Category: Georgia Politics

31
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 31, 2019

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

The United States Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state on October 31, 1864. Kind of fitting, in a way.

The carving on Mount Rushmore was completed on October 31, 1941.

President Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail to help his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her race for United States Senate from New York on October 31, 2000. On October 31, 2014, Bill Clinton came to Atlanta to campaign for Michelle Nunn for United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will announce a new program designed to expand healthcare insurance to more Georgians, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp is set to unveil a proposal Thursday that he has said would create a “reinsurance” program to help stabilize volatile insurance costs on the individual market.

The program would require obtaining a waiver from the federal government, asking it to free the state from some standard rules in order to tailor a program officials here think would work best for Georgia.

The waiver idea became a staple of Kemp’s campaign in the final weeks before last year’s election, and it’s designed to create a fund that aims to lower premiums on the health insurance exchange market by possibly subsidizing private insurers’ coverage of high-risk customers.

The governor, who plans to detail the plan at a Thursday press conference, has said his idea would help private insurance companies on the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange market pay for the high cost of patients with pre-existing conditions.

Kemp is also interested in a waiver involving the state’s Medicaid program.

The governor is expected to soon outline specifics of that more contentious waiver proposal, an idea that emerged after Kemp’s victory and raises the possibility of a partial expansion of the Medicaid program to some of Georgia’s poorest residents.

From The Center Square:

The governor’s office said Wednesday that it will unveil “Georgia Access” as part of its plan to identify more health coverage solutions in the state. Georgia Access is a product of The Patients First Act, signed into law by Kemp in March.

“The Patients First Act is a step toward lowering insurance premiums, enhancing access to quality care and improving health outcomes in every part of our state,” Kemp said in a previous statement.

Kemp’s announcement Thursday will be specific to the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver, which allows the state to find other ways to provide affordable health care access. The state employed the help of consulting firm Deloitte to process the waivers.

For the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver, Georgia officials must provide the federal government with viable reasons for the request including supporting data and projections. The plan must be able to meet the coverage requirements under the ACA without exceeding the federal load. The application for the waiver must include a 10-year budget plan that is “deficit neutral to the federal government,” and other detailed attachments that outline the plan over its timespan.

Port Wentworth City Council member Thomas Barbee allegedly threatened a resident, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Jodi Hawks of Port Wentworth has filed papers in Chatham County Magistrate Court for a misdemeanor charge of terroristic threats against Barbee.

Barbee is seeking re-election to one of the city’s at-large council seats.

The filing follows a message Barbee apparently sent Hawks on social media stating Hawks doesn’t know when to quit, and that “pain and a little blood usually motivates a person or the lose of home maybe a RV will get a person attention.” Spelling and grammatical errors are Barbee’s.

The police report states that a scheduled interview with Barbee was cancelled by the councilman about one hour before it was to begin.

A pre-warrant hearing regarding the message to Hawks will be at 1.45 p.m. Nov. 22 in Chatham County Magistrate Court in Savannah.

Barbee was also recently accused of trespassing at the home of Mayor Gary Norton. Norton’s wife, Donna Norton, reported Barbee was at their home in the early morning dark hours in September shining a flashlight around their home.

Personally, I might vote against someone on the basis of atrocious spelling.

Savannah-Chatham County public schools are working on how to spend additional school safety funds, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With public schools in Georgia provided $30,000 for school safety in the Governor’s 2020 appropriations bill, districts are considering the best use of the funds. Liberty County public schools are implementing the Centegix CrisisAlert system in 16 buildings, said Liberty County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Zheadric Barbra. The cost is about $30,000 per site, or about $400,000 total. “We were really, really concerned our community and our board understood the why,” Barbra said. “We’ve trained everyone at the board office.”

For Savannah-Chatham County public schools, which has about 55 schools, purchasing the system could cost over $1.5 million. Considering the purchase would require extensive due diligence, said Terry Enoch, chief of police for the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education.

He said integrating any new system with the district’s existing security technology is an important consideration. “We have a notification system in place,” Enoch said. “The current system we have now works for us, but we’re always looking at ways to improve it. We try to be very safety smart. We’re constantly evaluating how we’re doing things.”

U.S. Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) introduced legislation to increase transparency in federal agency spending, according to the Gainesville Times.

“Each year, Georgians entrust the government with their hard-earned tax dollars, but they’re left in the dark on where that money actually goes,” Collins said in a statement. “By requiring federal agencies to regularly publish budget justifications on one central website, the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act will ensure hard-working Americans have access to the information needed to evaluate how their tax dollars are being spent.”

Collins and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, introduced the bill Tuesday.

The text of the budget materials would be searchable. Budget justification materials would have to be posted within two weeks of the date the materials are submitted to Congress, according to the bill.

A breakdown of funds would be included. Classified materials would be exempt from the rules.

U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) recognized Collins Hill High School Principal Kerensa Wing as winner of a national award, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Representative for Georgia’s 7th Congressional district congratulated the National Association of Secondary School Principals finalists for National Principal of the Year — including Joey Jones Robert Frost Middle School in Maryland and Lindsa McIntyre Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Massachusetts — before showing U.S. representatives that Wing was the recipient of the 2019 award, announced on Oct. 21.

“To meet Kerensa Wing, the first thing you’ll notice is that charisma that she has that connects her with her students and with her parents,” Woodall said. “That partnership that she develops with her administrators and with her teachers — that’s the partnership that we strive for here.”

Brunswick City Council discussed legislative policies, according to The Brunswick News.

Brunswick city officials met Wednesday to discuss the shared vision with Glynn County for the goals they’d like state legislators to consider when the General Assembly meets this winter.

Among those in attendance were many city department heads and Justin Callaway, CEO and president of NewCity Brunswick.

Mayor Cornell Harvey told Callaway he wanted to ensure his organization’s goals to add new residents and businesses downtown were considered.

“We have a problem in the city of Brunswick with homelessness,” said commissioner Vincent Williams. “If we don’t deal with that problem, you’re not attracting businesses and residents.”

Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones said he the number of homeless in the city is three times larger than seven or eight years ago.

The development of the city’s waterfront was also on the agenda. Commissioners agreed the city’s waterfront could be greatly enhanced if they can convince Georgia Port Authority officials to move offices from their current locations in Brunswick.

“They have siphoned off the city quite a bit,” Harvey said. “The port doesn’t contribute back.”

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Cobb) announced she will introduce legislation to regulate minor gender transitions, according to the AJC.

A Cobb County lawmaker wants to make it a felony for medical professionals to help a minor with gender transition.

State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said the legislation aims to protect children from having irreversible procedures done when they are young. Current law requires a parent to consent to surgery or for a minor to be prescribed medication.

While the bill is still being drafted, Ehrhart said Georgia medical providers who perform surgeries or administer or prescribe medications that assist minors with gender transition could be charged with a felony. The legislation would not affect doctors working with adults who seek to undergo gender transition.

“We’re talking about children that can’t get a tattoo or smoke a cigar or a cigarette in the state of Georgia but can be castrated and get sterilized,” she said.

Specific procedures that Ehrhart said would be banned — if the measure is approved by the General Assembly — include “mastectomy, vasectomy, castration and other forms of genital mutilization” for the purpose of gender transition. Banned medications would include giving minors “puberty-blocking drugs to stop or delay normal puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy.”

“The removal of otherwise healthy or non-diseased body parts from minor children would also be prohibited,” her press release states.

An ethics complaint filed by D.A. King against Gwinnett County Commissioner Marlene Fosque will be heard by the county ethics board, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The ethics board assembled to hear the complaint that Dustin Inman Society founder D.A. King filed against Commissioner Marlene Fosque met for the first time Wednesday. The five-member panel picked its chairman and vice-chairman, underwent ethics training and decided to schedule two hearings for December.

The first hearing will be a preliminary hearing on Dec. 9. The second, and more crucial, one will be an evidenciary hearing — where testimony will be given and evidence presented — held on Dec. 19.

A candidate for Mayor of Lithonia is under investigation over whether she meets qualifications for the office, according to the AJC.

The Georgia secretary of state’s office is investigating whether Cindy Thomas has met the legal requirement of being a resident of the city for one year before the election, several officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The county elections board dismissed a similar challenge to Thomas’ residency earlier this year.

Thomas’ campaign manager, John Jackson, said the secretary of state’s office is just “doing their due diligence,” and that “there is no debate to be had” about her residency. Jackson also called the complaint a “smear campaign” by members of City Council who don’t want Thomas to win.

Earlier this election cycle, Lithonia council members Ric Dodd and Amelia Inman filed a challenge to Thomas’ residency with the DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections. Dodd said Thomas had been living at her boyfriend’s house in the city for a portion of the last year, and was not living at the address listed when she qualified to run for office.

Former State Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D-Atlanta) will join a lobbying firm, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The Hudson Group LLC will add Kaiser to its payroll effective Nov. 1. Kaiser, a Democrat, represented a House district in East Atlanta for a decade before leaving office in 2017, specializing in health care and education issues. She ran for Atlanta mayor that year before dropping out of the crowded field of candidates before Election Day.

Recently, Kaiser was appointed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp to the board of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

“She is one of Georgia’s most highly respected leaders in both Democrat and Republican circles,” said Brian Hudson, the firm’s managing principal. “Margaret brings vast experience in Georgia’s business and political arenas and will prove a valuable asset to The Hudson Group and our clients.”

Voting Rights and Wrongs

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has released the list of more than 330k inactive voters whose registrations will be purged, according to the AJC.

Georgia election officials released the names of 313,243 people Wednesday whose voter registrations are set to soon be canceled because they moved away or haven’t participated in elections for several years.

The cancellations, expected to be completed in December, would reduce the number of registered voters in Georgia by 4%. There are currently about 7.4 million registered voters in Georgia.

It will be the first purge since Georgia canceled about 534,000 registrations in July 2017, the largest removal of voters in U.S. history.

“Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls are vital to secure elections, but at the same time I want to ensure that anyone potentially affected by this routine process has notice and opportunity to update their information,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “That is why my office is releasing the full list to ensure that people who are still eligible voters can update their information.”

Voters can prevent their registrations from being canceled if they sign and mail a postage-paid postcard that will be included with cancellation notices. Voters can also remain on the state’s rolls if they re-register or change their addresses online.

Georgians can check their voter registration status online by visiting the state’s My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.gov. They can also use the website to reactivate their registrations by registering to vote or changing their addresses online.

The Gainesville Times looks at what to do if you’re on the purge list.

Voters have 30 days from the date of the notice to let the state know they would like their registration to remain active. They can return the postage-paid postcard they receive, update their registration on the Secretary of State’s website or smartphone app, or go to their local elections office. The Hall County Elections Office is in the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.

The list of 313,243 registrations subject to cancellation is available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Of the list, 108,306, or 34.6% filed a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service showing they have moved to a different county or state, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Another 84,376, or 26.9%, had election mail returned as undeliverable.

The remaining 120,561, or 38.5%, have had no contact with their county election officials since before the 2012 presidential election and did not respond to a confirmation card sent by their county elections office.

Federal and state law require election officials to do list maintenance on records where the person has died or moved to a new address. Georgia law requires removal of registration records that have been “inactive” for two general elections and have had no contact with election officials during that time. A state law passed earlier this year requires election officials to mail a notice to the last known address of people prior to removing them from the voter rolls due to an address change.

Dalton State students voted at a much higher rate in 2018 than 2014, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The student voting rate on campus at Dalton State College more than doubled in last year’s election, increasing to 47% in 2018 from 18% in 2014.

Dalton State is actively promoting voter registration, education and get out the vote efforts through the work of a student group called SAVE (Students Advocating for Volunteer Efforts). This team most recently hosted the Dalton State Voter Registration Campus Takeover, collecting more than 90 voter registration forms.

Dougherty County voter turnout is low, according to the AJC.

[E]arly voter turnout has been underwhelming, according to The Albany Herald. A Dougherty County elections official said only about 1,000 of the county’s 50,000+ registered voters have turned out thus far.

30
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 30, 2019

Duke Albany

Duke is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

Scully Albany

Scully is a young male mixed breed mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

Ali Albany

Ali is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

30
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2019

King Henry VII of England was crowned on October 30, 1485.

King Charles I of England granted a charter for a new colony called Carolana that included much of present-day Georgia, along with the current states of North and South Carolina, on October 30, 1629.

Stephen Douglas of Illinois campaigned in Atlanta for President of the United States on October 30, 1860. Douglas had defeated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senate in 1858, giving rise to the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

On October 30, 1871, Republican Benjamin Conley became acting Governor of Georgia after Republican Governor Rufus Bullock resigned; Conley served as President of the state Senate before taking office as Governor.

Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

On October 30, 1938, a science fiction drama called War of the Worlds was broadcast nationwide in the form of a series of simulated radio broadcasts.

Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 30, 1945, becoming the first African-American professional baseball player in the major leagues.

On October 30, 1970, a fastball from Nolan Ryan was timed at 100.9 miles per hour, putting him in the record books.

On the same day, Jim Morrison of the Doors was sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrision died before the case was heard on appeal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order allowing the late Senator Leroy Johnson to lie in state in the Georgia Capitol on Thursday, October 31, 2019, and ordering the lowering of flags to half-staff on that date for state buildings and properties.

The Georgia Department of Public Health identified a third vaping-related death, according to CBS46.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has announced the third vaping-related death in the state.

The department says it has identified 25 cases of vaping-related illnesses in Georgia and now three deaths. The identity of the latest victim has not been released.

Symptoms of vaping-related illness include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Vaping is an increasing concern for public health and education officials, according to the Albany Herald.

“I’ve been getting a lot of requests from schools to come out and talk about the harms of vaping and what they (students) can do to quit,” said Ebonee Kirkwood, tobacco cessation specialist for the Southwest Georgia Health District. “There has been an increase in concern in the school system.”

Of the 34 deaths attributed to vaping and e-cigarette use recorded as of Oct. 22, two have occurred in Georgia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths also have been confirmed in 23 other states.

Among Dougherty County public school students, vaping seems to be relatively low, compared to other systems in the area. Among students, less than 7% of 12th graders reported using one of the products at least once within the previous 30 days, according to an annual student health survey released by the Georgia Department of Education.

Out of 4,693 students who answered the question in grades 6 through 12, 26 reported using the product daily over the previous month.

In Lee County, a little more than 20% of 12th-graders reported using one of the products at least once within the previous 30 days and nearly 9% – 25 out of 281 who responded – used them daily during that period.

Atlanta City Council is considering limiting sales of vaping supplies, according to the AJC.

Amid national discussion surrounding vaping, the Atlanta City Council is considering a move to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and the sale of all vaping products to those younger than 18.

The city’s public safety committee postponed voting on the proposed legislation Tuesday after hearing from vape proponents, who were concerned the ban would hurt businesses. Councilman Michael Julian Bond presented the legislation to the council at last week’s council meeting.

At Tuesday’s public safety meeting, vape proponents argued that banning the flavored vapes might not reduce the number of young people attracted to the devices. They said many teenagers use the e-cigarettes for the nicotine — not the flavor. Thus, imposing an age limit on who can by the products might cause minors to purchase vaping products on the black market. Some also worried it would put vape shops, whose customers are often youth, out of business.

Bond suggested the committee hold a work session with vape proponents to better educate councilmembers on the safety and dangers of vaping. No date was set for that discussion.

Several cities in metro Atlanta have already taken steps to restrict where vaping devices can be used or where stores can operate in their jurisdiction. Snellville banned vaping at city-owned buildings, parks, and other spaces. Alpharetta also passed laws limiting where the shops can go and how much they can sell in tobacco and vape items. Smyrna has passed a law making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, possess or use a range of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vapes and electronic hookahs.

A federal judge held that a local sheriff requiring warning signs at sex offenders homes , according to the AJC.

A federal judge on Tuesday said a Georgia sheriff’s plan to post “no trick-or-treating” signs at sex offenders’ homes was unconstitutional.

The ruling comes after three registered sex offenders sued Butts County Sheriff Gary Long to stop his office from the practice, which began last year with deputies planting signs that urged Halloween revelers against stopping. Deputies put up some of the signs while others among the county’s 200 registered sex offenders were told to display one themselves or face unspecified trouble, according to the complaint.

U.S. District Court Judge Marc T. Treadwell’s order applies only to the three plaintiffs, meaning it wouldn’t stop the sheriff’s office from placing signs at other registered sex offenders’ homes. But the judge said Long’s legal authority to place the signs was “dubious at best.”

The sheriff disagreed with the ruling but said he’d abide by it.

The sheriff’s plan to place the signs “run afoul” of the First Amendment because it compels the men to display the message even though they disagree with it.

The sheriff said he’d sought legal advice in 2018 before placing the signs and believed it was appropriate.

Bibb County voters will decide on a $185 million dollar five-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to the Macon Telegraph.

The US Army Corps of Engineers announced it will delay increasing dock fees on Lake Lanier, according to the Gainesville Times.

Those increases were challenged by several legislators, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

The Corps will hold off on permit fee increases to do a national review of shoreline management fees, according to a social media post from the Corps’ South Atlantic Division.

The increases, announced in June, would have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and affected the Corps’ South Atlantic Division. Under the revised fee schedule, new dock or facility permits would have gone from $400 to $835, and re-issue permits would have increased from $175 to $835.

“I’m very encouraged that the Corps took our concerns seriously and made the decision to hold off on increasing permit fees. Residents of the Ninth District living on or near Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell — and those throughout the southeast living near Corps waterways— will no longer be hit with significant and unexpected fee increases come January,” Collins said in a statement.

The Corps of Engineers also announced their decision on how to proceed at the Savannah River near Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that it will choose an option that will demolish New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in favor of a rock weir fish passage that will lower the pool in the Savannah River significantly.

The decision, which is widely and vehemently opposed by Georgia and South Carolina leaders, will likely end up in a lawsuit perhaps as early as this week, officials said. The Corps left open the door for a higher water level, but it will require local entities to contribute to it.

The Corps said it will hold a “public engagement” on the plan from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in Augusta at the Boathouse Community Center, 101 Riverfront Drive, where it will discuss details of the plan. But public reaction to the plan from Georgia and South Carolina at all levels of government was swift.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., said the move would violate the requirements of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016, which authorized a fish passage but also required the pool in the Savannah River be maintained “for navigation, water supply, and recreational activities, as in existence on the date of enactment of this Act,” which on Dec. 16, 2016, was 114.5 feet above sea level.

Woodstock City Council approved a New Small Business Occupational Tax Waiver program, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News.

Under the program, newly organized businesses in a commercial location with less than 10 employees which open in the city qualify, among other requirements, for the waiver of the application, inspection and occupational tax fees for their first year.

An occupational tax license, more commonly known as a business license, is required for all commercial and home-based businesses by each local jurisdiction.

The waiver program is intended to encourage business owners to consider Woodstock as a favorable and encouraging environment to begin their business.

“Woodstock has been focusing on programs for a few years that help foster a business-friendly community to attempt to grow our employment base,” said Mayor Donnie Henriques in a statement. “From partnerships with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development and Chattahoochee Tech to establish the area’s first co-work space to small business programming support through city supported agencies and nonprofits, we have seen an increase in the community of like-minded individuals looking to establish businesses in the area. We hope that the waiver of these fees is seen as a further incentive to take that next step here in Woodstock.”

Columbus Council member Evelyn Turner Pugh attended her last meeting after 31 years of service, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Tuesday was Turner Pugh’s last meeting after serving nearly 31 years on council. She was first elected in 1988 and last elected to a four-year term in 2016.

She announced Oct. 8 that she will be retiring at the end of the month due to health challenges. Turner Pugh has battled Parkinson’s disease for over a decade.

[Valerie A.] Thompson was appointed by the council to fill the rest of Turner Pugh’s term, and will take the seat effective Nov. 1. She will hold the post until an election can be held, and has said she will not seek re-election.

“She has conducted herself with a fierce loyalty for her district without losing sight of the fact that her votes impacted citizens throughout this community,” [Mayor Skip Henderson] said. “And that’s tough, you ask any district councilor, that is a very, very difficult thing to do.”

The Glynn County Commission Finance Committee voted to move forward with opening a third early voting location, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell told board members in January that opening a third early voting location would cost around $8,500 per election and $17,000 at a minimum for the 2020 presidential election cycle.

To give Glynn County’s busy voters more options, the board hopes to open a new early voting polling place in the county-owned Ballard Complex at the corner of Community and Old Jesup roads.

“To support this request, the Ballard Building will be out of public rental service for 122 days and the Brookman Building will be out of service for 11 days,” according to a memo from Public Works Director Dave Austin to the committee. “Based on last year’s statistics this will cost Glynn County 49 days of rental revenue at Ballard at a cost of $3,675 and 11 days of revenue for Brookman at $825 for a total of $4,500 potential loss of revenue.”

Committee member Bill Brunson asked why it would be necessary to take the building out of circulation for 122 days.

For all the elections the board is required to provide three weeks of early voting, said Channel. The building would also have to be secured and access restricted to elections personnel only during the voting period.

“In my opinion, there is no greater use of that building than the voting process. The public, all the community gets to use it,” Channell said.

Ultimately, the committee unanimously recommended the county commission allow the board of elections to use the Ballard Complex.

A stranded manatee near Savannah was saved by contractors, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Workers with Continental Heavy Civil Corp., the corps’ contractor, found the grounded manatee on the morning of Oct. 1. The 10-foot-long animal apparently tried to swim from the Little Back River into Rifle Cut during high tide, became stuck and was left high and dry when the tide fell. Continental’s crew kept the manatee wet until responders arrived.

“It was a really large female, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen,” said DNR senior wildlife biologist Mark Dodd, who was among the responders. “She was a big fat girl.”

The manatee appeared healthy. Female manatees sometimes ground themselves to avoid unwanted attention from males, Dodd said, but no males were seen in the area. The female probably could have made it to deep water on her own with the next high tide, Dodd said, but her stranding gave staffers with the DNR Wildlife Conservation Section and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute the opportunity to check her health and fit her with a satellite transmitter to track her movements.

Then instead of moving the bulky animal to the water, they brought the water to her.

Continental employee used a bulldozer to dig a shallow channel to the river. As water surged in, the manatee was eased onto a stretcher and hauled to deeper water, where she was released unharmed. Dodd even waded in to shoo her in the right direction.

Two first-time candidates are running for an open seat on Gainesville City Council, according to AccessWDUN.

The Ward 5 post became an open race when longtime councilwoman Ruth Bruner announced in February that she would not be seeking re-election.

Bruner’s announcement to step down presented the opportunity Gainesville residents Juli Clay and William “Bill” Bush saw as their time to step forward and seek Bruner’s seat.

Two other ward seats in the city will be up for re-election and appearing on the ballot, but the incumbents representing those wards are in uncontested races: Ward 2 representative Zach Thompson and Ward 3 representative Barbara Brooks are both unopposed.

Richmond County election officials learned of a state purge of voter rolls through the newspaper, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that more than 300,000 voters who did not vote or otherwise contact the elections office in the last two general elections will get a notice next month – sent to their last known address – that their registration will be canceled unless they respond.

A copy of the notice, posted online by the Atlanta newspaper, showed the form using the return address of a voter’s local county election office.

Travis Doss, the deputy director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said the office learned about the proposed cancellations in the newspaper.

Typically the office removes inactive voters during the spring after a general election, but Richmond County hasn’t seen the notice or been told how many local voters will be sent one, he said.

29
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 29, 2019

Sir Walter Raleigh, founder of the first permanent English settlement in America, was beheaded on October 29, 1618 for conspiring against King James I.

Georgia’s first Royal Governor, John Reynolds, arrived at Savannah on October 29, 1754.

John Hancock resigned as President of the Continental Congress on October 29, 1777.

The New York Stock Exchange crashed on October 29, 1929, beginning the spiral to the Great Depression.

The first ballpoint pen went on sale at Gimbel’s Department Store on October 29, 1945.

Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia on October 29, 1971.

Guitarist Paul Barrere of Little Feat died yesterday, according to MSNBC.

“It is with great sorrow that Little Feat must announce the passing of our brother guitarist, Paul Barrere, this morning at UCLA Hospital,” Little Feat said in a statement.

“Paul auditioned for Little Feat as a bassist when it was first being put together—in his words, ‘as a bassist I make an excellent guitarist’—and three years later joined the band in his proper role on guitar. Forty-seven years later, he was forced to miss the current tour, which will end tomorrow, due to side effects from his ongoing treatment for liver disease.”

Bonnie Raitt tweeted, “I just heard about the passing of another dear friend, Little Feat’s Paul Barrere. A brilliant guitarist, singer and songwriter—a cornerstone of one of the greatest bands of all time. I’m glad he is free of pain and may he rest in peace.”

Barrere joined the Lowell George-led Little Feat prior the recording of the band’s breakthrough 1973 album Dixie Chicken; on the LP, Barrere co-wrote the song “Walkin’ All Night,” which the Rolling Stone review at the time called “the album’s purest rock & roll song.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting continues to trend upward in Lowndes County, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Early voting totals from the second week of the mayoral race increased from 725 votes in 2015 to 1,233 votes in 2019 during the same period of early voting, according to the Lowndes County Board of Elections.

The 70% increase falls in line with the 68% increase seen from the first weeks of 2015 and 2019.

In total, the first two weeks of early voting increased 69% from 1,424 votes in 2015 to 2,411 votes in 2019.

This is the last week of early voting. It is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, Cox said.

Early voting is held at the Lowndes County Board of Elections office, 2808 N. Oak St. The Nov. 5 election will be held at polling places throughout the city and county.

City races are also scheduled in other Lowndes County municipalities.

The Secretary of State’s office will purge the registrations of 330k inactive voters, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The State of Georgia is planning to remove about 330,000 voters who haven’t voted recently from the rolls this December.

However, a new law requires the state to notify those voters in advance. Affected voters should receive notices by mail during November.

From the AJC:

The purge comes after Georgia canceled 534,119 registrations in July 2017, the largest single removal of voters in U.S. history.

Under a new state law, election officials will notify voters before canceling their registrations, a step that didn’t exist two years ago.

Opponents of Georgia’s cancellations say they disenfranchise voters who haven’t participated in elections in recent years but might do so in the 2020 presidential election.

“Voters should not lose their right to vote simply because they have decided not to express that right in recent elections,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, the CEO for Fair Fight Action, a group founded by Abrams that is suing the state over voting issues. “Having a long history of voter suppression, the Georgia secretary of state’s office has a responsibility to guarantee that not a single voter is wrongly included on the purge list.”

“Accurate voter lists limit confusion and delays at polling places on Election Day, and make sure voters get to vote the complete ballot to which they are entitled,” [Georgia Elections Director Chris] Harvey said. “Accurate voters lists also allow county election offices to plan for polling place equipment and staffing needs. Accurate voter lists reduce the opportunities for mistakes or fraud.”

Though some voters will save their registrations from cancellation, eliminating roughly 300,000 of Georgia’s 7.4 million registered voters would represent a 4% reduction in the state’s voter rolls.

That rate of cancellations makes sense to David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, which advocates for accurate voter lists and secure election technology. He said the removals are reasonable because they’re lower than the number of people projected to have moved out of state in the past two years.

“People don’t usually call their state and tell them to take them off their voting list,” Becker said. “The numbers by themselves don’t raise any concerns.”

Voter registration totals are up in Georgia due in part to automatic voter registration, according to The Fulcrum.

Another 310,000 voters have been added to the rolls in Georgia so far this year, the state says.

It’s a sign that one of the most widely hailed ways for expanding turnout, automatic voter registration, is working exceptionally well in one of the emerging electoral battlegrounds of the coming decade.

Georgia is among the 18 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have created so-called AVR, all in this decade, and the result in the Peach State seems to be more new potential voters than in any of the other states. The Brennan Center for Justice, which promotes easier ballot access, says the rolls expanded from 6 million when the law took effect in 2016 to almost 7 million at the time of the 2018 midterm — estimating that as a 94 percent increase above what would have been expected without the new law. All the other sates saw the rolls swell after AVR, but no other state came close to Georgia’s boost, the progressive advocacy group says.

If the trend continues, it could mean almost three-quarters of a million new voters in Georgia by November 2020, when both of the state’s Senate seats will be on the ballot and a potentially decisive 16 electoral votes will be up for grabs in the presidential election. Last year only 55,000 votes separated Abrams from the winner, Republican Brian Kemp. The GOP has not lost a statewide race since 2006.

WABE reports on voter registration deadlines:

Deadlines for people to register to vote have long been an accepted part of American elections and aren’t typically mentioned alongside voter ID laws and purges, which Democrats contend are voter suppression tactics. But an APM Reports investigation has found that 87,000 Georgians were barred from voting in 2018 because they’d registered after the deadline.

National experts who have studied the issue say that registration deadlines don’t necessarily make elections more secure, as proponents claim, but they are a useful tool for preventing people from voting, especially those who don’t follow politics closely. Georgia has one of the strictest deadlines in the country; if you want to vote on Election Day, you must register at least 29 days in advance.

APM Reports found that 5,900 people in the Georgia 7th registered to vote in the 29 days before the election, meaning they’d missed the deadline and couldn’t vote in 2018, according to records from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. While not all of them would have necessarily made it to the polls on Election Day, the number of potential voters who didn’t even have a chance to cast a ballot was nearly 14 times the margin of victory in the race. A disproportionate number of those potential voters were people of color or young voters, groups that typically favor Democrats.

An APM Reports analysis found that a majority of those 5,900 voters who registered after the deadline lived in Democratic-leaning precincts. If they had voted for Democrats and Republicans at the same percentage as everyone else in their precincts — essentially voting the same way their neighbors did — then Bordeaux would have gained an estimated 383 more votes than Woodall.

That would have narrowed Woodall’s margin to a mere 50 votes, out of 280,000 ballots cast, a virtual tie.

White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Executive Director Scott Turner met with local leaders in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah hosted a Trump administration official on Monday for a talk and tour of the city’s opportunity zones that provide tax breaks for new development.

Local media were not allowed to stay at the roundtable meeting which was held at the publicly funded civic center. Turner and Mayor Eddie DeLoach did, however, speak with the media after the meeting for interviews.

Turner said holding a private meeting for the event was not a problem.

“That’s okay,” Turner said. “We do appreciate the media, but oftentimes when you are having private meetings like this, with people from the community, they speak more openly when the media is not there at that time.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he wasn’t aware the media had been asked to leave until a reporter asked Turner about it.

This year’s Columbia County Fair will offer a chance to see Georgia’s new voting machines, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Voters in the Augusta area will get a chance to try Georgia’s new voting system at the Columbia County Fair on Friday.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will be at the fair to show the new “secure paper-ballot voting system” during a mock election at the fair. The new system is replacing voting machines used in Georgia since 2002.

“Come by anytime to test drive this cool new system and see how easy it is to vote with a paper ballot that is both secure and auditable – while also being just as user-friendly as our current voting machines,” Raffensperger said in a release.

The new machines will also offer features like switching to larger print, getting a verbal readout of the ballot and other accommodations for physical handicaps, according to the release. People will also be able to register to vote, change addresses and ask questions to state officials at the demonstration.

According to the release, more than 6,000 touchscreen machines have arrived and undergone Georgia’s quality assurance testing. Six counties are using the new system as a pilot in municipal elections, while another county is voting on hand-marked paper ballots that will be counted by new Dominion scanners.

The Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations will show one of the new voting machines at a public meeting, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The meeting is set for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Community Room of the City Services Center at 3111 Citizens Way, off Macon Road by the Columbus Public Library.

One of the new voting machines will be on display so residents can see how it works. The primary difference from the old machines is that the new ones are “ballot printers,” meaning that once voters have made their choices, they will have a “print ballot” icon to tap that prints out a hard copy of the ballot for voters to review before they cast it.

When the ballot’s cast, the printed version is stored, creating a paper trail record of the vote.

The county also is proposing moving two voting precincts to get them out of schools, a long-running trend. Schools are not considered preferable as voting polls because of traffic congestion when students are coming and going, and because of security concerns caused by strangers accessing school campuses that usually keep track of visitors for the students’ protection.

ICE detainees at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin filed a complaint, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

A group of men held in a Georgia detention center by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have filed a complaint alleging the facility’s staff members abused them and violated their human rights.

The complaint, filed Monday with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, was written by the detainees and filed with assistance from Project South, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Detention Watch Network and Georgia Detention Watch, said Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South’s legal and advocacy director.

Congressman Doug Collins is encouraged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to reassess higher shoreline fees, according to AccessWDUN.

In June, the Corps planned to increase the fees in the South Atlantic Division, but now will delay the implementation of an increase until a national review of the shoreline management program fees is conducted.

“I’m very encouraged that the Corps took our concerns seriously and made the decision to hold off on increasing permit fees. Residents of the Ninth District living on or near Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell—and those throughout the southeast living near Corps waterways—will no longer be hit with significant and unexpected fee increases come January.” [said Collins]

“I want to thank Brigadier General Holland for meeting with me today to discuss my concerns and explore ways in which the Corps could accomplish their intended goal without placing an undue burden on individuals and families living throughout the southeast. I look forward to continuing to engage with the Corps as they study this issue.” [said Collins]

The Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education held a retreat, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Whitfield County and the City of Dalton remain at loggerheads in service delivery negotiations, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Amid a failed day of mediation, trading negotiating offers in letters and with a Thursday deadline from the state to reach an agreement on a new service delivery agreement, Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said the City of Dalton is on the verge of pushing the county and the four municipalities within it “off a cliff.”

“I would say to the city to at least please sign an extension until February so we don’t go off a cliff on Oct. 31, and they said that wasn’t in the best interest of their citizens,” Laughter said. “I don’t understand that because Friday morning we will be a non-qualified government and that means losing massive money, state grants, state permits … It is a cataclysmic event for the county and all four cities.”

The Council of State Court Judges recognized Chatham County State Court Chief Judge H. Gregory Fowler with the Ogden Doremus-Kent Lawrence Award, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The City of Register in Bulloch County has three contested elections, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Five people seek three seats on the Register Town Council in the upcoming city election, with two incumbents being challenged and one running unopposed.

G. Ann Ross will serve another term in council Seat 5, as no one qualified to run against her, according to information from Bulloch County election Superintendent Pat Lanier Jones.

Incumbent Tanya Boyd, holding council Seat 3, faces opposition by challenger Shannan Grubbs. Running for council Seat 4 are Alfred L. Jones, incumbent, and challenger William “Bill” L. Ingram.

Glynn County is considering changes to voting locations, according to The Brunswick News.

To give Glynn County voters more options, the board plans to open a new early voting polling place in the county-owned Ballard Complex at the corner of Community and Old Jesup roads.

In an effort to save money, elections staff members have also been looking into moving a polling place from its current location in a church to the Brookman Recreation Building in Baldwin Park, just off U.S. Highway 82.

Because the Georgia legislature recently passed a new law overhauling state elections and requiring paper ballots, security in the Ballard building would need to be beefed up, the memo stated.

According to the memo, the elections board believes that, at a minimum, the polling area would need to be equipped with an “alarm system and/or video surveillance along with changing the locks to the building and adding a lock to the internal closet that would store the scanner and ballots each night,” estimated to cost $967.

Hundreds of tons of rocks will be dropped in St Simons Sound to stabilize the capsized M/V Golden Ray, according to The Brunswick News.

Some 6,000 tons of aggregate rock will be placed with precision accuracy around the hull of the ship, which has rested on its port side in the sound since it overturned Sept. 8 while heading out to sea with a cargo of 4,200 vehicles. The object is to halt erosion of sand and scouring of sediment around the 656-foot freighter, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes, spokesman for Unified Command. Particular emphasis is being placed on shoring up the seabed around the 25,000-ton ship’s bow and stern, Himes said. Unified Command consists of the Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Gallagher Marine Systems.

Coastal Georgia experiences some of the highest tide differentials on the Eastern Seaboard, and currents move swiftly through the St. Simons Sound to the rhythms of ingoing and outgoing tides.

“The erosion process, the currents, are scouring and moving sediments from underneath the bow and the stern,” Himes said. “That’s why we’re applying the aggregate down there, to prevent further erosion. That prevents further stress on the hull of the ship.”

As of Monday, salvage crews had pumped 290,000 gallons of fuel from the tanks of the Golden Ray, leaving about 10,000 gallons remaining, Himes said. Crews are continuing to pump the remaining fuel from the ship, he said.

Rome has collected more than $400k in taxes over the same period last year, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Although the more than $400,000 increase in sales tax revenue so far this year over what was collected by this time last year cannot be definitively attributed to an increase in tourism alone, it could be one indicator of the success of Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism, City Manager Sammy Rich explained Monday after Commissioner Randy Quick shared the budget figures during the City Commission meeting.

The Macon Telegraph reviews the candidates for Mayor and Council in next year’s elections.

Nine candidates have now filed paperwork with the Board of Elections office to raise funds to run for mayor, and another says he will file soon.

The election will be held May 19. Qualifying will be held March 2-6. Candidates do not have to file papers for fundraising in order to qualify, so the true field of candidates will not be known until qualifying is over.

Current Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert is term limited from seeking office again. His term expires at the end of 2020.

28
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 28, 2019

Christopher Columbus “discovered” Cuba on October 28, 1492.

The Battle of Wauhatchie, one of a handful of night battles in the Civil War, began along the Georgia-Tennessee border on October 28, 1863.

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886; the first ticker tape parade followed.

The United States Senate overrode President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the Volstead Act on October 28, 1919.

The Cuban Missile Crisis ended on October 28, 1962 as Kruschev agreed to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba if the United States would respect Cuban sovereignty.

Democratic President Jimmy Carter debated Republican Ronald Reagan in Cleveland, Ohio on October 28, 1980.

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The Atlanta Braves beat the Cleveland Indians 1-0 to win the World Series on October 28, 1995.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp has not yet publicly announced his choice for appointment to the United States Senate, and it’s make reporters people nervous. From the AJC:

Two months since the announcement, Gov. Brian Kemp has yet to pick from among the roughly 500 people who have applied for the coveted seat — or even signaled when the online application process will close.

Georgia Democrats haven’t moved much faster on finding someone to run against Kemp’s choice in 2020. No high-profile politician has yet jumped in the race, partly because the crowd of candidates is waiting for party leaders to bless a favorite.

The limbo has some potential candidates from both parties grumbling about what’s taking so long. They worry that they’re missing valuable fundraising time and, possibly, the chance to capitalize on November moments such as President Donald Trump’s visit and the Democratic presidential debate.

Some Kemp allies see the vacancy as an opportunity to grow their party’s appeal after last year’s narrow midterm victories. U.S. Sen. David Perdue said in an interview he’s discussed several criteria with the governor for the pick, including tapping someone who is a strong communicator and is “on our side” backing Trump.

“And the third thing is: Georgia is a growing state and the Republican Party needs to broaden with it,” he said. “And that’s been my mantra since the very beginning.”

[T]he only Democrats to make formal announcements about the race are the big-name folks who have publicly ruled out a run: Stacey Abrams, the 2018 gubernatorial contender; U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath; and Michelle Nunn, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

There’s also a Wall Street Journal article behind their paywall.

The Tri-State Water Wars among Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, will see a new skirmish on November 7, according to the Gainesville Times.

At the hearing, Georgia and Florida lawyers will get to present their state’s side in a dispute stemming from the latest piece of litigation — one that involves Florida’s claims it has suffered economic and ecological harm from Georgia’s “overconsumption of water” in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin shared by the two states and Alabama.

The arguments are taking place in Albuquerque because that’s where the special master — Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit — is based.

Before Kelly, another special master, the late Ralph Lancaster of Maine, had presided over the lawsuit, taking briefs from both sides before submitting a recommendation to the Supreme Court last year.

Lancaster had found that Florida had proven harm but that it wasn’t possible for the court to find a solution to the dispute. He believed the Army Corps of Engineers needed to be a party in the case because it controls water flows in the ACF.

[U.S Supreme Court] Justices disagreed, ruling Florida’s case was strong enough that further hearings and evidence could allow the court to come up with a decree on water consumption.

“I would think we would hear something from (Kelly) sometime next year and then the Supreme Court will take some time to react to that,” [Southern Environmental Law Center Director Gil] Rogers said.

Democrat Stacey Abrams announced that the Georgia debate for the Democratic candidates for President will take place at Tyler Perry Studios, according to the AJC.

The newly opened $250 million studio is the only major film studio in the nation owned by an African American. The debate is certain to point to a crowning achievement for a once-struggling playwright who, more than 20 years ago, had been kicked out of his apartment and was living out of a car.

That’s a message sure to be celebrated by Democrats who will be depending on a strong turn-out by African-Americans, who made up 60% of primary voters in 2018, in the 2020 election season.

We’re hearing that the Democratic National Committee had wanted the debate to be held in Sandy Springs, at the city’s new entertainment complex — to bolster U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta. An announcement had been scheduled for Monday.

But protests from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, we’re told, had forced a reconsideration of the Fort McPherson property. We’ve reached out to the Bottoms administration, but have yet to hear back.

United States Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue are co-sponsoring a Senate resolution on the House impeachment inquiry, according to the AJC.

David Perdue and Johnny Isakson have signed on as co-sponsors of a GOP-authored resolution that condemns House Democrats for their “unprecedented and undemocratic” impeachment inquiry.

The nonbinding resolution — one chamber of Congress has no authority over the internal workings of the other — was unveiled Thursday by Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It slams Democrats for refusing to tee up a full floor vote formally authorizing the investigation.

Perdue, one of Trump’s staunchest Senate allies, called the inquiry a “partisan show trial” on Thursday.

He was joined 24 hours later by Isakson, who had been absent from Capitol Hill all week contending with back pain.

“After careful consideration, Senator Isakson has decided that he will join his Senate colleagues in co-sponsoring the McConnell-Graham resolution,” spokeswoman Amanda Maddox said. “He has said all along that he wants to make sure he’s doing his part as a member of the Senate to ensure a fair process.”

I saw Senator Perdue was at last night’s World Series game. Since he was elected as a Washington outsider, I assume he was supporting the Houston Astros.

State Senator P.K. Martin (R-Gwinnett) kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign Sunday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

A potential sale of Starcourt Gwinnett Place Mall has local elected watching, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

There is a lot riding on the sale of Gwinnett Place Mall, namely the future of what officials in Gwinnett County government and the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District consider to be the county’s “central business district.”

“It is close to the center of the county (and) it’s right there on one of the main transportation corridors,” Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “All of those things mean that it is bound to play an important part in Gwinnett County.”

The mall is generally described by local officials who remember its opening in 1984 as being a crown jewel for Gwinnett in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It was a sign that Gwinnett County had matured to a different sort of community from the one I’d grown up in,” Nash said. “Prior to that mall opening, to go to a mall meant we went to DeKalb or Fulton.”

One issue that complicates the Gwinnett Place Mall site is there is not one single owner for the entire site. The mall’s three remaining anchors — Macy’s, Mega Mart and Beauty Master — each own their respective parts of the mall property as well as parking lot space for their stores.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are struggling to figure out how to spend money to fight poverty, according to AccessWDUN.

Leaders of a Georgia county intend to spend $4 million to fight poverty as part of a “prosperity package.”

But after months of study, Athens-Clarke County commissioners aren’t yet sure where the money will be spent. That’s left at least one commissioner frustrated.

“Man, y’all are getting me down on this. We’ve got to agree on something,” Commissioner Tim Denson said at a recent work session. “Not only is that frustrating, it’s embarrassing.”

Gainesville and Hall County will receive a grant to combat aggressive driving, according to AccessWDUN.

A three-year dispute over service delivery has cost Valdosta and Lowndes County at least $800k, according to AccessWDUN.

The Valdosta Daily Times totaled the legal spending in the three-year long dispute between the city of Valdosta and Lowndes County using open records requests.

The two couldn’t agree on a revised service delivery agreement, which state law requires every 10 years. The idea is to reduce duplication of services.

Lowndes County wants the city to seek county approval before providing water and sewer to new businesses outside the city limits. County leaders say they believe Valdosta will ultimately annex water and sewer customers into the city limits in areas where it’s providing services.

Early Voting continues in Rome, according to the Rome News Tribune.

A total of 240 Rome voters cast early ballots over the weekend and Robert Brady, Floyd County’s chief elections clerk, was elated.

Six of the nine City Commission seats will be decided in the Nov. 5 election, along with the “brunch bill” question of if restaurants can serve alcohol as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Early voting continues this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at two universal locations: the Floyd County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave., and the Floyd County Health Department, 16 E. 12th St.

Brady said advance voting ends Friday but all six city precincts will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters will have to go to their assigned location then – Mount Alto North, Mount Alto South, Town Rome, North Rome, East Rome or South Rome. Check the Georgia My Voter Page website for your site and status or call the Elections Office at 706-291-5167.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on proposed oyster farming rules, according to The Brunswick News.

According to an announcement Oct. 22 by the state Department of Natural Resources, DNR’s Coastal Resources Division asked the state Board of Natural Resources to consider new rules that would adopt those from the National Shellfish Sanitation Program model ordinance.

Public comment on the proposed new rules, available by PDF on The News’ website, is open through Nov. 21.

There will be a public comment meeting on the rules proposal Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at CRD’s Susan Shipman Environmental Education Center at One Conservation Way in Brunswick.

According to CRD, “Georgia’s existing laws governing shellfish harvest date back to the late 1800s and were based on the rights of riparian owners to plant and harvest shellfish. There was flexibility in the law such that in the 1980s, the shellfish industry was reinvigorated with the startup of clam mariculture in intertidal mud flats. To experience a similar revitalization in oyster mariculture, significant policy reform was required.”

The Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center works to train veterans for civilian jobs, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center expects to offer an electrical technician accelerated training program in January, thanks in part to a $100,000 grant from an Atlanta-based foundation.

Retired Air Force Col. Patricia Ross, the center’s chief executive officer, said requests to add a program to serve the booming construction industry have been coming in since the facility opened its doors in August 2016.

Having received $3.9 million in state funds for expansion of the center, VECTR conducted the informal study to identify the type of labs that would help the construction industry the most.

While the overall unemployment rate of 3.1% for veterans is slightly lower than the national average of 3.5% for all Americans, the unemployment rate for the group of veterans served by VECTR — post 9/11 veterans — is increasing, Ross said.

September’s federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show an unemployment rate for the post 9/11 veteran population of 4.5% compared to the national rate of 3.3%.for non-veterans, Ross noted. A year ago, the post 9/11 unemployment rate was 3.9%.

Candidates for Savannah Mayor and Council spoke to voters ahead of next month’s elections, according to the Savannah Morning News.

About a hundred people gathered at the Pentecostal Miracle Deliverance Church on Sunday afternoon for a candidate forum held by the Savannah branch of the NAACP.

The forum featured candidates for Savannah’s two at-large city council seats and mayor who attended the NAACP’s first forum at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum on Oct. 8.

Candidates for mayor include incumbent Eddie DeLoach, former state senator and representative Regina Thomas, and First District Alderman Van Johnson.

For At-Large Post 1, incumbent Carol Bell is facing challenger Kesha Gibson Carter. For At-Large Post 2, 2015 election runner-up Alicia Blakely is facing off against former County Commissioner Tony Center.

25
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 25, 2019

Colonists in Georgia signed a letter allowing the beginning of the slave trade in Georgia on October 26, 1749.

Georgia Sons of Liberty protested against the British Stamp Act on October 26, 1765.

On October 25, 1774, the First Continental Congress addressed a petition to King George III raising concerns about the Coercive Acts passed by Parliament and asserting its loyalty to the monarch.

On October 27, 1775, King George III addressed Parliament, raising concerns about an American rebellion.

The First of the Federalist Papers, an essay by Alexander Hamilton published under the pseudonym Publius, was published on October 27, 1787.

The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of San Lorenzo, also called Pinckney’s Treaty on October 27, 1795, setting the 31st parallel as the border between Georgia and Florida.

The nation’s first Gold Rush started after Benjamin Parks discovered gold in what is now Lumpkin County, Georgia on October 27, 1828.

Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858.

The wooden keel of USS Monitor was laid at Continental Iron Works at Greenpoint, New York on October 25, 1861.

A state Constitutional Convention at Milledgeville, Georgia repealed the state’s Ordinance of Secession on October 26, 1865.

President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act, which implemented the Eighteenth Amendment prohibition on alcohol, on October 27, 1919; the House overrode his veto that same day and the United States Senate overrode the veto on October 28, 1919.

Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922.

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

Ronald Reagan delivered the “A Time for Choosing” speech on October 27, 1964.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down—[up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

Gladys Knight and the Pips reached #1 with “Midnight Train to Georgia” on October 27, 1973.

Jimmy Carter campaigned in New York on October 27, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Donald Trump, Jr visited Hall County to support Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), according to the Gainesville Times.

Donald Trump Jr. campaigned Thursday in Lula with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

About 100 people, mostly from Georgia’s Ninth District, attended the event at Jim Walters’ Northeast Hall farm. The Collins supporters shot skeet, ate lunch and heard from Trump Jr. about the political scene in Washington, D.C.

“We don’t get many visitors from Washington, especially from the Trump family, so it was nice to have them down. (Trump Jr.) is a nice, down-to-earth, good gentleman, and I think he identified really well with North Georgians, and hopefully most Georgians,” Walters, a local businessman and investor, said.

If Gov. Brian Kemp appoints Collins to the Senate position, campaign dollars raised before the appointment could be transferred to a Senate campaign.

Former President Jimmy Carter has been released from the hospital after a fall and pelvis fracture, according to CNN.

Carter, 95, was admitted Monday night to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center for observation and treatment of a minor pelvic fracture sustained during a fall at his home in Plains, Georgia.

In a statement, Deanna Congileo, director of communications for the Carter Center, said the former president “is looking forward to continuing to recuperate at his home in Plains, Georgia, and thanks everyone for their kind well wishes.”

The 39th president also fell and hit his head in his home two weeks ago when he was getting ready for church, requiring 14 stitches above his brow. The former president has also previously survived brain and liver cancer, announcing his cancer was gone in 2015.

Former State Senator Leroy Johnson has died, according to the AJC.

Johnson, an attorney and former teacher, was elected as a Democrat in 1962 and served until 1975.

His inclusion in the 1963 class of freshman lawmakers marked him as a part of a group of rising politicians, including a future president, Jimmy Carter.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Columbus Democrat to joined the Legislature the year that Johnson left, called the former senator a “remarkable man” who had an amicable smile and friendly demeanor.

“Leroy Johnson is probably one of the most renowned public servants Georgia has ever seen,” Smyre said.

On Johnson’s first day in office, the restrooms, drinking fountains and chamber galleries were labeled “white” and “colored,” he said. And all the pages who delivered messages to lawmakers were white.

“I carried my pages into restrooms that said ‘white’ instead of ‘colored.’ And when we got to the water fountain, I had them drink from the water fountain that had the sign that said ‘white’ instead of ‘colored,’ ” Johnson said in 2008. “None of this was done with a news camera pointed to capture the fact.”

Shortly after, then-Gov. Carl Sanders removed the signs from Capitol.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said Johnson’s election played a vital role in the civil rights movement.

“Senator Leroy Johnson was a true public servant who devoted his life to the betterment of our state, both as an attorney, educator and elected official,” Duncan said.

Governor Brian and First Lady Marty Kemp announced winners of the Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities, according to the Albany Herald.

“Georgia is home to a strong arts and humanities culture that fuels creativity and innovation,” Kemp said. “Growing and sustaining our arts and humanities sectors can create a catalyst for community revitalization and local economic development across the state. I congratulate the recipients of the 2019 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities and thank these individuals and organizations for their tireless work toward the advancement of our state.”

Ten members of Georgia’s arts and humanities communities were awarded with this honor following a competitive selection process from nominations submitted from around the state. The recipients represent a diverse group of individuals and organizations who have contributed to and supported the growth of Georgia’s thriving creative industries through community involvement, pioneering programs and long-term financial commitment.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler will host an employer summit in Cordele, according to the Albany Herald.

The summit will be held from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at South Georgia Technical College, located at 402 N. Midway Road in Cordele.

The meeting is one in a series of 12 being held throughout the state called “Employers in the Know.” The meetings offer the commissioner a chance to meet with employers around the state to share the department’s work and hear back from employers on how they can better be served.

“These summits are always a learning experience for the department and me,” Butler said. “We are able to inform businesses directly about programs and regulations that may impact their companies.

“But more importantly, I get to hear directly about what we can do to help make the state even more attractive as a place to locate and grow a business.”

“The Georgians First Commission looks forward to partnering with Commissioner Butler in this event,” Scott Hilton, GFC executive director, said. “Together we will make Georgia the number one state for small business, and an even better place to live, work and operate a business.”

Early voting numbers are higher in Lowndes County, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Early voting totals from the first week of the mayoral race, which also includes other municipal races, a “brunch bill” vote and a special purpose local option sales tax referendum, increased from 699 votes in 2015 to 1,178 votes in 2019 during the same period of early voting, according to the Lowndes County Board of Elections.

That is a 68% increase from 2015 to 2019.

Although a large increase on its nose, Trey Hood, professor of political science at the University of Georgia, warns the sample size could be misleading.

“Based on the percentage, it seems massive, but with the numbers being so small, it certainly is an increase but not huge,” Hood said.

Dougherty Coounty District Attorney Greg Edwards referred a case involving political sign theft, according to the Albany Herald.

Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards has announced that his office has been forwarded the political sign theft case involving Albany Ward IV Roger Marietta, and that his office in turn has contacted the office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on the matter.

Edwards said he has called on Carr’s office to investigate, and if necessary, prosecute the theft reports in which Marietta is accused of taking down signs for his opponent, Chad Warbington, in the Nov. 5 election.

“Election campaigns often bring out the best in our community because they allow citizens to have a voice in government and elect their chosen representatives,” Edwards said, “but they can also bring out a certain overzealousness that walks a fine line between campaigning against a particular candidate and violating the law.

“In this case, we have allegations involving the theft of campaign signs of a local politician against his political opponent, and because this is both a political matter and a potential crime matter, I have made the decision to seek a special prosecutor from outside Dougherty County to avoid any appearance of impropriety and to ensure a fair and impartial evaluation of the matter.

Marietta said he will continue to campaign on issues including the commission’s approving a balanced budget without tax increases, utility rates below inflation, infrastructure improvements, a lower crime rate in Ward IV and citywide quality-of-life improvements.

The next state legislative session will likely include continued skirmishes on gun rights and gun control, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Democratic legislators proposed a flurry of gun control bills last session that didn’t reach the floor of the General Assembly although lawmakers have hopes measures still in play for this session will move forward.

Anne Westbrook, representative of the Georgia chapter of the national gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action, said the group is going to “keep the pressure on” for gun control legislation — no matter what pro or anti-gun bills surface.

Last session, SB150 — which keeps firearms out of the hands of individuals convicted of family violence crimes — made it further than other pieces of gun control legislation. State Sen. Jennifer Jordan, D-Atlanta, who introduced the bill, is hoping the piece of legislation will get through the floor and to the Senate rules committee.

The State House Rural Development Council meets in Kingsland, Georgia next week, according to The Brunswick News.

According to a Georgia House of Representatives resolution, economic struggles in rural areas have led to a “loss of population, a deficiency in access to health care, poor infrastructure, diminished quality of educational opportunity, scarcity of employment opportunities, and overall lack of economic growth.”

In response, a committee of 15 House of Representatives members who were appointed by the speaker of the house have been tasked with identifying policies and ideas to enhance economic opportunity across the state, particularly in rural areas.

The committee is scheduled to meet in Camden County next week for two days at the College of Coastal Georgia in Kingsland.

The public meetings will be held at noon to 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 29, and from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree will work to address an increase in gun crimes, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Roundtree also took issue with news reports claiming the fatal Monday shooting of Michael Holt on 10th Avenue was Augusta’s 33rd homicide of the year.

“It does not reflect that four of those homicides are non-prosecutable cases that were the result of self-defense or accidental or involuntary manslaughter,” the sheriff said at a Thursday news conference. “The accurate number to date is 29.”

The number of homicides dropped to 19 in 2013, Roundtree’s first year in office, then hovered in the low 20s until 2017, when it rose to 30. Last year there were 32 homicides, according to previous Augusta Chronicle reports.

Roundtree said the overall increase in gun violence – including a 57 percent uptick this year in aggravated assaults involving guns – merits greater attention.

Dalton Utilities is considering raising water rates, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Medical Association of Georgia recently discussed medical cannabis, according to the Albany Herald.

“MAG’s focus, here, is to ensure that patients have the peace of mind knowing they have access to low-THC/CBD products that come from a safe and reputable source — through the product’s entire life cycle,” MAG President Dr. Andrew Reisman said. “And keep in mind that MAG opposes the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.”

MAG recently hosted a “Physicians’ Medical Cannabis Summit” sponsored by companies that are interested in securing one of six cultivation and manufacturing licenses that will be issued in Georgia including Curaleaf, Georgia Atlas, Surterra Wellness and Trulieve.

The event addressed Georgia’s medical cannabis use and cultivation laws, what physicians need to do to “certify” that a patient has one of the conditions that are covered by Georgia’s low-THC oil laws and what low-THC oil producers are doing to ensure patient safety. It also featured a talk by chemist Jeremy Applen, who performs quality tests for U.S. cannabis producers.

Reisman said MAG will form a member task force to study the issue as a first step.

Savannah is considering new regulations on the variety of wheeled vehicles , according to the Savannah Morning News.

Tipsy bridesmaids pedaling on quadricycles will remain a familiar sight for now in Savannah, although where they can ride will be limited.

Aldermen and the mayor approved new boundaries for the mobile attraction at Thursday’s regular council meeting. They also tabled proposed action on prohibiting alcohol on the bikes.

The changes are part of a new tour service for hire ordinance designed to regulate tour services under one code section. The ordinance also governs horse drawn carriages, tour services for hire and pedicabs used for guided sightseeing tours. The new quadricyle boundaries only apply to quads. Pedicabs will now be allowed beyond the Historic District to Victory Drive.

24
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 24, 2019

Martin Macon-Bibb

Martin is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Scarlet Macon Bibb

Scarlet is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Kasey Macon Bibb

Kasey is a female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.

Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare must cease intake of animals, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has ordered the Macon-Bibb Animal Welfare shelter to stop taking animals until it can get its population under control.

The shelter’s capacity is 80 dogs and 40 cats, but on Tuesday the state found 170 animals in the facility, according to a Macon-Bibb County government release.

From July through the end of September, 1,065 animals came to the shelter, but only 691 were adopted, rescued or fostered, the release stated. Another 261 were euthanized.

As of Wednesday morning, the shelter held 182 animals, including 47 adoptable, 30 mothers and babies that can only go to a rescue shelter and 57 strays that must be held for seven days before being considered for adoption. Another 48 are in legal hold, which means they can’t be considered for adoption until the case is settled in court.

To help get more animals out of the shelter, adoption fees have been cut in half. The fees are now $50 for dogs and $35 for cats, which includes spay or neuter, de-worming, vaccinations and county registration.

To adopt, visit the shelter at 4214 Fulton Mill Road from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

24
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 24, 2019

On October 24, 1733, the Georgia trustees ordered a ship to Rotterdam to pick up a group of Lutherans expelled from Salzburg, Austria, and then send the Salzburgers to Georgia.

On October 24, 1775, Lord John Murray Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia, ordered the British fleet to attack Norfolk, VA.

On October 24, 1790, the Rev. John Wesley wrote the last entry in his journal, which he began keeping on October 14, 1735.

The first American “Unknown Soldier” was chosen on October 24, 1921 in Chalons-sur-Marne, France.

Bearing the inscription “An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War,” the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

The Charter of the United Nations took effect on October 24, 1945.

On October 24, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged the United States’ support for the South Vietnam government led by President Ngo Dinh Diem.

On October 24, 1976, Newsweek released a poll showing Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter leading President Gerald Ford in 24 states, with a combined 308 electoral voters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp, in Decatur County, discussed continuing efforts to help rural communities, according to WTXL.

The governor made an important stop Wednesday in Decatur County to meet with those farmers and discuss their needs. He is making a promise to farmers that he will continue to push for more resources in rural southwest Georgia.

Hurricane Michael cost these farmers millions of dollars in damage.

Governor Kemp says he plans to push lawmakers to realize the potential that rural Georgia has.

“We’ve got to be positive about rural Georgia. We got a lot of opportunity. We got a lot of resources,” said Kemp. “We’ve got great farmers growing great crops.”

Because the governor believes better days are coming, he says he’s trying to raise awareness.

“We’re trying to raise awareness not only to people down here but people around the state, people around the U.S. and people around the world that we can do great things in the rural parts of our state,” said Gov. Kemp.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture estimates farm damages due to Michael to be as high as $2.8 billion.

Donald Trump, Jr. will headline a Georgia fundraiser for Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), according to the AJC.

An aide to Collins expects the north Georgia fundraiser to raise about $300,000, giving him a financial boost that could be transferred to a Senate campaign if he’s appointed to the job by Gov. Brian Kemp.

The visit comes weeks before President Donald Trump is set to arrive in Georgia for a Nov. 8 fundraiser and a potential political event aimed at energizing black Republican voters.

Georgia’s Democratic Presidential debate will feature an all-female panel of moderators, according to the AJC.

The four moderators of the Nov. 20 event co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post are: Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker.

With more stringent requirements, the debate seems set to feature a smaller lineup of candidates than the 12 who qualified for last week’s showdown in Ohio.

What’s still unknown is the location and venue of the debate. Party leaders say it’s expected to be held in metro Atlanta, but the exact site has yet to be announced.

11Alive looks at presidential candidate donations from Georgia.

President Donald Trump and another five Democratic candidates all raised at least six figures in Georgia between January and June. Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both raised more than $300,000.

Overall, about $1.4 million of Georgia’s $1.5 million has been steered toward the Democratic primary so far (incumbent presidents not facing a serious primary challenge typically don’t start raising a lot of money the year before an election.)

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources released proposed rules for oyster farming, according to the Savannah Morning News.

DNR’s Coastal Resources Division on Tuesday asked the state Board of Natural Resources to consider new rules that would adopt the overarching National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance; establish commercial shellfish seed sizes for mariculture; set requirements for shellfish seed health and importation, and set criteria for subtidal water bottom leases and lease terms.

The General Assembly earlier this year passed legislation that sets up a framework for a fledgling oyster farming industry, giving the state Department of Natural Resources final say in when oysters can be harvested and where oyster seed comes from. Neighboring states already farm oysters year-round, but in Georgia, oysters are wild harvested only. The law also provides for a lottery to allot leases to qualified farmers.

“This is an opportunity for rural development in McIntosh and Bryan,” [One Hundred Miles Executive Director Megan] Desrosiers said. “Local food is one of the hottest markets and we don’t have local oysters in Georgia. It’s an opportunity not only to have an oyster market in Georgia but also to highlight the pristine environment we’ve worked to protect.”

If approved by the board, the new rule would additionally create a process for certifying shellfish hatcheries and nurseries in Georgia. Board approval would also bring the department into compliance with House Bill 501, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on May 6, 2019. The law goes into effect March 1, 2020.

The new state voting system was used for a mock election at the Georgia National State Fair, according to the Albany Herald.

Voters in a straw poll conducted at the Georgia National State Fair are feeling peachy about the new voting machines they used in the mock contest.

Peaches came out the winner in voting on the favorite Georgia Grown food, followed by pecans, peanuts and blueberries. If nuts and berry supporters were dejected by the results, they could have found comfort in knowing the election was secure, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Raffensperger, Georgia’s chief election official, noted that the new voting technology’s paper ballots provide an audit trail to ensure election tallies are accurate in case the second-place candidate – or crop – requests a recount. Georgia conducts recounts when requested by candidates coming within 1/2-percent of the winner.

More than 3,700 ballots were cast by fairgoers who came by the Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown pavilion where the touchscreen voting was on display. Peaches topped the balloting for favorite Georgia Grown food with 1,399 votes. Coming in next were pecans with 973, peanuts with 703 and blueberries in fourth place with 639.

As people at the fair learned, they can check the printout for their mistakes before casting the ballot. Reaction from those trying the machines was overwhelmingly positive.

As a pilot, the new system is being used in an actual election for municipal contests in six counties, Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Decatur, Lowndes and Paulding. In a seventh county, Cobb, voters are using hand-marked ballots that will be counted by scanners that are part of the Dominion technology.

Gwinnett County may need additional time to finalize service delivery agreements with its cities, according to the AJC.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday night to ask the state for more time to negotiate the new service delivery strategy, or SDS, which lays out how each of the local governments charge taxpayers for things like police, fire service and road maintenance.

“The cities and the county have made excellent progress toward finalizing the new agreement, thanks in large part to the good relationships we have developed with each other,” [Gwinnett Commission Chair Charlotte] Nash said.

State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mtn) will introduce legislation to allow college athletes to be paid, according to the Albany Herald.

Mitchell said the bill is modeled after California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which recently became law in the Golden State.

“With this legislation, Georgia hereby joins a rapidly growing number of states that have filed similar legislation, or are in the process of doing so, including Florida, New York, South Carolina and Minnesota,” Mitchell said.

“Not only is this an idea whose time has come, but Georgia schools would be at a decisive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting with other states that join California in implementing this act, if we fail to do the same.”

The California law, signed in September, bars the NCAA from punishing an athlete for monetizing their name and image, but Mitchell’s announcement made no mention of taking that step.

While no mention of barring the NCAA from taking action against an athlete was mentioned by Mitchell, a press release from the Georgia House of Representatives Press Office said the bill would bar public and private colleges in Georgia from punishing an athlete for receiving compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.

An interchange at I-20 has been named after former State Senator Bill Jackson, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Former state senator Bill Jackson was surprised by the crowd that gathered near exit 183 off Interstate 20 on Wednesday morning. A host of state and local dignitaries joined Jackson and his family for naming of the interchange in his honor.

One caught Jackson by complete surprise – former Gov. Nathan Deal who spoke about his time with Jackson and his dedication to the Augusta area. He also noted that the senator’s name would be seen by thousands who take exit 183 as the Appling and Harlem areas continue to grow.

“There’s going to be a lot of people who see this sign and they need to be reminded that there was somebody who stood up and represented this area very, very well,” Deal said.

Jackson said he hopes he is remembered as a common man who lived in a common home, but believed in people and loved his neighbors.

“If nothing else happens, I hope that I can live a long life and I can continue to be proud – not of me, but you for what you made happen,” he said.

The Dalton Public Works Committee approved a citizen petition to circulate for speed cushions, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Members of the City of Dalton’s Public Works Committee have given the go-ahead for residents of a section of Fredrick Street to gather signatures on a petition to place speed cushions on the street.

Assistant Public Works Director Andrew Parker briefed committee members — City Council members Tyree Goodlett and Denise Wood, City Administrator Jason Parker and Public Works Department Director Benny Dunn — on a study performed on Fredrick Street between Underwood Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard after a resident of that area requested the department look at installing speed cushions there.

Committee members agreed it was close enough to let residents circulate a petition. If 75 percent of the residents of that section of Fredrick Street sign the petition, it will come back before the Public Works Committee for a final recommendation. The City Council would have the final vote on whether to approve the cushions.

Lowndes County Commissioners approved a new policy to allow some private roads to become public roads, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Private Roads Resolution will allow for individuals and entities owning private roads to hand over ownership to the county if they choose. This could help update some roads and potentially pave some currently unpaved private roads, said Paige Dukes, Lowndes County clerk and public information officer.

Candidates for Mayor of Smyrna met voters in a public forum, according to the AJC.

Albany City Commissioners approved a $5.5 million dollar street resurfacing program, according to the Albany Herald.

23
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 23, 2019

smFDR Atlanta 1932

FDR campaigning in Atlanta and Georgia in 1932.

FDR Georgia

When he arrived at Warm Springs, FDR gave a short speech:

“Two more weeks to go. . . . First, let me say this: this old hat, a lot of you people have seen it before. It’s the same hat. But I don’t think it is going to last much longer after the 8th of November. I have a superstition about hats in campaigns, and I am going to wear it until midnight of the 8th of November. . . . Well, it’s fine to see, and I’m looking forward to coming down here for the usual Thanksgiving party at Warm Springs, and having a real old-fashioned Thanksgiving with my neighbors again. I thank you!”

On October 23, 1971, the Coca-Cola Company launched the advertising campaign “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 23, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr took action to close a plant in Covington, according to CBS46.

On Monday, Georgia’s attorney general, on behalf of Governor Kemp’s office, filed a formal complaint asking a judge to temporarily suspend operations at Becton Dickinson medical sterilization facility in Covington.

“After months of failed negotiations, empty promises, and misleading reports of ethylene oxide leaks, we have filed a Temporary Restraining Order to suspend operations at BD in Covington. Our top priority is the health and well-being of Georgia families. This measure is necessary to ensure transparency and prevent behavior that threatens the safety of employees and the community,” said Kemp.

The Office of Attorney General Chris Carr says, “BD should be shut down until it demonstrates to the Court that it has completed the following actions:

•  Trained all technicians on the proper operation of all valves in the facility;

• Completed corrective action to prevent a future release from all vacuum exhaust valves at the facility by installing blanks on the outlets to all vacuum exhaust valves to prevent flow regardless of valve position or condition; and

• Installed necessary pollution control equipment to capture fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide at the facility and route them to a control device with at least 99 percent efficiency.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton met with Governor Kemp to discuss the appointment to the United States Senate, according to the AJC.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton spoke with the governor last week to discuss the possibility but has yet to submit a resume for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat, according to several people with direct knowledge of the sit-down.

Melton would be one of the highest-profile officials competing for Kemp’s favor if he decides to apply. He would also be one of the most unconventional contenders, given his tenure on the bench of the state’s highest court and lack of political experience.

A former lawyer for the state Attorney General’s office, Melton was serving as then-Gov. Sonny Perdue’s executive counsel when the Republican tapped him in 2005 for an open seat on the state Supreme Court bench.

The first black student body president at Auburn University, Melton has carved out a conservative track record on the bench and penned a string of high-profile decisions.

But he’s also never had to take a stance on many political issues that will shape the 2020 race, including his level of support for President Donald Trump. He’s also never faced a contested statewide race, since he ran unopposed the last three elections.

Former President Jimmy Carter fell again and broke his hip, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Former President Jimmy Carter is in the hospital again after falling and fracturing his pelvis Monday evening at his home in Plains, Georgia.

Carter Center spokeswoman Deanne Congileo described the fracture as minor. Her statement said the 95-year-old is in good spirits at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center and is looking forward to recovering at home.

This is the third time Carter has fallen in recent months. He first fell in the spring and required hip replacement surgery. Carter fell again this month and despite receiving 14 stitches, traveled the next day to Nashville, Tennessee to rally volunteers and help build a Habitat for Humanity home.

Butts County Sheriff Gary Long is being sued by sex offenders, according to the Jackson Progress-Argus.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 24 by three Butts County residents on the Georgia sex offender registry, challenges the sheriff’s office’s practice of requiring residents on the registry to display signs reading: “Warning: No trick-or-treat at this address. A community safety message from Butts County Sheriff Gary Long.” The suit also alleges deputies trespassed in order to place and collect the signs last year.

The suit — on behalf of Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden and Corey McClendon — is pending in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia in Macon. The suit names Butts County Sheriff Gary Long and other sheriff’s office employees as respondents.

Yuracheck and Begnaud argue in the complaint that Georgia’s sex offender registry statute does not require such signs to be placed at the homes of offenders, and that the Butts County Sheriff’s Office did not have permission to enter their properties to place or collect them.

In addition to arguing deputies trespassed, the suit claims the signs caused “anxiety, embarrassment and humiliation,” and compelled “petitioners to endorse speech which they found objectionable.”

“We will argue to the federal court that we are protecting our children and following Georgia law by placing these signs,” Long said. “Regardless of the judge’s ruling this Thursday, I will do everything within the letter of the law to protect the children of this community.”

In related news, Gary Long will be reelected Sheriff next time he’s up.

Former Governor Nathan Deal will serve as Distinguished University Professor of Government at Mercer, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“I suppose I’ve always been somewhat of a teacher anyway. I’m the product of two teacher parents, so I’ve done a lot of teaching along the way just never had a designation as a professor or anything until now, but I do look forward to it. I think I do have some insights that I would like to share with the students,” Deal said.

Deal said his new position will consist of a series of lectures that are scheduled to start next year.

The Georgia Board of Regents agreed to appoint Deal as a Regents Professor earlier this year with a start date of March 1, according to an article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The board originally wanted him to teach at the University of Georgia, but Deal said after having back surgery in January, he asked to teach at the University of North Georgia because it is closer to his home.

Deal said he looks forward to traveling to his alma mater next year and talking with the student body at Mercer, a private university.

“They seemed to think that my experiences in public office would be beneficial to be able to convey the lessons that I have learned to the students, and hopefully I can do that,” Deal said.

Proposals to give Macon-Bibb County employees paid time off to vote remain on the table, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Two proposals to give Macon-Bibb employees time off to vote and engage in civic activities stalled again Tuesday. But this may not be the last time the issue comes up.

One plan would have given employees a full holiday for the November election in even number years. The other would have given employees a half day off each quarter to vote or engage in other civic activities.

The proposals had been previously tabled in committee. Commissioner Virgil Watkins brought both plans back up at Tuesday’s committee meetings. With each one a motion was made to untable the proposals, but neither got enough votes.

Gwinnett County will purge inactive voters, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett Elections Supervisor Kristi Royston said about 22,000 voters in the county are set to receive NGE notices — NGE essentially stands for “no activity through two general elections.”

These voters are therefore deemed “inactive” by state elections officials, and are scheduled to be removed from voter rolls if they don’t quickly update their registration information. Officially, the registrations are “canceled” if the voter does not respond.

“This is a change to this process that came out of House Bill 316,” Royston said. “This cancellation has taken place before, but in the past, there was not a notification prior to removal.

“If you look at House Bill 316, there’s a section in it that now addresses that we will — the county registrars — send a notice to the affected voters, and then once they receive that notice, they would respond and if they don’t respond, then they will be removed.”

This is the first time that Georgia has used the notification system for voter registration “cancellations” since House bill 316 became law earlier this year, according to Royston.

Short term rental regulations appear not to be widely followed, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

[Mamie] Pound said she was disappointed to learn that only 30 of the 180 short-term vacation rentals in Columbus are 100% compliant with the new regulations.

Those regulations impose an 8% hotel-motel tax on short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb or HomeAway, just like on hotels and bed and breakfasts.

She said the city’s requirements for her inn include inspections by the fire marshal and health department, in addition to combined fees of about $700 per year, which vacation rentals aren’t subject to.

“I’m not against Airbnb, I just wish the playing field were leveled more,” she said.

City officials are working to enforce rules put into place by council last year to help bring in more taxes, ensure fairness with other hospitality providers, and see that the lodging businesses are following city building codes and standards.

According to the city finance department, the hotel-motel tax collections between November 2018 and August 2019 totaled $4.4 million. Of that, $26,172.78 was collected from short-term vacation rentals.

Last November, the city began requiring owners of the rental units to complete background checks, obtain business licenses, permits, collect taxes and follow other city codes.

Bowden’s office tracks the number of short-term rental units in the Columbus area and provides the data to the city building inspections and code enforcement department, which in turn is in charge of enforcing the city’s rules.

Dalton wrote to Whitfield County proposing a settlement of the sevice delivery agreement disupute, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

City of Dalton officials sent an email letter to the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Tuesday afternoon outlining a proposed settlement of their service delivery agreement negotiations. The letter arrived about an hour after county Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter says she received a call from a Chattanooga reporter asking about the letter.

Under state law, cities and counties must negotiate a new service delivery agreement every 10 years, spelling out which services the governments will provide and how they will be funded. The agreements are aimed at reducing duplication of services. Without an agreement, the county, the City of Dalton and the other cities in the county become ineligible for state grants and other funding and permits.

The current service delivery agreement is actually 39 separate agreements between the cities and the county, covering everything from ambulance service to historic preservation to zoning. It expires on Oct. 31 and if it is not recertified, Whitfield County, Dalton, Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell become ineligible for state grants and other funding and for state-issued permits.

Laughter said commissioners have not yet had time to discuss the letter and its proposals. But she indicated she will not agree to giving the city 10 percentage points more in the LOST agreement or to its request for control of the convention center.

Candidates for Port Wentworth City Council met in a public forum Tuesday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Seats up for the Nov. 5 election include one At-large seat, District 2 and District 4.

Candidates answered questions that had been submitted by the public.

Vying for the At-large council seat are incumbent Thomas Barbee, Doel Maldonado and Randall Mathews.

District 2 candidates include incumbent Mark Stephens and Scott Norman. Stephens was appointed to the seat when former councilman Paul Fox resigned on Oct. 15, 2018.

District 4 candidates are incumbent Bill Herrin and former mayor Glenn “Pig” Jones. Jones did not attend.

A planned forum for Brunswick City Council candidates was canceled when no one could open the funeral home, according to The Brunswick News.

Early voting is open in Rome for November city council and “brunch bill” elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Polls are open at the Floyd County Health Department at 16 E. 12th St. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and the same hours at the Floyd County Administration Building at 12 E. Fourth Ave. starting Monday. Weekend voting on Jackson Hill runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

On Election Day, Nov. 5, polls will be open in the various precincts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Chatham Area Transit has pulled out of a contract to redesign the bus network, according to the Savannah Morning News.

22
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 22, 2019

General James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, signed a treaty with the Spanish government of Florida on October 22, 1736.

On October 22, 1832, the Cherokee Land Lottery began in Milledgeville, with more than 200,000 Georgians competing for 53,309 lots of land.

Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation on October 22, 1887 that increased the number of justices on the Georgia Supreme Court from 3 to 5.

President Grover Cleveland arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States and International Exposition on October 22, 1895.

On October 22, 1991, the Braves played Minnesota in the first World Series game in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves won Game 2 of the 1995 World Series, beating Cleveland 4-3, on October 22, 1995.

Georgia artist Howard Finster died on October 22, 2001.

One of my dogs is named Finster, after the artist.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will visit Atlanta for a fundraiser on November 8, according to the AJC.

Trump’s visit to Georgia will be his first since a trip to Atlanta in April, when he said his administration would “smash the grip of addiction” at an opioid summit.

It will come less than two weeks before the leading Democratic presidential contenders gather in Georgia for a televised showdown. The Nov. 20 event will be the first time the state has hosted a premier political debate since 1992.

Governor Brian Kemp visited the Claxton Poultry plant in Sylvania, according to WJCL.

”We’ve got to continue to tell people about the great things we have going on,” said Governor Kemp. “This facility, the Claxton Poultry opening is just unreal for this community, I think they’re up to 187 jobs, much more than they thought this quickly.”

“It’s a great honor for us to be able to do that,” said Greg Finch, CFO, Claxton Poultry. “It’s a long time in the planning stages and getting to the point where we’re ready to open. It’s a beautiful facility and huge support from the local community and of course from the capital as well as with Governor Kemp and Senator Stone.”

This is the Governor’s seventh stop on the Georgia Made tour. He will continue throughout the rest of the year.

The Sylvania plant for Claxton poultry opened in June . And it employs nearly 200 people.

Tempers might be running a little hot on the Democratic side. From the AJC:

Teresa Tomlinson’s top aide accused Ossoff of “co-opting” U.S. Rep. John Lewis by invoking the civil rights icon’s endorsement shortly after the two candidates competing to challenge U.S. Sen. David Perdue appeared at a Saturday event.

“Let me be clear … every question should not be answered with, ‘John Lewis was hit by a brick 55 years ago,’” wrote Kendra Cotton, Tomlinson’s campaign manager, referring to the 1965 attack against Lewis in Selma, Ala.

Cotton later responded that Ossoff was “trying to wear a black man’s narrative and work like a winter coat.”

The tiff highlights the battle among a field of white candidates to win over a Democratic electorate dominated by black voters. It also underscored the changed dynamic in the race since Ossoff entered in September.

He has captured national attention, quickly emerged as the fundraising leader and is rivaling Tomlinson, a former Columbus mayor who launched her campaign in April, for the biggest share of high-profile endorsements.

In a statement, Cotton called Lewis “a national treasure” and accused Ossoff of an “attempt to co-opt his sacrifices for political gain” by referring to Lewis when asked about his own qualifications.

Augusta residents will vote on two tax referendums next year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The first will be renewing the 10-year Transportation Investment Act sales tax, which will go into effect in 2022 if voters approve.

At a Monday meeting on the TIA 2 project list, Mayor Hardie Davis said current plans are to place the question on the March Presidential Preference Primary ballot and Augusta’s next traditional sales tax on the November general election ballot.

“Currently, we’re tracking for the presidential primary ballot, under the premise that in November 2020 we put SPLOST 8 on the ballot,” Davis said.

Georgia’s 2020 election calendar has the presidential primary – when voters select between Democratic candidates for president – scheduled for March 24.

McIntosh County voters will decide on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in November, according to The Brunswick News.

Darien voters will decide Nov. 5 whether to give Hugh “Bubba” Hodge a third four-year or whether to give city councilman Griffin Lotson.

Voters in the city and county will vote on a T-SPLOST, a 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax for transportation. The tax would be in place for five years or until it raises $7.5 million and would raise the local sales tax rate to 8 percent. Both the city and county cite drainage improvements as a primary need but the money would also improve roads and bridges.

In the city races, Lotson asserts that Darien voters want a change at the top and he’s the change they want. Hodge disagrees and says there’s no point in changing while the city’s on a winning streak.

South Ware Councilman Bubba Skeen is running unopposed for re-election, but here will be at least one new face on the governing panel as three vie for Lotson’s North Ward seat. William “Bill” Johnson, who is retired from the trucking industry, faces educator Katie Daniels and retired shrimper Morris Butler.

Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy will not run for reelection next year, according to The Brunswick News.

As for the only candidate to formally announce a campaign for the seat, Cap Fendig, Murphy had nothing but praise.

Before making the announcement last week, Fendig called to asked if he planned to run for reelection, Murphy said. At the time, Murphy was about “90 percent sure” he would not.

“I asked him ‘Are you thinking about running?’ He said he was, but that he needed to discuss it with his wife and other family in the area,” Murphy said. “He called me back and said he would. I said ‘That’s fantastic. I’m now 100 percent certain I will not run.’”

“Once I found out he was willing to run, I was very happy. I feel like he’ll run a good, strong campaign and I will be very happy if he is the victor,” Murphy said.

Gainesville City Council member George Wangemann announced he will run for Mayor in 2021, according to AccessWDUN.

Wangemann first joined the Gainesville City Council in 1986 and is that governing body’s longest serving member. He is currently in his ninth term and had seriously considered retiring from public service when his current term expires at the end of 2021.

Prior to 2014 the role of mayor rotated among city council members and Wangemann held that position in 1995-1996 and again in 2004-2005.

Beginning in 2014 mayor became an elected position and current Mayor Danny Dunagan has been the only person to occupy that leadership role since the changeover.

After the city council meeting Wangemann explained his decision to seek the job of mayor. “My original plan was to retire, to get off the council, and my wife had a little different take on it and she said she’d like to see me continue on for one more term.”

Oakwood will present its proposed 2020 budget at a public meeting today, according to the Gainesville Times.

Dalton City Council adopted a 6-year capital improvement plan, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

A new nest has been constructed for a webcam at The Landings in Chatham County, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Following instructions downloaded from the internet, volunteers at The Landings this week built an eagle nest stick by stick at the top of a tall pine tree.

This site has hosted a set of popular, live-streaming nest cameras since 2014. Those cameras were originally placed to capture the activity of bald eagles who had built their nest in a nearby loblolly pine. But the eagle couple never returned. Instead, the nest was taken over first by great horned owls and then by osprey. The birds provided oodles of cuteness and drama as they laid eggs, devoured live fish, snakes and squirrels, and watched their young fledge. All of it was livestreamed, with the feed curated through Skidaway Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

It took more than half a dozen volunteers the better part of a week to do it. Along with building the nest, a process of weaving the sticks together one by one, the crew also designed and built artificial branches on which to mount the three cameras, one of which weighs 30 pounds. Sturdiness is a must to keep equipment in place through each hurricane season.

The cameras have infrared capability, enabling nighttime viewing without disturbing the birds, which can’t see infrared. And there is also audio — capturing the parents hooting and screeching, as well as babies begging. Log on to landingsbirdcam.com to check them out.