It’s a question that’s resurfaced after a string of Trump setbacks this week. Jack Ellzey, a Republican state lawmaker, stunned Trump-backed Republican candidate Susan Wright to win a U.S. House special election in Texas Tuesday. The race was to fill the seat of Wright’s late husband, U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, who died earlier this year of COVID-19.
But the GOP candidates running against Trump-favored candidates next year are placing a bet that his grip on the state party will wane by then. They point to Ellzey’s Texas victory as the latest example of the overblown influence of a Trump endorsement.
It’s no small question for Georgia Republicans, who continues to captivate the former president. He’s turned Gov. Brian Kemp into a favorite punching bag; denigrated state Sen. Butch Miller, a top GOP candidate for lieutenant governor; and endorsed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s bid to unseat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
State Representative Jake Ellzey, who narrowly missed capturing the Republican nomination for the seat in 2018, defeated Susan Wright, whose husband, Ron Wright, died in February about two weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Ellzey obtained 53.3 percent of the vote and will join the second-largest congressional delegation — 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats — in the U.S. House behind California.
In May, both candidates had captured far below the 50 percent majority needed to avoid a runoff in a 23-way contest for the state’s Sixth Congressional District, which represents three counties just south of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan region.
In the end, the runoff election, which drew far fewer voters than the primary, was less about two ideologically similar candidates and more about how much sway former President Donald J. Trump would have in getting people to cast ballots for Ms. Wright, whom he endorsed before the primary.
In a duel of former Republican leaders, Rick Perry, the state’s former governor and a cabinet member of Mr. Trump’s administration, threw his weight behind Mr. Ellzey, who like Mr. Perry is a former military pilot. After the result of Tuesday’s election was clear, Gov. Greg Abbott praised Mr. Ellzey.
The contest between Ms. Wright and Mr. Ellzey, who overtook a Democratic candidate by 347 votes to secure a slot in the runoff, disappointed Democrats, who had hoped to tap a reservoir of shifting demographics and Hispanic and African American growth in a district where Mr. Trump won by only three percentage points in November.
I think a far more likely scenario than President Trump losing influence among Republicans is that Ellzey won by (a) outraising and outspending Ms. Wright; (b) had endorsements from Congressman Dan Crenshaw and former Governor Rick Perry that helped offset Trump’s endorsement of Wright; and (c) probably got more Democratic votes in the runoff, enough to constitute his margin of victory, precisely because he was not Trump-endorsed.
“The Department of Justice attorneys would make great Hollywood screenplay writers,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Their ‘lawsuit’ is loaded with partisan talking points and outright falsehoods because it is political propaganda aimed at justifying their unconstitutional federal takeover of elections across the country. SB 202 provisions like requiring voter ID on absentee ballots, securing drop boxes around the clock, and expanding weekend voting opportunities are commonsense reforms that ensure Georgia elections are secure, accessible, and fair. Instead of weaponizing the Department of Justice against election integrity measures, this administration should focus on reigning in inflation, reducing violent crime, and securing our southern border.”
“This is not a legitimate lawsuit from the Department of Justice, it’s a campaign flier,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Biden’s Department of Justice is waging a shameless political attack on Georgia’s constitutional authority to regulate its elections. Georgia’s election system is equally accessible to all voters, and we will continue to vigorously defend the commonsense provisions of Georgia’s Election Integrity Act against these baseless, partisan attacks.”
The Republican Carr filed the motion to throw out the Northern District of Georgia case on Wednesday, saying that the federal prosecutors have not proven that the new provisions on absentee ballot drop boxes, voter ID, and others are unconstitutional. Carr’s brief says the federal complaint is “political posturing rather than a serious legal challenge.”
The primary basis of the federal prosecutors’ claim is that the intent behind the new rules, including fewer absentee drop boxes than were available in 2020 and a shortened timeline for requesting ballots, are discriminatory. Carr’s motion on Wednesday disputes that Senate Bill 202 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on race, color or language.
“Even if intent had any relevance under Section 2, the complaint fails to allege facts showing discriminatory intent because it fails to allege an act or statement from any Georgia legislator suggesting such an attack behind SB 202,” Carr says in the filing.
Carr also says Georgia’s new rule that reduces the window for voters to cast out-of-precinct ballots is supported by the July 1 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that rejected a suit challenging Arizona’s similar policy.
Carr also argues that while the Justice Department is suing to invalidate Georgia’s new law, the Justice Department has been “noticeably silent” about similar election laws in Delaware, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
Republican state senators are seeking a performance review of the Fulton County elections office, according to the AJC.
A letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows two dozen state senators support a performance review of Fulton elections chief Richard Barron. The letter was written Tuesday, the very same day a front-page AJC story examined the prospect of a takeover of elections in Fulton, home to a tenth of all Georgians.
As written into Senate Bill 202, the State Election Board can replace a county’s election board following a performance review/audit/investigation. Then, a temporary superintendent would enjoy full managerial authority of how the county counts votes and staffs polling places.
A performance review begins upon request of at least two state representatives and two state senators from the county.
With more than enough senators, the letter addresses the representatives needed: “We have every reason to believe that the requisite number of Fulton’s House delegation will respond likewise, thereby triggering the performance review.”
Two representatives confirmed to the AJC on Wednesday that they would join the effort.
Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said a takeover is really a GOP attempt to wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats and retain the governorship in 2022, with eyes toward 2024.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a series of tweets the state will not impose any lockdowns or mask mandates statewide. The tweets come a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people in public and everyone in K-12 schools.
“Georgia will not lock down or impose statewide mask mandates,” Kemp wrote. “As the first state in the country to reopen over a year ago, we’ve proven that Georgians know how to come together and protect themselves and their loved ones.”
“The data is clear. Thanks to efforts initiated under the Trump Administration, we have a medical miracle in multiple vaccines that protect from the virus and save lives. Nearly all new COVID hospitalizations in Georgia are among the unvaccinated,” Kemp wrote.
“My family, myself, and other state leaders have all rolled up their sleeves and gotten their shot. I encourage all Georgians who have concerns or questions to talk to a medical provider and get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Kemp continues.
“Georgians know the risks and they know these safe, effective vaccines are our greatest tool to defeat COVID-19,” Kemp concluded.
That hasn’t stopped a growing number of local officials from taking their own steps to curb the spread of the disease. Late Wednesday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered that masks should be worn in all indoor public spaces, including private businesses.
According to CDC data, all but about a dozen of Georgia’s 159 counties meet the threshold for substantial or high community transmission. The only counties that don’t meet CDC’s threshold for recommended mask use are: Butts, Clay, Gilmer, Glascock, Jefferson, Lanier, Macon, Oglethorpe, Towns, Upson and Wilcox.
Georgia’s seven-day rolling average of probable and confirmed coronavirus cases is at its highest point since March 5 and more than eight times higher than it was before the July 4th holiday, according to state data. Meanwhile, the pace of vaccinations has slowed, hovering at 40% fully vaccinated statewide.
However, Kemp’s stance matters little to some school districts. Additional districts continued to announce Wednesday that they will require students and employees to wear masks, with the share of Georgia public school students covered by mask mandates now above 30%, according to Associated Press calculations.
The number of hospitalized patients also continued to spike. The number of confirmed COVID-19 patients statewide rose to to 1,674 on Wednesday from 1,501 on Tuesday. More than 10% of all patients now hospitalized in Georgia for any reason have COVID-19.
Rural hospital regions around Waycross and Dublin have seen more than twentyfold increases in the number of COVID-19 patients since July 5.
At least 15 school districts statewide have announced new mask mandates or reaffirmed existing ones. Camden County announced Monday it would require face coverings for all students, teachers and staff when school opens Monday. Gwinnett, the state’s largest district, announced its policy change Tuesday. The 30,000-student Muscogee County district becoming the latest to do so on Wednesday.
Henderson previously said a mask mandate could return to the city if the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations rose above 65 and the two-week case rate approached 200 cases per 100,000 people.
But when contacted by the Ledger-Enquirer Wednesday, Henderson said the availability of the COVID vaccine raises his threshold for reinstating a mask mandate.
“It’s kind of hard to give you a fair metric,” Henderson told the Ledger-Enquirer. “This is such a fluid situation, just like it was last year and it’s even more so this year.”
“Listen, we know it’s a personal choice and respect that,” Henderson said. “But I would respectfully ask all those individuals to check with your doctor. If there’s a medical reason they can’t take it, just wear a mask and be very conscious of how close you are to other people.”
“We still have in government buildings, a requirement to wear masks,” Henderson said. “And that’s out of respect for our employees and to try to keep people safe who are here because they have to be here — like jury duty or to redo a car tag.”
“If you’re concerned, check with credible sources,” Henderson said. “I would urge (residents) to not believe everything on social media because there’s some pretty interesting stuff out there that doesn’t really parallel the reports that we get from more of the scientific locations.”
House lawmakers and their staff will be required to wear face coverings while in the House chamber, except when members are being recognized and speaking on the floor.
Lawmakers will not be allowed to enter the House chamber without a mask and those who fail to wear a mask in the House chamber will be subject to fines.
Face coverings are also required for meetings in an “enclosed” House “controlled space.”
The masks rules in the House — and across the country — have become a political flashpoint and already the House’s top Republican, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, pushed back on Tuesday’s directive, in a sign of potential further clashes.
When asked Wednesday about McCarthy’s criticism of the reinstatement of the mask mandate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “He’s such a moron.”
Georgia Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) campaigned for Lieutenant Governor in Columbus, according to WTVM.
Georgia State Senator Butch Miller is hoping to become the state’s next lieutenant governor. Current Lieutenant Governor and fellow Republican Geoff Duncan announced earlier this year he will not be running in 2022. Miller’s campaign reports he raised more than $2 million in the first five weeks of his campaign.
“We have built a great success story in Georgia on conservative principles, conservative values, and conservative legislation and we will continue that. We are the number one place to do business. We’re the number one place to raise a family and Georgia is on the right track and let’s keep it on that track,” Sen. Butch Miller proclaimed.
Senator Miller says it’s important to start making visits across the state early on because they will lose about four months of campaigning during the redistricting process and when the senate is in session from January through March.
Georgia state legislators held a redistricting committee meeting in Columbus, according to WTVM.
Columbus residents had the chance to have their voices heard about Georgia’s redistricting process during a joint town hall meeting with state leaders Wednesday evening. The drawing of electoral lines happens once every 10 years following the U.S. Census.
Georgia’s General Assembly held one of 11 joint reapportionment and redistricting hearings in at the Cunningham Center Wednesday evening.
“I would like to see all of Muscogee County in one congressional district,” Columbus-Muscogee County Republican Chair Alton Russell said.
Transparency is a common theme voters brought up Wednesday. Several voters say they’d like to see more meetings like this one offered at different times and on Saturdays. They also say they’d like these meetings to continue throughout the redistricting process once the 2020 Census data is released.
“In April of this year, I asked Colonel Chris Wright and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to develop and execute a plan to tackle crime and reckless street racing across the metro-Atlanta region,” Kemp said.
“Colonel Wright made a request of additional funds – up to $2 million – for the department to bring additional personnel onto the Crime Suppression Unit in order to strengthen their ongoing efforts. I have agreed to Colonel Wright’s request.”
In May, the governor committed $5 million from the emergency fund to fighting crime.
The $2 million he’s freeing up now is not part of that $5 million package, which was allocated for the fiscal year that ended June 30, Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said. However, not all of the earlier money had been spent when fiscal 2021 ended, Hall said.
“This additional funding is necessary to keep the streets of Atlanta safe and protect residents and visitors alike,” [Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston] said. “Our state law enforcement personnel are working around the clock to bring criminals to justice, and I greatly appreciate their work on behalf of all Georgians.”
The Office of Rural Education and Innovation will be headed by Bronwyn Ragan-Martin, a veteran education leader who served most recently as superintendent of the Early County School System and president of the Georgia School Superintendents Association.
“It is a top priority of my administration to strengthen and bring greater opportunities and economic prosperity to rural Georgia,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday.
“The Georgia Department of Education’s new Office of Rural Education and Innovation will support those efforts to renew and revitalize rural Georgia and ensure our state remains the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
“Our rural schools and districts face unique challenges and resource gaps – and many of those challenges have only intensified due to the pandemic,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods added.
The new office will be supported with federal coronavirus relief funds and work to address educational needs in rural Georgia including connectivity, teacher retention and recruitment, resources and funding, and educator development.
“The Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia has entered into a power purchase contract to receive 80 megawatts of solar power,” said City Manager Al Grieshaber. “They have asked members of MEAG, of which we are one, whether or not we have interest in adding solar power, a carbon neutral emission, to our energy source. We requested 750 kilowatts of solar power.”
The power purchase contract is a 20-year agreement, Grieshaber said, with the price fixed at $25.91 per megawatt.
The eviction letter, sent July 26 to residents at Coastal Senior Living of St. Marys, blamed “ongoing staffing and operational problems” for the decision to close the facility.
“Please know this decision was not made lightly and is disheartening to our entire team. Staffing shortages and operational challenges have been a global crisis this past year and Coastal Senior Living has done everything to prevent this from happening. Our team will assist in your relocation,” according to the letter sent to residents earlier this week.The eviction letter, sent July 26 to residents at Coastal Senior Living of St. Marys, blamed “ongoing staffing and operational problems” for the decision to close the facility.
“Please know this decision was not made lightly and is disheartening to our entire team. Staffing shortages and operational challenges have been a global crisis this past year and Coastal Senior Living has done everything to prevent this from happening. Our team will assist in your relocation,” according to the letter sent to residents earlier this week.
Hi, my name is Gus! I had a home, but my family had too many dogs and some health challenges, so I worked my way to Mostly Mutts and am on my way to finding a new family to love, perhaps it’s you? I am a friendly guy who is still a bit shy and sometimes scared of new things, but I’m coming along well and think I’d really enjoy a quieter type of home to let my ears down – lol. I enjoy soaking up love and affection from my people.
I was adopted as a puppy and my family loved me very much, but they are having an ongoing family medical situation that keeps them away from home too much to be able to meet my needs, so I’m back with Mostly Mutts looking for a new family to love.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Georgia initially rejected the 14th Amendment in 1866, later ratifying it on July 21, 1868 as a condition for readmission.
On July 28, 1978, Animal House was released, instantly becoming one of the greatest films of all time. In case you’ve never seen the film, there is a tiny little bit of adult language in the following clip.
The first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century, it charge[d] President Nixon with unlawful activities that formed a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in and to cover up other unlawful activities.
The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House.
The majority included three conservative Southern Democrats and three conservative Republicans.
Police were warned of the bombing in advance, but the bomb exploded before the anonymous caller said it would, leading authorities to suspect that the law enforcement officers who descended on the park were indirectly targeted.
Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the concert, was charged with the crime. However, evidence against him was dubious at best, and in October he was fully cleared of all responsibility in the bombing.
Pumpkin is a friendly and affectionate dog who absolutely loves to snuggle. She has a huge smile that always reaches her expressive eyes, and she adores attention and being pet, as well as relaxing in sunny spots with her human.
Thomas is a very friendly and overall happy dog that would do best with an active owner who could allow him to use all of his energy. As you can see in his photos, Thomas always has a smile on his face. He is affectionate and his presence is a definite mood lifter!
First, it streamlined and unified the nation’s military establishment by bringing together the Navy Department and War Department and establishing the Department of the Air Force all under a new Department of Defense. The DoD would facilitate control and utilization of the nation’s growing military.
Second, the act established the National Security Council (NSC). Based in the White House, the NSC was supposed to serve as a coordinating agency, sifting through the increasing flow of diplomatic and intelligence information in order to provide the president with brief but detailed reports.
Finally, the act set up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA replaced the Central Intelligence Group, which had been established in 1946 to coordinate the intelligence-gathering activities of the various military branches and the Department of State. The CIA, however, was to be much more–it was a separate agency, designed not only to gather intelligence but also to carry out covert operations in foreign nations.
Smoltz won the 1996 Cy Young award and reached the playoffs 14 times with Atlanta. The Braves won five pennants and the 1995 World Series with Smoltz on the roster. He’s the first pitcher to win more than 200 games and save at least 150 games. He’s also the first player inducted with Tommy John surgery on his resume.
Smoltz understood his debt to John.
“I’m a miracle. I’m a medical miracle,” Smoltz said. “I never took one day for granted.”
Smoltz also heaped praise on former manager Bobby Cox and teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who were inducted a year ago, and delivered a message to parents of the players of tomorrow as the number of Tommy John surgeries continues to escalate.
“Understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 or 15 years old,” Smoltz said to warm applause. “Baseball is not a year-round sport. They’re competing too hard, too early. That’s why we’re having these problems.”
Georgia’s John Walton was present on July 9, 1778, and signed the document then. Georgia’s other two delegates – Edward Telfair and Edward Langworthy – did not sign until July 24, 1778, which is the date most often used for Georgia’s ratification of the Articles.
An interesting sidenote is that John Walton‘s brother, George Walton, signed the Declaration of Independence on Georgia’s behalf.
A graveyard with more than 600 unmarked grave sits on the site of the former Georgia State Prison Farm in Milledgeville, according to the AJC.
The site is the final resting place for more than 600 anonymous souls who died at that prison, both from executions and more natural causes. The prison closed in 1937 and was demolished three years ago. Much of the prison land has been turned into a park for Baldwin County, including soccer fields. There are also plans for an aquatic park.
[Edwin C.] Atkins is asking the state to cut a trail to the cemetery, allowing the public and descendants of the dead to access the land and to help them in their mission to upgrade the grounds.
Atkins and Smith brought Rep. [Rick] Williams [R-Milledgeville] on their tour of the graveyard to get some political juice in their effort to get the Georgia Department of Corrections to allow them to more properly tend the graves. They come out to cut the grass and have been trying to identify graves, but they are officially trespassing.
Atkins bent down to check a rusted Georgia license plate used to mark a grave. The prison started manufacturing car tags in 1930 and used them to identify the dead. No name, just a number in death. Most of the license plates are long gone, so identifying who lies underneath remains almost impossible. Some graves have rusty iron bars as a marking. “If you trip, look down and you’ll find a metal stub,” Smith said.
“I think it’s a sin to let those prisoners rot forgotten in the woods,” Atkins said. “It’s morally unconscionable that you’re not memorializing dead prisoners. Because they were Black, because they were criminals they were thrown in the woods.”
There are almost certainly white bodies moldering there too, but they are almost certainly a minority. According to his great-grandfather’s typed records noting each execution, Atkins said 118 of the 144 (or 82%) of those electrocuted were Black.
Johnson can be seen in the video with his hands restrained behind his back while still participating in a chant with other protesters yelling, “Whose streets? Our streets. Whose House? Our House.” He is one of 10 people whom the Capitol Police arrested for “unlawfully demonstrating” outside the Hart Senate Office Building and charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding.
“Today, Congressman Hank Johnson was arrested along with a group of black male voting rights activists protesting against Senate inaction on voting rights legislation and filibuster reform,” Johnson’s office said in a statement to CNN.
The protest, the statement said, was also in response to restrictive voting laws across the country “that target students, the elderly and people of color. In the spirit of his dear friend and mentor — the late Congressman John Lewis — Rep. Johnson was getting in ‘good trouble’ fighting for and protecting civil and voting rights for all Americans.”
Johnson is the second lawmaker to be arrested in as many weeks while protesting for voting rights. Rep. Joyce Beatty, the Democratic chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, was arrested on July 15 by Capitol Police after participating in a voting rights protest that culminated in a march inside the Senate Hart Office Building atrium.
A jury convicted Georgia’s suspended insurance commissioner of all 37 counts of fraud and money laundering against him on Thursday afternoon to cap a two-week federal trial, swiftly the guilty verdicts after the day’s closing arguments.
The suspended commissioner, Jim Beck, was convicted of charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax fraud by jurors in the federal courtroom in Atlanta. Beck had been indicted months after taking office in 2019.
Prosecutors had presented evidence at trial that Beck orchestrated a scheme to embezzle more than $2 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association. Beck had managed the state-chartered private insurer of last resort for years before he took office.
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 8. The judge ordered Beck confined to his home in Carrollton, west of Atlanta, while awaiting sentencing save for outings for court appearances and to receive medical care.
Under state law, Beck was automatically removed from office upon conviction. Gov. Brian Kemp has appointed John King to run the office and the Republican is seeking a full term in 2022.
Beck asked Kemp to suspend him when he was indicted, but continued drawing a $195,000 yearly salary. State lawmakers this year proposed a constitutional amendment to stop the pay of officials who are suspended from office while facing criminal charges. Voters will decide the amendment in 2022.
Prosecutors and Beck’s lawyers declined comment immediately after the verdict. Current GUA General Manager Joe Cregan said Thursday that insurers had paid GUA $2.5 million earlier this year for amounts Beck stole. He said GUA is still investigating to see if Beck took more money.
Some Bibb county residents protested an appearance by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to 13WMAZ.
Thursday, some members of Bibb County’s Republican party held up signs to protest the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
They’re unhappy that Raffensperger failed to overturn the state’s election results that showed Joe Biden as the winner here.
[Diane] Vann said, “He was responsible for saying nothing was wrong, nothing could be done with those machines and obviously, not telling the truth. I’m here.”
This week, [Bibb County GOP Chair David] Sumrall and local Republicans issued a news release from accusing election officials of switching 12,000 Bibb County votes from Trump to Biden on the night of November 4th.
Sumrall said, “Thousands of absentee ballots came in. I was a poll worker. Yes, I was present, but we couldn’t see anything!”
Georgia State House Republicans today meet in a retreat and will elect a new Majority Whip, according to the AJC.
The House GOP retreat kicks off today with speeches by party luminaries, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Veteran strategist Karl Rove will address the crowd Saturday, perhaps with his famous whiteboard. State party leaders will also pep up the 80 or so GOP lawmakers in attendance.
But we’re most closely watching what’s shaping up to be a key test of House Speaker David Ralston’s grip on the speaker’s gavel. It involves a vote scheduled mid-morning to replace state Rep. Trey Kelley after he stepped down as Majority Whip as he fights charges stemming from a 2019 fatal accident.
The contest to replace him as the fourth-ranking member of the chamber pits Ralston ally Matt Hatchett against Barry Fleming, an attorney with designs on running for speaker one day himself. Some House Republicans view it as a proxy fight over Ralston’s leadership.
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan called on the General Assembly Thursday to create a $250 million state tax credit aimed at reducing crime statewide.
The Law Enforcement Strategic Support (LESS Crime) Act will be the cornerstone of Duncan’s 2022 legislative agenda.
“It should be no surprise that every state leader is concerned with the exponential rise in crime in Georgia, especially in our capital city,” Duncan said Thursday. “Rising crime is affecting individuals, businesses and Georgia families.”
“Combating this problem will not be accomplished by one solution alone. … Big problems call for big solutions.”
The tax credit Duncan envisions would be modeled after the Rural Hospital Tax Credit Georgia lawmakers created in 2016 to help the state’s most financially stressed rural hospitals.
The new tax credit legislation would let Georgians write a check directly to their local law enforcement agency and receive a 100% dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit. The credit would be capped at $5,000 per individual taxpayer, $10,000 per married couple, or in the case of a business, at 75% of a company’s tax liability.
The Police Crisis Intervention Unit had its seeding in 2017 following a federal grant that helped train officers to better respond to such calls. Five years later, the program has caught the attention of other agencies across the state.
“I think our model seems to work well. Athens-Clarke County has been on the forefront of this before it became popular,” McFarland said about recent nationwide efforts to reform some facets of police work.
The pair in recent months have shared the unit’s inner workings with agencies in the cities of Brookhaven, Gainesville, Savannah, Forsyth, Moultrie, Augusta, Conyers and counties like McDuffie and Muscogee, among others, [Athens-Clarke police officer Robie] Cochran said.
When emergency calls come in to the 911 Center, Cochran explained the responding officer assesses the situation in terms of safety. This officer can judge if it appears to be a mental health crisis.
Besides responding to calls, the pair is also involved in training at the police department. Athens-Clarke officers are the best-trained group in the state when it comes to crisis de-escalation, according to McFarland. All officers are required to undergo 40 hours of such training, she said.
A minimum $15 hourly wage and bonuses for Augusta-Richmond County personnel will arrive sooner rather than later with funds from the American Rescue Plan.
The increases, as well as designated funding for commission districts and the mayor’s office were among eligible spending items presented to commissioners Wednesday by City Administrator Odie Donald.
Augusta and its several institutions are set to receive nearly $1 billion in federal pandemic aid. It’s often called a “once in a generation” opportunity, but Donald said numerous requirements accompany the funding that governments must address in full to spend the funds.
The large total includes the $82.3 million going to Augusta-Richmond County, $112 million to Richmond County schools, $447 million in forgivable Payroll Protection Act loans, $13 million in rental assistance, $3.5 million for homelessness, $2.5 million for Paine College and $4.4 million for Augusta Regional Airport, according to a handout. Augusta University and Augusta Technical College also have received millions.
The City of Rincon had the opportunity to use Effingham County’s electronic machines for their upcoming municipal election in November but opted instead to use their 60-year-old mechanical voting machines.
Using the county’s voting machines and having its elections and registration office run the city’s election came at a cost of about $12,000 versus the approximate $3,000 for the city to run its own election.
“The county can enter into intergovernmental agreements to have the county elections board run the cities elections,” said Effingham County manager Tim Callanan. “We offered Rincon, as well as Springfield and Guyton, that if you want us to run the elections, we will enter into an agreement where our elections and registration office will run them for a fee.”
“Rincon has about 7,900 registered voters. We used the same figure per registered voter for all three cities. There are 1,827 registered voters in Guyton and 1,791 in Springfield. It costs the county about $6.15 per registered voter to run a countywide election. We were going to split the cost 75%-25% with the Rincon paying $1.50 per voter for a cost of about $12,000, and the county picking up about $4.65,” Callanan added.
“The machines we use are called Shoup machines. They’ve probably been around since the 1940s,” [Rincon city clerk Dulcia] King said. “You flip the lever and the curtain closes. Once you finish voting you push the bar back and the curtain opens and it counts your vote. My understanding is that the machines once belonged to the county and once they switched over to electronic machines we got theirs. These machines are only used with municipal elections. The last time Rincon had an election and used these machines was 2019. On presidential elections, the county handles the voting.”
Melder’s appointment came with a unanimous 9-0 vote from council after a nearly four-hour meeting on Thursday. The mayor and aldermen will vote on the terms of his contract at the next council meeting following the completion of a background check.
“We congratulate Mr. Melder and we thank council in particular for your diligent and very hard work during this entire process,” Mayor Van Johnson said.
Acting City Manager Michael Brown will step down at the end of next week after nearly nine months in the role. Brown assumed the role last fall after another city manager brought in on a temporary basis, Pat Monahan, stepped down. Monahan came on as acting city manager following Rob Hernandez resignation in 2019.
“We’re testing the water,” said Superintendent Tim Scott. “We’re only asking for teachers who want to do this, (so) no one has to do it.”
“There are a lot of ways to use them,” Stuart Davis, Dalton Public Schools’ director of technology and telecommunications, informed the Dalton Board of Education members during a Monday work session at Dalton Junior High School. “If we try it this year, and it doesn’t work, we won’t use them” anymore.
“Teachers are in control of everything from the instruction side” with the Kloud-12 OneDevice cameras, Davis said. Teachers can, for example, teach a lesson in one room of a school, with that content delivered to another room or even another school, allowing them to “double up on instruction.”
The cameras are used by teachers in many school systems for professional development, Scott said. Teachers watch themselves to improve, or teachers watch other teachers for possible tips.
The cameras could also be used by administrators for teacher observations, and teachers may want to record a particular day or lesson to show administrators, Davis said. This is “no different than videotaping a football or baseball practice, then going back to watch it.”
There’s also a “security” function available with the cameras, which could be helpful “if something happens” in a classroom, he said. “We could go back and watch what is captured by the camera.”