor retired from the high court in 2006 and announced in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with dementia and would withdraw from public life.

O’Connor was President Ronald Reagan’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, joining the court in 1981 after an already notable career that included serving as the majority leader in Arizona’s state Senate – the first woman to hold that title in the nation.

She died of complications related to advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.

“A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our nation’s first female justice,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. “She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor. We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”

Born in Texas, O’Connor grew up on a cattle ranch in rural Arizona, where she developed a skepticism of the federal government’s land management policies – a perception some observers say influenced her commitment to federalism and state rights on the court. She graduated high school at 16 and enrolled at Stanford University, where she later continued on to study law.

“While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life,” she wrote in a letter released by the court at the time.

“How fortunate I feel to be an American and to have been presented with the remarkable opportunities available to the citizens of our country,” she added. “As a young cowgirl from the Arizona desert, I never could have imagined that one day I would become the first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

O’Connor, whom commentators had once called the nation’s most powerful woman, remained the court’s only woman until 1993, when, much to O’Connor’s delight and relief, President Bill Clinton nominated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The current court includes a record four women.

The enormity of the reaction to O’Connor’s appointment had surprised her. She received more than 60,000 letters in her first year, more than any one member in the court’s history. “I had no idea when I was appointed how much it would mean to many people around the country,” she once said. “It affected them in a very personal way. People saw it as a signal that there are virtually unlimited opportunities for women. It’s important to parents for their daughters, and to daughters for themselves.”

Following her retirement, O’Connor expressed regret that a woman had not been chosen to replace her. O’Connor remained active in the government even after she retired from the court. She sat as a judge on several federal appeals courts, advocated for judicial independence and served on the Iraq Study Group. She also was appointed to the honorary post of chancellor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

On the bench, O’Connor generally favored states in disputes with the federal government. She often sided with police when they faced claims of violating people’s rights. In 1985, she wrote for the court as it ruled that the confession of a criminal suspect first warned about his rights may be used as trial evidence, even if police violated the suspect’s rights in obtaining an earlier confession.

Dalton voters will elect a new member of the Board of Education in next week’s Runoff Election, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The 2023 election cycle officially comes to an end on Tuesday, Dec. 5, with a lone Dalton Board of Education race on the local ballot.

In a field that also included candidate Dr. Pablo Perez, neither incumbent John Tulley Johnson nor challenger Laura Orr mustered enough votes to garner a clear majority in the Nov. 7 general election.

Johnson and Orr — the top two vote-getters last month — now await the results of Tuesday’s runoff election to determine who will hold the school board seat.

Valdosta voters will elect a new City Council member serving at-large, according to WALB.

“The city is doing some things already, they have an affordable housing project going on the south end of town right now. We need more. There are a lot of properties that can actually be used to make them affordable, while the city can’t do anything we can maybe incentivize the owners to go in and change things up so we can have more housing,” Nick “Big Nick” Harden, one of the city council candidates, said.

“We don’t have enough housing at is, so we have to do something. I don’t really know what the answer is but we need to make sure these people have affordable housing. When you have two adults working $10-$13 an hour jobs, we need to make sure they can afford to live too,” Bill Love, one of the city council candidates, said.

According to Lowndes County elections data, only 5,000 of the over 30,000 registered voters in the county turned out during the initial 2023 municipal election. With early voting in the runoff election for Valdosta City Council At Large wrapping up, candidates say only about 3% of voters have cast their ballots.

The last day for early voting in the runoff election is Friday, December 1st at 7 p.m. Runoff Election Day is Tuesday, December 5th, and WALB will be reporting election results.

Gas prices will rise again as Governor Brian Kemp’s suspension of the motor fuel sales tax expired, according to The Brunswick News.

Gov. Brian Kemp and the General Assembly allowed the latest temporary suspension to expire on Wednesday. That means the state Department of Revenue will resume collecting 29 cents per gallon from motorists.

Kemp reinstituted the temporary suspension in September. Since then, prices at the pump have fallen to an average of $2.79 in Georgia, third-lowest in the nation according to AAA.

With Georgia sitting on a huge budget surplus, the state has been to afford temporarily suspending the gas tax. But with prices dropping so significantly, the governor and legislature opted not to continue the suspension at this time.

From the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald:

Georgia drivers are likely to begin paying higher prices for gasoline and diesel as state motor fuel taxes return on Thursday.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s rollback of the state taxes of 31.2 cents per gallon of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon of diesel ends at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The Republican Kemp began waiving the taxes in September when he issued a novel legal declaration finding that high prices were an emergency. Georgia’s governor can suspend tax collections during an emergency as long as state lawmakers approve the action the next time they meet. But because the General Assembly is beginning a special session Wednesday to discuss legislative and congressional redistricting, Kemp could not extend the waiver of the taxes past then.

Kemp has asked lawmakers to approve his action in the special session. He could also ask lawmakers to pass a law to extend the tax break. But Kemp spokesperson Garrison Douglas said Tuesday that the governor doesn’t plan to ask lawmakers to act. Douglas said it’s possible that Kemp could issue a fresh emergency declaration once the special session ends.

Douglas said Kemp was talking to legislative leaders “to decide next steps after this session and before the next session.” That next regular session begins on Jan. 8. He said one issue will be whether gas prices keep falling, as they have nationwide since Kemp revived the fuel tax break in September.

Legislative Committees voted to advance proposed Redistricting maps, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The Georgia House and Senate redistricting committees approved new district lines for their respective legislative chambers Thursday, in keeping with a court ruling that the current district maps violate the Voting Rights Act.

On the second day of a special session of the General Assembly to take up redistricting, the committees’ Republican majorities voted in favor of the proposed maps while minority Democrats opposed the changes.

The maps comply with a decision U.S. District Judge Steve Jones handed down in October calling for the legislature to create two additional Black-majority state Senate seats and five additional Black-majority seats in the Georgia House.

But Democrats and redistricting watchdog groups complained Thursday that the Republican-drawn maps alter more districts than would have been necessary to comply with Jones’ order.

Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said the Democratic alternative map would move roughly 100,000 Black voters who don’t currently live in Black-majority districts into districts where they would have an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, compared to just 3,000 Black voters under the GOP map.

But Republican members of the Senate committee said the Democrats’ map was aimed at partisan gain. While the Republican-drawn map could be expected to return the current mix of 33 Republicans and 23 Democrats to the Senate, the Democrats’ map likely would result in the Democrats gaining two seats, said Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens.

“You ended up making a partisan map,” Cowsert told the Democrats.

Democrats made similar complaints about the GOP-drawn House map. House Democratic Leader James Beverly, D-Macon, presented a Democratic alternative that would change boundaries in only 23 House districts, compared to 56 districts under the Republican-drawn map.

Republicans on the committee pointed out that the Democratic alternative map would create only four Black-majority districts, not the five the court order requires.

The two Republican maps now move to the full House and Senate, which are likely to vote on them on Friday.

Georgia state legislators may consider legislation to further regulate the title pawn industry, according to WTOC.

Georgia lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are putting their differences aside and working together to tackle this issue that they say is now affecting nearly all communities across the state. They’ve have been meeting with representatives from the title pawn industry as well as consumer protection groups.

“In rural communities, in cities like Savannah, folks are getting these loans,” Rep. Westbrook said.

“Hard times find most of us at some point in our lives,” Rep. Westbrook said.

TitleMax and other title pawn companies have flourished in Georgia primarily because the industry remains largely unregulated in the Peach State.

“There are no rate caps at all on the title pawn companies so they can do 100%, 300% when other consumer lending companies are capped at around 60%,” Rep. Westbrook said.

“Why is this lending product out here operating on its own without really a lot of oversight when consumers have so many protections from other lenders,” Rep. Westbrook said.

Representative Westbrook is just one of many democrats in the Georgia House of Representatives joining Republican colleagues to back House Bill 342—first introduced in February by Representative Josh Bonner.

“We’re just leveling the playing field that for all of those folks who lend money in Georgia, we are going to make them subject to the same rules as everyone else,” Rep. Bonner said.

“I think what that’s going to do is add a layer of transparency, add a layer of oversight so that any citizen of Georgia that wants to take advantage of one of these products knows exactly what they’re entering into and that we can regulate any of the bad actors that exist out there,” Rep. Bonner said. HB342 died in committee during the last legislative session, but it’s already showing signs of promise this year.

“We’ve got over half of the house body that has signed onto this bill already and we expect to get more,” Rep. Bonner said.

The House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources issued recommendations for the next General Assembly Session, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources held several hearings around the state in October as a follow-up to legislation the General Assembly passed in March guaranteeing Georgians the right to fish in navigable portions of the state’s rivers and streams.

Senate Bill 115 was introduced after a property owner along a stretch of the Flint River known as Yellow Jacket Shoals banned fishing from the bank on its side of the river. While the measure drew enthusiastic support from sportsmen’s groups, its language left unclear what constitutes a navigable river or stream and what does not.

The study committee recommended Thursday that the state address that issue by determining the navigability of each river and stream in Georgia.

“That was a huge sticking point for many of our property owners,” said House Majority Whip James Burchett, R-Waycross, the committee’s chairman.

Riverfront property owners who testified during the committee’s hearings complained of people traipsing through their properties on the way to and from fishing holes, leaving trash and becoming a general nuisance.

To address that issue, the study committee recommended increasing penalties for trespassing while maintaining the core of Senate Bill 115 intact.

To make fishers less tempted to trespass, the panel recommended additional investment in the state’s public fishing areas. The committee’s report acknowledges the growth of fishing in Georgia, particularly in the trout streams of the North Georgia mountains.

State Rep. Jasmine Clark (D-Lilburn) is co-hosting an opioid overdose training session, according t0 the Gwinnett Daily Post.

State Rep. Jasmine Clark (D-Lilburn) is joining with the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Public Health Department to address the issue by hosting an opioid overdose intervention training session from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

The training will take place at the Mountain Park Activity Building at 1063 Rockbridge Road SW in Stone Mountain.

“The opioid crisis is real, and unfortunately, Gwinnett County is not immune,” said Clark in a news release. “Recently, Lilburn experienced a mass fentanyl overdose event at a local business, highlighting the fact that this public health epidemic is in our community. That is why I am partnering with our local health department to train people on how they can intervene and potentially save a life if they encounter someone having an overdose.”

Those participating in the training with learn how to know when someone is experiencing an overdose and what to do in those critical moments to save their life. The event is open to the public — including high school students — and local business owners. Along with learning when and how to use Narcan (naxalone), each participant will be provided with some Narcan to take home.

Registration is required and more information can be obtained by going to

Gwinnett County District 3 Commissioner Jasper Watkins III is hosting Town Halls to discuss the proposed budget, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The proposal, totaling $2.5 billion, includes a $1.96 billion operating budget and a $542 million capital improvements budget, incorporating funds from the County’s 2023 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax program, county officials said.

District 3 town hall meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 5 from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at Berean Christian Church located at 1465 Highpoint Road in Snellville; and Monday, Dec. 11 from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center located at 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.

The proposed 2024 budget resolution is available online at and a hard copy is available in the Financial Services office at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville during business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

McIntosh County Commissioners moved to dismiss a lawsuit by Sapelo Island residents over a recent rezoning, according to WSAV.

Residents and landowners of the tiny Hogg Hummock community sued in October after McIntosh County commissioners voted to weaken zoning restrictions that for decades helped protect the enclave of modest homes along dirt roads on largely unspoiled Sapelo Island.

The zoning changes doubled the size of houses allowed in Hogg Hummock. Black residents say larger homes in the community will lead to property tax increases that they won’t be able to afford. Their lawsuit asks a judge to declare the new law discriminates “on the basis of race, and that it is therefore unconstitutional, null, and void.”

Attorneys for the county filed a legal motion Nov. 20 asking a Superior Court judge to dismiss the lawsuit, noting that Georgia’s constitution grants the state and local governments broad immunity from litigation.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that such protection from lawsuits, known as sovereign immunity, isn’t absolute. And state voters in 2020 approved a constitutional amendment carving out limited exceptions. It says governments can be sued when they break the law or violate the constitution.

The season’s first Right Whales were sighted off the coast of South Carolina, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Researchers from Florida’s Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute discovered the pair about six miles east of Beaufort during a daily monitoring flight. They identified the mother as Juno, who is estimated to be 38 years old.

It is Juno’s eighth documented birth, according to CMARI.

Seven right whales also were observed last week in southeastern waters, including a pair of adults about seven nautical miles east of the Savannah buoy marker on Nov. 18, said CMARI North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Project Manager Melanie White. Aerial spotters located a second adult pair about nine nautical miles off Sea Island.

Calf sightings in particular offer hope for experts working to restore the population, which still struggles to rebound after being nearly wiped out by commercial whalers in the late 19th century.

There are an estimated 360 North Atlantic right whales remaining, including fewer than 70 reproducing females.

“Every single female North Atlantic right whale and calf are vital to this species’ recovery,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries division noted in its latest status report. “North Atlantic right whales are dying faster than they can reproduce, largely due to human causes.”

“We need approximately 50 or more calves per year for many years to stop the decline and allow for recovery,” NOAA Fisheries estimated. “The only solution is to significantly reduce human-caused mortality and injuries, as well as stressors on reproduction.”

The primary threats to right whales are entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes and climate change, as warming ocean waters lure the plankton they feed on into new areas with fewer regulatory protections.

Each fall, some right whales travel more than 1,000 miles from feeding grounds off New England and the Canadian coast to birth their young in the shallow waters off South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for November 29, 2023

Hayes is an adult male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

This handsome hunk of love is named Hayes. Hayes came to the shelter along with his bestie (possibly brother, Hunter) on 9/29. Their former owner passed away and any family the owner may have had were out of state but no one stepped up to take them in and take care of them. We’re sure they are feeling confused and out of sorts as to why they are here in an loud, overcrowded shelter but we are hoping they will not have to stay here for too long. Hayes is very cute, affectionate and friendly. He is simply adorable. Look at that face? Who wouldn’t want him or both for their very own? They are both beautiful and sweet. Both are outgoing. They probably grew up together and have each other’s backs very, very much. They are each other’s rock, support system. He is very intelligent as he knows to sit when asked, and he may know even more. Can you help him get out of this shelter so he can experience a second chance at a stable life in a home that will keep him safe, happy and loved? If you have the room in your heart and home for Hayes or for both that would be amazing. If you are looking for a companion for your pup, bring your pup and see if this baby or both of these babies are a match for your baby!

Hayes is 2 years old, and weighs 47lbs. He is current on vaccines and neutered and microchipped. Hayes will be tested for heart worms upon his adoption. Hayes is patiently waiting for you in Run 807, his ID # is 649624.

Hunter is an adult male American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Hunter is 2 years old, and weighs 47lbs. He is current on vaccines and neutered and microchipped. Hunter will be tested for heart worms upon his adoption. Hunter is patiently waiting for you in Run 807, his ID # is 649626.

Lola is an adult female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Say hello to the beautiful 5 year old Lola. Lola arrived at the shelter along with her tiny friend BonBon on 11/21. BonBon has since been adopted. Lola is stuck in the shelter through no fault of her own. The owner’s landlord said the pups had to go. Lola is a nice size at 57 pounds and has a beautiful, shiny coat. Lola could not be any sweeter and is well mannered. She sits when asked and is quiet in her run. She is said to be good with kids and house trained. Lola is current on vaccines, tested negative for heart worms will be spayed (if not already), and micro-chipped upon adoption. She is waiting for you in run 81. Lola’s ID# is 651951.

Holly is an adult female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA.

Good evening everyone!! Please meet this beautiful young lady we are calling Holly. She is hoping to be apart of a loving family this Christmas! Holly is only 2 years old and she weighs in at 27lbs. She is small at the moment but she will grow to be a medium sized pup. She decided to become independent at such a young age but someone thought it was best if she wasn’t on the streets all alone and was brought to the shelter on 11/16. Sadly, no one has come to reclaim her. She is so sweet and cute as a button. Holly is much prettier in person. She is very playful as she loves her toys very much. She is one smart cookie because she knows how to sit all by herself and lay down. She needs a little work on stay but she is eager to please you. She will be a great student to learn just about anything she needs to. Can you please help her find her way into a loving home and provide everything she needs and wants? This is the perfect time of year to make that happen. She is just a baby so she will someone who will be patient with her, train her PROPERLY, and NEVER GIVE UP ON HER FOR ANY REASON!!! She would make a perfect addition to an active family. Keep her stimulated so she doesn’t get bored. Make wonderful memories with this sweet princess.

Holly is current on vaccines. She will be spayed and micro chipped upon her adoption. She will be tested for heart worms upon her adoption. She will be waiting for her Christmas angel in Run 403. Her ID is 651830.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 29, 2023

On November 30, 1782, British and American signed a preliminary treaty in Paris to end the American Revolution, which included withdrawal of British troops and recognition of American independence.

Georgia ratified the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 29, 1794, which reads,

The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

On November 30, 1819, the SS Savannah returned to Savannah, GA from its trip as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

On November 29, 1942, coffee rationing began in the United States.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine and allow the creation of a Jewish state of Israel.

On November 29, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, referred to as the Warren Commission. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. of Georgia was appointed to the Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State legislators convene today in a Special Session for Redistricting, according to Atlanta News First via WTVM.

State lawmakers are convening Wednesday in Atlanta to once again draw new congressional and legislative maps, repeating a process they undertook just two years ago.

Maps were redrawn in 2021 in accordance with new – but pandemic delayed – U.S. Census numbers. Now, they’re repeating the process again thanks to an October ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Steven Jones that found the 2021 maps unconstitutional.

Jones ruled the maps violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and now thousands of metro Atlanta and Georgia voters will be drawn into new and different congressional and legislative districts before the 2024 election.

On Monday, the state Senate released its proposed new maps. Proposed House maps were released Tuesday afternoon, only hours before the special session was set to begin.

From the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times:

Georgia House Republicans on Tuesday released a map that would likely cost them only two seats from their current 102-78 majority while creating five more majority-Black districts that Democrats would be likely to win. That’s because the map would also pair three sets of Democratic incumbents, meaning Democrats would lose three of those members after 2024 elections.

And Senate Republicans could improve on that performance — the map they proposed on Monday creates two additional Black-majority voting districts, but would probably retain the GOP’s current 33-23 edge in the upper chamber.

Still to come is a new congressional map, where lawmakers have been ordered to draw one new Black-majority seat. Republicans currently hold a 9-5 edge in Georgia’s congressional delegation. To try to hold that margin, they’d have to dissolve the only congressional district held by a Democrat that’s not majority-Black, Lucy McBath’s 7th District in the Atlanta suburbs of Gwinnett and Fulton counties.

It’s unclear if that would be legal. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones wrote in his order that Georgia can’t fix its problems “by eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere.”

Because Black voters in Georgia vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, new Black-majority districts will favor the party. But Democratic hopes to gain seats may have been premature.

“Republicans are clearly going to control the process and the outcome,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock, who studies redistricting.

The House map would create one new Black majority district running east from Macon to Milledgeville and a second district running northwest from Macon into Monroe County. It would create two additional Black majority districts in Atlanta’s southern suburbs, one in Henry and Clayton counties around Hampton and a second one in Henry County around McDonough and Locust Grove. Finally, a fifth Black-majority district would be created in suburban Douglas County west of Atlanta.

Only the Macon-to-Milledgeville district would have a current incumbent, Republican Ken Vance of Milledgeville. The other four would be open seats in 2024.

Paired House Democrats would include Saira Draper and Becky Evans of Atlanta, Teri Anulewicz and Doug Stoner of Smyrna, and Sam Park and Greg Kennard of Lawrenceville. One set of Republicans would be paired, David Knight of Griffin and Beth Camp of Concord.

Under Georgia law, state legislators must have lived in their districts for a year before they are elected. Because 2024’s election is less than a year away, it’s too late for anyone to move to another district to run.

The Senate map doesn’t pair any incumbents. It increases the number of Black majority districts by eliminating two white-majority districts currently represented by Democrats — State Sens. Jason Esteves and Elena Parent, both of Atlanta.

Democrats released their own Senate map Wednesday. It would convert two Republican districts held by Sens. Marty Harbin of Tyrone and Brian Strickland of McDonough into majority-Black districts. Senate Democratic Minority Leader Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain said the Republican Senate plan doesn’t meet the terms of the court order.

State House leaders unveiled their own redistricting map, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

Georgia House Republicans released a redistricting map for the lower legislative chamber Tuesday that appears to fall short of creating the five additional Black-majority districts ordered by a federal judge last month.

But the proposed map would create nearly two dozen House districts with white minorities that would give people of color – including Hispanic and Asian voters – an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

The three new Black-majority districts are all in the southern end of metro Atlanta, a part of the state U.S. District Judge Steve Jones focused on when he ruled the legislative districts the GOP-controlled General Assembly drew two years ago violate the Voting Rights Act. Black voters tend overwhelmingly to support Democratic candidates.

The new map moves House District 74 out of western Spalding and southern Fayette counties into southwestern Henry and southern Clayton counties. As a result, the district’s voting-age population would shift from just 24% Black to 62.8% Black.

The map also shifts House districts 115 and 117 within Henry County, which has seen a large increase in its Black population since the 2010 Census.

House District 115’s Black voting-age population would be 72.2% under the new map, up from a slight minority of 49.2% under the 2021 map. District 117 would see its Black voting-age population increase from 34.5% to 59.5%.

While no other House districts would shift from white majorities under the 2021 map to Black majorities under the proposed map, more than 20 districts either would have Black voting-age populations close to 50% or significant numbers of Hispanic and Asian voters who if they choose could join forces with Black voters to elect people of color to House seats.

The proposed House map modifies the boundaries of 56 of the 180 House districts, stretching from Cobb and Gwinnett counties south through the metro region to Houston and Peach counties south of Macon.

From the AJC:

Eight lawmakers were drawn into the same districts with colleagues from their own party under the proposed maps — six of them Democrats and two Republicans.

State Reps. Teri Anulewicz and Doug Stoner, both Democrats from Smyrna, could be drawn into the same Cobb County district.

“I’m going to wait and see what ends up happening,” Anulewicz said. “These maps are the start of a conversation.”

Stoner previously served in the House for two years and the Senate for eight years before losing in his redrawn, more conservative Senate district in 2012. This is his first year back in the General Assembly.

The only Republicans placed in the same districts are Reps. Beth Camp of Concord and David Knight of Griffin, who currently represent areas south of Atlanta including Lamar, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.

“I’m saddened,” said Camp, who plans to vote for the map. “But the reality is we have to adhere to a judge’s court order that required districts be created between Macon and Atlanta, and unfortunately, I’m about midpoint between Macon and Atlanta.”

Knight said the map placed him with his “friend and trusted colleague.”

“No matter the future outcome of elections, I know the constituents of Spalding, Pike and Lamar will be well represented,” Knight said.

House Speaker Jon Burns said the redistricting proposal is fair, and he hopes it passes.

“This map meets the promise we made when this process began: It fully complies with the judge’s order while also following Georgia’s traditional redistricting principles,” said Burns, a Republican from Newington.

Governor Brian Kemp announced upcoming staff changes, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that Trey Kilpatrick, Chief of Staff for the Governor’s Office, has accepted a position with Georgia Power as Senior Vice President for External Affairs, effective January 15, 2024.

“Over the last three years, Trey’s dedicated leadership as Chief of Staff has enabled our administration to deliver on the promises I made to the people of our state and keep Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “After an exemplary career in public service, the Kemp family, the Governor’s Office staff who worked alongside him around the clock, and the countless people who interacted with Trey during his time in our administration are all deeply grateful for his years of service and excited for him as he enters the private sector.”

Governor Kemp also announced the following changes to his senior staff team:

Current Deputy Chief of Staff Lauren Curry will become Chief of Staff, also effective January 15, becoming the first female to step into the role on a permanent basis in Georgia’s history.

Current Director of Government Affairs and Policy Brad Bohannon will become Deputy Chief of Staff, effective the same date.

“Marty, the girls, and I are thankful for Lauren and Brad’s continued willingness to serve in these important and challenging roles. Their hard work and expertise are valued assets for the entire Governor’s Office as we head into a new year and a new regular session.”

Lauren Curry currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Governor Brian Kemp and will step into the Chief of Staff role. She previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Director of Government Affairs and Policy for Governor Kemp.

Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Curry served as Deputy Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Chief of Staff for the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Special Projects Director at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and Press Assistant to former Governor Sonny Perdue.

Curry earned a bachelor’s degree in Government and Business Economics from Wofford College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Brad Bohannon is currently the Director of Government Affairs and Policy in the Office of Governor Brian Kemp and will become Deputy Chief of Staff. He previously served as Vice President of Government Affairs at the Georgia Lottery. Prior to his service in state government, he was Chief of Staff to former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. He also previously served in Government Relations with Georgia EMC.

Bohannon earned a degree in Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia and resides in Newnan with his wife and two children.

Governor Kemp’s suspension of the motor fuel sales tax is scheduled to end tonight, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s rollback of the state taxes of 31.2 cents per gallon of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon of diesel ends at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The Republican Kemp began waiving the taxes in September when he issued a novel legal declaration finding that high prices were an emergency. Georgia’s governor can suspend tax collections during an emergency as long as state lawmakers approve the action the next time they meet. But because the General Assembly is beginning a special session Wednesday to discuss legislative and congressional redistricting, Kemp could not extend the waiver of the taxes past then.

Kemp has asked lawmakers to approve his action in the special session. He could also ask lawmakers to pass a law to extend the tax break. But Kemp spokesperson Garrison Douglas said Tuesday that the governor doesn’t plan to ask lawmakers to act. Douglas said it’s possible that Kemp could issue a fresh emergency declaration once the special session ends.

Douglas said Kemp was talking to legislative leaders “to decide next steps after this session and before the next session.” That next regular session begins on Jan. 8. He said one issue will be whether gas prices keep falling, as they have nationwide since Kemp revived the fuel tax break in September.

Waynesboro will elect a new Mayor in a runoff election, according to WJBF.

Both James Jones and William Tinely are vying for the mayor seat in a runoff election. They spoke about their platforms and what they plan to do for the city of Waynesboro. Citizens got the opportunity to ask questions and speak with the candidates one on one.

Voters will head to the polls Dec. 5.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on CON Reform recommended repeal of the state’s Certificate of Need program, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

A Georgia Senate committee recommended on Tuesday that the state abolish its requirements for permits to build health facilities, setting up a renewed push on the issue after a debate in the 2023 legislative session mushroomed into a House-Senate standoff.

The conclusion was little surprise after Republican Lt. Gov Burt Jones appointed many committee members who wanted a full or partial repeal of Georgia’s certificate of need rules.

“What we heard pretty consistently in our work around the state was that access to health care is being constricted by these existing laws,” state Sen. Greg Dolezal, a Cumming Republican and Jones ally, said after the special committee adopted its final report on a 6-2 vote.

What happens in 2024 will depend most on what the state House is willing to do. A parallel House committee studying the issue has yet to submit a final report. The committee heard testimony last week on expanding Medicaid, suggesting some lawmakers might be willing to abolish the permits in exchange for extending health care coverage to many poorer Georgia adults who currently lack it. North Carolina lawmakers agreed to a deal to expand Medicaid in exchange for loosening permitting rules, which was discussed in the House meeting.

“They broached the topic, which we did not broach in our in our meetings,” Dolezal said of expanding Medicaid. “It’s something that I’m not sure that there’s an appetite for in the Senate, coupling those two things together.”

While some states have repealed certificate-of-need laws, Georgia is among 34 states and the District of Columbia still using them.

From State Affairs:

The committee’s decision centers on the 44-year-old Certificate of Need law. It was created to control health care costs and cut down on duplication of services and unnecessary expansions. It determines when, where and if hospitals need to be built. Opponents have said the law prevents competition and enables big hospitals to have a monopoly, often shutting out small and private medical outlets.

On Tuesday, the Senate Study Committee on Certificate of Need Reform effectively said the law needs to be repealed. The committee approved, in a 6-2 vote, nine recommendations.

“Based upon the testimony, research presented, and information received, the Study Committee on Certificate of Need Reform has found that the problem Georgia’s CON law was intended to combat no longer exists,” the report said.

However, the head of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals said Tuesday that repealing the law would be a bad idea.

“It would have a devastating financial impact on hospitals and the quality and access to health care,” Monty Veazey, the alliance’s chief executive, told State Affairs.

Veazey said he has not seen the recommendations yet but his organization has sent its own set of recommendations to the senate and house study committees.

“We believe that the certificate of need really does need some modernization and we look forward to working with the committee to work through those recommendations and see if we can reach a compromise position during the upcoming legislative session,” Veazey said. “We still want to see what the House committee recommends before moving forward.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Advocacy groups representing Georgia hospitals have opposed efforts to significantly reform CON or repeal the law entirely. They have argued that for-profit health-care providers would siphon off paying patients from rural hospitals, leaving them in worse financial straits than before.

Acknowledging that repealing CON might be too heavy a lift for the General Assembly, the study committee also recommended a series of reform measures that would stop short of getting rid of the law.

Those fallback recommendations include exempting maternal and neonatal care from going through the CON process. CON exemptions also would apply to medical research centers and to health-care facilities wishing to add new hospital or mental-health beds or expand the number of beds they already provide.

Meanwhile, the AJC suggests Medicaid expansion may be part of the process.

Some are giving a fresh look to a program adopted in Republican-led Arkansas, where 250,000 additional residents are eligible for Medicaid coverage under a long-running initiative that health care analysts have dubbed the “private option.”

And senior officials say a tradeoff could involve changes to certificate of need rules sought by Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and his allies that could clear the way for new hospitals, particularly in rural parts of the state, and for-profit medical offices.

That was the subtext earlier this month when a hearing on Georgia hospital regulations led by state Rep. Butch Parrish, one of the Legislature’s health policy experts, shifted suddenly to a discussion of plans to boost Medicaid enrollment.

“We just got a lot of good information,” the Swainsboro Republican told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “and now we’ll have to sort it all out.”

Talk of a GOP embrace of broader Medicaid changes has become such a perennial issue in Georgia it often prompts eye rolls at the Capitol. But there’s a sense it has gained new traction.

“This year, I do think it’s possible — if the right factors come into place,” said state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, long an outspoken GOP supporter of the idea.

With the 2024 election looming, some Republicans hope to neuter Democratic criticism of Georgia’s health care policy by joining 40 other states that have already expanded Medicaid or are set to do so this year.

Democrats see an opportunity, particularly if their votes are needed to adopt a compromise.

“We have a lot of leverage,” said House Minority Leader James Beverly, who added that any proposal must address two issues: “We have to negotiate to lower the high maternal mortality rates, and Medicaid expansion has to be front and center.”

Among the advocates is Chris Riley, a former top aide to Deal who now lobbies on behalf of the Grady Memorial Health System. He said Georgia can craft a “tailored Medicaid waiver” in 2025 that provides commercial insurance reimbursement rates while staying budget-neutral.

Riley called Arkansas’ program a prime “blueprint” for Georgia.

“Georgia’s rapidly growing workforce requires healthy workers,” Riley said. “This program is about meeting the needs of hardworking Georgians who get up and go to a job every day to provide for themselves but aren’t yet able to afford coverage.”

The Arkansas plan quickly gained converts among the small group of Republicans, who recently brought in GOP state Sen. Missy Irvin to discuss how she helped lead the Medicaid expansion in that state.

When Arkansas expanded Medicaid in 2014, it took a novel approach. Unlike states that enrolled new residents into existing Medicaid programs, the state used expansion dollars to buy private insurance for uninsured residents.

Hufstetler, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, has seen this debate play out plenty of times before over the past decade. But he also acknowledged that federal funding tied to any expansion serves as an enticing sweetener.

“I see a win that’s workable for everybody — combined with a Medicaid expansion,” he said.

Gas-powered leaf blowers could be protected by state law against local bans if both chambers are able to come to agreement, according to 11Alive.

A new study shows just how toxic gas-powered leaf blowers can be. It came after the Georgia House and Senate nearly enacted legislation this year to protect gas-powered leaf blowers.

The Senate bill would protect gas-powered leaf blowers by making it illegal for cities or counties to make laws banning them. Some Democratic-led municipalities have enacted such laws. For example, California regulators have reportedly banned the sale of them starting next year.

The Senate passed the bill to protect gas blowers. Yet they are increasingly the bane of environmentalists. In October, a research group reported research showing a single leaf blower used for one hour emits pollutants comparable to a gas-powered automobile driven 1,100 miles.

The Republican-led Senate and House passed separate bills protecting gas-powered leaf blowers but could not agree on language to unite the two bills.

Republicans will be motivated to power through a compromise leaf blower bill when they meet again in January – and could have it on the books by this time next year.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) debate tonight in Alpharetta, according to AccessWDUN.

The two governors are set to square off on the debate stage in Alpharetta on Thursday evening at 9 p.m. with Fox News political commentator Sean Hannity acting as moderator. AccessWDUN spoke with Political Science Professor Carl Cavalli, who teaches at the University of North Georgia, ahead of the debate to get the scoop on why the pair are debating.

“It’s definitely not commonplace to have, a year before the election, prominent members of the two major political parties debating each other,” Cavalli said. “I expect it to be very explosive, these are two people with very, very different visions for their states and for the United States. We know that Ron DeSantis has presidential ambitions. It is almost certain that Gavin Newsom has presidential ambitions.”

Cavalli noted that what voters see Thursday night could be a preview of what they will see during the election cycle in 2028.

“This is now more an opportunity for him [DeSantis] to get back in the race against the others, rather than to sort of take a step forward and compete directly with Trump,” Cavalli said. “For Gavin Newsom, I think that this is maybe sort of a test of the waters. He’s become more and more prominent nationally, but he’s still somebody that most Americans don’t know who he is. And this will be a first shot with really very little for Newsom to lose right now, to get his name and face out there on the public stage.”

Some of the prominent topics Cavalli predicts will be discussed include the conflict in the Middle East, immigration and the economy.

As for the reasoning behind choosing Georgia as the site for the debate, Cavalli noted it could be due to the rising title the Peach State is garnering in becoming a presidential battleground location.

“One-on-one means a much more detailed and in-depth debate, unlike these ones, where you have 10 people on the stage at once, and you get 30 seconds to answer a question, and you get five other people trying to jump in at the same time,” Cavalli said.

Gwinnett County law enforcement agencies worked to crack down on sex offenders who are required to register, according to AccessWDUN.

Operation Watchful Eye has been conducted every year since 2015, and this year involved 73 sheriff’s offices across Georgia cracking down on violations of sex offender registration laws. A social media post from the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Monday indicated they were one of the officers involved in this year’s operation.

A release from the Georgia Sheriff’s Association said the operation took place from October 30 through November 6 and saw 44 sex offenders arrested across the state and more than 200 warrants issued. Gwinnett County authorities conducted over 350 verification attempts and more than 100 residence verifications.

Data collected from the effort showed that across Georgia, 61 new sex offenders moved into reporting counties while more than 500 offenders had absconded from their last known address.

Bulloch County’s fire department service rating improved, according to the Statesboro Herald.

An upgrade in the ISO fire protection classification of the Bulloch County Fire Department’s main service areas will take effect this Friday, Dec. 1, and the department is pressing forward with other improvements.

As a result of a recent  evaluation by the Insurance Services Office of Verisk Analytics, the ISO rating for areas within five miles of the department’s stations will improve from the previously split 5/5X classification to a split 4/4Y. Bulloch County Fire Chief Ben Tapley made an informal report to the county commissioners during a work session held with their Nov. 21 regular meeting.

“The ISO survey did reveal we need more stations, more personnel, ladder trucks and better water,” he said in prepared remarks. “Without pressurized water, we need to expand our tanker fleet to cover more of our county and hire firefighters to better establish a tanker shuttle. Overall, our vision is to add additional personnel (a third firefighter on each engine) and open more staffed stations.”

A for-profit business organization that provides data to insurance companies, the ISO issues fire protection ratings on a basic scale of 10 to 1. Details have changed over the years, but “10” still means no ISO-recognized public fire protection, while “1” is the best fire protection available in the ISO’s estimation.

As Tapley confirmed in a follow-up interview, the ISO rating for outlying areas of Bulloch County more than five road miles beyond any of the Bulloch County Fire Department’s 14 stations or the Statesboro Fire Department’s two stations remains, unfortunately, a “10.”

Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner denied motions to dismiss by former Bulloch Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson, allowing the case to proceed, according to The Brunswick News.

The case will not be dismissed against the former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney accused of interfering with the prosecution of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, a judge ruled Tuesday.

“The Court, having read and reviewed the Defendant’s Motions to Dismiss, as well as the State’s Responsive Brief, and having heard and considered the evidence and argument presented by the Parties at the hearing held herein, as well as the exhibits filed under seal, and good cause appearing, orders as follows: The Defendants’Motions to Dismiss are DENIED,” the denial order written by Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner.

Johnson is accused of violating her oath office when she allegedly hindered the law enforcement investigation into Arbery’s killing.

Johnson was indicted by a Glynn County Grand Jury in September 2021 and charged with using the power of her office to try to protect the McMichaels from arrest.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty and has denied the allegations, saying in the motion to dismiss the case that there is no evidence to suggest she did anything wrong. She recused herself from the case, passing it on to Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill who supported the decision that the killing was in self-defense.

The denial order filed Tuesday means the prosecution of Johnson will continue in Glynn County Superior Court, more than two years after the initial indictment. The case has moved slowly as Johnson’s attorney Steel has been involved with the case against Atlanta rapper Young Thug, which is expected to take several more months.

Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones appealed a federal court decision to sanction her, according to WTOC.

In a filing last week, DA Jones appealed those sanctions to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last month, a Federal judge said that Jones misrepresented the facts when she failed to appear for a deposition in a lawsuit accusing her of workplace discrimination.

The judge ruled DA Jones in default and ordered her to pay plaintiff Skye Musson’s legal fees.

Muscogee County School District wants to hold an election to renew the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax early, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The improved local economy means the Muscogee County School District is on pace to receive nearly one year earlier than projected the $189 million in sales tax revenue Columbus voters approved three years ago.

And that means MCSD plans to ask Columbus voters to renew its 1% sales tax for capital projects earlier than expected as well.

The administration is targeting the May 21, 2024, general primary and nonpartisan offices election as the date for the next referendum to continue the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax without interruption, superintendent David Lewis told the MCSD board during its monthly meeting Monday night.

If the ESPLOST referendum is on that election day, it would join the following local offices on the nonpartisan ballot: Columbus Council seats for Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and at-large, MCSD board seats for Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7, and state court judge. Local partisan offices on the primary ballot that election day will be for sheriff, superior court clerk, tax commissioner, state court solicitor, probate judge and coroner.

Richmond County’s Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School was listed as the number 8 middle school in the country, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

As U.S. News & World Report updated its public elementary and middle school rankings in November, multiple Augusta-area schools scored well, including one Augusta school ranking top-10 among Georgia middle schools.

Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, which topped Richmond County middle schools, ranked No. 8 in the state.