The Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, Georgia will waive adoption fees in December, according to AccessWDUN.
The Hall County Animal Shelter will waive all adoption fees through December to celebrate the holiday season.
“We saw a tremendous outcome during our Santa Paws season last year, so we brought it back along with the grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation, which will allow us to extend free pet adoptions throughout the whole month of December,” Shelter Supervisor Stephanie Maloch said.
Through its “Empty the Shelter” program the Bissell Pet Foundation will sponsor the cost of adoption fees from Dec. 1 to Dec. 17.
Fees will be waived throughout the remainder of the month by the animal shelter “Santa Paws” campaign.
“While we do want to remove barriers to ensure pets make it home in time for the holidays, we do still want people to remember that adopting a pet is a long-term commitment,” Maloch said. “Families need to consider all the factors that come with being a pet owner before making the decision to adopt – we don’t want these pets to end up back at our shelter.”
The Hall County Animal Shelter is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or visit the Animal Shelter online to browse its adoptable pets.
A proposed state Senate redistricting map released Monday would create two additional Black majority districts in the General Assembly’s upper chamber in keeping with a federal court order.
Senate District 17 in Henry and Newton counties and Senate District 28 in Douglas and Fulton counties would become majority Black under the proposed map, released two days ahead of a special legislative session on redistricting beginning Wednesday.
The addition of two Black majority state Senate districts would comply with a ruling U.S. District Judge Steve Jones handed down last month that found the congressional, state House and state Senate redistricting maps the Republican-controlled General Assembly drew two years ago in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
Jones also ordered state lawmakers to add five Black majority seats to the Georgia House and one Black majority seat to the state’s congressional delegation.
Currently, Republicans hold 33-23 and 102-78 advantages in the state Senate and House, respectively. The GOP holds nine of Georgia’s 14 U.S. House seats.
The 17th Senate District is currently served by Republican Brian Strickland of McDonough, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. The 28th Senate District is currently represented by the GOP’s Matt Brass of Newnan, chairman of the Rules Committee.
Under the proposed map, the voting-age population of Strickland’s 17th Senate District would go from 59.4% white to 61.8% Black. That would be accomplished by shifting the district’s boundaries westward to take in a large portion of majority-Black Clayton County.
Changes to the 28th District would be more significant. The district Brass now serves would be shifted northward out of Coweta County to include southwest Fulton County, eastern Douglas County, and southern Carroll County.
The voting-age population of the 28th Senate District would go from 69.4% white to 54.1% Black.
The proposed map also would modify 13 other Senate districts from their current boundaries. Eight of those districts would remain majority Black, while five would remain majority white.
The proposed Senate map will be followed later this week by draft maps for Georgia’s state House and congressional districts. Lawmakers must approve new district lines by a week from Friday, the deadline Jones set for them to finish their work.
Mercer University political science professor Chris Grant, who specializes in electoral politics, said he expects Republicans to pack voters in districts as much as legally possibly by arguing against splitting counties or communities for new district lines.
And when you’re maximizing a group, as opposed to a party, you oftentimes have to do that because you have to concentrate,” Grant said. “You’re in essence packing voters in a way because you’re trying to get a concentrated effect of minority representation. So there’s gonna be some interesting shapes, I have no doubt.”
Keeping counties and cities together often benefits Republicans more, he said.
Especially in the rural and suburban areas, has been to the benefit of Republicans having larger representation shares. Whereas for Democrats, with people that tend to vote Democratic, do not tend to live as spread out as people who vote for the Republicans,” Grant said.
“(In rural areas) there’s broader expanses of land, so maps look cleaner and prettier.”
The new maps are expected to help give Democrats a majority in the U.S. House in 2024, and narrow the Republican majority in state districts.
The new districts come as the 2020 Census showed that between 2010 and 2020, Georgia’s total population increased by more than 1 million people, to more than 10.7 million — all of it in the minority population.
The Black population increased by nearly 500,000 people since 2010, accounting for 47.46% of the state’s growth rate, while Georgia’s white population decreased by 51,764 people and made up 50.06% of Georgia’s population in 2020.
On Monday, state Sen. Shelly Echols, a Gainesville Republican, announced the draft of new Georgia Senate districts while inviting the public to chime in on the redistricting process that begins Wednesday with the start of a special legislative session.
The draft map is the early attempt at a legislative response to U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones’ ruling on Nov. 2 that the state’s GOP-drawn boundary lines violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting strength of Black Georgians.
Georgia Senate Republicans on Monday lauded Echols, the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Reappointment and Redistricting, for conducting a thoughtful, inclusive and transparent” process that has a map ready for public consideration prior to the start of the special session.
“The courts have been very clear that redistricting is a process primarily for the legislature, and we are confident in, and appreciative of Sen. Echols’ leadership in helping us fulfill this important legislative responsibility,” the GOP statement said.
The proposed maps contemplate Senate Republicans drawing new districts to eliminate the metro Atlanta turf of Democratic Sens. Elena Parent and Jason Esteves, who now represent districts consisting of a voting age population that is primarily white. The proposed map places the senators in new districts that have a significant Black population. If the Republican map presented on Monday remains intact, then it appears to safeguard the district lines for Democratic Sen. Valencia Seay of Riverdale and Sen. Marty Harbin, a Republican whose district runs through the more rural counties of Pike, Spalding, Fayette and Lamar.
Jones ruled on Nov. 2 that Seay’s and Harbin’s districts did not comply with the Voting Rights Act. He determined that the significant increase in Black populations in Cobb, Fulton, Douglas, and Fayette counties since 2010 was sufficient to create one majority Black congressional district, or at least two predominantly Black districts.
On Wednesday, the Georgia Senate and House chambers are scheduled to conduct floor sessions to consider the new maps at 10 a.m., followed by public hearings at 1 p.m. As of Monday, no draft of the House’s proposed maps had been released. The Senate proposed map is available online and written comments can be submitted by the public. .
According to Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia and the author of “Redistricting: the Most Political Activity in America,” the proposed Senate map appears to meet the terms set by the federal court for south metro Atlanta.
Bullock noted, however, that the Democrats will have the opportunity to contest the maps before Jones, who must approve the redrawn districts prior to the 2024 election. There is now a 33-to-23 Republican advantage in the state Senate, while Republicans control nine of the 14 congressional seats in the state.
“Sometime after Dec. 8, the plaintiffs can argue before (Jones) that the maps don’t comply,” Bullock said. “The state will have their opportunity to put on evidence saying here’s what we’ve done to follow the judge’s directions.”
Bullock said that redrawn maps are often created with the intent of weakening the reelection bids of strong political opposition. Occasionally, that means balancing tough decisions between members of the same party who have strong leadership potential.
“Sometimes you have to choose who has better long term prospects when you’re cutting a roster,” Bullock said. “It’s like with NFL teams in which everybody has talent but not everyone can stay on the team.”
One veteran state lawmaker described a proposed Senate redistricting map unveiled Monday in blunt terms: “It could have been an annihilation, but it wasn’t.”
The GOP version of the court-ordered map revisions created two majority-Black new districts without pairing incumbents against one another and while safeguarding most Republican members. The map, released ahead of a special legislative session that begins Wednesday, also avoided drawing any obvious districts designed to flip one party to another.
But the redistricting did create vastly different boundaries for two Atlanta-area Democratic incumbents seen as potential statewide candidates down the road: Sens. Jason Esteves and Elena Parent.
Both legislators would see a major shift in their districts’ voter demographics — from mostly white to majority Black — should the map be adopted. Neither would immediately comment on the changes, but an ally sent this analysis: “They shuffled around deck chairs in an attempt to put lipstick on a pig.”
If the two Democrats were the losers of the overhaul of the Senate map, then GOP Sens. Matt Brass of Newnan and Brian Strickland of McDonough are the winners. Both were rewarded with more conservative-leaning territories.
While the revised political boundaries would increase the number of majority-Black districts from 13 to 15, Black voters wouldn’t necessarily gain representation in next year’s elections. Black voters overwhelmingly support Democrats while most white voters in Georgia back Republicans.
The Senate map protects incumbents of both parties, minimizing the chances that many seats will change hands. Republicans hold a 33-23 majority in the state Senate, an advantage that will likely remain intact after redistricting.
Debate on the map will begin during a special redistricting session at the state Capitol that opens Wednesday. New maps with additional majority-Black districts in Congress and the state House are expected to be released later this week.
[State Sen. Jason] Esteves’ current district in Cobb and Fulton counties is 22% Black; his new district that stretches south along Atlanta’s westside would have a 52% Black voting-age population
[State Sen. Elena] Parent’s district would change from 29% Black to 51% Black as its boundaries shift from the Decatur area in DeKalb County, forming a vertical strip that stretches to Morrow in Clayton County.
Neither Esteves nor Parent commented on the new map Monday.
The proposed map would also protect Senate Judiciary Chairman Brian Strickland, a Republican from McDonough. The Black population in Atlanta’s southern suburbs has grown in the past few decades.
If the proposed map is approved, Strickland’s new district would split the nearly 70% Black city of McDonough and stretch east into Newton, Morgan and Walton counties.
Strickland’s proposed district would lean Republican, with voting-age Black residents accounting for 31% of the population, while the district to the west would be 60% Black and represented by state Sen. Gail Davenport, a Democrat from Jonesboro.
In a statement, Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones also praised Echols’ work on the proposed new districts that fulfill “obligations as specified by the court order.” Jones presides over the Senate.
Eight of the nine senators currently in Gwinnett’s Senate Delegation would remain in the delegation under the proposal unveiled on Monday, but District 41, which is held by Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain, would become a solely DeKalb district.
District 41’s slot in the Gwinnett Senate Delegation would be replaced by District 43, which is held by Sen. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia.
Anderson’s district would pick up the southern tip of Gwinnett, including the Centerville area, most of the eastern part of Snellville, a small part of Grayson and Gwinnett’s portion of Loganville. Those are areas that have been in District 55, which is held by Sen. Gloria Butler.
District 43 would also include all of Rockdale County, the Lithonia area in DeKalb County and part of Newton County.
The remainder of Gwinnett’s Senate Delegation would continue to include Senate Districts 5, 7, 9, 40, 45, 46, 48 and 55. Those seats are currently held by Sens. Sheikh Rahman, Nabilah Islam Parkes, Nikki Merritt, Sally Harrell, Clint Dixon, Bill Cowsert, Shawn Still and Gloria Butler, respectively.
The county will hold poll official hiring events on Dec. 4 in Lawrenceville and on Dec. 18 in Dacula. The county previously held a poll official hiring event on Nov. 17 in Norcross.
“The events are open to residents of diverse backgrounds, including those who speak two or more languages,” county officials said in an announcement. “During the event, attendees must complete an I-9 form and provide original identification documents for verification.”
Next year’s elections cycle will be a busy one highlighted by a presidential election on top of congressional, state legislative and county-level offices. In addition to the state’s general election and general primary election — both of which could produce runoff elections — there will also be a presidential election in the spring.
Gwinnett’s pitch to residents is that signing up to be a poll official is that it will people a chance to be involved in the electoral process. If that alone is not enough an enticement, there is also the $390 stipend that poll officials receive.
A veteran math teacher has officially kicked off his campaign for the Gwinnett County Board of Education’s District 3 seat.
Demetrius Nelson has launched his campaign for the seat, which is currently held by school board member Mary Kay Murphy and is up for election in 2024. He previously taught middle school math in the Norcross cluster, but currently teaches in another metro area school system and has 15 years of experience as an educator.
“I am running because it is past time to have more leaders whose decisions, that impact you, are guided by shared principles that we value: sympathy, empathy, trust, fairness and credibility,” Nelson wrote in an open letter to the community on his campaign website.
Nelson is one of at least four candidates running for the District 3 seat, with the others being Domonique Cooper, Kirk Buis and Steve Gasper. The seat will be decided in Gwinnett’s nonpartisan school board elections in May 2024.
Challenges within the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services were spotlighted during budget hearings earlier this year when DFCS director Candice Broce reported to lawmakers the hefty cost of “hoteling,” or housing children who are in DFCS custody in hotels or DFCS offices.
In fiscal year 2022, DFCS spent $28 million in hoteling costs.
To help address the issue, $10 million was added to the state’s fiscal year 2024 budget to help address hoteling of children in DFCS custody.
While Broce provided updates throughout the year that indicated record lows of hoteling, the committee continued to meet for recommendations on how to better improve the foster care and adoption system.
The committee approved recommendations at its fourth and final meeting Nov. 27.
Committee chair Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-32, said some of recommendations can be accomplished through legislation and may require budget approvals, while some can be accomplished through DFCS without any legislative intervention.
“I think we’ve got a clearer picture of where we stand in Georgia now with foster care and adoption, and I really appreciate everybody’s hard work and look forward to moving the ball down the field,” Kirkpatrick said.
“The work on behalf of our foster kids will never be finished,” said Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, a Republican who chairs the Senate Study Committee on Foster Care and Adoption. “This committee’s work is just a strong start.”
Many of the specifics have yet to be hashed out, but Kirkpatrick said that the energy for reform is ripe in Georgia. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, key Georgia lawmakers, and the state’s commissioner for the Department of Human Services are all on board to reform the system, she said.
“We’ve got a window of opportunity right now,” said Kirkpatrick. “The ducks are lining up in a row to where we really can make some progress.”
Kylie Winton, a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Human Services, said the department is grateful that the committee developed the recommendations to improve foster care and adoption in the state.
“We cannot do this work alone, and we look forward to supporting and effectuating these recommendations as we continue to serve children and families across the state,” Winton said in a statement.
At the Council of Clermont, in France, at which several hundred clerics and noblemen gathered, Urban delivered a rousing speech summoning rich and poor alike to stop their in-fighting and embark on a righteous war to help their fellow Christians in the East and take back Jerusalem. Urban denigrated the Muslims, exaggerating stories of their anti-Christian acts, and promised absolution and remission of sins for all who died in the service of Christ.
Urban’s war cry caught fire, mobilizing clerics to drum up support throughout Europe for the crusade against the Muslims. All told, between 60,000 and 100,000 people responded to Urban’s call to march on Jerusalem. Not all who responded did so out of piety: European nobles were tempted by the prospect of increased land holdings and riches to be gained from the conquest. These nobles were responsible for the death of a great many innocents both on the way to and in the Holy Land, absorbing the riches and estates of those they conveniently deemed opponents to their cause. Adding to the death toll was the inexperience and lack of discipline of the Christian peasants against the trained, professional armies of the Muslims. As a result, the Christians were initially beaten back, and only through sheer force of numbers were they eventually able to triumph.
Urban died in 1099, two weeks after the fall of Jerusalem but before news of the Christian victory made it back to Europe. His was the first of seven major military campaigns fought over the next two centuries known as the Crusades, the bloody repercussions of which are still felt today. Urban was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1881.
On November 27, 1978, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were murdered at City Hall.
[Suspect Dan] White, who was caught soon after the murders, pleaded a “diminished capacity” defense, claiming that copious amounts of junk food, combined with distress over the loss of his job, caused him to suffer mental problems. The so-called “Twinkie Defense” appeared to be successful, and, in 1979, White was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. Public outrage was so widespread that California revoked the diminished capacity defense in subsequent cases.
In 2009, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and California declared his birthday, May 22, Harvey Milk Day. On the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in 2019, Milk was an inaugural inductee onto the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor.
Gov. Brian Kemp is assigning Georgia National Guard troops and other state resources to help with the “logistical challenges” associated with ceremonies and services to honor the late former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
Kemp issued an executive order Tuesday activating the State Operations Center to coordinate the state assets that will assist next week in the final farewells and interment of Mrs. Carter, who died Sunday at her home in Plains. The order also calls on the Georgia Department of Defense to provide up to 50 National Guard troops.
Ceremonies celebrating the life of the former first lady of both Georgia and the United States will begin next Monday morning [today] with a motorcade from Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus to the Rosalynn Carter Health and Human Services Complex at Georgia Southwestern State University, where wreaths will be laid.
The motorcade then will travel to The Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, where members of the public will be able to pay their respects from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. as Mrs. Carter lies in repose.
On Tuesday, the motorcade will travel to Glenn Memorial Church at Emory University for a tribute service with invited guests at 1 p.m.
On Wednesday, the funeral procession will arrive at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains for an 11 a.m. service for family and invited friends. The casket then will depart for a private interment at the Carter family residence.
Under a second executive order Kemp issued Tuesday, the U.S. and Georgia flags will be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and grounds from Monday through sunset on Wednesday.
Biden is scheduled to arrive with first lady Dr. Jill Biden on Tuesday to attend the former first lady’s memorial service. Vice President Kamala Harris and husband second gentleman Douglas Emhoff will attend, too, according to the White House.
A service for Rosalynn Carter is planned for invited guests Tuesday in Atlanta at Glenn Memorial Church at Emory University.
On Wednesday, the funeral procession arrives in the morning at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia for a service for family and friends.
The casket will then be transferred to a hearse and depart for private interment at the Carter family residence.
“(Republican incumbents are) either going to end up in districts highly likely to elect a Democrat or in a district with another Republican incumbent,” said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia who has written extensively about redistricting. “They will have to decide which Republicans are going to walk the plank.”
The General Assembly’s Republican majorities drew the current maps two years ago in a redistricting exercise legislatures around the country go through every decade following the decennial U.S. Census to account for changes in population that occurred during the previous 10 years.
Almost immediately, civil rights and voting rights groups sued the state, claiming the new district boundaries ignored strong population growth among minorities in Georgia since 2010 and an actual decline in the state’s white population.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones agreed in a ruling last month that ordered the legislature to redraw the 2021 congressional and legislative maps. The lengthy 516-page ruling specifically instructed lawmakers to add one Black majority congressional district, two more Black majority Georgia Senate districts, and five additional state House seats.
While Jones ruled that five of Georgia’s congressional district maps violate the Voting Rights Act, the action during the upcoming special session is expected to focus on McCormick’s 6th District or the 11th Congressional District centered in portions of Cobb and Cherokee counties represented by GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk.
Of the two, McCormick is the more likely target, said Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University. While McCormick is a freshman in the House, Loudermilk has served in Congress since 2015 and before that was a member of the General Assembly.
“Loudermilk’s been around awhile,” Swint said. “He’s bult a base of support.”
Jones was more specific in the portion of last month’s ruling pertaining to legislative seats. The judge ordered the legislature to draw two additional Black majority Georgia Senate seats in the southern portion of metro Atlanta and five more Black majority state House seats – two in the south metro, one in the western portion of the metro region, and two in the Macon area.
The special session isn’t expected to take long. For one thing, Jones’ order gives lawmakers only until Dec. 8 to draw the new congressional and legislative maps.
Bullock said another factor that could allow this round of redistricting to go smoothly is that lawmakers only will be focusing on those parts of the state the judge pointed to in his ruling.
“If you’re in south Georgia, you won’t have to worry about any of these changes,” he said. “It won’t be a complete redraw.”
Gov. Brian Kemp’s call for the special session also includes ratifying his executive orders suspending the gas tax through Nov. 30, said Rep, Katie Dempsey, R-Rome.
Other than that, she’s going to try to squeeze in some more site visits. Dempsey chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on human resources. She visited a Georgia Baptist Children’s Home site the week before Thanksgiving.
“We do that to see how the money is being spent and to get a better idea of their needs,” she said. “I’d like to visit some of the other facilities we fund, if it works out. It may just be me, or the committee.”
Dempsey noted that lawmakers are up against a tight deadline of Dec. 8 to adopt the new voting district maps. And while committees can meet, they can’t take any action other than what Kemp set out in his proclamation.
Republican legislative leaders have been largely quiet about the redistricting do-over and have offered few clues about their plans. House Speaker Jon Burns has said he believes they will land “in a place that Judge Jones will be able to accept,” though he did not elaborate, and no proposed GOP maps for either chamber have been released with the mapmaking session less than a week away.
The detailed 516-page order appears to leave little wiggle room for GOP mapmakers. Jones offered specific guidance on what a remedy should look like: two additional majority black Senate districts in south metro Atlanta and five additional majority black House districts, including two “in or around” Macon-Bibb County, two in south metro Atlanta and another in west metro Atlanta.
“That’s very precise what he did, saying look on the west side, look on the south side, go down to Macon,” Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia who is the author of the book called “Redistricting: the Most Political Activity in America,” said. “That’s clear guidance.
“So it means if the Legislature doesn’t follow it, then he could easily say, ‘Hey, I gave you explicit directions and you ignored them,’ and therefore he could act like the court did over in Alabama and have a special master step in to draw.”
Bullock said the state’s decision to not attempt to temporarily block the judge’s ruling means the maps created during this year’s special session will likely be used in next year’s election.
But if the state is successful in challenging the ruling, then the next election could be held under the old maps, though this would be an unusual twist.
“I don’t see how you comply with Jones’ order and protect all 33 Republican senators,” Bullock said. “If you’ve only got an area where you have black Democrats and white Republicans, who loses?
“In those areas where someone is going to be sacrificed, who gets protected? Who’s been on the naughty list and who’s been on the good list with Santa Claus Jon Burns and Santa Claus Burt Jones?”
“I think that’s going to be the biggest thing to watch is who gets drawn in with whom, on both sides,” former state Rep. Erick Allen, a Cobb County Democrat who testified for the plaintiffs during the September trial, said. “I mean, do they use this as an opportunity to draw out Colton Moore, who they really do not want in their Senate caucus?”
Georgia State Senators are expected to make public a proposed redistricting map, according to the AJC.
Mapmakers worked to comply with U.S. District Judge Steve Jones’ order to create two new majority-Black Senate districts in south Atlanta. Drawing new lines that satisfy the judge, who ruled that the current maps illegally dilute Black voting power, is not a given. Recall that Alabama lawmakers resisted a court-ordered redistricting earlier this year.
We’re told the new Senate districts minimize GOP damage but aren’t set to pair incumbents against each other, protecting Democrats and Republicans who already hold seats.
That means Republican state Sen. Brian Strickland, whose McDonough-based district could have been made substantially more competitive, is likely to be insulated, barring any last-minute changes.
A vaster overhaul is expected in the Georgia House, where Jones called for five new majority-Black districts in metro Atlanta and Macon.
Avoiding brutal incumbent-on-incumbent pairings might be impossible. One wizened legislator likened it to “Godzilla stomping through territory.” That chamber’s proposed maps may not be released until later this week.
State Rep. Dewey McClain, D-Lawrenceville, framed the upcoming session this way: “We will waste taxpayer money for something that should have and could have been done right the first time.”
The obvious challenge for state lawmakers whose district lines are redrawn this month is the Georgia constitution requires they live within the district where they run for one year prior to Election Day.
But the real twist is in the calendar. With Election Day 2024 falling on Nov. 5, that means the residency deadline for the upcoming election has already passed. So there won’t be time for members to move into revised districts should they be drawn out this week.
In a six-page ruling, the justices declined to review rules and regulations for the Professional Attorneys Qualifications Commission as required by Senate Bill 92, which lawmakers passed along party lines in March and GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed in May.
“We have grave doubts that adopting the standards and rules would be within our constitutional power,” the court wrote. “Accordingly, we respectfully decline to take any action regarding the commission’s draft standards of conduct and rules for the commission’s governance.”
The legislature created the oversight commission to investigate complaints lodged against local prosecutors and potentially discipline or remove the target of a complaint on a variety of grounds including mental or physical incapacity, willful misconduct or failure to perform the duties of the office, conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, or conduct that brings the office into disrepute.
There was no immediate response from Republicans to Wednesday’s ruling, which came on the afternoon before a long holiday weekend. But GOP legislative leaders could get around the decision by amending the law during this winter’s General Assembly session to remove the provision requiring the Georgia Supreme Court to review the commission’s rules.
The ruling is important beyond Georgia’s Public Service Commission because it could help protect certain statewide elections in other states subject to scrutiny for racial discrimination under the Voting Rights Act. It also could signal limits to a new wave of voting rights litigation after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a key part of the law this year in an Alabama case.
In August 2022, U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg had ordered Georgia’s commissioners elected by district, the first time a statewide voting scheme had been overturned by a federal judge. But a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Grimberg went too far.
“Georgia chose this electoral format to protect critical policy interests and there is no evidence, or allegation, that race was a motivating factor in this decision,” Circuit Judge Elizabeth Branch wrote for the unanimous panel. “On the facts of this case, we conclude that plaintiffs’ novel remedial request fails because Georgia’s chosen form of government for the PSC is afforded protection by federalism and our precedents.”
Plaintiffs decried the ruling as sanctioning discrimination. Grimberg had found statewide elections illegally handicapped Black-favored candidates, and that such candidates would have a better chance if only voters in a district elected each candidate, making it possible to draw at least one Black-majority district.
If the ruling stands, it could put three of the five Georgia commission seats on 2024 ballots. Commissioners typically serve staggered six-year terms, but elections for the places held by Commissioners Fitz Johnson and Tim Echols were delayed from 2022 by Grimberg’s ruling. Johnson and Echols had already each won the GOP nomination.
A third Republican, Commissioner Tricia Pridemore, was already scheduled for election in 2024. Commissioners are required to live in particular districts under state law, but run statewide.
It wasn’t immediately clear Friday if parties would nominate new candidates, or if the 2022 nominees would stand. It’s also unclear whether delayed elections would take place in November 2024 when voter turnout will be highest, or at some other time. No other statewide offices besides public service commission are scheduled for 2024 ballots.
The appeals court said the lawsuit must fail because the plaintiffs hadn’t proposed a plan to remedy discrimination while maintaining a statewide election system, saying courts can’t impose a new form of government as part of a Voting Rights Act remedy.
“Plaintiffs’ novel proposal is that we dismantle Georgia’s statewide PSC system and replace it with an entirely new districted system,” the court wrote. “But we have never gone this far.”
“If each commissioner represented only a district, then important questions of utility regulation — such as the location of energy and infrastructure — could turn into a zero-sum game between commissioners beholden to their districts instead of a collaborative effort to reach the best result for the entire state,” the court wrote.
State Senator Donzella James (D-Atlanta) is working on legislation to rein-in Homeowner Associations, according to the AJC.
[A] panel of state senators led by Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, held a hearing earlier this month where homeowners flocked to the capitol to tell stories of problems they’ve had with HOAs.
It’s part of an effort to draw attention to the issue as Democratic lawmakers will try again to curb the power of HOAs in Georgia in the next legislative session that begins in January.
City of South Fulton council member Linda Becquer-Pritchett testified that several HOAs in her city have run into problems. They include Camelot Condominiums, where two members of the HOA board were indicted for allegedly stealing funds from a $1.5 million insurance payout after a building was destroyed by a fire.
“People are being really terrorized by HOAs,” Becquer-Pritchett said. “I’m seeing abuse that’s unconscionable.”
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation published last year found that HOAs face few regulations in Georgia and wield broad powers over the estimated 2.2 million residents who reside within communities governed by associations. For those who run afoul of their association, the stakes can be high.
Georgia homeowners who find themselves in dispute with their associations have little recourse but to file a lawsuit in civil court, a prospect that can prove extremely costly to homeowners. Lawyers who represent homeowners are rare, and pursuing a lawsuit against an HOA can cost thousands of dollars — often exceeding the amount of the fines.
And taking one’s HOA to court can be risky. If the homeowner loses, Georgia law allows for an association to charge the homeowner for its attorneys fees.
James and her Democratic colleagues face steep opposition from industry groups and housing interests and, historically, there has been little appetite among Georgia Republicans for regulating HOAs. SB 29 did not receive a floor vote, neither did a similar bill on the House side, sponsored by Rep. Viola Davis, D-Stone Mountain.
Gwinnett County Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson (D) proposed a $2.5 billion dollar budget for 2024, according to the AJC.
Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson is proposing a $2.5 billion county budget for 2024 that attempts to keep up with population growth and a tight labor market by adding 104 jobs, pay raises and infrastructure improvements.
“Our 2024 proposed budget focuses on ensuring that we can maintain our exceptional services while prioritizing the rapidly changing needs of our residents and businesses,” Hendrickson said in a news release.
The overall budget represents about a 9% increase from this year. It includes $1.96 billion for operations and $542 million for capital improvements. The general fund budget, which includes payroll, would be nearly $550 million, an increase of about 13%.
The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote Jan. 2 on the budget. The board approves property tax rates in the summer.
Springer Opera House executive director Danielle Varner launched a petition opposing the construction of a new Judicial Center in Columbus, according to WTVM.
New details about the construction of Columbus’ new judicial center set to be built across the street from the State Theatre of Georgia, the Springer Opera House.
In the wake of the plan, staff of the historic theatre are expressing a “no” to the site plan for this big project.
The petition is to express how the Springer and its supporters strongly believe the site plan will negatively impact the building that is more than 150 years old.
The new plan, unveiled September 12, eliminates the existing greenspace on 10th Street and replaces it with a modern, eight-story high-rise building that hovers over multiple historic structures, including Columbus’ National Historic Landmark – the Springer Opera House – which would literally be in the shadows of the new structure for much of the year.
Mayor Skip Henderson says construction shouldn’t be a problem as the design team and construction company is considering the age of the 153-year-old building.
“They’ve also changed the way they’re going to put the footings in. They won’t use a jackhammer, they’ll use an auger to minimize vibrations,” said Henderson, “Bottom line is the design team, construction team, and certainly the consolidated government are committed to keeping the state theatre safe.”
“Anytime someone brings a petition or even just calls us frankly and says hey we have some concerns. We’re going to make sure we’re going to talk about, we’re going to make sure we provide them input and mitigate every concern they have. It may not be possible for us to solve every single issue, but if we work together, we’re going to be able to make it work out,” said Henderson,
Christopher Channell, Glynn County’s elections supervisor, said one of the first preparations for next year is for the Glynn County Commission to establish the qualifying fees for different offices. That is expected to be approved by the county commission by early January, he said.
Local elections next year include county commission, school board, and all the constitutional offices including sheriff, tax commissioner and clerk of Superior Court.
Voters will also have to elect a district attorney, state representatives and a senator, a full slate of state races, a U.S. Senate seat, a U.S. House seat and the next president.
Channell said all the voting machines have to undergo logic and accuracy testing to ensure every vote cast will be counted accurately. It’s a process that takes about two weeks.
Luckily, the county won’t have to worry about the state requirement for a minimum number of voting machines at each polling place to ensure voters don’t have long waits for the primary elections. Channell said some polling locations have such a strong early voting turnout that the waits are minimal on Election Day.
But the state mandate remains in place for general elections. During the upcoming General Assembly session. state Rep. Buddy DeLoach, R-St. Simons Island, is expected to push for the state requirement for the number of voting machines be relaxed in smaller counties that have strong early voting turnout and don’t need the additional machines.
Qualifying for May’s general primary is March 4-8, with county seats including sheriff, several county commission seats and constitutional offices on the line.
On March 12, voters from both parties will show up to the polls for the presidential preference primary.
About a month later, early voting will begin for the May 21 general primary election, followed by runoffs on June 18.
Then, elections officials will have to prepare for the Nov. 5 general election, with an early voting period in what is expected to generate a high turnout.
The runoff for the general election will be held Dec. 5. By the time the elections results have been audited and approved by the state, local elections officials may be done in time for a well-deserved vacation just before Christmas.
The City of Milton may not have reaped the economic efficiencies they sought by administering their own elections this year, according to the AJC.
Before the city of Milton took over management of local elections this year, city leaders promoted the change as a way to achieve huge savings to taxpayers.
But costs exceeded rosy projections in an election with fewer voting locations and slower results than if Fulton County had remained in charge.
“There’s something to be said for doing things yourself and getting your own results, but obviously, if it was the same amount, it would be much more effort for the same cost by doing it in-house,” Milton City Manager Steve Krokoff said. “It was a definitely a significant drain on our staff resources.”
The north Fulton city hasn’t compiled a full accounting of election costs, but initial estimates indicate that cost savings fell short of the hopes of a study led by local Republicans and city officials.
By running its own municipal elections, Milton was able to use paper ballots that it counted by hand, without optical scanning machines, a process that delayed vote totals until about 12:45 a.m. the night of the election. Republicans who distrust voting machines following Donald Trump’s debunked claims of fraud in the 2020 election conducted hand ballot counts in several counties this year.
Three polling places were open on Election Day, down from the eight polling places Fulton County provided in previous city elections. One early voting location was available at Milton City Hall after voters were able to cast ballots at any of the county’s 24 sites in municipal elections two years ago.Three polling places were open on Election Day, down from the eight polling places Fulton County provided in previous city elections. One early voting location was available at Milton City Hall after voters were able to cast ballots at any of the county’s 24 sites in municipal elections two years ago.
Palmetto City Clerk Cindy Hanson said locally run elections cost less money upfront but require much more labor from government employees. She said this year’s city elections cost about $8,000, plus staff time, compared with about $30,000 if it paid Fulton to do the job for the city of 3,500 registered voters.
Besides Milton, four other cities are considering taking over management of their local elections in two years: Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Mountain Park and Roswell.
Savannah is considering creating an accountability court to address homelessness, according to WTOC.
Officials say homeless courts have been implemented in communities across the nation and serve as a diversion court for low level misdemeanor offences. Assistant Chief of Police for Savannah, Robert Gavin described them as quality-of-life crimes.
“Things from aggressive panhandling, begging from the medians and roadways indecent exposure those types of crimes, trespass continued, going into stores, shops or hanging in front of places, what the homeless court allows for is instead of taking this to recorders court or the state court it brings them into those services and looks at getting them the mental health– it has all of those offering to them and they don’t have to take part in it but they are held accountable and given those opportunities,” said Assistant Chief Robert Gavin, Savannah Police Department.
The program would combine “a plea bargain system, assurance of “no custody”, alternative sentencing, and activities to address certain criminal offenses.”
“For people who may be experiencing homelessness, instead of getting papered or picked up and wasting a lot of resource from the public safety side, with not a whole lot of advancement or outcomes for that person is essentially a diversion court that uses the justice system in order to connect people with better services that are going to provide better outcomes,” said Jay Melder, Savannah City Manager.
“To the extent we can get cases resolved more efficiently more effectively and in a way that leads to hopefully leads to those persons not reoffending, I think it is a win for everyone,” said Superior Court Judge Lisa Colbert, Chatham County.
On the day before Thanksgiving 2012, we brought this dog home after a two week quarantine in a kennel. She had been a featured adoptable dog several times but had no takers. One day, after Mrs. GaPundit suggested we should foster her, I took Roxy up to Gwinnett County Animal Shelter to meet 28406. Now named Dolly, she was the inspiration for legislation that named The Adoptable Dog as the Official State Dog of Georgia.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.
With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed Sapelo Island’s Hog Hammock community and Darien’s Grace Baptist Church on its 2024 “Places in Peril” list, according to The Brunswick News.
Hogg Hummock made the list because of new zoning laws the McIntosh County Commission passed in September that will allow houses as large as 3,000 square feet to be built in the district. That more than doubles the size of what zoning laws allowed previously, “which can contribute to land value increases that could further force the removal of the indigenous population,” a release from the Georgia Trust said.
The community was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It is the last intact enclave of Gullah-Geechee people who are Black direct descendants of formerly enslaved people from West Africa.
The new zoning laws will drive up property values and therefore property taxes to the point that only wealthy, mostly White people will be able to afford to live in Hog Hammock, pushing the Geechee people off of their ancestral land, opponents of the zoning rules say.
“As with other Gullah Geechee communities, Hogg Hummock developed a distinct, interconnected culture of subsistence and cooperative living due in part to the relative isolation from communities on the mainland,” the Georgia Trust said.
The new zoning laws have been the center of controversy since the county commission voted Sept. 12 to pass the new zoning regulations that Geechee descendant residents of Sapelo said in a court filing are racially discriminatory. The request for a writ of mandamus seeks to compel public officials to correct what the residents say is an abuse of discretion and a violation of their constitutionally protected 14th Amendment rights.
Grace Baptist Church is on Vernon Square in downtown Darien and was once a significant institution within the community that was associated with several successful African American leaders, the Georgia Trust said. A founding trustee of the church, W.H. Rogers, was elected to Georgia legislature and served from 1902 to 1907.
“What has historically happened to African American communities, and it can be done in a variety of ways, is a disturbing history where African Americans are forced out of their communities via zoning, via imminent domain, via coercive negotiation. It would be a real shame for this, for Hog Hammock to suffer the same fate of so many other African American communities,” The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation President and CEO Wright Mitchell said.
By placing Hog Hammock on this year’s list, Mitchell says he’s hoping more people will be aware of the issue he sees on Sapelo Island.
Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program volunteers said in a Facebook post that the county’s Sheriff’s Office has put the program on “hiatus.” The program pairs with dogs with inmates who are tasked with caring for the pooches.
”As many of you may have already heard the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office has put our program on hiatus indefinitely,” the program said in its announcement. “They will be expanding their mental health program which will take over the unit our handlers and dogs are housed in.”
“While we applaud what they look to do, our program also falls under inmate programs geared at the mental health of the inmates that come through our program.”
The decision has Jail Dogs officials scrambling to find homes for four dogs that had been paired with inmates. They are looking for Gwinnett residents to provide foster homes for the dogs.
Since Jail Dogs was established in 2010, it has resulted in “thousands” of dogs and cats who had been scheduled for euthanasia being rescued from local shelters.
“All received vetting from our rescue partner Society of Humane Friends of Georgia and then trained by selected inmate handlers that were being trained themselves,” Jail Dog officials said. “This gave the animals a better chance at adoption due to their training but also gave the handlers purpose during their incarceration.”
This ruggedly handsome, ever so lovable boy is Jail Dog Tien. His Jail Dog story started on March 12, 2019, when we rescued him from a local shelter. Tien was approximately 1 year of age with all the energy of a puppy in an adult sized body. He took to his training quickly and after he was neutered, vaccinated and microchipped he was adopted on June 26, 2019.
In November of 2022 his family reached out to us and asked to return Tien. They found that Tien wasn’t a fan of their young son once he became mobile. With open arms we took Tien back into the program on December 1, 2022. Tien fell right back into the routine of the program where we were able to bring him back up to speed on his training.
This loyal sweetheart of a dog is now coming up on his 1-year return date, a date we don’t wish to celebrate with him. We would rather find him a home where they can celebrate all that is wonderful about Tien every day!
Tien used to live in a home with another younger dog and when he was in the program in 2019 he loved all dogs of ages and sizes. Now at 5-6 years of age he prefers to keep his canine buddies limited. While Jail Dogs Kaiser and Nala are his pals at the detention center, we have found Tien isn’t a fan of dogs when our volunteers take him to local parks for walks. He requests rather loudly that the dogs keep their distance and continue to merrily stroll along.
Honestly, the ideal home for Tien would be one where he could be your one and only fur baby. No need for long walks, just a nice, fenced yard to play where he can chase things to his heart’s content and use that wonderful nose of his. He can’t be an outside only dog, (now that is no way to treat your family member) but would be a fantastic furry family member that would soak up all the love and pampering he could get. Tien is an avid television watcher that would love to binge any show you might want to watch, (now where can you find that?!?!) or help you cheer on your favorite sports team, (and help you eat your snacks!). A home without small children but maybe a teenager or two to keep company while playing video games, working on their homework, etc…. There is so much to love about this boy, and we don’t want people to miss out on all of his “awesomeness”. For more information about Jail Dog Tien and how you can foster or adopt please visit www.jaildogs.org and fill out an adoption application.
Rocky is also one of our last 4 adult dogs that we have been posting over the past year. He is a 1–2-year-old, terrier mix that is available for adoption. Rocky, like his namesake, has battled his way to the top and is now ready for a new beginning of his own.
We met Rocky after he was found tied to a door at a local church by a homeless person. This person had gone into the church that day and inquired about some of their services but did not mention a dog. Later that evening that person left Rocky tied to the church’s front door with a shoestring. When the staff arrived later that evening for church services, they found Rocky wagging his tail waiting for someone to come and save the day. The staff at the church were able to check their security cameras to find that the person they had spoken with earlier that day had been the one that left Rocky tied to the door. Some choices are hard, and we are sure that the one they made when leaving Rocky wasn’t easy. It was obvious they wanted Rocky to find a new beginning.
The loving people at the church wanted to make sure Rocky was set up for success so they contacted our program.
That was over a year ago. Rocky will be spending his second Thanksgiving holiday in the detention center when he should be celebrating with a family of his own.
Rocky has a narrow lane for adoption. Although he loves everyone he meets, he needs to be an only dog. He does love to play with puppies when we have them in the unit, but other adult dogs haven’t been a good match. Rocky would do great with teenagers, but due to his energy level would knock over smaller children. He needs to be kept active because that is where he thrives! A large, fenced backyard to run and play in and someone that is willing to work his body and brain. Rocky is also a snuggly lovebug! When properly exercised this boy enjoys being a couch potato with those that think he is all that and more. We can’t express what a fantastic family member Rocky will make for the right family, he just needs that chance.
August of 2021 and was part of our “Greek litter”. Nala was then known as “Athena” and was an adorable 6 week old puppy that weighed 4 pounds. She was such a beautiful puppy that it was easy to understand why she was adopted so quickly after receiving the vetting and training she needed. At 2.5 months of age Nala started the next step in her story with a family that loved her very much; which happened to include a young boy of her very own.
The family fell head over heels for her, provided her with a wonderful home and sent us fantastic updates that showed the little boy had a new friend that he adored. In May of 2022 her family contacted us and stated that they needed to return her to our program. The little boy had severe allergic reactions to the dander in Nala’s coat, placing him in the hospital 3 times. After speaking with their doctor it was advised that a home without pets would be the best for their son.
Nala is ready for her second chance at a new beginning with a wonderful family that is ready for all the unconditional love she has to offer.
This handsome 1-2 year old, working breed mix was adopted from us as a puppy. He was adopted to a family at 8 weeks of age and then returned at almost a year when they could no longer care for him. Kaiser has been with us a year now and the detention center is taking its toll on him. Although our program is a great place for a dog to start out in, it isn’t meant for them to be long term dogs. They start to become institutionalized and have a hard time finding their way back in a home environment. Thankfully we have some great volunteers that get Kaiser and the other longer term dogs outside the detention center walls for walks when we can, but it isn’t the same as giving them a home.
Kaiser is a lovebug, but needs time to adjust to new surroundings. Patience and commitment is what he needs in a new family. When he first came back into the program Kaiser played well with almost all of the dogs; now he does best with only Jail Dog Tien, (another one of our 4 adult dogs). Not to say he couldn’t be with another dog, but it would probably be best if he were an only dog to start with in a new home.
Kaiser has helped train some of our best handlers and is more than deserving of a home of his own. He knows all of his basic obedience commands, lots of awesome tricks and is house/crate trained. Kaiser does well on walks at the park with our volunteers and would love to be a companion to someone that would include him on fun adventures. Someone getting a dog for the first time wouldn’t be what he needs, but someone that is willing to give time to this awesome boy would get his love and devotion back in double fold.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
“Let every man fly to arms! Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman’s army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.”
Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.
Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
President Richard Nixon, Secretary of the Navy John Warner, Carl Vinson, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird on November 18, 1973. John Warner would later be the namesake of USS John Warner, a Virginia-class nuclear submarine.
Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.
The city announced the tie between Meg Avery and Councilwoman Jenn Thatcher when it posted the certified results of the Nov. 7 election online earlier this week. The initial results showed Avery beat Thatcher by five votes. Provisional ballots that were counted this week, however, moved the race to a tie with each candidate receiving 729 votes, according to the certified results.
“The city had five provisional ballots that were certified by the Gwinnett County Board of Elections and were counted (Tuesday),” the city said as it announced the certified results. “This resulted in a tie in Post #3 and the city will have a run-off election on December 5th for that Post only.”
Early voting for the runoff will be held from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day from Nov. 27 until Dec. 1. Election day voting will then take place from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Dec. 5.
All voting will take place at Sugar Hill City Hall, which is located at 5039 West Broad St.
Sugar Hill is not the only Gwinnett city which will have a runoff next month. There will also be a runoff between Catherine Hardrick and Norman A. Carter in Snellville for that city’s Post 1 council seat on Dec. 5.
Snellville will also hold early voting for its runoff from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Nov. 27 until Dec. 1. The Snellville early and election day voting will take place at Snellville City Hall, which is located at 2342 Oak Road.
On Nov. 7, four candidates vied for the at-large Valdosta City Council seat, District 7. Nick “Big Nick” Harden received the most votes and Bill Love received the second-most, but neither received the 50%-plus-one-vote needed to win the seat outright.
City voters are choosing between Harden and Love in the runoff. Election Day will be Dec. 5, but it’s preceded by an early voting period of approximately two weeks, interrupted by the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to the Lowndes County Elections website, early voting for the Valdosta runoff election is taking place at the Lowndes County Elections Office, 2808 N. Oak St.
Effingham County voters approved a T-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation), according to WSAV.
Effingham County officials are already working on roadway projects funded by TSPLOST approved in last week’s election.
“Let’s say 5 years when this TSPLOST ends you’re going to see a very different county,” said Effingham’s county manager Tim Callanan.
A 1% sales tax over the next five years is going to raise $120 million dollars for Effingham County roads – it’s the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST).
He says the extra tax will benefit residents the most since a majority of their sales tax comes from non-residents.
Adding to TSPLOST’s increased sales tax, Callanan says industries are taxed 18% more on their property because of the burden they put on roads
“Those improvements are going to benefit not just the freight,” said Callanan. “It’s gonna benefit the public as well because they’re going to use the same roads, but the industrial areas are just going to be chipping in more.”
Gov. Brian Kemp drew a direct link between the economic vitality of Georgia’s capital city and the Atlanta police and firefighter training center on Thursday as he challenged political leaders to “be clear and direct” about their support for the complex.
“For Georgia to continue to be the top state for business, to attract talent, jobs and investment, to keep our communities safe and to ensure a brighter future for all who call our state home, we must support the Atlanta Public Safety Center,” he said.
“And by ‘we,’ ” Kemp added, “I mean Republicans, Democrats and everyone in between.”
The governor’s speech at the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s annual meeting was a signal that he and other Republicans will prioritize the $90 million project in 2024, ahead of an election that could be dominated by concerns about public safety and the economy.
The project is championed by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, a Democrat who says it will provide world-class training to officers and firefighters who now use outdated facilities. It has repeatedly won the support of Atlanta’s left-leaning City Council.
Unlike earlier decades, when Republicans avoided losses, some Georgia GOP lawmakers are now likely to walk the plank when new districts are drawn. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in October ordered Georgia to draw Black majorities in one additional congressional district, two additional state Senate districts, and five additional state House districts.
A new Black-majority congressional district, combined with similar rulings in other Southern states, could help Democrats reclaim the U.S. House in 2024. New legislative districts could narrow Republican majorities in Georgia.
But some Democrats could get thrown overboard too, as Republicans seek to comply with the court while preserving their power. The GOP could reduce losses in Georgia’s General Assembly by targeting Democrats representing predominantly white districts. But it’s unclear if the GOP can legally prevent Democrats from gaining a congressional seat.
“Republicans could take it out on white Democrats rather than Republicans,” said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political scientist who studies redistricting.
“We’ll be in a place that Judge Jones will be able to accept and will be what’s best for for our members,” State House Speaker Jon Burns recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
State Senate Republicans are looking toward the state’s planned appeal. If the state later wins an appeal, Georgia could have new districts in 2024 and revert to current lines in 2026.
“We went through the process. We followed the letter of the law. And we believe that in the end, we’ll, we’ll be victorious on that,” said state Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican.
From the 1970s through the 2000s, white Democrats across the South fought a rearguard battle against demands for Black representation and rising Republican power. Legislative chambers across the South ultimately flipped from Democratic to GOP control, and only Virginia has flipped back. New districts that benefitted Black voters often created an adjoining heavily white district that elected Republicans. At times, Republicans advocated for more Black districts, and supporters of minority representation tacitly accepted GOP assistance.
That dynamic dissolved after the 1990s, in part because Southern Democrats outside majority-minority districts were vanishing.
“There are just not a lot of white Democrats left, quite frankly,” Bullock said.
One key question is whether Republicans can dissolve Georgia’s current 7th Congressional District, represented by Democrat Lucy McBath, while drawing a new majority-Black district on the west side of metro Atlanta as mandated by Jones. The 7th’s voting age population is 33% white, 27% Black, 21% Hispanic, 15% Asian and 4% other or multiracial.
Opportunities for Republicans to limit losses could be better in Georgia’s legislature. Of 78 Democratic-represented state House districts, white people are the voting-age majority in eight, and the largest group in 12 more. Whites are the voting-age majority in three Democratic-represented Senate districts, and a plurality in three other Democratic districts.
State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, a long-serving Decatur Democrat whose white-majority district touches a number of Black-majority districts, calls redistricting “hand-to-hand combat with your neighbor.”
“It’s not a pretty process,” she said. “It’s a selfish process in many ways.”
Some Republicans are still in peril. Republican state Sen. Brian Strickland of McDonough lives in an area highlighted by the plaintiffs for a new Black-majority district. He says he’ll fight on even if his district is redrawn.
“I can’t control the redistricting process, but I can control who I am as a candidate,” Strickland said. “And so I’m prepared to take my message out to voters no matter whose district I’m in.”
Through an open records request filed in October, 11Alive obtained internal emails between the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and leaders from Georgia’s Department of Human Services. The emails, which discuss the department’s use of overtime to resolve the backlog, point to January 31 as the timeframe for which the issue could be resolved.
When 11Alive asked the Georgia Department of Human Services about the date, a statement from DHS said “internal projections are subject to change.”
“As we approach the holidays, we are continuing to work tirelessly to resolve the backlog and to improve output to ensure we are more able to respond to substantive changes in volume moving forward,” the statement said. “Any customer in need of immediate food assistance can visit dhs.ga.gov and find a list of community resources at the top of our homepage.”
The SNAP benefits backlog has impacted Georgia families on and off for a year now as the Georgia Department of Human Services struggles to process cases within federal guidelines. According to data provided by DHS this week, Georgia has a total of 105,801 pending renewals to date, 35,674 of which are overdue, with 31,080 pending state action. This number of recertifications, a process required for beneficiaries, is separate from any new applications the department must also process.
Last month, Georgia DHS confirmed to 11Alive that the department is moving to a new telephone system, which will increase voicemail capacity. The state also continues to offer overtime and stipends with overtime hours, giving DHS the ability to process an additional 10,000 cases per month.
The state is also assessing the next steps when it comes to the use of technology like bots and AI. Georgia’s push for automation for parts of the SNAP certification process has long been a sticking point between the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and DHS. In a pair of September letters, Commissioner Broce writes that “more BOT technology is the right path forward,” a plan she said has staff support, while the USDA FNS tells 11Alive federal regulators do not think bots are the answer.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston (D) continues to lead the litigation against the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission (PAQC), according to the AJC.
Senate Bill 92, which Gov. Brian Kemp championed early this year and signed in May, created a new state-appointed commission to investigate, sanction, and even remove locally elected District Attorneys. District attorneys including Fulton County’s Fani Willis, balked at the time, calling the law racist.
In an interview this week, Boston said she decided to sue the state of Georgia over the new commission as soon as Kemp made it clear in early January that he wanted to see it happen.
“When a governor signals that this is their priority, you’re going to see his party make it happen,” Boston said, “So at that moment, I said, this is done. I’ve got to be prepared for what happens next.”
“The role of the DA, if we continue down this pathway, will be undermined and it shouldn’t be” she said. “We are constitutional officers. We hold a very special role within our communities and we have to uphold the sanctity of that role.”
Destination Augusta wants to look at ziplines near their waterfront, according to WJBF.
“Zip lining around the river is going to happen,” said Jennifer Bowen of Destination Augusta.
A Commission committee agreeing to partner with Destination Augusta to create an urban outdoor adventure center on the city riverfront.
“Allow us to pursue that project; specifically to look at something that would incorporate zip lines, but not just zip lines, somewhere around the riverfront,” said Bowen.
As part of SPLOST 8, voters approved $1.75 million to bring more “zip” to downtown Augusta – something that’s already in place in our sister city of Columbus, Georgia.
“We wanted to make sure we put more quality of life in SPLOST 8. This just another element of it it’s going to be exciting to see it down there near the 5th Street bridge,” said Bowen.
“It may put us on the list of vacation spots, so that’s a good thing as well. Because we’re always talking about generating more income, more interest in Augusta,” said Commissioner Stacy Pulliam.
City engineers say if zip lining comes to the 5th Street bridge, the structure will be able to handle it. If the full commission approves next week, the hope is phase one will be up and going sometime next year.
Ziplines plus a whitewater park would be a great tourism and recreation asset for the area, IMHO.
Patricia Ritchie, 59, of Winder, was taken into custody Thursday by the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office and bond has yet to be set after charges were brought forward of alleged theft, according to spokesman Todd Druse.
Tax Commissioner Jessica Garrett contacted the county sheriff’s office on Nov. 2 after she noticed missing cash receipts from the motor vehicle account. The criminal investigations division has been actively looking into the allegations and was able to secure a single arrest warrant for theft by taking, Druse said.
Precise amounts resulting from the thefts are unknown at this time, but investigators have confirmed that more than $25,000 was taken.
The investigation resulted in one count of felony theft. Ritchie remained in the Barrow County Detention Center late Thursday awaiting a bond hearing.
Although no other accounts associated with the tax office appear to be compromised, the investigation is continuing, according to the release from Sheriff Jud Smith.
Three Valdosta City Council members hosted a Town Hall meeting to hear about housing issues, according to WALB.
Residents and city leaders are gathering to discuss and clear up misconceptions about what the city can and cannot do regarding housing in Valdosta. WALB heard a few citizens’ concerns and to see what the city could do about this matter.
Councilman Eric Howard is one of the three city councilmen leading a town hall. He says it’s an opportunity for citizens to hear directly from city leaders, about their rights, not about affordable housing or vouchers.
“We decided we wanted to start educating people on what your city government can and cannot do,” Howard said. “So we can have our citizens armed with the truth. This is on what your rights are as a renter and as a homeowner when it pertains to the city.”
RSV infections are rising sharply in some parts of the country, nearly filling hospital emergency departments in Georgia, Texas and some other states.
To help counter the surge, federal officials on Thursday announced they were releasing more doses of a new RSV shot for newborns that have been in short supply.
In Georgia, the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital system is in “surge” mode because of RSV, with a high volume of patients straining staff, said Dr. Jim Fortenberry, the system’s chief medical officer.
“Our emergency departments, our urgent cares are extremely busy. The pediatricians’ offices are extremely busy too,” Fortenberry said.
Not helping matters: The newly available shots to protect newborns against RSV have been difficult to get, meaning a new medical weapon is not being fully deployed.
“It was really going to help and unfortunately there is a shortage, and we at Children’s are also seeing that shortage,” Fortenberry said.
“Because we have circulation of RSV and flu at relatively moderate levels, when you put COVID on top of it, it really can push up the overall activity for respiratory viruses,” [state Epidemiologist Dr. Cherie] Drenzek said.
While those trends represent good news, Drenzek said they shouldn’t give Georgians a false sense of security. The threat posed by COVID, RSV and flu together is greater than the sum of their parts, she said.
“Because we have circulation of RSV and flu at relatively moderate levels, when you put COVID on top of it, it really can push up the overall activity for respiratory viruses,” Drenzek said.
Drenzek said the good news is no surges in COVID cases have been reported, while the boosters that became available in September should be effective against the variants currently circulating. People over the age of 65 remain the most vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID, including death, she said.
Chief John Letteney has served the department and the Thomasville area for three years. His final day as chief will be on January 12.
The search for a new chief is currently active. The city hopes to be in the final stages of hiring a new chief by the end of 2023.
“We have contracted with the Georgia Association of Police Chiefs to provide the initial assessment of our candidates and select those that are best suited to our position,” Thomasville City Manager Alan Carson said. “Our next step will be to conduct interviews with the finalists, which we hope to complete by early December.”
The judicial building will consist of eight floors with 18 courtrooms and underground parking. The building is expected to cost around 185 million dollars. Those funds come from bonds sold and SPLOST tax dollars.
“We’ve been re-engineering this thing because when COVID drove all the costs up, we were wildly over budget we were like $50 million, and we just couldn’t do that,” said Mayor Skip Henderson. “So they’ve made a lot of different adjustments and one is to continue to use the wings and the former parking underneath and that way it’s going to save the taxpayers and also a lot of money.”
Mayor Henderson says it will still take some time for the Columbus Government Center to be torn down, but construction on the judicial building is expected to begin in 2026.
Steve Gasper announced his bid for the seat, which is currently held by school board member Mary Kay Murphy, on Wednesday. He is one of a handful of candidates — along with Domonique Cooper, Kirk Buis and Demetrius Nelson — who have said they will run for the seat in the May 2024 nonpartisan school board elections.
“I firmly believe that education is the cornerstone of our children’s future, and it’s time for us to come together as a community to ensure that every child receives the quality education they deserve,” Gasper said in a statement.
Gasper, a former vice chairman of the Gwinnett Republican Party, has spoken on numerous occasions at school board meetings over the last few years, often criticizing the leadership of the district under a Democrat majority on the school board. He is a former educator and a Boy Scout volunteer and baseball coach, and his family has lived in the Suwanee area since 2009. He and his wife, Kelly, are the parents of twins who are currently in the eighth grade in Gwinnett County Public Schools.