Category: Georgia Politics

23
Sep

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

John Paul Jones, at the helm of US ship Bonhomme Richard, won a naval battle off the coast of England on September 23, 1779.

After inflicting considerable damage to the Bonhomme Richard, Richard Pearson, the captain of the Serapis, asked Jones if he had struck his colors, the naval sign indicating surrender. From his disabled ship, Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight,” and after three more hours of furious fighting the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough surrendered to him.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis Missouri from their exploratory trip to the Pacific coast on September 23, 1806.

On September 23, 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was speaking at a dinner with the Teamsters union and addressed attacks that had been made by Republicans, including the allegation that after leaving his dog, Fala, behind in the Aleutian Islands, he sent a Navy destroyer to fetch the dog. This would become known as the “Fala speech.”

These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family don’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him—at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars—his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself … But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog.

The idea for the joke was given to FDR by Orson Welles. The political lesson here is that any time you get an audience laughing at your opponent, you are winning.

A statue of former Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol was unveiled on September 23, 1949, the 65th anniversary of Talmadge’s birth near Forsyth, Georgia in 1884.

On September 23, 1952, Senator Richard M. Nixon was under fire for allegedly accepting $18,000 and using it for personal expenses. To salvage his place as the Vice Presidential candidate on Eisenhower’s Republican ticket, Nixon took to the airwaves in the first nationally-televised address and delivered what came to be known as the “Checkers Speech. From The Atlantic:

[A] 1999 poll of leading communication scholars ranked the address as the sixth most important American speech of the 20th century — close behind the soaring addresses of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The “Checkers” speech wins this high rank for one stand-out reason: It marked the beginning of the television age in American politics. It also salvaged Nixon’s career, plucking a last-second success from the jaws of abject humiliation, and profoundly shaped Nixon’s personal and professional outlook, convincing him that television was a way to do an end-run around the press and the political “establishment.”

Click here for the full text of the “Checkers Speech.”

The last game played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium took place on September 23, 1996.

The Augusta Chronicle looks back at a 1960 campaign event in Augusta with Barry Goldwater.

A month before the 1960 presidential election, Sen. Barry Goldwater came to Augusta to rally Republican votes.

Four years before Goldwater would be the GOP White House candidate, he was in sharp form Oct. 1 during a dinner speech at Bell Auditorium. Instead of going after Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy, however, he went after Kennedy’s running mate, Lyndon Johnson, calling him a “counterfeit Confederate” and suggesting he wouldn’t be true to his Southern roots.

Goldwater, who had a reputation for being one of the most forceful conservative speakers in politics, spent 20 minutes of his 35-minute address assailing Johnson, a Texan whose family had originally come from Georgia.

Republicans agreed with the message. “Bootsie” Calhoun, who would one day become the first woman Richmond County sent to the state Legislature, said she thought Goldwater’s message would not only add votes to the GOP side but also bring over some undecided Democrats.

Perhaps Goldwater’s comments and Augusta campaign stop worked. When Election Day returns were counted a month later, a good majority of Richmond County voters supported the GOP 12,356 votes to 10,201.

Four years later as the Republican presidential candidate, Goldwater carried Richmond County handily, 13,893 to 9,606, although Johnson, now the president with Kennedy’s assassination, easily won the national vote.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A federal district court judge will hear arguments on Georgia’s “heartbeat bill” today, according to the Associated Press.

The law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. It allows for limited exceptions.

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a constitutional challenge. They asked the judge to stop the law from becoming enforceable while litigation is pending.

Lawyers for the state have argued that the law is constitutional and should be allowed to take effect as planned on Jan. 1.

From the AJC:

The ACLU argued in a June complaint that the law violates a woman’s constitutional right of access to abortion until about 24 weeks of pregnancy, as established in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

The ACLU has argued that “politicians should not be second-guessing women’s health care decisions.”

In its response, the state said Georgia’s new anti-abortion law is “constitutional and justified” and asked Jones to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the measure.

“Defendants deny all allegations in the complaint that killing a living unborn child constitutes ‘medical care’ or ‘health care,’” attorneys wrote.

Governor Brian Kemp has declared Clean Energy Week in Georgia, according to the Albany Herald.

In the proclamation, Kemp notes that Georgia is a “national leader in biomass production, and communities across our state depend on many forms of clean energy, including nuclear production at four state plants, natural gas, and commercial and residential solar power installations.”

Georgia is now one of 19 states in the country to formally recognize National Clean Energy Week. In 2018, a total of 29 governors, both Republican and Democratic, issued state proclamations declaring National Clean Energy Week in their states.

“WHEREAS: Clean and abundant forms of energy are beginning to power more homes and businesses in the state of Georgia than ever before; and

“WHEREAS: Georgia is a national leader in biomass production, and communities across our state depend on many forms of clean energy, including nuclear production at four state plants, natural gas, and commercial and residential solar power installations; and

“WHEREAS: Georgia leads the nation in wood pellet exports, which account for more than one-third of total American production; and

“WHEREAS: Clean energy jobs are inherently local as construction, installation and maintenance are all carried out on-site; and

“WHEREAS: During Clean Energy Week, Georgians are encouraged to learn more about our state’s energy needs and to implement clean, low-emitting energy technologies when available; and

“WHEREAS: Collaboration among Georgia’s entrepreneurs, small businesses, municipalities, and state and local entities is necessary to promote America’s energy dependence in the global marketplace and to assure that low-cost, reliable energy is available here at home; now

“THEREFORE: I, Brian P. Kemp, governor of the state of Georgia, do hereby proclaim September 23-27, 2019 as CLEAN ENERGY WEEK in Georgia.

Governor Kemp toured a solar cell facility in Dalton, according to WDEF.

Governor Brian Kemp made a stop in Dalton as a part of his “Georgia Made” tour ….

He spoke at the grand opening of Q CELLS, the new solar panel manufacturing facility.

“We have roots all over the world, but the United States is our largest market, and this factory is dedicated to serving it with the most advanced products that we make anywhere on earth,” said Charles Kim, Q CELLS CEO.

“We just did a tour earlier, and it’s pretty magnificent when you see it from the outside, but certainly it’s even better than that when you go inside,” said Governor Brian Kemp.

“Investments are coming in from not only around the country, but as today’s grand opening so clearly demonstrates, our international partner’s certainly have Georgia on their mind as well,” said Kemp.

“Georgia is in fact the fourth leading state in the country for solar installations this year, the south is the leading region for solar installations for each of the next five years, so this is the place where we can be closest to our customers,” said Scott Moskowitz, Director of Strategy and Market Intelligence at Q CELLS.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw has an Op-Ed on energy policy in the Valdosta Daily Times.

As we celebrate Clean Energy Week, we should also celebrate the strides Georgia is making in improving the lives of Georgians through a more diversified energy portfolio and the expansion of clean and renewable energy.

Much of the credit goes to Public Service Commission Chairman Bubba McDonald, Vice-Chairman Tim Echols and Commissioner Chuck Eaton. They set the table several years ago by expanding solar in Georgia.

Their leadership in expanding clean energy supply has led to lower rates for consumers, and the cost of solar has plummeted from around 17 cents per kilowatt to around three cents per kilowatt.

As rural Georgia is recovering from the impact of two natural disasters and economic uncertainty, renewable energy can be a source of financial relief. It has recently been reported in several areas that solar farms have saved family farms in Georgia by signing long-term contracts, some as long as 35 years.

I am very proud we voted to include biomass energy in the IRP for the first time. Renewable biomass energy has become an economic engine and is homegrown in my district. Our abundance of agricultural byproduct has translated into a booming biofuel industry. Companies like Georgia Biomass have made us the largest exporter of biomass energy in the world with Europe being our primary market.

Clean and renewable energy has become important to our economy and our quality of life. Georgia is the number one renewable energy state in the country without renewable portfolio standards. We have done it through our tremendous utility partners, policy advocates and the tireless work of the Georgia Public Service Commission staff.

The Georgia House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality is drawing criticism, according to the Union-Recorder.

The House Study Committee on maternal mortality met for the first time and committee members peppered presenters with questions on how the mortality data was collected. Lawmakers questioned the validity of the data and the collection process which shows extreme rates of maternal mortality in Georgia.

In response, House Rep. Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta, called a press conference that hosted women’s rights advocates, organizations and lobbyists expressing their disappointment in the committee meeting.

“We were a little frustrated with how we saw it going in terms of emphasis on data,” Thomas said, “rather than the fact that what we want to deal with, is we know that the issue of women period — and black women specifically — are dying, we know it can be prevented. And there has to be a lot more concern around it.”

“We knew that we had to get the African-American women’s voice, in that hearing,” she said. “The fact that people came to the state Capitol because they wanted to give testimony, they wanted to have the authentic voices heard and the way the agenda was set up it did not allow that.”

The Georgia Senate Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders Study Committee is studying whether some offenders should regain their right to vote, according to the AJC.

State Sen. Randy Robertson, the chairman of a committee studying the issue, said it’s important for the Senate to evaluate whether felons should be able to vote.

“I would hope I’m not wasting my time today on something that’s fruitless,” Robertson, a Republican from Cataula and a former sheriff’s deputy, said after the committee’s meeting at Columbus State University. “Victims are going to have their voices heard, too. … Just starting the conversation is a big step forward.”

Senators and criminal justice groups appeared to agree that those convicted of drug possession charges should be able to vote when they’re freed from prison. It’s unclear whether other offenses, such as drug distribution, shoplifting and burglary, would qualify.

All felons in Georgia are allowed to re-register to vote after they’ve finished all the conditions of their sentences, but that can take many years.

Probation sentences in Georgia last an average of 6.3 years, nearly double the national average, Ruppersburg said.

The Georgia Constitution says those who have been convicted of a “felony involving moral turpitude” can’t be registered to vote until their sentences are completed. But the state hasn’t defined which felonies involve “moral turpitude,” and election officials interpret the Constitution to mean that all felonies limit voting rights.

House District 71 candidate Philip Singleton denies having previously considered a run as a Democrat, according to the AJC.

Long before Republican Philip Singleton launched a campaign as a conservative candidate for an open Georgia House seat, he walked into a Democratic Party meeting to court more liberal voters.

What exactly he said during the Coweta County Democratic Party meeting in August 2017 to promote his long-shot U.S. House campaign is not clear. Singleton says he didn’t try to identify as a Democrat or an independent candidate, but two attendees said he didn’t exactly align himself with the Republican Party either.

Those remarks matter more now as Singleton faces an Oct. 1 runoff against fellow Republican Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison for the Newnan-based seat vacated by Republican state Rep. David Stover.

Singleton was the top finisher in the Sept. 3 election, securing about 37% of the vote. Sakrison received about 34%. Since neither won a majority of the ballots cast, a runoff is required.

“Republicans deserve a real conservative, not a member of the ‘opportunist party,’ ” Sakrison said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jimmy Glenn, who served as the Coweta County Democratic Party’s first vice chairman at the time, remembered Singleton’s visit differently. Glenn said Singleton introduced himself as the Democratic candidate in the congressional race.

House District 152 is seeing a spirited campaign for the November special election, according to the Albany Herald.

With the special election to fill a House District 152 seat fast approaching, four candidates seeking to fill the unexpired term of Rep. Ed Rynders were in full swing this week after qualifying ended Wednesday.

[Democrat] Mary Egler was hitting the road, putting out campaign signs and picking up a granddaughter from school when she was contacted Friday.

The winner of the Nov. 5 nonpartisan special election will complete the year remaining in Rynders’ term. Rynders announced recently his plans to step down from the seat he’s held for the past 17 years after moving with his wife to St. Simons Island.

Tyler Johnson, one of the three Republicans in the race, said he wants to be a conservative voice in the legislature.

Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn, who was elected to the Leesburg City Council in 1995 and has served as mayor for 11 years, said he has experience dealing with county and state leaders that would make him a good fit for the position.

The third Republican in the race, Bill Yearta, also was a mayor in Sylvester, but had to step down from the position he held for 17 years when he qualified to run for the House seat.

Coweta County local elected officials discussed a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) on the November ballot, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

If approved, the 1 percent tax is expected to bring in around $125 million over five years. Coweta County would get $82 million of that, with the rest divided amongst the cities and towns.

The money will go to a designated list of projects that were put together by a committee that spent nearly a year working on the list.

Adding the TSPLOST would bring the sales tax rate in Coweta County to 8 percent.

As of last November, roughly half of Georgia’s counties have some form of TSPLOST, whether a single-county, as proposed in Coweta, or a regional TSPLOST, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

Candidates for Gwinnett municipal elections will meet the public tonight, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

State Rep. Donna McLeod and the Democratic Party of Georgia’s Gwinnett African-American Caucus will host “Engage Gwinnett” in the auditorium at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.

A meet and greet will take place at 6:30 p.m., and a discussion and questionand answer session will last from 7 until 9 p.m. A Facebook posting by McLeod listed Lawrenceville City Councilwoman Victoria Jones, Lawrenceville City Council candidate Austin Thompson, Peachtree Corners City Council Post 5 candidate Cherlon Mathias-Day and Grayson City Council Post 2 candidate Donald Fairnot as participating panelists.

Five candidates qualified for a Special Election for Habersham County Commission District 5, according to AccessWDUN.

Qualifying for the Habersham County Commission District 5 Special Election on Nov. 5 wrapped up Friday.

Those who qualified include George Locke Arnold, Michael D. Gosnell, Darrin Johnston, Tim Stamey and Barry Trotter, said Habersham County Elections Superintendent Laurel Ellison.

The Special Election for the District 5 seat will be held in conjunction with the Nov. 5 countywide jail bond referendum and will fill the balance of Nichols’ term, roughly one year, one month and 13 days, Ellison said.

Advance voting at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center in Clarkesville and First Baptist Church of Cornelia will begin Oct. 28 and continue until Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Four local elected officials in Chattooga County have switched to the Republican Party, according to the AJC.

“The party has changed so much now, it’s really hard to tell where the lines are some days,” [Chattooga County Magistrate Judge Tracy Maddux] said in an interview in his office. “But that Facebook controversy put me over the top. Sometimes you just have to make a stand — and you’ve got to own your decision.”

The four defections shook up politics in a rural northwest Georgia county where Democrats held surprising sway in local matters, even as Republicans dominate in state and federal elections. In a front-page article, The Summerville News said the exodus “shattered” the Democrats’ century-long grip on county affairs.

Jason Winters, the sole county commissioner in Chattooga, doesn’t disagree with that assessment. He won two terms as a Democrat before he was ousted from the local party in 2014. His crime: He was photographed putting up signs for Republican state Sen. Jeff Mullis and then-Gov. Nathan Deal.

“I happily became a Republican, and I’ll run again in 2020 as a Republican,” he said, laughing now about the controversy, before conversation shifted to more recent developments.

“The weekend ushered along a decision I’d been pondering for a long time,” said [Chattooga County Sheriff Mark] Schrader, who left the Democratic Party days later. “There’s a lot of hate spewed out there. Words don’t typically bother me, but when you start threatening my employees and their families — I can’t handle that.”

Augusta Commissioners have set a new record for spending on gas, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Augusta Commission has bought enough gas this year to drive around Earth nearly five times.

With a monthly gas allowance set at 125 gallons in 1965, when fuel economy was at most 14.5 miles per gallon, eight Augusta commissioners and the mayor have guzzled 5,286.8 gallons of gas this year. It’s enough with modern fuel economy to drive more than 116,300 miles.

This year’s gas purchases exceed $13,000, a record since The Augusta Chronicle has been obtaining the data and far higher than two years ago, when only five commissioners spent $5,484 with the cards during all of 2017.

Rome City Council will consider adopting speed cameras, according to the Rome News Tribune.

An ordinance allowing speed-detection cameras in school zones is expected to be adopted at the Rome City Commission meeting Monday.

The first speed-detection camera is slated for Veterans Memorial Highway in front of Rome High School.

A contract with provider RedSpeed USA and approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation will likely take about three months to finalize. Signs must be posted when the cameras are in operation.

The Georgia General Assembly approved the use of automated school-zone cameras this year, with more restrictions than the ill-fated red light camera law from a decade ago.

A ticket won’t be generated unless a driver is going more than 10 miles over the speed limit and there will be a 30-day grace period where violators will get warnings instead of citations.

The ordinance sets a fine of $75 for a first violation and $125 for any subsequent violation. A processing fee of up to $25 also may be assessed.

New rules for golf carts take effect October 18 in Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

After Oct. 18, Glynn County Police Department officers will begin enforcing the new rules, which can be found at tinyurl.com/golfcartlawdetails.

Golf carts are separated into two categories by Georgia’s state law: a personal transportation vehicle, or PTV, has a top speed of 19 mph or less and can transport no more than eight people, while a low-speed vehicle, or LSV, has a top speed between 20 and 25 mph.

LSVs are regulated by the state, and the county’s ordinances will mirror the state’s when the law goes into effect. Georgia gives counties the authority to regulate PTVs on public streets.

If someone owns a golf cart and only uses it on their own property, the regulations don’t apply. County police will only enforce the rules on public roads and property.

LSVs are required to have a tag and title, according to state law.

“We have always done low-speed vehicles,” said Jeff Chapman, tax commissioner. “If it is electric, we can title and tag their cart.”

Comparatively, getting the necessary certificate to drive a PTV is simple. To drive on a public street, the cart must have a decal from the county’s Community Development Department affixed to the windshield. Decals cost $15, are good for five years and are non-transferrable.

20
Sep

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

On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated,

“. . . on the first day of January [1863] . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

On September 20, 1863, the Confederate Army of the Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg repelled Union forces under General William Rosencrans at the Battle of Chickamauga. After Gettysburg, Chickamauga is generally considered the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, with 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union dead.

On September 21, 1863, the federal Army of the Cumberland retreated to Chattanooga after its defeat at Chickamauga.

President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Atlanta on September 22, 1877. Click here to read the text of his speech in Atlanta.

White vigilantes seeking to assault African-Americans after reports of four white women being assaulted led to the Atlanta Race Riots on September 22-24, 1906, which would claim the lives of at least 25 African-Americans and one white person.

The first classes at Oglethorpe University under it’s current non-denominational charter were held on September 20, 1916. Happy 101st Anniversary to the Stormy Petrels. The university was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Midway, Georgia. In 1870, after a period of closure during the Civil War they relocated to the Atlanta area.

On September 22, 1918, the City of Atlanta gasoline administator prohibited non-emergency Sunday driving to conserve fuel for the war effort.

On September 20, 1976, Playboy magazine released an interview with Jimmy Carter, then a candidate for President.

During the 1976 campaigns, a 13-foot tall smiling peanut sculpture was created by the Indiana Democratic Party for Carter’s presidential campaign.

Since 1976, the Jimmy Carter Smiling Peanut has held its position as the world’s second largest peanut, “the most photographed thing in Plains”, and one of the oddest monuments to a politician worldwide. Unfortunately, in 2000, a reckless driver crashed into the peanut, whose wooden hoops, chicken wire, and aluminum foil weren’t enough to keep it upright. After the accident, the peanut was moved from the Plains train depot to the Davis E-Z Shop in Plains, where it remains today. Although the peanut has been kept in pristine form, the fence surrounding it has become dilapidated as a result of over a decade of tourists posing for photos on it.

Bert Lance resigned as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter on September 21, 1977. After a jury acquitted him on ten federal charges in 1980, Lance served as Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia from 1982 to 1985.

General Colin Powell was confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 21. 1989. Powell served as National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan before being appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H.W. Bush; in 2000, Powell was nominated by President George W. Bush as Secretary of State, the first African-American to hold that post.

Friends debuted on NBC on September 22, 1994.

On September 21, 2011, R.E.M. announced on their website that they were quitting as a band.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia’s statewide high school graduation rate hit 82%, according to WABE.

The results are in: Georgia’s high school graduation rate reached an all-time high of 82% during the 2018-19 school year. The rate has increased 12% since 2012 when the federal government changed the requirements for reporting graduation rates.

In metro Atlanta, the Cobb County School District’s rate ticked up to 86.98%. Gwinnett County Public Schools went from 81.7% to 80.9%. The Fulton County School System inched up .4% to 87.2%. The DeKalb County School District dropped 1.5 percentage points to 73.4%. Clayton County Public Schools increased a point to reach 72.7%. Atlanta Public Schools dropped 2% to 77.9%.

Five APS high schools had rates above 90%. The Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy graduated 100% of its seniors last year, an increase of more than 6%.

Democrat Lucy McBath will not run for Johnny Isakson’s Senate seat, according to the AJC.

Freshman Congresswoman Lucy McBath ruled out a bid for U.S. Senate on Thursday, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she’s focused on winning a second term in one of the country’s most competitive House districts.

But the Marietta Democrat said she wanted to focus on retaining her seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs to continue her work on gun control, veterans’ affairs and other issues.

“I am just starting my work in the House on these issues, and I believe the best way to advance them at this time is to focus fully on those efforts in the House,” McBath said in a statement to the AJC.

“I am honored by the encouragement I have received from leaders in Georgia and around the nation to consider running for the United States Senate next year,” she added.

The AJC looks at who has applied so far for appointment to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Isakson.

So far, more than 200 people had filled out a short questionnaire and submitted their resumes to seek the coveted spot, which is opening after Isakson announced he’s stepping down at year’s end for health reasons.

Here’s our evolving list of some of the highest-profile candidates who have applied.

- U.S. Rep. Doug Collins
- Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols
- Radio host Martha Zoller, a former aide to Kemp and to U.S. Sen. David Perdue

Here are some other noteworthy names:

- Allen Buckley, a former Libertarian candidate for Senate
- Alpharetta City Councilman Ben Burnett
- Angelic Moore, a former Kemp campaign operative
- Robert Patillo, a political strategist and civil rights attorney

Candidates in the Special Runoff Election for State House District 71 spoke in a forum, according to the AJC.

On Tuesday evening, the Newnan-Coweta Chamber hosted a debate between the two runoff survivors in the race for the House District 71 seat vacated this summer by David Stover, R-Newnan. The final vote comes Oct. 1.

[Marcy Westmoreland] Sakrison is the daughter of former congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who now sits on the state Board of Transportation. As befitting a second-place finisher, Sakrison went on the attack, accusing [Philip] Singleton of smearing her by alleging that she supported the extension of MARTA into Coweta County – something that MARTA bylaws would not allow.

Sakrison also declared that in 2018, Singleton had attempted to run for the Third District congressional seat – once held by her father and now held by Republican Drew Ferguson – as a Democrat and an independent before running as a Republican. Singleton did not dispute the allegation.

Democrat Ben Haynes announced his candidacy for Sheriff of Gwinnett County in 2020, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Ben Haynes, who is a criminal investigator in the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, announced he will run for the office next year during a kickoff event at the Gwinnett County Historic Courthouse. Haynes is at least the third Democrat to announce plans to run for the office in 2020, joining Curtis Clemons and Keybo Taylor in the race.

It has been unclear if Sheriff Butch Conway, the Republican who has held the office for nearly a quarter of a century, will run for another term next year.

“It (is) time for the county to progress forward,” Haynes said of his reason for running. “We’ve had the current sheriff since 1996 and I wanted to bring some changes to the office that I think will benefit all of the county.

Haynes said the 287(g) issue is likely to be a major issue in the 2020 sheriff’s race because of the county’s diversity.

“It affects so many communities here in the county,” he said. “I believe 287(g) touches every member of our county in one way or the other.”

Haynes said savings that can be realized by curtailing use of the 287(g) program can be used to benefit other efforts undertaken by the office. That includes programs he’d like to take on if he is elected.

Such programs include forming a sex trafficking task force with Gwinnett County police and the county’s municipal police departments; expanding mental health services available in the jail; and providing an education program in the jail where inmates who are awaiting trial can work on earning a regular high school diploma, rather than just a general education diploma, also known as a GED.

Fernando Paniagua withdrew from the election for Dalton City Board of Education, leaving Jody McClurg the only candidate, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Marietta City Council member Reginald Copeland pled not guilty to obstruction charges, according to AccessWDUN.

The Marietta city councilman was charged in May with several counts of misdemeanor obstruction.

An arrest warrant says Copeland’s truck was struck by a car making a U-turn. It says Copeland refused to give police his license and resisted getting out of the truck during the ensuing investigation.

Copeland is serving his second year on the council representing Ward 5. He cannot be removed from office unless he’s convicted of a felony or if there’s a successful recall petition.

The Forsyth County Solicitor General charged Hall County Board of Education member Mark Pettit with DUI, according to the Gainesville Times.

Solicitor General William Finch filed the charges of driving under the influence of alcohol – less safe and failure to maintain lane. The accusation was filed Sept. 13 in Hall County.

Pettitt was originally arrested Dec. 15 by Gainesville Police. He was stopped near the intersection of EE Butler and Jesse Jewell parkways

A February hearing was delayed until March 28, when it was announced that his case would be transferred from Gainesville Municipal Court to the Hall County Solicitor’s Office.

McKinnon said at the time the prosecution decided to transfer the case to Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard.

Woodard said she filed a recusal April 22 because she “had some amount of professional history with (him) and thought it would be more appropriate for someone who had not had the professional interactions with him.”

Kristi Royston was upgraded from interim elections supervisor to permanent by the Gwinnett County Board of Elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Royston had been the elections division’s deputy director before she was made the interim director.

“After a thorough, nationwide search, my fellow board members and I are excited to appoint Kristi as elections supervisor,” Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections Chairman John Mangano said in a statement. “Over the years, Kristi has demonstrated that she is fully capable of handling the sensitive and complicated job of running elections. We have full faith that she will continue the fine tradition of well-run elections for Gwinnett County.”

Royston has been elections division assistant superintendent since 2010 and oversaw efforts a couple of years ago to comply with a federal mandate for elections materials in Gwinnett to be provided in English and Spanish. She also oversaw the county’s expansion of early voting opportunities ahead of the 2018 general election, when Gwinnett offered Sunday voting for the first time.

“Running an election is a sacred trust that I take very seriously,” Royston said. “I will work hard to ensure every aspect of the elections is handled in a manner that inspires confidence by all sides.”

Glynn County Commissioners heard recommendations from a grand jury for improving police oversight, according to The Brunswick News.

Monica Smith, of St. Simons Island, told commissioners that 11 of the 18 recommendations by the grand jury were directed at the elected officials at the county level.

Among the recommendations were for commissioners to ensure supervisors document and investigate allegations of misconduct, maintain officers’ personnel files, review the organizational structure of the department and determining when an internal affairs investigation should be conducted.

She also urged commissioners to create a citizens’ advisory board to improve accountability.

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Council heard a broadband update by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Members of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Council heard from [DCA Executive Director for Broadband Deana] Perry and Brittney Hickom, broadband program consultant 1 for the GDCA, during their monthly meeting in Calhoun on Thursday.

Both ladies told commission council members that state legislation passed over the past couple of sessions has made it possible for the state to begin moving toward the goal of expanding broadband internet access to all Georgians. Currently, there are 1.6 million residents in the state that lack such access.

Hickom said that one recent piece of legislation requires that local municipalities include broadband access as a priority in any new or updated comprehensive plans. She said local governments have responded well to that requirement.

She explained that once a community has updated their plans to include broadband access and adopted a model ordinance related to those plans they can apply to receive a designation as a Broadband Ready Community.

“Just like water and sewer services are important, so is high speed internet,” she said.

The Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference will be held in Hall County next year, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference will be Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2020, at Lanier Islands in South Hall, and the annual conference is attended by tourism officials such as convention and visitors bureau managers, hotel and restaurant owners, and attraction managers, along with elected officials. This year’s event was in LaGrange.

While most of the conference will be held at Lanier Islands, attendees will also have the opportunity to see other parts of Hall. The Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau are already planning activities for the visitors, who will spend one night at Lanier Islands’ Margaritaville and another evening exploring Gainesville.

“We’re going to be showing off some of our pleasant surprises that we have in the community that will be news to our industry folks next year,” Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier CVB, said. “They’ll be very excited to see what we have going on.”

Lanier Islands last hosted the conference 10 years ago, and Missy Burgess, the public relations and marketing director for Lanier Islands, said many tourism officials in the state have not been able to see the resort’s new Margaritaville.

19
Sep

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

President George Washington gave his farewell address on September 19, 1796.

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to Administer the Executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the sametime, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful Citizen to his country–and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my Situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

On September 19, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga was joined between the federal Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Thirteen marchers were shot and killed and forty more wounded in Camilla, Georgia at the Camilla Massacre on September 19, 1868 as marchers to a Republican Party rally were gunned down.

President James Garfield died on September 19, 1881, of wounds sustained on July 2d of that year. Garfield is one of seven Presidents born in Ohio – he and William McKinley, were both killed by assassins.

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

If you haven’t tired of hearing Democrat Stacey Abrams cry “voter suppression” in the face of historic high turnout, Hilary Clinton is joining the game, according to IJR.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is continuing to suggest that her defeat to President Donald Trump in the last election was because of voter suppression.

During George Washington University’s “In Defense of Democracy” event on Tuesday, Clinton told the audience about what she tells Democratic hopefuls the “biggest obstacle” might be: “You can run the best campaign, you can have the best plans, you can get the nomination, you can win the popular vote. And you can lose the Electoral College and therefore the election for these four reasons. Number one, voter suppression.”

She added by also suggesting that failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ (D-Ga.) loss in the 2018 midterms for the Georgia governor’s spot was due to voter suppression:

“We saw what happened in Georgia where Stacey Abrams should be governor of that state. Registered voters were kept off the rolls. Their registrations just piled up in some back office with no intention to ever enroll them so that they could actually vote.”

Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order setting the Presidential Preference Primary for Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

House District 71 voters will have five days of early voting ahead of the October 1 runoff, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Philip Singleton was the top vote-getter in the Sept. 3 election, with 36.84 percent of the vote. Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison was close behind with 34.2 percent.

Singleton and Sakrison, both Republicans, are running to replace Rep. David Stover, R-Palmetto, who resigned in June.

On Monday, Singleton picked up an endorsement from Stover. He’s also been endorsed by Nina Blackwelder, the third Republican in the race, who came in fourth in the Sept. 3. election, with 6.86 percent. Democrat Jill Prouty received 22.1 percent of the vote.

Early voting will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at two locations – the Coweta County Voter Registration Office at 22 East Broad Street, Newnan, and the Central Community Center at 65 Literary Lane, Newnan, near the intersection of Lower Fayetteville Road and Ga. Hwy. 154.

Voters who wish to vote a paper absentee ballot by mail will need to hurry. Those who voted a paper ballot for the Sept. 3 election will automatically be sent a ballot for the runoff, unless they ask that one not be sent, said Jane Scoggins, Coweta elections supervisor.

Atlanta Board of Education District 2 and Fulton County Commission District 6 will hold runoff elections, according to the AJC.

Fewer than 4 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Aretta Baldon and Davida Huntley were top vote-getters Tuesday in the Atlanta school board race to fill the District 2 seat in central Atlanta. The winner will fill the seat vacated by Byron Amos, who left the board to run for Atlanta city council.

Winners in the Fulton County commission race were Joe Carn, a former College Park city councilman, and Gordon Joyner, a former Fulton County commissioner. The winner of that election will fill the District 6 seat vacated by Emma Darnell, who died this spring.

The District 6 commissioner represents much the south part of Fulton County, including all or part of nine cities and the last unincorporated part of Fulton.

An investigation has been opened into the theft of voting equipment in Fulton County, according to the AJC.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opened an investigation Wednesday into Fulton County’s election security procedures after two voting check-in computers were stolen from an Atlanta precinct.

“It is unacceptable that bad actors entered a polling location under the cover of night and were able to steal critical elections machinery,” Raffensperger said.

Atlanta police are also investigating the theft of the express poll computers from the Grove Park Recreation Center, which occurred the night before Tuesday’s special election for a seat on the city school board. New computers were brought in before polls opened Tuesday morning.

The computers contained names, addresses, birthdates and driver’s license information for Georgia’s 7 million registered voters.

The City of South Fulton is considering changing its name, according to the AJC.

For the second time in its two years of existence, the city of South Fulton has begun the process of possibly renaming the southside city of 100,000.

The first elected leaders of the South Fulton City Council decided last week to form a committee of residents who will determine the renaming process and come back with five options that could end up on a ballot during the 2020 presidential election.

The city was always supposed to change its name and tried to at the end of 2017, a few months after incorporating. The City Council chose the name “Renaissance,” but the choice was vetoed by Mayor Bill Edwards.

From 2000 to 2014, Edwards was the county commissioner over southern Fulton County, representing people in southside cities like East Point and Fairburn. Many people refer to that part of the county simply as “South Fulton.” But as mayor of a new city with the same name in the same location, Edwards said things can get confusing.

“When they announce things on the TV, they say ‘South Fulton’ and people automatically assume it’s in our city,” Edwards said.

The Whitfield County SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee may be challenged to complete their work in time, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

At Wednesday night’s meeting at the Edwards Park community center, committee members reviewed a tentative guideline of meeting dates through the end of November, and the consensus was hitting a deadline of the first week of December for recommendations would be a challenge.

“We started out with a pretty aggressive timeline for a May ballot,” committee Chairman Chris Shiflett said. “Based on the structure we set in the beginning, it is becoming evident now that the timeline is going to be pressed. We may very well have to make an adjustment.”

Committee members are considering projects for another SPLOST proposal after voters rejected a proposed six-year, $100 million tax in March. A SPLOST voters passed in 2015 expired on June 30. The committee has set a framework of a four-year, $64 million SPLOST proposal, which would then be forwarded to the county commission. Commissioners would have the final say on what projects would be on a SPOLST ballot.

A SPLOST funds capital and other special projects, and if approved would add a 1% sales tax on most goods and services in the county.

Chatsworth has its first qualified candidate in a special election for city council Post 1, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Murray County Schools transportation supervisor Terry Crump qualified for the Post 1 seat left vacant when K.W. Gong stepped down to run for mayor last month. Gong is unopposed after current Mayor Tyson Haynes did not seek re-election.

The term for whoever emerges from the Nov. 5 special election will fill the remainder of Gong’s term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2021.

Qualifying continues today at City Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The qualifying fee for the post is $144. Elections for city officers are nonpartisan.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader was indicted on computer-related charges, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

A Gwinnett County jury has indicted Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, and three men — including a private investigator and the founder of DragonCon — on three counts of computer trespass Wednesday.

Schrader had reportedly believed District Attorney Danny Porter had hacked her county computer computer and hired private investigator T.J. Ward to look into it. Ward, in turn, brought in Ed Kramer, the DragonCon founder who pleaded guilty to three child molestation charges in 2013, to look into whether computer tampering had happened. That reportedly gave Ward and Kramer access to the county’s computer network.

Schrader, Ward, Kramer and Frank Karic were indicted.

The indictment states that the four of them “did knowingly use a computer network without authority and with the intent to remove network traffic, data from the computer network of Gwinnett County, contrary to the laws of said state, the good order, peace and dignity thereof,” between Feb. 7 and Feb. 26.

From the AJC:

The case is being handled by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia because Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is considered a witness in this case. He had previously turned the investigation over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for the same reason.

Porter has said the judge claimed that he hacked her computer. Porter has vehemently denied having tried to access Schrader’s computer and said in an April hearing that her accusation raises questions about her ability to be impartial at the bench.

Court documents allege Schrader hired a private investigator in February because she suspected someone was trying to remotely access her county-issued computer outside of business hours. The investigator, T.J. Ward, hired Ed Kramer to monitor activity on Schrader’s computer.

Schrader has been recused from criminal cases since April, as Porter’s office handles those prosecutions, but she has still overseen civil cases. The state Judicial Qualifications Commission will have to decide whether she can remain on the bench at all while her own criminal case is underway. Once the commission’s three-person hearing panel receives a copy of the indictment, it has 14 days to study the situation. At the end of that two-week period, the panel will decide whether Schrader “poses a danger to the public or to the administration of justice” and suspend her with pay, according to Ben Easterlin, the commission’s director.

Schrader’s attorney B.J. Bernstein issued a statement on Schrader’s behalf. Porter declined to comment on the case.

“Judge Schrader has spent her career pursuing justice as an attorney and as a judge,” Bernstein said. “She believes in the justice system and knows from her years of experience the presumption of innocence is real and necessary because she’s seen the innocent needing a trial to undo an allegation. Standing unfairly accused she will rely on her deep faith, family and her belief in justice to defend herself.”

Climate change activists will strike in Savannah’s Forsyth Park, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Global Climate Strike is coming to Savannah on Saturday with an 11 a.m. rally at Forsyth Park as part of a worldwide series of events from Sept. 20-27 that are expected to see young people and their supporters leaving work, demonstrating and speaking out.

Local organizers including the Climate Reality Project of Coastal Georgia, the Center for a Sustainable Coast, Citizens for Clean Air and Water, and the Dogwood Alliance, are asking participants to gather around the fountain at Forsyth Park at 11 a.m.

Recovering the M/V Golden Ray from where it capsized in the St Simons Sound will take at least three months, according to The Brunswick News.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Norm Witt, captain of ports from Brunswick and Savannah, explained the response to the accident Wednesday at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Witt said 170 personnel and multiple vessels have been assigned to the unified command tasked with the pollution response, salvage operations and commercial impacts.

Witt said the vessel has more than 300,000 gallons of fuel and each of the vehicles inside the ship have two to three gallons of fuel.

It’s still undetermined how the ship will be removed from the channel. Witt said a team of “world renowned experts” have been assigned to the salvage operations. They are evaluating the condition of the ship to formulate a plan.

“This is a step-by-step methodical process and we want to get it right the first time,” Witt said. “If we can have that ship gone in three months, that would be awesome.”

Clarke County Schools Superintendent Demond Means is at odds with members of the school board, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Clarke County Schools Superintendent Demond Means’ report detailing alleged violations of accreditation standards by school board members charges the board as a whole with failings, but focuses most on three members: John Knox, Greg Davis and Tawana Mattox.

School board members’ accounts of their interactions with Means differ markedly from the superintendent’s accounts, however.

“From the very first day of being sworn into office, I never felt welcomed by the Superintendent, and I observed early on my perception of a Superintendent who feels he should not be held accountable, or questioned on any subject,” Mattox wrote after seeing the superintendent’s report.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says he sees no evidence of an economic turndown, according to AccessWDUN.

The unemployment rate held steady in Georgia for the month of August, and State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said that number and other data point to a healthy economy for the state.

“August was the type of month I like to see for Georgia,” Butler said. “We gained ground across the board while setting records for jobs and employed residents. It was great to see the labor force growing again.”

Butler said in Thursday morning’s jobs report that Georgia broke records again in August – posting all-time highs in jobs and employment.

“While there’s been a lot of talk nationally about a slowdown,” Butler said. “I don’t see any evidence of that in Georgia.”

Georgia added 20,800 jobs in August, pushing the total to 4.64 million jobs – a new record for the state. That number is up nearly 85,000 from the same time last year.

Gwinnett County Commissioners upgraded Mike Ludwiczak from “acting” County Attorney, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The commission voted to appoint Ludwiczak to the county attorney post, which he has filled on an interim basis for several months since former attorney Bill Linkous left.

“I have known and worked with Mike for many years,” commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “He has a deep understanding of the issues facing the county, a solid legal mind and the kind of good judgment the commissioners and I can rely on.”

Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce members heard from local elected officials on pending budget cuts, according to the Rome News Tribune.

State Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, said that Gov. Brian Kemp has taken a cautionary stance with respect to the state budget, asking state agencies to look at cuts of 4% in the existing budget and cuts of up to 6% for the 2021 budget.

“These are proposals, nothing has been cut yet,” Dempsey said. “It’s better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard.”

Floyd County Commission Chairman Scotty Hancock said local government officials are worried that if cuts occur — particularly in areas like the new mental health court, drug court, the Public Defender’s office, health department, and GBI Crime lab — that they would have a trickle down impact on local government.

State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said “If we can bring in the revenue that we should be bringing in, we will help the cities and the counties and the schools.”

Hufstetler also suggested that Georgia needs to bump its taxes on tobacco products.

“We heavily subsidize cigarettes in the state. … If we were the same level of taxation as the nation we would bring in another half billion dollars, and as a side benefit the studies from other states show that we would prevent 28,000 of our youth from early tobacco death,” Hufstetler said.

18
Sep

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

The United States government took out its first loan on September 18, 1789, the proceeds of which were used to pay the salaries of the President, and First Congress. On the same day, future President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to E. Rutledge in which he requested that a shipment of olive trees be sent via Baltimore.

President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793.

We know from that newspaper article, and from Masonic ritual, that Washington placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone at the southeast corner of this building. However, we do not know whether that meant the southeast corner of the Senate wing, the first section of the building to be completed, or the southeast corner of the whole building as intended, which would locate it over on the House side. Two centuries later, the Architect of the Capitol is still searching for that cornerstone. Metal detectors have failed to locate the silver plate.

President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850, requiring that slaves be returned to their owners even if they were in a free state.

General Robert E. Lee retreated from Antietam Creek on September 18, 1862, following the bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War.

On September 18, 1973, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter filed a report claiming that he saw an Unidentified Flying Object in the sky above Leary, Georgia in 1969.

Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m (EST), one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. It was said to have appeared to have closed in on where he was standing but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance. Carter felt that the object was self-luminous, but not a solid in nature. Carter’s report indicates that it was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.

Click here to view a copy of the report, allegedly on file at the Carter Center.

The Georgia General Assembly approved a new state Constitution on September 18, 1981, which was placed on the 1982 ballot and after approval by voters, went into effect in 1983.

On September 18, 1990, Atlanta was announced as the location for the 1996 Summer Olympic games.

Ted Turner announced on September 18, 1997 his intent to donate $1 billion to the United Nations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is now accepting applications for appointment to the United States Senate on his website. Note that applications are probably subject to the Open Records Act, but may be exempt.

From the AJC:

The website is an attempt to be transparent in vetting potential candidates for the seat, an appointment that will likely be Kemp’s most consequential political decision. But it will also put some contenders in a vexing spot.

Politicians who are not openly jockeying for the position will have to quickly decide whether to apply, since not doing so will take them out of consideration.

It could be a particularly complicated situation for Republicans already seeking other office and private-sector officials who could face blowback from customers, employees and shareholders.

His office said the website will be open to all applicants as long as they meet the three requirements set out in the U.S. Constitution: Each candidate must be 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years and a resident of Georgia.

The dual Senate races also ensure that Georgia will be a 2020 battleground for Democrats, who hope to erase the GOP’s 53-47 edge in the chamber. Four Democrats have already lined up to challenge Perdue, and about a dozen others are weighing whether to compete for Isakson’s seat.

Governor Kemp spoke at the Cobb Judicial Circuit Parental Accountability Program’s graduation, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Governor Kemp along with Cobb County Superior Court Judge Ann Harris celebrated graduates of the Cobb Judicial Circuit Parental Accountability Program.

Parental Accountability Courts are a partnership between the Department of Human Services and Superior Court Judges.

The partnership is designed to improve the support children receive from their parents.

Former President Jimmy Carter doesn’t think much of Donald Trump’s presidency. From the AJC:

Former President Jimmy Carter took aim at President Donald Trump on Tuesday night, calling him “a disaster.”

Carter’s wife, Rosalynn, also criticized Trump, saying he has encouraged racism.

“I voted for Bernie (Sanders) the last time. But one of the major factors I have in my mind is who can beat Trump. Because I think it would be a disaster to have four more years of Trump,” [Carter said.]

It’s not the first time Carter has criticized Trump. In June, he made international headlines by questioning Trump’s legitimacy, saying he believed Trump only won the 2016 election because Russia interfered on his behalf.

Trump, a Republican, responded at the time by saying Carter was “a nice man” but “a terrible president” who is loyal to Democrats.

“I think we need a new president,” Rosalynn Carter said. “I am so disturbed about white power. He [Trump] says he is not a racist and maybe he is not. But some of the things he says, encourages racism.”

Perhaps we’ll hear President Trump’s assessment of the Carter administration via Twitter today.

Former Perry City Council member Randall Walker won the special election for Mayor yesterday, according to the Macon Telegraph.

With all votes counted, Walker defeated Robbin Jackson 964 to 181, or 84% to 16%. The turnout was 10.2%.

Most of the votes were from early voting, where 666 people cast ballots. Walker won those 599 to 67.

“I’m really proud it,” he said of the wide margin. “I thank the citizens of Perry for having confidence in me.”

The election will have to be certified by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, then Walker will take office Monday after he is sworn in at a special called meeting of the City Council.

All voting was done at Rozar Park, so there was only one precinct to count.

Perry voters are going back to the polls on Nov. 5 to select a councilman in the regular election. There are four open seats but only one is contested.

William Jackson, who has served on council for 10 years, opted not to run for reelection to his District 2, Post 2 seat. John Jack James, Joy Peterson, Gary Moulliet and Jimmy McLeod have qualified to run for the post.

There will be one more new councilman. Darryl Albritton, former Perry High School principal, was the only person to qualify for the post vacated by Walker.

Two machines used to check voters in to polling locations were stolen in Atlanta, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The theft occurred overnight, just hours before local elections began Tuesday.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Tess Hammock says Fulton County and Atlanta police are investigating the break-in at Grove Park Recreation Center. Hammock says replacement machines were deployed and the election wasn’t affected.

The machines, called express polls, contain voter names, addresses, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers. They are password protected.

The AJC has results from special elections for Atlanta Board of Education District 2 and Fulton County Commission District 6.

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman will kick off his 2020 reelection campaign, according to the Forsyth News.

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman is set to kick off his 2020 re-election campaign next weekend with a wild game dinner event at the Reid Barn on Majors Road in Forsyth County.

Freeman, a longtime law enforcement officer and resident of Forsyth County, was elected to office in 2017, defeating incumbent sheriff Duane K. Piper in every precinct with 12,393 (64%) votes, according to the Secretary of State website.

“Having the privilege to serve as your sheriff is the greatest honor I have ever had and one I never take lightly,” Freeman’s candidate website states. “Since taking office in 2017, I have kept my word; we have taken every opportunity to keep Forsyth safe. We have increased our presence greatly on all fronts and our crime rates are the lowest in all of Metro Atlanta.”

John Q. Williams will run for Clarke County Sheriff in 2020, according to WGAU.

John Q. Williams says he will be a candidate for Clarke County Sheriff, challenging incumbent Ira Edwards in next year’s election. Williams has worked as sergeant with both the University of Georgia Police Department and the Athens-Clarke County PD. His campaign says the official kickoff event will take place later this month.

Sgt. John Q. Williams has 20 plus years of experience in law enforcement, working his way from a communications officer at the UGAPD to his current role as a Sergeant and lead detective for cases related to domestic violence or missing persons.

The Joint Study Committee on Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers met yesterday in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Nurse practitioners would like the state to take the shackles off what they are allowed to do on their own, a joint legislative study committee was told Tuesday. But some aren’t sure the state should change those restrictions, as South Carolina did last year for nurse practitioners and last month for physician assistants.

The House & Senate Study Committee looking at physician supervision of mid-level practitioners, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, met for a session at Children’s Hospital of Georgia to hear from health professions schools at Augusta University on their programs. College of Nursing officials made a strong plea for Georgia to join most other states in allowing greater flexibility for advanced practice nurse practitioners to be allowed to do more.

For instance, in Georgia they cannot prescribe Schedule II drugs, which are defined as drugs that are dangerous with a high risk of abuse and include the opioids OxyContin and fentanyl. Georgia is one of only five states that don’t allow them and physician assistants to do that, said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, who co-chairs the study committee with Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta. Georgia is also the only state that does not allow nurse practitioners to order advanced imaging, such as CTs and MRIs, said J. Dwayne Hooks Jr., executive associate dean for the College of Nursing.

Nurse practitioners in Georgia have to have a practice agreement with a physician on file at the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners, Hooks said, and that board, which oversees physicians and their licensure, wrote the rules for their practice. But there is no evidence that requiring physician supervision improves the quality of care, Marion said.

Georgia law expressly forbids that prescriptive authority but even some physicians are coming around about it. Hufstetler, who is a physician assistant anesthetist, said some of the cardiothoracic surgeons he works with have asked that their physician assistants have that authority so they can discharge the patients with pain relief post-surgery instead of the surgeon having to do it at the end of a long day in the operating room.

The country is also in the midst of an opioid crisis although Georgia has started to see a drop in its prescription opioid deaths and “we’re proud of that,” Newton said. State officials have been very cautious about doing anything that could be perceived as adding to the supply of those drugs, he said.

But as an emergency room physician and medical director/CEO of the MedNow Urgent Care clinics, Newton said he works alongside those mid-level practitioners and knows the value of their contributions. The committee “is looking at things that can make practice in Georgia more attractive for people who want to move here,” he said, but wants to be careful about lifting any restrictions.

Some state officials want money from an opioid-lawsuit settlement to fund recovery programs, according to the AJC.

“I want to see it used for recovery programs across our state. And I think there should be tight oversight to make sure that that’s done,” said state Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, the chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Salvage operations continue on the M/V Golden Ray, capsized off St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

The massive salvaging operation is being headed by Donjon Marine Co. Inc., a company headquartered in Hillside, N.J., that specializes in solving complex and large-scale maritime calamities such as the one now foundering in local waters. That said, Coast Guard officials say the view of the Golden Ray’s massive starboard side sticking out of the water between St. Simons and Jekyll islands could be visible the watery horizon here for some time to come.

In these early stages, salvaging experts are as concerned with what not to do as they are with how best to proceed, [Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Luke] Pinneo said. Protection of the local waters and marine life from pollutants is the paramount objective, and the overall scope of the project must be painstakingly planned out from start to finish before the heavy lifting begins, he said.

“At the top level right now you’re looking at removing pollutants and protecting the environment,” Pinneo said. “And, ultimately, the question turns to, how do you remove the vessel? It’s a complex question, and it really requires a long-term solution. It takes time to get the plan down.”

Norm Witt, Coast Guard Commander and Captain of Ports from Brunswick and Savannah, said last week that salvagers hope to remove the 25,000-ton Golden Ray in one piece.

Habersham County Commissioners voted to move forward on a plan to sell Habersham Medical Center, according to AccessWDUN.

The Habersham County Commission is moving forward with agreements that set up the eventual acquisition of Habersham Medical Center by Northeast Georgia Health System by 2025.

That 4-0 vote Monday night to approve the asset purchase agreement and the option agreement came on the motion of Commissioner Natalie Crawford that was seconded by Commissioner Jimmy Tench.

The agreement between the Habersham County Commission, Hospital Authority of Habersham County and the Hall County/Gainesville Hospital Authority, was approved by both the hospital authority and county commission in Habersham in separate meetings Monday night.

The five-year plan is intended to transform Habersham Medical Center’s campus, ultimately making the hospital part of Northeast Georgia Medical Center while lessening the debt burden on Habersham County’s taxpayers, a joint press release from the two hospitals states.

“Many people in Habersham County have asked for a deal like this for years, and many before us have tried to make it happen,” said HMC Chief Executive Officer Lynn Boggs in a statement. “We’re thrilled to deliver this agreement, which can lead to security and stability for this community’s local hospital. We are truly working together for healthier tomorrows.”

Georgia Gwinnett College met with elected municipal leaders, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

To lay the foundation of what GGC hopes will develop into a partnership, Joseph hosted representatives from seven cities in Gwinnett County at a breakfast in the boardroom of the presidents’ office on Tuesday. Joseph and city officials discussed what future partnerships between the college and city could look like.

If the first step in the partnership is to engage with the community, the next step is to embed the GGC student and graduate pipeline into Gwinnett County’s commerce. That could come in the form of two-year programs and satellite classes.

Representatives included six mayors and one city councilman — Sugar Hill’s Brandon Hembree. The contingent of mayors included Norcross’ Craig Newton, Lilburn’s Johnny Crist, Grayson’s Allison Wilkerson, Snellville’s Barbara Bender, Lawrenceville’s Judy Jordan Johnson and Peachtree Corners’ Mike Mason, who also teaches economics classes at GGC.

Gwinnett County appointed Tyler Richards as Director of the Department of Water Resources, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Georgia Ports Authority Chief Administrative Officer James C. McCurry Jr. spoke to a group in Hall County, according to the Gainesville Times.

Some nine months after its announcement, the Georgia Ports Authority’s planned inland port in northeast Hall County is still in early phases, said the authority’s chief administrative officer on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

The authority has bought most of the property for the Northeast Georgia Inland Port and is “in a permitting and engineering phase right now,” said James C. McCurry Jr., speaking at the Hall County Farm Bureau’s annual membership meeting at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

“We expect engineering of the site and design will be finished sometime around the first of the year,” McCurry said. “Then we will proceed from there to try to identify the source of capital that will pay for construction of the facility. We hope we can see that come to reality by the end of the next couple to three years.”

Officials have estimated 150,000 containers per year could pour into the 104-acre port by way of Norfolk Southern railroad, which cuts through Gateway.

McCurry said he foresees early on about 100 to 150 trucks per day “coming and going from the facility, where they’re dropping off boxes or picking up boxes.”

Glynn County Commissioners discussed a potential 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum, according to The Brunswick News.

“Time is getting of the essence now in terms of what we have to do before the May 2020 referendum,” said County Manager Alan Ours.

In past interviews, all seven commissioners told The News they supported imposing a new penny sales tax as soon as SPLOST 2016 collection ends in September 2020. The commission decided to put SPLOST 2020 to a public vote on the May 2020 primary election ballot.

Commissioners were presented with a list of possible projects at their Tuesday work session. The draft list includes 84 projects divided into 10 categories, most falling into the realm of infrastructure.

According to County Attorney Aaron Mumford, the commission needs to shave down and finalize the list by the end of December.

The commission is also planning to meet with the Brunswick City Commission on Oct. 1 to discuss SPLOST 2020.

Portal Middle School in Bulloch County will open a new agriculture education facility, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Portal Middle High School will dedicate its new Bill Brown Agricultural Building at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, immediately before its inaugural event, the annual Portal FFA Livestock Show, starts at 7 p.m.

The building, costing $647,777 to construct, was paid for with revenue from the current Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or ESPLOST. Designed by James W. Buckley & Associates of Swainsboro and built by Pope Construction of Statesboro, the new 10,151-square-foot buidling replaces two former vocational agriculture facilities, the original Portal agriculture building and the previous Bill Brown Livestock Barn.

This new facility resembles one already in use at Southeast Bulloch High School. After school administrators proposed an agriculture building for Portal, two different countywide community committees appointed by the Bulloch County Board of Education listed it as a top-20 priority for E-SPLOST.

“Agriculture is a vital and integral part of the Portal community,” Dr. Tom Marshall, Portal Middle High’s agricultural education teacher, said at the March 8 groundbreaking ceremony. “Moving forward, we are excited about the opportunities this new facility will afford. While livestock showing will be its primary function, there are unlimited and creative possibilities for the engagement of student learning and community involvement.”

State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Savannah-Chatham County students, according to the Savannah Morning News.

He handed out “The Words that Built America,” a booklet that contains the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights and other amendments and other documents important to this nation and its citizens.

The visit was timely — September 17 is recognized nationally as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the document in 1787.

Woods and several school board members discussed what the Constitution and its amendments mean to Chatham County.

“No one else in the world lives like we do in the United States. I’ve had the privilege to visit different countries around the world and I can tell you, there’s no place like home, no place to visit like Georgia, no place like the United States and the freedoms we have, the opportunities we have throughout the nation,” he told students and teachers at Gadsden Elementary School Monday.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach attended a Constitution event at Gadsden Elementary Monday, where he told a reporter the Constitution isn’t as staid as some might think. “We need to realize it is a document that is alive and always in flux. If you go to the 13th Amendment, in 1865 it was changed to make sure we did away with slavery.”

From WSAV-TV:

Woods [visited]:

Haven Elementary School
Butler Elementary School
Gadsden Elementary School
Jacob G. Smith Elementary School
Hodge Elementary School

Chris Shiflett, chair of the Whitfield County SPLOST citizens advisory committee spoke to a local group, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Chris Shiflett reminded members of the Dalton Tea Party Tuesday night that he opposed a six-year, $100 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) defeated by Whitfield County voters in March.

“My primary concern was that it was too long,” he said.

Shiflett, chairman of a citizens advisory committee that will make recommendations to elected officials for projects to be funded by a planned 2020 SPLOST, said more members of the 16-member committee supported the SPLOST than opposed it.

A SPLOST is a 1% tax that is levied on most goods sold in the county. The revenues generated can only be used for certain types of projects.

Shiflett said no matter how they stood on the March SPLOST, members of the committee are united in their desire to produce a SPLOST that voters will seriously consider.

“But our recommendations aren’t going to be final,” he said. “The (Whitfield County Board of Commissioners) will have the final word, and I’m sure they will make some changes.”

Shiflett said he believe commissioners will give serious consideration to the committee’s recommendations.

Chamblee City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession, according to the AJC.

The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night eliminating the possibility of jail time and severely reducing the fine for possessing one ounce or less of weed. An adult caught with marijuana by a Chamblee police officer will be cited and fined $75 for their first offense, according to the ordinance. That charge can be paid online and a court date isn’t required.

The DeKalb County city previously defaulted to state law for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, which is classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment under state law could be up to one year of jail time or a $1,000 fine. An ounce of marijuana can make up to about 40 joints, according to online resources.

“For me, this isn’t about whether smoking marijuana is right or wrong, it’s about preventing people from entering the criminal justice system and having their lives ruined over a simple possession charge,” said Brian Mock, the Chamblee councilman who proposed the change in city code.

Mock said the change in the law will also save the city time and money.

“It takes a lot of manpower to arrest, transport, process and detain a prisoner, not to mention the court process to follow,” he said.

Municipal rules can’t impact every case involving weed. If someone is charged with marijuana possession on top of a more serious criminal offense, the case has to go to state court and the defendant would be subject to the harsher penalties.

Augusta Commissioners don’t appear impressed with Mayor Hardie Davis’s plan to combat blighted properties, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

17
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 17, 2019

Forty-one delegates signed the United States Constitution, including Abraham Baldwin and William Few representing Georgia, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 before adjourning sine die.

On September 17, 1796, George Washington began working on the final draft of his farewell address as the first President of the United States of America.

The Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee met the Army of the Potomac under General George McClellan at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.

The Battle of Antietam actually consisted of three battles. Beginning at dawn on September 17, Union General Joseph Hooker’s men stormed Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops around the Dunker Church, the West Woods, and David Miller’s cornfield. The Federals made repeated attacks, but furious Rebel counterattacks kept the Yankees in check. By early afternoon, the fighting moved south to the middle of the battlefield. Union troops under General Edwin Sumner inflicted devastating casualties on the Confederates along a sunken road that became known as “Bloody Lane,” before the Southerners retreated. McClellan refused to apply reserves to exploit the opening in the Confederate center because he believed Lee’s force to be much larger than it actually was. In the late afternoon, Union General Ambrose Burnside attacked General James Longstreet’s troops across a stone bridge that came to bear Burnside’s name. The Yankees crossed the creek, but a Confederate counterattack brought any further advance to a halt.

The fighting ended by early evening, and the two armies remained in place throughout the following day. After dark on September 18, Lee began pulling his troops out of their defenses for a retreat to Virginia. The losses for the one-day battle were staggering. Union casualties included 2,108 dead, 9,540 wounded, and 753 missing, while Confederate casualties numbered 1,546 dead, 7,752 wounded, and 1,108 missing.

On September 17, 1932, the Georgia Division of the Roosevelt Business and Professional League was created to work with the Georgia Democratic Party to support FDR’s Presidential campaign in the Peach State.

Jimmy Carter received the first ever endorsement of a national ticket by the National Education Association in his bid for President on September 17, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

WSB-TV reports that Governor Brian Kemp will announce a replacement for retiring U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson in the coming weeks.

Gov. Brian Kemp expects to make his pick for U.S. senator to replace the retiring Johnny Isakson within the next few weeks but offered no hints as to who he may select.

“I want someone who’s going to go to Washington, D.C., and be a fighter for Georgia,” Kemp said Monday. “We want someone who’s going to be fighting every day up there for our citizens.”

Kemp’s choice will have to run for re-election in 2020 to fill out the remainder of Isakson’s term, and then will have to run again in 2022. Kemp did say he would not require a commitment to run for re-election from his potential choice.

“I wouldn’t want to lay that line in the sand just yet,” Kemp said. “I’m still very open to a lot of different options.”

Containment of oil from the M/V Golden Ray is a high priority in recovery operations, according to The Brunswick News.

The Unified Command recently said they won’t know the total amount of contaminant spilled until after the vessel’s recovery, which is months away. The priority at the moment is making sure liquids on the vessel are properly secured. It’s believed there’s around 300,000 gallons of fuel on board, which is significantly more than initially reported.

According to the Command’s fifth update, released around 4:30 p.m. Monday, response teams are continuing to canvass “multiple shorelines to identify environmental impacts and ensure boom is optimally deployed,” while the command continues to work on creating a comprehensive plan to remove pollutants from the craft.

Thursday, Mark Dodd, head of the state Department of Natural Resources’ sea turtle program, posted on Facebook that there were no document oiled birds, sea turtles or marine mammals, up to that point. However, some debris associated with oil containment did wash up on St. Simons Island last week.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson joined a bipartisan group sponsoring legislation to protect Right Whales, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. — with Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Tom Carper, D-Del. — submitted last week the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered Right Whales Act, which would create a grant program to enhance collaboration with the different entities involved in right whale conservation, ultimately seeking to reduce the harm caused by people to the whales and helping the population recover.

“The North Atlantic right whale was named the official Georgia state marine mammal when I served as minority leader in the Georgia State House, and I am proud that my state’s coast is still home to one of the few known calving grounds for this magnificent animal,” Isakson said in a statement. “I’m glad to introduce the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered Right Whales Act to help learn about how we can better protect this important animal whose numbers continue to dwindle.”

The Senate bill, S. 2453, awaits action in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The House version, H.R. 1568, has 48 cosponsors, though the 4th District’s Hank Johnson is the only Georgian. The House Natural Resources Committee ordered the bill to be reported as amended May 1.

The Valdosta Daily Times covers the Superliberal Supermajority bus tour.

Stacey Abrams helped new advocacy group Supermajority kick off its nationwide bus tour to engage and mobilize 2 million women voters ahead of the 2020 election.

What is set to be the largest woman-to-woman voter program in history made Atlanta “ground zero” Sunday, facing the state’s controversial women’s rights policies head on.

“That’s important as we head into the 2020 election, it’s not only making sure that every woman is registered to vote, has the right to vote, and that her vote is counted,” Cecile Richards, co-founder, told The Valdosta Daily Times, “but that we also lift up the issues that women care about, because unfortunately, I do think that a lot of the issues in the lives of women have been left out of the debate.”

“As women, we are taught there are certain rules we have to follow,” [Abrams] said. “We are taught that it’s our responsibility to meekly accept the outcome and to trust the rules as they were written down. I don’t.”

Supermajority’s leadership is made up of a diverse group of women activists including Ai-Jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and action fund, and Jess Morales Rocketto, executive director for Care in Action.

“Election Day is coming and we have to meet it where it is,” Abrams said. “The majority rules when we show up, the majority rules when we stop letting silence terrify us. When we realize that this is our nation, we are a nation that is not divided by our politics, we are divided by our fear.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced the state will participate in a $10 billion dollar settlement with Purdue Pharma, according to the AJC.

Georgia will agree to join a nationwide settlement deal with the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, state Attorney General Chris Carr said Monday evening in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Twenty-four states are reported to support the settlement deal, as well as the leaders of a group of some 2,000 local governments that have sued in federal court. If approved, the deal could be worth up to $10 billion or $12 billion nationwide over time, though opponents of the deal question those figures.

Most states have sued Purdue, as well as other companies involved in the opioid epidemic, saying they knew or should have known precisely what they were fueling and should help pay the costs to the governments in cleaning up the mess. Separately, well over 80 Georgia cities, counties and hospitals have joined about 2,000 tribes and local governments from across the nation in suits that have been consolidated under one judge in Ohio. All metro Atlanta counties have filed suit.

Carr noted in his statement that Purdue was expected to file for bankruptcy either way. He said agreeing to the settlement gains a measure of certainty for the state.

“Along with a majority of state attorneys general and localities pursuing litigation against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, we have agreed to a proposed framework that we believe holds them accountable while securing for Georgians the best possible chance to get the help they deserve,” Carr wrote.

Chatham County may end up paying some costs associated with the evacuation for Hurricane Dorian, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Commissioners decried the possibility of getting stuck with the bill for expenses incurred because of the area’s state-ordered mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Dorian — estimated at approximately $1 million — while deliberating on several storm-related matters at Friday’s board meeting.

During an omnibus spending discussion in their regular meeting on Friday, members of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners expressed dismay over a verbal conversation with Georgia officials about Hurricane Dorian evacuation costs. Although Chatham County received a Federal Emergency Declaration from FEMA on Aug. 29 that pledged “to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures,” Georgia authorities have subsequently asserted that the state threshold required for federal reimbursement was not met.

If the federal government refuses to pay Georgia for Dorian-related expenses, and the state then declines to reimburse the state’s coastal counties for the mandatory evacuation, Chatham taxpayers could end up holding the bag for significant costs brought about by hurricane preparations.

Two young citizens addressed Pooler City Council to discuss saving trees, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Alexis Jordan, 7, and her sister, Alyssa Jordan, 5, delivered a hand-written letter to Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb following the meeting.

“Dear City Council,” their letter read, “Please stop cutting down trees!!! We need to breathe. Trees are beautiful and animals need them too.”

“Trees are important and we need them,” Alexis said after the meeting. “We need to have fresh air.”

After their presentation to council, they handed their letter to Lamb, which included a drawing of trees, blue skies and a couple of woodland critters.

Candidates for Mayor of Valdosta met in a public forum, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Three candidates for the mayor’s office were grilled on topics ranging from crime to city transit Sunday in a public debate.

Kevin J. Bussey, J.D. Rice and David Sumner faced questions from moderator Daren Neal, pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, in front of a large audience at Serenity Christian Church on Lee Street. Candidates Scott James Matheson and Brooks D. Bivins did not attend.

The candidates seek the office that’s been held by John Gayle for two terms. Gayle is not seeking reelection to a third term in the November elections.

Oakwood, in Hall County, is considering adopting the same property tax millage rate as the previous year, which will raise the amount of taxes assessed on some properties, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gwinnett County Planning Commission Chairman Chuck Warbington will leave the commission after serving 15 years as a member and 6 years as Chair, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

State justice administration agencies could face significant budget cuts, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Five of the agencies within the justice system in Georgia may lose staff and programs, according to budget amendment documents.

The Department of Corrections would cut $112 million from its operations in total for 2020 and 2021. The agency plans to spend less on state prisons, transitions services and training programs. Several positions would be frozen.

The Department of Juvenile Justice would operate on $35 million less over the next two years.

The Department of Supervision, which oversees 180,000 parolees in the state, including those on house arrest and probation, would save a total of $19 million in 2020 and 2021.

The Public Defender’s Council would trim its budget to $6 million, reducing cellphone and hot spot use and training programs as well as 10-day furloughs.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation would mostly see a reduction in staff. It plans to eliminate positions in background check services, dismiss three forensic scientists, two lab technicians, 12 officers and four other investigators.

16
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2019

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, for the New World on September 16, 1620. Thirty-five of 102 passengers were members of the English Separatist Church seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Originally aiming to reach Virginia, Mayflower eventually landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1920 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

The original stimulus act was announced to bring $70 million in federal money to Georgia to build roads and public buildings on September 16, 1933.

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act requiring males 26-35 years of age to register for the draft. On the same day, Sam Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and would go on to hold the post for 17 years total, the longest tenure of any Speaker.

R.E.M. and Gregg Allman were among the inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006.

GPB has an article on the 1957 Les Paul Goldtop guitar used by Duane Allman on the first two Allman Brothers records and on “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes. That guitar recently sold for $1.25 million dollars.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp appointed Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks (R) and Tucker Mayor Frank Auman to the Georgia Regional Transit Board, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Governor Kemp spoke in Swainsboro last week about the Rural Strike Force, according to WTOC.

In his announcement, the governor says his creation of a team to work on rural economic development is not creating another government agency, but getting existing ones that are already working to work together to bring more business, jobs, and growth to rural areas outside Atlanta. He says he’ll use the Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, and economic development to work together on what they can do to help rural communities bring about new projects and jobs.

“We’re moving the needle all around Georgia, but we want to bring more to rural Georgia because they’re the ones that need it the most right now,” Governor Kemp said.

He says by bringing agencies, utility companies, university research, and more together, they can make it more effective and bring growth to rural Georgia.

Atlanta may host a debate for the Democratic candidates for President, according to the AJC.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she and other state Democrats are in “very active discussions” with the party to schedule a debate in Georgia.

“I’m absolutely lobbying for it,” she said after the debate in Houston. “When you look at what’s at stake in Georgia – two Senate races – there aren’t many opportunities like that. To have that opportunity in Georgia, it only makes sense that we bring this field of candidates to our state.”

“Georgia represents the future of the Democratic Party,” said Nikema Williams, chairwoman of the state party. “We would love to see national candidates debate the issues in front of the Georgia voters who will take us to victory next year.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams launched another fundraising scheme vanity project political organization, according to the AJC.

The Georgia Democrat, the runner-up in last year’s gubernatorial election, kicked off the new initiative by Supermajority with a speech to hundreds in Atlanta who broke into applause when she recounted how she refused to concede to Gov. Brian Kemp.

“As women, we are taught there are certain rules we have to follow,” she said, adding: “We are taught that it’s our responsibility to meekly accept the outcome and to trust the rules as they were written down. I don’t.”

Supermajority was founded earlier this year by several well-known liberal leaders: Alicia Garza, who helped start Black Lives Matter; Katherine Grainger, a partner with Civitas Public Affairs Group; Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood; Jess Morales Rocketto, the alliance’s political director; and Deirdre Schifeling, a Planned Parenthood adviser.

“Our world is at stake, because the values that made us the strongest nation in the world — those values are being shaken,” said Abrams, who slammed Republicans who “celebrate racism and misogyny, who revel in their xenophobia, who put children in cages and call it good, or worse, look away and say, ‘It doesn’t really matter because they’re not us.’”

“We’re not going to shut up. This is our nation,” said Abrams. “These are our people. And it’s our responsibility: When the rules are broken, you fix them. When the system is broken, you take it over.”

Dueling rallies were held in Dahlonega this weekend, according to the Gainesville Times.

Ralliers separated by barricades Saturday afternoon in the downtown Dahlonega square shouted chants across the space usually filled with tourists to the mountain town.

“God, Family, Country, Trump” was met with “Racists, Sexists, Anti-Gay, All the Nazis Go Away” as about 250 gathered, monitored by a law enforcement presence about 600 strong and representing 36 agencies.

Chester Doles organized the rally in support of President Donald Trump but withdrew his application for a permit to rally amid growing concern of white supremacist undertones.

Doles is a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and was an organizer for the National Alliance, a mostly defunct white supremacist group with deeply anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant beliefs.

Counterprotesters, supported by the Socialist Coalition of North Georgia, who spoke at the event claimed the family-friendly advertisement for the rally was a “facade” in order to build a fascist movement.

Two were arrested at 1:22 p.m. on North Park Street for inciting a riot, according to a news release from the city of Dahlonega. Earlier, University of North Georgia Police had arrested someone at 10:30 a.m., before the demonstrations began, for obstruction and possession of a weapon in a school safety zone.

From the AJC:

The rally numbered somewhere between 35 and 50 self-described patriots on one side of the square, countered by three times that number of counterprotesters shouting from behind barricades on the other side. Both groups were outnumbered by 600 state and local law enforcement officers, many sweating out the afternoon heat in full riot gear.

“We know we are on the right side of history,” said rally organizer Chester Doles. “With the rise of socialism, American patriots are standing up.”

Yellow ribbons hung outside businesses and on street lamps and traffic signs in silent protest of the rally, said Charlotte Arsenault, minister of Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church in Dahlonega. Arsenault was one of 10 pastors who helped organize about 30 parishioners who attended the counterprotest.

On the counterprotesters’ side, people were filtered through a security checkpoint about a block away from the Gold Museum. Law enforcement used hand-held metal detectors to scan each protester. No backpacks were allowed in the area cordoned off for counterprotesters on the south side of the square, but firearms were allowed as long as they weren’t loaded with any ammunition. No visible guns were seen on any counterprotesters or rally supporters.

“It’s presented as a pro-Trump rally, but they’re trying to get conservatives to go along with white supremacy and that’s not OK,” [Atlanta resident Aileen] Loy said.

Is anyone else reminded of what happened in Forsyth County in 1987?

Oglethorpe County was named the first “broadband ready community by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, according to the AJC.

Oglethorpe, located east of Athens, earned the designation by passing an ordinance requiring the county government to decide whether to approve or deny broadband network projects within 10 days after their applications are deemed complete by the county. The ordinance also limits internet application fees to no more than $100.

The broadband certification means internet projects in Oglethorpe will receive priority for potential future state funding for internet expansion in rural areas, according to a bill passed by the Georgia General Assembly last year.

Local governments can apply for the broadband ready certification through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Five Georgia schools are adding girls flag football to their athletic programs, according to the AJC.

With funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, support from the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons and several corporate sponsors, the gridiron is becoming an equal-opportunity athletic field for youngsters of both genders. After a well-received inaugural season last year in Gwinnett County, five other school systems came on board this fall — Cherokee, Forsyth, Henry, Muscogee and Rockdale. That comes to 52 high schools in the program.

The grant covers fees for referees, field costs, jerseys, equipment, athletic trainers, administrator fees and coaching stipends. The purpose of this initiative is to provide an opportunity for high school girls to participate in football activities and be part of an organized high school sports team.

Proposed cuts to the state budget will largely relty on eliminating authorized positions, according to the Tifton Gazette.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget publicly posted a document online late Wednesday that summarizes where state agencies plan to find the savings. The document was released the same day the state announced last month’s revenue were down 2.8%, or $50.3 million, compared to last August. Revenues for the new fiscal year are up just 0.2%.

Most of the proposed reductions will be found through personnel cuts or eliminated vacant positions.

Positions going unfilled or eliminated in the current budget include 12 full-time consumer protection workers in the Department of Agriculture, 16 regional investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and 21 child welfare workers in the Department of Human Services. The state expects to save $4.3 million by not paying 49 people to do those jobs as provided for in the state budget the governor signed in May.

“Some proposals lack specifics. That’s normal. They’re not final. We’re early in the process,” Candice Broce, the governor’s communications director, said on Twitter, noting that the budget cuts are still subject to the governor’s review and change.

From the AJC:

While several agencies proposed cutting jobs and programs, K-12 schools and colleges requested about $400 million in additional funding this year and next to meet enrollment growth, and the agency that runs Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, disabled and elderly, asked for nearly $300 million, according to a review of budget plans by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Some of the most costly things the state does — educating students, providing health care to the poor, and building roads — were exempt from Kemp’s edict to cut spending. In fact, about three-fourths of what the state spends — much of it for programs that are funded based on the number of Georgians enrolled in them — didn’t have to be cut back. Many of those areas asked for more money because their costs are rising.

“Most of government is people driven, driven by the number of people who come through the door,” said Ben Harbin, a former Republican lawmaker who headed the state House Appropriations Committee during the Great Recession. “Education is seats in the desk. Medicaid is people walking into the doctor’s office. You can’t cut that.

Kemp ordered the cuts in August to both prepare the state in case of an economic downturn and provide the money needed to meet his priorities, such as higher teacher pay.

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols will bring the Clean Energy Roadshow to Albany, according to the Albany Herald.

Taking place at Albany State University’s West Campus from 9 a.m.-noon on Sept. 24, the event is designed to open attendees to a world of new possibilities for saving money.

“The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Roadshow and clean tech seminar help you prepare for resiliency and sustainability in your business or community,” coordinators of the event said in news release. “Energy costs can capture a major portion of any fleet operating budget, so it pays to be efficient with those dollars. Whether you refit or replace vehicles, install solar, upgrade lighting or make energy-efficiency improvements, our experts guide you through the planning and decision-making stages to make you RFP-ready.

A two-hour seminar and commercial vehicle display allows attendees to map their sustainability and economic development plan using natural gas, electric and propane gas vehicles. Echols will host a guided, walking showcase of alternative-fuel cars, trucks and buses followed by a seminar on current trends in alternative fuel vehicle technology, transportation, energy security, and resilience for rural and urban communities.

Technology Association of Georgia and Clean Cities Georgia are also expected to highlight their work building a clean tech future.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr joined elected officials in 20 states in supporting the Trump Administration’s new proposed energy rules, according to the Albany Herald.

Attorney General Chris Carr has announced that the state of Georgia has joined a coalition of officials from 20 states in supporting the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule as it faces a challenge in court. The coalition, in a motion filed Thursday, seeks to intervene in defense of the rule’s repeal of the so-called Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation.

“The Clean Power Plan was a far-reaching attempt by the prior administration to regulate what it could not legislate,” Carr said. “We oppose regulatory overreaches like the Clean Power Plan, which would have killed jobs and raised electricity prices, and we appreciate President Trump’s commitment to repeal it and replace it with the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which will restore the state’s proper authority to regulate energy.”

Georgia joined the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming, along with the governors of Kentucky and Mississippi, and the Mississippi Public Service Commission, in supporting the rule.

The Rome News Tribune covers the off-season work of local legislators.

Three of Floyd County’s four state lawmakers spent several days this summer as guests at an education seminar hosted by the Medical Association of Georgia.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome; Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome and Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, also attended the National Conference of State Legislatures’ legislative summit in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dempsey was a presenter at the NCSL summit, which ran Aug. 4 through 8. She joined panelists from Virginia, Utah and Kansas to discuss “The Lawmaker’s Role in Tackling the Data Conundrum” on Aug. 6.

Glynn County Commissioners will discuss a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) proposal, according to The Brunswick News.

All seven commissioners have expressed their desire to impose another 1 percent sales tax once SPLOST 2016 collection ends on or before September 2020. At a meeting earlier this month, the commission indicated that it wants to put the questions on the May 2020 primary election ballot.

Collection of SPLOST 2016 began on April 1, 2017, to pay for infrastructure projects, equipment purchases and two brick-and-mortar projects — a new animal control shelter at the county’s public safety complex and a veterans memorial park between I and J streets.

At a past meeting, most county commissioners said they would like to see the list remain mostly dedicated to road, bridge, sidewalk and drainage projects. A special committee is in the process of determining the best way to address a space shortage in the Glynn County Courthouse, an issue that may result in a “vertical” SPLOST project on the 2020 ballot.

Murray County voters will vote on a T-SPLOST this November, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan says the county needs to repave about 50 miles of roads each year just to keep them maintained and probably more like 60 to catch up on a backlog of work.

“We currently only pave about 10 miles of roads a year,” Hogan said.

That’s why he has placed a five-year Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) on the Nov. 5 ballot. The TSPLOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county.

If approved by voters, the tax would begin April 1, 2020. Hogan says that over its five-year life, he expected the tax will bring in about $23.5 million.

“It can only be used for acquiring rights of way, moving utilities, bridges, culverts, patching, milling and widening roads, shoulder preparation,” he said. “You can’t use this for anything other than roads or sidewalks, things like that. You can use it for bike paths. But I’m not interested in that. Right now, I just want to get our roads into good shape.”

Would-be candidate for Mayor of Dallas Narda Konchel plans to appeal her removal from the ballot, according to the Rome News Tribune.

A former Dallas mayoral candidate says she plans to appeal the county election board’s action earlier this week to throw her off the Nov. 5 ballot after upholding a challenge to her city residency.

Narda Konchel posted on her campaign’s Facebook page today that she planned to petition through Superior Court to appeal the board’s unanimous decision Wednesday to disqualify her as a candidate for Dallas mayor against incumbent Mayor Boyd Austin.

Austin, who is seeking re-election to a seventh term, challenged Konchel’s candidacy by saying she had not satisfied the city charter’s requirements for living in the city and being a registered voter for one year before her qualifying date of Aug. 19, 2019.

The Paulding County Board of Elections and Registration voted to uphold Austin’s challenge and disqualified Konchel.

13
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 13, 2019

The Second Continental Congress opened in Philadelphia on September 13, 1775; Georgia was represented by Archibald Bulloch, Lyman Hall,  John Houstoun, and John Zubly.

On September 13, 1788, the Confederation Congress voted to implement the Constitution and authorized states to elect Senators and Representatives and called the first Presidential election, with selection of presidential electors in the states to be held on January 7, 1789, and February 4, 1789 as the day electors would cast their ballots.

Francis Scott Key composed the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner” on September 14, 1814.

On September 15, 1831, Dr. Samuel Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler – missionaries – were tried in a Lawrenceville courtroom for living as white people among the Cherokee and refusing to take an oath of loyalty to Georgia, convicted and sentenced to hard labor. Some historians refer to this case, which went to the United States Supreme Court on appeal, as the beginning of the events that led to the forced removal of the Cherokee people from Georgia on the “Trail of Tears.”

HMS Beagle, carrying Charles Darwin, arrived at the Gallapagos Islands on September 15, 1835.

On September 14, 1885, Georgia Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation granting up to 200 acres in Fulton and DeKalb Counties to the federal government to be used in the constuction of Fort McPherson, which was named after Union Maj. Gen. James McPherson, who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

On September 14, 1885, Georgia Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation granting up to 200 acres in Fulton and DeKalb Counties to the federal government to be used in the constuction of Fort McPherson, which was named after Union Maj. Gen. James McPherson, who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

On September 14, 1901, President William McKinley died of an infection from gunshot wounds suffered eight days earlier.

On September 15, 1904, Wilbur Wright made the first in-flight turn in an airplane.

The first two women to enter the Georgia General Assembly, Viola Ross Napier of Bibb County and Atlanta Constitution reporter Bessie Kempton of Fulton County, were elected on September 13, 1922.

Early on the morning of September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

On September 15, 1996, the Texas Rangers retired #34 in honor of the most dominant pitcher in professional baseball history, Nolan Ryan.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp has created a rural strike team to showcase Georgia businesses, according ot GPB News.

Gov. Brian Kemp is launching a new statewide initiative to promote Georgia-made products and bring new business to rural parts of the state.

At Faircloth Forest Products in Swainsboro, midway between Macon and Savannah, Kemp said he was fulfilling another campaign promise: to showcase economic opportunities available to companies that choose to invest in Georgia outside of the metro Atlanta area.

“While Atlanta is our capital, and serves as our logistics hub and jobs magnet, 74% of our total economic development announcements in 2019 were made outside the perimeter in Atlanta,” he said. “I want you to know that I’m laser focused on bringing projects of regional significance to communities that want to grow.”

Thus begins the “rural strike team,” a group that will create an economic development plan to market sites for large-scale development, attract businesses to rural Georgia and work with existing partners and organizations to better grow the state’s economy.

The governor will be crisscrossing the state in coming weeks to places like Faircloth Forest products, a new family-owned business midway between Macon and Savannah, to raise awareness for Georgia-made products.

“Rural Georgia is right for economic investment, and economic growth companies large and small agree,” he said. “We are proud of our worldwide appeal, and our partnership with countries across the globe.”

The Port of Brunswick has resumed shipping on a limited basis, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Coast Guard officials determined Thursday morning that the Port of Brunswick could resume shipping on a “case by case” basis, five days after the freighter Golden Ray rolled over in the St. Simons Sound in the early morning hours on Sunday, said Kathy Knowlton, spokeswoman with Unified Command Center that is responding to the shipwreck.

Shipping to the port has been closed since the since the incident, which left the 656-foot, 25,000-ton freighter and its cargo of 4,200 cars floundering on its left side in the sound between St. Simons and Jekyll islands. All 24 members of the ship’s crew were safely rescued. Norm Witt, a Coast Guard Commander and the Captain of Ports for Brunswick and Savannah, indicated as early as Tuesday night that the port could reopen on a limited basis by Thursday.

“We tested two outbound vessels yesterday afternoon with positive results,” Witt said Thursday afternoon.

Around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the first incoming freighter was seen passing by the Golden Ray and into the port. Meanwhile, six more ships waited offshore from Glynn County with hopes of also being granted passage to the port.

The Port of Brunswick typically accepts 50 vessels per month. The vessels awaiting entry Thursday included five Ro Ro passenger vehicle ships and a freighter from Trinidad that is here to pick up its regular supply of chicken feed, according to Vicki West of the International Seafarers Center in Brunswick, a nonprofit organization that serves incoming merchant mariners.

From the Associated Press:

At the Georgia Ports Authority’s annual “State of the Ports” event Thursday in Savannah, officials including Gov. Brian Kemp praised the Coast Guard for the successful rescues and the swift reopening of the Brunswick port.

“We are back open for business in Brunswick, another remarkable achievement,” Kemp told about 1,400 business leaders, elected officials and others attending the event in Savannah, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of the port.

Coast Guard Capt. John Reed told The Associated Press the port was allowed to resume operations once crews determined ships could safely pass the Golden Ray, which measures more than 650 feet (nearly 200 meters) long. Two vessels stuck at the port since Sunday had been allowed to depart Wednesday as a test to make sure their passing didn’t jostle the overturned ship.

Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, told reporters after his Savannah speech that port officials are working closely with the Coast Guard. He said initial traffic would likely be limited to daylight hours.

“We want to make sure we go at slow speeds, that there’s no wake from the vessel that would shift the capsized vessel in any way,” Lynch said.

Brunswick is one of the busiest U.S. ports for shipping automobiles. More than 613,000 vehicles and heavy machinery units moved across its docks in the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will build a new facility near Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Fort Benning is the planned home to a new “hyper-realistic” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) training complex meant to mimic the layout and design of U.S. cities and buildings.

ICE is set to spend more than $961,000 to purchase five different training structures — the first steps toward a complex that will emulate buildings and structures the agency’s expanding Special Response Teams would encounter across the United States and Puerto Rico, according to a federal contract.

The agency has plans to expand the training site at Fort Benning beyond these five facilities. It could include up to 50 additional buildings and additional U.S. city layouts and designs, according to the federal contract.

The army post is currently home to ICE’s Office of Training and Tactical Programs. Many of the agency’s new hires were receiving training at Benning in “defensive tactics, firearms, lethal weapons, restraints technique, intermediate batons and empty-handed techniques,” according to a 2017 news release. The agency’s Special Response Teams, which conduct a variety of high-risk operations, are also trained at Fort Benning, according to an ICE news release published in 2015.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark discussed demographics changes, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

By 2020, Georgia is projected to have 11 million residents, and that figure is predicted to rise to 12.2 million by 2030, but 1.1 million of those folks are expected to move into the Atlanta area, Clark said. It behooves the rest of the state outside Atlanta to devise ways to lure at least some of this incoming population so that counties like Murray can remain viable, and that includes nurturing small businesses and entrepreneurs, he added.

Furthermore, Georgia is on track to be a “minority-majority” state by 2030, and by 2040, the state’s population will be 52% non-white, he said. The Atlanta area alone is projected to add a million Hispanic residents by 2040.

Murray County, with a population of nearly 40,000, is 96% white, and the median age is 37.6, which is “pretty good,” Clark said. The state average age is 36, and “you don’t want to be over 40.”

The median household income of $41,617 is “still good for a community this size,” but roughly $15,000 lower than the state average, he said. The home ownership rate of 68% is “very strong,” he added.

What really concerns Clark is the county’s 18.8% poverty rate.

“I think that’s high for a community like this,” he said.

Congressman Buddy Carter voted against legislation to ban offshore drilling, according to the Savannah Morning News.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican whose district spans the coast of Georgia, voted against legislation that passed the House of Representatives Wednesday to ban offshore drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

“I value the beautiful coastline that we have in my district,” he said on the house floor Wednesday. “But blanket bans instituted by these bills across the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Arctic are misguided and are, quite plainly, the wrong approach.”

“It really is unfortunate that we’re voting on bills which would sacrifice tens of thousands of jobs and millions in economic benefits for political grandstanding,” Carter said on the house floor Wednesday. “To step back on domestic energy development is to promote foreign energy consumption. I still remember when the United States was held hostage to Middle Eastern resources and we can’t allow that to happen again. While I believe Georgia should be removed from consideration, these bills are not the solution.”

Savannah City Council approved a resolution urging other elected officials to adopt gun control measures, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The vote by the aldermen and the mayor was met with applause by members of the public, mainly a group from Moms Demand Action that attended the meeting. Moms Demand Action is a national group with a website description that states they are a grassroots group with the mission of fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.

The approved resolution asks legislators to take action on a list of “common-sense” items to curb gun violence, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

“It’s time for leaders to stand up and say something,” Alderman Julian Miller said. Miller had asked for the resolution at the city’s Aug. 15 council meeting.

The Rome News Tribune covered a State House Study Committee chaired by State Rep. Katie Dempsey.

Infant mental health is a real thing, a range of experts told a House study committee Thursday — and it may be one of the most important things in life.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, chairs the House Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health. Other members are Reps. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock; Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers; Robert Dickey, R-Musella; and Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur.

In a nearly five-hour inaugural session, they heard repeatedly — from the perspective of doctors, a judge, caregivers and advocates — that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Dempsey said she intends to listen to the day’s testimony again, via the archived video, because there is so much information to absorb. She urged everyone with a professional or personal interest to follow the committee deliberations, which are livestreamed on the Georgia General Assembly website.

“There is so much to dive into … We need a lot of people paying attention to this subject,” she said.

The committee will meet four more times through Nov. 30. It’s tasked with reporting their findings, including any recommendations for action, to the 2020 legislative session.

The Athens-Clarke County Commission‘s audit committee wants an audit of animal control, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The commission’s audit committee voted unanimously in a Wednesday meeting to ask the full commission to assign the audit to Athens-Clarke Internal Auditor Stephanie Maddox’s office for investigation.

The committee’s vote comes after blistering criticism from local animal welfare groups and commissioners following a series of mishaps at the shelter that led to the unnecessary deaths of more than 100 cats, according to an open letter signed by members of the Athens Area Humane Society, Three Paws Animal Rescue, Athens Canine Rescue and other organizations.

Those deaths “were directly due to a disturbing pattern of poor and uninformed decision-making by shelter management with respect to the health and lives of the shelter animals,” according to the Sept. 3 letter. Many of the signers of the letter raised their concerns publicly during a portion of a commission meeting last week during which members of the public can directly address the commission.

Forest Park City Council Ward 3 candidate Patricia Manley faces a residency challenge, according to the Clayton News Daily.

[Incumbent Sandra] Bagley claims that Manley registered using an Evelyn Drive address from which Manley allegedly had been evicted July 17. Clayton County Magistrate Court records confirm the eviction, as well as several others since 2013.

Attempts to reach Manley for comment were unsuccessful by press time. A campaign flyer on her Facebook page notes, “I will address vacant homes, compliance, trash and crime.” A video on Manley’s Facebook page shows Manley campaigning while offering residents free grass-cutting services.

A hearing was scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. After some question as to whether or not the hearing would be open, members of the public were allowed to attend. They, the News, and city officials, including Mayor Angelyne Butler, waited in council chambers for half an hour.

About 1:30 p.m., City Attorney Mike Williams announced the meeting had been postponed until 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.

In 2015, Manley ran against Morrow Councilman Larry Ferguson. Similar questions came up then about Manley’s eligibility to run based on residency and evictions. Ferguson beat Manley 358 to 230.

Newton County Probate Judge and Chief Magistrate Melanie Bell announced she is running for reelection in 2020, according to the Covington News.

“Since taking office in January 2017, I have worked to increase the use of technology in both courts, making court processes more user-friendly for citizens, law enforcement and attorneys,” she said in her campaign announcement. “Each day, our team works together to provide excellent customer service, while we implement changes to comply with Georgia law and to make the system more accessible to the public.”

“I have had the pleasure of calling Newton County home for 19 years,” she said. “I live here with my husband of 11 years, Travis, and we enjoy spending time with our families who also live in the community. We are active in our church, the Covington Campus of Eastridge Community Church, and I am looking forward to being sworn in as president of the Kiwanis Club of Covington at the end of this month.”

“I was humbled and honored to have been elected to serve the citizens of Newton County in 2016, and hope they will continue to place their trust in me as their Probate Judge and Chief Magistrate in the future.”

Right whales, the official state marine mammal of Georgia, are facing extinction, according to the Savannah Morning News.

At least 38 years old and named for the comma- and dash-shaped scars on her head, Punctuation gave birth off the Southeast coast eight times since 1986. Two of her offspring had calves of their own. She was spotted in the calving grounds off Georgia numerous times, most recently in February 2018 when she was photographed swimming with seven other whales 30 miles east of Jekyll Island.

“The sighting was interesting because we don’t typically see reproductive females in social groups in the Southeast,” wrote Clay George of the Georgia DNR. “She was quite large in the photo, so it’s possible she was pregnant at the time. She was not seen subsequently with or without a calf, so there’s no way to know for sure.”

Like most of the approximately 400 remaining right whales, Punctuation bore scars from entanglements in fishing gear and from ship strikes. In her case she had been entangled in fishing gear five separate times. She was struck by vessels at least three times, the last one leading to her death in June.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., earlier this week introduced The Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act, S.2453, to establish a grant program to promote collaboration between states, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce human impacts on right whales and promote the recovery of the population.

“The North Atlantic right whale was named the official Georgia state marine mammal when I served as minority leader in the Georgia State House, and I am proud that my state’s coast is still home to one of the few known calving grounds for this magnificent animal,” Isakson said in a press release. “I’m glad to introduce the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered Right Whales Act to help learn about how we can better protect this important animal whose numbers continue to dwindle.”

“Earlier this year, researchers looked at the causes of 70 North Atlantic right whale deaths recorded between 2003 and 2018 in the U.S. and Canada. Where the cause of death could be determined, nearly 90% died as a direct result of fishing gear entanglements or ship strikes,” reported the nonprofit conservation group Oceana, whose right whale campaign kicked off Thursday.

12
Sep

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

James Oglethorpe arrived at Augusta on September 12, 1739, 279 years ago today.

French troops arrived near Savannah to prepare for a siege against British forces there on September 12, 1779.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp‘s office released Augusta 2019 revenue numbers yesterday.

Georgia’s net tax collections for August totaled roughly $1.75 billion for a decrease of $50.3 million, or -2.8 percent, compared to August 2018 when net tax collections totaled just over $1.80 billion. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled nearly $3.59 billion for an increase of $5.4 million, or 0.2 percent, compared to FY 2019 after two months.

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections during the month totaled $880.1 million, down from $939.4 million in August 2018 for a decrease of $59.3 million, or -6.3 percent.

▪ Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were down $26.4 million, or -27.4 percent.
▪ Individual Withholding payments fell by $90.9 million, or -9.4 percent, compared to last fiscal year.
▪ Individual Income Tax Return payments increased by $4 million, or 31.6 percent, over last year.
▪ All other Individual Tax categories, including Income Tax Return payments, increased a combined $1.2 million.

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections increased by $62 million, or 6.1 percent, in August, up from roughly $1.02 billion in FY 2019. Net Sales and Use Tax, which totaled $535.6 million for the month, increased $17.4 million, or 3.4 percent, compared to last year. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $537.3 million for an increase of $43.5 million, or 8.8 percent, compared to August 2018. Sales Tax refunds increased by nearly $1.2 million, or 28.2 percent, over last year.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections totaled roughly $5.3 million, which was a decrease of $12.7 million, or -70.8 percent, compared to last year when net Corporate Tax revenue totaled nearly $18 million.

▪ Corporate Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) increased by $3.5 million, or 21 percent.
▪ Corporate Income Tax Return payments decreased by roughly $10 million, or -68.8 percent, from FY 2019.
▪ All other Corporate Tax categories, including Estimated Tax payments, were up a combined $0.8 million.

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections during the month increased by $2.4 million, or 1.6 percent, compared to August 2018 when Motor Fuel Tax collections totaled roughly $153.7 million.

Motor Vehicle – Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fee collections decreased by almost $0.2 million, or -0.5 percent, compared to August 2018. Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections totaled $71.5 million for a decrease of roughly $1 million, or -1.3 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year.

Governor Kemp addressed a 9/11 ceremony in Brunswick yesterday, according to The Brunswick News.

“Those first responders, they were just doing their job, just as you are today,” said Gov. Brian Kemp, addressing a crowd at a 9/11 Remembrance ceremony hosted Wednesday morning at the Glynn County Fire Department Ballard Station in Brunswick. “And they went to bed that night not knowing what the next day would bring. But like you all, they put on that uniform, they went to work and they answered that call.”

“That day changed our country, but it also changed the world forever,” he said. “And for some, unfortunately, this tragedy has faded into the rearview mirror of everyday life. You may not see it in the paper quite as much or on television or even on social media, and sometimes it’s easier to forget something so painful and something so traumatic.”

“Those families will never be able to forget, and those New York fire stations will never forget,” Kemp said. “Those police forces won’t forget. And neither should we.”

The event included a ceremonial striking of the four fives, in which a fire station bell is rung five times, repeated in four series, to honor a first responder who dies in the line of duty.

Gov. Kemp also announced that Georgia has been chosen the “Top State for Business” by Area Development magazine for the sixth consecutive year, according to the Albany Herald.

“I am exceptionally proud that Georgia has once again been named the Top State for Business by Area Development,” Kemp said. “This announcement serves as a powerful testament to what we all know to be true: Georgia is the best place to live, work and raise a family. Our efforts to cut red tape and ensure our business environment leads the nation continue to lure world-class companies to the Peach State from every corner of the map.

“Our world-class work force is a direct result of our top-ranking colleges and universities, and Georgia Quick Start, the best work force development program in the nation. The state’s innovative and comprehensive logistics network makes Georgia a gateway to the global economy by land, air and sea. In the coming years, my administration is committed to building our state’s economic development toolbox so that we continue to attract leading companies in manufacturing, FinTech, information technology, and other industries ready to invest in a state that values their business and positive impact on local communities.”

Area Development’s 2019 Top States for Doing Business results reflect the rankings that states receive based on weighted scores in the following 12 categories: overall cost of doing business, corporate tax environment, business incentives programs, access to capital and project funding, competitive labor environment, shovel-ready sites program, cooperative and responsive state government, favorable general regulatory environment, speed of permitting, favorable utility rates, leading work force development programs, and most improved economic development policies.

Along with the Top State ranking, Georgia was ranked No. 1 in cooperative and responsive state government, leading work force development programs, competitive labor environment and speed of permitting.

“We are honored to receive the title of Top State for Business for the sixth year in a row,” Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said in a news release. “Each day, our team is out on the front lines, working with companies to spread the good news of Georgia’s top-ranked business climate, and because of Gov. Kemp’s strong leadership, they certainly have a lot to talk about.

Kemp also announced with the Georgia Department of Economic Development the impact of the Global Commerce and Film Divisions for the last fiscal year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Global Commerce Division supported the creation of 28,960 new jobs, generating more than $7.4 billion in investment through the location of 332 projects, while 399 productions filmed in Georgia resulted in a record $2.9 billion invested in the state.

“With record-breaking years in global commerce and film, Georgia leads the nation as the best state for business for the sixth straight year,” Kemp said. “The Peach State remains the Hollywood of the South, and companies across the globe have Georgia on their minds as a great place to invest, expand and relocate.”

Georgia has become one of the top filming locations in the world. The productions filmed in Georgia in FY ’19 included 26 feature films, 31 independent films, 214 television series, 91 commercials and 29 music videos. The FY ’19 spending figure is preliminary and expected to increase as productions finalize their numbers.

In FY ’18, film and television productions spent $2.7 billion in Georgia.

“The entertainment industry has found a home in Georgia,” GDEcD Deputy Commissioner for Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Lee Thomas said. “While the spotlight certainly shines on our competitive incentive, it is the Georgia-based skilled crew, diverse topography, available infrastructure, and the hundreds of small businesses that support our productions that keep us ranked as one of the top filming locations in the world.”

A car carrier ship passed by the capsized M/V Golden Ray in the St Simons Sound yesterday, according to The Brunswick News.

The Golden Ray, an auto cargo ship that capsized shortly after 1:30 a.m. Sunday, will likely not be removed for severals weeks or months, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials. The port, though, was expected to be opened again, at least in a limited fashion, as early as Thursday. The Coast Guard, along with the National Transportation Safety board, is investigating what caused the Golden Ray to tip over.

The Emerald Ace was allowed to leave port as a test run of sorts to see how shipping traffic would be affected when passing the shipwrecked Golden Ray, said Coast Guard Lt. Kit Pace.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan plans to work on making Georgia the tech capitol of the East Coast, according to the Gainesville Times.

During the University of North Georgia’s Regional Education and Economic Development Summit on Tuesday, Duncan spoke before community members about his focuses in Georgia.

The second annual event brought together economic development professionals, business and community leaders, state legislators and representatives, educators and students to showcase educational pathways and career opportunities in North Georgia.

Going forward with economic growth in the state, Duncan said people need to understand that every single business is a technology company.

“To become the technology capital of the East Coast, we’ve got to continue to make great strides, especially around K-12,” Duncan said. “We need to make sure that kids and communities understand the importance of educating and creating that next generation of talents because we need to create an ecosystem much like the film industry.”

“There’s no way to economically develop, if you don’t have quality health care that’s within arm’s reach of your community,” Duncan said.

Former State Rep. Beth Beskin announced she will run for Georgia Supreme Court, according to the AJC.

Beskin announced on Thursday that she has entered the race for an upcoming vacancy on the Georgia Supreme Court. She joins former U.S. Rep. John Barrow and state Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle in a bid to sit on the court.

The nonpartisan race, to be held in May, will decide who replaces Justice Robert Benham, the high court’s first African-American jurist. He is retiring.

“I am running to bring my experience in business and law to the Supreme Court and to defend our shared values of what makes Georgia such a great place to live, work, own or run a business and raise a family,” Beskin said.

Early this year, Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Beskin to the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens and recommends judges for the governor to appoint when vacancies arise. She previously served on the Georgia Commission on Child Support.

Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown spoke about mental health of accused criminals, according to the Statesboro Herald.

He spoke Monday to a group at the Statesboro Regional Library, where several attended a meeting of the Statesboro chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness. He outlined the challenges law enforcement and jailers face when dealing with people who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses.

Law enforcement officers “come into contact with these people every day,” he said. Deputies are trained to recognize and respond properly to persons experiencing mental breakdowns, but even so, arresting such a person and placing them in a jail cell never helps the situation, he said.

Writing lawmakers, making phone calls and taking an interest in the issue is what is needed to get the state to increase funding for more hospitals and programs for the mentally ill, he said.

There is a need for more programs and resources to help monitor such people to help keep them on track, he said.

Brown spoke of pending expansions at the Bulloch County Jail that will provide padded cells, a separate unit for inmates at risk, and a medical unit to house staff to provide better treatment and care for inmates with special needs. However, until the state steps up and improves the way mentally ill residents are treated, the problem will remain, he said.

When a crime is committed that involves a suspect with mental illness, and there are no beds available at area hospitals and treatments centers, the only choice “is to lock them up,” he said.

Steven Grimberg was confirmed by the United States Senate for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, according to GPB News.

Former federal prosecutor Steven Grimberg was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia 75 to 18 in the U.S. Senate Wednesday. Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., both voted yes.

“I’m glad the Senate has confirmed Steven to serve Georgia and the United States on the bench in the same district where he compiled an impressive record for the U.S. attorney’s office. I thank him for his past service and his continued willingness to serve,” Isakson said in a statement.

Perdue also appluaded the confirmation. “As a first-generation American and proud graduate of Emory University, Steven Grimberg has distinguished himself by spearheading the development of a cybercrime unit in Georgia to prosecute criminal organizations around the world,” Perdue said in a statement. “I’m confident Steven Grimberg will continue to serve Georgia with integrity in this new role, just as he has throughout his impressive legal career.”

Grimberg formerly led a team of prosecutors in Atlanta’s U.S. Attorney’s office for cybercrime. He will be leaving his current role as the managing director and General Counsel of global investigations firm, Nardello & Co. He’s a graduate of Emory Law School, and current adjunct professor.

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks spoke to the Gwinnett Chamber, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

One note that Wilbanks touched on at the end of his address pertained to the idea of a teacher pipeline. A school system as large and heavily staffed as GCPS would ideally like to mold its own future employees. Only that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Gwinnett County Public Schools started the school year with no teacher vacancies. It’s not rare to start the school year in that manner, but the size of the school district makes the task of keeping all positions filled both daunting and likely temporary.

“We do like to start the school year on a full staff,” Wilbanks said. “Now, I think we just got that the last week, we just got the last teacher. It’s getting tougher. The pipeline is not as plentiful as it used to be.”

Wilbanks believes the difficulty to fill all teaching vacancies year-after-year is linked to frustration and that fewer people are going into the teaching profession. Of those who do become teachers, some studies show more than half leave the profession in the first five years.

Wilbanks said during his address that the $3,000 teacher bonus approved this summer is a positive step in retaining staff and facilitating a teacher pipeline. The raises were a one-time salary adjustment that affected all teachers evenly, rather than starting at the top with veteran teachers and trickling down to the rest.

Savannah City Council will address a resolution on gun control, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The resolution asking for “common-sense” gun legislation is on Thursday’s regular meeting agenda.

Alderman Julian Miller asked for the resolution on the issue at the Aug. 15 council meeting following a recent mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, with nine dead and a Philadelphia, Pa., incident where six police officers were shot.

Miller, who is not running for re-election, said there were a number of areas where he’d like to see legislative action, including limiting magazine rounds, banning assault weapons and background checks.

The resolution states that the city of Savannah urges the Georgia General Assembly and the United States Congress to take action to address gun violence, and “echoes the calls for ‘votes and laws,’ not just thoughts and prayers to address the emergency of gun violence in our nation.”

Specifically, the resolution asks that members of Savannah’s legislative delegation support gun-safety legislation, including:

- universal background checks for all gun buyers;

- red flag or extreme risk protective order legislation, creating a legal process for temporary removal of firearms from those deemed to pose an imminent risk of violence;

- bans on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, armor-piercing ammunition and bump stocks;

- legislation granting localities the authority to restrict or prohibit the possession, transportation or carrying of firearms into public buildings, publicly approved events, or on other property owned by a locality;

- legislation granting local municipalities the authority to determine how to dispose of weapons that are unclaimed or have no evidentiary value.

Floyd County election officials will train on new voting systems next month, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County elections officials are scheduled to get their first round of training on the new Dominion Voting System machines on Oct. 1 and 2.

It’s a tighter schedule than Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady had been hoping for, since they’ll be used in the March 2020 presidential preference primary.

The secretary of state training module will be in Atlanta and involve eight separate equipment stations.

The old electronic voting machines will be used for the Rome City elections in November but six counties will be piloting the DVS: Bartow, Paulding, Catoosa, Carroll, Lowndes and Decatur.

Brady said the county would be responsible next year for supplying toner and paper for the DVS machines, estimated at about 13 cents per ballot. The state is paying for the system.

“But there’s a fly in the ointment,” he noted. “They don’t come with stands, so we’ll also have to come up with a way to display these things in a usable fashion. Private and secure.”

Georgia had higher voter churn than most states, according to the AJC.

Georgia both canceled more voter registrations and registered more new voters than most states before last year’s election, according to a recent federal report on elections.

The data were less clear-cut when it came to absentee ballot rejections, where Georgia ranked in the middle of the pack when compared to other states.

Election officials removed more than 797,000 voters from the rolls between 2016 and 2018, according to the Election Administration and Voting Survey 2018 Comprehensive Report. That amounts to 11% of the state’s registered voters, the eighth-highest rate in the nation.

At the same time, Georgia signed up more than 902,000 new voters, including 697,000 who were automatically registered when they got their driver’s licenses. The federal data support the findings of a study by the Brennan Center for Justice earlier this year, which estimated that 94% more voters registered in Georgia than if the state hadn’t implemented automatic voter registration in September 2016.

Those new registrations boosted the state’s total number of voters to a record high of more than 7 million. Georgia’s voting rolls grew 14% since 2016, the nation’s ninth-largest increase.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a former state lawmaker, said the report invalidates accusations that he and other Republican officials have been disenfranchising voters.

A community center in Columbus that is being closed could be turned into a new YMCA facility, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

A new branch of the YMCA in Columbus could be coming to the site of a closing community center and a former school, according to Muscogee County School District officials.

The Muscogee County School Board was scheduled to vote Sept. 16 on the proposed sale of the 5.31 acres at 1282 Rigdon Road for $460,000, but superintendent David Lewis pulled the agenda item because the paperwork isn’t ready, he said during Monday night’s work session.

11
Sep

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

911 memorial 2

I was in my car that morning, on the way to my job when I heard on the radio of the first plane hitting. The announcers thought at first that it must be a small plane and likely an accident. Seventeen minutes later all doubt vanished as the second hit. Over the next hour, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania. We watched on television as the towers burned, then collapsed.

Shortly afterwards, the Family Room opened in a nearby tower to provide a place for loved ones to grieve out of the public eye.

The Family Room opened in April 2002 in space donated by Brookfield Office Properties, the owners of 1 Liberty Plaza, across Church Street from the trade center site. By presenting what was known as a medical examiner’s family identification card, victims’ relatives were admitted during regular workdays and at night, on weekends and on holidays.

On the 20th floor, behind a door marked “The Family Room,” relatives could settle into ample leather couches or stand at windows 15 and 20 feet wide. The room was intended for “quiet contemplation,” said a 2002 notice from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which created and maintained the space, just a few doors down from its own headquarters and those of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation.

When the Family Room at 1 Liberty Plaza was replaced this summer by a new private gathering space in the National September 11 Memorial Museum pavilion, the [New York] State Museum and the memorial museum painstakingly documented the older room, and the State Museum acquired what contents family members themselves did not choose to reclaim.

There are materials in the Family Room collection related to about 1,000 victims, Mr. Schaming said, or roughly one-third of all casualties that day. “It is the most singular collection of the faces of people who were killed on 9/11,” he said.

A monument on Long Island to victims of 9-11 will include the names of 582 people who later died of conditions related to the aftermath of the attacks.

A separate plaque will have the names of 582 police officers, firefighters, construction workers, cleanup volunteers and others who spent time in the rubble of the World Trade Center in the days or months after the attacks and, years later, died of a variety of causes that they, their families or their doctors suspected were linked to toxic ash and smoke at the site. There will be room to add more names.

“I think what the town of Hempstead is doing is nothing short of honorable,” said John Feal, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders with health problems. “People who lost a loved one to illness suffer just like someone lost on that day. Hopefully this will offer some ease and comfort to them.”

In May, officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced plans to set aside a commemorative space at the World Trade Center to honor rescue and recovery workers.

New York’s police and fire departments also have memorials for personnel who have died of illnesses since Sept. 11. A 9/11 memorial in Staten Island recently added a plaque with the names of residents there who have died of illnesses.

Feal’s charitable organization also maintains a memorial wall to 9/11 responders in Nesconset, New York.

One day after Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, American Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough led American forces in the Battle of Plattsburg at Lake Champlain, New York on September 11, 1813.

The Union Army began evacuating civilians from Atlanta via Lovejoy’s Station on September 11, 1864.

Georgia-born Ty Cobb took his last at-bat on September 11, 1928.

After a week-long Presidential campaign swing through ten states, former Governor Jimmy Carter returned to Plains on September 11, 1976.

On September 11, 1985, Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s career hit record, notching number 4,192 against the San Diego Padres.

Two years ago today, all 159 counties in Georgia were under an emergency declaration from Hurricane Irma.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp ordered flags on state buildings and grounds flown at half-staff today and a moment of silence at 8:46 AM.

It may take months to move the M/V Golden Ray from where it capsized in the St Simons Sound, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A Coast Guard officer says it could take “weeks, if not months” to remove a cargo ship that overturned while heading to sea from a port on the Georgia coast.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Norm Witt told news reporters Tuesday that marine salvage experts are working on a plan to remove the 656-foot (200 meter) long Golden Ray from St. Simons Sound near the Port of Brunswick. Asked how that would be done, he said: “We don’t have all the answers right now.”

Meanwhile, Witt says the Coast Guard is trying to reopen the port to limited commercial traffic by Thursday — though he called that timeline “aggressive.”

From The Brunswick News:

The priorities of Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and other agencies handing the shipwreck’s aftermath now include combatting water pollutants in nearby waters, removing the behemoth 25,000-ton, 656-foot-long ship from the sound and reopening the shipping lane to the Port of Brunswick — a vital cog in the community’s economy.

The investigation is being headed by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. It could take a long time before that investigation is completed and shared with the public, officials agree.

The Coast Guard updated Glynn County Commissioners:

Cmdr. Norman Witt took the podium to give the commissioners the latest on the situation.

Once the crew was safely away, the salvage operation began. He told the commissioners he didn’t want to sugarcoat the situation, and that it looked like salvage operations would take a month or more.

“It could go a month or potentially longer. Months, plural,” Witt said.

The Coast Guard established a unified command composed of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, contractor Gallagher Marine Systems and the ship’s owner, Hyundai Glovis, among several others, he said.Along with the members of the command, Witt said “world leaders” in salvage operations have been brought in to assist. Salvage rests in the hands of the unified command, while the investigation into exactly what caused the ship to tip is handled separately.

The command is very cognizant of the risks posed by pollution and loss of business at the Port of Brunswick, he said.

While he said the estimate seems aggressive to him, he told commissioners the channel may be open to commercial traffic by Thursday.

It won’t be open to full operations, however. Precautions will have to be taken to ensure ships coming in don’t destabilize the Golden Ray.

“I don’t want to say there will be no pollution. That’s not realistic,” Witt said.

Containment booms — inflatable barriers used to contain oil spills — have been deployed, he said, but they are less effective in strong currents than they are in calm waters.Commissioner Bill Brunson asked if the salvagers will attempt to pump the fuel tanks out.

Any oil in the water and on the beaches will impact wildlife in some way, Witt said.

The Coast Guard has called in conservation groups and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, to help track the current and mitigate the harm to local wildlife.Witt wrapped up by saying he appreciated how helpful the Golden Isles community has been and offered to meet with the commissioners in the future or hold town halls for the public.

A case of West Nile virus in a human has been reported in Chatham County, according to the Savannah Morning News.

An adult living in Chatham County has been diagnosed with West Nile virus, a potentially serious illness transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.

This is the first human case in the eight-county Coastal Health District in 2019, and the fourth human case of West Nile virus in Georgia this year.

Chatham County Mosquito Control first detected and reported West Nile in a sample of local mosquitoes in early July, and the virus quickly spread throughout the mosquito population across the county. Already, 2019 is the second most active year for West Nile virus in Chatham County mosquitoes after 2011. That year 10 people contracted the disease.

“We’ve been telling people all along it’s in mosquitoes,” said Coastal Health Spokeswoman Ginger Heidel. “We let them know it was widespread. It’s not surprising we’re seeing it in a person.”

The State of Georgia has banked a record $3 billion dollars in the rainy day fund, according to the AJC.

Despite some iffy revenue numbers at times during the year, the state ended the recently completed fiscal 2019 with a record nearly $3 billion in its rainy day reserves.

Preliminary figures set the reserves at $2.971 billion for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The reserves are important because they potentially cushion the impact of any economic downturn by helping the state fund everything from schools to health care programs for a quarter of Georgians.

The current reserves equate to funding state government for about a month, which is more than many if not most states have set aside.

Kemp has ordered state agencies to cut 4 percent from their budgets this year and 6 percent next year. He was recently praised by one of the agencies that rates bonds – money the state borrows for construction projects – for being fiscally proactive.

State agency responses to Gov. Kemp’s requested budget cuts include hundreds fewer jobs, according to the AJC.

Hundreds of state jobs would be eliminated and positions frozen — from consumer protection staffers and drivers license workers to school safety coordinators — under plans drawn up to meet Gov. Brian Kemp’s demand to cut spending.

Many state programs would be scaled back or eliminated too, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the state Open Records Act. Some of the proposed cuts have trickled out in recent weeks as state agencies worked to meet the governor’s demand to reduce spending.

Their submissions are the first step in Kemp’s plan to cut 4 percent from most program budgets this fiscal year and 6 percent next year — which begins July 1 — to both prepare the state in case of an economic downturn and provide the money needed to meet his priorities, such as higher teacher pay.The state is expected to announce Wednesday that tax collections for August fell 2.8 percent, or about $50 million, from August 2018. The state saw up and down revenue collections earlier this year, but the administration was able to increase the state’s rainy day reserves to a record nearly $3 billion when fiscal 2019 ended on June 30.

The Georgia House and Senate are planning budget hearings later this month and officials said the meetings will go forward, despite earlier objections from the Kemp administration, which initially didn’t want to participate. In typical years agencies submit spending proposals to the governor, who reviews them over the fall and makes recommendations to the General Assembly in January.

All at a time when a lot of current economic signs point to Georgia’s economy being in pretty good shape overall.

Some of the agency budget plans submitted to the Office of Planning and Budget are vague and will leave the governor with a lot of questions when he meets with department leaders in coming weeks.

Their submissions are the first step in Kemp’s plan to cut 4 percent from most program budgets this fiscal year and 6 percent next year — which begins July 1 — to both prepare the state in case of an economic downturn and provide the money needed to meet his priorities, such as higher teacher pay.

The state is expected to announce Wednesday that tax collections for August fell 2.8 percent, or about $50 million, from August 2018. The state saw up and down revenue collections earlier this year, but the administration was able to increase the state’s rainy day reserves to a record nearly $3 billion when fiscal 2019 ended on June 30.

The Georgia House and Senate are planning budget hearings later this month and officials said the meetings will go forward, despite earlier objections from the Kemp administration, which initially didn’t want to participate. In typical years agencies submit spending proposals to the governor, who reviews them over the fall and makes recommendations to the General Assembly in January.

Kemp surprised lawmakers, and many agency leaders, by calling for budget cuts in August. Allotments to agencies for most programs will be reduced starting Oct. 1.

Not everything will be cut equally across state government. Some massive enrollment-driven programs — such as K-12 schools, universities and Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled — are exempt.

In all, only about 23% of the state-funded portion of the budget was not exempted. Agencies on the hook for cuts include the departments of Agriculture, Corrections, Driver Services, Public Health, public defenders, the Georgia State Patrol, the GBI, most of the Department of Natural Resources, and the administration of K-12 schools and colleges.

Federal relief money for last year’s Hurricane Michael will start flowing soon, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Monday that his federal department would begin accepting applications for more than $3 billion in aid that Congress set aside for farmers in a disaster relief package signed into law earlier this summer.

Farmers in roughly 80 Georgia counties that were designated presidential emergency disaster zones in 2018 are eligible for the money, as well as the victims of floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters over the last two years, Perdue said.

That includes Hurricane Dorian, which plowed through the Bahamas and the Southeast coast last week.

The agriculture money is the first major chunk of disaster relief funding to be released since President Donald Trump cleared a $19 billion emergency relief package in June, ending eight months of partisan gamesmanship over Puerto Rico aid.

Yet another federal lawsuit has been filed over Georgia voting procedures, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Coalition for Good Governance, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and a group of attorneys — including Atlanta attorneys Bruce Brown and Cary Ichter — filed a supplemental complaint challenging the reliability of the state’s new touch-screen voting system, saying it violates constitutional amendments.

The voter advocates filed the complaint after a federal judge ruled last month that Georgia needed to do away with its old voting system. Widely opposing electronic voting, the nonprofit group, the Coalition for Good Governance, was planning to sue over the new system as well.

The suit says the new Dominion Voting System has security flaws similar to the previous DRE system, was not tested and certified properly and, if implemented, violates the First and 14th Amendments protecting voters rights to a transparent and anonymous process.

Tess Hammock, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office, said the new system is separate from the old DRE system being challenged in court.

“The new Ballot Marking Device system is completely different from the DREs which are the subject of the suit,” Hammock wrote in a statement. “It is a different technology, on a different platform, from a different vendor. To try to say they are related somehow is an illogical leap. These machines haven’t even been used yet in Georgia so they aren’t even ripe to be litigated at all.”

New voting machines were on display in Duluth yesterday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Tuesday in Duluth, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office offered a first look at new voting machines that will be used in the 2020 presidential primaries in March, and eventually the 2020 general election in November.

These machines won’t be utilized in Gwinnett County election precincts until March 2020, but a storefront at Duluth’s Paragon Shopping Center was the site of a preview of the new technology on Tuesday. Johns Creek City Councilman Jay Lin introduced officials with the Secretary of State’s office before representatives with the company that will provide new machines conducted a demonstration.

The poll machines are a hybrid touch-screen and paper ballot voting device. The voter inserts a card into a machine with a touch screen to cast their ballot. A paper ballot is printed and delivered to a device that scans and records both the original paper ballot and a digital image of the ballot.

“We really improved the confidence in the elections,” [Georgia Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger said. “When we do that, I think it really helps take out some of the polarization that we have and some of the concerns that people have. We can drill down and get those answers, then the race is over and we can move on to the next race.”

Starting with fall municipal elections, there will be six pilot counties using the ballot marking device with touch screen technology— Lowndes, Decatur, Carroll, Paulding, Bartow and Catoosa. Raffensperger said there are approximately 2,000 machines that will operate in those counties.

“They’ve not been hacked, but we understand that hackers never sleep, and nor can we,” Raffensperger said. “That’s the advantage of this. When you have a paper ballot, first of all, you can do a physical recount. So when you have a close election that’s within a half percent, we can open up the box and have a paper ballot to count.”

There will also be a hand-marked paper ballot pilot in Cobb County, a test of a system that would be used in the event of a power outage or weather event, as Raffensperger put it, but theoretically also in the event of human or mechanical error.

The Glynn County Board of Elections complained about a lack of information from the state on new voting machines, according to The Brunswick News.

A lack of information from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office may disrupt the Glynn County Board of Elections’ plans to educate the public on the state’s new voting machines.

At the board’s Tuesday meeting, Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell said the secretary of state’s office told local officials they would get a few voting machines early for training and public information purposes. Glynn County will not use the new machines in an election until the March 2020 presidential primary.

Two weeks into September, and he’s received no word on when those machines might arrive.

“This is government inaction,” said board member Tommy Clark. “They told us one thing, and now we’re learning the real story.”

In other business, the board continued discussing plans to move three polling places.

State House District 152 voters will elect a new State Representative (or send two candidates into a runoff) on November 5, 2019, according to the Albany Herald.

[State Rep. Ed] Rynders announced last week that he is stepping down after 17 years in the House because of health issues and a recent move to St. Simons Island, where his wife, Jane, is working as a teacher. Rynders revealed in an interview with The Albany Herald that he suffered a heart attack last June and continues to have health concerns.

“Several have encouraged me to finish my term (the special election will fill the HD 152 unexpired term, which runs through the 2020 session),” Rynders told The Herald last Thursday. “I don’t ever want to be seen as a quitter, but my health and my family’s future have to be my No. 1 priorities.”

In a move that will save the state money, the special HD 152 election will be held in conjunction with the Nov. 5 municipal elections being conducted in the communities that encompass the district, including Leesburg and Sylvester.

As word of Rynders’ decision spread throughout the region, a number of candidates started to express interest — some openly, others behind closed doors — in a run for the seat. Among those who have been mentioned as possible candidates are Lee County Commission Chairman Billy Mathis, Lee Commissioner Rick Muggridge, Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn, Dennis Roland, Gail Drake, Tyler Johnson, Jim Thurmond and Mary Egler.

Georgia has the nation’s 3d-highest rate of people without health insurance, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Georgia’s uninsured rate rose slightly in 2018, to 13.7%, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

That gives Georgia the nation’s third-highest rate of people without health insurance. The state trails only Texas and Oklahoma.

Georgia had the fourth-highest percentage in 2017.

The Georgia increase is small enough not to be statistically significant, said Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University. But he added, “We’ve lost ground to other states’’ whose uninsured rates have dropped in recent years.

Custer pointed to several possible factors in the rise in the uninsured rate. They include cuts in federal funding to publicize the ACA’s health insurance exchanges, which offer a way for low-income people to buy coverage. The feds have also cut funding for special counselors, or “navigators,” who assist people in using the exchanges.

State Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) Chairs the House Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Rep. Katie Dempsey will convene on Thursday the first of several meetings examining how – and why – the state can encourage better models for early childhood development.

The Rome Republican chairs the House Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health. She said the inaugural session will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building in Atlanta.

Among the scheduled speakers is Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Peggy Walker. She’ll talk about how early intervention in cases of “social-emotional health challenges” can affect the criminal justice system.

Erica Ferner-Sitkoff, executive director of Voices for Georgia’s Children, will talk about the current state of behavior health services for children and several pediatricians will explain how toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences affect brain development.

The committee is tasked with evaluating a range of mental health services and making legislative recommendations on how to best support young children and families. It runs through Nov. 30.

Candidates for Mayor of Valdosta met in a public forum Monday night, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Hosted by the Lowndes County Democratic Party, Kevin J. Bussey, Scott James Matheson, J.D. Rice and David Sumner answered questions and each explained why he should be the next mayor of Valdosta. Five people qualified for mayor but candidate Brooks D. Bivins failed to attend the event.

Each of the mayoral candidates took answers from a moderator for about an hour. The event began at 7 p.m. and ended at about 9 p.m.

Before the mayoral candidates forum, three of the four candidates for the at-large Valdosta City Council seat answered questions. Adrian J. Rivers, Jeremy L. Stone and Edgar “Nicky” Tooley attended the event. Incumbent Councilman Ben H. Norton, who qualified for reelection as a candidate, did not attend.

Dr. Debra Tann, who moderated the event, said there will be another debate held for candidates at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, Serenity Church, 1619 N. Lee St.

Rome has hired a herd of goats to control vegetation, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Goats are being used to clear overgrowth in order to provide a view of the river to the picnic areas behind State Mutual Stadium.

A crew of 10 Kiko goats was cut loose near one of the picnic areas spaced out on the trail behind the ballpark Tuesday. Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins hopes they will have a large area cleared to provide views of the river, perhaps even access to the riverbank for fishermen.

Ashley Lindsay of Glitzy Goats said the goats will clear any of the aggressive vines, briars and privet.

“They don’t eat grass and things like that. They’ll clear it out real well. All of this camouflage and treescape you see will be gone.”

Augusta Technical College will receive a federal grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The school received $150,000 to continue its Nuclear Engineering Technology Workforce Scholars Program. The program aims to further the accomplishments of previously funded projects, to recruit and train students to work in a nuclear environment and provide scholarships to at least 16 students.

NRC awarded 45 grants to 33 academic institutions in 19 states and Puerto Rico for a total of $15 million in the 2019 fiscal year, according to the commission. Congress authorized the funds for scholarships, fellowships and faculty development.

Bulloch County public school students will make up days missed due to Hurricane Dorian in November, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Schools will add two class days, Nov. 25 and 26, to make up for the two days cancelled during the area’s near miss by Hurricane Dorian, Superintendent Charles Wilson has decided.

Since Sept. 2 was Labor Day and Sept. 3 was a scheduled student-free workday for teachers, the cancellation of classes on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 4-5, left students with only Friday as a school day last week.

Nov. 25 and 26 are the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, which is Nov. 28 this year. Previously, students and school employees would have had the entire week, Nov. 25-29, as holidays. But Nov. 25 and 26 had been designated as potential make-up days since the current school year, 2019-20, calendar was approved by the Board of Education back in January 2018.

10
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 10, 2019

An American fleet of nine ships under the command of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry routed a British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813.

After the battle, Perry sent a famous dispatch to U.S. General William Henry Harrison that read, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” The Battle of Lake Erie forced the British to abandon Detroit, ensuring U.S. control over Lake Erie and the territorial northwest.

Years later, Pogo, Georgia’s Official State Possum, would paraphrase Perry’s dispatch.

Pogo Enemy

And eventually, Pogo’s statement that, “We have met the enemy and he is us” would become the official slogan of the Georgia Republican Party.

On September 10, 1991, Senate confirmation hearings began for Georgia-born Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush (41) to the United States Supreme Court.

Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was released as a single on September 10, 1991.

On September 10, 2002, the Atlanta Braves clinched an eleventh straight division title without playing, as a loss by the Philadelphia Phillies assured the Braves the title.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued a Writ of Election for a Special Election on November 5, 2019 in House District 152, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of State Rep. Ed Rynders.

Governor Kemp told the AJC he’s in no rush to appoint a new United States Senator to take the seat being vacated by Sen. Isakson.

The governor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his administration is “starting to figure out how we’re going to conduct the process” after a busy week that included a state scramble to respond to Hurricane Dorian.

“There’s no timeline. I have a lot of good options,” he said. “There’s a lot of different ways we can go. I want to be very thoughtful and diligent in the process.”

Kemp must also factor into the mix a potential 2021 election sandwiched between the two votes. Since the race for Isakson’s seat is a “jungle” special election with no party primaries to decide nominees, a January 2021 runoff would be needed if no candidate gets a majority of the vote.

Democrat Jon Ossoff announced this morning he will run for the United State Senate seat curently held by Sen. David Perdue. From Politico:

Ossoff, 32, became a political sensation during his run for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2017, one in a series of special elections that attracted wide notice amid backlash to President Donald Trump before Democrats took the House majority in the midterm election.

“Georgia is the most competitive state in the country and the Senate majority will be decided in Georgia,” Ossoff said in an interview.

“Failed congressional candidate Jon Ossoff’s serial resume inflation and extreme left-wing views will fit in with the rest of the crowded Democratic primary but will stand in sharp contrast to David Perdue’s positive record of delivering results for all of Georgia,” said Nathan Brand, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“What I learned having been through the fire is that I will not ever be intimidated from telling my own story and touting my own accomplishments by inevitable partisan smears,” Ossoff said.

He said he remains friends with and is in regular contact with Stacey Abrams, the party’s nominee for governor in 2018 who passed on running for Senate. Abrams is likely to remain neutral in the primary, and Ossoff declined to discuss private conversations with her.

But Ossoff does have powerful backing: Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon and longtime Georgia congressman, supports his Senate bid. Ossoff said in the interview he was “honored” to have the endorsement, and plans to launch a voter registration effort with the congressman later this month.

In a statement, Lewis said he would do “everything in my power to support Jon’s election to the United States Senate.

“Jon’s 2017 campaign sparked a flame that is burning brighter than ever, in Georgia and across the country,” Lewis said. “Like the many thousands Jon has already organized and inspired, I am ready to work tirelessly to elect him.”

“David Perdue in half a decade has not come down from his private island to hold a single public town hall,” Ossoff said of the Republican senator. “We are going to raise a grassroots army unlike anything Georgia has seen to defeat him.”

From the AJC:

Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff said he will challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and “mount a ruthless assault on corruption in our political system” that’s prevented Congress from addressing urgent issues.

The Democrat told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he would “raise a grassroots army unlike any this state has ever seen” by expanding the network of supporters who helped him raise roughly $30 million in a 2017 special election he narrowly lost.

“We have squandered trillions on endless war. We have squandered trillions on bailouts for failed banks. We have squandered trillions on tax cuts for wealthy donors. Then we’re told there’s nothing left over for the people,” he said, adding: “The corruption must be rooted out. And Sen. David Perdue is a caricature of Washington corruption.”

He said he chose to run against Perdue rather than compete for the soon-to-be-vacated seat held by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down at year’s end for health reasons, because Perdue “is one of the least effective and most out-of-touch members of the U.S. Senate.”

“We’re in a state where one in three rural children live in poverty, where we have the worst maternal mortality in the entire country, and in a half a decade, this guy hasn’t come down from his private island to do a single town hall meeting,” Ossoff said. “He hands out favors to his donors. He runs errands for the president.”

“My candidacy was such a threat that Republicans at the highest level made my destruction their highest priority,” Ossoff said. “And I narrowly lost that race, but we built something special and enduring. And I’m still standing and ready to fight.”

“Right now, the job is to build the most potent grassroots organization the state has seen to defeat Sen. Perdue … Stacey Abrams’ campaign was historic. I have never seen a more talented politician in Georgia, and she’s an inspiration to me. When you push on the wheel of history, sometimes it takes time to get where you want to go. But one of the things I learned from my race in ’17 is a fight well fought – even if you lose it – can be worth what you build in the process. That’s how I look back on my race in 2017 and that’s certainly how I look at Stacey Abrams’ historic, extraordinary performance in 2018.”

“I support banning the sale of assault weapons to the general public – weapons that are derived from modern military technology should not be sold commercially absent some specific need … Nine out of 10 Americans support universal background checks, and the failure of Congress to support universal background checks is a textbook example of Washington corruption.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams said her party’s candidates should concentrate on “unlikely voters,” according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Abrams, who lost the Georgia governor’s race by 1.4 percentage points but set a state record for Democratic votes, made her case Monday in a letter and strategy memo obtained by The Associated Press and sent to top Democratic presidential candidates, national party committees and key strategists and groups on the left.

“Democrats, let’s do better and go big,” Abrams wrote, arguing that her historic bid to be the first black female governor in U.S. history wasn’t the sole driver of her near-win. “I am not the only candidate who can create a coalition and a strategy to win this state,” she wrote, adding that “any decision less than full investment in Georgia would amount to strategic malpractice” and arguing that her 2018 coalition of nonwhites and whites from the cities and suburbs is the blueprint “to compete in the changing landscape of the Sun Belt.”

The assertions from Abrams and her campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, highlight a fault line for Democrats. Some party leaders want to focus on flipping white voters who helped Trump flip Great Lakes states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Others want to drive turnout across Democrats’ growing base of minority voters and college-educated whites in the suburbs and cities, constituencies that could put states like Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona in play, while also helping in the Upper Midwest.

Groh-Wargo did not put a price tag on a 2020 campaign in Georgia, but noted the combined Democratic investment in Georgia last year was $42 million, compared to $70 million in Ohio and $32 million in Iowa, where Democrats lost statewide midterm races two years after Hillary Clinton lost to President Donald Trump by nearly double-digit margins.

Groh-Wargo wrote that Abrams was able to take advantage because the campaign spent time and money reaching Democratic-leaning residents who aren’t regular voters. With new registrations since 2018, Groh-Wargo put that number of such voters for 2020 at 1.7 million — more than six times the GOP’s typical advantage in Georgia and about 28 times larger than Abrams’ margin of defeat last year.

The universe of truly persuadable “swing voters” in Georgia, Groh-Wargo wrote, is about 150,000. Groh-Wargo said the campaign spent money targeting those voters, but not as much as in traditional campaigns that would have relied heavily on expensive television advertising in the Atlanta market.

“Democratic committees, consultants and the media do not factor unlikely voters into their polling, strategy and prognostications, effectively making their analyses by re-litigating the prior election as if nothing had changed in the electorate since,” she wrote.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin accepting applications for federal aid to address last year’s Hurricane Michael, according to GPB News.

It took eight months for a federal aid package to pass, caught up in the government shutdown of early 2019, as well as a disagreement about how much funding should go to border security and to Puerto Rico, also recovering from hurricanes.

On Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture just announced, those farmers will be able to apply to receive some of the $3 billion aid package.

“U.S. agriculture has been dealt a hefty blow by extreme weather over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception,” Secretary of Agriculture and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

“The scope of this year’s prevented planting alone is devastating, and although these disaster program benefits will not make producers whole, we hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing,” he said.

All crew members from the M/V Golden Ray, which capsized off Saint Simons Island, have been rescued, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Three of the four crew members were extracted Monday before 3:30 p.m. and the fourth was rescued just before 6 p.m

The Coast Guard Sector Charleston was first notified by the Glynn County 911 dispatch around 2 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, that the M/V Golden Ray had capsized in the St. Simons Sound, according to a release from the Coast Guard. The vessel was leaving the Georgia Ports Authority Colonels Island Terminal just prior to the accident, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch confirmed Sunday..

The first three crew members were rescued after USCG rescue and salvage teams drilled a hole measuring about two feet by three feet into the ship’s hull, Capt. John Reed, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Charleston, said.

The fourth crew member was stuck behind glass enclosed in an engineering control room in the ship’s stern. In a video posted on Twitter by the USCG Southeast the man can be seen climbing out of an opening as rescuers assist him.

The Golden Ray may remain in St Simons Sound for weeks, according to The Brunswick News.

The channel leading to the Port of Brunswick is closed and a Coast Guard spokesman said it’s uncertain how long it will take salvage crews to upright the vessel.

State Rep. Jeff Jones spoke at a public event on St. Simons Island on Monday, where he discussed the accident and when the channel will be cleared by salvage teams.

“This is going to be a unique kind of a challenge,” Jones said. “They sort of set themselves up for scenarios like this on how to handle situations like this, but they don’t yet know.”

The Coast Guard has currently closed the channel but Clayton said the Port of Brunswick remains open “with restrictions.”

Lowndes County will be one of six to pilot new voting machines, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“Now, for the first time in 20 years when we have those close elections, we’ll be able to do a physical recount,” [Georgia Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger said. “We’ll be able to mathematically prove that the winner really won and the loser really lost.”

The state approved buying 30,000 new machines in July for a cost of $107 million. For now, only six counties will be testing the machines. The rest of the state will switch to the new system by the 2020 presidential election.

Raffensperger said they decided against paper ballots because not everyone can use a paper ballot. The touch-screen will make it easy for every voter to fill out a ballot, he said.

Deb Cox, Lowndes County supervisor of elections, said she is excited for the new machines and is honored Lowndes County has been chosen as a pilot community.

“The system is phenomenal, and I think the voters are going to love it,” Cox said. “It’s amazing, high-tech and easy to use because it’s not connected to the internet in any way shape or form.”

“It’s the most secure system I’ve ever seen anywhere in the United States,” Cox said. “There is no way anyone can get into this system. It’s as secure as anything I’ve ever seen.”

The AJC reports on polling location closures in Georgia.

“In Georgia, we’re seeing a lot of rural counties close their polling places, leaving voters with only one polling place, which can create many hurdles if you have to drive many miles to vote,” said Leigh Chapman, a co-author of the report and the voting rights program director for The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

The AJC found that the 214 precinct closures in Georgia since 2012 often occurred in counties with high poverty rates and significant African American populations.

The only states to close more precincts than Georgia were Texas with 760 and Arizona with 320, according to the report.

County election officials said precinct closures saved taxpayers’ money that was being spent on low-turnout locations staffed by at least three poll workers. They said so many voters take advantage of early and absentee voting — 55% in last November’s election — that there’s no longer a need to have so many in-person polling places on Election Day.

“In our little county, we could struggle. If I could save the county money, that’s what I wanted to do,” said Warren County Elections Superintendent Janice Thigpen. “A lot of these precincts were created because we had farmers in the field and people who didn’t have transportation into town. That’s not the case anymore.”

The Muscogee County Board of Education is planning to place an E-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education) on the March 2020 ballot, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Muscogee County School District is planning to ask Columbus voters to renew the sales tax that helps pay for its capital projects.

And that question is expected to be on the March ballot — beating by seven months the sales tax referendum Columbus Council is planning for November.

As the Muscogee County School Board’s monthly work session ended Monday night, chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1 asked her fellow board members whether there is a consensus for superintendent David Lewis to bring the board a recommendation to renew the five-year 1% Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (or, ESPLOST), which expires June 30.

But the superintendent made it clear: The March election is the best option, he said, because that’s the traditional time frame for the sales tax referendum.

Asked whether it benefits the school board to ask voters to renew the ESPLOST before the city council’s sales tax referendum in November 2020, Lewis said, “We don’t look at it one way or the other as an advantage. It’s just our routine process.”

Rome City Commission voted to add a “Brunch Bill” referendum to the November ballot, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Sunday brunch enthusiasts looking forward to having a mimosa or bloody mary before noon in Rome can now toast the Rome City Commission for unanimously agreeing Monday to allow voters to decide Nov. 5 whether local establishments can serve alcohol as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays.

As the law stands now, those who wish to imbibe must wait until 12:30 p.m. There were no public comments and very little discussion on the matter during the Commission’s regular meeting at City Hall.

Democrat Jordan Johnson will run for Augusta Commission District 1, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Jordan Johnson, the chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party, announced Monday that he is running for the District 1 seat on the Augusta Commission.

Johnson joins former District 1 candidate Michael Thurman and downtown businesswoman Shawnda Griffin in the May 2020 election. Term limits prevent incumbent Bill Fennoy from seeking a third term.

Westside Elementary School in Valdosta will add agriculture education, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center moved back into its normal quarters after evacuating ahead of Hurricane Dorian, according to The Brunswick News.

“Starting a couple weeks ago, we knew that Hurricane Dorian was heading our way, and we prepared early for that,” said Katie Mascovich of the GSTC. “We started getting things together in case we needed to transport animals in the event of an evacuation.

“We actually released seven of our healthy sea turtle patients that were on the release track as it was, because we didn’t want to put them through the shock of evacuation, if we had to do that. You may notice we have some empty tanks here, and that is why, because we released about half of our patients.”

For the turtles staying, in addition to getting the patients ready to move, staff also had to put equipment up, literally, so it would be OK if the facilities flooded. Staff loaded the 89 creatures — sea turtles, diamondback terrapins, etc. — and the equipment that came with them into two vans and a minibus for the trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.