Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 20, 2019

New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights on November 20, 1789.

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On November 20, 1975, Ronald Reagan announced he would run for President of the United States against incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. On May 4, 1976, Reagan won Georgia’s Presidential Primary with 68% over Ford.

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Republicans rallied in support of President Trump, according to the AJC.

The Women for Trump Empower Hour, as the event was called, drew a beyond-capacity crowd of both men and women to the Heritage Sandy Springs Museum and Park. An hour before things got underway, the line stretched through the parking lot and down the sidewalk. By the time things kicked off, overflow crowds had gathered outside the event hall to listen.

Many waiting to get in said impeachment hearings inspired them to come.

“The support for the president is increasing,” she said. “Do they really think the American people are that stupid?”

The State House Special Committee on Economic Growth met to hear public feedback on proposals to legalize gambling, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The committee, co-chaired by Georgia state Reps. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) and Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) and joined by committee members Dale Washburn (R-Macon), Al Williams (D-Midway) and Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), traveled to Valdosta to discuss new economic development possibilities, specifically gaming.

Lawmakers cannot legalize gaming, or gambling. They can, however, introduce a constitutional amendment to referendum ballots and allow residents to decide. Valdosta was the first stop on a series of meetings the committee will hold around the state to start a dialogue with local communities and gauge interest in legalized gambling.

Representatives emphasized that the lottery has not been able to fully fund HOPE for years. They discussed concern of HOPE dropping from 100% funding for students to about 70%, and how gaming industries could help close the gap. The other major area where gaming revenue could be directed is to state health care.

Lowndes County Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker asked the state representatives why HOPE scholarship funding has declined, and Stephens responded that increased population growth and static lottery participation is one cause. The other is the rise in cost of state universities.

Powell said HOPE was a “blank check” for university systems who continued to raise tuition and fees despite the lottery being unable to keep up with the monetary demands.

When asked by Bill Slaughter, chairman of the Lowndes County Commission, about the kind of economic impact gambling would have, Stephens said having six gaming resorts in the state could raise $1 billion in taxes.

If approved by voters, state lawmakers said an independent gaming commission could possibly be established to regulate the new industries.

From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

“I want to get some local feedback on this idea, how local people feel,” said state Rep. Jason Ridley, R-Chatsworth, to a meeting of the League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area. “And I want to see what the final bill looks like. There have been times when there have been bills come through the General Assembly that sound good but the final bill has a lot of problems.”

Lawmakers are talking about placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would legalize one or more of casino gambling, horse racing and sports betting.

“I’m skeptical of all three,” said Ridley. “I’m skeptical of where the money would go. If the money is going to be directed, for instance, to health care and making sure that everybody across Georgia has better access to health care, I would feel more comfortable.”

State Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, said he is also waiting to see what the final proposal looks like before making up his mind.

“I’m skeptical of legal gambling, whether any benefits would outweigh the costs,” he said.

From the AJC:

The Valdosta hearing was the first of several planned “listening sessions” across the state as lawmakers study the potential economic impact of expanding gambling, which supporters say would bring thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.

But to those in the room, it felt a lot like a sales pitch.

Local elected officials at the meeting said if Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing casinos, they would likely want to bring one to the Valdosta area.

House Regulated Industries Chairman Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, said the panel is still scheduling community visits, and he expects there will be a few more before lawmakers return to Atlanta in January for the 2020 legislative session. Harrell said he hopes the tour of the state allows lawmakers to learn as much as they can about what Georgians think.

Residents of rural Georgia are diagnosed with HIV at rates nearly as high as metro Atlanta, according to the Albany Herald.

“Fulton and DeKalb counties dominate in terms of number of cases, but rural areas have new diagnosis rates only slightly lower than these urban areas. These rural areas likely need different strategies for HIV prevention and ways to ensure access to treatment and prevention services,” said [Aaron Siegler, an associate professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health], who has produced research on HIV prevention.

Rural residents have more obstacles in getting medical care or in preventing HIV in the first place, he added.

Georgia has the leading rate of new diagnoses among states. The state ranks No. 3 in HIV risk in the nation, trailing only Ohio and Nevada, according to the study from Health Testing Centers, which used data from the CDC.

Gwinnett County‘s proposed 2020 budget includes funding for 166 additional positions, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Under the spending plan proposal unveiled Tuesday morning, the county is looking to spend a total of $1.83 billion in its proposed 2020 budget. That is up 0.4% from the 2019 budget.

Some items in the budget include 166 new positions — 77% of which are in public safety and judicial positions — as well as 4% pay for performance for employees and the annualization of a 3% mid-year cost of living raise implemented earlier this year, and some new innovation including a situational awareness and crime response center, flexible med units and alternative response vehicles.

Augusta Commissioners adopted a balanced budget for 2020, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The commission voted 7-2 to approve the revised budget, with Commissioners Marion Williams and John Clarke opposed. Clarke said he thought some departments were given too much and others too little but declined to provide specifics.

The Augusta Commission also voted to pay for fixes to Fleming Park, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Augusta Commission voted Tuesday to finally expedite $1 million to fix safety issues at Fleming Athletic Complex, where a child was electrocuted last year.

The funding was among $11 million in uncommitted special purpose local option sales tax money that was reallocated to other projects. Fleming was given the top priority after Commissioner Mary Davis asked that it be expedited. Fleming will also benefit from $1.5 million set aside to address safety issues at all of the Augusta Recreation and Parks facilities, Mayor Hardie Davis said. The fixes will help to bring “closure” to the tragic events at Fleming, he said.

Melquan Robinson Jr., 12, died in October 2018 at Fleming after he grabbed a fence that had been accidentally electrified. His family settled with the city for $1.5 million and an agreement to put a memorial in the park. A road that runs alongside the park was also renamed this month for Melquan.

Glynn County Commissioners are considering a pair of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendums, according to The Brunswick News.

Proposed by commissioners David O’Quinn and Wayne Neal at the group’s Tuesday work session, the plan would require a “seven-year vision” covering a two-year SPLOST from 2020 to 2022 and another five-year SPLOST from 2022 to 2027.

The special-purpose, local-option sales tax is a one percent sales tax proposed by local government agencies and approved or denied by voters at the ballot box. A SPLOST can run from one to six years, depending on the types of projects on the ballot. SPLOST 2020 will be on the ballot in the May 2020 primary election.

The two proposed the plan because they felt it would be the more responsible option when dealing with a $20 million Glynn County Courthouse expansion project and help restore faith in a citizenry they felt doubted the county’s ability to follow through on a SPLOST 2020.

A two-year SPLOST would amount to about $40.1 million, according to O’Quinn. Of that, $3 million would go towards the aforementioned courthouse work, while the rest would go towards the most high-priority infrastructure projects.

The city of Brunswick, Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and Jekyll Island Authority also get a cut in the plan.

Whitfield County‘s SPLOST advisory committee is working to finalize its proposed project list, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“We’ve got to get from $27 million down to $19 million,” said Chris Shiflett, chairman of the advisory committee. The committee previously settled on a goal of having a SPLOST of no more than four years and collecting roughly $66 million during that time; the city’s share of that should be approximately $19 million, but requests from various city agencies and departments totaled roughly $27 million.

The advisory committee, which will soon present its recommendations to the county Board of Commissioners, was formed in the wake of county voters defeating a proposed six-year, $100 million SPLOST in March. The most recent SPLOST for the county expired on June 30.

In order to trim roughly $8 million from the city requests, the advisory committee nixed an airport hangar, for approximately $1 million; a heavy rescue truck for the Dalton Fire Department, also about $1 million; and a $1.5 million Haig Mill Lake Park trail extension. City officials had previously indicated they plan to move forward with the vast preponderance of the projects they requested SPLOST funding for, if not all of them, so the advisory committee was essentially deciding which of those items warranted SPLOST funds and which the city would have to pay for on its own.

A SPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county. The revenues can be used for certain types of projects but they can not be used for general operating expenses.

“We’re pretty much done,” Shiflett said at the conclusion of Monday’s meeting. The full SPLOST advisory committee has no more meetings scheduled at this time, although Shiflett will work with a handful of members to “set our words and verbiage” in a letter that will outline the projects they are recommending and explain the thought process behind those selections.

State Rep. Bob Trammell (D-Macon) had prefiled legislation to stop the salaries of suspended state elected officials, according to the Center Square.

House Minority Leader Robert “Bob” Trammell pre-filed House Bill 742 and House Bill 874 ahead of the 2020 legislative session that would change current law.

“They’re not going to work. They’re not doing the job. Somebody else is having to do that job,” Trammell said. “The taxpayers should not be paying them for the work in that circumstance.”

House Bill 874 will change Georgia’s constitution to prohibit state government officials, who are facing felony indictment, from receiving their taxpayer-funded salaries. The change will apply to all members of the General Assembly and other high-ranking officials such as the governor, his lieutenant, the secretary of state, state superintendent of schools and the attorney general.

Trammell’s second prefiled bill would change Georgia law to block pay for all other public officials and employees who are suspended because of a federal indictment.

According to the proposals, once the affected public official is reinstated to his or her position, they would be able to recover the lost wages.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 19, 2019


President Abraham Lincoln delivered an 87-word speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

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.

On November 19, 1864, as Sherman marched toward Savannah, the Georgia delegation to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, sent a message to the state,

“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.”

The first issue of National Review magazine was published on November 19, 1955.

Apollo 12 landed on the moon on November 19, 1969.

Reagan Gorbachev 11191985

President Ronald Reagan met for the first time with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on November 19, 1985.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp took his tour of Georgia manufacturing to Cordele, according to the Cordele Dispatch.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp toured Big Tex Trailers’ Cordele manufacturing and sales facility Monday morning as part of his statewide tour promoting products manufactured in Georgia.

“We have worked literally around the clock since taking office and I’m very proud of what we have accomplished, but I know we have much more to do,” Kemp told employees after his tour. “I believe that rural Georgia is the right place for investment.”

From WALB:

According to BigTex Trailers’ website, the company is “America’s No. 1 professional-grade trailer manufacturer.”

“I’ve been saying, in Georgia, we can make anything for anybody anywhere in the world and that’s what we’re doing and we gotta let people know that,” said Kemp.

Kemp continued to discuss his plan to advance business growth in rural Georgia. He’s calling his plan the Strike Team.

“But we’re gonna do a couple of different things with the Strike Team. Number one, we’re gonna work with local communities that wanna work with us to find sites that we can put a project of regional significance,” explained Kemp.

“To design that site with basically a shovel permit ready and then we’ll upmarket, because sometimes in rural areas, the folks on the ground don’t have the experience in marketing these types of projects, literally to international customers. But we’re gonna help with that but we’ll also help train the individuals. So, over the years, we’ll have more trained people to know how to sell our state and sell your local community,” said Kemp.

Gov. Kemp‘s deadline for applying for a senate appointment has passed, according to the AJC.

The group of candidates seeking the job include a long list of well-known figures. There are state legislators, a former congressman, company CEOs, a U.S. ambassador, decorated military veterans and radio commentators. A Democratic state senator has even applied.

And in the final days, three contenders who are likely to receive serious consideration emerged. Robyn Crittenden, who runs the state’s largest agency, the Department of Human Services, and briefly succeeded Kemp as secretary of state, applied Thursday.

Hours later, Allen Poole, a former county commissioner whom Kemp tapped to lead the highway safety office, applied, saying the nation needs “bold, conservative leaders to stand with President (Donald) Trump.”

And Monday brought one of the biggest names yet: Kelly Loeffler, the head of a financial services firm who co-owns Atlanta’s WNBA franchise and has long been interested in seeking public office. She seems certain to be a top-tier potential appointee to the seat.

A Republican mega-donor, Loeffler can self-finance a Senate campaign that’s expected to shatter fundraising records. She could also potentially help the GOP appeal to suburban women who have fled the party, leading to close margins in last year’s gubernatorial race.

“From working on the family farm to creating jobs and opportunity in the business world, I have been blessed to live the American Dream,” she wrote in her application. “I am offering myself to serve hardworking Georgians as a political outsider in the United States Senate to protect that dream for everyone.”

Like some other applicants, her stance on many of Georgia’s political debates is uncertain and she has no voting record on hot-button issues. Her degree of support for Trump is also unknown, but she pledged to back his agenda in a letter affixed to her application.

Dougherty Commission Chair Chris Cohilas endorsed Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard in the December 3 runoff, according to the Albany Herald.

“If I had to sum up why I’m endorsing Dot, it’s because I’ve worked with her for five years and I’ve gotten to know her as a human and a person and a friend,” County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas told The Herald during an interview following Monday’s Dougherty County Commission meeting. “I think a lot of time people don’t realize how much work she does behind the scenes.”

Hubbard, who is seeking a third term in the mayor’s seat, will face former Albany City Commission member Kermit “Bo” Dorough in the Dec. 3 runoff election for a four-year term. Hubbard finished first in the Nov. 3 municipal election with 30.25 percent of the vote, while Dorough garnered 27.7 percent of the vote.

Brunswick City Commission North Ward voters began early voting in the December 3 runoff election, according to The Brunswick News.

Running against three opponents, incumbent Johnny Cason garnered 45.6 percent of the vote while runner-up John Davis Perry II earned 24.4 percent. As both fell short of the required 50 percent, the race goes to a runoff between the two with the highest vote tallies.

Early voting polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Nov. 27, excluding Saturday and Sunday, in the Office Park Building, 1815 Gloucester St. in Brunswick.

Valdosta opened early voting for the December 3 runoff, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Early voting started Monday and will be held 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, through Friday, Nov. 22. Hours for next week will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25, through Wednesday, Nov. 27. All early voting will occur at the Lowndes County Board of Elections, 2808 N. Oak St.

The runoff election will feature a mayoral race between Scott James Matheson and J.D. Rice and a race for the Valdosta City Council at-large seat between incumbent Councilman Ben Norton and Adrian Rivers.

Rey Rodriquez announced he will run as an independent for Bulloch County Sheriff, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A former Bulloch County sheriff’s deputy threw his hat into the ring recently by publicly announcing his intent to run for the office of Bulloch County sheriff.

Rey Rodriguez said he is running on the Independent ticket, in a move meant to bring people together and not be tied to political parties. He said he wants to be a sheriff for everyone and is “trying to bring people back to the middle.” He doesn’t agree with the sheriff position being partisan and said while he “leans toward conservative, I am a little to the left on some issues.”

Republican candidate Keith Howard announced his intent to run for sheriff earlier this year. Current sheriff Noel Brown, also Republican, has not yet responded to questions from the Statesboro Herald as to whether he intends to seek a second term or when he intends to announce his run.

Charles Rambo announced he will run for Fulton County Sheriff, according to the AJC.

Charles Rambo, 51, has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement and at one point served as national vice president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, according to a news release announcing his candidacy.

Rambo spent 25 years working at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.

This isn’t Rambo’s first run at sheriff. He vied for the top spot in 2004 and again in 2008. Rambo also ran against incumbent Ted Jackson in the 2016 race.

The Gainesville and Hall County Boards of Education voted to put a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the 2020 ballot, according to the Gainesville Times.

On Monday, Nov. 18, both school boards voted to put E-SPLOST VI and a quarter-billion-dollar bond sale for capital funding to voters in 2020.

For Hall County voters, the first ballot question will ask to extend E-SPLOST, and the second will ask for the ability to issue up to $258 million in bonds. Gainesville and Buford voters will see a different bond amount, which will be based on their local enrollment numbers.

The Buford City School Board will vote on the resolution during its Monday, Dec. 9, meeting.

Hall County voters will vote on both propositions on March 24, 2020.

Dalton City Council is considering allowing PTVs, gussied-up golf carts, on some downtown streets , according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The City Council held the first reading on Monday of a law that would allow personal transportation vehicle (PTV) shuttle services in the central business district. PTVs are already allowed on some residential streets.

“That would basically be the streets in the interior of the business district,” said City Administrator Jason Parker.

PTVs are essentially golf carts but by law must have a number of safety features — seatbelts, headlights, turn signals, etc. — that aren’t necessarily found on golf carts used on golf courses. They can only be driven on city streets by licensed drivers.

The state legislature changed the law a couple of years ago to allow PTVs to be operated on city streets if a city OKs them, subject to certain limitations. PTVs can’t be operated on federal highways, state roads or heavily-trafficked cross streets. They can only be operated on streets with speed limits of no more than 25 mph.

Savannah City Council members are working on the 2020 budget, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah’s elected leaders and city staff spent most of Friday going over the city’s proposed $425 million total budget for 2020.

The city still has to approve the budget and plans a first reading on Monday, Nov. 18, at the 2 p.m. council meeting. The date for the meeting that was originally scheduled for Nov. 21 was changed to Monday due to several aldermen attending a summit of the National League of Cities.

Adoption of the budget is expected at the Dec. 5 council meeting.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents elected a new Chair and Vice Chair, according to the Albany Herald.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia elected Regent Sachin Shailendra to a one-year term as the board’s chair and Regent James M. Hull to a one-year term as the board’s vice chair.

The Rome News Tribune spoke to local legislators about priorities for the next legislative session.

Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, took office this year in a special election. As a freshman legislator, he wasn’t assigned to a study committee over the break. But the retired probate court judge said he’s been preparing some bills.

“I’ve been working with the magistrate judges on a clean-up bill to tie their pay raises to the other courts, the constitutional officers,” Scoggins said.

He’s also continuing to push for restraints on robocalls. His House Bill 480 didn’t make it out of committee this year, but Scoggins said he expects to back legislation Rep. Dick Williams, R-Milledgeville, is planning to drop.

“We’re trying to make (phone solicitors) identify themselves, make them at least use their real number,” Scoggins said. “I’ve even had calls that come up with my own number. It’s crazy.”

Scoggins and the county’s other lawmakers — Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome; Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; and Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee — are expected to meet with local officials in early December to discuss priorities for the coming year.

Clarke County School Board member Frances Berry resigned last week, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Berry was appointed to the board in February by a 6-2 vote to fill a seat vacated by Vernon Payne, who left due to health reasons. She submitted her immediate resignation on Friday.

The District 2 seat expires in December 2020. District officials said the vacancy will be filled by the school board. Others who sought the seat prior to Berry’s appointment were Mary Bagby and former Athens-Clarke County commissioner Harry Sims.

Augusta Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan is asking Augusta for , according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Citing a new category of juvenile case that falls outside the traditional system, Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan appealed Monday at an Augusta Commission budget work session to fund some of the positions he requested.

Augusta Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan and Chief Superior Court Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. then weighed in. Flanagan said he got $100,00 of the $250,000 he requested for programs, and of the additional six personnel, none were funded.

But Juvenile Court is also dealing with a new state-mandated category of offender under a program called Children in Need of Services that covers low-level offenses for runaways, truancy and some minor drug charges to keep children from having a criminal record, Flanagan said. Those cases aren’t covered by the district attorney, public defender or the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the court is having to handle them and the follow-up on its own, he said.

“I have no one to do that,” he said. “I asked for new people because we need them.”

The Augusta Judicial Circuit serves Burke, Columbia, and Richmond Counties.

Chatham County Juvenile Court Judge Lisa Goldwire Colbert advised advocates to talk to their elected officials, according to the Savannah Morning News.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 18, 2019

Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863.

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

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.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

Nixon Vinson 1973

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.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission is seeking documents from Democrat Stacey Abrams, according to News Channel 9.

The Georgia ethics commission has filed a lawsuit seeking communications between Democrat Stacey Abrams’ unsuccessful 2018 campaign for governor and several third-party organizations.

But Abrams’ former campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo says they’ve already turned over thousands of financial records. She called the investigation politically motivated.

The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission filed the motion in Fulton County Superior Court on Friday. It’s part of an investigation accusing the Abrams campaign of “unlawful coordination” with an outside organization.

The commission says the campaign isn’t complying with subpoenas issued last spring.

From WABE:

Former campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said the campaign turned in thousands of pages of banking and campaign finance records but refused to release communications requested between the campaign and other groups, including the New Georgia Project and state Sen. Nikema Williams, then vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

“The commission is responsible for campaign finance law here in Georgia. They’re able to investigate campaigns,” she said. “What they’re not able to do is use their power to investigate, to harass, to intimidate and go, on a hunch, that they think a thing may have happened…this commission is in violation of its fundamental right to enforce campaign finance law and is acting as a political arm of the governor’s campaign.”

She called the investigation a “political fishing expedition” due to the executive director of the commission David Emadi’s previous endorsement of Gov. Brian Kemp. Emadi also donated to Kemp’s campaign.

Emadi said in a statement the commission is “taking the same legal measures we have taken in all other cases where the respondent has refused to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas. We will allow the legal pleading to speak for itself.”

He called Groh-Wargo’s comments “baseless allegations by political operatives” and said the commission is committed “to conducting a full and fair investigation into all candidates from the 2018 gubernatorial campaign as a nonpartisan body just as we do in all other cases.”

Early voting in the runoff elections for three seats on Johns Creek City Council opens next week, according to

Early voting for the Dec. 3 General Municipal Runoff Election will be held Monday, Nov. 25 to Wednesday, Nov. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Early voting locations will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include:

College Park Historical Building, 3675 Auditorium Way, College Park
East Roswell Branch Library, 2301 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell
Park Place at Newtown, 3125 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek
Roswell City Hall, 38 Hill Street, Roswell
South Fulton Service Center, 5600 Stonewall Tell Road, College Park

Roswell also opens early voting next week for a city council runoff, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Post 3 candidates Christine Hall and Lisa Holland will face off in a runoff election Dec. 3. Election Day left Hall with 34.52% of votes, and Holland with 31.84% of votes.

Early voting starts Nov. 25 until Nov. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Early voting locations include Roswell City Hall and the East Roswell Branch Library. Election day is Dec. 3.

Savannah will hold earlier early voting in a runoff election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

This week, Savannah residents will be able to cast early ballots for the Dec. 3 runoff that will decide the city’s mayor and District 6 alderman.

Advance in-person voting and absentee mail out for the runoff will begin Wednesday and go until Nov. 27.

For the mayoral seat, voters will choose between incumbent Mayor Eddie DeLoach and former 1st District Alderman Van Johnson.

Voters in District 6 will choose between incumbent alderman Tony Thomas and Georgia Southern University Police Department Capt. Kurtis Purtee.

Valdosta aims to open early voting today, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“The goal is still Monday morning at 8 a.m.,” said Deb Cox, Lowndes County supervisor of elections.

Election officials are targeting Monday, Nov. 18, as the start of early voting for the two runoff races in Valdosta, Cox said. Early voting will be held at the county board of elections, 2808 N. Oak St.

The runoff election will feature a mayoral race between Scott James Matheson and J.D. Rice and a race for the Valdosta City Council at-large seat between incumbent Councilman Ben Norton and Adrian Rivers.

“We have to get the database in, the paper ballots in for provisional and mail-outs — we have to test the paper ballots and databases,” Cox said. “Then, we have to upload the database for the voting equipment so we can start early voting.”

The state does not mandate a specific start date for early voting in runoff elections, Cox said. The law states early voting can begin once official preparations are complete.

The official runoff election will be Dec. 3. All registered voters inside the city limits are eligible to vote in the runoff, even if they did not vote in the Nov. 5 election.

Dougherty and Lee Counties will hold early runoff voting next week, according to the Albany Herald.

Albany residents can add one more item to their Thanksgiving week to-do list: Casting a ballot for one of two candidates in the mayoral and Ward VI Albany City Commission runoff election in the days leading up to the holiday.

Early voting in the runoff between incumbent Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Albany attorney Kermit “Bo” Dorough will be held on Nov. 25, 26 and 27, according to Dougherty Elections supervisor Ginger Nickerson.

There also is a runoff election for the Ward VI seat on the City Commission in which John Hawthorne faces Demetrius Young.

Early voting is from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day in Room 220 of the Government Center building at 222 Pine Ave., during the three-day period. On the Dec. 3 election, voters should cast ballots at their precinct.

Lee County voters also return to the polls in a runoff for a special election in state House District 152 to choose between Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn and Bill Yearta, the former mayor of Sylvester. The winner will serve out the final year of the term of Ed Rynders, who resigned earlier this year.

The district also includes Worth County and a portion of Sumter County.

Early voting in Lee County also is Nov. 25, 26 and 27, from 8:15a.m.-5 p.m. each day, at 100 Starksville Ave. North, Suite C.

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered Florida to stop listing candidates of the incumbent governor’s party first on the ballot, according to the Washington Post.

A federal judge in Florida ordered the state on Friday to change the way candidates are listed on election ballots — a decision that Democrats in the crucial swing state say will take away an unfair advantage Republicans have enjoyed for years.

The current law says that whichever party holds the governor’s office can list its candidates first on the ballot in general elections. That hurts an opposing party, U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker said.

Walker heard testimony from researchers who said the “primacy effect” is real and can give a candidate a statistical advantage as great as 5.4 percentage points. Many voters tend to vote for the first name on the list of candidates, they said.

Walker wrote that evidence shows ballot order makes a difference in elections. And because “elections are a zero-sum game,” any system that favors one party hurts another, which violates the First and 14th amendments of the Constitution, he ruled.

“The . . . issue is whether the Constitution allows a state to put its thumb on the scale and award an electoral advantage to the party in power,” Walker said. “The answer is simple. It does not.”

Republicans in Florida argued that because the law has been in effect since 1951 — through both Democratic and Republican administrations — it should stand unchanged.

From the American Independent:

In Florida, since Republicans won the last governor’s race, that meant all Republicans running for local, state, or federal office were listed first on the ballot. According to the ruling, Republican organizations in the state initially claimed that Republican candidates would be “most directly harmed” by taking away their prime position on the ballot, but later tried to take back that claim.

In 2018, when the ballot order rule was in effect, Democrat Andrew Gillum lost his bid for governor to Republican Ron DeSantis by 0.4% of the vote. That same year, Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson lost to Rick Scott by 0.2% of the vote.

Walker’s ruling will force Florida to come up with a nonpartisan way to list candidates on the ballot. Walker offered several options, including the possibility of rotating which party is listed first on a county-by-county or precinct-by-precinct basis. Florida will be forced to implement this change before the 2020 election.

The lawsuit was brought by a group of Democratic organizations including the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Democratic Governors Association (DGA), and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). (The author of this article is related to a DNC staff member involved in the case.)

On Nov. 1, Democratic groups filed ballot order lawsuits in Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. While the details of each states’ laws differ, each state lists Republicans first on their ballot.

Chatham County‘s voter rolls are growing faster than the population, according to the Savannah Morning News.

From 2014 to 2018, the county’s population increased by 15,998, but the number of registered voters increased by 51,251.

Chatham County Voter Registration Director Sabrina German points towards automatic voter registration, something Georgia started in September 2016.

“Before, you had to opt in and check the box, specifically say you wanted to register, and now you have to opt out if you don’t want to register. It’s one of those questions people just kind of glance over, so they automatically opt in. If you don’t uncheck it, you’re automatically registering,” German said. “I would say most people opt in.”

Now, anytime Georgia residents interact with the DMV, their voter registration is automatically updated — and it can be a high daily tally.

“We get at least somewhere around 200 to 300 applications per day, whether that’s a change of address or new registration,” German said. “Fridays and Tuesdays are our heaviest days, and on those days we get closer to 400, but on most days, it’s right about 300 applications per day.”

Some new voting machines malfunctioned during their first deployment, according to the AJC.

Voting machines rebooted in the middle of voting. Computers couldn’t program the cards voters use to activate voting machines. One voter inserted a driver’s license into the voting machine, causing it to go blank.

Those were some of the 45 incidents reported during a test run of Georgia’s new voting system, according to a summary from the secretary of state’s office. The pilot was conducted in six counties, where 27,482 ballots were cast in this month’s election.

“These problems are mainly human based,” [SOS COO Gabriel] Sterling said. “We can train and train, and our plan is to train again. That’s going to be the main thing that’s going to make these things work properly.”

Sterling said he’s confident that the state’s voting system will be ready for the presidential primary, and all equipment is scheduled for delivery by late January.

The Georgia State House Special Committee on Economic Growth will meet tomorrow in Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Hosted at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center, the House Special Committee on Economic Growth will hold a meeting open to the public, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19. The committee, co-chaired by Georgia State Reps. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) and (R-Savannah), was formed to research new revenue streams and new opportunities to grow the state economy. One of those opportunities would be the possible legalization of gaming, or gambling.

“The most important thing that we can receive when we come to Valdosta is the input from local citizens,” Harrell said. “We want to hear firsthand from the citizens. Are you interested in having an opportunity to vote on this issue?”

“All of this is about economic development, of course,” Stephens said. “The tax revenues that will come in to close the gap on the HOPE scholarship, but even more important now is we all three believe that health care is an even bigger issue to fund with tagging who are underinsured and uninsured, including hospitals.”

The State House Juvenile Justice Committee discussed changing the age at which minors must be charged as adults, according to The Brunswick News.

Georgia treats 17-year-olds like adults when it comes to criminal matters, but is one of only three states that still do so — most 17-year-old offenders in the United States go through their state’s juvenile court processes. A bill that would change that could get a boost this coming legislative session, and legislators took a serious look at it in a Friday committee hearing.

“There are a lot of factors to consider when we are considering such a significant policy change for the state, and this meeting here, the meeting of the Juvenile Justice Committee, is one of several that are planned as we kind of work through this process,” said state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton and committee chairwoman.

Ballinger introduced H.B. 440 during the last session of the General Assembly in February, but it did not move out of committee.

Regardless of whether the legislature passes H.B. 440 in its current or a similar form, some teens would still come under the purview of their local superior court — state law mandates that anyone older than 13 be tried as an adult for a handful of major felonies, from armed robbery that involves guns to certain sex crimes and homicide.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel spoke about ethics in his hometown, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“Ethics are the shared values of a community or a society,” he said. “They are the personal morals of the members of that society woven together into a network. Textiles are a fabric composed of a network of many different fibers.”

Bethel, a Dalton native, spoke Tuesday at Dalton State College as part of the University System of Georgia’s Ethics Awareness Week, a program required by the Board of Regents for each college and university in the system.

But he noted that many people regarded as moral exemplars are people who actually defied the ethics standards of their community. He pointed to Harper Lee’s 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” where the protagonist, attorney Atticus Finch, defies the ethics of the small Southern town he lived in to defend a black man accused of rape.

Bethel said if people feel some of the ethical standards of the community they live in are wrong, they have an obligation to change those community ethical standards.

Free public wifi is now available in part of midtown Macon, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Wi-Fi Macon is a project of Middle Georgia State University’s School of Computing in partnership with Cox Communications and Macon-Bibb County.

The service is available along Poplar Street between Rosa Parks Square and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

“Public Wi-Fi is such an important part of any downtown or growing metropolitan area because it helps the community and the citizens to stay connected,” said Kevin Floyd, associate dean for the School of Computing. “There are a lot people in communities that don’t have access to the internet. We often take that for granted.

The project is funded for 18 months through a $39,848 Downtown Challenge grant from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, according to a memorandum of understanding between the mayor and the university approved by the Macon-Bibb County Commission.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash will present a proposed 2020 budget Tuesday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The proposed budget will be unveiled during a presentation at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and Nash said there will be a focus on public safety — something that has been a recurring theme in recent county budgets — as well as the county’s court system.

The court part in particular may not be much of a surprise given ongoing growth in the court system. That includes construction of a new courtroom wing at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center and Gov. Brian Kemp’s recent appointment of Magistrate Judge Angela Duncan to fill a new seat on the Gwinnett Superior Court bench.

The budget presentation will take place in the Board of Commissioners’ conference room on the second floor of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, which is located at 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.

Nash did give the Daily Post some sneak peaks Friday on what to expect in the budget, including 30 additional police officer positions and two additional ambulance units which are being added to address growing demands for services.

“Like most large organizations, we are increasing our efforts in the cybersecurity area, which is a costly undertaking but which cannot be ignored,” the chairwoman said. “We continue to move capital projects forward with much of the funding being the result of the last SPLOST referendum.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 15, 2019

James Oglethorpe left London on November 15, 1732 headed to a Thames River port named Gravesend, where he would board the ship Anne and lead the first colonists to Georgia.

The Georgia Trustees visited the first group of settlers on November 16, 1732, the day before they were scheduled to depart England for the New World.

On November 17, 1732, the first English headed to colonize Georgia set off from Gravesend, England, down the Thames. Their supplies included ten tons of beer.

On November 16, 1737, the Georgia Trustees learned that England’s King George II would send 300 soldiers, along with 150 wives and 130 children to the settlement in Georgia.

On November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were adopted in York, Pennsylvania.

Congress was a single house, with each state having one vote, and a president elected to chair the assembly. Although Congress did not have the right to levy taxes, it did have authority over foreign affairs and could regulate a national army and declare war and peace. Amendments to the Articles required approval from all 13 states. On March 2, 1781, following final ratification by the 13th state, the Articles of Confederation became the law of the land.

Edward Langworthy of Savannah, Edward Telfair, and John Walton signed the Articles of Confederation for Georgia.

On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.

Stephen Heard Conan OBrien

On November 15, 1815, Patriot leader Stephen Heard died in Elbert County, GA. Heard served on Georgia’s Executive Council during part of the American Revolution and as its President from 1780 to 1781. He later served in the Georgia House of Representatives, as a judge in Elbert County, and as a delegate to Georgia’s 1975 Constitutional Convention. The above portrait of Conan O’Brien Stephen Heard hangs in the basement (pied a terre) level of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion.

Abraham Lincoln began the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.

On November 15, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army left Atlanta on its March to the Sea.

On November 15, the army began to move, burning the industrial section of Atlanta before leaving. One witness reported “immense and raging fires lighting up whole heavens… huge waves of fire roll up into the sky; presently the skeleton of great warehouses stand out in relief against sheets of roaring, blazing, furious flames.” Sherman’s famous destruction of Georgia had begun.

On November 16, 1864, Sherman left Atlanta in smoking ruins.

A 2010 Wired article argues that Sherman’s rampage through Georgia and the Carolinas changed modern warfare.

Vengeance aside, the real objective of Sherman’s march was to cut the Confederacy in two, cripple Southern industrial capacity, destroy the railroad system and compel an early Confederate surrender. It was also intended to break Southern morale — in Sherman’s words, to “make Georgia howl.”

Sherman was vilified for his barbarism, but the Union commander was a realist, not a romantic. He understood — as few of his contemporaries seemed to — that technology and industrialization were radically changing the nature of warfare.

It was no longer a question of independent armies meeting on remote battlefields to settle the issue. Civilians, who helped produce the means for waging modern war, would no longer be considered innocent noncombatants. Hitting the enemy where he ate and breaking him psychologically were just as important to victory as vanquishing his armies in the field.

Sherman grasped this and, though he wasn’t the first military proponent of total war, he was the first modern commander to deliberately strike at the enemy’s infrastructure. The scorched-earth tactics were effective. The fragile Southern economy collapsed, and a once-stout rebel army was irretrievably broken.

Meanwhile, the marshals of Europe watched Sherman’s progress with fascination. And they learned.

Herman Talmadge was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 17, 1948, ending the “Three Governors” controversy. Click here for a review of the “Three Governors” episode by Ron Daniels.

Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.

On November 15, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Shah of Iran in Washington, where they spent two days discussing U.S-Iranian relations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, State Senator Brandon Beach announced he was ending his campaign for the Sixth Congressional District seat held by Democrat Lucy Mc Bath and would run for reelection to the Senate. From a campaign email:

Today, I am ending my campaign for Congress. During this campaign, I have come to realize that a calling to public service does not always mean running for higher office.  After speaking with Governor Kemp this weekend, I believe that, at this time, I can help more Georgians in the positions I currently hold and be more effective in the State Senate than in Congress.

Elected office was not my life’s desire, but a calling. I first entered the public service arena as President of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, where I reversed years of mismanagement and debt to create one of Georgia’s most preeminent and well-run business organizations.

I still feel strongly that we must elect bold candidates to federal office who can go beyond the rhetoric and advance common-sense conservative policies and practical solutions to the many challenges facing people across the 6th district and our State.

With that in mind, I will qualify to run for re-election for Senate District 21 next year. If I have the honor to be re-elected, I will continue to work tirelessly for the citizens of North Fulton and Cherokee County to ensure a better quality of life and ensure Georgia continues to be the #1 state to do business in.

I want to thank everyone that has supported my campaign with their time, financial contributions, words of encouragement and support. I am honored to have the continued support of leaders like Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Cherokee County Chairman Harry Johnston, Cherokee County Commissioner Steve West, Fulton County Commissioners Liz Hausmann and Bob Ellis, and Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood.

Governor Brian Kemp supports my decision and shared these words today:

“I applaud Senator Beach for his willingness to serve in Congress but respect his decision to remain in the State Senate. Quite honestly, we need bold leadership under the Gold Dome to continue our success and keep Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. At the State Capitol, Senator Beach has led efforts to cut red tape and eliminate burdensome regulations on job creators. He has championed crucial infrastructure projects and reforms and worked to protect our conservative Georgia values. I look forward to partnering with Senator Beach in the years to come to lower healthcare costs, protect our families from gangs, enhance our educational outcomes and put hardworking Georgians first.”

State Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock), who had previously announced for Beach’s senate seat, said he’s staying in the race, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News.

Caldwell said there is still good reason for voters to choose him when the Republican primary is held next year.

“I believe I have a positive track record and that we need leadership and a voice from Cherokee County in the state Senate, especially with redistricting coming up next year,” Caldwell said. “I have a strong relationship with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and I look forward working closely with him in the state Senate.”

Caldwell said he has been a backer of business growth, and policies that help small business – citing the decision of Woodstock to waive business license fees for small businesses in their first year. “I’ve been a supporter of policies like that and we need to spread them across the state. And, the state Senate is a good place to help make that happen,” he said.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks announced he will not run for reelection in 2020, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

District 1 Commissioner Jace Brooks, who was first elected in 2012 to the commission, announced his decision to not seek re-election Thursday afternoon.

Brooks, who has also been mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for an open commission chairman’s race in 2020, said he does not plan to run for any other office at this time.

“While my time in public service has been rewarding, it is now time to focus more time on my family and consulting work,” Brooks said in a statement. “But my work isn’t done yet. Over the next 14 months, I will continue my record of making bold decisions on the Commission to ensure our future in Gwinnett remains bright. I truly thank the people of District 1 for the honor to serve them.”

Last year’s elections also saw several legislative seats in Gwinnett, two commission seats and a school board seat in Gwinnett flip from Republican to Democrat, prompting speculation about whether several local Republicans up for election in 2020 would opt to not run again.

Brooks is the second of three Republicans on the county commission whose seats are up for election next year to announce they will not run for re-election. Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, also a Republican, announced her decision to not run again earlier this year.

If Republicans can’t field candidates for all three commission seats and successfully defend them, Democrats will become the majority on the commission. There are already two Democrats on the commission: District 2 Commissioner Ben Ku and District 4 Commissioner Marlene Fosque.

If just one of the three commission seats on the ballot next year flips to Democrats, Republicans will have lost the grip they’ve had on power in county government for nearly four decades.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public meeting to discuss a project on the Savannah River and no public questions were allowed, according to GPB News.

A crowd of several hundred gathered in Augusta Wednesday evening to ask representatives from The Army Corps of Engineers how they came to the decision to demolish The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, in spite of overwhelming objections from local residents on both sides of the Savannah River in Georgia and South Carolina.

Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District Commander Col. Daniel Hibner began his presentation by saying, “Due to ongoing litigation, I can no longer take questions as I intended tonight.”

While the rock weirs will improve the lot of the fish, it will lower the water level through downtown Augusta by at least 2 feet. The Corps ran a simulation of conditions on the river with the rock weirs replacing the lock and dam back in February.

It left navigation hazards exposed, docks resting on mud flats, and residents outraged.

DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann will leave office, according to the AJC.

The sheriff of DeKalb County, in the midst of an appeal over his law enforcement certification, plans to retire 13 months before his term is slated to end.

Jeffrey Mann, who has been sheriff since 2014, has been fighting to keep his certification after a state panel voted to revoke it in 2017. Mann pleaded guilty to charges after he allegedly exposed himself to an Atlanta officer in Piedmont Park.

“I am grateful and truly humbled that you placed your trust in me. I trust that I have served you well in my duties as Sheriff,” Mann wrote. “I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. I thank them for allowing me to serve and for their phenomenal dedication, hard work and professionalism.”

With his retirement planned for Nov. 30, the current chief deputy sheriff, Melody Maddox, is set to take over as sheriff. It is believed that she will be the first female sheriff in DeKalb history.

Ramona Tyson will serve again as interim Superintendent of DeKalb County Public Schools, according to the AJC.

In 2010, she assumed the role when then-Superintendent Crawford Lewis temporarily stepped away — and was soon fired — when an investigation discovered a criminal enterprise being run out of the school district and resulted in convictions for Lewis, former Chief Operating Officer Pat Reid and her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope.

Monday, Tyson was lured back to the role after the school board parted ways with Steve Green, who had announced plans to leave the district at the end of the current school year. He came to the district in 2015 under a three-year contract. In 2016 and 2017, the board approved one-year contract extensions. School board members did not approve contract extensions for Green in 2018 and 2019, which would have kept him here beyond 2020.

“With Dr. Green’s immediate departure, we have the utmost confidence in Ms. Tyson serving as the interim superintendent,” DeKalb County Board of Education chairman Michael A. Erwin said Monday.

Augusta Commissioners and Mayor Hardie Davis will take a retreat today, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Scheduled by Davis, the retreat will be facilitated by Eric Robinson from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and held at the downtown Marriott. Agenda items include goals and expectations, ground rules, team-building, setting priorities and developing action plans.

Several issues have deeply divided the commission, loosely along color lines, over the past few years, such as the mayor-led effort to build a new civic center at Regency Mall, the decision whether to keep EMS provider Gold Cross or in-source Augusta’s EMS program and very basic matters such as who gets to speak when at meetings.

The Georgia Ports Authority continues to rack up record-book entries, according to the Savannah Morning News.

October turned out another record for the Georgia Ports Authority, with the GPA moving 428,400 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) during the month, an increase of 14,600 TEUs or 3.5%.

The month gave the Port of Savannah a fiscal year-to-date total of 1.6 million TEUs, up 90,600, or 6%.

“We have seen three years of incredible volume growth, and the economy of the U.S. Southeast remains a powerhouse,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch.

“Georgia’s market share continues to expand as new commodities come online and customers in new regions rely on our services.”

Daytime shipping to and from the Port of Brunswick is normalizing for the first time since the M/V Golden Ray capsized in St Simons Sound, according to The Brunswick News.

Daytime shipping traffic into the Port of Brunswick resumed Thursday, the first time it has been permitted on a regular basis since the Sept. 8 wreck of the 656-foot freighter Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound, according to the Unified Command.

The 25,000-ton Golden Ray lies capsized on its port side between St. Simons and Jekyll islands, just south of the federal shipping channel that runs through the sound to the port. Unified Command is presently preparing the overturned vessel to be dismantled and removed from the St. Simons Sound, a herculean task that remains in the planning stages.

Shipping traffic through the sound has been limited to overnight hours, leaving the valuable daylight hours to crews working on the Golden Ray. U.S. Coast Guard Commander Norm Witt, Georgia’s Captain of the Ports, determined that preparations on the Golden Ray have progressed sufficiently to allow daytime shipping to resume.

The Whitfield County citizens committee on a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is working to finalize a proposed project list, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“We have to have a final proposal by the first week of December, and we won’t be meeting Thanksgiving week, so we have a lot of work to do,” said Chris Shiflett, chairman of the SPLOST advisory committee.

The committee won’t determine the final projects that would be placed on the ballot. Those decisions would be made by the county Board of Commissioners in consultation with the councils of the county’s four cities.

Committee members had previously set a goal of having a SPLOST of no more than four years, which would be expected to collect some $66 million. A SPLOST is a 1% sales tax collected on most goods sold in the county.

Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr. signed an order enjoining penalties against local governments deadlocked in service delivery negotiations, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Lookout Mountain Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr. signed an order on Thursday holding in abeyance state sanctions against the municipal and county governments of Whitfield County for failing to come to an agreement on a new Service Delivery Strategy (SDS).

The order holds off sanctions until May 1, 2020, while the parties take part in a mandatory mediated negotiation.

Due to the failure to come to a new SDS agreement, the governments of Dalton and the other county and municipal governments of Whitfield County would have been subject to sanctions from the state Department of Community Affairs including the loss of qualified status to receive state financial assistance or grants. Van Pelt’s order directs the department to hold off on imposing those sanctions, allowing the governments of Whitfield County to operate as usual while the mandatory mediation of the SDS negotiations takes place.

Mandatory mediation is the next step under the state’s SDS law to resolve a service delivery dispute between governments. The City of Dalton petitioned for a mandatory mediation after the parties failed to come to an agreement by the Oct. 31 deadline, and Van Pelt was appointed to preside over the proceedings on Nov. 8. On Tuesday, Van Pelt appointed Cobb County Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs to serve as mediator for the negotiations.

Property tax payments are due today in Hall County and Floyd County. Also, I know personally, DeKalb.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 14, 2019

President George Washington returned to the City of Washington on November 13, 1789, ending the first Presidential tour.

On the same day, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his friend Jean-Baptiste LeRoy, in which he said,

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

General Sherman’s army prepared for the March to the Sea on November 14, 1864.

On November 13, 1865, the United States government issued the first Gold Certificates.

The Georgia General Assembly adopted a resolution against ratifying the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution on November 13, 1866.

In deciding not to ratify the 14th Amendment, the General Assembly adopted a committee report explaining that: “1. If Georgia is not a State composing part of the Federal Government known as the Government of the United States, amendments to the Constitution of the United States are not properly before this body. 2. If Georgia is a State composing part of the Federal Government … , these these amendments are not proposed according to the requirements of the Federal Constitution, and are proposed in such a manner as to forbid the legislature from discussing the merits of the amendments without an implied surrender of the rights of the State.”

Excavation began for a new Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on the site of the former City Hall/Fulton County Courthouse on November 13, 1884.

Walt Disney released “Fantasia” on November 13, 1940.

Georgia Governor and Constitutional Commission Chair Ellis Arnall moved that a home rule provision be included in the new draft of the state Constitution and his motion passed 8-7 on November 13, 1944.

On November 14, 1944, the Constitutional Convention working on a revised document for Georgia reversed its position on home rule that had been adopted the previous day on the motion of Governor Ellis Arnall.

On November 13, 1956, the United States Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down a law requiring segregation on buses in Montgomery, Alabama.

Ronald Reagan announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States on November 13, 1979.

“The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over regulated. It has failed to deliver services within the revenues it should be allowed to raise from taxes. In the thirty-four years since the end of World War II, it has spent 448 billion dollars more than it has collection in taxes – 448 billion dollars of printing press money, which has made every dollar you earn worth less and less. At the same time, the federal government has cynically told us that high taxes on business will in some way “solve” the problem and allow the average taxpayer to pay less. Well, business is not a taxpayer it is a tax collector. Business has to pass its tax burden on to the customer as part of the cost of doing business. You and I pay the taxes imposed on business every time we go to the store. Only people pay taxes and it is political demagoguery or economic illiteracy to try and tell us otherwise.”

“The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes. At the same time, we need to get the waste out of federal spending. This does not mean sacrificing essential services, nor do we need to destroy the system of benefits which flow to the poor, the elderly, the sick and the handicapped. We have long since committed ourselves, as a people, to help those among us who cannot take care of themselves. But the federal government has proven to be the costliest and most inefficient provider of such help we could possibly have.”

“I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded—religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and parent. It is our servant, beholden to us.”

“We who are privileged to be Americans have had a rendezvous with destiny since the moment in 1630 when John Winthrop, standing on the deck of the tiny Arbella off the coast of Massachusetts, told the little band of pilgrims, “We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982 in Washington, DC.

On November 13, 2006, groundbreaking began for a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Three astronauts with connections to Georgia – Eric Boe, Robert Kimbrough, and Sandra Magnus – were aboard the space shuttle Endeavor when it lifted off on November 14, 2008.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp set 5 PM on Monday, November 18 as the due date for applications for appointment to the United States Senate.

“I am encouraging all Georgians who want to serve in the U.S. Senate to submit their name and qualifications by Monday, November 18,” said Governor Kemp. “We will continue to carefully vet each applicant and nominate a person who will best serve our state and country.”

The Governor’s Office will release additional information at the appropriate time.

On August 28, 2019, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson announced his decision to resign from public office, effective December 31, 2019. There is no vacancy until Isakson’s formal resignation on December 31, 2019. Under Ga. Const. Art. V, § II, Para. VIII and Ga. Code. Ann. § 21-2-542, the Governor will make a temporary appointment where such person will serve until a special election is held on November 3, 2020.

From the Tifton Gazette:

The casting call has garnered applications from residents all across the Peach State — from military veterans, cooperate executives, former and current state politicians and media personalities. By the end of last month, the governor’s office had received over 500 applications, although submissions have slowed drastically.

President Donald Trump’s former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price even threw in his name for consideration. Price served in the Trump administration from February to September in 2017 and resigned from the HHS following scrutiny over his travel expenses. Prior to that, he served in the House, representing Georgia’s 6th congressional district.

Current U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and Trump ally has made frequent public appearances in Georgia politics since applying for the open seat.

Collins made appearances at Kemp’s human trafficking awareness event last month and joined the crowd at Trump’s “Black Voices for Trump” initiative launch earlier this month.

At the event, Trump told the crowd Collins was a “warrior” during the Mueller hearings and made a nod that the residents of Georgia “better like” him.

From the AJC:

It’s a sign that Kemp is nearing his decision to make an appointment after months of limbo, possibly as soon as next week when the political spotlight descends on Georgia for the Democratic debate.

Although his advisers likely whittled down a list of top contenders for Isakson’s seat before they announced the process, Kemp has said he wanted to ensure that he considers a gamut of Georgians for the coveted job.

There’s a strong chance Kemp could surprise with his pick, though many Republican handicappers list three names as top contenders: U.S. Rep. Doug Collins; state Rep. Jan Jones, the No. 2 Republican in the Georgia House; and Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton.

Governor Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and State House Speaker David Ralston appointed members to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. From the press release:

Today Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston announced their respective appointments to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission as authorized by House Bill 324.

The commission has seven total members with three appointed by the Governor, two appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, and two appointed by the House Speaker. The members serve four-year terms, and the Governor selects the commission chair. The commmission is administratively attached to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Governor Kemp’s Appointees

Danielle Benson, Small Business Owner

Christopher Edwards, M.D., Principal Surgeon, Atlanta Neurological & Spine Institute

Jason Hockenberry, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Health Policy, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health

“Georgia’s Hope Act provides a critical pathway for Georgians with chronic, debilitating diseases to get the help that they desperately need,” said Governor Kemp. “I am confident that Dr. Edwards, Dr. Hockenberry, and Mrs. Benson will serve with the highest levels of integrity in faithfully carrying out the mission of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission.”

Governor Kemp has selected Dr. Edwards to serve as commission chair.

Lieutenant Governor Duncan’s Appointees

William Bornstein, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality & Patient Safety Officer, Emory Healthcare

Judith Rochon, M.D., Kaiser Permanente

“After a thoughtful and deliberate selection process, I am pleased to announce my two appointments to this important commission,” Lt. Governor Duncan said. “This group of citizens is now positioned to carry out the intent of this legislation by creating and executing the initial framework of this important process. A process that will ultimately deliver medicinal value to those who have been narrowly defined in the legislation and have been eagerly awaiting relief.”

Speaker Ralston’s Appointees

William “Bill” Prather, President, Georgia Board of Pharmacy

Bob Starrett, City of Austell Chief of Police

“From the beginning, we have been motivated by the desire to help Georgians suffering from chronic and painful conditions,” said Speaker David Ralston. “We have acted deliberately to implement a well-regulated and tightly-controlled medical cannabis system that is safe and secure. I know both Mr. Prather’s and Chief Starrett’s professional expertise will be invaluable as this work moves forward. I want to again thank all those public officials involved in making today’s announcement possible, particularly State Representative Micah Gravley, who has worked for years to get us to this moment.”

From the AJC:

The appointments were a key step for patients who have been allowed to use the drug since 2015 but had no legal way to buy, grow or transport it. State law allows marijuana oil to treat severe seizures, terminal cancers, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.

Now, the seven-member board can begin creating a medical marijuana distribution network across Georgia, establish testing and oversight rules, and issue licenses for businesses to sell low THC oil, according to a state law passed this year, called Georgia’s Hope Act.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission includes three doctors, a police chief, a health policy professor, the president for the Georgia Board of Pharmacy and a small-business owner. The commission’s chairman is Dr. Christopher Edwards, the principal surgeon for the Atlanta Neurological & Spine Institute.

Up to 9 acres of indoor growing space will be licensed for cultivation of medical marijuana, according to Georgia’s medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 324. The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will create regulations for retail sale and then issue licenses for growing, manufacturing and distribution of low THC oil. Only marijuana oil with less than 5% THC, the compound that gives marijuana users a high, will be allowed.

Two large companies and four smaller companies will be authorized to grow medical marijuana. In addition, the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University will seek licenses to produce and manufacture marijuana oil.

The commission can also buy and transport marijuana oil to Georgia for use by registered patients whose doctors have signed off on it.

A poll shows nearly half-a-clown car’s worth of Democratic candidates leading President Trump in next year’s election, according to The Hill.

President Trump may be in for a tough reelection fight in Georgia in 2020, according to a poll released on Wednesday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that shows him trailing five of his potential Democratic rivals.

Former Vice President Joe Biden holds the biggest lead over Trump, besting him 51 percent to 43 percent in a hypothetical matchup, according to the AJC poll.

Four other candidates — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) — hold narrower leads over Trump, ranging from 4 points in Sanders’s case to a single point in Harris’s case. Warren and Buttigieg each lead Trump by 3 points in hypothetical matchups.

The survey, conducted for the AJC by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, may be overly optimistic for Democrats. Nearly 62 percent of those who responded to the poll were college educated, a disproportionate sample compared to the state’s actual makeup.

What’s more, 43.3 percent of respondents said they voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election compared to 41.7 percent who said they voted for Trump. In fact, Trump carried Georgia by roughly 5 points that year.

A clown-car would have had a better chance of calling the 2016 Georgia election correctly. Witness:

“New poll shows Hillary Clinton winning Georgia in presidential election on night of final debate” – AJC headline for October 19, 2016

“Poll: Clinton leads Trump in red state Georgia” – CNN piece dated August 6, 2016, citing AJC Poll

“AJC poll: Hillary Clinton has slim lead over Donald Trump in Georgia” – AJC headline for August 5, 2016

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opened an investigation into two unauthorized persons allegedly in secured voting areas, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Marilyn Marks, executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance, and Richard DeMillo, a cybersecurity expert and Georgia Tech professor, are accused of “interfering with voters by being in unauthorized areas” of voting locations while observing pilot elections conducted on the new machines on Nov. 5.

Raffensperger spokesman Walter Jones says the investigation was launched after complaints from “poll workers and voters” and that Marks and DeMillo were “in an area of the polling place where only voters and election officials are allowed to be.”

Marks responded, “I have absolutely no idea what this could be about other than just an effort to try to discredit us, because much of what we observed was not pretty.”

Marks and DeMillo are among multiple critics who say the new machines share many of the problems of the old machines and can’t be effectively audited. They favor a system using hand-marked paper ballots.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced record low unemployment, according to AccessWDUN.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler reported Thursday the jobless rate for the state is now 3.4 percent, down by 0.1 percentage points from September. That number was last reached in December 2000. Georgia’s rate was as high as 10.6 percent in 2010 due to impacts from the Great Recession. The number has been steadily falling ever since. In fact, it’s been under 4 percent since last summer.

Butler said the unemployment rate record wasn’t the only one set in October. Georgia also set new highs for jobs and employment. Several job sectors set records as well.

“We had a record-setting month in October and that always stands out,” Butler said. “We tied the record low unemployment rate while at the same time setting new records for employment and jobs.”

Georgia’s number of unemployed residents fell to under 175,000 – the lowest total in more than 18 years.

“It was 2001 when we last saw the number of unemployed this low in Georgia, and there were a million fewer people in the workforce back then,” Butler said.

Dahlonega voters passed the “brunch bill” referendum and tossed out a city council incumbents, according to the Dahlonega Nugget.

Valdosta will host a runoff election, according to ValdostaToday.

In the November 5, 2019 General Municipal Special Election there were some issues early on with the new voting machines at several polls which extended voting from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Valdosta, being one of six cities in Georgia trying out the new system was also one of four that had problems.

The results were late being released and the mayoral candidates J.D. Rice and Scott James Matheson found they were to face one another in a December 3 runoff election, since neither received 50% or more of the vote.

Also facing a runoff are Adrian J. Rivers and Ben H. Horton for the City Council At-Large seat due to the counting of provisional ballots on Friday. Initially Deb Cox, director of the Lowndes County Board of Elections, said she did not expect these ballots to make much of a difference in the original outcome.

Edgar “Nicky” Tooley and Rivers were so close after the count following Tuesday’s election, with only 14 votes separating them, but the 100 provisional ballots gave Rivers an 18 vote lead over Rivers, which pushes Rivers into a runoff with Ben H. Norton.

House District 152, headed to a special runoff election, saw the third-place finisher endorse in the runoff, according to the Albany Herald.

Tyler Johnson, who finished third on Nov. 5, on Wednesday endorsed Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn, who finished first on election night with 42% of the vote.

Quinn is vying in the House 152 race, which includes all of Lee and Worth counties and the southern portion of Sumter County, against former Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta, who drew 34% of ballots cast.

“During the election, I had the chance to campaign alongside of all of the contenders for House District 152, getting to know them and their positions,” said Johnson, a combat veteran currently serving in the Georgia National Guard. “Since the election, the two remaining candidates both solicited my support. After consideration of who I believe best reflects my values and will represent all three counties as a true conservative, I am endorsing Jim Quinn.”

Laurens County gets some media attention for being the first school system in Georgia to arm and train some staff. From CB46:

Outside every school building in the county is a yellow sign that reads, in part: “Warning. Staff members are armed and trained. Any attempt to harm children will be met with deadly force.”

Laurens County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Dan Brigman spearheaded the initiative in 2018, after the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, in which 17 innocent students and staff were killed. “Parkland woke me up as a superintendent,” he said. “I had a detailed discussion with not only our Board of Education, but with local law enforcement as well, about ways we can improve our response time and preserve lives in our buildings, God forbid a tragedy like that happens in Laurens County Schools.”

After weeks of research and planning, the initiative was voted on by the Board of Education in April of 2018. It passed unanimously and officially launched the following fall, for the 2018-2019 school year. Approximately 28 staff members participated year one. Now, in year two, (the 2019-2020 school year) there are 45 armed staff members.

One of the primary reasons for implementing the policy, known as GAMB, is because of how large the county is. Laurens County spans roughly 800 square miles, making it the third largest in the state; If an active shooter were to take aim at a school here, it could take 5-10 minutes (or more) for the closest law enforcement officer to respond. “If there is an active shooter, every second counts,” said Brigman. He says having trained staff members on-site and ready to respond to a threat could save countless lives.

“You may have 5 police officers on a street corner in Atlanta, where we wouldn’t have that here, so I think it all boils down to what would fit your community best.”

The Reporter Newspapers take a look at how a blue wave hit Dunwoody’s local elections.

Dunwoody’s next mayor will be Lynn Deutsch, who acknowledges she benefited from the Democratic “blue wave” sweeping the traditionally Republican suburbs in her Nov. 5 election. But, she said, she is an independent, not a Democrat as many people perceive her to be.

And winning a City Council seat was Joe Seconder, who came out publicly as a Democrat in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory and helped found the now defunct group Perimeter Progressives.

The winning candidates said national politics had no direct impact on their victories. They say they focused on local issues, kept their campaigns nonpartisan and worked harder to reach more voters with their visions for the city’s future.

Turnout was low in Dunwoody’s mayoral race, with 7,871 people voting out of more than 30,000 registered voters in the city, according to unofficial results from the DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections.

The Glynn County Board of Elections voted to change four polling places ahead of the 2020 elections, according to The Brunswick News.

The polling place located in Zion Baptist Church will move back to the same location it was before Glynn County Schools began renovating Burroughs-Molette Elementary School. [I]t is the same building the polling place hosted before it moved to Zion. Because the polling place will no longer be in the school the board decided to rename the voting precinct to Urbana-Perry Parks, after the two parks the area.

Following the trend of moving polling places out of schools, the one in Oglethorpe Point Elementary School will be moved to Golden Isles Presbyterian Church. That precinct will be renamed from Oglethorpe Point to Hampton River. The board also voted to move two more polling places, one from Satilla Marsh Elementary School to CenterPoint Church and another from Marshes of Glynn Baptist Church to the Brookman Recreation Building in Baldwin Park. The board voted to rename the two precincts to Satilla Marshes and Brookman, respectively.

Due to safety concerns, Channell said counties around the country are moving their polling places out of schools. Within the next two years, Glynn County should have all its polling places out of schools and into other buildings.

In other business, Channell told the board that he had no more news on when it can expect to receive the county’s full allotment of new voting equipment.

Chatham County Board of Elections approved two new voting precincts for Pooler, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Chatham County Board of Elections on Tuesday voted to approve two new Pooler voting precincts which will be in place before the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary, marking the end of a nearly year-long struggle wrought with changes in state law and missed deadlines.

The board voted 3-1 to approve the precincts at their meeting on Tuesday, which will divide current precincts 7-12 and 7-07. Board member Debbie Rauers was the only vote against the new polling places.

The polling place for new precinct 7-16 will be Legacy at Savannah Quarters, located at 101 Shepherd Way.

For new precinct 8-16, voters will cast ballots at Oaks at Pooler, located at 125 Southern Junction Blvd #800.

Congressman Jody Hice (R-Monroe) will hold a telephone town hall meeting Thursday night, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Telephone Town Halls are a tried-and-true method for me to connect with hundreds of 10th District residents and hear their views,” Hice said in a statement. “I look forward to hearing from folks back home on Thursday evening as we discuss news and policies happening in Washington that affect our community.”

Hice’s office said residents of his district can submit questions for the forum by calling 202-225-4101. They can also RSVP online or dial into the discussion by calling 877-229-8493 and use passcode 117571 during the forum.

Braselton voters will have limited opportunities to vote in the December runoff, according to the Gainesville Times.

Early voting in the Dec. 3 runoff for the Braselton Town Council’s District 1 seat is set for Nov. 25-27.

Residents can vote between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Braselton Police & Municipal Court building at 5040 Ga. Highway 53.

As the top two finishers in the Nov. 5 election, incumbent Becky Richardson and challenger Richard Mayberry will face each other in the runoff.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 12, 2019

General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered the destruction of railroad and telegraph lines between Atlanta and Northwest Georgia on November 12, 1864. Sherman also burned the railroad bridge over the Chattahoochee, cutting his own supply line from Chattanooga.

In what looks to me like a surprisingly progressive move for the 19th century, Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation on November 12, 1889 opening the University of Georgia to white women.

On November 12, 1918, Atlanta held a victory parade to celebrate the Armistice with Germany.

On November 12, 1944, the Atlanta Constitution released a poll of Georgia legislators indicating that most wanted more local rule for cities and counties in the new Constitution being drafted.

President Jimmy Carter ordered an end to oil imports from Iran on November 12, 1979.

Tim Berners-Lee published a Proposal for a HyperText Project, laying the foundation for the World Wide Web, on November 12, 1990.

HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will. Potentially, HyperText provides a single user-interface to many large classes of stored information such as reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line systems help.

A program which provides access to the hypertext world we call a browser. A hypertext page has pieces of text which refer to other texts. Such references are highlighted and can be selected with a mouse. When you select a reference, the browser presents you with the text which is referenced.

The texts are linked together in a way that one can go from one concept to another to find the information one wants. The network of links is called a web.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former President Jimmy Carter is scheduled for surgery this morning at Emory University, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was admitted to a hospital on Monday evening for a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain, caused by bleeding due to his recent falls, his spokeswoman said.

Carter has fallen at least three times this year, and the first incident in the spring required hip replacement surgery. He traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, and helped build a Habitat for Humanity home after getting 14 stiches following a fall on Oct. 6. And he was briefly hospitalized after fracturing his pelvis on Oct. 21. He received a dire cancer diagnosis in 2015 but survived and has since said he is cancer-free.

Cobb County confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated person, according to ABC News.

Cobb County, a suburban part of Atlanta, Georgia, confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated person, according to state health officials.

The individual may have exposed others to the infectious disease between Oct. 31 and Nov. 6, health officials said Saturday.

“The increase in measles cases in Georgia is undoubtedly a reflection of the increased number of measles outbreaks around the country,” a health department spokesperson told ABC News.

“All eight cases of measles in Georgia this year were in individuals who were not vaccinated. Measles is preventable through vaccination, and the measles vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines we have,” the spokesperson added.

In Georgia, after confirming the measles case in Cobb County, health department officials advised local residents to contact their doctor immediately if they think they have symptoms of measles.

“DO NOT go to the doctor’s office, the hospital, or a public health clinic without FIRST calling to let them know about your symptoms,” the department said in a statement.

From the Albany Herald:

Measles starts with fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In fact, the measles virus can stay in the air for up to two hours after an infected person was there. People may be infected by simply being in a room where an infected person once was. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

People with symptoms of measles should contact their health care provider immediately. Do not go to the doctor’s office, the hospital or a public health clinic without first calling to let them know about your symptoms. Health care providers who suspect measles in a patient should notify public health immediately.

For more information about measles, log on to

Some professional sports teams want Georgia to open gambling, according to the AJC.

Presidents of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United have formed the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance and sent a letter to state lawmakers asking them to legalize online and mobile sports betting.

“Georgia is the 12th largest state for illegal wagering,” the franchise presidents wrote. “It is not going away. That is why we must ensure the industry is above-board and transparent.”

After years of failed attempts to expand legal gambling through a constitutional amendment, which requires two-thirds support in the Legislature and a majority of Georgia voters, the coalition says betting could be legalized through legislation that needs a lower threshold of support.

Billy Linville, a lobbyist who is representing the coalition of teams, said the franchises would not see any revenue from sports betting, but that allowing the practice would engage fans who tune in to watch and see how their bets play out — driving up viewership and interest in the games.

The sports coalition estimates allowing sports betting would generate about $50 million in gross revenue for Georgia.

Virginia Galloway, a lobbyist with Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, said she was disappointed that Atlanta’s teams were pushing for sports betting.

“It’s sad that these great American pastimes want to bring in the predatory gambling business to take advantage of their fans,” she said. “Didn’t Pete Rose get thrown out of baseball for gambling? But now, for the sake of more revenue, these teams are ready to drop their pants — and hardworking Georgians will be on the hook for the havoc it wreaks, both socially and economically.”

A Smyrna city council election turned into a tie vote after a recount, according to the AJC.

Smyrna residents will decide more than one close race when they head to the polls to vote in the Dec. 3 runoff for mayor.

A re-vote is now required for the Ward 2 City Council race between incumbent Andrea Blustein and challenger Austin Wagner, said Cobb County Elections and Registration Director Janine Eveler.

The Nov. 5 municipal election resulted in Wagner leading Blustein by two votes. Wagner received 341 votes to Blustein’s 339 votes. However, Eveler said two provisional ballots counted Friday went to Blustein, which made the race a tie.

Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr. (Lookout Mountain circuit) will hear a lawsuit by the City of Dalton against Whitfield County, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

State law requires cities and counties to negotiate a new service delivery agreement every 10 years, spelling out which services the governments will provide and how they will be funded. The agreements are aimed at reducing duplication of services. The Whitfield County service delivery agreement — which is actually 39 separate agreements between the cities and the county, covering everything from ambulance service to historic preservation to zoning — was signed by the county and the smaller cities but not by the city of Dalton. It expired Oct. 31, making Whitfield County, Dalton, Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell ineligible for state grants and other funding and for state-issued permits.

The City of Dalton filed a lawsuit last week against Whitfield County and the cities of Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell in Whitfield County Superior Court to resolve an ongoing dispute over the service delivery agreement among their various governments.

The state service delivery law calls for a judge from outside the jurisdiction to preside[] over service delivery cases.

The four Superior Court judges for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit, which includes Whitfield and Murray counties, formally recused themselves from the case Friday, and David Emerson, acting administrative judge of Georgia’s 7th Judicial Administrative District, appointed Ralph Van Pelt Jr., a Superior Court judge with the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, to handle the case. The Lookout Mountain circuit includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties.

Georgia Department of Administrative Services Director Alex Atwood spoke about proposed budget cuts, according to The Brunswick News.

In remarks Monday to the Golden Isles Republican Women, Alex Atwood, director of the state Department of Administrative Services, said he fully supports Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget reduction efforts. The governor’s plans have generated a stir both inside and out of state government ahead of the legislature’s reconvening in January.

“(He) mandated all executive branch agencies to cut wasteful spending and eliminate duplication of services, with a conservative, proactive budget,” Atwood said. “Let me tell you, he’s caught some negative press on this sometimes in Atlanta — the AJC has written some articles that sometimes fire me up. The governor is pushing efficiency, but he’s also saying cut. You’ve got to cut. You’ve got to look at your budgets, you’ve got to come to me with a 4 percent cut for the end of this year, a 6 percent cut for next year.

“Why is he doing this? For his first two months of coming into office, the budget dropped 12 percent — our projected revenue dropped 12 percent. When you see your revenue dropping 12 percent, a prudent person would rein in spending a little bit, and do it quickly, so we’re not beat over the head later on if, God forbid, something happens to the economy.”

Georgia has an insatiable thirst for … water. From the Statesboro Herald.

A central focus of the overall [tri-state water lawsuit] case: Florida accuses Georgia of using too much water, imperiling the Apalachicola Bay in the Panhandle and the oyster industry that relies on it. It wants a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that would limit how much water Georgia can use.

“Georgia will continue to use just more and more water if they don’t have some sort of limit placed on them,” retired Apalachicola Riverkeeper Dan Tonsmeire told WABE. He attended recent arguments in the case before a judge in New Mexico who was appointed to manage the case.

“I hope my friends in Georgia will forgive me for this because I know there are a lot of Georgians that care about the Apalachicola and understand what a valuable resource it is,” he said. “I saw no sign that Georgia’s awareness of the impacts to the Apalachicola River and Bay that it’s caused has increased.”

Judge Paul Kelly, the court-appointed special master in the case, is expected to write a report on what he thinks should happen. The Supreme Court justices will then evaluate that.

A previous special master in the case sided with Georgia, but the Supreme Court sent the case back to get more information.

Gainesville is considering regulations on hookah and vaping businesses, according to the Gainesville Times.

The proposed regulations include restrictions on hookah lounges or bars, where “patrons use a communal hookah or pipe to smoke,” e-cigarette lounges or bars, where “patrons use e-cigarettes to smoke or smoke other alternative nicotine or tobacco products,” and vapor lounges or bars, where “patrons vape or smoke other alternative nicotine or tobacco products.”

The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board will hold a hearing and vote on the regulations Tuesday, Nov. 12. The City Council will have the final vote Dec. 17.

Any hookah, e-cigarette or vapor lounge or bar would need special approval from the Council to open in an area zoned light or heavy industrial. Those businesses could not be within 500 feet of a similar business or within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare, library, church, community or recreation center, liquor store, sexually oriented business, tattoo parlor, pawn shop, bar or nightclub, card room, check cashing business, park or residential zoning district.

Extended stay hotels could also face greater regulation, according to the Gainesville Times.

Proposed regulations in Gainesville would limit how long people can stay at hotels in the city and require hotels to keep detailed records of their guests and hand those over to the city upon request.

The rules have extra restrictions for extended stay lodging, which the city defines as hotels that provide lodging for 15 to 30 days. If a hotel has cooking appliances or a kitchen in more than 5% of its rooms, it would be designated as extended stay.

Under the proposal, patrons of hotels not designated as extended stay can only stay 15 consecutive days and cannot stay in the same room for more than 30 days in a 180-day period.

At extended stay hotels, patrons can stay in the room for up to 30 days at a time, but no more than 60 days in a 180-day period.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2019

The first twenty-three cadets at Virginia Military Institute began their service on November 11, 1839.

On November 11, 1918, word reached Georgia that an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending World War One. Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsery declared a state holiday. Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919 and is celebrated on November 11th every year.

In 1938, Congress recognized November 11th as Armistice Day, making it a legal holiday, and in 1954, at the urging of veterans, Congress renamed the holiday “Veterans Day.”

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated on November 11, 1921.

On Armistice Day, in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries, the unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

On November 11, 1942, the draft age was lowered to 18 and raised to 37. At the time, African-Americans were excluded from the draft over concerns about a racially-diverse military.

In 1945, the idea was put forth to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans and in 1954, Congress made the change to “Veterans Day” official.

The “General Lee” first left the ground, using a ramp to clear a police car, during filming of “The Dukes of Hazzard” on November 11, 1978.

Ronald Reagan became the first President of the United States to address the Japanese Diet in Tokyo on November 11, 1983.

On November 11, 1988, the Georgia Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in front of the Sloppy Floyd state government building across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.

On November 11, 1997, a monument to Georgia’s World War I veterans was dedicated, also in front of the Sloppy Floyd building.

Six years ago today, on November 11, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced they would move from downtown Atlanta to Cobb County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump launched “Black Voices for Trump” in Atlanta on Friday, according to the AJC.

Surrounded by roughly 400 supporters, including some who were from out of state, the president on Friday invoked the refrain he repeated so often during the 2016 campaign in front of largely white crowds as an appeal to African American voters: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Those who took the gamble and supported him, Trump said, were rewarded with criminal justice initiatives, low black unemployment rates and staunch opposition to abortion, he said at the launch of his Black Voices for Trump group. Democrats, he countered, can only come up with empty promises.

Trump was preceded by Vice President Mike Pence, who told the crowd of the sweep of black Republicans who were elected to office during the Reconstruction era and said that the GOP, from Abraham Lincoln to Dwight Eisenhower, has advocated for black Americans.

Then came U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the only African American member of Trump’s Cabinet, who drew a rousing ovation when he told the crowd that if “Trump is a racist, he’s an awfully bad one.”

Although Trump’s event targeted black voters, the audience was peppered with influential white politicians from Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, and U.S. Reps. Doug Collins, Buddy Carter and Jody Hice were all in the building. Each was also singled out by Trump.

The crowd was also dotted with local black conservatives. Among the attendees was Herman Cain, the former presidential hopeful; Alveda King, a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Melvin Everson, a former state legislator.

Governor Brian Kemp penned a guest editorial on healthcare in the Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia is experiencing historic job growth and unmatched economic opportunity in every corner of the state. Participation in the job market is at record highs; unemployment recently dropped to a 20-year low; and we were named the “No. 1 State for Business” for the seventh year in a row.

But even with rising wages and 30,000 new private-sector jobs this year alone, far too many hardworking Georgians struggle to access and afford health insurance coverage.

During the 2019 legislative session, I championed – and signed into law – the Patients First Act, which empowered my administration to craft Georgia-centric health-care reform measures that will lower health-care costs and insurance premiums; enhance access to top-notch doctors and facilities; and ultimately improve health outcomes for Georgia families.

Since then, we have partnered with industry experts, medical professionals, stakeholders, lawmakers and citizen advocates to draft two unique and innovative health-care waivers that meet the needs of hardworking Georgians, keep our budget balanced and reflect our values and vision as a state. These proposals shake up the status quo and put patients – not the special interests – first.

Through the Georgia Pathways program, our state will create a new opportunity for the nearly 408,000 hardworking Georgians who make less than 100% of the federal poverty line (FPL) to afford health insurance. If you are working part-time, enrolled in school or volunteer in your community at least 80 hours a month, the state will pay for your portion of Employer Sponsored Insurance (ESI) or enroll you in Medicaid. Just like commercial insurance, the new enrollee will be required to pay a nominal premium – based on a sliding fee scale – and will be rewarded for practicing healthy behaviors.

The second health-care reform proposal, Georgia Access, creates a state re-insurance program that provides more insurance coverage options; fosters competition among insurance providers; and ultimately lowers insurance costs for Georgia families. Just like in other states with similar programs, Georgia families who purchase their insurance on the federal exchange will see a noticeable reduction in their premiums – some upward of double digits.

While the two reform proposals will be submitted to the federal government for approval separately, Georgia Pathways and Georgia Access will work in tandem to lift our friends, neighbors, and family members out of poverty. They form a path to opportunity, success, and prosperity for all Georgians – no matter your ZIP code.

There is no “silver bullet” in health care – and this, my friends, is the first year of my administration. However, the submission of Georgia Pathways and Georgia Access is a huge step in the right direction. These long-overdue reforms will lead to a safe, prosperous and healthy future for Georgia.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced $800 million in funds available to farmers after Hurricanes Michael and Florence, according to the Albany Herald.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced this week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make available $800 million to agricultural producers in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia affected by hurricanes Michael and Florence. The state block grants are part of a broader $3 billion package to help producers recover from 2018 and 2019 natural disasters, which includes the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP+) as well as programs for loss of milk and stored commodities.

“Natural disasters dealt producers some hefty blows in the past couple of years,” Perdue said in a news release. “This relief complements USDA’s tool chest of disaster assistance programs and crop insurance. In many cases, these special programs help us better reach producers who suffered substantial losses beyond what our regular programs cover. While we can’t make producers whole, we can give them a helping hand to get back on their feet and prepare for next year’s planting and harvest.”

USDA and the governor’s office in Florida and the state departments of agriculture in the other two states are working out final details for the grants, which will cover qualifying losses not covered by other USDA disaster programs. Grant funding will cover losses of timber, cattle, poultry, as well as for necessary expenses related to losses of horticulture crops and present value losses associated with pecan production.

Legal hemp farming could begin soon in Georgia, according to the AJC.

Farmers could begin growing hemp as soon as this spring if state regulations are finalized by then, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Georgia farmers have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to plant hemp, which is used to make CBD oil, since the General Assembly voted to allow it last spring.

Federal hemp farming rules published last week establish requirements for licensing, testing and disposal of plants that exceed THC limits. Congress authorized a national hemp-growing program when it passed the Farm Bill last year.

Now, the Georgia Department of Agriculture plans to submit a state hemp growing plan by the end of the year that complies with federal rules, said spokeswoman Julie McPeake. The U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to authorize state plans within 60 days after they’re submitted, she said.

“Once approved, Georgia will move swiftly to propose a final state rule” that could be finalized soon after a 30-day public comment period, McPeake said.

The Gainesville Times looks at what comes next after Hall County voters approved a SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) referendum.

“From a financial standpoint, there’s probably not any immediate things that we’ll have to do,” Hall County Administrator Jock Connell said last week, after voters overwhelmingly approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VIII.

The county may order Fire Services equipment because “it’ll take a year to build them,” he said.

Also, the SPLOST Citizen Review Committee will be revisited.

“It’ll still be nine members but will be constituted a little differently, because the cities felt like they needed better representation,” Connell said.

Other local governments also are looking ahead to how they’ll proceed with the program, which is projected to bring in about $217 million between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2026.

SPLOST, which became a potential taxing method for governments through a state law passed in 1985, is a 1% sales tax, or a penny on the dollar, with proceeds divided between the county and its cities. The money can only be used for capital projects, not for funding operations.

Staffing and caseloads in Chatham County courts are delaying trials, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Detainees stay in jail for an average of four months longer at taxpayer expense during an longstanding impasse over staffing and caseloads in Chatham County courts, according to a recommendation from county staff to fund additional prosecutors and public defenders.

Those costs could come to $10,320 per inmate, staff found, citing the need to reduce continuances and attendant costs, staff reported to Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott and his fellow commissioners for Friday’s meeting agenda.

The stalemate began in January with initial requests and needs analysis when Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap and her public defender counterpart, Todd Martin, outlined their respective cases. Each again made their pleas before the Chatham County Commission in June.

The issue was again scheduled for Friday’s commission meeting, but was pulled because Scott had additional questions. A new date of Nov. 22 now is possible.

In June the commission approved one additional attorney for Martin, but put Heap’s request aside for further consideration.

Both Heap and Martin come to the table facing growing caseloads they say are overwhelming their staffs’ ability to do their jobs for citizens.

The DeKalb County Board of Education is expected to end the contract of superintendent Steve Green, according to the AJC.

Friday, officials announced a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. today with an executive session, followed by a board vote on matters from that executive session.

Ramona Tyson, Green’s former chief of staff and a former interim superintendent who now reports directly to the school board, is expected to become the district’s interim leader, the officials said.

The vote would end Green’s nearly 53-month tenure as the district‘s longest superintendent in a 10-year stretch that saw it fall into debt and nearly lose its accreditation, only to rebound with tens of millions of dollars in reserves and a multiyear accreditation approval.

The Glynn County Board of Elections will meet Tuesday to discuss planning for 2020, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections officials recently received the first of over 100 new voting machines, and have been working on a public information campaign to education the public on how to use them in advance of the 2020 presidential election cycle.

The elections board has recently discussed moving multiple polling places, including those in the Burroughs-Molette Elementary School, Oglethorpe Point Elementary School, Marshes of Glynn Baptist Church and CenterPoint Church, among others.

Glynn County Public Schools superintendent Virgil Cole announced he will leave at the end of the school year, according to The Brunswick News.

A drone pilot who dropped contraband into a state prison pled guilty and was sentenced to 48 months in prison, according to the Albany Herald.

Eric Lee Brown, 35, of Lithonia pleaded guilty to one count of operating an aircraft eligible for registration knowing that the aircraft is not registered to facilitate a controlled substance offense before U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands. Sands sentenced the defendant to 48 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

Brown admitted in his signed plea agreement that he attempted to use a drone to drop a large bag of marijuana into Autry State Prison in Pelham. Mitchell County deputies responded to a call on March 29, 2018, about a vehicle impeding the flow of traffic near the prison. Brown was inside the vehicle, and deputies smelled marijuana and observed the drone. They also saw two clear plastic bags containing a green, leafy substance that later was confirmed to be 294 grams of marijuana.

“Smugglers using drones or other means to move illegal contraband and drugs into our prisons will face prosecution and penalties in the Middle District of Georgia,” [U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Charles] Peeler said in a statement issued to media. “The public needs to be aware that the use of drones is regulated by federal criminal statutes. Our office will enforce those laws in order to keep illegal contraband and drugs out of our prisons. I want to thank the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Department of Corrections and Department of Transportation for their excellent work in this matter.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 8, 2019

On Sunday, we celebrate the birth of the United States Marine Corps, which traces its lineage to the Continental Marines, formed by a resolution adopted by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775. Here, former Georgia Governor and United States Senator Zell Miller tells of his decision to join the Marine Corps and the change it made in his life.

On November 8, 1860, Savannah residents protested in favor of secession following the election of Abraham Lincoln.

President Abraham Lincoln (R) was reelected on November 8, 1864.

General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 120 on November 9, 1864.

Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, in the Field, Kingston, Georgia, November 9, 1864

5. To corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, etc.; and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of such hostility.

6. As for horses, mules, wagons, etc., belonging to the inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and without limit; discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor and industrious, usually neutral or friendly. Foraging-parties may also take mules or horses, to replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as pack-mules for the regiments of brigades. In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain abusive or threatening language, and may, where the officer in command thinks proper, given written certificates of the facts, but no receipts; and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.

7. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the several columns may be taken along; but each army commander will bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one, and this his first duty is to see to those who bear arms.

8. The organization, at once, of a good pioneer battalion for each army corps, composed if possible of Negroes, should be attended to. This battalion should follow the advance-guard, repair roads and double them if possible, so that the columns will not be delayed after reaching bad places.

Former Confederate General John B. Gordon was sworn-in as Governor of Georgia on November 9, 1886.

Franklin D. Roosevelt made his 15th trip to Warm Springs, Georgia on November 8, 1928 after winning the election for Governor of New York.

A monument to Nancy Hart was dedicated in Hartwell, in Hart County, Georgia, on November 10, 1931. Hart was an active Patriot in the American Revolution.

Richard B. Russell, Jr. was elected to the United States Senate on November 8, 1932 and would serve until his death in 1971. Before his election to the Senate, Russell served as State Representative, Speaker of the Georgia House, and the youngest Governor of Georgia; his father served as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. On the same day, part-time Georgia resident Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States.

The next day, November 9, 1932, President-elect FDR addressed a national broadcast to the American people and mentioned that he would spend Thanksgiving at his “second home” in Georgia.

On November 10, 1934, two years after his election as President, FDR made his 28th trip to Georgia.

On November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht began the organized destruction and looting of Jewish businesses and homes in Munich, Germany.

Former United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Moultrie) was born on November 10, 1943. Chambliss was elected to Congress in 1994 as part of the “Republican Revolution” led by Newt Gingrich.

The iron ore freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sunk in a winter storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.

On November 9, 1989, the former East Germany announced that citizens could cross the border to West Germany. That night, crowds began tearing down sections of the wall that divided the city.

On November 8, 1994, Republicans won control of the United States House of Representatives and Senate in what came to be called the “Republican Revolution.”

Former State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko was indicted by federal prosecutors on November 10, 2004 on eighteen counts.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp appointed J. Matthew Williamson as Solicitor General for the State Court of Walker County.

Gov. Kemp also attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Georgia Pacific plant in Warrenton, according to WFXG.

Governor Kemp said the project sends a clear message to the rest of rural Georgia.

“We’re serious about economic development. We want to continue to work with local leaders. I know this project had a lot of collaboration with the development authority, the local officials, state involvement and that makes for a good cocktail if you will, when you’re pitching economic development projects and we are committed to that,” said Governor Brian Kemp.

The company said the 340-thousand-square-foot Warrenton project cost $135 million dollars to build.

President Trump will be arriving in Atlanta this morning, according to the AJC.

Trump is set to touch down at Dobbins Air Reserve Base around 11 a.m., head to the roundtable and fundraiser in Buckhead for lunch and then go downtown to the Georgia World Congress Center for his midafternoon speech before returning to Dobbins. Expect major traffic snarls throughout the city.

The headline-grabbing event of the day will be the unveiling of the “Black Voices for Trump” coalition in downtown Atlanta. The president is set to speak after 2 p.m. at the invite-only event, along with Vice President Mike Pence and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

Trump is preparing to host a high-dollar fundraiser in Atlanta to help defend Perdue, one of the staunchest critics of the Democratic-led impeachment effort.

The president recently set up a joint fundraising committee with the Republican in time for Friday’s fundraiser at an undisclosed Atlanta locale that will run attendees $2,800 to get in the door and a six-figure check to attend a roundtable.

Attendees will have to dig deep into their wallets: A place at the roundtable will cost supporters a $100,000 check. It follows with a luncheon that will run attendees $2,800 for a seat at the table — and at least $35,000 for a photo with the president.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will be flying to Atlanta today with President Trump, according to the AJC.

Word that President Donald Trump will arrive in Atlanta on Air Force One on Friday with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in tow has sparked a frenzy of rumors in Georgia political circles that the Gainesville Republican will be Gov. Brian Kemp’s pick for U.S. Senate.

Collins remains one of the best-known contenders for the office, but unless there’s a drastic change of plans, we don’t expect Kemp to announce his appointment in time for Trump’s visit.

Last month, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., headlined a fundraiser that raised about $300,000 for Collins and called him “the kind of fighter we need in the Senate.”

The Savannah Morning News editors weigh in on the task of rolling out thousands of new voting machines before next year’s elections.

Six counties tested the new system in their local elections this week. Some 9,000 voters cast ballots in those locales, and the system performed as one would hope and expect: far from flawlessly, but overall satisfactorily.

The experience did underscore the major challenge ahead: The human element. With 30,000 voting machines to roll out and easily that many poll workers to train, all in a span of four months, the transition promises to be rocky.

Furthermore, the state doesn’t have the option to employ the old machines as a stopgap. A federal judge has mandated they be mothballed come Dec. 4. If the new system is not ready come March 24, the vote will be done using paper ballots.

Among the issues encountered Tuesday in Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Decatur, Lowndes and Paulding counties were ballot printers not connected to power supplies, incorrect equipment setup and trouble checking voters into their polling place using a tablet device.

Training should negate these shortcomings, as should voter education. The Paulding County elections director noted the learning curve ballotcasters face with the new system. For 17 years, voting was completed at the touch of a screen.

Yet Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger acknowledged this week the full rollout of 30,000 machines to 159 county election boards won’t be completed until mid-January.

Military Times designated Gwinnett Technical College as the second best in the nation for veterans, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The ranking listed Gwinnett Tech second among career and technical colleges for academic support and mental health programs it offers to veterans:

“At least twice each year, this school holds training sessions on the GI Bill, academic support for student veterans, PTSD and related issues,” the author wrote. “The training is required for all administrators and staff, as well as some faculty. The general student population can also optionally participate. In addition, the school provides a lot of flexibility for students whose GI Bill benefits are delayed due to Veterans Affairs Department backlogs, ensuring that students don’t get dropped from their classes or saddled with late fees.”

This is the fourth consecutive year Gwinnett Tech has moved up in the rankings and its third consecutive year in the Top 5. In the Best for Vets 2019 ranking, Gwinnett Tech was ranked No. 3.

Valdosta City Council member Eric Howard criticized election day performance, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“It’s 2019, and we still can’t get this voting thing right,” Howard said.

Picked as one of six pilot counties to test new voting technology before the 2020 presidential election, Lowndes County experienced several issues on election day.

Problems with poll pads caused voting machines to not work at some polling locations Tuesday morning. Although poll workers were able to bypass this for voters, the delay caused the county to extend voting hours from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. to compensate for the loss of time.

Additionally, issues with memory cards caused poll workers to tally paper ballots as a failsafe instead of the planned method. Unofficial results came in about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Howard said he received calls from residents during the early morning on election day saying new voting machines were not properly working. He said he received calls about long lines at the Park Avenue polling place and disorganization at the Valdosta State University location.

Savannah City Council‘s first meeting after the election went off the rails, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The first Savannah City Council meeting that followed Tuesday’s elections briefly devolved into chaos over suggestions to delay a vote regarding Savannah arena management until newly elected aldermen take power in January of 2020.

The Nov. 7 meeting began peacefully, with the council appearing united during uplifting proclamation ceremonies designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month and Nov. 16-24 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Later the vast majority of agenda items were approved without dissent.

However, while considering a motion to authorize the City Manager to execute an agreement with OVG Facilities Inc. for operations and management for the large-scale Savannah arena project, which is expected to be completed in February 2022, Alderman Van Johnson expressed reservations about the contract.

Johnson, who is now in a runoff election to become Savannah mayor along with incumbent Eddie DeLoach, expressed dissatisfaction with how the OVG contract was brokered.

The City of Dalton filed suit against Whitfield County and its other municipalities over service delivery, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The City of Dalton has filed a lawsuit against Whitfield County and the cities of Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell in Whitfield County Superior Court to resolve an on-going dispute over the service delivery agreement among their various governments.

The petition filed Tuesday seeks mandatory mediation of the agreement but also says that if the groups fail to reach an agreement during the mediation, “Dalton will petition the court to resolve all remaining items in dispute.”

Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said she wasn’t surprised the city filed the lawsuit after council members told her last week they would.

“We had a meeting last Monday, another commissioner and I and (Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock) and another City Council member, and asked them to at least sign an extension of the service delivery agreement while we negotiated,” she said. “Then we had another meeting Friday (the day after the agreement expired) and asked why they didn’t sign an extension, and they said their lawyer told them not to.”

Andy Welch, the McDonough-based lawyer who is the city’s special counsel in the service delivery talks, filed the motion. He did not immediately return a telephone message left at his office Thursday afternoon.

Citing state law, the city of Dalton’s petition says the judge must appoint a mediator within 30 days of the city filing its petition and the mediation must be completed within 60 days of a mediator being appointed.

It also says the majority of the members of the Board of Commissioners and each City Council must attend the first mediation session. It also says that if the different parties cannot agree on how mediation should proceed, a majority of each elected body must come to each mediation session until they can agree on a process.

Shameka Reynolds was elected Mayor of Lithonia, according to On Common Ground News.

Reynolds, who served on the City Council for eight years, won the election with 245 votes (60.95 percent), while Cindy Thomas garnered 157 votes (39.05 percent) in the two-way race, according to early results.

“I feel great. I thank God for the victory. The Devil tried it, but he didn’t win. I want to thank the city of Lithonia for supporting me. We are about to make the city of Lithonia great,” Reynolds said excitedly as supporters cheered during her victory party at the Stone Manor event center.

Smyrna voters will return to the polls for a December 3 runoff for Mayor, according to

There will be a runoff election on Dec. 3 between Smyrna mayoral candidates Derek Norton and Ryan Campbell, reported the Marietta Daily Journal.

Of the five candidates, Norton had the most votes Tuesday night with 3,724 votes of 7,907. Campbell followed behind with 1,957. According to MDJ, since none of the candidates received the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win, the runoff is required.

Norton won 47 percent of the vote and Campbell, 24.8 percent of the vote.

Lowndes County and Valdosta governments will be open for business on Monday, despite the federal holiday, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2019

Georgia Governor Joseph Brown addressed the Georgia legislature calling on them to consider Georgia’s future on November 7, 1860, the day after Abraham Lincoln’s election as President.

Jeanette Rankin was elected to Congress, the first female Member, on November 7, 1916 from Montana. After leaving Congress, Rankin moved to Watkinsville, Georgia in 1925. The Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Foundation, based in Athens, Georgia provides college scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term on November 7, 1944.

Democrat Sam Nunn was reelected to the United States Senate on November 7, 1978.

On November 7, 1989, David Dinkins was elected the first African-American Mayor of New York and Douglas Wilder was elected the first African-American Governor of Virginia.

On November 7, 2006, Georgia reelected its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and elected its first GOP Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

The Athens-Clarke Commission approved a plan to change the REM bridge trestle, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Athens-Clarke Commission approved on Tuesday night preliminary plans for a bridge replacing the famous R.E.M. rail trestle in Dudley Park.

The new design keeps some of the look of the iconic image famous among rock fans worldwide as the back cover art for Athens band R.E.M.’s first album, “Murmur.”

The wooden beam support structure of the abandoned railroad trestle would be kept in the tallest, middle part of the new 500-foot span, but ends would be replaced with steel members in an arcing support structure.

The bridge would connect the first part of the pedestrian-cycling Firefly Trail, planned to extend from downtown Athens on Broad Street out to Winterville on the abandoned rail bed that the R.E.M. trestle was once part of, crossing high over Trail Creek, the greenway path that goes through Dudley Park there and Poplar Street.

The trestle is a defining image of Athens, said District 3 Commissioner Melissa Link, likening it to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump will be in Atlanta tomorrow. From WSB-TV:

Georgia Democratic Party Chair State Sen. Nikema Williams believes any such attempt will fail because of the president’s unpopularity within the black community.

“94 percent of Black Georgians voted Democratic, and I see that number only continuing to increase. As for that 6 percent, they’re a bit confused, don’t understand what Donald Trump and his Republican Party are doing to do to affect the black community,” Williams said.

But the executive director of Trump’s National Diversity Coalition disagrees.

Bruce Levell believes Trump can make inroads into the black community by pushing economic initiatives and talking about the low unemployment numbers.

“It’s just restoring back who we are as Americans and by the way, our African-American culture. We’re going to resurrect that generational wealth in small business also,” he told Elliot.

In April, Channel 2 Action News had the chance to talk one-on-one with Trump about Georgia’s role in the upcoming election. He felt it was solidly in his corner.

“I think it’s in play only for us in the upcoming election, to be honest with you. I know David Perdue is going to be running and I’m running, and we’re going to do very well,” Trump said.

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Site Selection magazine selected Georgia as the top business environment again. From a press release:

Augusta, GA – Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that Georgia’s business climate has been named No. 1 in the nation by Site Selection Magazine, an internationally circulated business publication covering corporate real estate and economic development, for the seventh year in a row. Georgia is the only state that has received the distinction seven consecutive times in the history of Site Selection’s rankings. Governor Kemp made the historic announcement at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Georgia.

“I am incredibly proud that Georgia has received the No. 1 ranking from Site Selection for the seventh year in a row,” said Governor Kemp. “From day one of my administration, we have been laser-focused on creating opportunities for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state. Our efforts to cut burdensome regulations, continue developing a world-class workforce, and market all regions of the Peach State through the formation of a Rural Strike Team have not gone unnoticed, and this announcement affirms that.”

“The nation’s leading site consultants see opportunity for growth across our state. Our top-ranked workforce development initiatives – combined with a conservative, pro-business policy approach, world-class higher education system, and a logistics network that puts the global economy within arm’s reach – make Georgia a top competitor for investment from businesses large and small – across the country and around the world. I am proud of the work that we have done, but it does not stop here. We will continue raising the bar and working with our economic development partners in the public and private sectors to ensure that Georgia stays the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.”

Site Selection releases its Top State Business Climate rankings each November. The rankings are 50 percent based on objective criteria and 50 percent on the input received from a survey of independent site location experts who are asked to rank and explain their choice.

“Our readers are keenly interested in our annual state business climate ranking, because they seek locations with the greatest prospects for success,” said Mark Arend, editor-in-chief of Site Selection. “Georgia’s seventh consecutive Top State Business Climate win reminds them that a Georgia location will contribute to their productivity and profitability long term.”

Georgia has long received recognition from leading companies and site consultants for its attractive business climate. The state’s workforce training program, Georgia Quick Start, is the top-ranked program in the United States. Logistics hubs like the Port of Savannah and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport connect businesses to their consumers far and wide, and the state’s pro-business policies make Georgia a competitive option for companies looking to locate or expand. In Fiscal Year 2019 alone, the Georgia Department of Economic Development supported the creation of nearly 29,000 new jobs through the location of 332 projects, 74 percent of which were located outside of metro Atlanta.

“We are thrilled that Georgia’s business climate has once again been named No. 1 by Site Selection,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Under Governor Kemp’s leadership, our partnership approach to economic development has enabled us to maintain a competitive edge in attracting new business and expanding our existing industries.”

“Our world-class team at the Georgia Department of Economic Development is proud to work with our economic development partners throughout the state to make record-breaking achievements like this possible. We look forward to joining with Governor Kemp to continue spreading hope and creating opportunities for all Georgians in the years to come.”

Site Selection Magazine joins Area Development Magazine in naming Georgia the top state for business for 2019 – the seventh and sixth straight year, respectively, that both publications have awarded Georgia the ranking.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Georgia may have the best business climate but it is the environment inside Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta that excites Tom Barnes of Parson Corporation and other cyber and defense contractors.

“This ranking is not given, it is earned,” Kemp said. “Site Selection magazine highlighted our world class workforce, infrastructure and logistics hubs. They acknowledge our low cost of doing business and praise leaders on the state, regional and local level who are focused on advancing policies to grow jobs and economic opportunities.”

Kemp last month announced Parsons would be expanding its Augusta operations by 80 positions, in addition to the 20 or so already on the ground, and Wednesday he got to meet at the center with Parsons and a number of the other entities there, such as Augusta University and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Cyber Crime Center.

“We are thrilled that a leading cybersecurity company like Parsons has decided to invest and grow right here in Augusta,” Kemp said. “Their expansion showcases the Cyber Center’s tremendous impact on the CSRA, the state and beyond. These additional high quality jobs will only add to Georgia’s resume as a national leader in the cyber industry and a key national security asset.”

What Parsons and others find so attractive is that unique mix of industry, academia and government all interacting in one place, with the ability of talented people to go from one to the other within the center, said Barnes, director of strategic cyber operations, plans and programming.

Georgia is also among the leaders in farm bankruptcies, according to the AJC.

The number of Georgia farm bankruptcies has surged in recent months to among the highest in the nation, as growers grappled with poor prices, burdensome tariffs and lingering effects from brutal weather.

But the level is still lower than it was in some other recent years.

Though millions of dollars in assistance have begun to roll out, many farmers are still waiting for promised federal aid for natural disasters such as Hurricane Michael. It’s unlikely that the payouts will make up for all the losses that have grown over the years, bankruptcy attorneys said.

Georgia logged 37 new Chapter 12 filings in the latest 12-month period ending Sept. 30, according to a report last week from the U.S. Courts. That’s up from 25 for the same period a year earlier. But it’s down from 43 and 41 in the periods for 2017 and 2016, respectively. Chapter 12 is set aside largely for family farmers. Both Georgia’s latest 12-month total number of cases and its growth compared to the same period a year ago are among the highest in the nation, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The state’s biggest increase — 14 additional filings — came in the latest reporting period of July, August and September, as some farmers waited for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to distribute a portion of new disaster aid. The assistance had been passed by Congress and signed by the president in early May, following months of rancor.

Payments have been made on about 18% of Georgia applications, which have now risen to more than 2,300, according to the department. The program is designed to cover between 70 and 95% of the expected value of certain kinds of agriculture losses, after reducing for things such as insurance payouts and lowered expenses.

Governor Kemp also presented Burke County Deputy Sheriff Eric Madison with an award, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Gov. Brian Kemp presented the Medal of Valor to Deputy Eric Madison at the courthouse in Waynesboro, Ga. It’s the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a public safety officer nationally.

Kemp said Madison was one of the “real heroes” of the community after encountering an armed suspect who had abducted a woman Aug. 10.

“Deputy Eric Madison did not count the costs or weigh his options when he showed up on the scene that day,” Kemp said. “He vowed many years ago, as you all know, to serve and protect. … He deserves all the praise and accolades that we can give him even though he doesn’t want them.”

“I’m humbled to be with the men and women of such high character that sacrifice life and limb, who devote their lives by serving others and who are willing to risk it all in the name of public safety every single day,” said Kemp, who was named an honorary deputy.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel will speak at Dalton State College, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“Ethics and Textiles” is a topic that will be explored further when Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charles “Charlie” Bethel speaks at Dalton State College on Tuesday at 4 p.m. as part of the University System of Georgia’s Ethics Awareness Week. The presentation will be in Gignilliat Memorial Hall in the BizHub, room 101. It is free and open to the public.

Bethel’s presentation focuses on everyday interactions with textiles in relation to acquiring an effective ethical system in the community and draws from his own experiences in his career in business, law and politics. He said creating a consistent committed system that embodies integrity is crucial to a community. Moreover, maintaining the ethical component of a community is paramount.

Bethel served on the Georgia Court of Appeals before then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the position of Supreme Court justice of Georgia in September 2018. Bethel, a graduate of Dalton High School, practiced law in Dalton after earning a bachelor’s degree in business and obtaining his law degree from the University of Georgia.

The Dalton Daily Citizen-News looks at how the new state voting system performed in a limited rollout.

Six counties tried their hands at the touchscreen machines that generate a printed ballot — the low-turnout elections pilot a small sampling, compared to what’s coming next year. The Secretary of State’s office plans to implement the new system in all 159 counties by the March 24 presidential primary.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spent time on Tuesday at the Paulding County Courthouse, one of the locations testing the new system.

Raffensperger said the rural counties piloting the system were picked in specific geographic locations — on the borders of Tennessee and Florida and at points in-between — to test for “stress points” in the system.

“We’re rolling through it, minor stuff happens time to time but that’s why you do pilots so they don’t happen on a big election day,” he said.

Raffensperger said there are 11,000 news machines waiting to be rolled out for the presidential primary in March. The elections office is “ahead of schedule.”

The system requires hundreds of thousands of paper ballots. Benefits of the paper printouts, he said, outweighs the electronic systems that “aged out” and were not kept updated.

“There’s going to be a whole lot more paper, you’re going to need the county commissioners, yes you’re going to need some large warehouses,” Raffensperger said, “but if you look at right now, over 7% of all people in America are voting with a paper ballot system of some sort. I think by 2020, 2024 it will probably be close to 100%.”

“We understand 50% of the voters will be happy and 50% of the voters will be sad,” Raffensperger said. “Because we understand we live in polarized times. But we want 100% of voters to have the confidence that their vote was accurately counted.”

From the Georgia Recorder:

Voters in Decatur County ran into a technical glitch Tuesday morning at its three precincts, which caused a 45-minute delay, but Georgia’s new ballot-marking machines otherwise drew positive reviews in election day pilot testing.

The polls in Decatur County stayed open later to accommodate the dozen or so people who didn’t wait out the repair, said Carol Heard, the chief elections official for the county’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

Joe Reece was among a handful of voters to cast his ballot around noon at the Watson Government Complex in Paulding County, another one of the six Georgia counties piloting the new voting machines. His experience with the Dominion Voting Systems device went smoothly, until he accidentally walked out of the precinct with his ballot still in hand. Reece got a few steps out the front door before a pair of poll workers ushered him back inside to scan the ballot.

Precincts should boost the number of poll workers on site for larger elections to keep an eye out for distracted mistakes like he made, Reece said. A more likely problem would be if the printers break down.

“You’ve added another possible glitch,” Reece said outside the government complex Tuesday before news broke of the Decatur County problems. “But as long as the printers work, there’s not much of a difference.”

From WABE:

At first glance, the actual voting process appeared to run smoothly along with the ballot scanning process. But there were a few snags with the poll pad, which is the way voters check in with the new system.

Some counties, like Decatur, kept their polls open for an extra hour. Decatur County election official Carol Heard told WABE about a dozen or so voters were affected by the problem. She said keeping the polls open was out of an abundance of caution to make sure those voters had a chance to come back and vote if they chose to.

In Paulding County, elections supervisor Deidre Holden said they were able to offer voters paper ballots to fill out by hand while they waited for the computer glitch to be fixed.

She said voters liked the new system, but it wasn’t without an adjustment period.

“There are just some pieces, some extra pieces that are in there that hopefully by March they’ll have everybody ready to go in there and know what the steps are to making their voting experience successful,” said Holden.

From WTVC:

Sam Teasley with the Georgia Secretary of States office says the touchscreen element will feel similar, but now an added step for security will be taken.

“The biggest difference is at the end of that process, you haven’t actually voted until you reviewed your piece of paper which is your ballot, and put it into the scanners.”

It’s an addition Teasley says should give voters a peace of mind, and confidence that their vote will be recorded accurately.

For the most part, the voting process has gone smoothly thus far according to Teasley, who has been in Catoosa County monitoring polls on Tuesday. One voter tells us there could be a negative side to this new system.

“The only thing is it seems like it’ll be slow, so I think everyone will want to think about doing early voting.”

“The whole reason you do a pilot is to make sure what you see what you think you have is what you have and if there are any kinks that need to be worked out then we can figure them out by March 24th.”

A federal lawsuit seeks changes in how challenged absentee ballots are handled, according to the AJC.

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday asked a judge to require quick notification to Georgia voters when their absentee ballots are rejected, giving them time to correct problems and have their votes counted.

The lawsuit, filed by the Democratic Party, said voters often aren’t told about mismatched or missing signatures on their absentee ballots until it’s too late.

“Every Georgian should have the right to cast their vote and make sure it counts,” said Nikema Williams, chairwoman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Our elections need clear and fair standards to ensure that no one is disenfranchised and that no community is unfairly targeted.”

After the gators lost to the Bulldogs, the state of Florida will take a second chance at beating Georgia, this time in federal court. From AccessWDUN:

Lawyers for Florida will be back in federal court Thursday, trying to get a cap on Georgia’s water use from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. An integral part of the basin is North Georgia’s Lake Lanier. The river system flows from Georgia through the Florida Panhandle.

Florida has long contended that Georgia’s use of the water in the basin has ruined its oyster industry.

Georgia, on the other hand, has argued in court over the last several years that the state has used the water responsibly for the booming metro Atlanta area and for agriculture in the south end of the state.

“Georgia makes the argument that they have been doing their part,” said Chris Manganiello, water policy director for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in Georgia, in a recent interview with USA Today. “I don’t expect Georgia to say anything different or all that earth-shattering (at the upcoming hearing).”

State House District 152 will see a special runoff election, according to WALB.

Two powerhouses from Lee and Worth counties will face off for the House of Representatives District 152 seat.

Tuesday night’s election determined that Bill Yearta and Jim Quinn will head to a runoff next month.

“I’m going to be working the next four weeks, trying to get as many people to come back as I can. I’m gonna knock on twice as many doors and make twice as many phone calls. People are going to get tired of me again,” said Quinn.

“We’re gonna work real hard to get our message out. It’s another great opportunity to get with the hard-working folks from Lee, Worth and Sumter counties,” said Yearta.

From the Albany Herald:

In the four-candidate field of hopefuls who qualified for the special election to fill the unexpired term of Ed Rynders, Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn finished with 3,861 votes, or 41.58% in the Tuesday election, while former Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta had 3,182 votes – 34.27% of the 9,286 ballots cast in the race.

The winner in the runoff election will serve the remaining year of Rynders’ term. Rynders announced plans earlier this year to step down from the seat he’s held for the past 17 years after moving with his wife to St. Simons Island.

“We’ve got more work to do,” said Yearta, who had to step down as mayor of Sylvester when he qualified to run for another office. “It’s just about getting our message out and our vision for the district. It’s just going to be an opportunity to see folks and try to let them know I’m the best person for the district and will be a strong voice for the people of District 152.”

“We get to do it all over again,” Quinn said of the four weeks of campaigning ahead. “It’s a chance to knock on more doors, see more people, make more phone calls. I like meeting people. I like talking to people.”

Albany will have runoff elections for Mayor and City Council, according to the Albany Herald.

Incumbent Mayor Dorothy Hubbard received the most votes in Tuesday’s election, finishing with 3,501, or 30.25%. Second-place finisher Kermit “Bo” Dorough received 3,206 votes, or 27.7%, of the 11,572 ballots cast.

“I am really delighted to be in the runoff,” Hubbard said on Wednesday. “We get to get out running (again). We’ll be out there campaigning as we have in the past.

“I am very disappointed that I polled less than 10% in south and east Albany,” Dorough said after election results were reported. “But what this election showed is that 70% of the people in Albany who went to the polls voted against the incumbent. The only question now is will the people who claim they want change seize the opportunity to make that change while they have this chance?

“I’m going to hit the bricks, talk to those voters. And I will debate Ms. Hubbard any time or anywhere.”

The other runoff election will be for the Ward VI City Commission seat. Incumbent Tommie Postell chose not to seek another term.

In that race Demetrius Young came out on top on election night with 705 votes, or 44.71%. John Hawthorne finished just behind with 692 votes – 43.88% – to force the runoff election between the two. Leroy Smith received 177 votes, or 11.22%.

Johns Creek will host three runoff elections, according to

Councilman Chris Coughlin, the only incumbent in the race, came the closest to an all-out win, taking 47.2 percent of the votes in the Post 4 race. In the runoff, he will face former Johns Creek Community Association President Marybeth Cooper, who earned 19.1 percent of the vote.

For Post 2, the seat that will be vacated by Councilman Jay Lin at the end of the year, retired Police Major Brian Weaver received the most votes, 45.6 percent. In the runoff, he will face Dilip Tunki, who earned 30.3 percent of the vote.

For Post 6, the seat being vacated by Councilman Steve Broadbent, the race was closer. Erin Elwood was the highest vote-earner, with 38.1 percent of the final tally. The other runoff candidate will be Issure Yang, who took 31.9 percent, beating out Judy LeFave, who earned 29.3 percent.

Roswell City Council District Three will have a December runoff, according to the Rome News Tribune.

City council candidates for post 3 could face a runoff election this December. Candidate Christine Hall ended with 34.52% of votes, and Lisa Holland with 31.84% of votes. Keith Geoke had 18.06% of votes and Kay Howell had 15.58% of votes.

Hall County voters renewed the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, according to the Gainesville Times.

A sales tax used to fund capital projects for the county and its cities, first approved in Hall County in 1985, was renewed by voters in a referendum Tuesday.

The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VIII is projected to bring in about $217 million between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2026. It is a 1% sales tax, or a penny on the dollar, and the funds will be divided between the county and its cities. The money can only be used for capital projects, not for funding operations. Hall County and its cities have previously discussed how they would spend the money.

SPLOST law was enacted statewide in 1985, and county voters approved Hall’s first SPLOST that year. Since then, it has been renewed seven times, with SPLOST VIII getting approval Tuesday. The tax has paid for about has paid for about $671 million in county and city projects since 1985.

Three Gwinnett municipalities will have runoff elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Norcross, Snellville and Braselton will each hold runoff elections Dec. 3 to decide the outcome of contested City County races.

In Norcross, Tyler Hannell and Bruce Gaynor will square off for the seat being vacated by Councilman Dan Watch.

Over in Snellville, Solange Destang and Brittany Marmol will face off in the open City Council Post 2 race.

Meanwhile, Braselton Councilwoman Becky Richardson is heading to a runoff against Richard Mayberry in that city’s Council district 1 race.

Bainbridge residents approved a “brunch bill“ referendum, according to The Post Searchlight.

The special election referendum asked if the governing authority of the City of Bainbridge should be authorized to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays in restaurants between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and if it should be authorized to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays to be made at stores between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Roughly 63 percent of voters voted “Yes” to sale of alcohol in restaurants and roughly 62 percent of voters said “Yes” to package sales of alcohol in stores.

Darien Mayor Hugh “Bubba” Hodge was reelected and will serve a third term, according to The Brunswick News.

Mayor Hugh “Bubba” Hodge defeated District 2 City Councilman Griffin Lotson 270-198 to win a third straight term as mayor, according to unofficial results from the county Board of Elections. In the race for the District 2 City Council seat that Lotson vacated, Morris Butler’s 102 votes were enough to avoid a runoff in a three-candidate race. With Katie Daniels garnering 56 votes and William Johnson getting 43, Butler had nearly 51 percent of the total in the race.

Newton County Commission Chair Marcello Banes announced he will run for reelection next year, according to the Covington News.

“It has been a sincere honor to work diligently for the citizens of Newton County. I ran my initial campaign for Chairman under the platform ‘Believe, Begin, Become a Better Newton County.’ Upon my election, the citizens of Newton County bestowed upon me their faith that I would be a man of my word and work diligently and selflessly toward a better Newton County,” he said.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 6, 2019

Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States and the first Republican to hold the office on November 6, 1860. By his inauguration in March, seven states had seceded.

On November 6, 1861, one year after Lincoln’s election, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens of Georgia were elected President and Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

President Teddy Roosevelt left for a 17-day trip to Panama on November 6, 1906 to inspect work on the Panama Canal; he was the first President to take an official tour outside the continental United States.

A dam on the campus of Toccoa Falls Bible College burst on November 6, 1977 under pressure from heavy rains, killing 39 students and faculty.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA) resigned his office and his Congressional seat on November 6, 1998, effective in January 1999, despite having been reelected three days earlier.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

South Carolina filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the Savannah River Lock and Dam, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has filed a lawsuit on behalf of state agencies against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent it from tearing down New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam near Augusta, his office announced Tuesday.

South Carolina and Georgia officials are vehemently opposed to the plan because it would result in a significantly lower pool of water in the Savannah River between Augusta and North Augusta – at least two feet lower by the Corps’ estimate, and the lawsuit claims it could end up being more than twice that.

The Corps is creating the fish passage near Augusta to mitigate environmental damage from the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project near that port that could affect endangered shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon and other migrating fish, which as a result of the plan would have access beyond the lock and dam to historic spawning grounds.

Governor Brian Kemp‘s administration set dates for public comment sessions on the §1332 Medicaid waiver.

Savannah, Georgia, Thursday, November 7, 2019, 1:00 p.m. EST
Mercer School of Medicine – Savannah Campus
Hoskins Center for Biomedical Research (corner of 66th and Ranger Street)
1250 East 66th Street, Savannah, GA 31404

Macon, Georgia, Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 1:00 p.m. EST
Mercer University School of Medicine – Macon Campus
Mercer Auditorium
1550 College Street, Macon GA 31207

Bainbridge, Georgia, Thursday, November 14, 2019, 1:00 p.m. EST
Southern Regional Technical College
The Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center, Dining Room 112
2500 East Shotwell Street, Bainbridge, Georgia 39819

Gainesville, Georgia, Monday, November 18, 2019, 1:00 p.m. EST
Gainesville Civic Center, Chattahoochee Room
830 Green Street, N.E., Gainesville, Georgia 30501

Rome, Georgia, Thursday, November 21, 2019, 1:00 p.m. EST
West-Rome Baptist Church, The Well Building
914 Shorter Avenue, Rome, Georgia 30165

Kennesaw, Georgia, Friday, November 22, 2019, 2:00 p.m. EST
North Cobb Regional Library, Multi-Purpose Room
3535 Old 41 HWY, Kennesaw, Georgia 30144

Individuals or groups with disabilities, who require special accommodations, including auxiliary communicative aids and services during these meetings should notify Matthew Krull at or (404) 651-5016 no later than 24 hours ahead of the scheduled public hearing to ensure any necessary accommodation can be provided.

Two Republicans head to a runoff for State House District 152, which was vacated by former State Rep. Ed Rynders, according to the Albany Herald.

Jim Quinn and Bill Yearta will be in the runoff.

Quinn garnered 3,727 votes and Yearta garnered 3,114 votes, according to unofficial results.

The runoff is set for Dec. 3.

From the AJC:

Quinn, a former journalist, served as mayor of Leesburg for 12 years before running for the vacated House seat. Yearta, a jeweler, served as mayor of Sylvester for 17 years and resigned earlier this year for his House run.

Quinn received about 41.6% of the nearly 9,300 ballots cast on Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office. Yearta secured 34.3% of votes cast.

Rynders announced his retirement in September, citing health reasons and plans to move to St. Simons Island.

Despite some glitches, new voting machines performed well in their first use yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

Voters and election supervisors testing Georgia’s new voting machines gave favorable reviews Tuesday, despite some opening glitches reported by five of six pilot counties, as the state rushes to meet a court-ordered deadline to retire its outdated, paperless system before any votes are cast in 2020.

State election officials piloted the $106 million system that combines touchscreens with paper ballots in six mostly rural counties holding elections for mayors, city councils and school boards. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger plans to use the new machines in all 159 counties for Georgia’s presidential primaries in March.

Judges ordered two counties testing the new equipment to keep polls open late, and a third county kept a single precinct open 30 extra minutes, after electronic poll books used to check in voters malfunctioned as polls opened Tuesday morning.

Decatur County elections supervisor Carol Heard said voting was delayed about 45 minutes before the software glitch was fixed. Lowndes County quickly switched to a paper registration list for check-in, causing minimal delays for voters, said elections supervisor Deb Cox. She said polls would stay open an extra 45 minutes.

“Everything is up and running swimmingly,” Cox said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s rather dull right now.”

A judge added a half hour of voting time at one precinct in Carroll County because of a similar check-in glitch, said election supervisor Greg Rigby. Two additional counties reported the same problem, but officials said there were no delays to require extending voting hours.

Bibb County voters chose a $185 million dollar Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to fund education (E-SPLOST), according to the Macon Telegraph.

Bibb County voters embraced Tuesday an extension of the 1% sales tax to fund $185 million in school initiatives, according to unofficial vote totals.

Meanwhile, there’s a new person coming onto Warner Robins council, with a runoff election in another Warner Robins council race.

A runoff election also will be held to settle a council race in Perry.

The (E-SPLOST) vote was 7,979 yes, or 75.72 percent of the vote, to 2,558 no votes, or 24.28% of the vote.

About 10 percent of 105,062 eligible voters cast ballots on the tax measure, said Board of Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson.

Clarke County voters approved an extension of the SPLOST, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

According to results posted on the Athens-Clarke County website, 7,041 voters said yes to SPLOST, and just 1,937 said no. Turnout was small, just 12.54 percent — about a fifth of the turnout for last year’s general election.

The vote means merchants will continue to collect the penny tax from shoppers in Athens-Clarke County until the Athens-Clarke government collects $313.4 million from it. Athens-Clarke planners projected that would take about 11 years beginning next year, when the current SPLOST tax will expire.

In another area races, challenger Bob Smith, a former member of the state House, defeated incumbent Watkinsville Mayor Dave Shearon by a razor’s-edge margin of two votes — 402 votes for Smith to 400 for Shearon, according to results posted on the Oconee County Board of Elections and Voter Registration webpage.

Watkinsville voters approved by a nearly 3-1 margin a measure to allow Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 11 a.m. rather than the current 12:30 p.m. start. Of an even 800 ballots cast, 567 said yes to the earlier hour, while 233 said no.

Harris County voters approved an extension of the SPLOST, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

It was the sixth time in three decades that Harris County voters were asked to approve a sales tax to help pay for school projects. But for the first time, the request came in the form of two questions on the ballot Tuesday:

  • Whether to continue the existing 1% sales tax.
  • Whether to try a different way of financing the projects, which would include the possibility of increasing property taxes.

As they’ve done the previous five times it’s been on the ballot since 1997, Harris County voters approved the tax — as well as the new funding mechanism.

Approval of the second question on the ballot gave the school board the authority to increase property taxes to pay off long-term construction bonds.

Hall County voted for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VII that will raise $217 million dollars, according to AccessWDUN.

With all precincts tallied, the Hall County Elections Office reported 3,304 voters voted yes for the extension of the tax, while 1,422 voted against it – a 70.35% approval.

SPLOST VIII will be in place for six years. The new local option sales tax is expected to generate $216,960,000. SPLOST VII, a five year local option sales tax, expires in June 2020.

Savannah voters will choose a Mayor in a runoff election between incumbent Eddie DeLoach and alderman Van Johnson, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Smyrna will also hold a runoff for Mayor, between Derek Norton and Ryan Campbell, according to the Patch.

In Ward 2 Austin Wagner gained two more votes than incumbent Andrea G. Bluestein, making Wagner the projected winner. In ward 3, Travis Lindley (862) is the projected winner over incumbent Maryline Blackburn (766) of 1,628 votes.

Nick Millwood will serve a second term as Mayor of Ringgold, according to the Times Free Press.

Valdosta‘s mayor will be chosen in a runoff election, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

It looks like J.D. Rice and Scott James Matheson will face off in a run off to be Valdosta’s next mayor.

Election results in the Valdosta City election are still not official but Wednesday morning numbers released by the election office indicate Rice garnered 34.5 % of the vote to Matheson’s 24.9 %.

Nether candidate reached the 50 % plus one vote threshold to win the race outright.

The latest numbers indicate Rice received 2,172 votes compared to 1,568 for Matheson.

“I’m exhausted,” Matheson said. “The machines were a disaster.”

The North Ward seat held by incumbent Johnny Cason is headed to a Dec. 3 runoff after none of the four candidates earned more than 50 percent of the vote.

With three precincts not reporting results by 11:45 p.m., District 1 Alderman Van Johnson got the most votes in the four-way race with current mayor Eddie DeLoach coming in second for the day.

No candidate managed to get the required 50% plus one to be declared a winner. Run-off elections are set for Dec. 3.

As of about midnight, Johnson had 46.45% of the vote with 10,940 votes. DeLoach got 38.96% of the vote, with 9,177.

Sonny Vickers was reelected to Valdosta City Council, according to the Valdosta Daily Times. An at-large seat on Valdosta City Council will be decided in a runoff election.

Tybee Island and Pooler voted for new Mayors after both incumbents chose not to run for reelection, according to WJCL.

In Pooler, longtime mayor Mike Lamb announced during the summer that he would not seek re-election, opening the door for candidates Rebecca Benton, Adam Bridges and Steve Larson. Benton and Bridges were the top vote getters but neither surpassed 50%, thus forcing a runoff in December.

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman announced in May he would not run again. Wanda Doyle, Mack Kitchens and Shirley Sessions vied for the seat, with Sessions earning 55% of the vote.

Dunwoody and Lithonia elected new mayors and Doraville sent two candidates to a runoff election, according to the Rome News Tribune.

When the votes were tallied in Doraville, the two candidates receiving the most votes were incumbent Mayor Donna Pittman, who gained 22.55 percent while challenger Joseph Geierman gained 39.33 percent, meaning the two will go on to a runoff election in December.

Lynn Deutsch won 61 percent of the votes to become the new mayor of Dunwoody while Shameka Reynolds won 61 [percent] of the votes to become the new mayor of Lithonia.

Elberton and Pickens voted to allow some Sunday alcohol sales, according to Fox Carolina.

In Elberton, GA, voters passed two referendums allowing Sunday alcohol sales by the drink and retail sales.

The By the Drink referendum passed with 195 “yes” votes to 85 “no,” while the Retail Sales question passed 187 to 88.

Voters in the city of Pickens also passed an alcohol referendum, with 267 “yes” votes to 222 “no” votes

Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington appears to have won election over incumbent Mayor Dennis Mock, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen-News.

It was close all evening. But at the end of the night, former Dalton mayor David Pennington defeated incumbent Dennis Mock by 11 votes to reclaim the mayor’s post.

“I’ve been out of office almost six years, running against an incumbent mayor,” said Pennington. “I knew it would be a tough race. But I’m thankful to all of those who came out to vote.”

Pennington received 1,400 votes (50.05%) to Mock’s 1,389 (49.66%). There were eight write-in votes.

Likewise, incumbents lost for Dalton Board of Education, and two seats on Varnell City Council.

Cohutta voters elected incumbent Town Council member J. Shane Kornberg and challenger Andy Lopez, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen-News.

Kornberg, an incumbent, received 88 votes (30%) to 85 votes (29%) for Lopez, a challenger, while Sheila Rose, an incumbent, garnered 63 votes (22%), and Nick Conner, another challenger, finished with 55 votes (19%).

College Park will hold a runoff election for Mayor on December 3 between incumbent Jack Longino (25%) and challenger Bianca Broom (35%), according to the Rome News Tribune.

Lowndes County passed a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST VII), according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Statesboro City Council will change from all-men to a female majority, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Dougherty County passed Sunday alcohol sales by the drink and in package sales, while Albany passed Sunday sales by the drink; Lee County passed package and by the drink Sunday sales, according to WALB.

Rome adopted the “brunch bill” referendum, according to the Rome News Tribune. Rome Mayor Bill Collins was reelected.

Juli Clay was elected to Gainesville City Council, according to the Gainesville Times.

From AccessWDUN:

* Dawson County
Dawson County voters have approved a $48 million ESPLOST to fund education projects for the Dawson County School District.
YES – 648
NO – 189

*Forsyth County

City of Cumming
Cumming voters approved a Sunday “brunch bill” to allow restaurants to participate in the earlier sale of alcohol by the drink on Sundays.
YES – 277
NO – 198

*Gwinnett County

City of Suwanee
Suwanee voters approved a Sunday “brunch bill” to allow restaurants to participate in the earlier sale of alcohol by the drink on Sundays.

*Habersham County

Habersham County voters shot down a proposed jail bond question that would have financed a $31.4-million replacement jail.

Yes – 1,828
No – 1,985

Habersham County voters will return to the polls Dec. 3 for a runoff in the County Commission District 5 race. Top vote-getters Darrin Johnston and Tim Stamey will appear on that ballot. The winner of that run-off will serve the remainder of the term for the seat left vacant by the resignation of Ed Nichols, who relocated.

City of Clarkesville
Voters in the City of Clarkesville approved a Sunday “brunch bill” to allow restaurants to participate in the earlier sale of alcohol by the drink on Sundays.

Yes – 149
No – 66

City of Cornelia

Voters in the City of Cornelia approved a Sunday “brunch bill” to allow restaurants to participate in the earlier sale of alcohol by the drink on Sundays.

Yes – 207
No – 85

*Stephens County

In Stephens County, voters overwhelmingly approved the continuation of a 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.


Yes – 1,272

No – 368

*White County

City of Cleveland
Voters in the City of Cleveland approved a Sunday “brunch bill” to allow restaurants to participate in the earlier sale of alcohol by the drink on Sundays.

YES -b 49
NO- 34

Norcross Mayor Craig Newton and Grayson Mayor Allison Wilkerson were reelected, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Chad Warbington was elected to Albany Commission Ward IV, defeating incumbent Commissioner Roger Marietta, according to the Albany Herald.