Category: Georgia Politics

17
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 17, 2024

On April 17, 1944, a fifteen-year old Martin Luther King, Jr., a junior at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, traveled to Dublin, Georgia to give a speech in a contest sponsored by the local black Elks club. During the bus ride to Dublin, King and his teacher had to give up their seats to white riders and stand for much of the ride. King won the contest, delivering his oration, “The Negro and the Constitution.”

On April 17, 1950, the United States Supreme Court dismissed South v. Peters, a complaint against Georgia’s County Unit System of elections.

Each county is allotted a number of unit votes, ranging from six for the eight most populous counties, to two for most of the counties. The candidate who receives the highest popular vote in the county is awarded the appropriate number of unit votes. Appellants, residents of the most populous county in the State, contend that their votes and those of all other voters in that county have on the average but one-tenth the weight of those in the other counties. Urging that this amounts to an unconstitutional discrimination against them, appellants brought this suit to restrain adherence to the statute in the forthcoming Democratic Party primary for United States Senator, Governor and other state offices. The court below dismissed appellants’ petition. We affirm.

On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang debuted at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. The world has been a better, if somewhat louder, place ever since.

Also present at the 1964 World’s Fair was the Coca-Cola Pavilion, which included a 610-bell electric carillon that would later be installed at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia, where it can be heard most days.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Kemp spoke in Cobb County about the 2024 Legislative Session, according to Atlanta News First via WRDW.

Touting another round of income tax refunds and pay raises for the state’s teachers, police officers and child welfare workers, Kemp, the event’s keynote speaker, once again called Georgia the best place to do business, mainly because of a thriving workforce.

“It’s probably our biggest recruitment tool but also our biggest challenge,” he said. “Every state in the country, coming out of COVID, was dealing with workforce issues and thankfully we have done better than most.”

He also noted another drop in the state’s income tax this year, from 5.75% to 5.39%. The legislation to eventually bring the income tax in Georgia below 5% was signed two years ago.

Kemp also discussed additions to the budget, including an added $1.5 billion to the state’s Department of Transportation for upcoming and ongoing road projects, and $100 million for school safety improvements, an issue Kemp ran on in his second campaign for governor.

Governor Kemp’s office website tracks 2024 legislation that he has signed and legislation that he has vetoed, though he hasn’t yet broken out his veto pen this year.

Elsewhere, Gov. Kemp discussed how he instructed the Georgia State Patrol to deal with protesters, according to the AJC.

After pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted traffic and blocked bridges in Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and other big cities, Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday he won’t allow demonstrations to shut down Atlanta traffic, too.

The Republican said he called Col. Billy Hitchens, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, late Monday to reinforce his position.

“I know I don’t need to make this call,” he said, recounting his conversation, “but you know how I feel about people blocking bridges, airports, and other things like we’re seeing around the country. I said if they do that, lock their ass up.”

The governor’s remarks drew wild applause from the roughly 300 attendees of the annual gala for Greater Georgia, the conservative political organization started by former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

In coordinated demonstrations, protesters blocked rush-hour traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge in California, squatted on roads leading to airports in Chicago and Seattle, and held protests in Miami, New York and Philadelphia.

United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was questioned in Congress about service delays, according to 11Alive via 13WMAZ.

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was castigated by Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff on Tuesday in a hearing on oversight of the United States Postal Service amid ongoing mail delays in metro Atlanta and elsewhere.

In a tense exchange between Sen. Ossoff and Postmaster General DeJoy, the Democrat said just 36% of mail in the north Georgia region is being delivered on time. Ossoff asked DeJoy when service reliability would normalize, and the postmaster general said “I think we’ll get where we need to be in about 60 days.”

“You don’t have months to fix 36% of mail being delivered on time,” Ossoff countered. “I’ve got constituents with prescriptions that aren’t being delivered. I’ve got constituents who can’t pay their rent and their mortgage. I’ve got businesses who aren’t able to ship products or receive supplies.”

In his concluding remarks, Ossoff again put DeJoy on the hot seat.

“You’ve got weeks, not months, to fix this,” he said. “And if you don’t fix it, 36% on time delivery, I don’t think you’re fit for this job.”

DeJoy responded to Ossoff’s questions about what USPS is doing to fix the issues in metro Atlanta by saying the agency had “engaged over 50 different management executives on site,” was “looking at truck schedules, revamping our truck schedules” and was “stabilizing the operation in terms of our machinery that we have deployed there” among other efforts to restore normal service.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

The Atlanta-area consolidation involved moving nearly 10,000 employees from 10 locations to the new Palmetto distribution center, he said.

“The issues that we had here were in fact management issues on the ground, were in fact employee attendance issues,” DeJoy said. “Now that the organization is engaged … I see the whole team getting better, understanding the transition we have to make.”

DeJoy said he expects to have the problems at both Atlanta and Richmond corrected by this summer.

“Richmond and Atlanta and the whole Georgia area will be the finest run part of the organization very shortly,” he said. “We have to allow time to transition.”

United States District Court Judge William Ray (ND-GA) heard arguments about whether the Catoosa County Republican Party could turn away prospective candidates from qualifying, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The county’s Republican Party decided in early March to block four candidates — three incumbents on the current Board of Commissioners, plus a former commission chair — from qualifying as Republicans on the grounds they don’t adhere to the Georgia Republican Party’s platform.

The candidates are Catoosa County Commission Chair Larry Black, District One Commissioner Jeff Long, District Two Commissioner Vanita Hullander and Steven Henry, a former commission chairman. All four candidates had previously won their seats running as Republicans.

During the qualifying period earlier this year, county level party officials refused to allow the candidates to qualify as Republicans. They argue that the candidates could have gone through the process to qualify as independent candidates.

“The party did not and does not believe the independent candidates are Republicans, or that they share the values, principles and policy goals of the party and does not want to be associated with those candidates,” the lawsuit states.

In early March, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Don Thompson ordered the candidates be allowed to qualify to run on the Republican primary ballot. To emphasize his point, Thompson imposed a fine of $1,000 per hour per candidate on the Catoosa GOP until it complied with his ruling.

Catoosa County Republican Party Chair Joanna Hildreth, and secretary of the Georgia Republican Assembly, stated the party would not comply and Thompson instructed the candidates to qualify with the Catoosa County Elections office instead.

On April 2, the Catoosa County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, following a hearing, voted 4-1 to keep the candidates on the GOP ballot.

Some Georgia prosecutors have picked up their lawsuit over the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Qualifications Commission legislation, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

Three district attorneys in Georgia have renewed their challenge of a commission created to discipline and remove state prosecutors, arguing it violates the U.S. and Georgia constitutions.

Their lawsuits filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta challenge Georgia’s Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, a body Republican lawmakers revived this year after originally creating it in 2023.

Democrats fear the commission has one primary goal: derailing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis ‘ prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation last year creating the commission, but it couldn’t begin operating, because the state Supreme Court refused to approve rules governing its conduct. The justices said they had “grave doubts” about ability of the top court to regulate the decisions district attorneys make.

Lawmakers then removed the requirement for court approval, a change Kemp signed into law. The commission began operating April 1.

The challenge is being led by Sherry Boston, the district attorney in the Atlanta suburb of DeKalb County; Jared Williams of Augusta and neighboring Burke County; and Jonathan Adams of Butts, Lamar and Monroe counties south of Atlanta. Adams is a Republican, the others are Democrats. Boston said their “commitment to fight this unconstitutional law is as strong as ever.”

The prosecutors say the law violates Georgia’s constitutional separation of powers by requiring district attorneys to review every single case on its individual merits. Instead, district attorneys argue they should be able to reject prosecution of whole categories of crimes as a matter of policy.

They law also violates the federal and state constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech by restricting what matters of public concern district attorneys can talk about when running for office, they say.

“There is no valid governmental purpose for restricting prosecutors’ speech regarding their prosecutorial approach, and that restriction undermines core values of self governance by weakening voters’ ability to evaluate and choose among candidates,” the suit states, arguing the law illegally discriminates in favor of viewpoints favoring harsher prosecution.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted for higher tuition in the 2024-25 school year, according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

Regents voted Tuesday to increase tuition and fees at the system’s 26 schools. The typical Georgia school will charge in-state undergraduates $6,466 in tuition and mandatory fees for two semesters next year, up 2.4% from $6,317 this year.

Tuition and fees will range from $3,506 at Swainsboro-based East Georgia State College to $12,058 at Georgia Tech.

The typical student will still be paying less than in 2022, though. After that year, regents eliminated a fee that was charged on top of tuition, lowering costs at almost all institutions.

University System Chief Fiscal Officer Tracey Cook told regents that universities are paying higher costs for items including technology, software, food, utilities and insurance, while they are also having to spend more on employee salaries. While state appropriations fund pay raises for most academic employees, universities must fund pay raises for most support employees out of their own funds.

“We must at times increase tuition to maintain a consistent standard of quality, to improving how we graduate and retain our students, and as discussed, keep pace with rising costs, while we look for ways to be more efficient,” Cook told regents during a Tuesday meeting at Gordon State College in Barnesville.

Costs to rent dormitory rooms and buy meal plans will also rise systemwide.

Regents had generally held tuition flat for four straight years and six years of the previous eight. Georgia’s typical tuition and fees are lower than all but two states in the 16-state region covered by the Southern Regional Education Board.

For students receiving lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships, the scholarship will pay for higher tuition. However, students and their families must themselves pay for mandatory fees. Although many Georgia students receive other types of financial aid, more than 35% now borrow to pay for college with some students borrowing more than $5,500 on average.

The university system also approved a further increase in tuition for students coming from outside the country. They will now pay 2% more than students from outside Georgia, who already pay tuition rates that are three times or more what in-state students pay. Institutions sometimes waive out-of-state charges.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

System Chancellor Sonny Perdue attributed the increase to inflation.

“Our institutions face increasing costs to operate, and we must sustain their momentum as some of the best in the nation at helping students succeed on campus and in the workforce,” he said.

Even with the tuition hike, Georgia offers the third-lowest average tuition and required fees among the 16 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states, according to national data.

The regents also adopted a new mandatory fee structure for the growing number of students taking classes fully online. Those students at 20 of the 26 institutions will be charged an online learning fee equivalent to their institution’s technology fee, as well as 50% of their institution’s mandatory fees.

In other business Tuesday, the board voted to extend the system’s temporary waiver of test score requirements. With state colleges already test optional, no test scores will be required for admission to 23 of the 26 institutions during the 2025-26 academic year.

The temporary waiver does not apply to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College & State University.

Test scores will continue to be required to apply for Zell Miller scholarships, which go to students who earned at least a 3.7 grade-point average in high school.

The university system began waiving the test requirements in 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The waiver has been in effect for all but 10 months since then.

Gwinnett County launched a new microtransit service pilot program, according to AccessWDUN.

The Gateway 85 Community Improvement District and the city of Norcross will combine resources to improve mobility in a zone around Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Interstate 85 starting later this year according to officials.

Approximately 36,000 residents in Norcross will have access to the new Southwest Gwinnett Microtransit Pilot. The area to be served has been identified as having socioeconomic disparities, with more than half of household incomes falling below 60% of the area median income, officials said Tuesday.

“By leveraging our resources and expertise to expand microtransit, we’re charting a new course that will serve our diverse community’s transportation needs,” said Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson. “Strong partnerships like this one are instrumental in helping us achieve mobility for all.”

The pilot will operate 14 hours a day Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays, for one year. Gwinnett County will provide four vehicles and manage operations.

The estimated $1.3 million cost of the program will be funded 44% each by Gwinnett County and the Gateway85 CID, with the city of Norcross contributing the remainder, according to officials with the program.

The agreement between the three entities will be in effect from Aug. 1, through July 31, 2025.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are considering measures to address complaints over short term rentals, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

At its Monday meeting, the Government Operations Committee instructed county staff to look at a number of options, including an outright ban on new short-term rental properties, at least in residential areas.

Short-term rental properties (STRs), many of which routinely host large crowds during University of Georgia football games, graduations and popular community events like the AthFest music and arts festival, have become a pressing issue for residents of many single-family neighborhoods.

STRs, made available to the public through third-party online platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb, have spurred complaints of crowds, noise, parking and other persistent nuisances, particularly from residents of Five Points and other neighborhoods close to the UGA campus.

Primarily at issue is an ordinance provision establishing a two-year “sunset” for non-conforming STRs, properties that were legal when established, but have since fallen out of compliance with local regulation.

The Glynn County Board of Education is moving forward with plans for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County School Board gave school district staff the green light Tuesday to present voters with a proposed new 1 percent countywide sales tax, known as ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).

The board voted unanimously to approve the proposed ESPLOST V, which would seek to raise $114.6 million within four years.

The board’s approval means school district staff can now begin preparing to submit ESPLOST V to the public for a vote in November.

Like the county government SPLOST tax, ESPLOST is a 1-cent tax on all retail sales countywide with the intention of raising money for specific public projects. Many perceive it as a more equitable way to pay for needed tax dependent projects.

The proposed ESPLOST tax would end sooner than the 48-month timeframe if the goal of raising $114.6 million is achieved earlier. Michael Blackerby, the school district’s assistant superintendent of operations, said that is a good possibility.

If passed by voters, ESPLOST V would address school district staff’s priority list of multiple school renovation projects, equipment purchases and new construction.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced public meetings to hear feedback on plans for the Civic Center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced the city’s public input process during his weekly press conference Tuesday. Public input will include a stakeholder meeting with arts groups, business groups and neighborhood associations, and a series of open houses.

More details on the public engagement opportunities will be released by the city in the future….

According to a press release from the City, “these sessions will include a review of the project background; provide updates on technical analysis, cultural landscape analysis, survey, and archaeology assessment; an opportunity for community feedback on questions focusing on the facility, community, and the future of the site with consideration to arts, land uses, community and public space.”

“Our goal is to make sure we left no one out of the conversation,” Johnson said.

Tybee Island is putting out barricades and other crowd control measures to address an expected “Orange Crush” crowd, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The founder of Orange Crush reacted to the city’s measures, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“I think it’s horrendous they’re doing all this because this is a public beach,” [Kenneth] Flowe said. “I think that it’s important for African Americans to be able to access public space without being harassed by policy makers. When you take that tactic, then you get folks who are saying, ‘I’m coming on that beach, come hell or high water.’”

Two decades before Flowe decided that a huge beach bash was the best way to put SSU on the map for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 11 Black students were arrested at Georgia’s first wade-in, a demonstration similar to a sit-in, on Tybee.

Prior to the wade-in demonstrations, Black people were forced to travel outside of the city for public beach access. After three years of wade-ins, Tybee’s beaches were integrated by October 1963.

“They were jeered at by beachgoers and arrested for disrobing in public,” Flowe said. “As a result of this, those young folks who were simply trying to use public water had criminal records. I just anticipated that the authorities would try to figure out a way to prevent the beach party if I didn’t conduct myself properly.”

The festival continued to be held and sponsored by SSU, drawing in students from HBCUs in Georgia and along the East Coast, until 1991. SSU severed ties with the event after a dozen arrests, a stabbing and drowning at a singular festival, but by that time Tybee Island had been solidified as a place for HBCU spring break celebrations. It continued, unpermitted, drawing crowds year after year.

In attempts to combat the large crowds and the potential for violence, the City of Tybee has implemented aggressive regulations in the past. In 2018, it prohibited open alcoholic beverages and implemented traffic stops and property searches, limited housing rentals, noise and some restaurants and businesses closed.

This resulted in a mediation between the group Concerned Citizens of Tybee and the city by the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement states that officials should not treat Orange Crush differently than any other special event, permitted or not.

The now unpermitted event known as Orange Crush by locals is shaping up this year to look similar to the event of years past: with lots of law enforcement and barricades to prevent the strain on Tybee Island’s resources that it brought last year.

In 2023, the third weekend in April brought more than 111,000 people over the course of three days, and the high volume of people caused clogged roads, traffic accidents, a road rage incident resulting in a shooting, crowding and complaints around drug and alcohol abuse, noise, illegal parking and litter, according to the city.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell visits Savannah April 23, 2024, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and other national, state and local officials will visit Savannah April 23 to celebrate $30 million in federal funding to address drainage issues around the Springfield Canal that have long impacted the historic Carver Village and Cloverdale neighborhoods.

The grant represents one of the largest Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) awards through the Justice40 Initiative, a program introduced in 2022 by President Joe Biden to advance environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

Enmarket Arena will host a gathering of leaders expected to include FEMA’s Criswell, Mayor Van Johnson, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director and Senior Adviser to President Biden Tom Perez, Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director James Stallings, City Manager Jay Melder and District 1 Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier.

Macon-Bibb Commissioners voted to spend $2 million dollars on jail upgrades, according to 13WMAZ.

The City of Perry will install new surveillance cameras in municipal parks, according to 13WMAZ.

More technology is on its way to Perry after a city council vote Tuesday. The goal is simple: make the community safer.

Several of the city’s larger parks already have security cameras, like in Rotary Centennial Park. Micah West can be found out enjoying the park occasionally.

Police Chief Alan Everidge says they want anyone walking or parking their car to have a safe experience.

“Every park in every community deserves to have the same service and that’s our goal,” he shared.

He says having the camera has already proven to be successful. They even used it as evidence in a 2022 homicide.

“The video from that park was basically the final evidence needed for a conviction,” Everidge shared.

Depending on the park, Everidge says they could get anywhere from one to three of the 360-degree multi-sensor surveillance cameras.

Everidge says video is kept for only 30 days, and no one sits and monitors it. He says the department has to track when they’re using it and the case they’re using it for.

The city will partially use a state grant to pay for the project. Last year, they received $1.5 million to bring technology that will help reduce crime. The grant would cover $390,000 and the city would pay $5,000.

Lorraine Cochran-Johnson is running for DeKalb County CEO, according to the AJC.

She is one of three vying to replace a term-limited Michael Thurmond. She is competing against fellow commissioners Steve Bradshaw and Larry Johnson, and because no Republicans filed to run, the position will go to whichever Democrat wins the May 21 primary.

Cochran-Johnson was first elected to the District 7 seat representing the eastern half of the county in 2018, winning a runoff election against an incumbent who was accused of sexual harassment by an aide and who had controversially voted to give himself and other commissioners a 60% pay raise.

Cochran-Johnson sees the DeKalb CEO position as a calling.

“DeKalb County has become my ministry,” she said, adding that her message for DeKalb is a prosperity gospel.

Both of Cochran-Johnson’s opponents have outraised her, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. She reported raising $118,556 through the end of January and had $53,157 on hand. Bradshaw raised $292,487 and Larry Johnson raised $216,206.

Former commissioners Kathie Gannon and Jeff Radar, who were political mentors, are backing Cochran-Johnson, as are the mayors of several DeKalb cities.

16
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 16, 2024

George Washington, recently elected President, left his Mount Vernon home on April 16, 1789 for his inauguration in New York.

“I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.”

On April 16, 1865, Columbus, Georgia fell to Union forces. The Battle of Columbus is widely considered to be the last battle of the Civil War. Though it is not unanimously held to be, a 1935 Act of the Georgia General Assembly declared it the war’s last battle.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw his first no-hitter on April 16, 1940 against the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1965. On April 16, 2006, a new, larger portrait of Dr. King was unveiled in the Georgia State Capitol.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Augusta, Georgia on a campaign stop this week in 1964.

He came with Gov. Carl Sanders, an Augusta native, as well as U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge, an influential state leader.

Johnson’s national election over Republican Barry Goldwater appeared certain, and a week later he would easily trounce the Arizona Republican.

Lyndon Johnson, however, would not carry Richmond County on Election Day 1964, and he probably got a hint of things to come during his speech before a crowd gathered in front of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

He was heckled.

At least four times during a routine stump speech, calls from the crowd interrupted the former vice president who had taken office less than a year before with John Kennedy’s assassination.

“We want Barry!” people would shout.

Johnson didn’t carry The Peach State because he had become unpopular among whites in the Deep South for his civil rights initiatives, according to Merle Black, an Emory University professor who has spoken and written on Southern politics over the years.

Black recalled the Augusta incident in his 1992 book The Vital South: How Presidents Are Elected, which he wrote with Earl Black. He also described Johnson gaining the crowd’s support with the anecdote about his earlier abuse by hostile crowds.

“Earl Black and I wrote in The Vital South that, ‘There was no more booing from the young Goldwaterites after he finished his story,’” Merle Black wrote in an e-mail from Atlanta. “President Johnson’s leadership in passage of the civil rights bill was the main reason he lost Georgia that year.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Court Judge JP Boulee (ND-GA) opened the trial over Georgia’s ban on third-party mass mailing of absentee ballot applications, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..

15
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 15, 2024

On April 15, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress issued “Rules and Regulations,” which would serve as an interim state Constitution until the Constitution of 1777 was adopted.

On April 15, 1783, the United States Congress ratified a preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain, which was signed in November 1782.

RMS Titanic sunk at 2:20 AM on April 15,1912.

Jackie Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, became the first African-American professional baseball player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson scored the winning run in that game.

The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed on April 15, 1966 to assist and honor Confederate veterans. One of its most well-known projects was the “Lion of the Confederacy” memorial in Oakland Cemetery.

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and intellectuals in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, mourned the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaoban, considered a liberal reformer.

DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta and known for playing Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Star Trek series, was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 15, 1992.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

April 22d is the last day to register to vote in order to be eligible to vote in the May 21, 2024 General Primary Election and Nonpartisan General Election, according to AccessWDUN.

April 22 is the last day for Forsyth County residents to register to vote or to make changes to their name or address on the voter registration list for the May 21 General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election.

Forsyth County residents can verify their current voter registration status and Election Day polling place at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov. Changes to multiple precincts and polling places were approved in Dec. 2023. This means a voter’s assigned Election Day polling place may be different from where they voted in previous years.

A general primary is an open primary held for each political party to select their nominees for the office to be elected in the upcoming general election. The general election for the contests that appear on the general primary ballot in May will be held on Nov. 5.

A Nonpartisan general election is an election in which candidates are listed on the ballot with
no designation of party affiliation, officials said.

Georgia voters do not register by party. Voters must select a Democratic, Republican or Nonpartisan general election ballot at the time of voting in a primary. A nonpartisan primary ballot selection will not include candidates from the Democratic party or the Republican party. The Democratic and Republican ballot styles will also include the Nonpartisan General Election contests. A voter’s choice of ballot style for the GP is independent of previous or future choices of ballot styles for primaries, according to officials with Forsyth County.

Mail delivery continues to be delayed in Metro Atlanta, according to 11Alive via 13WMAZ.Continue Reading..

12
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 12, 2024

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.

On April 12, 1861, Confederates in Charleston, SC opened fire on Federal-held Fort Sumter opening the Civil War.

During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

On April 13, 1861, Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter after 33 hours of bombardment by Confederates.

“The General” Locomotive was hijacked at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia on April 12, 1862, leading to “The Great Locomotive Chase.” The locomotive is now housed in the Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House; Lincoln survived nine hours before dying the next day.

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”

“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”

“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”

“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.

On April 12, 1961, Russian Commienaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to go to outer space and the first to orbit earth.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963; while there he would write his famed, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The Braves played their first home game in Atlanta on April 12, 1966.

Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.

By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus

The Space Shuttle Columbia became the first reusable orbital vehicle when it launched on April 12, 1981.

A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.

Thirty-five years ago, on April 14, 1989, “Say Anything” was released, marking the directorial debut of Cameron Crowe, who wrote “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and later directed “Singles.”

John Cusack, four years past playing a college freshman in The Sure Thing, plays graduating high school senior Lloyd Dobler. Ione Skye, three years after her debut in the very dark drama River’s Edge, plays the brilliant and shy Diane Court. And John Mahoney, four years before he found sitcom immortality as Frasier Crane’s father Martin, plays Diane’s adoring and deeply flawed father, Jim. Writer and first-time director Cameron Crowe was best-known at the time for the screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High — which is fondly remembered now as the launching pad for many respectable careers, but which Roger Ebert had called “a failure of taste, tone and nerve.”

On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Sunday is National Pecan Day, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Georgia is the largest pecan producing state in the nation, experts say. Making Georgia the right place to be for National Pecan Day.

“We produce somewhere around 100 million pounds annually,” said Lenny Wells, professor of horticulture and extension pecan specialist at the University of Georgia based in Tifton. “But we’ve been as high as 150 pounds. So we’re the largest producer.”

An average pecan harvest in Georgia is about 88 million pounds, enough to make 176 million pecan pies, according to experts.

April 14 is National Pecan Day It was created by the Shellers Association in 1966 to recognize and honor the workforce behind the cultivation of pecans in America.

“Pecans are not native to Georgia,” said Wells. “The industry started here in the early 1900s. Pecans are actually native to Oaxaca, Mexico, up through the river systems of eastern central Texas, up into the Mississippi River Valley and its tributaries all the way up to Iowa. So it’s got a really big native range.”

A nut that’s not a nut

“They’re actually what’s called a drupe,” said Wells. “So we’re actually eating the seed, not necessarily the fruit part. Tree nuts kind of have the fruit and seed all together. But with a drupe, you have a kind of fleshy fruit on the outside and the hard dry seed is on the inside. That’s the part that we eat.”

“They make a really good snack,” said Wells. “One of my favorite ways to eat them is roasted with olive oil. There are a lot of health benefits to eating pecans. Pecans are good for your heart. They’re good for lowering your bad cholesterol. They have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re high in antioxidants.”

Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia Executive Director Pete Skandalakis will take up the question of whether to prosecute Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones (R-Jackson) for his role in the aftermath of the 2020 election, according to the Associated Press via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia announced Thursday that its executive director, Pete Skandalakis, will handle the matter after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was barred from prosecuting Jones as part of her election interference case against former President Donald Trump and others.

Jones was one of 16 state Republicans who signed a certificate stating that Trump had won Georgia and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors even though Democrat Joe Biden had been declared the winner in the state. As a state senator in the wake of the election, he also sought a special session of Georgia’s Legislature aimed at overturning Biden’s narrow win in the state.

As Willis was investigating possible illegal election meddling by Trump and others, Jones argued that Willis should not be able to pursue charges against him because she had hosted a fundraiser for his Democratic opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race. Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled in July 2022 that Willis’ actions created an “actual and untenable” conflict of interest.

McBurney’s ruling left it up to the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council, a nonpartisan state agency that supports district attorneys, to appoint a prosecutor to decide whether Jones should be charged. Right after Trump and the others were indicted, Skandalakis said he would begin looking for an appropriate prosecutor. But he instead decided to appoint himself.

The statement announcing Skandalakis’ appointment cites state bar rules and says that “no further comments will be made at this time.”

“I’m happy to see this process move forward and look forward to the opportunity to get this charade behind me,” Jones said. “Fani Willis has made a mockery of this legal process, as she tends to do. I look forward to a quick resolution and moving forward with the business of the state of Georgia.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Macon Telegraph:

A Fulton County judge disqualified Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis nearly two years ago from looking into Jones’ connection to the election interference case, ruling her hosting of a campaign fund-raiser for Jones’ opponent in the 2022 race constituted a conflict of interest.

The investigation of Jones has been in limbo since then, while Willis went on to gain a grand jury indictment last summer charging former President Donald Trump and multiple co-defendants with taking part in a conspiracy to overturn Democrat Biden’s win in Georgia and award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Republican Trump.ward to a quick resolution and moving forward with the business of the state of Georgia.”

Meanwhile, Willis continues to move ahead in prosecuting Trump and the other co-defendants. The case hit a snag in January when a lawyer for one of the co-defendants filed a motion accusing Willis of having an improper relationship with Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she hired to lead the case.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled last month that Willis could remain on the case only if Wade resigned, which he did several hours after the judge handed down the decision.

Former President Trump highlighted Brian Jack’s campaign for Congress from the Third District, according to the AJC.

The former aide turned U.S. House candidate was the only person to greet Trump as he arrived in Atlanta and joined the former president as he delivered impromptu remarks to reporters. Between questions about Arizona’s abortion ban and the Fulton County election interference case, Trump introduced Jack to the national media.

“Do you know Brian Jack?” Trump asked. “He is going to be a fantastic congressman. District 3. Very simple name, don’t turn it around, Brian Jack, Jack Brian.”

Jack recently joined the wide-open race for Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District, and his campaign will test the power of Trump’s endorsement in one of the South’s most conservative districts.

Jack is also the rare candidate who is attempting to meld together Trump’s MAGA base with a more mainstream strain of conservatism. He also served as a deputy to ex-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and can tap the Californian’s vast fundraising network.

Later today, Jack reports the early fruits of his labor: His campaign said it has raised more than $600,000 since entering the race about three weeks ago. That could give him a big early boost over his Republican primary rivals, which include former Senate GOP leader Mike Dugan, ex-state Sen. Mike Crane and ex-state Rep. Philip Singleton.

Jack also rolled out endorsements from Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. And he unveiled a 30-second ad replete with images of Jack and Trump in the Oval Office and on the campaign trail. It ends with Trump calling Jack a tough, conservative “fighter.”

Former President Trump also discussed abortion laws, according to the AJC.

Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday while in Atlanta for a fundraiser that a 160-year-old Arizona law that bans nearly all abortions is too restrictive, and he called on Republicans to overhaul the measure “very quickly.”

But Trump stopped short of elaborating on what level of abortion restrictions he would support even as he defended the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

Trump said earlier this week that abortion should be left to the states to decide, even though he took aim Wednesday at Arizona after its state Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law that bans the procedure in most cases.

“It’ll be straightened out. And as you know, it’s all about states’ rights,” Trump told reporters. “It’ll be straightened out, and I’m sure that the governor and everybody else are going to bring it back into reason and that’ll be taken care of very quickly.”

Pressed during a stop at an Atlanta Chick-fil-A, Trump again tried to sidestep questions asking for specificity on his abortion stance, including when asked whether physicians should face punishment for performing the procedure.

“Let that be to the states. Everything we’re doing now is states and states’ rights. And what we wanted to do is get it back to the states,” he said. “Because for 53 years, it’s been a fight. And now the states are handling it.”

Polls show Biden and Trump in a tight race in Georgia, and Republicans say they can’t just rely on the Democrat’s low approval ratings to recapture the state in November.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R-Cobb County) spoke at the Jekyll Island Convention Center, according to The Brunswick News.

“We have to continue to build our workforce,” he said. “Tomorrow’s workforce is in today’s classrooms.”

The state’s strong right to work laws help attract employers, he said.

The state must continue to invest in the ports in Brunswick and Savannah.

The lack of workforce housing is a concern, he said.

“People want to live in the community where they work,” he said. “Georgia is the best place to live and work,”

One reason for the state’s robust economy is the decisions made to keep much of the state open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We made tough decisions even when they weren’t popular at the time,” he said.

Public safety is a priority for his office, Carr said.

“People don’t go to places where they don’t feel safe,” he said.

A gang prosecution unit has been created to address the problem of crimes created by gangs across the state, he said.

“They are responsible for the majority of crimes in Georgia,” he said. “It is a paramount responsibility to protect everyone.”

The unit is credited for 32 convictions for gang-related crimes, Carr said.

State Sen. Mike Hodges, R-St. Simons Island, said the past General Assembly session began with a “boatload” of bills that didn’t get passed last year.

State Rep. Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island, said building relationships on both sides of the political aisle is key to passing legislation. He said technical education and increasing pathways for students are important.

State Rep. Buddy DeLoach, R-Townsend, said he remembers what Jekyll Island looked like a few years ago.

“It’s always been a special place for me,” he said.

State Rep. Steven Sainz, R-St. Marys, praised Carr for transforming his office into the “front line of public safety” across the state.

Sainz said a common-sense workforce development policy is needed to take advantage of the highly skilled military retirees in the area that can help fill the job vacancies.

United States District Court Judge Eleanor Ross (ND-GA) upheld Georgia’s requirement for citizenship verification for voters, according to the AJC.

A federal judge upheld Georgia’s citizenship verification requirements for new Americans, dismissing the case midway through the trial Thursday after three days of testimony.

U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross granted a directed verdict in court, finding that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the voting rights of naturalized citizens are violated when they have to show papers or get a new state ID before they can vote.

The quick ruling brings an abrupt end to a lawsuit that has been pending since 2018 over state laws that prevent new citizens from casting ballots until they show that they’re eligible.

Attorneys for Georgia said in court this week that citizenship checks are needed to prevent the possibility of illegal voting. Zero noncitizens have voted in recent elections, according to a 2022 audit by the secretary of state’s office.

Ross, an appointee of President Barack Obama, found that Georgia’s elections are open to all citizens and that the state has an interest in ensuring that only citizens are allowed to vote.

New citizens must either provide naturalization documents with their voter registration application, send papers to election offices, show citizenship information when they vote or present proof within three days of an election.

They can also pay $32 to update their driver’s licenses to reflect that they have become U.S. citizens and then re-register to vote.

The plaintiffs argued that Georgia’s citizenship verification process violated protections against discrimination in the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act.

There’s no government system that automatically informs election officials when a Georgia resident earns citizenship.

Some disabled Georgians continue waiting for state-paid caregiver services, according to Atlanta News First via WALB.

The New Option Waiver Program (NOW) and Comprehensive Support Waiver Program (COMP) support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

According to the Georgia government, they are “for eligible people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who require an intermediate care facility.”

In 2023, Commissioner Kevin Tanner said the program was in a state of crisis. There are more than 3,000 adults with disabilities in Georgia waiting for caregiver services.

State lawmakers recommended raises for caregivers. They currently make $10 per hour. Kaiser feels $16 is not enough.

Families and advocates like Kaiser pushed for change at the state capitol. They prioritized several bills that didn’t pan out.

Lawmakers didn’t pass two bills that Kaiser said could have made a real difference. HB 1125 would end the 14c certificate, which makes it legal to pay people with disabilities below minimum wage. SB 198 would have created a commission of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities “review the conditions, needs, issues, and problems related to support for Georgians with [intellectual and developmental disabilities].”

“I feel like they dangle a carrot in front of you and say ‘I’ll give you just enough this year to go away,’” said Kaiser.

Glynn County Public Schools are considering placing a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) on the ballot, according to The Brunswick News.

To help finance the future needs of public school students, Glynn County School District officials are requesting a new 1 percent countywide sales tax, known as ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).

During a school board workshop meeting Thursday, school district staff proposed presenting a new ESPLOST tax for public approval as early as November of 2024.

Staff will seek the school board’s formal approval to begin preparing plans for the tax at the School Board’s 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

“We are asking to move forward with a referendum to put (the tax) on the ballot in November of 2024,” said Mike Blackerby, the school district’s assistant superintendent of operations. “If it’s approved (by the school board), we would move forward with writing the measure for the referendum.”

Before Tuesday’s presentation, board members recommended staff work out key details. Those include the length of time the 1 cent retail sales tax will be in effect countywide, and how much money it would be projected to earn. Staff said it would likely be a four- or five-year ESPLOST.

As with the county government’s SPLOST taxes, ESPLOST taxes must be approved by public referendum. If school board members give staff the OK to proceed, Blackerby said they hope to have a new ESPLOST referendum ready for public consideration in November.

Savannah City Council voted to adopt a revised firearms ordinance that requires secure storage in cars, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a gun storage ordinance that has long been a priority of Mayor Van Johnson. Now, the city will lead a 90-day public awareness campaign on the ordinance before beginning enforcement.

The ordinance requires firearms left in motor vehicles be “securely stored” in compartments or in a locked trunk while also requiring lost or stolen firearms be reported to Savannah Police Department. The approval was made with a host of supporters from the local chapter of Moms Demand Action, which included State Rep. Anne Allen Westbrook.

Here are the full provisions approved by council.

• Any owner or other person lawfully in possession of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun who suffers the loss or theft of said weapon shall within 24 hours of the discovery of the loss or theft report the facts and circumstances of the loss or theft to the Savannah Police Department.

• Every person with a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle shall ensure that each such firearm, rifle, or shotgun is securely stored in a glove compartment, console, a locked trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk at all times while such vehicle is unoccupied.

• Every person with a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle shall ensure that no firearm, rifle, or shotgun is visible at any time while such vehicle is unoccupied.

• Every person with a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a vehicle shall ensure that all doors and hatches are locked while such vehicle is unoccupied.

The final ordinance was passed with a few changes from a previous draft. One of the main items left out of the law’s final version was a requirement to report specific details of a stolen firearm such as make, model, manufacturer and serial number. Another item left off the final version would have required SPD to retain that information for use in locating those firearms.

From WTOC:

This comes after data shows that 83% of firearms stolen from vehicles in Savannah in 2023 were from unlocked cars.

A violation of any part of this ordinance would be penalized of up to a $1,000 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

“We need common sense gun laws in Georgia, and I’m committed to doing all I can to make sure that we’re able to find balance between someone’s right to exercise the second amendment rights, but the responsibility of people to be safe in their communities. That we’re able to balance the rights of the second amendment and the safety of second graders. That we’re able to balance the right of someone to carry a gun, and my right not to be shot by that gun,” said Mayor Van Johnson, City of Savannah.

Now that this ordinance has been approved, Mayor Johnson is calling for an intense awareness campaign throughout the city in the next 30 days.

From WSAV:

“This year and we are only in the eleventh day of the fourth month, we’ve had 69 firearms stolen from vehicles,” Mayor Johnson said. “Fifty-six of those were stolen from unlocked cars.”

He said in 2023, 244 firearms were stolen. Two-hundred and three of those were from unlocked vehicles.

“For us that was an issue,” he expressed. “That was 244 opportunities for someone to be shot victimized or killed by those weapons.”

“This ordinance creates the opportunity for someone to either take it with them or secure it when the car is not in use… in a glove compartment or a trunk,” Mayor Johnson explained.

Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill wants to influence the next round of elections in the county, according to the AJC.

Hill has vigorously opposed the reelection of former protege Sheriff Levon Allen on social media posts, just two weeks after being released from FCI Forrest City where he served about 10 months for a 2022 federal conviction for violating the civil rights of detainees in the Clayton County jail.

The federal bureau of prisons said Hill is now living in community confinement overseen by Atlanta authorities.

“Based on disappointing job performance and poor results, sadly, I will not give any further endorsements to Levon Allen,” Hill wrote in an April 1 Facebook post that also includes a raft of allegations against Allen.

The about face is a big deal in Clayton.

Despite being a convicted felon who has been the subject of an avalanche of lawsuits, Hill has a loyal following. Almost 300 people commented on the post criticizing Allen and more than 160 reposted the message.

“He does have a lot of juice,” said Patricia Pullar, a Clayton resident and former deputy director of the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Clayton has always been forgiving of him.”

Hill was sheriff of Clayton between 2005 and 2009 and again from 2012 until 2021, when he was suspended by Gov. Brian Kemp pending the outcome of the federal indictment on the civil rights violations charges.

Allen responded to Hill’s accusations on the social media site Nixle, claiming Hill had reached out to him from prison and tried to influence his decisions. Allen said he refused the requests. He did not say what Hill allegedly asked of him.

“Power and vengeance has become his life (sic) mission and I will not succumb to his tirades,” Allen wrote.

Others vying for the office against Allen are Jeff Turner, chairman of the Clayton County Commission; Clarence Cox, chief investigator for the Fulton County Solicitor General’s Office; and Charlene Watson-Fraser, a 24-year veteran of law enforcement who is currently working for the Clayton County Police Department.

Hill has not yet publicly endorsed a candidate.

Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher has raised more than $230,000 dollars for his reelection campaign, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher has raised more than $230,000 for his re-election campaign since 2016, including a portion from contractors operating in the Chatham County Detention Center (CCDC), according to a review of campaign filings obtained by the Savannah Morning News. That total far outpaces the money raised by the other two other sheriff candidates.

Kevin Burns, a former Chatham County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Advanced Deputy, has raised about $934, mostly from ActBlue donations, according to campaign filings. ActBlue is a nonprofit fundraising organization that allows Democratic candidates to receive donations from supporters.

“Politics is what [Wilcher] does best, instead of what he’s sworn to do,” said Burns. “At the end of the day, it’s not about how much money you raise. It’s about the numbers at the ballot boxes.”

Richard Coleman, a law enforcement officer who has served in multiple departments throughout Georgia, hasn’t filed campaign contributions because he filed to run for sheriff after the campaign contributions were due on Jan. 30. A second round of campaign contributions is due on April 30.

“He’s an incumbent chair, that’s to be expected,” said Coleman, who said everything he has paid so far for his election has been out-of-pocket but wasn’t able to provide how much he has spent by publication time. “This election is not about money at all; it’s about change.”

A disqualified candidate for Bibb County Sheriff is appealing a decision by the Board of Elections that he did not meet the qualifications to stand for the office, according to 13WMAZ.

Marshall Hughes and his attorney, Joseph Siegelman, want a judge to decide whether he can stay in the race. Siegelman Wednesday pointed to a 2016 case in Muscogee County where Donna Tompkins, disqualified over a similar paperwork issue, appealed her disqualification and won the sheriff race.

Judge Gary McCorvey issued a nearly identical ruling in 2016 for Mark LaJoye, who was also disqualified from the sheriff race in Muscogee County for the same problem.

“He made, in my opinion, made the right, qualified decision to put us back into the election,” LaJoye said.

In the 2016 case, Judge McCorvey decided the important thing was that the two candidates turned the information in — not the time frame. McCorvey also found that in the context of the law, ‘shall’ doesn’t mean ‘must.’ In his ruling, he wrote judges must look at laws as broadly as possible in favor of the candidate appealing.

Early voting starts April 29 for the May 21 primary election.

Candidates for Columbus City Council District 4 met in a public forum, according to WTVM.

Members of the District 4 community were invited to a “Meet the Candidates” forum to learn more about current councilwoman Toyia Tucker and opponent Tyrone Thomas.

Tucker was first elected as city councilor in 2020. She has served in the Air Force and is the co-founder of the River Valley Black Chamber of Commerce.

Thomas is the senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church and retired from his 30-year career with the Columbus Police Department.

Several people took to the podium to ask the candidates about their priorities and plans if they won the May 21 election.

The election for the City Council At-Large Seat will also be held May 21 where four candidates are vying for the spot.

Democrat Daughtry Melton IV withdrew from the race for Tift County Commission District 2, according to the Tifton Gazette.

Initially vying for the position against fellow Democrats Cal Russell Thomas and incumbent Melissa Hughes, Melton rescinded his campaign during a Board of Elections qualification hearing held March 28.

Board of Elections officials stated that the decision came as a result of an error in documentation submitted during qualification.

Thomas and Hughes are still expected to face off in the upcoming May 21 primary, with the winner then campaigning against sole Republican candidate Priscilla Prince in the November election.

Early voting for the May election will begin April 29 at the Tift County Elections office, every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 4 and 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until May 17. On election day, polls will remain open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Registration must be completed by April 22 to be eligible to vote.

Democratic candidates for the Thirteenth Congressional District will meet in a televised debate, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Atlanta Press Club announced on Thursday that it will host a televised debate on April 28 for the Democratic primary election candidates running for the 13th Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga. It is one of seven debates the APC will host this spring as part of its Loudermilk-Young Debate Series.

Daily Post reporter Curt Yeomans will be one of the panelists for the 13th District Debate. The debate will be conducted in a studio at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta.

It will only involve the candidates for the Democratic Party primary — Scott is being challenged by six other Democrats. It will not include the two Republican candidates running for the seat.

The Democrats running against Scott include Brian Johnson, Marcus Flowers, Rashid Malik, Karen Rene, Mark Baker and Uloma Kama. The Republicans running for the seat are Johsie Cruz Fletcher and Jonathan Chavez.

The seat had traditionally been been on the western side of metro Atlanta, but redistricting last fall flipped it to the western side of the region. It is one of four congressional districts that include parts of Gwinnett County (the others are the 4th, 9th and 10th districts).

The district now includes parts of Fulton, Clayton, Henry, Newton, Rockdale and Gwinnett counties. The northern most tip of the district reaches into the Lawrenceville area.

The other debates that the Atlanta Press Club will host on April 28 include: Democrats running for the 6th Congressional District (which is now on the west side of metro Atlanta) at 10 a.m.; Republicans running for the 3rd Congressional District at 1 p.m.; Republicans running for the 2nd Congressional District at 3 p.m.; the Georgia Supreme Court at 4:45 p.m.; DeKalb County CEO at 5:45 p.m.; and Fulton County District Attorney at 6:45 p.m.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2024

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist. This is what his lobbyist badge looked like:

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate troops surrendered Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island off Savannah, on April 11, 1862. Part of the construction of Fort Pulaski was overseen by a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army named Robert E. Lee.

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

On April 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House. In the finest tradition of Georgia Democrats, Carter added a circus to the event.

The Masters Tournament was won on April 9th by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012. Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005). Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters in House District 139 will return to the polls for a Special Runoff Election on May 7, 2024. From WTVM:

The seat covers North Columbus and a small portion of Harris County and comes in the wake of the loss of Georgia state representative Richard Smith back in January.

Today’s vote has resulted in a runoff between Sean Knox and Carmen Rice, neither candidate getting a majority of the more than 25 hundred votes cast today in both Muscogee and Harris counties.

“I anticipated that it would end in a runoff. We have four people in the race, just statistically that’s what’s going to happen so we’re just going to get busy, and keep doing what we’re doing and connect with the people of 139 and just have a positive mindset moving forward,” said Carmen Rice.

“People did come out and voted for me a lot of people gave a lot of effort to help get our campaign moving with great direction, so gratitude is my first thought. There’s more work to do and I’m excited about that,” said Sean Knox.

Neither candidate got 50 percent of the vote plus one to win outright.

Both Rice and Knox received 42 percent of the total votes cast in both Muscogee and Harris Counties.

Again, the runoff is scheduled to be on May 7th, whoever wins will represent House District 139 until the end of the year.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

With all 10 of the district’s precincts tallied Tuesday night, Republican Sean Knox has the most votes with 1,045, but he received 42.57% of the votes — not a majority — so he and the second-place candidate, fellow Republican Carmen Rice (1,033 votes, 42.08%), will compete in a runoff May 7, according to results posted online by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Robert Mallard, an independent, and Donald Moeller, also a Republican, trailed the field with 237 and 140 votes, respectively.

Because this was a special election to fill a vacated seat, no primary election preceded it. So any district resident could have qualified for the ballot, regardless of party affiliation, but no Democrat qualified to run for this seat, which is in a predominantly Republican area.

The winner of this special election immediately becomes the Georgia House District 139 representative and fills the remaining portion of Smith’s two-year term, which expires at the end of this year.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #04.08.24.01, appointing J. Grady Blanchard to the Columbia County Judicial Circuit Superior Court seat vacated by Gov. Kemp’s earlier appointment of J. Wade Padgett to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Governor Brian Kemp also issued Executive Order #04.09.24.01, suspending Pineview Mayor Brandon Holt from office, after Holt was arrested and charged with stealing municipal funds.

From 13WMAZ:

Brandon Holt, the mayor of Pineview in Wilcox County, was arrested back in January after a GBI investigation accused Holt of stealing nearly $65,000 from the city of fewer than 500 residents. Holt was later released on bond.

in March, Holt was indicted by a grand jury on multiple felony counts of theft by taking. The governor’s office says they received Holt’s indictment on March 13, 2024, and then, 15 days later, a “Review Commission” was formed to “determine whether the indictment relates to and adversely affects the administration of the Office of the Mayor of Pineview such that rights and interests of the public are adversely affected,” the executive order reads.

On Thursday, the commission’s report was given to the governor’s office and they found just that: “the indictment of Mr. Brandon Holt does relate to and does adversely affect the administration of the Office of the Mayor of Pineview, and that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected.”

The Commission recommended Holt be suspended from office, and Kemp issued the executive order Tuesday. You can read the full order here.

“Mr. Brandon Holt is hereby suspended from office immediately and without further action pending the final disposition of the case or until expiration of his term of office, which ever occurs first,” the executive order says.

The Macon Telegraph and (Columbus) Ledger-Enquirer both ask in headlines: Can you marry your cousin or sue your kid in Georgia? See what the state laws allow. Are Middle Georgia and Southwest Georgia okay?

Former President Donald Trump visits Georgia today for a fundraiser, according to the AJC.

When Donald Trump arrives in Atlanta for a high-dollar fundraiser on Wednesday, he’ll be surrounded by familiar allies. Former U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will be on hand. So will Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and GOP mega-donor Bernie Marcus.

Gov. Brian Kemp hasn’t attended a Trump event since the former president tried to blame him for his 2020 election defeat and later tried to oust him from office. Attorney General Chris Carr and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger have also steered clear.

“I’m glad to be hosting the event,” said Jones, one of a handful of deep-pocketed Republicans listed as one of the fundraiser’s hosts. “I’m proud to support President Trump and will do whatever I can to get him elected and help turn this country around.”

Polls show Biden and Trump in a tight race in Georgia, and Republicans say they can’t just rely on the Democrat’s low approval ratings to recapture the state in November.

Democrats, meanwhile, are taking strides to build up the campaign’s political infrastructure, recently announcing a slate of offices and a contingent of new staffers in Georgia devoted to drive up turnout for Biden.

Athens-Clarke County Commission candidates addressed the “sanctuary city” issue, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

At a Monday forum, candidates for the upcoming May 21 election for three contested seats on the Athens-Clarke County Commission faced what is becoming a persistent question from some quarters of the community.

When the floor was opened to the audience of an estimated 100 people at a Federation of Neighborhoods forum, the first question was whether the candidates supported a 2019 resolution approved by the then-sitting commissioners and signed by Mayor Kelly Girtz.

Noting in part that the Athens-Clarke County government “… strives to foster a community where individuals and families of all statuses feel safe, are able to prosper, and can breathe free …,” the resolution became a lightning rod for government in the wake of this year’s slaying of Laken Riley. That criticism was heightened by the resolution’s references to “white nationalists,” “xenophobes” and “white supremacy.”

In the days after Riley’s slaying, the resolution, which also noted that the local government “unflinchingly defend(s) the human rights of all people, including citizens, noncitizens and those without documentation,” became a rallying cry for people insisting that Athens-Clarke County is, in effect, a “sanctuary city,” a fact that contributed to Riley’s death.

There is no specific legal definition of what constitutes a sanctuary city, and under state law, local governments are required to certify annually that they are not providing any sanctuary-type services.

None of the candidates for the three contested seats were serving on the commission when the resolution was approved, and responses to Monday’s question were generally muted.

The Glynn County Board of Elections heard from local election officials about process changes implemented in the recent General Assembly session, according to The Brunswick News.

“It was a very productive legislative session, as far as I’m concerned, for Glynn County,” Elections and Registration Director Chris Channell said.

Since 2021, the local elections office has advocated for an amendment to a new election law to allow the board to deduct the number of people who cast a ballot during early voting from the total number of voters when calculating how many polling machines must be placed at every precinct on election day.

State law requires counties to provide one voting machine for every 250 voters on Election Day. Without being able to subtract the number of people who’d already cast a vote during early voting — which they could do before the state passed an elections overhaul in 2021 — the county had to set up more machines at many of its precincts.

“It still doesn’t remove the requirement to make sure that your line goes through in an hour. (Other counties) may have to add machines. They may have to add polling locations to meet what they need for their people, but for us to take 23, 24 machines over to the island when 50-60% (early) vote is ridiculous,” said Channell. “And I think our Public Works (Department) appreciates that.”

Not everything that came out of the recent session was good for Glynn County, though, Channell told the board. One bill pushed back elections for multiple Georgia Public Service Commission seats to June 2025 while a lawsuit continues working its way through the courts regarding the legality of the body’s election framework.

Under current law, each of the five members of the PSC represents a different district, but every member is elected by the entire state. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim this method of electing commissioners “illegally diluted Black votes.”

In November, an appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that favored the plaintiffs.

Regardless of the legal issue, Channell said it’s not great news for the local board of elections, as it had only one county-wide election scheduled for that timeframe, and if this does indeed occur, it’s going to exceed the board’s budget. It’s also very likely, in Channell’s experience, that it will go to a runoff and create yet another added expense for the elections office.

Another bill added the requirement that all ballot printing paper include a proprietary watermark, which he said the state claimed would not cost more than what the board already spends. Dominion Voting Systems will buy back any full reams of paper the board currently has, Redden added.

Ballot counting could be slowed down by another rule the legislature passed that requires all ballots to be image-scanned at 600 dpi, much higher quality than the 200 dpi that was required before. Scanning the ballots at a higher quality will take longer, Redden said, and anyone will be able to look at them online. While that’s on the surface a good thing, she worried that having such high-quality scans available to the public would make it easier for bad actors to make more convincing forgeries.

United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme NW GA) spoke about her moves against House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

She said she thinks Johnson’s leadership has been disastrous for Republicans.

Greene last month filed a motion to vacate the speakership, following House approval of a $1.2 trillion spending package.

“A Republican speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, brought that very bill to the floor, passed with the Democrats,” she said. “He did not have a majority of Republicans.”

Greene said Johnson broke a House Republicans policy to give members 72 hours to read a bill before voting on it.

“The most egregious thing he did is that he tied our hands and would not allow amendments,” she said.

“Currently, the Democrats control the White House, with President Joe Biden,” Greene said. “The Democrats control the Senate. and Republicans control the House of Representatives with a razor-thin majority.”

“That is a majority that I fought for,” Greene said. “That is a majority that I campaigned all over the country for.”

“We have had bitter battles with one another,” she said. “But I want you to know that anyone who serves in leadership in America should be prepared to battle for what is right. We should be prepared to fight it out with one another. We should be prepared to find common ground. We should be prepared to hold the line and do what’s right, to do what our voters want us to do. But that has not happened in this Congress. As a matter of fact, our Republican majority has failed completely.”

“They are giving everything over to the Democrats, and that’s the leadership we have in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “And I will not tolerate it.”

Greene also criticized Johnson for saying aid to Ukraine is a top priority for him when he opposed it several months ago.

Joe Brannen is retiring as CEO of the Georgia Bankers Association, according to the AJC.

Joe Brannen, a familiar face in business circles and who has served as a voice for the state’s banking industry at the State Capitol as GBA’s president and CEO, will retire July 15, according to a news release. Brannen will be succeeded by Tripp Cofield.

“It’s been the honor and privilege to work with bankers throughout Georgia, helping them make dreams come true for their communities’ individuals, families, and businesses,” Brannen said in the release. “We have a great team of professionals at the association, and our goal has always been to be a resource that empowers our members’ efforts. I hope I added value along the way.”

Brannen has served in a number of civic and philanthropic roles in Georgia. Prior to joining the bankers association, he served eight years as a staffer for former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn.

“Tripp has been a friend and trusted advisor for a dozen years,” Brannen said. “Working directly with him for the last 15 months, seeing how he interacts with people, listens and learns, makes sometimes tough decisions, and uses his incredible intellect for good, proved to the search committee and me that he’s the right person to lead the association in the future.”

The City of Brooklet called a May 21, 2024 Special Election for the City Council Post 5 seat vacated by former City Council member Jonathan Graham, according to the Georgia Virtue.

The election will take place separately from the primary election slated for that date, however.

All persons desiring to qualify as a candidate in the said election must do so by filing a notice of the candidacy at Brooklet City Hall and paying the qualifying fee at that time.

The dates for qualifying to fill said seat are set for Monday, April 22, 2024, through Wednesday, April 24, 2024, beginning at 8:30 A.M. and ending at 4:30 P.M.

The Special Election will be held “separate and apart” from the county election, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The polling location will be Bulloch County Recreation Department, Brooklet Community Center, 416 N. Cromley Road, Brooklet, Georgia 30415, and the poll shall open at 7:00 A.M. and close at 7:00 P.M. on the date set for the election.

9
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 9, 2024

Lizzy is a young female Hound and Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

Koala is a young female Border Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA. I kind of feel she might have some sort of German Pointer in her background.

Laken is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

9
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Politics for April 9, 2024

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM on April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

From the account by Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain:

“At such a time and under such conditions I thought it eminently fitting to show some token of our feeling, and I therefore instructed my subordinate officers to come to the position of ‘salute’ in the manual of arms as each body of the Confederates passed before us.”

“When General Gordon came opposite me I had the bugle blown and the entire line came to ‘attention,’ preparatory to executing this movement of the manual successively and by regiments as Gordon’s columns should pass before our front, each in turn.”

“The General was riding in advance of his troops, his chin drooped to his breast, downhearted and dejected in appearance almost beyond description. At the sound of that machine like snap of arms, however, General Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse’s head swung down with a graceful bow, and General Gordon dropped his swordpoint to his toe in salutation.”

“By word of mouth General Gordon sent back orders to the rear that his own troops take the same position of the manual in the march past as did our line. That was done, and a truly imposing sight was the mutual salutation and farewell.”

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters go to the polls today in a Special Election for House District 139 the seat vacated by the death of State Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus), according to WTVM.

There are four candidates running are: Sean Knox, Robert Mallard, Doctor Donald Moeller, and Carmen Rice.

The winner of this special election will immediately fill the seat and serve the remainder of Smith’s original term which ends December 2024.

Candidates who want to run for the full two-year term will have to win the primary on May 21 and win the election in November.

Voting takes place tomorrow in Columbus, Cataula, Ellerslie, and Waverly Hall.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

 

From the Secretary of State’s Office:

A run-off, if needed, shall be held on May 7, 2024.

The Catoosa County Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit against local election officers, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..

8
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 8, 2024

On April 8, 1917, U.S. President William Howard Taft (R-Ohio) spoke in Augusta, Georgia, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Former President William Howard Taft spoke on the precarious world situation for more than an hour to an Easter Sunday crowd at Augusta’s Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Taft, who had lost the White House four years earlier to Woodrow Wilson, defended the actions of his former rival.

“Our national conscience is entirely void of offense in this war. We have been forced to vindicate our rights,” Taft told an enthusiastic audience.

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he arguably holds to this day.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wrote about what Aaron meant to baseball and America.

As the last major league player who was a part of the Negro leagues, he was one of the game’s most prominent bridges to integration. For 23 years on the field, this humble native of Mobile, Ala., represented the game with unfailing grace, overcoming obstacles that most of us could not even imagine. In the years since then, Hank has remained one of the most distinguished and revered figures in American public life.

Aaron himself spoke to the Associated Press about the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking home run.

Aaron’s record-breaking homer will be celebrated tonight before the Atlanta Braves’ home opener against the New York Mets.

Hate mail and threats made it impossible for him to savor the chase of Ruth’s revered record, but on Monday he said he’ll enjoy the anniversary because such old friends as former teammate Dusty Baker will return for the pregame ceremony.

Aaron, 80, said he has a greater appreciation for fans who still celebrate his career.

“It does. It means an awful lot to me,” Aaron said.

“I’m not one to go around bragging about certain things. I played the game because I loved the game. … I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good.”

The Braves will wear an Aaron 40th anniversary patch on their uniform sleeves this season. An outfield sign at Turner Field also will mark the anniversary.

Before hitting the homer into the Braves’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall, Aaron told [Dusty] Baker what was about to happen.

“That I can remember like it was yesterday,” Baker said. “It was a cold, cold night in April. Hank told me, ‘I’m going to get this over with now.’ He knew every pitch that was coming. He had total recall of pitch sequences. He was as smart as they came.”

Aaron confirmed Baker’s tale on Monday: “I think that was right. I think I made that remark and made it to Dusty maybe three or four times. I just felt within myself that eventually before the night was over I was going to hit a home run.”

From the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times on the 50th Anniversary:

Aaron’s teammates, including Dusty Baker, worried on his behalf even as the future Hall of Famer circled the bases following his record-breaking 715th homer on April 8, 1974. Baker, who was on deck, and Tom House, who caught the homer in the Atlanta bullpen behind the left-field wall, will return Monday for the 50-year anniversary of the homer.

After sprinting from the bullpen to deliver the ball to Aaron at home plate, House found Aaron’s mother giving the slugger a big hug.

“You could see both of them with tears in their eyes,” House told The Associated Press. “… It was a mother and son. Obviously, that was cool. It was also mom protecting her boy from at that time everybody thought somebody would actually try to shoot him at home plate.

“So there were all kind of things. I gave him the ball. I said, ‘Here it is, Hank.’ He said ‘Thanks, kid.’”

Bob Hope, then the Braves media relations director, said Aaron would not be deterred by the threats issued late in the 1973 season as he approached Ruth’s record of 714 career homers.

“One time the FBI wanted to come meet with him on a Sunday and asked him not to play because they felt they had legitimate death threats on him,” Hope said.

“We went down to the clubhouse and sat down with him and Hank just said: ‘What kind of statement would that be? I am a baseball player. You guys do what you need to do to keep things secure, but I’m playing baseball.’ And I thought that was very reflective of his personality all the way through.”

To mark the 50-year anniversary of Aaron’s 715th homer, the Atlanta History Center will open a new exhibit to the public, through the Henry Louis Aaron Fund, celebrating Aaron on Tuesday that will remain open through the 2025 All-Star Game in Atlanta. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is expected to attend a preview of the exhibit on Monday.

Aaron’s bat and the ball he hit for the record homer, owned by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and normally not open to public viewing, will be on display at Truist Park’s monument garden on Monday.

Kurt Cobain was found dead by his own hand on April 8, 1994.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Election procedures will differ from previous years after the General Assembly passed election reform legislation, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The General Assembly passed the most far-reaching election law changes last month since 2021, when the legislature’s Republican majorities enacted a sweeping election system overhaul following Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the Peach State in 2020 and the capture by Democrats of both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats in January 2021 runoffs.

The passage of most of the following five bills came primarily along party lines:

• Senate Bill 189 – Makes it easier to file mass voter challenges; eliminates QR codes from paper ballots; eases requirements for third-party presidential candidates to get on Georgia’s ballot.

• House Bill 1207 – Allows fewer voting machines on election days; requires poll workers to be U.S. citizens; allows closer access for poll watchers.

• Senate Bill 368 – Prohibits campaign contributions from foreign nationals.

• House Bill 974 – Requires secretary of state to set up a statewide system to scan and post paper ballots at a minimum resolution; requires more audits of statewide election results.

• House Bill 1312 – Reschedules state Public Service Commission elections following a ruling in a lawsuit accusing the current system of violating the federal Voting Rights Act.

Senate Bill 189 and House Bill 1207 have drawn the most criticism from legislative Democrats and voting-rights advocates, so much so that the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has threatened to sue if Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signs Senate Bill 189.

What opponents find most objectionable is a provision establishing probable cause – an easier burden of proof to meet – as the standard for filing a successful voter challenge. In 2022, Republican activists filed thousands of voter challenges in Democratic-leaning counties only to see local election boards dismiss the vast majority as baseless.

Republicans say this year’s election bills are aimed at restoring election integrity, citing claims of widespread voter fraud lodged by GOP officials after the 2020 election. Those claims were subsequently dismissed by courts that found no widespread fraud.

“What’s crazy to me is the idea that anybody in this chamber would be OK with a fraudulent vote canceling your legal vote or anybody’s legal vote,” Rep. John LaHood, R-Valdosta, chairman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, said on the House floor. “Fraud makes votes not matter. What this does is make sure your legal vote does matter.”

“Our bill actually makes the process of challenging more difficult,” added Rep. Victor Anderson, R-Cornelia. “It actually is designed to clarify what constitutes a valid challenge and constitutes an invalid challenge.”

House Bill 1207 takes Republican-led efforts to reduce the supply of voting machines an additional step. After absentee ballot drop boxes were made widely available leading up to the 2020 elections because of the pandemic, the passage of Senate Bill 202 in 2021 limited the number of drop boxes.

The new legislation would give local election superintendents discretion to allow fewer voting machines on Election Day than current law requires, depending on the voter turnout they expect.

While both Senate Bill 189 and House Bill 1207 passed along partisan lines, Senate Bill 368 sailed through the Senate unanimously and cleared the House with only two “no” votes. To Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, prohibiting campaign contributions from foreign nationals was the most important of the election bills.

“This commonsense measure defends Georgia elections,” Raffensperger said. “Voters deserve assurance that their elections remain free from foreign influence.”

House Bill 974 was less controversial than Senate Bill 189 and House Bill 1207, drawing support from many legislative Democrats.

House Bill 1312 was forced upon the General Assembly by a federal lawsuit charging the current system of electing the five members of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) statewide rather than by district dilutes Black voting strength in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

While the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the current system, the case forced the cancellation of PSC elections in 2022 and again this year. House Bill 1312 rescheduled the elections for 2026 and 2028.

Democrats complained the new schedule would let commissioners who normally serve six-year terms stay in office for eight years or longer. Republicans countered that they had no choice because of the court case.

While most of the bills would take effect in time for the November elections, a provision in Senate Bill 189 eliminating QR codes from paper ballots wouldn’t become law until 2026. That’s to give the secretary of state’s office time to develop new technology to replace the QR codes.

Tuesday is the last day to submit comments on the proposed permit for mining near the Okefenokee Swamp, according to Georgia Recorder.

Tuesday is the last day to submit a written comment on Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals’ plans to mine Trail Ridge, which is seen as an important barrier for the swamp, for titanium, staurolite, and zircon. One of the permits would allow the company to withdraw 1.4 million gallons per day from the Floridan Aquifer.

The state regulatory agency, which issued the draft permits in February, will next review and respond to the comments on its website, although there is no set timeline for what comes next.

“If necessary, EPD will request changes to the draft permits,” agency spokesperson Sara Lips said Friday.

Supporters of the project say blocking the mining project would infringe on the landowner’s private property rights, and they have also argued the project will bring needed jobs to the rural area.

But the controversial mining proposal is deeply unpopular among admirers of the largest blackwater swamp in North America, which is home to a diverse ecosystem boasting of thousands of species of animals and plants.

Opponents have blasted the plan as an unnecessary threat to the hydrology of the swamp and its ecosystem that jeopardizes the local tourism economy tied to the swamp and opens the door to more mining.

On Friday, actor Leonardo DiCaprio joined the ranks of people opposing the project, calling on his 62 million followers on Instagram to submit a comment urging state regulators to reject the mine. He linked to a form letter on the Southern Environmental Law Center’s website.

“Help save one of the most significant wetlands on Earth from an 8,000-acre strip mine,” DiCaprio posted, referring to the potential scope of mining operations in the long term. These initial permits are for a 582-acre demonstration mine.

The public comment period is ending more than a week after a legislative push to pass moderate protections for the swamp stalled in the state Senate. A Georgia House proposal called for a three-year moratorium on future applications for the kind of mining Twin Pines plans to do, although that was unlikely to affect the company’s long-term expansion plans. The proposed demonstration project has been in the works now for five years.

Legislative leaders rebuffed another measure that would have permanently blocked new or expanded mining permit applications at Trail Ridge.

Rena Ann Peck, executive director of the Georgia River Network, wrote in the organization’s formal comment that state lawmakers’ hands-off approach to the proposal and deferral to state regulators has left EPD as the “last line of defense for the cherished Okefenokee.”

“With the permittee’s ‘Ts’ crossed and ‘Is’ dotted, the Division is poised to issue a common permit that will do irreparable harm to the uncommon Okefenokee,” Peck said.

If EPD decides to issue final permits, Peck argued for more than the usual permit conditions, calling specifically for a detailed monitoring of groundwater and surface water before, during and after mining.

“The permittee must be held accountable for actions that harm the Okefenokee Swamp and St. Marys River,” she wrote.

A four-hundred million dollar renovation and expansion of the Georgia Capitol campus begins this year, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp in February signed a mid-year budget with money for work on the building to begin this summer. The project is expected to begin with the demolition of two smaller office buildings that once housed, among other things, the Georgia Building Authority, said Gerald Pilgrim, the deputy executive director of the Georgia Building Authority.

“What will go up is an eight-story building that will attach to the Capitol by a bridge that goes across Martin Luther King (Jr. Drive),” Pilgrim said. “There will be an improved area for the press and lobbyists and better areas for the public.”

The Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building — which is on the other side of the Capitol and has housed legislative offices and meeting rooms — was last renovated in the 1990s.

Plans for the new office building show more and larger committee rooms accessible to people with disabilities and improvements to technology and dedicated press areas.

The design also calls for an interior courtyard and a bridge connecting the third floor of the new building and the Capitol, making it easier for legislators and the public to move between them.

As for the 135-year-old Capitol, most of the mechanical systems are from the 1950s, Pilgrim said. Planned upgrades to that building include two additional fire stairways and exits, more bathrooms, and a more public-friendly visitor entrance. The work will also make all public areas accessible for people with disabilities.

Most work on the Capitol would happen between April and November of each year when lawmakers are not in session.

The Georgia Composite Medical Board flip-flopped again on telehealth rules, according to the AJC.

After a sustained outcry from doctors who use telemedicine visits to prescribe controlled drugs such as Ritalin, the Georgia Composite Medical Board on Thursday reversed its plans to restrict the practice, at least for now.

Instead, Georgia’s rules will remain the same as they have been throughout the pandemic until at least the end of the year. The board plans to write new rules from scratch.

The issue of virtual prescribing is a huge one in the South. Specialists are rare in rural Georgia and telemedicine has allowed some to see patients regularly from distant counties and even different states. For instance, the most recent state data showed more than half of Georgia’s 159 counties — 90 — had no psychiatrist.

When the Georgia medical board in December suddenly reimposed its old rules effective Jan. 1, prescribers erupted in confusion over what exactly the old rules allowed when it comes to distant patients who take prescriptions that might renew every month. Some doctors said they would have to stop seeing virtual patients for controlled drugs altogether until the board clarified what was legal.

Now, psychiatrists and other doctors who prescribe drugs via virtual patient visits, can continue to do so, even if they’ve never met the patient in person.

Board Chairman Dr. William Bostock said the board wants to protect patient health while making sure that health care practices have clear, legal rules to follow. A long, careful review of Georgia law concerning teleprescribing found language that was vague or inadvertently contradictory, Bostock said.

“Out of fairness to all parties involved, we’re going to go ahead and rescind our board order that was supposed to take effect May 1,” he said. “The telehealth industry is continuing to evolve. Obviously, it has a part in the delivery of health care for not only citizens of Georgia, but really for the entire nation. And I think our responsibility is to safeguard the public and make sure that we follow what is necessary to that end.”

The AJC looks at what types of bills passed in the 2024 Session.

The AJC analysis looked at all of the successful bills and grouped them into subject areas like finance, healthcare or education. Some of the bills are counted in more than one category. For example, Senate Bill 533, a bill to allow local jails to provide prisoners with mental health treatment while awaiting competency hearings, rather than in a hospital setting. The bill was counted as both a bill related to the judicial system and a bill related to health.

The AJC found the largest category of successful bills involved finances, with 160 bills passing both the House and Senate. Of those financial bills, 130 changed state tax law and tax exemptions, mostly increasing local homestead exemptions. Others in that category levy excise taxes, reduce income taxes, or expand exemptions for sales and use taxes.

The remaining 30 financial bills targeted areas other than taxation, including bills allowing student loan repayment for peace officers and protections for elderly and disabled adults who may be victims of financial exploitation.

Lawmakers passed at least 126 bills applying to the judicial system, including bills raising the pay of some judges or adding judges to some state and judicial circuit courts. Other bills gave law enforcement new powers or responsibilities such as adding antisemitism to Georgia’s hate crimes statute and strengthening immigration laws by penalizing sheriffs who do not cooperate with federal immigration officers. Many bills also affect court procedures, like adding the collection of technology fees onto a fine as a cost of court.

About 40 bills dealing with government functions cover elections specifically. This category includes measures for creating boards of elections and registration in various counties, proofing ballots by local superintendents in certain races, maintaining a state-wide system for posting scanned paper ballots, and time off for employees to vote in advance.

Gwinnett County property owners will soon receive assessment notices, according to AccessWDUN.

Gwinnett County’s Board of Assessors has announced this week that they have mailed out required notifications to all residential and commercial property owners in the county, as of Friday, April 5.

The county is required by law to notify property owners about the annual value each property holds.  The current mailing is reflective of property value as of January 1, 2024.

The Annual Notice of Assessment is not a tax bill but does include an estimate of 2024 property taxes. Officials with the Gwinnett  Assessor’s Office note that each assessment should include:

The estimate combines the 2024 property value with the 2023 millage rates and exemptions on file.
The 2023 tax rates are used because the 2024 rates for county, cities and schools are not calculated until later in the year.
The estimates on the notice do not account for potential changes to fees, such as stormwater, solid waste, streetlights or speed control devices.
The Assessor’s Office suggests that property owners review their Annual Notice of Assessment to ensure accuracy, and to notice if their property is listed at fair market value.

Gwinnett County property owners who disagree with the 2024 value have 45 days from the date on their assessment notice to file an appeal online, in person or by mail.

Camden County Commissioners voted against surrendering their spaceport license, according to The Brunswick News.

A motion by Camden County Commission Jim Goodman to surrender the county’s spaceport license at a meeting this week failed due to the lack of a second.

While the county could not complete the purchase of Union Carbide property for a launch site, Goodman said the motion wasn’t symbolic.

“There’s a lot of sentiment in this community,” he said. “They feel like money is being squandered. There is potential for this to continue to have a life of its own.”

Surrendering the launch operator’s license to the Federal Aviation Administration would show Camden County residents the spaceport saga is finally over, he said.

“I can’t get a straight answer about whether we’re still spending money on consultants,” Goodman said. “I wonder why (commissioners) can’t understand the will of the voters.”

Opponents gathered enough signatures on a petition to force a referendum in 2022 rejecting a commercial spaceport. It was approved by 72% of the Camden County voters.

“From the day the spaceport license was issued, it was useless,” Goodman said. “It’s hard for them to admit they were wrong. It’s time to move on and using things with taxpayer money.”

Steve Weinkle, an opponent who helped initiate the petition that forced the county to abandon plans for a spaceport, said he believes some county commissioners continue to work behind the scenes to find a launch provider who is willing to buy the 4,000-acre Union Carbide property and the license to launch rockets.

“They’re still trying to work a deal,” he said. “I suspect commissioners have a secret, potential user.”

The Valdosta Police Department updated their tattoo policy, according to WALB.

While some jobs may not want to hire you if you have tattoos that can be seen while on the job, Valdosta Police Department says that won’t stop them from hiring you.

Some in the community feel it should be determined on the position your work in, “Tattoos are an expression of creativity. They’re an expression of who you are, how you feel, or just your views. So depending on the area that you’re going in— it can be taken into consideration, and it will be taken into consideration.”

The department says they are currently hiring, and this new policy is affective immediately.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners voted for a zoning code change to take back some power over the process, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

With a unanimous vote, commissioners last week approved an ordinance amendment presented by the county planning department staff, while rejecting a proposal from the county-commission-appointed planning commission.

Briefly, the planning commission, which acts in an advisory capacity to the county commission on zoning-related issues, had wanted to rely on an ordinance provision that allowed the county commission only to cast a “yes” or “no” vote on a text amendment coming from the planning commission.

Commissioners can now change the language of a proposed text amendment when it comes in front of them without sending it back to the planning commission for review and resubmission to the full commission.

“… I think it’s crucial that this body have the real final say on these things. … We’re the democratically elected representatives of the people,” said Commissioner Melissa Link in making the motion to approve the staff-recommended change to the zoning ordinance.

“And us, being those who know these very specific small pockets of the community, are best suited to tweak that language to assure that there aren’t unintended harms brought to certain often voiceless segments of our community,” Link contended.

The City of Gainesville is launching an event transit service, according to AccessWDUN.

Explore Gainesville’s two new Cool Buses will  soon be spotted taking people from parking areas to various events sponsored by the city.

The two refurbished Hall County School surplus buses aim to account for events hosted by the city that may have off– site parking, according to Gainesville Director of Tourism, Robin Lynch.

“We’re excited to offer the community some additional transportation to come to our events,” Lynch said. “Our events are really supported highly by our community members,  and sometimes, our parking deck fill up… so,  we have to use off site lots.  We don’t ever want that to be a deterrent for people to come and use our facilities and visit events.”

The Cool Buses feature seating for up to 42 people, television screens, microphones and speakers to be used by presenters. The bus seats have also been arranged to have  seating that faces each other, rather than that of  a traditional school bus layout. Syfan Logistics worked to tune up and paint the buses, and North Atlanta Customs renovated the interiors and wrapped the  exteriors in Gainesville branding.

Darien hosted their “blessing of the fleet,” according to The Brunswick News.

Darien ended its annual three-day Blessing of the Fleet Sunday with its namesake event, the speaking of blessings over the shrimping vessels moored in Darien and nearby fish docks.

The crowd of at least 1,000 watched from the bridge, city docks, hotel balconies and the northern banks of the Darien River as the shrimp boats idled up to the bridge against a strong outgoing tide for a sprinkling of holy water and words of benediction for safe passages and a bountiful catch.

The theme was there’s nothing like the “real thing,’’ as in wild Georgia shrimp. There were some imposters, however, in the form of people wearing orange, inflatable shrimp costumes. The Rev. Lee Brandt pronounced the first blessing over Shadow Walker. He asked that the boat and crew “be blessed as you go and blessed as you go in” and have the best season ever.

It was the 56th annual blessing and it has grown into a big event with live entertainment, a street parade, arts and crafts, a car show and other attraction.

Former City of Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard pled guilty to federal charges relating to his time in office, according to the AJC.

The former chief financial officer for the city of Atlanta pleaded guilty Monday in a federal case alleging he used tens of thousands of dollars in city funds for personal travel and to buy two military-grade machine guns.

Jim Beard, also accused of cheating on his taxes, appeared before a federal judge in Atlanta. He pleaded guilty to one count of federal program theft and one count of obstructing IRS laws. He faces up to 13 years in prison.

Beard also has agreed to pay an amount to be determined at sentencing, which is set for July 12.

Beard, the Atlanta CFO in former mayor Kasim Reed’s administration, used city funds for airline tickets, luxury hotels and limousines for himself, his family and travel companions, prosecutors said. They said he also bought two custom-built, fully-automatic rifles with city money, and falsely claimed losses from a consulting business on his federal tax forms.

The case is part of a years-long City Hall corruption probe in Atlanta that brought multiple city officials and contractors before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones on criminal charges. Eight defendants were sentenced to prison. Beard was the last defendant facing trial.

Beard was indicted in September 2020 on eight charges, to which he pleaded not guilty. He faced three counts of wire fraud, two counts of federal program theft, and single counts of possessing a machine gun, falsifying an application or record, and obstructing federal tax laws.

Beard used his city-issued credit card for personal trips to Chicago, Louisiana and Washington, D.C., according to his indictment. He also used city funds on a Chicago hotel room so his stepdaughter could attend the Lollapalooza music festival in 2015 and 2016, prosecutors alleged.

Prosecutors claimed Beard used public money for a stay at The St. Regis Atlanta hotel in Buckhead, where he ordered hundreds of dollars worth of room upgrades, private dining and a “rose-petal turndown service” for him and his wife.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is asking boaters to watch out for sea turtles and manatees, according to The Brunswick News.

A 9-foot-long manatee may only make a swirl as they migrate north each spring into the murky Coastal Georgia waters, giving boaters little indication of the massive marine mammal beneath the water’s surface.

Endangered 300-pound loggerhead sea turtles of all species may poke only their heads out of the water when it surfaces, which they are more likely to do in the spring.

Neither are easy to spot, which is why the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is asking boaters to slow down and keep a watchful eye out for the large, rare animals.

Hundreds of sea turtles are hit by boats every year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, making boat strikes the most common cause of sea turtle strandings in the U.S.

Of the 72 dead or injured sea turtles found on Georgia beaches last year, about a quarter of those that could be assessed had suffered injuries from boat strikes, the DNR said.

Sea Turtles have a wider range than many people might think, said Mark Dodd, senior DNR wildlife biologist. They are not limited to the ocean side of local barrier islands.

“They occur everywhere, not just in the ocean,” he said. “They’re in the sounds, the estuaries, the tidal creeks.”

There are similar statistics for manatees. A study by the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute examined 10 years worth of Florida manatee necropsy results and found that one out of every four adult manatee caracasses bore evidence of 10 or more vessel strikes.

In Georgia, watercraft collisions were responsible for more than a fourth of the manatee mortalities documented since 2005.

Manatees migrate each spring from Florida to Georgia. Some move back and forth between the states throughout the summer. Anytime between March and November, people could encounter West Indian or Florida manatees, said Jessica Thompson, senior DNR wildlife biologist.

Both are threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Boaters should be alert and have someone scan for wildlife in front of the boat, stay in deeper channels in the tidal rivers and creeks, and heed low-speed and no-wake zones, particularly around docks, Thompson said.

If boaters do strike a sea turtle or manatee, they should report it immediately to the DNR by calling 1-800-2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363). Boaters will not be charged if operating their boat responsibly and the collision was an accident.

Coastal Georgia is a national leader in intermodal sea turtle releases. From the Savanah Morning News:

[Steven] Bernstein and another pilot with the organization Turtles Fly Too this week carried nearly three-dozen rehabilitated Testudines from the Northeast to Georgia’s Jekyll Island, where they were reintroduced to the Atlantic Ocean in what organizers say was the largest-ever operation of its kind in the state.

“I fly as an avocation,” he explained.

Certain shelled reptiles, however, turn Bernstein and other volunteers into unwavering advocates for endangered species such as the 33 Kemp’s ridley turtles and a single green turtle released into the Jekyll surf Wednesday.

“We’re going to keep doing it as long as we have the opportunity,” added Bernstein, who estimated that the flight from Massachusetts to Georgia in his Pilatus PC-12 single-engine plane brought his total TFT transports to about a dozen.

The reptile passengers made the flights after spending up to five months in one of four facilities: the Mystic Aquarium in Stonington, Connecticut; New England Aquarium in Boston; Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in Hampton Bays, New York; and New York Marine Rescue Center on Long Island.

All were treated for conditions related to “cold-stunning,” which is the turtle version of hypothermia.

As they waited for the flights to arrive at the airport about 4 miles away, more than a dozen staff members from the six agencies assisting in the release swatted incessantly at swarms of stinging sand gnats and sidestepped jellyfish scattered like loose stones in the wet sand.

In waves, quartets of volunteers reached into the containers and carefully lifted the turtles – typically about 2 feet long and weighing 70 pounds or more – and carried them into the surf. One by one, each person placed a turtle just under the water’s surface and gave it a gentle push.

[A]ll 34 releases were successful, said Rachel Overmeyer, rehabilitation program manager at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which coordinated the effort.

From GPB:

Every year when water in the North Atlantic becomes too cold, many turtles are stunned, disoriented and wash up onshore.

After time spent in rehabilitation facilities in the Northeast, they’re ready to hit the waters here, which are warm enough this time of year for the turtles to thrive.

Terry Carbonell is a pilot with Turtles Fly Too, an organization that shuttles sea turtles all over the country for events like this. During the day’s event, she helped two turtles into the ocean.

“It’s just so amazing,” Carbonell said. “I’ve flown them. You’ve seen them sick, and now, that one especially, was just so healthy he was ready to go.”

A transponder under each of the turtles skin ensures the groups on Jekyll can help them in case they’re caught or stranded again.

5
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 4, 2024

On April 4, 1776, General George Washington began marching his troops from Cambridge, Massachusetts to New York, in anticipation of an invasion by the British.

On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that all ports in America would be open to trade with other countries not ruled by the British. The action was taken several months after Britain passed the American Prohibitory Act which forbade trade with the colonies and was intended to punish colonists for the growing rebellion.

On April 7, 1776, the United States warship Lexington captured a British warship, HMS Edward, for the first time.

President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.

The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.

On April 7, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation authorizing negotiations between three representatives of Georgia and three Presidential appointees over Georgia’s claim to land west of what is now the Georgia-Alabama state lines. Georgia would continue to claim most of what is currently Alabama and Mississippi until 1802.

Georgia Politics Campaign Election

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Georgia Politics Campaign Election

President William Henry Harrison died in office on April 4, 1841, a month after his inauguration.

At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president.

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln toured Richmond, Virginia the day after the Confederate Capitol fell to Union forces.

The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896.

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, when the US House of Representatives voted 373-50 on a declaration of war that passed the Senate two days earlier.

The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis. James Earl Ray would later be arrested and plead guilty to the assassination.

On April 5, 1968, amid racial tension following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., musician James Brown helped keep the peace in Boston.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released on April 6, 1968.

On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron hit home run 714, tying Babe Ruth’s record.

On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the late Paul Coverdell.

On April 5, 1980, the band that would come to be known as R.E.M. played their first show as Twisted Kites in Athens, Georgia.

On April 4, 1988, the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly was recognized as the official state butterfly of Georgia.

On April 7, 1995, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing the peach as the official state fruit of Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves played their first game in Turner Field on April 4, 1997, defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-4. Denny Neagle started on the mound for the Braves and Mark Wohlers earned a save. Atlanta’s Michael Tucker hit the first homerun in the new stadium.

Georgia State Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) died on April 5, 2020, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Republican was first elected to the Georgia Senate from the 4th District in 1990 and was reelected in 2018 to his 15th term. Hill was a 37-year veteran, serving 33 years in the Georgia Air National Guard.

[Lt. Gov. Geoff] Duncan called Hill a “true statesman, a man of overwhelming integrity, and a servant leader.”

“For three decades Georgians have benefited from his leadership and his calm and steady hand at the helm,” Duncan said in a statement. “He exhibited all the characteristics we hope for in a leader and was a true friend to all. Jack always ensured we were good stewards of taxpayer dollars, but it was more than that, he led with kindness and clarity.”

“There is not a member of the legislature whose life was not touched in some way by Jack,” Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller said in a statement. “Whether it was providing insight into a budgetary need for their district, or by just being a friend to lean on, you could always count on Jack to be there. I can personally attest to the many times I sought his wisdom and how much I benefitted from his counsel.”

Gov. Brian Kemp called Hill a “gentle giant.”

“Jack Hill was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I ever served with,” he said on Twitter. “His loss is devastating to our state, but he leaves behind an unmatched legacy of hard work and public service.”

Hill was sworn into the Senate as a Democrat, but in 2002 switched parties and after winning the election was named chairman of the Senate budget committee.

“Senator Jack Hill was one of the finest public servants I have known,” House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement. “Quiet, studious, thorough, he exemplified the best in a leader. Senator Hill served with integrity. Georgia has lost one of its finest and I have lost a friend and a mentor. Rest In Peace, Mr. Chairman.”

History drives tourism in the Golden Isles, according to The Brunswick News.

Jekyll Island is one of the most obvious sites in Glynn County with its historic landmark district and its 34 structures, including historic homes and museums.

“We have this unique attribute of being a protected state park where preservation and conservation are the core of our mission in managing this special place, but we can also offer visitors and residents the modern-day amenities of a resort destination,” a Jekyll Island Authority official said. “These attributes, along with our historical significance, are key components of what brings visitors to the island. Given our responsibilities to be a self-operating state park, it’s imperative that we maintain that balance every day, and our historical and natural resources continue to be carefully protected and maintained.”

“We see a lot of Glynn County visitors during spring break and throughout the summer, but we also welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors from Atlanta, Jacksonville, Savannah and other nearby cities. Jekyll Island also attracts tourists from across the United States and even international travelers, most frequently from the U.K., Germany and Canada, interested in its unique history and natural beauty,” according to authority officials.

While many of the attractions on Jekyll Island are historic structures, there are also archaeological sites and nature trails like the Dubignon Cemetery and the Wanderer Memorial Trail that educate the public on their significant history through interpretive panels.

Phil Officer, interpretive supervisor at Fort Frederica, said 286,017 visitors came to Fort Frederica in 2023.

“We definitely see a large number of visitors,” he said. “Most of our visitors are not locals, are new to the island or are visiting and were aware of our site. They come to learn, take a stroll and learn more about the fort.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #04.03.24.01, appointing J. Wade Padgett to the Georgia Court of Appeals seat vacated by former Judge Christian Coomer.

Governor Kemp also issued Executive Order #04.03.24.02, suspending Reginald “Reggie” Loper from his office on the Effingham County Commission after Loper was indicted.Continue Reading..

3
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 3, 2024

On April 2, 1513, Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida, claiming it for the Spanish crown. Today he is best-known in Georgia for giving his name to be mispronounced daily on a sketchy street in Atlanta. It is not known if he was wearing jean shorts, or if those were developed later. Georgians began mispronouncing his name immediately.

Georgia began its love affair with the regulation of what can and cannot be sold on April 3, 1735, when James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, helped gain passage of “An Act to prevent the Importation and Use of Rum and Brandies in the Province of Georgia.” The act provided that after June 24, 1735, “no Rum, Brandies, Spirits or Strong Waters” shall be imported into Georgia.” Permission was also required to sell beer, wine, and ale.

On April 3, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized “privateers” holding a letter of marque and reprisal to attack British ships. This essentially legalizes what would otherwise be considered piracy. Issuing letters of marque and reprisal is among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, though they have seldom been used.

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell. On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln toured Richmond, Virginia the day after the Confederate Capitol fell to Union forces.

On April 3, 1898, President William McKinley called on Georgians to contribute 3000 volunteers for the Spanish-American War.

On April 2, 1917, Jeanette Rankin took office as the first woman elected to Congress, representing Montana.

Born on a ranch near Missoula, Montana Territory, in 1880, Rankin was a social worker in the states of Montana and Washington before joining the women’s suffrage movement in 1910. Working with various suffrage groups, she campaigned for the women’s vote on a national level and in 1914 was instrumental in the passage of suffrage legislation in Montana. Two years later, she successfully ran for Congress in Montana on a progressive Republican platform calling for total women’s suffrage, legislation protecting children, and U.S. neutrality in the European war. Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives.

Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., accompanied by Georgians Hosea Williams and Ralph D. Abernathy, was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a strike by sanitation workers on April 3, 1968. He delivered what is known as the “Mountaintop Speech.”

“[L]ike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

On April 2, 1985, Governor Joe Frank Harris signed legislation recognizing the Right Whale as the official state marine mammal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The City of Oakwood will swear-in Rhonda Wood to City Council, according to AccessWDUN.

A release from the city Tuesday afternoon said Wood will be sworn in at the next monthly city council meeting on April 8. She will fill the Post 4 seat left vacant last September by the passing of her husband, Dwight Wood. She defeated Volley Collins for the seat by an 88-vote margin.

Hall County elections officials, however, later found that 200 people who did not live in the city cast ballots in that election, while 22 people who should have been able to vote in the race did not have the item included on their ballots. An investigation by one county elections official indicated the errors were not the results of Hall County elections staff failures.

“While the City acknowledges the conclusions of the Hall County Board of Elections and the investigation of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office may be on-going, O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-503(b) provides that the City may swear in the presumptive winner – even if a challenge is pending,” Tuesday’s release said.

The city also cited state law indicating that the window for Collins to challenge the results of the race has passed. Wood was originally scheduled to be sworn in on April 2, but that ceremony was canceled after Oakwood’s attorney recommended a postponement.

A recall campaign against Athens-Clarke County’s Mayor, Sheriff, and District Attorney is moving forward, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Organizers of an effort to recall four local elected officials have reached an initial threshold for collecting signatures seeking recall elections, although they have had to abandon their effort to oust District 2 Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Melissa Link from office.

Still targeted in the recall are Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz, Clarke County Sheriff John Q. Williams, and Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, whose jurisdiction covers both Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties.

Because petition organizer James Lee, also known as James DePaola, is not a resident of Link’s intown district, he cannot sponsor a recall effort targeting her.

[Athens-Clarke Elections Director Charlotte] Sosebee also let board members know that Lee and others who have been collecting signatures had surpassed the 100-signature minimum in the applications for recall petitions submitted against Girtz, Williams and Gonzalez. The 100-plus signatures collected in connection with the recall efforts all came from registered voters, as verified by county elections officials.

Specifically, recall organizers had collected 159 signatures in the effort to recall Gonzalez, 126 signatures in the effort against Williams, and 118 signatures in the recall effort targeting Girtz as of March 28, the end of the 15-day period allowed for collecting the signatures.

The next step, getting signatures on an actual petition for the scheduling of a recall election, will be a much heavier lift for organizers and whoever they recruit to help them collect signatures.

Organizers must collect the signatures of 30% of the people who were registered to vote in the last election in which the targeted officials were candidates. For the sheriff, the last election was Nov. 3, 2020; for the district attorney, it was a Dec. 1, 2020, special election; and, for the mayor, it was the 2022 general primary.

Note that District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez was elected from the Western Judicial Circuit, which includes Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County. Not sure how a multi-county recall works.

An Athens-Clarke County citizen was tased by police in a Commission meeting, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Richard Camden Pace, a longtime Athens-Clarke County resident who introduced himself Tuesday as a rabbi, and as founder and director of YeshuaNation.org, was ordered out of the commission chamber by Mayor Pro-Tem Ovita Thornton after not relinquishing the microphone when his allotted three minutes expired during a public comment period at the end of the commission meeting.

Thornton repeatedly urged police to get Pace out of the commission chamber shortly after Pace called Girtz “a paid-off, Satan-worshipping communist child-trafficking Democrat.”

[Later] that Pace ripped up the pro-Palestinian sign, and Thornton told the police officer on hand for the meeting – a routine practice – to “Walk him out. Walk him out. Walk him out.”

Pace resisted the police officer and a struggle ensued, during which Pace was tased as he was taken to the floor. Moments later, as stunned commissioners and citizens looked on, Pace was escorted to a police car. Outside City Hall, Pace apologized to the officer, who in turn told Pace that the commission strictly enforces its three-minute limit on public comment.

“When they tell you it’s over, it’s over,” the officer told Pace.

United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) called for Georgia Republican Party Vice Chair Brian K. Pritchard to resign, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Georgia Republican Party first vice chair said he will not step down despite calls to resign from people within his own party, including 14th District U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“Brian Pritchard must resign immediately,” The Rome Republican wrote on her X account Tuesday. “He’s a convicted felon who committed voter fraud and can not continue to be allowed to represent the Georgia GOP.”

Pritchard told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the demands that he resign were “sensationalized,” despite a recent court ruling that he violated state elections laws by voting nine times while on probation for a felony forgery sentence.

This past week, an administrative court judge fined Pritchard for voting illegally and registering to vote while serving a sentence on a felony conviction in Pennsylvania.

Georgia Republican Party Chair Josh McKoon joined MTG in calling for Pritchard to resign, according to the AJC.

State GOP chair Josh McKoon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that he asked Brian Pritchard to resign last night during a meeting of the state executive committee because he was distracting from the party’s goal of flipping Georgia back to the GOP column.

McKoon noted that he ran on two campaign commitments – to help elect a Republican nominee for president and ending what he described as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ “witch hunt” election-interference trial.

“The judicial finding that our First Vice Chairman registered to vote illegally and voted illegally nine times makes it harder to accomplish both of these goals,” said McKoon.

“His resignation will allow us to focus all of our time, attention and resources on electing President Trump and ending the evil Willis prosecution.”

“Our state party should be the leading voice on securing our elections,” said Greene, who called on Pritchard to resign immediately. “It is unacceptable for our party to have a man in leadership who has repeatedly committed voter fraud himself.”

The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission issued a report finding that Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson should be removed from office, according to the AJC.

Christina Peterson, who became a probate judge in an uncontested November 2020 election, has been fighting the ethics charges since they were filed by the director of the state’s judicial watchdog in July 2021. At one point, Peterson faced 50 separate charges accusing her of violating the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct, but 20 have been withdrawn or dismissed.

Peterson, a University of Georgia School of Law graduate who practiced as an attorney for several years before taking the bench, was accused of inappropriate social media posts, unnecessarily jailing and fining a woman who sought to amend her marriage license and letting wedding participants into Douglas County’s courthouse after hours without permission. She was also abusive toward a fellow judge and other county officials, obstructed access to public records and had improper contact with a litigant, among other things, the judicial commission alleged.

“(Peterson’s) actions demonstrate a troubling pattern of ineptitude and misconduct,” the panel wrote in a 54-page report Sunday. “She is not fit to serve.”

The Georgia Supreme Court will decide whether Peterson remains on the bench.

Throughout the ethics case, Peterson has said that she has faced unfair criticism as the first Black probate judge in Douglas County. During a trial before the commission panel last year, Peterson admitted to making mistakes in her first year as a judge while learning the ropes and said she was trying to do better.

The commission, which is tasked with investigating complaints of judicial misconduct, has twice sought Peterson’s suspension. Both requests were denied by the state Supreme Court.

Peterson has qualified for reelection this year as Douglas County’s probate judge. She is being challenged in the Democratic primary in May by Douglasville attorney Valerie Vie. No Republican candidates have qualified in the race.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D) wants to punish people who leave guns in cars or fail to report stolen guns, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The proposed changes to city code, expected to go before city council for a vote next week, would require owners and dealers to report the theft of a firearm to the Savannah Police Department and also require firearms left in parked vehicles be stowed in a locked compartment.

“It is our responsibility to do whatever we can within the parameters of the law to keep Savannahians safe, and I committing to doing just that, whatever it takes,” said Johnson, who has long signaled his intention to reduce the number of firearms stolen from cars.

Infractions under the new ordinance would be city code violations, and potential penalties are a fine not to exceed $1,000 or no more than 30 days in jail, Johnson said. The ordinance comes as response to crime stats that show the majority of guns stolen from vehicles come from unlocked cars.

In 2023, SPD reported 244 guns stolen from cars, with 203 stolen from unlocked vehicles, according to SPD data. Through the end of March this year, 56 out of 69 firearms stolen from cars came from unlocked vehicles.

“We support the Second Amendment, and the right to bear arms,” Johnson said. “This ordinance will not affect one’s ability to legally carry a firearm in your car, but this ordinance does address irresponsible actions by firearm owners.”

From WTOC:

During his weekly news conference Mayor Van Johnson announced the ordinance would require gun owners to report firearm thefts within 24 hours to the Savannah Police Department.

The ordinance says firearms shouldn’t be visible and secure in a locked glove compartment or locked trunk while the car is parked.

“We want to make sure that we balance the right of someone to bear arms and the responsibility of someone to keep those arms secured,” said Mayor Van Johnson, City of Savannah.

He says so far this year, 69 guns have been stolen from vehicles— 56 of which were unlocked.

“The math ain’t mathing and that is a problem for me,” Mayor Johnson expressed.

“People, when you say the G-word it’s, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re trying to take our guns.’ Well, no we’re not. You can have your guns just lock them up, lock them up, lock them up,” said Johnson.

From WSAV:

• All firearm owners and dealers will be required to report the theft of a firearm to the Savannah Police Department (SPD)

• SPD will record and maintain unique identifying information pertaining to each firearm reported stolen

• Everyone who is traveling with a firearm is required to store them in a locked compartment while the vehicle is parked

• Owners may not allow guns to be visible while parked, and all vehicles containing the firearms must be fully locked when not in operation

“Everybody knows you look under the seat or in the center console that’s not locked. It just doesn’t make sense,” Johnson said.

“This ordinance will not affect one’s ability to legally carry a firearm in your car, but it does address irresponsible actions by firearm owners,” the mayor said. “It is our responsibility to do whatever we can within the parameters of the law to keep Savannah safe. I am committed to doing just that, whatever it takes. I have asked city council for their support.”

The proposal will be read at the Thursday, April 11, council meeting at 2 p.m. If approved, Johnson says the city will hold a 30-day public education campaign as well.

Brunswick City Commissioners are considering a new property tax homestead exemption, according to The Brunswick News.

“The city wishes to provide for a new homestead exemption to property owners in the city within the meaning of and as fully permitted under the provisions of the (Georgia) Constitution of the state of Georgia,” according to a resolution included in the agenda for Wednesday.

Local homestead exemptions must be implemented on behalf of a local government by the Georgia General Assembly. The process usually begins with a local government requesting action by the state.

“Usually what happens is the commission will adopt a resolution asking for certain things, and the house or senate member, whoever, will introduce it as a local action,” Chapman said.

Most times, other legislators will support a local act if it’s endorsed by the delegates representing the area, he said.

If commissioners voted to pass the resolution on Wednesday, Chapman said the assembly’s 2024 legislative session just ended so it would not come up under the Gold Dome until 2025 and could not take effect until 2026.