Category: Georgia Politics

23
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 2018

Serial bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot to death near Sailes, Louisiana by a group of LA and Texas state police on May 23, 1934.

On May 23, 1954, the NAACP petitioned the Fulton County Board of Education to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Virginia Caucus on May 23, 1976, gaining 24 delegates. On May 25, 1976, Carter won the Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky Primary Elections for President.

On May 23, 1990, the NFL announced that Atlanta would host the 1994 Super Bowl.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Lewis R. Lamb to a vacancy as District Attorney for the Southwestern Judicial Circuit, which includes Lee, Macon, Schley, Stewart, Sumter and Webster Counties.

Click here for last night’s election results.

Today’s edition will not just recount the results, but will discuss ten things that caught my eye last night while obsessively refreshing the results page.Continue Reading..

22
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2018

On May 22, 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with his cane. Brooks used the cane as the result of injury sustained in a previous duel, and found Sumner at his desk in the Senate Chamber. In the course of a two-day Senate speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery, Sumner had criticized three legislators, including a cousin of Rep. Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

On May 22, 1819, the steamship Savannah left the port of Savannah for Liverpool, England. After 29 days, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. On May 22, 1944, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the voyage of the Savannah.

On May 22, 1932, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the commencement address for Oglethorpe University at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

It’s election day in Georgia and polls are open statewide until 7 PM. Don’t forget to bring your photo ID.

The Dalton Daily Citizen looks at local races on the ballot.

Chuck Payne (incumbent) and Scott Tidwell face each other in the Republican Party primary for the District 54 state Senate seat. Mike Cowan and Barry Robbins (incumbent) are the two Republicans seeking the District 1 seat on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners.

The winner of the District 54 state Senate GOP primary faces Democrat Michael S. Morgan in the Nov. 6 general election. There is no Democratic opposition in the board of commissioners race, so the primary winner is expected to win that seat.

The Valdosta Daily Times considers candidates for the local Board of Education.

For Lowndes County Commission District 2, Aaron Strickland qualified as a Democrat; incumbent District 2 Commissioner Scott Orenstein runs as a Republican.

District 3 County Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker and District 4 County Commissioner Demarcus Marshall are running unopposed.

J.R. Rogers and Walter Byrd are challenging incumbent Lowndes County school board member Eric Johnson for the Lowndes County Board of Education District 2 seat.

For Lowndes County Board of Education District 2, incumbent Michael Davis and challenger Willie Harris are running.

For county school board District 3, incumbent Brian Browning and challenger Erin Price are running.

For area Statehouse races, incumbent state Rep. John LaHood faces fellow Republican Coy Reaves.

Bulloch County voters will decide on a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, according to the Statesboro Herald.

One item that does appear on all Bulloch County ballots, in the nonpartisan section, is the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum. A “yes” vote would add a penny tax to fund transportation projects of the county government and the four towns: Statesboro, Brooklet, Portal and Register. Sales taxes on nonexempt items here would then total 8 cents on the dollar, but 4 cents goes to the state.

Bulloch County Board of Commissioners, District 2, which encompasses the larger portion of the county’s population, has a Republican-ballot race among challenger Travis Chance, incumbent Walter Gibson and challenger Sid Jones for Seat 2B. The winner Tuesday or July 24 will meet Democratic challenger Adrienne Dobbs on the November ballot.

Savannah voters will see a slate of Board of Education seats up for election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In Chatham County elections, voters will cast their vote in four contested races and 17 uncontested races.

Voters have five candidates to choose from for school board president: former school board president Joe Buck, David Lerch, Board District 6 representative Larry Lower, Betty Morgan and Tye Whitely. Current school board president, Jolene Byrne, is not running for a second term.

Also on the ballot for contested local races are elections for school board District 5, 6, and 8 seats.

Candidates in District 5 are incumbent Irene Hines and challenger Theresa Watson. District 6 candidates are David Bringman and Alfreda Goldwire. In District 8, incumbent Ruby Jones is facing challenger Tonia Howard-Hall.

The Rome News-Tribune looks at early voting turnout.

During the early voting period that ended Friday, 2,574 people cast ballots. The Georgia secretary of state’s office listed 50,787 registered voters as of May 1, putting the turnout at about 5 percent so far.

Just under 20 percent of Floyd County voters weighed in during the 2014 primaries, the last midterm election with big state races on the ballots.

[Elections Supervisor Willie] Green said he doesn’t expect long waits at the polls but he asked voters to look over the ballots and be aware of the choices before they step up to a machine.

“Be aware of the questions the Democratic Party is presenting to its voters,” he said. “Also, I want to remind people that some of the candidates have been removed from the Republican ballot and votes for them won’t be counted.”

Albany is a crossroads in the campaign for Governor, with Republican Lt. Governor Casey Cagle visiting, according to the Albany Herald.

Cagle, along with his wife, Nita, made a stop at the Eagles of America base of operations at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Monday morning, one of eight stops he was expected to make around the state. There to greet him were several of his supporters from the Albany area, along with officials from the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. He made a brief appearance before moving on to his next planned stop.

The lieutenant governor made specific mention of Albany’s Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy and the role it has in helping students achieve the knowledge and skills to be successful.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp also campaigned in Albany seeking the GOP gubernatorial nod.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp gave a speech and met with supporters during a fly-in campaign stop at Albany’s Eagles of America base at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport on Monday.

The stop was part of a statewide tour Kemp was making in advance of today’s primary elections.

“We started this campaign literally 14 months ago with the message of putting Georgians first,” Kemp said. “We’ve literally been to all corners of our state. …We’re the first campaign to organize in all 159 counties, and that’s going to serve us well tomorrow night when the returns start coming in.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams brought her campaign bus to Albany.

Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Stacey Abrams, who announced her plans to seek the state’s top office in Albany, returned to the city on Monday as part of the final leg of her campaign, mere hours before voters were to head to the polls for today’s primary election.

“As much as we want to do work, you have to have people who believe that the work should be done,” Abrams said, thanking all of the people who came out on Wednesday to support her campaign.

Abrams talked about the importance of the inclusion of all of Georgia when it comes to statewide matters. She said she thinks that southwest Georgia, especially the city of Albany, has too long been overlooked by the state. Abrams said that Georgia needs a governor who recognizes that the city of Atlanta and its surrounding counties are not the only part of Georgia.

Casey Cagle‘s hometown Gainesville Times has a prediction for today’s elections.

Casey Cagle will wake up on Tuesday and win Georgia’s Republican primary election.

No one ever doubted that Georgia’s longtime lieutenant governor, born in Gainesville and raised in Hall County, would come out on top on Tuesday. With almost 100 percent of voters recognizing his name and more than twice the campaign cash of anyone else in the race, Cagle’s four other major challengers haven’t raced for first place; even the day before the election, they proclaim they’re happily “surging” into second place.

Cagle will win — but will he win by enough?

If Cagle, 52, doesn’t get a majority of votes cast in the primary, he’s bound for a runoff against the second-place finisher. That’s why former state Sen. Hunter Hill, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and businessman Clay Tippins have all made the case that they’re the only ones who can topple the lieutenant governor in a July runoff — a runoff is their only hope.

The Gainesville Times also lists local offices on the ballot in Hall County.

Gwinnett County early voting shows a trend that may be worrisome for Republicans, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The figures released by Gwinnett’s elections departments show 14,997 ballots were cast early. The majority of them — 8,447 ballots to be exact — were for the Democratic primary while another 5,846 early ballots were cast in the Republican primary. The county said 704 nonpartisan early ballots were cast as well.

Among Democratic voters, 7,981 voted advance in person by going to one of the county’s early voting sites between April 30 and last Friday. The county had also received 458 absentee by mail ballots in the Democratic primary as of Monday and another eight ballots were received by electronic ballot delivery from military and overseas voters.

Among Republican voters, 5,314 ballots were cast through advance in person voting while 532 absentee by mail ballots had been received. No ballots cast by electronic ballot delivery were received for the Republican primary.

The City of Stockbridge filed suit and is seeking an injunction, alleging that legislation setting up a referendum to create a new City of Eagles Landing is unconstitutional, according to The Henry Herald.

In addition, attorneys representing the city also indicated they would file a federal civil rights suit in the coming weeks.

The city is seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction stating that the Eagles Landing bills that were signed by Gov. Nathan Deal are unconstitutional. The bills were referred to as Act 548 and Act 559 by attorneys on Thursday.

In addition, the city also seeks an interlocutory injunction against the BOC and the Board of Elections and Registration “from taking any action to aid or abet the creation of the city of Eagles Landing.”

“We’re asking the court to hold everything in place until the constitutionality of the two actions is determined,” [attorney Bob] Wilson said. “No case is perfect, and no case is a certainty, but we believe as a legal counsel this is a solid case. Not only have the constitutional provisions been violated, but the Supreme Court of Georgia, since the 1950s, ruled on exactly these same points, and each time, they ruled in the direction we’re asking the courts to find now.”

The Gwinnett County Commission may consider purchasing the OFS site on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County commissioners will decide whether they support the county purchasing more than 100 acres of the OFS property near Norcross on Tuesday.

The agenda shows the commissioners will take up a resolution “in support of the Urban Redevelopment Agency of Gwinnett County entering into a Purchase and Sale Agreement with OFS Brightwave Solutions Inc. to purchase 104 acres of land.” County tax records show OFS owns 168.85 acres of land at the site. The company will continue an ongoing expansion on the property it will keep, according to county documents.

The URA plans to pay $330,000 per acre — which amounts to a total of just over $34.3 million — for the property, according to the meeting agenda.

The resolutions shows plans for the portion of the OFS property that the URA is buying would be used for economic redevelopment, but the nature of that redevelopment was not specified in documents.

Macon protestors gathered outside a planned abortion clinic site, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“We’re here today to pray and silently protest the fact that this space has been authorized as an abortion clinic,” said Ann Beall, director of the The Saint Maximilian Kolbe Center for Life, which she described as a pregnancy resource center supported by the Catholic Church. “Our goal is to hopefully ever prevent them from opening.”

Beall said opponents have reached out to local government officials but added, “we have not had a specific conversation about this clinic, but that is coming.”

Last week, the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for the Summit Center PC, to allow a medical office at 833 Walnut St. No one attended the meeting to oppose the application. The parent company, Summit Medical Centers, has offices in Atlanta and Detroit. It would provide low-cost women’s gynecological health services including pap smears, vaginal infection treatment, flu vaccines, contraceptive prescriptions and “first trimester only abortion care and gynecological exams,” according to its application.

Democrats go to Court

The ACLU of Georgia represents Democrat Maria Palacios in a lawsuit alleging she was unlawfully removed from the ballot, according to the Gainesville Times.

Until Friday, May 18, Maria Palacios was running as a Democrat in the primary for Georgia House District 29. Running unopposed, Palacios was lined up to face Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, and independent challenger Nancy Stead in the November general election.

But on Friday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp signed an order declaring Palacios was unqualified to run for office because she didn’t become a U.S. citizen until 2017. Kemp and his office have ruled that because Palacios hasn’t been a citizen for more than two years, she doesn’t meet the state requirements for public office.

The Georgia statute quoted by the secretary of state’s office states, “At the time of their election, the members of the House of Representatives shall be citizens of the United States, shall be at least 21 years of age, shall have been citizens of this state for at least two years, and shall have been legal residents of the territory embraced within the district from which elected for at least one year.”

The ACLU of Georgia, which is representing Palacios in a lawsuit filed this week, argues the term “citizens of this state” is up for interpretation.

Democrat Ken Montano filed a complaint with the USDOJ alleging election improprieties against his campaign for State House District 107, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Ken Montano, a Democrat running for the House District 107 seat, said he was told by a voter that a sign that said Montano withdrew from the race had been posted in the advance polling location where they cast their ballot. Montano, who is running against Shelly Hutchinson in the Democratic primary for the seat, said he did not drop out of the race, however.

“My campaign has been irretrievably harmed by the actions taken prior to Primary Election Day,” Montano said in an email. “My civil rights, and the rights of voters to select the candidate of their choice, were violated. Removing the Notices on Tuesday and even making a public announcement about the error will not suffice. The harm has already been done.

“There may be grounds to invalidate the election. I have reached out to a local civil rights attorney for assistance, and filed a formal complaint with the Department of Justice Elections Division.”

The incident raises questions about how the notices were posted in the polling sites during early voting. Montano said he was told by Gwinnett County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections Chairman Stephen Day that the signs had been posted at the early voting sites because they had been authorized by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Montano said he spoke with an official in the Secretary of State’s Elections Division on Monday and was told the county had not been authorized to post the notice.

21
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 21, 2018

Georgia Colonists signed the Treaty of Savannah with the Lower Creeks on May 21, 1733.

George Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791, crossing a bridge over the Savannah River at Augusta.

American Charles Lindbergh landed at Paris on May 21, 1927 in The Spirit of St. Louis, completing both the first nonstop transatlantic flight and the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

On May 21, 1942, German authorities removed 4300 Polish Jews from Chelm to an extermination camp at Sobibor and killed them by poison gas. The Sobibor camp’s five gas chambers would kill 250,000 Jews during 1942 and 1943.

On May 21, 2011, Herman Cain announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, and I photographed it.

During the next eighteen months, when someone talks about whomever is leading the latest polls, remember that six months after announcing his Presidential campaign, Herman Cain was leading the polls. Less than one month later, Cain was out of the race.

In Candler County, Georgia, the SAR and DAR placed markers at the graves of two patriots.

In a remote, wooded area of what is now Candler County, between the Excelsior community and the Canoochee River, two Revolutionary War veterans influential in the early government of the state of Georgia and of Bulloch County are buried among their kin.

Members or the Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, or SAR, and several Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, chapters gathered there May 12. After posting of the colors, laying of wreaths, volleys of musket and cannon and the bugling of Taps, organizational leaders unveiled an SAR Patriot marker at the grave of Charles McCall, 1732-1814, and a DAR Patriot marker for John Everett, 1754-1820.

Candler County Commission Chairman Glyn Thrift and Candler County Historical Society President Steve Waller also welcomed the families, and Georgia SAR Senior Vice President Scott Collins brought greetings from the society’s 33 chapters and, he said, nearly 2,000 members.

Representatives of at least nine DAR chapters presented the wreaths.  Jane Durden, regent of the Gov. David Emanuel-Adam Brinson DAR Chapter, organized a reception held afterward at Excelsior Baptist Church for the 100 or so people who attended.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal ordered flags on state buildings and properties to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in honor of the victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas.

The New York Times profiles the race between Democrats Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans for Governor of Georgia.

Ms. Abrams, a former minority leader of the Georgia House, is also testing a risky campaign strategy: that a Democrat can win a statewide election in the Deep South without relying on the conservative-leaning white voters long considered essential.

“The approach of trying to create a coalition that is centered around converting Republicans has failed Democrats in the state of Georgia for the last 15 years,” Ms. Abrams said after mingling with diners in this North Georgia town.

Her rival in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, former State Representative Stacey Evans, has scorned Ms. Abrams’ strategy as unrealistic and “unhealthy for democracy.”

Democratic candidates nationwide are wrestling with whether they should try to reclaim some of President Trump’s supporters or try to maximize support from their racially diverse, liberal base. At a time in the country’s politics when issues of race and gender are central, with women at the forefront of an uprising against the president, Ms. Abrams’ candidacy looms even larger.

It’s an excellent piece worth reading in its entirety.

National Public Radio also takes on the question of Democratic campaign strategies.

“Political analysts keep looking at not only what the structure of Georgia is, but they’re also looking at the playbook that was used in Georgia, and that’s an old playbook,” said Abrams. “It’s an old playbook that never invested in any of these communities of color in Georgia.”

Abrams is convinced the only way a Democrat can win is by engaging with untapped minority voters, particularly those in rural communities, who’ve often been overlooked.

But her opponent Stacey Evans has a different strategy. She, too, says the party needs to dig deep into its base and reach out more to rural voters, but she’s also committed to converting disaffected moderate Republicans.

“I want to go into the suburbs of Georgia and talk to moderate voters about why progressive policies like restoring tuition-free technical college … will not just help individual families, but will help our economy,” she said during a debate on Georgia Public Broadcasting. “And I know that when we do that we will get votes.”

The Atlantic asks whether the Democratic party has a coherent message.

The race for the Democratic nomination will culminate on Tuesday, when Georgians head to the polls for the state primary. But in the meantime, it has been an illuminating vignette, exposing the larger questions facing the Democrats ahead of the midterms—distinct from the tensions between the Bernie and Hillary wings of the party, and different, even, from the question of who can more fairly identify as progressive. Should Democrats focus more on capturing white working-class voters who feel let down by Trump? Or should they mobilize black voters and rally the base?

A local Democratic strategist summed up the state of things this way: “The Democratic Party …” He took a long pause before letting out a dispirited sigh. “If you ask people what the Democratic Party stands for, they can’t tell you,” he said. “As soon as you get beyond anti-Trump, nobody seems to know.” The choice in Georgia is between two different playbooks: an ambitious-but-risky plan of action, versus a careful, more traditional one. More broadly, the Georgia race illustrates the challenges facing the Democrats not just in November, but also in 2020. This primary could help define the party and give it an identity it desperately needs.

But what if Democrats didn’t focus so much on reclaiming Trump voters? What if they dedicated their resources, instead, to reaching the millions who didn’t vote—and reaching them early? This is the question Stacey Abrams is asking.

The Associated Press writes about the Republican debate among the candidates for Governor.

Never mind cutting taxes, creating jobs and other pocketbook mainstays of past Republican campaigns. Amid fierce competition in the GOP primary race for Georgia governor, the five remaining candidates are battling it out over who loves guns the most, who would prove toughest on people in the country illegally and who would best support President Donald Trump.

The major candidates, a cadre of statewide officeholders, former lawmakers and businessmen, have similar policy goals on those issues but are locked in an increasingly noisy battle over each other’s records as they try to win over conservative voters.

Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post looks at what the primary elections could mean for Georgia’s future.

The result of this week’s primary election, as well as the general election in the fall, might be a barometer of sorts, telling more than just who will lead the state for the next four years, according to a Georgia State University professor who studies Georgia politics.

“What the governor’s race will tell us is the degree to which the demographics of the state are making a difference,” Associate Professor of Political Science Daniel P. Franklin said. “All of the conditions right now are favorable to the Democrats, well almost all of the conditions — the economy is good — but take away the economy, and you’ve got a relatively unpopular president in a midterm election.

“This will be a good indicator to state Republican leaders, and also to state Democratic leaders, of where they stand.”

“The Republican side is pretty standard fare in the sense that the Republican electorate in this state is very conservative,” Franklin said. “Anybody who hopes to get the Republican party’s nomination has to move fairly far to the right so it’s a fairly standard practice that Republican candidates for statewide try to outflank each other on the right, but then move back to the center for the general election.”

“The conventional wisdom is that the rougher the primary, the harder the time the candidate has in the general election,” Franklin said. “I suspect that the Democrats will have an easier time uniting than the Republicans will because (there won’t be a runoff) so they’ll have to spend less.”

The Statesboro Herald looks at the amount of turnover in Georgia’s top elected statewide offices.

The Macon Telegraph lists reasons for local voters to turnout tomorrow, including,

Transportation sales tax: A regional transportation sales tax, known as the T-SPLOST, will be on the ballot for voters in 11 Middle Georgia counties, including Houston, Macon-Bibb, Monroe, Jones, Crawford, Putnam, Twiggs, Peach, Baldwin, Wilkinson and Pulaski. Voters are being asked to vote yes or no on a 1-percent transportation sales tax projected to bring in $637 million over the next 10 years. The revenue would be used to fund various road projects across the region.

New faces, new challengers: Two state House races are wide open after veteran politicians Allen Peake and Bubber Epps decided not to run for their respective districts. There are seven candidates in the primary for Epps’ former District 144 seat while four Republicans are vying for the House District 141 seat that had been held by Peake for the past 12 years.

Early voting was up in Glynn County over the 2014 Primary elections, according to The Brunswick News.

More voters turned out for early voting in advance of the May 22 primary than 2014’s gubernatorial primary, according to Glynn County Board of Elections officials, with more than 3,500 voters casting their ballots as of 5 p.m. Friday.

Of the total, around 2,430 early voters cast Republican ballots, while roughly 1,070 cast Democratic ballots, according to Monica Couch, elections and registration supervisor.

This year’s turnout is also up from the 3,270 people who voted early in the May 2016 primary.

 

House Bill 217, signed by Gov. Deal, will increase the amount of tax credits available for some scholarship donations, according to The Brunswick News.

A new Georgia law will allow private schools like St. Simons Christians School to provide more scholarships to students.

House Bill 217, recently signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, has expanded a tax credit program for scholarships.

The law raised the cap on donations from $58 million to $100 million.

Through the program, taxpayers can pledge money — up to $1,000 for individuals, $2,500 for married couples and $10,000 for shareholders or owners of businesses — to designated private schools. The donors receive tax credits for the amount.

Savannah may consider using tolls to pay for maintenance on the Truman Parkway, which was built with SPLOST funds, according to the Savannah Morning News.

After construction began 20 years earlier, all five phases of the Truman Parkway were completed in 2013 using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds approved by voters. Now city and county officials are contemplating new funding methods to cover the costs of maintaining the popular link between Savannah’s Southside and downtown.

City Manager Rob Hernandez has even suggested making the parkway a toll-funded roadway in recent correspondence to County Manager Lee Smith, although city spokesman Michelle Gavin said the idea was just “big picture brainstorming.”

Zeph Baker claims that his failure to file required campaign contribution disclosure reports is due to donors’ fears of retribution, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus mayoral candidate Zeph Baker is the only contender out of six who has not filed a campaign disclosure report this year.

According to the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations, he is now facing up to $1,375 in fines this year for missing deadlines to file either a disclosure of his contributions and expenditures, or an affidavit swearing his campaign does not intend to receive or spend at least $2,500 this year.

Baker said he won’t reveal his contributions because his supporters could be “bullied” were he to identify them in a public record.

“My disclosure is simple, and rather uneventful by most standards, but it does reveal the identity of my supporters, and while not a single one of my financial contributors asked me to remove them or conceal their identity, I felt a sense of responsibility to protect them from the senseless attacks as much as possible. The fine, which is assessed to candidates who fail to file timely, is not at all unusual.”

Gwinnett County Superior Court candidate Jason Park is leaving the District Attorney’s office, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Friday, Jason Park, one of five candidates vying for retiring Judge Tom Davis’ seat, confirmed to the Daily Post that his last day with the DA’s office would be June 8, though did not specify a reason for his departure.

But, earlier on Friday, Park’s opponent, John Burdges, called for Park to withdraw from the race, saying “allegations of abuse of power” had been made against his opponent. Burdges did not specify what the allegations were.

When asked about Park’s resignation, Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter confirmed that Park is still employed at the DA’s office — for now — but is on administrative leave for an “internal personnel matter” and will resign in three weeks. The county’s top prosecutor disputed Burdges’ allegations.

“I don’t know where the allegations of abuse of power are coming from,” Porter said. “I can definitively say that those allegations were not part of the (resignation) discussion, and while I can’t discuss details given it’s an ongoing matter, the statement ‘candidate for Gwinnett Superior Court judge Jason Park abruptly resigned last week … allegations of Park’s abuse of power are surfacing’ is not technically correct.”

Here’s the CBS 46 story that apparently kicked off the kerfuffle.

The Rome News-Tribune writes about the election for Floyd County Superior Court.

Early voting ended Friday with 2,574 ballots cast, according to Elections Supervisor Willie Green. All 25 precincts will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Rome attorneys Emily Matson and Kay Ann Wetherington are vying for the seat being vacated by Superior Court Chief Judge Tami Colston. Matson, in private practice, specializes in family and civil law. Wetherington is an assistant district attorney in Colston’s courtroom.

Ninety-six Floyd County voters asked for the nonpartisan ballot, according to Green, compared to 718 opting to vote in the Democratic primary and 1,760 picking the Republican ballot. Georgia is an open primary state, which means voters may choose either ballot without registering with a party.

While the GOP maintains a clear advantage locally, there’s been a shift since the last midterm primary that included statewide races.

In the 2014 primary, 81.6 percent of eligible Floyd Countians voted on the Republican ballot and 18.4 percent voted in the Democratic elections. This year’s early voting period saw 68.4 percent pick up a Republican ballot and 27.9 percent choose Democratic.

The RN-T also profiles Floyd County Superior Court candidates Emily Matson and Kay Ann Wetherington.

18
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 18, 2018

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

George Washington departed Waynesboro, Georgia on May 18, 1791, headed to Augusta. On May 19-20, 1791, George Washington spent his second and third days in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy. Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791 to go to Columbia, South Carolina.

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

Blue jeans with copper rivets were patented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis on May 20, 1873.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

On May 20, 1916, more than 20,000 visited Stone Mountain for the dedication ceremony to mark the beginning of a Confederate memorial on the north face.

On May 19, 1933, the Atlanta City Council voted to allow beer sales in the city.

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

On May 20, 1995, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to automotive traffic.

The 400th episode of The Simpsons aired on May 20, 2007.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Three years ago on Saturday, Georgia voters went to the polls in the earliest Primary elections in modern history. In the Republican Primary, 605,355 ballots were cast in the Senate contest, while the Democratic Primary for Senate saw 328,710 ballots.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Statesboro Herald notes that today is the last day of early voting for Tuesday’s primary elections.

A few more than 1,600 Bulloch County residents have voted early for Tuesday’s election, and today, Friday May 18, is the last day for early voting, with two locations available.

Voting is possible Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the County Annex at 113 North Main St. and also in the Honey Bowen Building at the Fair Road Park. Both of these locations have been open all this week.

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, 1,633 Bulloch residents had voted early in the county and state Democratic and Republican primaries and nonpartisan general election, reported county Elections Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones. Of those, just 75 voters cast ballots last Saturday.

Meanwhile, in all 15 early voting days so far, 75 residents of Statesboro District 5 had participated in the city’s special election for a new council member in that district, and only two of those city voters came in Saturday, Jones said.

Traditional voting precincts across the county will be open for Election Day voting Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Suwanee will host “goat yoga” at Town Center Park on Sunday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Goats are perfect for the yoga practice because it’s not only combining nature and animals, it’s combining yoga, and they all go together so well,” said Lainey Morse, an Oregon farmer and yoga instructor who is attributed as the founder of the craze, which has swept the nation.

The event, a follow-up from an April 29 session, is offering three classes: two family goat yoga sessions and one 21-and-over goat yoga class.

Class times are 3, 4:30 and 6 p.m., respectively.

The class costs $35 and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite by searching “Suwanee Goat Yoga.”

 The breakdown of Michael Williams campaign stunt deportation bus has proven a headline-writer’s dream.

Georgia GOP Candidate’s ‘Deportation Bus,’ Like His Campaign, Breaks Down – NYMag.com

Candidate for Georgia governor’s ‘deportation bus’ tour hits bumps in road – AJC and WSB

Georgia GOP candidate Michael Williams’ ‘deportation bus’ breaks down – USA Today

Cracker Barrel to Racist Republican: Get Your ‘Deportation Bus’ Off My Lawn – Daily Beast

Deportation bus tour cancels Athens stop, campaign blames DeKalb protests – 11Alive

Even better than the headline is this lede graph in the Gainesville Times.

In a political era chock full o’ nuts, this year’s governor’s race is going off the rails on a crazy train.

The lunacy rolled into town Wednesday, May 16, in what the Michael Williams gubernatorial campaign circus called “the Deportation Bus.”

With published polls showing Williams trailing the field in single digits, his bus ploy was little more than a hail-Mary pass to stir up interest days before the primary.

Two hot takes on what the GOP gubernatorial debate was all about:

Georgia GOP candidates battle over who’s strongest gun rights defender – Augusta Chronicle

Immigration Dominates Atlanta Press Club GOP Gubernatorial Debate – GPB News

Two more gubernatorial debates will air Sunday afternoon.

Offshore drilling opponents will protest on Tybee Island on Saturday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Democrat Stacey Abrams campaigned for Governor in Dalton this week, according to the Dalton Daily News.

Abrams made her second visit to Miller Brothers Rib Shack on East Morris Street after a visit last year when she kicked off her campaign. Abrams, a former state representative and minority leader from Atlanta, is running against former state representative and Ringgold native Stacey Evans in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. They are seeking to be the first female governor in the history of the state, and Abrams would be the nation’s first female African-American governor if she is elected.

A recent 11Alive News (Atlanta) poll, conducted by Survey USA, had Abrams leading with 43 percent to Evans’ 24 percent, with 33 percent undecided.

“We are up in the polls and working hard, but we are not taking anything for granted,” Abrams said. “Why I love coming to places like Miller Brothers is because talking to real people is why I do this job. There are real problems that people have and they want a leader who has the experience and the knowledge to solve those problems.”

The Atlanta Jewish Times highlights Jewish candidates on Tuesday’s ballot.

The AJT this week published a voters’ guide collecting our in-depth looks at the two Democrats and five of the Republicans in the marquee race of 2018, the election of a new governor after Nathan Deal’s two terms, as well as three primary elections featuring Jewish candidates: the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District (Kevin Abel); the Democratic primary for the Public Service Commission (Lindy Miller); and the Republican primary for the 52nd Georgia House District (Gavi Shapiro).

While Miller is trying to make history as the first Jewish woman to win a partisan election for statewide office, she is not the only one this year. Fellow Democrat Cindy Zeldin, recognized as one of Georgia Trend magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2010, is in a similar position while running for insurance commissioner.

In a nonpartisan election for an open seat on the Fulton County Superior Court, Bobby Wolf, a member of The Temple, is running against two fellow prosecutors, Fani Willis and Kevin Farmer.

Two-time congressional candidate Allan Levene is in a heads-up battle for an open seat in state House District 15. The resident of Cartersville and native of England is running against lifelong Cartersville resident Matthew Gambill, a nephew of former Gov. Joe Frank Harris’. No Democrat is running, so the winner of the Republican primary will be elected.

The two Jewish members of the legislature, Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford and Rep. Michele Henson of Stone Mountain, are both seeking re-election.

The Georgia House Rural Development Council continues working on economic development for rural parts of Georgia, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Fresh off a legislative session that yielded some wins for rural Georgia, state lawmakers are back dialing up a controversial broadband internet issue that stalled earlier this year.

The discussion centers on whether the state should impose limits on how all cities and counties manage access to the public right-of-way, where wireless providers are anxious to deploy an emerging small-cell technology in the state’s more populated areas.

Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who co-chairs the House Rural Development Council, said the group is charged with resolving the complicated matter in a resolution sponsored by Rep. John Meadows, who heads the powerful House Rules Committee.

The resolution surfaced late in the legislative session when it was clear a consensus had not been reached on how much control local officials should keep over the public right-of-way and how much wireless providers should have to pay to access it.

Powell said lawmakers took on the issue because of reports of “price gouging” in some parts of the state.

Two Macon-Bibb County Commissioners want to know why the county is broke, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Two Macon-Bibb County commissioners want an in-depth look into the county finances.

And that push for a forensic audit led to Mayor Robert Reichert and one of the commissioners trading verbal jabs at each other.

Commissioners Elaine Lucas and Joe Allen said Thursday they want an outside firm to do a forensic audit of the county’s finances, a lengthy and likely costly process that can determine how money is spent and if there is any fraud that’s led to the deficit.

Allen and Lucas said the county’s budget woes have lasted too long for there not to be a forensic audit. Not just for Macon-Bibb government but other local government entities such as well.

Three candidates for an open seat on the Macon-Bibb County Commission discussed saving taxpayer dollars, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Augusta Chronicle interviewed Mayor Hardie Davis ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Besides choosing between Davis and challenger Gould Hagler as the city’s next mayor, voters Tuesday will get to weigh in on whether Regency or the existing James Brown Arena site is the best future location for a yet-unfunded arena in a non-binding referendum question. The topic has splintered the Augusta Commission and the community, which is seeing pro-downtown forces lobby against an unnamed ballot committee promoting the mall site.

Should voters reject Regency in the Tuesday straw poll, however, Davis said he will abandon the effort. “Mayor Davis is going to hold that flag up,” he said. “They’ve spoken loudly and we have to respect that.”

Davis touched on other topics in the interview, including what he’s done to unite the community and plans to further remove blighted structures from the city.

The Brunswick Times spoke to candidates for the Glynn County Joint Water & Sewer Commission.

The Ledger-Enquirer writes about donors to campaigns for Muscogee County Board of Education.

Four candidates reported contributions of five digits: At-large candidate and incumbent Kia Chambers ($18,489.11), District 8 candidate Philip Schley ($16,900), District 6 candidate and incumbent Mark Cantrell ($16,000), and District 2 candidate Bart Steed ($11,150).

White County Commissioners approved a revised split in funds from a SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) on the November ballot, according to AccessWDUN.

White County Government will take a 14-percent cut in funds if a proposed continuation of the current 1-cent sales tax is approved by voters in November.

During a called meeting Thursday, the White County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a new SPLOST distribution rate that allots 60 percent of proceeds for the county and 20 percent each for the cities of Cleveland and Helen.

Commissioners Craig Bryant, Lyn Holcomb and Terry Goodger voted in favor of the new revenue split. Commissioner Edwin Nix and Chairman Travis Turner voted no.

Turner said the reduced funds for the county will affect the timing and the ability to fund upcoming projects. Both cities had been lobbying for an increase in their share of SPLOST money, from the current 13 percent.

In Floyd County, accountability court participants graduated from the program, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

[Floyd County Superior Court Judge Jack] Niedrach started the mental health court three years ago with the idea of diverting eligible offenders to treatment and rehabilitation instead of jail. They must be county residents, age 18 or older, he said, and diagnosed with a serious persistent mental illness. They also must be facing a sentence of at least 24 months, since the intensive program runs 18 to 24 months, and they must want to work at recovery.

During the ceremony in Niedrach’s courtroom filled with supporters, each of the six said they’re glad they tried.

Niedrach said the program is a joint effort by the judiciary, prosecution, defense, community service and law enforcement.

“And let me recognize the family members here today,” he added. “Your presence is so important.”

The guest speaker was Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s human resources committee. Niedrach called her “a strong advocate for the mentally ill,” and Dempsey’s congratulations to the graduates acknowledged their struggles and achievement.

Putnam County and Baldwin County are arguing over water usage under an intergovernment agreement, according to The Eaton Messenger.

A recent statement issued by the Putnam County Board of Commissioners suggests Baldwin County has for several years been using more than its allotted share of water without reimbursing Putnam County citizens.

In an effort to avoid a court battle over a possible breach in contract by Baldwin County officials, Putnam County commissioners issued a statement Feb. 20 asserting that its citizens had been disserviced by an intergovernmental agreement between the counties and Sinclair Water Authority and was offering a proposal for an amendment that would remove some of the controversial elements.

However, this would not be the first attempt by Putnam County representatives to resolve the issues PC Commission Chairman Dr. Steve Hersey told EPWSA board members, noting that for almost two years he and Putnam County’s attorney have tried to negotiate with Baldwin County for amendments to the IGA.

17
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 17, 2018

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 Governor Nathan Deal joined Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Joe Jarrard visiting soldiers who will serve in Afghanistan.

Gov. Nathan Deal and Major General Joe Jarrard, Adjutant General, Georgia Department of Defense, this week visited soldiers from the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk in Louisiana. The 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is training at JRTC in preparation of mobilizing to Afghanistan in December.

“The bravery and selflessness shown by the men and women of the Georgia Army National Guard represent the finest principles of our state and nation,” said Deal. “These individuals are always ready to put service above self to safeguard the lives and property of our state and its citizens, as well as the freedoms of those abroad.

“It was a true honor and privilege to visit with the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they prepare to mobilize to Afghanistan in December. From the commanders to the youngest members of the brigade, I’ve seen firsthand how tough and intelligent these extraordinary individuals are. I was deeply impressed by all of our Guardsmen, and they are well-prepared to complete their missions. As they prepare to mobilize and we await their safe return home, we take comfort in knowing our soldiers are mission-ready and prepared to face any adversary that poses a threat to our nation and people.”

The Associated Press writes about this week’s debate between Democratic candidates for Governor Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams.

Former state Rep. Stacey Evans and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, both Atlanta-area attorneys, took each other to task Tuesday evening over their respective legislative records and how they have affected the poor and middle class.

Evans continued to press Abrams over her record on HOPE scholarships, an issue that has been a centerpiece of Evans’, who attended college through HOPE, campaign.

Evans accused Abrams of “co-authoring cuts” to the scholarship program that lead to a reduction of those who qualified for it.

Abrams pushed back, saying that HOPE was “alive and well” and still available to families across the state that need it.

For her part, Abrams went after Evans for her legislative record on public education, saying that she supported “voucher” programs that provide state funded scholarships for private school tuition, taking resources from public schools.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about the dynamic in the Democratic campaign for Governor.

It’s tricky electoral calculus for Evans, who is white. To win Tuesday’s primary, she’ll likely need an overwhelming majority of white voters along with a significant chunk of black support. Analysts say that might require getting between one-quarter and one-third of the African-American vote.

The politics is far different from the crowded Republican contest, which features five candidates who are appealing to an overwhelmingly white and conservative electorate by trying to outdo each other over gun rights expansions, border security proposals and illegal immigration crackdowns.

Both Abrams and Evans have steadily built their campaigns around mobilizing African-American voters since entering the race last year. And both boast a large retinue of local endorsements, though Abrams has captured far more support from national groups.

The Abrams campaign said in an internal memo that it expects black voters to make up at least 65 percent of the vote next week — and black women to make up roughly 45 percent of the total.

The Newnan Times-Herald interviewed State Senator David Shafer about his campaign for Lt. Governor.

Shafer’s reported past achievements are the focus of his current campaign to become Georgia’s next lieutenant governor.

“I wrote and led the effort concerning the state’s ‘zero tolerance’ based budgeting, so every dollar of government spending is justified,” Shafer said. “I sponsored an amendment to cap the state’s income tax. Georgia is the only state that has enshrined that it will remain a low tax state.

“People should be for me because I have a 16 year record of fighting for conservatives,” Shafer continued. “I’m working on platform of actual accomplishments, not empty promises.”

If elected, Shafer said he intends to continue fighting for a low tax environment that will attract businesses and jobs, fix the state’s infrastructure which includes roads and waterways and enhance Georgia’s education system.

“The truth is, we have job shortages in many skilled areas. We need to allow more people to enter trade schools, too. So it’s not all about attracting jobs, but making sure our citizens are skilled and ready to fill jobs that are already available,” Shafer said.

Republican Congressman Doug Collins (Gainesville) spoke about law enforcement during National Peace Officer Week.

“To think about those who serve us on that thin blue line,” Collins said. “We also think about the ones who get up every day and do the work. We see them, we talk about them, we hear about them on the news. We do not always know their names or see their faces, but we see what they do and we appreciate what they do.”

Collins went on to say it is a time to remember those who have lost their lives.

“Every year we lose our police officers, we lose those in law enforcement to sometimes tragic accidents, but many times to murder and other things because they put themselves in danger,” Collins said.

Rome officials want to reuse the vacant 132-acre Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital site, but the gubernatorial election may affect their plans, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

It’s an important issue for the community, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler acknowledged. But he and the rest of the legislative delegation — which includes Republican Reps. Katie Dempsey of Rome, Eddie Lumsden of Armuchee and Christian Coomer of Cartersville — had no immediate solution to the impasse with the state.

“The next administration will have to tackle that,” Hufstetler said. “When you spend more money maintaining a building than you could have sold it for … we need to change the rules.”

The state has been paying about $1 million a year to keep up the shuttered buildings and grounds. An appraisal put the value between $6 million and $10 million, and Hufstetler noted that Rome was offered the lowest price. But there’s also about $3.5 million in debt attached to the property, from bonds issued to make improvements before the facility was closed.

Dempsey said a state agency could take over the property, but it can’t be transferred to an outside entity until the bond debt is paid in full.

Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post writes about challengers to Gwinnett’s Congressional delegation.

Woodall, R-Ga., is running for re-election for his 7th Congressional District seat, but he’s facing opposition from both sides of the political aisle in a race that national Democrats have pegged as one of their targets in this year’s elections.

There are six Democrats — Kathleen Allen, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Melissa Davis, David Kim, Ethan Pham and Steve Reilly — but Woodall has to first survive a challenge from former Marine Shane Hazel in the Republican primary before he can turn his attention to a fall race.

Elsewhere, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., is being challenged by fellow Democrat Juan Parks in the 4th Congressional District’s Democratic Primary, with the winner facing Republican Joe Profit in the fall.

Over in the 10th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is facing Joe Hunt and Bradley Griffin in the Republican primary, with the winner of that contest facing the winner of the Democratic primary race between Chalis Montgomery, Richard Dien Winfield and Tabitha A. Johnson-Green in the fall.

Tamar Hallarman with the AJC also writes about challenges to incumbent Members of Congress.

Seven candidates, including six Democrats, have lined up to challenge Woodall in the 7th, based in Gwinnett and Forsyth County. And next door in the 6th, four Democrats — all first-time candidates — are angling for the chance to take on U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, who won last year’s record-breaking special election.

But despite the groundswell of energy on the left that has helped make battlegrounds out of suburban districts such as Atlanta’s, the benefits of incumbency, including districts drawn to favor one party, mean that few if any of the state’s congressmen are expected to lose their seats.

Incumbents “have a money advantage, they have in a lot of cases a big organizational advantage,” said Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University political scientist. “Georgia’s moderate voters and independent voters are still voting Republican. I don’t see them switching in big numbers quite yet.”

In the 7th District, three candidates have emerged as the most financially competitive. Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux has bested the field — including Woodall — in fundraising so far this year. Meanwhile, businessman David Kim and lawyer Ethan Pham have shown they are willing to loan their campaigns big money to buoy their efforts.

Glynn County Commission District 3 candidates spoke to The Brunswick News.

The Statesboro Herald has separate articles on Republican State Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet) and her Republican primary opponent, Robert Busbee (Statesboro).

The Dalton Daily Citizen has video interviews with incumbent Republican State Senator Chuck Payne (Dalton) and his Republican primary opponent, Scott Tidwell (Resaca).

Twenty candidates for local office will meet voters at a forum tonight hosted by the Macon-Middle Georgia Council of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

The Lowndes County Board of Education approved spending more than $400,000 on 2000 Chromebook laptops.

Columbus is one of 43 cities nationwide, and the only one in Georgia, to receive the Bike Friendly Business platinum designation fromthe League of American Bicyclists.

Georgia Southern University President Jaimie Heber announced he will retire from his position over the summer.

Two Chatham County Sheriff’s Deputies have resigned after separate incidents of fighting with inmates, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Coastal Living website named Tybee Island as one of the eleven U.S. beaches to visit this summer.

16
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2018

Button Gwinnett v Lachlan McIntosh

Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh met outside Savannah on May 16, 1777 and fought a duel; Gwinnett was mortally wounded.

Gwinnett returned to Georgia immediately after signing the [Declaration of Independence] to find city Whig Lachlan McIntosh commanding Georgia’s nascent military efforts. Determined to take control of Georgia politics, Gwinnett became speaker of the legislature, guided the Georgia Constitution of 1777 into existence and took over as governor when Archibald Bulloch died suddenly in office.

Gwinnett then wanted to lead an expedition to secure Georgia’s border with Florida. A dispute between McIntosh and Gwinnett over who would command the effort ultimately led to their duel and Gwinnett’s death.

A Constitutional Convention met on May 16, 1795 in the capital of Louisville to amend the Georgia Constitution of 1789

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of 11 Articles of Impeachment passed by the House of Representatives on May 16, 1868.

The North Georgia Electric Company was incorporated on May 16, 1901 to build a hydroelectric dam on the Chattahoochee River near Gainesville; in 1916, it would be bought by the company that today is known as Georgia Power.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Candidates for Georgia Governor have spent or reserved more than $12 million in television time for the primary, according to Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

The biggest spender, by far, is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. The Republican front-runner has spent more than $4.3 million on ads touting his education and economic agenda. He’s been bolstered by $1 million more from Citizens for Georgia’s Future, a pro-Cagle outside group.

Stacey Evans snapped up the most airtime of either Democrat, spending at least $1.3 million through the weekend, according to an analysis conducted by Strategic Media Services.

Her rival, former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, has spent a relatively meager $500,000 on ads, and records show she wasn’t on air in metro Atlanta during stretches of April and May.

[Abrams] can afford the hands-off approach thanks to plenty of backup from third-party groups. BlackPAC, PowerPAC Georgia and Emily’s List combined to spend nearly $2 million boosting her campaign, giving Abrams air cover the last two months of the race.

In all, about $9.1 million was spent on ads for the Republican campaigns, while Democrats have shelled out more than $3.6 million.

Republican candidate for Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence is the recipient of the largesse of the industry he would regulate, according to James Salzer of the AJC.

Late last month an independent committee was set up to support Florence. Insuring America’s Future, which listed a UPS Store post box as its address, boasted online that it is sending mail pieces to 98,000 Republican primary voters in Atlanta, Augusta and North Georgia border areas touting Florence as the “trusted conservative choice for insurance commissioner.”

A campaign report [by the independent committee] filed May 8 — two weeks before the primary — reports $224,000 in contributions. One contribution of $24,000 came from a medical malpractice insurance company, The Doctors Management Co. in Napa, Calif.

The rest — $200,000 — came from Eli Research of Durham, N.C., part of Eli Global, a diversified company that includes insurance companies, such as Global Bankers Insurance, which specializes in life insurance and annuity products.

Democratic candidates for Governor Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams debated on Georgia Public Broadcasting last night. From the AJC’s Bluestein,

Stacey Evans slammed her rival, Stacey Abrams, over her alliance with Republicans over cuts to the HOPE scholarship. Abrams hit back by criticizing her rival for “scaring” African-American students about the depth of the cuts.

Evans, a former state lawmaker, has relentlessly assailed her rival for supporting the 2011 Republican-backed legislation to cut the lottery-funded program’s awards when she was the House’s top Democrat. She claims Abrams betrayed Democrats by “gutting” the program.

“I’m not out to scare anyone,” Evans said. “There was a gap that was created that cannot be filled.”

Abrams countered that she negotiated with Republicans to prevent deeper cuts to the scholarship, which is awarded to students with “B” averages. And she launched her own attack, slamming Evans for voting for a GOP-backed initiative to grant the state more power over struggling schools.

The primary has pulled Evans and Abrams further to the party’s left flank as they both embrace progressive issues, such as broad new firearm restrictions, Medicaid expansion and the decriminalization of marijuana. And in the closing days of the race, both have tried to present themselves as the most ardent progressive.

The State House Study Committee on School Security held its first meeting in Dawsonville, according to the Dawson County News.

The study committee, chaired by state Representative Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, was established by House Resolution 1414 during the 2018 legislative in response to the Parkland, Fla. school shooting in February.

Representatives from Dawson, Fannin, Forsyth, Gordon and Pickens counties gathered in Dawsonville to address the committee and have a frank discussion about what the state can do to address the topic of school safety.

“This is not an effort by the state to interfere with local governments and control of schools,” said Speaker of the House David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “Rather this is simply a way to see if we can help local school districts ensure the safety of their staff and students.”

This year the state legislature also approved $16 million of the FY2019 budget to be divided among school districts for local boards of education to fund security measures.

“It will be up to the local boards of education and superintendents to determine how to best use their allotment and that’s the way it should be,” Ralston said.

Politico profiles Congressmen who enjoy video gaming and tags Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).

The Entertainment Software Association, the largest lobbying group for video games, estimates that about a dozen House members regularly play on consoles like a Switch, PlayStation or Xbox. Many more play games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds on their phone. Fewer play in the Senate, which skews much older than 35, the average age of a gamer.

Others have caught on to the industry’s economic benefits in their districts, like in Washington state, where Microsoft and Nintendo’s U.S. headquarters are based, or in Georgia, where the industry now generates more than $160 million a year. “It’s excellent for Georgia,” Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican from Gainesville, Ga., says of video games in his state. Collins played games like Madden NFL and MLB The Show with his two sons when they were growing up. “It was really a big deal if I beat one of them, because they wouldn’t let each other live it down until they beat me again,” he says with a laugh. Now, he’ll sometimes play Candy Crush or chess on his iPhone “just to keep my mind occupied.”

The Valdosta Daily Times looks at an upcoming T-SPLOST vote in light of three regions that passed T-SPLOST in 2012.

Now, during every Georgia State Transportation Board meeting, Tim Golden, board secretary and former Georgia state senator, said he hears about all of the projects happening in the three regions and how much they have benefitted from T-SPLOST.

“My region, the Valdosta/Lowndes and surrounding counties, voted against it, and I have to watch these presentations,” Golden said. “They show how many projects they had, how many projects they’ve finished. They won’t stop talking about how great it’s been for them. … Those regions are leaving those that didn’t vote for it, like us, behind.”

Sitting on the state transportation board gives Golden an interesting perspective of the regional sales tax option that is, once again, up for a vote on the May 22 ballot.

The tax is expected to generate more than $296 million across the 18 counties in the region to pay for transportation projects.

The Harris County Board of Education has named an interim superintendent after former superintendent Jimmy Martin resigned.

Savannah is updating its alcohol license procedures after revising the city’s alcohol sales ordinance, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Brunswick Times spoke to the candidates for Glynn County Commission At Large Post 1.

Plant Vogtle held a biannual emergency drill.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office received a significant donation of opioid-overdose reversing Narcan.

The J.D. Paugh Memorial Foundation gave the office 48 double doses of the nasal spray Narcan. It was a welcome sight that was “a long time coming,” said Lt. Scott Usry, a training director with the sheriff’s office.

“We had a unique opportunity earlier in the year to receive some training that was actually given to us by (the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities) so that agency was able to come in and provide training for us, but they were only able to give us a limited number of Narcan kits,” he said. “So because we (did not have it factored into the budget) and we had the training and opportunity to get multiple people trained, we reached out to the J.D. Paugh foundation to try to seek assistance buying the kit.”

“This is just as important as having an EpiPen for someone who has allergies,” he said. “When you’re dealing with an opioid epidemic, it’s a necessity. You could be somewhere minding your business or working on your car, changing a tire, and get exposed to (an opiate) and be dead within a few minutes if you don’t have something on board.”

There have been at least two occasions this year in which deputies had to administer the drug as the first responders to the scene.

The Augusta Chronicle held a forum for Columbia County Chair candidates.

WTOC looks at the election campaign for the 12th Congressional District, represented by incumbent Rick Allen (R-Augusta).

Whether you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary in the 12th District, you’ve got choices. Rick Allen is seeking his third term as a Republican representing a district that stretches from Augusta to Douglas to the outskirts of Savannah.

“Everywhere I go in the district, the confidence among businesses seems to be high,” Rep. Rick Allen, Incumbent, said. “Of course, the 12th District is the envy of the rest of the county. We’ve got a lot going on here.”

Allen says agriculture, jobs, and the economy tops his list of priorities.

“I went to Congress to get people back to work because I had that opportunity when I was in the business world, and there’s no greater joy in the world than to see people get a good job and have the career and dignity they deserve,” he said.

Eugene Yu is facing Allen for the nomination for the third time.

“I’m not saying whether he’s done a good job or a bad job,” Yu said. “Just that I would be much better. The most important complaint I hear from constituents is they don’t see him. You only see the congressman when it’s election time.”

Three candidates square off on the Democratic side.

Porsche Cars North America racked up an all-time sales record for April, according to the AJC.

The German carmaker sold 5,570 vehicles, surpassing the previous all-time high of 5,555 cars recorded last November. It also marks a 0.7 percent gain over April 2017, another record month for the company. Retail sales for January through April were up 7 percent from a year ago to 19,524 vehicles.

“The Porsche mix of two and four-door sports cars is getting a broad welcome from customers. We see this in the strong April demand that crosses model lines,” said Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of PCNA, based in Atlanta. “Our 189 dealers are continually improving the customer experience, and this certainly is an essential factor for our mutual success.”

15
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 15, 2018

On May 15, 1791, George Washington left Augusta for Savannah.

On May 15, 1800, President John Adams ordered all 125 employees of the federal government to begin packing to move the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.

JasperJohnsThree_Flags

American artist Jasper Johns was born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia.

Carl Sanders was born on May 15, 1925 in Augusta, Georgia. He served in the United States Air Force, Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate, where he was President Pro Tem. In 1962, Sanders won the Democratic Primary for Governor, defeating former Governor Marvin Griffin, and in November was the first Governor of Georgia elected by popular vote after the County Unit System was abolished.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was born on May 15, 1967 in Lansing, Michigan. Smoltz pitched a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series in 1991, sending the Braves to their first World Series since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Smoltz was chosen for the All Star team eight times and won the Cy Young award in 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal ordered flags on state grounds to be flown at half-staff today in recognition of Peace Officers Memorial Day.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Fatality Review Unit reported that 18 Georgia children have committed suicide this year, according to the Albany Herald.

“So far, 18 children have taken their own lives in Georgia this year,” Special Agent in Charge Trebor Randle said Monday. “That is the same number as this time in 2017. Total last year, we had 43 child suicides, and the year before it was 51.”

According to Randle, the majority of the suicides were committed by hanging, with firearms as the second-most-used method.

“This year, the youngest we have seen was 11, with last year 9-years-old being the youngest,” she said. “What we are seeing is that kids today simply do not have the mechanisms to cope with rejection or depression. These numbers are why we are trying to push for more awareness to drive the prevention.”

“If it is a crisis in their mind, then we need to treat it as a crisis,” she explained. “As parents, educators or physicians, we need to handle that child as if it is the biggest crisis they will ever see, because that is their reality. Some of the most commons signs that parents and teachers should be aware of are the things that we have always known about suicide, in general. It just needs to be applied to a child. If you see changes in your child’s behavior that is outside the norm, that is a sign. I know that sounds simple, but it is true.

“One of the things that we know is a sign of depression is excessive sleeping. If that is not your child’s normal behavior, but now they are retiring to their room all the time, they don’t want to be bothered, they want to be closed off from the world, they are sleeping excessively and you are starting to see behavioral issues, not only at school affecting their grades, but also at home, something is going on with that child and you need to ask them questions. You need to ask your child if they are OK.”

Georgia’s DC mafia is making national headlines. From the New York Times:

Steering Mr. Pence’s strategy is Mr. Ayers, a 35-year-old operative who is the subject of the most pointed criticism from Trump stalwarts. Mr. Ayers regularly joins Mr. Pence in meetings with the president and has told associates that if aides in the West Wing cannot stay on top of things, his office will step up, White House officials said.

Mr. Ayers again unsettled skeptics in the West Wing this month by poaching a politically savvy aide to Mr. Trump, William Kirkland, to join the Pence team. Mr. Kirkland ran Senator David Perdue’s 2014 campaign in Georgia, and Trump officials believe he will effectively run a shadow political office for Mr. Pence, a setup unheard-of so soon into a new administration.

Mr. Pence’s team is aware of the unease within the White House, and Mr. Ayers recently told one Republican ally that one reason Mr. Pence is so effusive in his public remarks about Mr. Trump — he has recently hailed Mr. Trump as a “champion” for conservatives and branded the recent tax cuts a “Trump bonus” for America — is to tamp down questions about his loyalty.

Nick Bowman of the Gainesville Times writes about increasing rhetoric in the Gubernatorial race.

Candidates running to replace Gov. Nathan Deal have poured money into advertising in the final month of the primary campaign, and there have been two targets of criticism above all others: other candidates and illegal immigrants.

On Monday, May 14, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle waded into the debate on immigrants who are living in Georgia illegally, saying he would send National Guard troops to the southern border as governor.

In an announcement, the Cagle campaign said the Republican would “answer President Trump’s call” to send troops to the border with Mexico as part of Operation Guardian Support.

Cagle wades into the debate as Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been making national headlines for a new advertisement featuring explosions, guns and his pickup truck.

“I got a big truck,” Kemp says in his long drawl. “Just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself.”

Lowndes County is seeing typical levels of early voting, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Early voting will come to a close Friday, May 18, and a little more than 1,000 people have voted, according to Deb Cox, supervisor of elections for Lowndes County.

So far, voter turnout has been on par with midterm elections in the past six years, Cox said. Typically early voting ramps up during the last week.

Cox said she thinks voters may be holding off on early voting because there is a large number of governor’s races going on.

For comparison, the 1,119 residents who voted in the first two weeks is about the same the election office expects during a presidential election.

The AJC reports that while overall early voting numbers are down, Democratic ballots are being chosen at a higher percentage.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of the first two weeks of early-voting data shows an increase of more than 50 percent of Democratic ballots cast from the same period in 2014, the last time a midterm election was held.

Overall, early-voting turnout is on track to decline compared with four years ago, when about 240,000 cast their ballots before Election Day.

Two years ago, Republicans accounted for 62 percent of the early vote. This year, they’re at 52 percent.

One difference this year is that more Democrats are running in high-profile primary races, such as for the governorship and seats in Congress. That wasn’t the case in the last midterm election in 2014, when Jason Carter was the only Democrat running for governor and more races were uncontested.

The Floyd County Elections Board had an error on some ballots for county board of education, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Floyd County early voters in the May 22 election are asking for a Republican ballot over a Democratic ballot by a margin of more than 2 to 1 and elections officials are addressing an error on a small amount of ballots in the county school board race.

Elections Supervisor Willie Green said 850 people voted in the Republican primary compared to 364 in the Democratic primary as of the close of the polls Sunday night. Another 61 have asked for the nonpartisan ballot, containing only the judge races, bringing the total of early votes to 1,275 out of more than 50,000 eligible.

Signs also have been posted regarding an error on some local Republican ballots, and Elections Board members firmed up plans Monday for dealing with it. The two county school board races appear on city ballots, although city residents are ineligible to vote on those positions.

“It was an oversight in the elections office,” Miller said.

Incumbents Chip Hood and Tony Daniel are unopposed for re-election in both the primary and the general election. That makes the fix easier, said Elections Board member Mardi Haynes-Jackson.

The Southern States Police Benevolent Association-West Georgia Chapter endorsed candidates in a number of local elections, according to WTVM.

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed faces questions about withholding subpoenas from City Council, according to the AJC.

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration last year withheld from the public a potentially explosive federal subpoena, concealing the full scope of the corruption investigation at City Hall, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have learned.

The 10-point subpoena — dated Sept. 9, 2016, and kept from the public with Reed’s knowledge — included demands from federal prosecutors for information about lucrative construction and concessions contracts at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; vendors with close political ties to Reed; and financial records for three members of his cabinet.

In addition to being kept secret from the public, the subpoena was withheld from City Council, which voted to award four multi-million dollar contracts without knowing they were under federal investigation.

The disclosure would have significantly increased council scrutiny on the contractors before them, and possibly changed the political dynamic of the 2017 mayoral race, said Ceasar Mitchell, who was council president and a mayoral candidate last year. At the time, the council and the public knew of only two subpoenas, both of which suggested the federal inquiry was far narrower.

Sarah Fay Campbell of the Newnan Times-Herald write about what Metro Atlanta transit could mean for Coweta County.

The ATL Authority only has jurisdiction over the 13-county metro-Atlanta area, including Coweta. Other counties in Georgia do their regional transit planning in their own regions, and each county in the state has the ability to impose its own transit sales tax.

Coweta could do projects and implement the tax by itself, or as part of the transit district laid out in the bill.

If Coweta and the other counties choose to work together on a regional transit tax, the tax must pass in each county to go into effect – Coweta taxpayers can’t be pulled into the tax because it passes overwhelmingly in other counties if a majority of Coweta voters don’t vote in favor of it.

Or, the county could choose not to take advantage of provisions of the bill.

A home-schooled boys soccer team won a state championship, and the girls team went to the final, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Q: So this: how do home-schoolers organize soccer teams?

A: It’s through Central Georgia Arts and Athletics. That’s our overall program, and our mascot name, our team name, is Mustangs.

Q: What is it, a collaboration of home-schooled families?

A: CGA started four or five years ago to help home-schooled and other non-traditional students have programs for competitive athletics, arts and different enrichment possibilities. It’s a nonprofit charitable organization overseen by a board of Christian parents.

Q: It’s not just a soccer group?

A: Not at all. I’m involved with soccer, but there are sports like baseball, basketball, cross country and volleyball. Other sports, too. Then there’s an arts side with things like drama, literary, music and a robotics group, which I guess may be more enrichment. There are different interest clubs and things like field trips and community service opportunities.

Savannah and Chatham County will collaborate to reduce youth crime, according to the Savannah Morning News.

[O]fficials behind an effort to dissipate youth crime in Savannah determined that a city-owned building at 2203 Abercorn St. would serve as an ideal location for a proposed multi-agency resource center being planned to address the issue.On Thursday the Savannah City Council approved an agreement to allow Chatham County to use the building for the center, which is a collaboration between the city, county, law enforcement agencies, the juvenile court system, healthcare providers and social service organizations.

Mayor Pro Tem Carol Bell, who has served as the city representative with the group behind the effort, praised the partnership while presenting the plan to the mayor and aldermen during a morning workshop before the council’s vote.

“This is one of the greatest collaboratives in this community,” Bell said. “Especially since it will affect the way we handle juveniles who have somewhat strayed and have minor offenses.”

The center is meant to use evidence-based screenings and referrals to divert lower-risk juveniles from the court system for less serious infractions such as underage drinking, truancy, or violating curfew, said Chatham County Juvenile Court Judge Lisa Colbert.

The Savannah Morning News has Q&A with five candidates for school board president.

The Brunswick News profiles candidates for Glynn County Board of Education.

The Golden Isles Republican Women hosted candidates for Glynn County Commission and Board of Education yesterday.

14
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 14, 2018

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 14, 1791, George Washington addressed the Grand Lodge of Georgia Masons in Savannah.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

One hundred fifty years ago today, on May 14, 2014, the VMI Corps of Cadets marched 15 miles and camped overnight at Mt. Tabor, near New Market, Virginia. The next day they would march into history.

On the same day, the Battle of Resaca was fully engaged in Northwest Georgia.

On Saturday, May 14, the fighting at Resaca escalated into a full-scale battle. Beginning at dawn, Union forces engaged the Confederates along the entire four-mile front. In the early afternoon Schofield’s Army of the Ohio attacked the sharply angled center of the Confederate line. The assault was badly managed and disorganized, in part because one of Schofield’s division commanders was drunk. As the Union attack unraveled and became a fiasco, Johnston launched a counterattack on Sherman’s left flank. The counterattack collapsed, however, in the face of a determined stand by a Union artillery battery. In the evening Union forces pushed forward and seized the high ground west of Resaca, which placed the bridges leading south from the town within artillery range and threatened Johnston’s line of retreat.The following day Sherman renewed his assault on the Confederate center.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The AJC looks at early voting this year, calling it “apathetic.”

Four election workers. Fifteen voting machines. Zero voters.

The scene at 10:30 Saturday morning at the C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center in southwest Atlanta underscored an apparent lack of excitement surrounding Georgia’s May 22 primary elections. Entering the final week of advance in-person voting, on the last weekend days when polls were open, voters trickled into polling places Saturday, drawn more by a sense of duty than of enthusiasm.

“People are not excited,” said Philip Francis, the poll manager at the C.T. Martin center, in the Adamsville neighborhood. “It should be more. It’s usually more, let me put it that way.”

As of Friday, 90,200 voters had cast early ballots across Georgia, according to the secretary of state’s office. During the 2016 presidential primary, that many people voted early in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties alone.

Barring a surge this week, the number of early votes also will fall far short of the roughly 200,000 cast four years ago, the last time Georgians nominated candidates for governor and other statewide offices.

In Columbus, the Ledger-Enquirer calls early voting “underwhelming.”

So far the local turnout for early voting in Georgia’s May 22 party primaries and county nonpartisan elections has been underwhelming, like one of those old one-liners with reverse extremes: People stayed away in droves. The silence was deafening. The shallow enthusiasm was unfathomable.

On Friday, the total of mail-in absentees and in-person votes came to 4,647. Those voting in-person as of 7 p.m. Friday came to 2,773. With 12 days of voting since the early poll opened April 30, the average was 231 a day.

Gone are the presidential passion and devotion of 2016, with its long line that stretched from the voting machines down the hall, winding through the service center lobby and sometimes trailing out the back door.

Most of the people voting early in Muscogee County are picking Democratic Party ballots. Counting both the early in-person votes and those mailed in, the elections office Friday had recorded 1,926 Democratic ballots, 741 Republican, and 54 nonpartisan.

Early voting in Gainesville produced more than 300 votes cast on Saturday, according to the Gainesville Times.

As of Friday, 1,386 people in Hall had cast ballots in the primary election in Georgia, which covers a slew of local races, contests for state House and Senate seats, the governor’s race and the 9th Congressional District primary.

On Saturday, 306 people turned out to vote at four sites around the county. Of those, 239 were Republicans and 60 were Democrats. Seven voters took nonpartisan ballots, according to the Hall County Elections Office.

Total votes stand at 1,265 Republican, 410 Democratic and 17 nonpartisan.

Democratic candidates for two Gwinnett County Commission seats are profiled in the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The May 22 primary will feature contested Democratic battles for the Board of Commissioners Districts 2 and 4 seats. The winner of those contests will face District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard and District 4 Commissioner John Heard, neither of whom are facing challengers in the Republican primary election.

In District 2, Ben Ku and Desmond Nembhard are squaring off in the Democratic primary for the chance to face Howard in November. Meanwhile, in District 4, Marlene Fosque and Greg McKeithen are facing each other in the Democratic primary for a shot at going against Heard in November.

The Gainesville Times profiles two Democratic challengers to Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).

On one side, Josh McCall: Gainesville teacher, ardent progressive and first-time candidate who has spent more than a year in the race campaigning on a platform of health care for all, economic fairness and a message of passionate, Christian equality.

On the other, newcomer Dave Cooper: Clayton pilot and a former Army officer and EPA official who for the past decade has volunteered for Democrats in races throughout the country — including stints in multiple states working precincts for Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary — and who said he was motivated to run after the “Trump tax theft of 2017.”

Both candidates call for a form of universal health care or insurance, both want higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and both argue in favor of additional restrictions on firearms ownership (though Cooper goes much further than McCall on this point).

The Savannah Morning News looks at candidates for Chatham County Board of Education.

The Brunswick News profiles candidates for Board of Education District Two.

The Brunswick News also looks at campaign spending in local races.

Georgia State Senator Chuck Hufstetler told the Rome News-Tribune that important healthcare legislation survived Gov. Deal’s veto pen.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said the Georgia General Assembly funded consultants to work with federal authorities on potential Medicaid waiver programs. A team also is still slated to go to the University of Pennsylvania’s Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy training center to learn about creating and using a centralized database of information about state services.

“There’s also HB 769, which establishes a Rural Health System Innovation Center,” Hufstetler said. “That’s an important piece of the puzzle going forward.

The rural innovation center bill contains incentives to lure physicians to underserved areas, although funding wasn’t allocated this year.

Meanwhile, consultants — “We don’t have the expertise,” Hufstetler said — will be working with CMMS officials to develop Medicaid waiver programs that could address mental health, opioid addiction and other problems that are overwhelming the state system.

“We need programs that promote personal responsibility and reforms, while at the same time getting more access,” Hufstetler said. “The issues are access, cost and outcomes, and we have to bring in the data statewide and work on solutions.”

Bibb County is on track to break its current record for murder, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Over the past quarter-century, the homicide toll here has eclipsed 30 just twice — 32 were slain in Macon alone in 1994, and 30 were killed countywide last year.

During violence-plagued 1992, as former Macon police detective Jimmy Barbee told The Telegraph this week, “We stayed tired because we worked all the time. … We would help one squad with their homicide and pray we didn’t have one on our shift.”

Much of the killing then was fueled by the crack-cocaine epidemic. And, in fact, nearly half of the 1992 slayings were drug-related.

A Bald Eagle with a broken wing was rescued by motorists in Macon, according to the Macon Telegraph.

[Sonja Adams] is manager of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Animal Enforcement Division. She was off duty but happened to be in the area of Sardis Church Road at around 11:30 a.m. That’s when a call went out that a bald eagle had been hit by a car, just west of Love’s Travel Stop off Interstate 75.

She was there quickly and found a group of passing motorists had stopped and were trying to help the bird, which had a broken wing. The motorist who hit the bird did not stop. A witness who saw it said the car clipped the bird.

Ordinarily there is a local licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist that can be called, but not for the federally protected bald eagle. It could only be picked up the Georgia Department of National Resources Wildlife Resources Division, and it took about an hour for a representative to arrive.

Meanwhile, Adams, two deputies and the citizens did their best to help the bird and keep it calm until DNR could get there. Adams used a bottle to give it water and the eagle opened its beak to let her drop water in. Citizens kept it shaded by holding up towels.

The eagle was taken to a veterinarian who specializes in eagle rehabilitation. Adams could not say for sure what the prognosis might be for the bird, but she believed the broken wing to be its only injury, so she thought likely the bird could be rehabilitated.

11
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2018

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

On May 12, 1740, Georgia forces under James Oglethorpe took Fort Diego in Florida from the Spanish and mocked the defenders’ jean shorts.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

The worst American defeat of the Revolutionary War occurred at Charleston, South Carolina on May 12, 1780. American Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who surrendered that day would later accept the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 12, 1789, the Society of St. Tammany was founded in New York and would grow to a dominant home for political bosses. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (Signet Classics) remains one of the best historical versions of how political machines worked.

George Washington visited Georgia on May 12, 1791. From Purysburg, South Carolina, Georgia officials escorted Washington on a barge twenty-five miles down the Savannah River to Savannah, where he would stay four days.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond.

On May 12, 1864, Confederate General Joseph Johnston pulled his Army of Tennessee and Georgia back to Resaca, Georgia. In Virginia, Major General John B. Gordon saved the life, or prevented the capture of General Robert E. Lee at Spotsylvania. After the war, Gordon would serve as Governor of Georgia and United States Senator. On May 12, 1864, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets awoke in Staunton, where they had marched from Lexington 18 miles the previous day; after another 19 miles headed north up the Shenandoah Valley, the would make camp at Mt. Crawford, near Harrisonburg. The cadets ranged in age from fifteen to twenty-five years.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton.

On May 12, 1970, Georgia National Guard troops were mobilized to end race riots that had broken out the night before in Augusta. On that same day, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, my father’s favorite player as a youth, hit his 500th home run.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

On May 11, 2011, Newt Gingrich announced via Twitter that he would run for President. Two days later, I caught up with Newt at Fincher’s Barbecue in Macon for a brief interview the day he was scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention.

Happy Birthday to Minnesota, which became a state on May 11, 1858. Y’all talk funny.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced three appointments to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Deal announced the following appointments to the Court of Appeals of Georgia: the Honorable E. Trenton “Trent” Brown III will replace the Honorable Tilman Eugene “Tripp” Self III following Judge Self’s appointment and confirmation to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, the Honorable Elizabeth Gobeil will fill the vacancy created by the appointment and confirmation of the Honorable Elizabeth Branch to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Honorable Elizabeth Gobeil will replace the Honorable Elizabeth Branch following Judge Branch’s appointment and confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and the Honorable Stephen S. Goss will replace the Honorable Gary B. Andrews, who will retire at the end of July. Deal also announced Andrew W. Pope will fill the solicitor general vacancy within the State Court of Thomas County and Ryan R. Leonard will fill the district attorney vacancy within the Douglas Judicial Circuit.

The appointments will take effect upon swearing in.

E. Trenton “Trent” Brown III, Court of Appeals
Brown is a superior court judge of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit and previously served as the state court judge of Putnam County. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. Brown and his wife, Jill, have two children and reside in Eatonton.

Elizabeth D. Gobeil, Court of Appeals
Gobeil is a director and appellate division judge with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. Gobeil and her husband, Bart, reside in Savannah.

Stephen S. Goss, Court of Appeals
Goss is a superior court judge in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. Goss and his wife, Dee, have three children and reside in Albany.

Andrew W. Pope, Thomas County Solicitor General
Pope is the owner and managing attorney of Andrew W. Pope, P.C. Attorney at Law in Thomasville. He previously served as solicitor general of Thomas County from 2006-2012. Pope earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southwestern State University and a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He and his wife, Brecca, have two children and reside in Thomasville.

Ryan R. Leonard, District Attorney, Douglas Judicial Circuit
Leonard has worked for the Douglas Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office since 2006 and has been the acting district attorney since March 2018. He received a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and a law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law. Leonard and his wife, Erika, have two children and reside in Douglasville.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is meeting with Congressional leaders to advance the Trump administration’s agriculture policy, according to the AJC.

The former Georgia governor has quietly met with House GOP leaders on Capitol Hill in recent days, helping them strategize how to sell the $867 billion measure to skeptical colleagues. And he huddled with President Donald Trump and the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture committees on Thursday in the Oval Office to further discuss their approach moving forward.

Perdue has voiced support for the most divisive portion of the House GOP’s farm bill: a requirement that most able-bodied adults under 60, including the parents of children older than 6, work at least 20 hours a week or participate in a job training program to receive sustained benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. SNAP currently has work requirements in place for able-bodied people under 50 without dependents, but many states have waivers that critics say has made the rules essentially ineffective.

House Democrats are completely opposed to the legislation, which GOP leaders hope to bring up for a floor vote next week. They frame the proposed work requirements as cruel, racially-motivated and nearly impossible to administer.

“This bill takes 1.6 million needy families off of the SNAP program,” said Atlanta Democrat David Scott, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee. “Why? A work program that you manifest and walk around and say able-bodied men or able-bodied people should work and not be on food stamps.”

The Fannin County Board of Education has voted to allow some teachers to possess guns in schools, according to AccessWDUN.

Teachers who wish to possess a firearm must have a permit and go through training approved by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office. That stipulation would be circumvented if the teacher has a military or law enforcement background. Each faculty member who takes part must also pass a background check annually.

Coweta County will not consider arming teachers, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Lowndes County Commission approved spending $5.8 million for a soccer complex near Hahira, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Candidates for Board of Education seats in Bibb and Houston Counties spoke to the Macon Telegraph about improving school safety.

Harris County School District Superintendent Jimmy Martin resigned effective immediately, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

WLTZ in Columbus looks at the history of Columbus Mayoral candidate Zeph Baker.

Public documents from business tax liens to campaign financial disclosure forms show bare minimum , Zeph Baker has a problem following the law.

According to court records, Baker’s recent speeding ticket for 98 miles an hour is one of nine citations he’s received in the past five years including no insurance, no state tag, and one in 2016 for driving on a suspended license.

It’s significant because it also shows his home address in Newnan.

Baker currently has 11 uncancelled tax liens associated with Majestic Sunz, the most recent in January of this year but perhaps the most troubling trend is Zeph Baker’s continued refusal to submit finance disclosures required by law.

Most recently he missed a March 31st deadline to show the public who is financing his campaign and how the money is spent.

It’s a pattern that dates back to 2008, during his first campaign and every one since.

Columbus City Council has voted to spend $10 million in surplus funds, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannah City Council voted 7-2 on Thursday to approve the budget amendment that includes funding for a new backhoe for city cemeteries, computer security upgrades following a malware attack, and an early learning center touted by Mayor Eddie DeLoach as a anti-poverty initiative.

The vote came after the Savannah-Chatham School Board on Wednesday had directed staff to develop a firm proposal after being presented with the plan to establish the learning center at East Broad Street Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year. If an intergovernmental agreement is approved, the city funds would go towards the cost of accommodating 3-year-olds since the state does not generally provide Pre-K funds for children that age.

DeLoach was joined by Aldermen Carol Bell, Bill Durrence, Brian Foster, John Hall, Julian Miller and Estella Shabazz in supporting the spending plan that was opposed by Aldermen Van Johnson and Tony Thomas.

Savannah will take over a $43.5 million dollar reservoir constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Corps of Engineers built the $43.5 million, 100-millon gallon reservoir at the urging of city water officials as a solution to potential drinking water issues that could result from the deepening of the Savannah Harbor. The reservoir gives Savannah added assurance that its water customers will always have access to fresh water, said Chief Infrastructure and Development Officer Heath Lloyd.

“The Corps is deepening the channel of the harbor by approximately five feet and an extreme high spring tide could push salt water closer to our intake and if that salt water gets into our system then technically we have no way to treat it,” he said. “The reservoir creates a pool of water, approximately 100 million gallons, so if we were to have one of these extreme high tide events, we would be able to pull from that reservoir during the high tide event and not pull salt water into our distribution system.”

But while federal and state dollars built the reservoir, the annual maintenance and operation bill, now estimated at $300,000 will be city funded. And because water and sewer services in Savannah are self-funded, that means anyone who gets a water bill will be paying to keep the reservoir operating.

Statesboro City Councilis considering competing proposals for allowing 18-20 year olds into bars for music performances, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Glynn County Commissioners discussed a proposed FY 2019 budget of $142 million, according to The Brunswick News.

Campaign Finance Law

James Salzer of the AJC writes about a problem with the state’s ethics law that dates to when Primary election dates were changed without changing the campaign disclosure schedule.

Candidates don’t have to file full campaign disclosure reports of what they’ve raised and spent from early April until the beginning of July, more than a month after voters go to the polls to pick Republican and Democratic nominees.

“It’s ridiculous that we don’t have pre-primary reports,” said Rick Thompson, a former director of the state ethics commission who runs a company that works with candidates to help them comply with reporting requirements. “Almost every other state has pre-election reporting.”

In the past, primaries were more likely to be in July, so the midyear campaign finance filings would come shortly before the vote. Now the last full report before the primaries is filed shortly after a March 31 deadline.

Sarah Henderson, the executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause Georgia, said candidates who win election this year need to change the system so the public gets a better idea of who is funding campaigns and how hopefuls are spending their money.

“The state’s filing deadlines need to be updated to reflect our new primary schedule,” she said. “The public has a right to know before they cast their vote as to how the candidates are paying for their campaigns.”

In my opinion, the story earlier about Zeph Baker points to another shortcoming in the ethics laws – you can go for years without filing required disclosures from previous campaigns, then run for office again. A simple rule that a prospective candidate must be current on all past filings before running for another office would be a sensible addition to the Ethics in Government Act.

 

10
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia and American History

Savannah received news of the battle at Lexington on May 10, 1775, leading to a raid of British gunpowder for the colonial effort. On the same day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Second Continental Congress met.

On May 10, 1863, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died a week after being shot at by his own troops.

He died, as he had wished, on the Sabbath, May 10, 1863, with these last words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

On May 10, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.

On May 10, 1869, a ceremonial “Golden Spike” was driven in Promontory, Utah, symbolizing completion of a transcontinental railroad line joining the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.

The first observance of Mother’s Day was May 10, 1908 at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first official “Mother’s Day.”

On May 10, 2006, Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, a Republican, pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering, beginning a streak of Republican State School Supers to leave office under a cloud.

The Museum of Flight at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Floyd County is in the process of acquiring a retired F-14 Tomcat for display.

“We’re looking at over the road but [the fuselage is] a super-load, which is even more complex to arrange than the wings, which were classified as an oversized load,” said Christine Lewis, director of the Museum of Flight.

Plans are to reassemble the supersonic fighter plane for display at the museum, which houses an array of historic aircraft and military memorabilia. Lewis and her crew have already made four trips to the national museum in Richmond to bring back parts. In March they successfully detached the wings, which were picked up and delivered Monday.

Still, they’re hoping to have the final piece of “Sweet Little Miss” in their hands by October. Volunteers, many of whom are former military aviators and mechanics, will then get to work on reassembling the supersonic fighter plane. The F-14 Tomcat replaced the Navy’s F-4 Phantom II in the mid 1970s and was used into the early 2000s as an interceptor, a spy plane and for air and ground attacks.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Sarah Fay Campbell of the Newnan Times-Herald writes about Governor Deal’s veto spree.

Several of the bills were local legislation, including adding fees for Spalding County State Court, creating a charter for the city of Reynolds, changing the charter of the city of Stonecrest and providing governing authorities for Jonesboro, Morrow, Lovejoy and Lake City.

For some of those bills, the bill sponsors requested the veto. A bill that would annex the Fulton County Industrial District into the city of South Fulton was also vetoed. The FCID is the only remaining unincorporated part of Fulton County. It cannot be annexed because of a constitutional amendment from 1979, Deal stated.

SB 315 deals with cyber security and would have created the crime of unauthorized computer access.

As technology continues to advance, “a robust discussion on cyber security policy that meets the needs of the public and industry stakeholders is of crucial importance,” Deal said in the veto statement.

The bill would make it a crime to intentionally access a computer or computer network without authority.

“However, certain components of the legislation have led to concerns regarding national security implications and other potential ramifications,” Deal said. “Consequently, while intending to protect against online breaches and hacks, SB 315 may inadvertently hinder the ability of government and private industries to do so.”

Nick Bowman of The Gainesville Times writes about legislation Deal signed.

Distracted driving. Alcohol sales on Sunday. An income tax cut. The splitting of Stockbridge. Criminal justice reform — Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a huge number of weighty bills coming out of the 2018 legislative session.

Deal finished signing legislation from the recent Georgia General Assembly session on Tuesday, May 8. Dozens of bills were signed in the days after the session concluded, but Deal also vetoed a record 21 bills this year.

On May 2, Deal signed House Bill 673 into law, which tightens up Georgia’s distracted driving restrictions for motorists.

It will be a crime to operate a phone with any part of the body while driving when House Bill 673 hits the streets in July, and the bill’s sponsor told The Times this month that the new law will save lives and lower auto insurance premiums for Georgia car owners.

“Insurance rates have increased dramatically all over the state, especially in the metro areas. We decided to look at that and go through a study committee, and … it kept coming back to distracted driving,” said John Carson, R-Marietta.

The Augusta Chronicle looks at the cyber security bill vetoed by Gov. Deal.

A group of hackers who claim to have penetrated the city of Augusta’s web site and some local businesses and a university said it will disband now that Gov. Nathan Deal has vetoed the legislation that upset them.

The group called itself SB315 after Senate Bill 315, which would have created the crime of unauthorized access of a computer, making it a “midemeanor of a high and aggravated nature” punishable by up to a year in jail.

“SB315 is disbanded,” said an email Tuesday night from a hacker who identified himself only by his first name, Dave, and uses an email address of augustadave. “The bill brought us into existence; the governor’s veto makes us disappear. There will be no more attacks. We thank everyone who voiced their opposition to the bill, and we thank Governor Deal for listening to them.”

In protest of the legislation, the hackers apparently broke into the websites for a church and two Augusta restaurants, posting music files on some sites as well as a link to an article denouncing the legislation, and claimed to have stolen passwords for city of Augusta emails that they mailed to The Augusta Chronicle. The city said none of the passwords were valid and some of the email addresses were for people who had not worked for the city for years.

Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 333 by Sen Ellis Black (R-Valdosta), to give municipal governments more flexibility in pension plans, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Black sponsored SB 333 at the request of the Georgia Municipal Association.

SB 333 would encourage greater savings by local government employees and reduce costs to local governments in offering deferred compensation plans by allowing auto enrollment in compliance with federal law, according to state officials.

Studies show that roughly 85-90 percent of employees who are automatically enrolled into a deferred compensation plan continue contributions toward their retirement. In contrast, studies show participation in plans without automatic enrollment is, on average, less than 50 percent.

“We greatly appreciate Sen. Black carrying this legislation in the Senate” said GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson. “Due to his efforts, municipal employees will undoubtedly benefit from increased retirement savings in the future.”

`Government-owned industrial parks in Columbia and Richmond Counties are eligible for favorable tax credit under legislation signed by Deal, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

House Bill 843, signed into law this month by Gov. Nathan Deal, would extend the state’s “tier 1” job-tax credits to Richmond County’s 1,800-acre Augusta Corporate Park as well as the 270-acre White Oak Business Park under construction in Columbia County at the Appling-Harlem exit on Interstate 20.

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), is especially beneficial to Columbia County, whose “tier 4” status – the state’s highest level – capped its state payroll tax breaks at $1,250 per job in most parts of the county. The new law enables the affluent county to offer up to $4,000 in per-job incentives beyond its designated “military zone” boundary, which terminated at the south side of I-20.

HB 843 amends existing state law so that tier 1 status applies to “any census tract in a county that contains a federal military installation with a garrison of at least 5,000 federal or military personnel” that also has an “industrial park that is owned and operated by a governmental entity.”

Fort Gordon has roughly 28,000 active-duty personnel, federal employees and contractors. The vast majority of its 55,000 acres are within Richmond County, which this year was bumped up to tier 2 status by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs after spending years as a tier 1.

State Senator David Shafer announced that Mike Huckabee has endorsed his campaign for Lieutenant Governor. From a press release:

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has endorsed David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.

Huckabee today released a statement praising Shafer’s conservative record and endorsing his candidacy:

”David Shafer is a rock solid conservative. He is unapologetically pro-life, a fearless defender of the Second Amendment and a staunch supporter of the President. He is a budget hawk who has fought for lower taxes. He understands that the role of government is to protect our God given rights and liberties. I am proud to endorse David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.”

At the same time, Shafer received the endorsement of HuckPAC, a political action committee founded by Huckabee to elect conservatives nationwide.

Huckabee carried Georgia in his 2008 campaign for the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party.

A leading conservative member of the State Senate, Shafer has also been endorsed by Newt Gingrich, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, National Rifle Association, GeorgiaCarry.org, Georgia Right To Life, Family Policy Alliance of Georgia, Georgia Conservatives In Action, Republican Liberty Caucus, Georgia Republican Assembly, National Federation of Republican Assemblies, GOPAC, Patriot Voices and Cut Taxes Now, among others.

Eighties Actress Alyssa Milano is raising money for Democrat Richard Dien Winfield in the 1oth Congressional District election, according to 11Alive.

The Glynn County Commission will discuss the proposed FY2019 budget in their meeting today, according to The Brunswick News.

Harris County School Superintendent Jimmy Martin Harrissays he was threatened with firing unless he resigns, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Via email and phone, Ted Theus explained that superintendent Jimmy Martin has had personality conflicts with certain representatives on the seven-member board.

“As a Harris County resident, I was personally shocked to hear about the desire on the part of some to fire Dr. Martin, as I have heard nothing but positive things about him from neighbors and Harris County teachers that I have worked with in my law practice,” Theus said.

The agenda for Thursday night’s meeting, set to start at 6:30 p.m. in the board’s office, 132 Barnes Mill Road in Hamilton, has a closed session scheduled at the end of the meeting. The topic isn’t disclosed. That’s when the board will discuss firing Martin, Theus said.

Chatham County Probate Judge Tom Bourdeaux has been sued over alleged delays in issuance of weapons permits, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The suit, filed in Chatham County Superior Court on April 27, contends that plaintiffs Shane Montgomery and Williams Theodore Moore III have not been issued their Georgia Weapons Carry Licenses despite completing applications and being eligible for them.

They are joined in the suit by the GeorgiaCarry.org, a nonprofit group whose mission is to foster the rights of its members to keep and bear arms.

The suit contends that the group has many other members in Chatham County who are eligible to obtain the licenses and either have applied or will apply.

Bordeaux “routinely does not process (weapons carry license) applications for (GeorgiaCarry.Org) members and other residents in Chatham County within 35 days of application or within 10 days of receiving a background report,” the suit filed by Atlanta guns-rights lawyer John Monroe contends.

The Whitfield County Board of Education approved its largest-ever budget, including 2 percent pay raises, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Sea turtle nesting season has begun on Georgia’s coast, according to The Brunswick News.

The Georgia sea turtle nesting season officially kicked off this week when a leatherback turtle shimmied onto the beach on Cumberland Island and laid her eggs, with hopes for a successful hatching.

Tuesday morning, state Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Ashley Raybould announced on the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative group on Facebook that National Park Service wildlife biologist Doug Hoffman on Cumberland Island found the first nest of the year.

This marks the fifth consecutive year the first nest appeared on Cumberland Island. Nesting in the state has been on a 3 percent increase, and DNR Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Mark Dodd said in a statement Wednesday he expects an above-average nesting season.

“It’s an annual ritual, part of spring on the coast in Georgia,” Dodd said. “Everybody’s excited.”

The Lowndes County Board of Education is considering a rollback of the property tax millage rate, according to the Valdosta Times.

For the tentative budget, the total estimated revenues are $113,675,946 and the total estimated expenditures are $104,893,946. The total estimated fund balance for July 1 was $33,295,480, and the total estimated fund balance for June 30, 2019, was 42,077,480, according to number presented during the Lowndes County Board of Education meeting.

With $167 million in additional state funding for K-12 education, board member Brian Browning asked about the possibility of rolling the millage rate back since there is additional funding.

Superintendent Wes Taylor said LCS felt good about the fund balance presented.

“As soon as we know something definitive, we will come back and approach (the board) about that idea (of rolling back the millage rate),” Taylor said.