Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 24, 2020

On July 26, 1775, the United States Postal Service was created by the Second Continental Congress, may God have mercy on their souls. Benjamin Franklin served as the first Postmaster.

On July 24, 1778, Georgia ratified the Articles of Confederation.

Georgia’s John Walton was present on July 9, 1778, and signed the document then. Georgia’s other two delegates – Edward Telfair and Edward Langworthy – did not sign until July 24, 1778, which is the date most often used for Georgia’s ratification of the Articles.

An interesting sidenote is that John Walton‘s brother, George Walton, signed the Declaration of Independence on Georgia’s behalf.

At 12:51 EDT, we mark the safe return from the moon of Apollo 11.

On July 25, 1972, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

On July 25, 1974, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of United States v. Nixon that executive privilege did not allow the White House to refuse to turn over audio recordings that had been subpoenaed by a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.

The number one song in America on July 24, 1982 was “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor, from the Rocky III soundtrack.

On July 24, 2000, former Georgia Governor Zell Miller was appointed to the United States Senate to serve in the seat vacated on the death of Senator Paul Coverdell.

On July 26, 2015, former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first pitcher inducted who had undergone Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

Smoltz won the 1996 Cy Young award and reached the playoffs 14 times with Atlanta. The Braves won five pennants and the 1995 World Series with Smoltz on the roster. He’s the first pitcher to win more than 200 games and save at least 150 games. He’s also the first player inducted with Tommy John surgery on his resume.

Smoltz understood his debt to John.

“I’m a miracle. I’m a medical miracle,” Smoltz said. “I never took one day for granted.”

Smoltz also heaped praise on former manager Bobby Cox and teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who were inducted a year ago, and delivered a message to parents of the players of tomorrow as the number of Tommy John surgeries continues to escalate.

“Understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 or 15 years old,” Smoltz said to warm applause. “Baseball is not a year-round sport. They’re competing too hard, too early. That’s why we’re having these problems.”

The Macon Telegraph looks back at Georgia newspaper accounts of mask requirements during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. And does the Telegraph really have a reporter named Jason Voorhees?

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections’

The Late Congressman John Lewis will lie in state in the United States, Alabama, and Georgia Capitols, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..


Op-Ed: The Call for Rural Resiliency

by Chris Clark, President & CEO, Georgia Chamber

My Fitzgerald roots ground me and millions of other small-town Americans to a strong work ethic, value of family, and a deep-rooted faith. We believe in community and helping each other through the tough times. And we celebrate in parades and on back porches when things are good. Of course, those occasions often come from long battles and commitment. My grandfather once mentioned as we floated down a tannin-colored swamp in a 16-foot john boat, that folks in “rural Georgia have to work twice as hard to get half as much.” Each time I see another economic outlook or unemployment report, I hear his echo.

Rural Georgia was finally starting to climb out of a recession that bottomed out for most of the world just 8 short years ago. Thanks to Governor Kemp’s laser-like focus on rural economic inequality, Lieutenant Governor Duncan’s relentless advocacy for rural healthcare and Speaker David Ralston’s longtime focus on rural prosperity, we were seeing brighter horizons. Local economic developers were realizing significant payback for their efforts. Taurus Firearms opened in Bainbridge. Georgia Pacific announced a new facility in Albany. Moultrie opened PCOM, and SKC broke ground in Covington.

As the COVID-19 healthcare crisis rolled through, we saw the best of free enterprise in these same communities. Banks worked tirelessly to facilitate PPP loans. American Textiles in Tifton shifted from traditional production to the creation of personal protection equipment and The Levee Studios in Albany launched video training services for front-line workers.

But now, the COVID Recession officially begins and I worry about the impact to rural America and potential rebound of small business. This pandemic has further exposed systemic rural issues as well as raised new concerns.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 23, 2020

On July 23, 1864, Union and Confederate forces in and around Atlanta gathered the dead and worked to save the wounded. Union artillery began bombarding Atlanta. On July 23, 2014, Republicans did the same in the aftermath of the Primary Runoff Elections the previous day. Democratic artillery advertising would soon fill the air.

Former President Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Park District was established on July 23, 1917 and currently has a set of beautiful parks winding through the city.

John Smoltz started his first game as a major league pitcher on July 23, 1988, as the Braves took a win over the New York Mets.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COVID-19 is hitting Georgia’s medical infrastructure hard, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

However, 3,179 people were in the hospital with the respiratory illness on Wednesday, staying close to the record high set on Monday. Of the state’s critical care beds, 88% were full, amplifying messages from hospital executives and medical workers that hospitals are running out of room for new patients. The number of patients on ventilators also rose, although not all in critical care or on ventilators are sick with COVID-19

For example, the head of Georgia’s largest hospital told reporters Tuesday that Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital was operating at 105% capacity, meaning some inpatients were being kept in the emergency department.

“During this second wave that we’re experiencing in many parts of the country we’re seeing double, triple the amount of COVID inpatients that we saw during the peak that we experienced in May,” Grady CEO John Haupert told WABE-FM.

He said the hospital was cancelling some elective surgeries, a financial hit to the public safety-net hospital supported by Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville opened its new mobile medical unit Tuesday, The Gainesville Times reports, and tied its previous record for COVID-19 patient numbers across the four-hospital system on Wednesday. The 20-bed unit, built by the state using modular units, is in a gravel lot, freeing up space in the main hospital. The state has provided similar units in Albany, Rome and Macon.

Governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms may be discussing a settlement of the Governor’s lawsuit, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 22, 2020

General William Tecumseh Sherman gained the upper hand in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Estimated casualties were 12,140 (3,641 Union, 8,499 Confederate).

On July 22, 1964, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia released their opinion in the case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States. The court held that the Commerce Clause gave the federal government the ability to order private businesses to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

Notwithstanding such states’ rights–based challenges, the Court in the Heart of Atlanta Motel and McClung cases unanimously held that the sweeping antidiscrimination provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were a proper exercise of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. In effect, the Court reasoned that race discrimination by even very localized businesses, when viewed in the aggregate, had such far-reaching negative effects on the interstate movement of people and products that Congress could remove these impediments to commerce whether or not its true motives centered on a moral condemnation of racism.

Ensuing enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to the dismantling of many of the most overt forms of racial discrimination, which in turn contributed to the emergence of the “New South” and the explosion of economic activity that spread throughout the region in ensuing decades.

On July 22, 1975, the United States House of Representatives voted to restore U.S. Citizenship to General Robert E. Lee posthumously.

Though President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation of amnesty and pardon to the Southern rebels in 1865, it required Lee to apply separately. On Oct. 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Va., he signed the required amnesty oath and filed an application through Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Nonetheless, neither was Lee pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. After receiving it, Secretary of State William Seward gave Lee’s application to a friend as a souvenir. Meanwhile, State Department officials, apparently with Seward’s approval, pigeonholed the oath.

In 1970, an archivist, examining State Department records at the National Archives, found Lee’s lost oath. That discovery helped set in motion a five-year congressional effort to restore citizenship to the general, who had died stateless in 1870.

President Gerald Ford signed the congressional resolution on July 24, 1975, correcting what he said was a 110-year oversight. The signing ceremony took place at Arlington House in Virginia, the former Lee family home. Several Lee descendants, including Robert E. Lee V, his great-great-grandson, attended.

On July 22, 1977, Elvis Costello released his first album, My Aim is True.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The late Dr. C.T. Vivian will lie in state in the Capitol today, under an Executive Order ( signed by Gov. Kemp. From the AJC:

Vivian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient who moved to Atlanta in the 1970s, died last Friday at his home at the age of 95.

Following the three-hour viewing, a horse-drawn open carriage will take Vivian’s casket from the Capitol to the crypt of one his closest allies, Martin Luther King Jr.

Vivian’s casket is expected to arrive at the Capitol at 11:30 a.m. and be moved to the rotunda. At noon, the Vivian family will be received by Gov. Brian Kemp, who will escort them to the rotunda.

Vivian’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Providence Missionary Baptist Church. The services will be private, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but it will be streamed on the Providence website and through WSB-TV.

The New York Times obituary of Mr. Vivian is worth reading in its entirety.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 21, 2020

Union General Irvin McDowell’s forces engaged Confederates under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard and General Joseph Johnston at the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run on July 21, 1861.

On July 21, 1868, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution as a condition for readmission.

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois.

On July 21, 1988, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis accepted the Democratic nomination for President at the National Convention in Atlanta.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former State Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton) died last week, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News. My condolences to his family and friends.

“He was a good man, a good public servant and a good Daltonian,” Pennington said. “He represented all the best in this city.”

“The fact that he won that primary without a runoff over a couple of other very strong candidates shows just how much he was loved and respected in Dalton,” said City Council member Gary Crews.

Speaker of the House David Ralston sent his condolences to the Broadrick family.

“He served with great distinction and integrity until September 2017,” Ralston said in a statement. “During his service, Bruce served on a number of important committees. When he left the House, he was serving as vice-chair of the Game, Fish and Parks Committee. Rep. Broadrick was a quiet, thoughtful and hard-working member. He cared little about the limelight, preferring instead to be effective on behalf of his community. I hope you will join with me in lifting up his wife, Mary Ann, and his entire family in your thoughts and prayers.”

The Georgia High School Sports Association voted to delay the start of football season, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The GHSA on Monday voted to postpone the start of the 2020 high school football season to early September, or two weeks later than originally planned. The decision was made during a Board of Trustees meeting and passed unanimously.

A motion to stay with the current GHSA calendar was voted down 8-4.

The GHSA plans to have a full 10 game regular season, and a full five week playoff schedule. Only games are delayed — mandatory practices begin July 27, moving to workouts in full pads Aug. 1.

The decision affects only football: All other fall sports will remain on schedule.

The University of Georgia football program previously signed a contract to play UVA in a Chick-fil-A kickoff game in September, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Georgia and Stokan, the Peach Bowl Inc. CEO and president, signed a term sheet the next month [in 2016?] to match the Bulldogs with Virginia on Sept, 7, 2020, Labor Day night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The next couple of weeks should determine whether that game goes off as scheduled.

“We’re really waiting now to see what the commissioners of the Big 12, ACC and SEC decide,” Stokan said Monday afternoon.

If the SEC goes with a nine game schedule or plus-one — eight conference games and one nonconference game — then Georgia would be out of the Chick-fil-A game and would play its traditional nonconference rivalry game with Georgia Tech while Florida State would play Florida in another end of season game.

The Democratic Party of Georgia chose State Senator and DPG Chair Nikema Williams as the party’s nominee for the 5th Congressional District, vacated by Rep. John Lewis. From the official newspaper of record of Georgia Democratic politics, the New York Times:Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 20, 2020

On July 20, 1864, the Battle of Peachtree Creek took place in Atlanta.

Sir Edmund Hillary was born on July 20, 1919 in Auckland, New Zealand. He and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to summit Mount Everest on May 29, 1953.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the moon.

When the lunar module lands at 4:18 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.”

At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Aldrin joins him shortly, and offers a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explore the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.

They leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton gave the speech nominating Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis for President on July 20, 1988 at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Dukakis accepted the nomination the next day.

Clinton’s performance was widely panned.

[Clinton] bombed so badly that there was speculation it might spoil his political future.

The prime-time speech would be a perfect opportunity for Clinton to regain some of the ground he’d lost to Gore and to reestablish himself as the one to watch from the party’s moderate/Southern wing.

But he blew it. The speech he delivered was long – 33 minutes, or twice the expected length – and mechanical. It only took a few minutes for convention delegates to tune him out, as the din of their conversations began drowning him out on television. Eventually, the broadcast networks began cutting away from his speech, with commentators noting the crowd’s complete lack of interest. The lowlight came when Clinton uttered the words “In closing,” prompting a spontaneous round of sarcastic cheers from the audience. His home state paper summed it up this way:

ATLANTA Gov. Bill Clinton’s big national moment his prime time speech Wednesday night in nomination of Michael Dukakis was an unmitigated disaster.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) died Friday at the age of 80. From the New York Times:

Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, announced on Dec. 29 that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and vowed to fight it with the same passion with which he had battled racial injustice. “I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said.

On the front lines of the bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, with blows to his body and a fractured skull to prove it, Mr. Lewis was a valiant stalwart of the civil rights movement and the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

He died on the same day as did another civil rights stalwart, the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a close associate of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Lewis’s personal history paralleled that of the civil rights movement. He was among the original 13 Freedom Riders, the Black and white activists who challenged segregated interstate travel in the South in 1961. He was a founder and early leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which coordinated lunch-counter sit-ins. He helped organize the March on Washington, where Dr. King was the main speaker, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

On March 7, 1965, he led one of the most famous marches in American history. In the vanguard of 600 people demanding the voting rights they had been denied, Mr. Lewis marched partway across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., into a waiting phalanx of state troopers in riot gear.

Ordered to disperse, the protesters silently stood their ground. The troopers responded with tear gas and bullwhips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. In the melee, which came to be known as Bloody Sunday, a trooper cracked Mr. Lewis’s skull with a billy club, knocking him to the ground, then hit him again when he tried to get up.

The New York Times obituary is worth reading in its entirety, as it tells the story of the last sixty years of our nation’s struggle with her racial legacy.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 17, 2020

On July 17, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman set up headquarters in Fulton County on Powers Ferry Road near the Chattahoochee River. Late that night, Confederate General Joseph Johnston was replaced by newly-commissioned Gen. John Bell Hood.

For nearly three months, Johnston and Sherman had maneuvered around the rugged corridor from Chattanooga to Atlanta. Although there was constant skirmishing, there were few major battles; Sherman kept trying to outflank Johnston, but his advances were blocked. Though this kept losses to a minimum, there was also a limit to how long Johnston could maintain this strategy as each move brought the armies closer to Atlanta. By July 17, 1864, Johnston was backed into the outskirts of Atlanta. Johnston felt his strategy was the only way to preserve the Army of Tennessee, but Davis felt that he had given up too much territory.

On July 19, 1879, Griffin, Georgia native John Henry “Doc” Holliday killed Mike Gordon after Gordon shot up Holliday’s saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The greatest political journalist to ever put pen to paper, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, was born on July 18, 1929. That makes tomorrow “Gonzo Day.” You have been warned.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for a third term at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on July 18, 1940.

President Harry S. Truman signed the second Presidential Succession Act on July 18, 1947

The original succession act designated the Senate president pro tempore as the first in line to succeed the president should he and the vice president die unexpectedly while in office. If he for some reason could not take over the duties, the speaker of the house was placed next in the line of succession. In 1886, during Grover Cleveland‘s administration, Congress removed both the Senate president and the speaker of the house from the line of succession. From that time until 1947, two cabinet officials, (their order in line depended on the order in which the agencies were created) became the next in line to succeed a president should the vice president also become incapacitated or die. The decision was controversial. Many members of Congress felt that those in a position to succeed the president should be elected officials and not, as cabinet members were, political appointees, thereby giving both Republican and Democratic parties a chance at controlling the White House.

In 1945, then-Vice President Truman assumed the presidency after Franklin Roosevelt died of a stroke during his fourth term. As president, Truman advanced the view that the speaker of the house, as an elected official, should be next in line to be president after the vice president. On July 18, 1947, he signed an act that resurrected the original 1792 law, but placed the speaker ahead of the Senate president pro tempore in the hierarchy.

Georgia-born Ty Cobb died on July 17, 1961.

The Beatles premiered The Yellow Submarine on July 17, 1968 in London.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed by Congress on July 17, 1984. From the New York Times:

President Reagan, appealing for cooperation in ending the “’crazy quilt of different states’ drinking laws,” today signed legislation that would deny some Federal highway funds to states that keep their drinking age under 21.

“We know that drinking, plus driving, spell death and disaster,” Mr. Reagan told visitors on a sweltering afternoon. “We know that people in the 18-to-20 age group are more likely to be in alcohol-related accidents than those in any other age group.”

“’It’s a grave national problem, and it touches all our lives,” he added. “With the problem so clear-cut and the proven solution at hand, we have no misgiving about this judicious use of Federal power.”

Under the law Mr. Reagan signed today, the Secretary of Transportation is required to withhold 5 percent of Federal highway construction funds from those states that do not enact a minimum drinking age of 21 by Oct. 1, 1986. The Secretary is required to withhold 10 percent of the funds for states that do not act by Oct. 1, 1987.

The President said he was “convinced” that the legislation would “help persuade state legislators to act in the national interest to save our children’s lives, by raising the drinking age to 21 across the country.”

A senior White House official said after the ceremony that it was not clear that the new law would compel states to raise their drinking ages, even with its incentives and penalties.

He said some states, such as Florida, were proving resistant to the changes because people considered it unfair to allow residents to vote and serve in the armed services at the age of 18 but not to drink in public.

On July 18, 1988, the Democratic National Convention opened at the Omni in Atlanta. That night, actor Rob Lowe would shoot a videotape in a hotel with two hairdressers, one 22 and one 16. Several weeks later, the era of the celebrity sex tape began.

The 1996 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony was held on July 19, 1996 and competition started the next day.

The Georgia State Quarter was released on July 19, 1999.

On July 18, 2000, United States Senator Paul Coverdell died of a cerebral hemorrhage. I remember where I was when I heard the news.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp held a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol this morning to provide a COVID-19 update.

Governor Kemp filed suit yesterday asking a judge to block orders by the Mayor of Atlanta, according to the AJC.

The state filed a lawsuit challenging Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ July 10 decision to revert to “phase one” guidelines that push restaurants to close dining rooms and urge residents to leave home only for essential trips. It also casts the city’s new mask requirements as “void and unenforceable.”

“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp said in a statement. “These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth.”

The legal complaint, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, came one day after Kemp signed a statewide order that explicitly bans cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates. Atlanta and a dozen other cities have adopted such requirements, defying an order from Kemp that encourages but not mandates them.

From the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times:

Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, in a suit filed in state court late Thursday in Atlanta, argue that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has overstepped her authority and must obey Kemp’s executive orders under state law.

“Governor Kemp must be allowed, as the chief executive of this state, to manage the public health emergency without Mayor Bottoms issuing void and unenforceable orders which only serve to confuse the public,” the lawsuit states.

Bottoms said Thursday during a video news conference that the city’s order is still in effect.

The state asks a judge to overturn Bottoms’ orders that are more restrictive than Kemp’s, block her from issuing any more such orders, instruct the City Council not to ratify Bottoms’ actions or adopt any ordinances inconsistent with Kemp, to force Bottoms not to make any public statements claiming she has authority that exceeds Kemp’s, and to require city officials to enforce “all provisions” of Kemp’s existing orders.

Governor Kemp signed House Bill 1114 by State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), which seeks to lower maternal mortality rates, according to the AJC.

House Bill 1114 will extend the amount of time low-income Georgia mothers can receive Medicaid benefits, the public health program that provides care to the poor and disabled, from two months to six after the birth of a child. Nearly $20 million was set aside in the state’s budget to fund the extension.

House Health and Human Services Chairwoman Sharon Cooper, a Marietta Republican and the legislation’s sponsor, was giddy after the governor signed the bill.

“I’ve worked on a lot of legislation, but some of them are special,” Cooper said. “This one is special. … Let’s put it this way: It’s the right thing to do, and I’m glad we’re doing it.”

“With that piece of legislation we’re going to enhance access to quality and timely care for mothers on Medicaid,” Kemp said.

Gov. Kemp also signed HB 578 by State Rep. Katie Dempsey, (R-Rome), and HB 888 by State Rep Lee HAwkins (R-Gainesville), according to the Rome News Tribune.

Dempsey sponsored House Bill 578, which lets the state Department of Human Services conduct criminal background checks on student volunteers and interns. She’d been working on it for two years at the request of DHS officials.

[Senator Chuck] Hufstetler and Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainsville, teamed up on the surprise billing legislation, pushing identical bills. Hawkins’ HB 888 was the one that made it through under the wire and Hufstetler carried it in the Senate.

“This will get the patient out of the middle of surprise bills — a position that often leads to massive charges and bankruptcy,” Hufstetler said following the signing.

Kemp, who combined the signings with the grand opening of the hospital’s new emergency room, said the new laws signal “an historic step forward” in terms of healthcare.

“And frankly, it couldn’t come at a better time — as our state and country face the greatest public health challenge we have seen in the 21st century,” he added.

“When we began 2020, none of us could have predicted that we would face a pandemic and grapple with unprecedented threats to the lives — and livelihoods — of all Georgians,” Kemp said.

Some local leaders are frustrated by Gov. Kemp limiting their ability to enforce mask mandates, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Russell Edwards, a prime mover in the area’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, also expressed outrage about Kemp’s order.

“For Governor Kemp to fail to mandate life-saving measures on the very day that both of the hospitals in his hometown are in total diversion simultaneously makes no sense to me,” Edwards said. “Science proves that masks save lives. Why undermine local efforts to require masks? It’s maddening.”

Augusta Commissioner Dennis Williams could not comprehend the logic behind Kemp’s order.

“The governor is the leader of the state, but you wonder why he would suspend everything,” Williams said. “It wouldn’t hurt anybody to wear the mask or have a local ordinance — what harm does it do? It may help people stay alive.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson had a tantrum. From the Savannah Morning News:

“As you know last night Gov. Brian Kemp attempted to invalidate Savannah’s mask requirement by stripping local authority to enact policy from municipal governments across the state including Atlanta, Augusta, Rome, Hinesville and the governor’s hometown of Athens-Clarke County,” Johnson said. “He has overstepped.”

“We believe in this case we are under a public health emergency,” Johnson said. “We believe it’s very clear that we have the right and the responsibility to address an emergency. Those are some of the (legal) grounds we are standing on.”

From the Augusta Chronicle:

“An apolitical public health crisis has become political,” [Augusta Mayor Hardie] Davis said. “Gov. Kemp’s ‘Bridge Too Far’ approach on a mask requirement, and now the disregard for the local governance of cities and municipalities is beyond concerning.”

“It is no secret that COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an extraordinarily high rate across the state of Georgia and in Augusta-Richmond County,” Davis said. “Hospital beds are filling in communities, and state efforts are being placed on the reactivation of a field hospital for the overflow of patients infected with COVID-19.”

Glynn County Commission issued a proclamation asking locals to wear masks, according to The Brunswick News.

“There’s a lot of concern out there with people with constitutional rights and thinking they’re being forced to wear a mask,” said commission chairman Mike Browning. “But we’ve been and are seeing this spread throughout the country.”

“Follow the guidance,” Browning said. “You may save yourself, you may save someone else.”

Guyton City Council has adopted a new mask mandate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The ordinance says everyone age 11 and over must wear “a face covering or mask” that covers the nose and mouth in any building open to the public in the city. Violating the ordinance would be subject to a fine up to $1,000.

Seth Clark, in a runoff for Macon-Bibb County Commission District 5, says his opponent is unfit for office, according to WMGT-TV.

Clark calls [runoff opponent Carlton] Kitchen “unfit” public office due to his background that includes:

•  aggravated stalking
•  violent stalking
•  middle and high school bans

“I think the information that is found in those public records shows that my opponent is totally unfit for office,” Clark said. “I couldn’t stay silent when I saw them. [I] did my homework to make sure that they were true and they are real and I thought that my neighbors deserve to know that this happened.”

41 NBC News reached out to Carlton Kitchens a number of times for a statement, but he did not respond.

Newton County voters will choose a new Superior Court Judge in the runoff election, according to The Covington News.

All Newton County voters can cast ballots in the nonpartisan race for Superior Court judge in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit featuring Monroe attorney Jeffrey Foster and Covington attorney Robert H. Stansfield.

The nonpartisan election will decide who will replace Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton, who announced he will retire at the end of this year.

But only Democratic voters in two districts in Covington and northern Newton County will choose their party’s nominees for seats on the school board and board of commissioners.

Incumbent Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson meets Pat Labatt in a runoff election, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Jackson led in the five-person primary with 44.12% of the vote, and Labat advanced to the runoff with nearly half as many votes (23.17%). Myron Freeman (17.64%), Walter Calloway (9.13%) and Charles Rambo (5.95%) rounded out the field.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced that unemployment claims are receding, according to the Gainesville Times.

Georgia’s jobless rate dropped in June to 7.6%, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday, July 16. A year ago, the rate was 3.5%.

“June was the first month to show positive numbers in all major indicators since the pandemic started,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “Although it is nice to see the pendulum move in the right direction, we are not naïve to the fact that we may see another tick up in claims over the next few months.

“I think we are going to continue to see big drops in the unemployment rate as Georgia continues to open back up,” Commissioner Mark Butler said. “We have to remember that the recent unemployment was not caused by an economic catalyst, but instead by a medical emergency. Those jobs are still out there for the most part.”

Butler added, “There’s no doubt there’s going to be some industries it’s going to take a little bit longer to recover, but Georgia, I do believe, is ready to go back to work.”

The Clarke County Board of Education delayed school reopening until September 8, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

School officials need the time to build a solid plan that takes into account multiple scenarios to ensure everyone stays safe, said Clarke County School District Chief Academic Officer Brannon Gaskins during a called meeting Thursday night.

The delay gives administrators more time to plan with teachers and parents as coronavirus cases continue an upward trend in the county, state and across the country, Gaskins said. Teachers will still report at the end of this month, but instead of starting classes right away they will learn how to teach in the new world they and their students are about to enter, he said.

Schools and teachers must prepare not only for a school year that could begin virtually, in-person or something in between, but also for the possibility of having to shut down an entire school or system if necessary, he said.

Atlanta Public Schools pushed reopening to August 24, according to 11Alive.

Atlanta Public Schools has decided on virtual learning at least for the first nine weeks — and they’re planning to push the start date back to August 24th.

This was the first major decision for Atlanta Public Schools’ new Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring.

Students can enroll in the Atlanta Virtual Academy, referred to as “Ava” where they’ll be taught by Ava teachers. Students can also stay with virtual learning from your home school. This option gives you the flexibility to go back to in-person learning if and when that happens.

Since the start date has been pushed back two weeks, Dr.Herring said they’ll use that time to make sure students, teachers, and parents are ready.

“Distribution or refreshing of devices for virtual learning, distributing instructional materials and personal protective equipment to students, ensuring we have current contact information for our students and families and assessing the social and emotional well-being,” Dr. Herring listed.

They plan to distribute 6,000 to 10,000 devices and hotspots. They are also creating parent technology institute to offer a little help since the sudden switch to technology proved to be a struggle back in March.

Fulton and Cobb County school systems will also begin the year as online-only, according to AccessWDUN.

Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney cited the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the county in his announcement that the district was revoking the in-person learning option.

“I have been very clear all along that the reopening of Fulton County schools was predicated on the level of community spread that our schools would be facing when we resumed school,” Looney said in a video message posted on the district’s website. “Unfortunately, that data continues to move in the wrong direction.”

Cobb County Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said virtual learning was not a substitute for face-to-face instruction, and the district would bring students back to classrooms “as soon as humanly possible.”

All teachers will be trained in effective remote learning practices, and the district will provide as many tablets and laptops “as possible” to students who do not have devices at home, Cobb County school officials said in a news release.

Atlanta Public Schools and two other large districts in the state, DeKalb and Clayton, have previously said they will offer only online instruction when classes resume.

Gwinnett County schools will stay the course, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county’s school board heard a presentation on the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic at its meeting Thursday night. That meeting was held the same day that school systems in Cobb, Fulton and Douglas counties announced they would start the 2020-2021 academic year with virtual learning for all students because of the pandemic. Marietta’s school board is expected to vote Friday on a proposal to begin that city school system with only virtual learning as well.

Some Gwinnett school board members said on Thursday, however, that they felt it was better to get students back into schools. Board member Carol Boyce said she felt younger students in particular would be adversely affected by not getting to experience the school environment.

“I feel very strongly that we should go ahead and get back to school as quickly as we can, and deal with the repercussions perhaps,” Boyce said at the end of the meeting. “You know, obviously somebody may get sick. We may have to deal with that.”

“But, I feel very, very confident that our people are doing the best job that I can and that safety measures are being taken into consideration in the best possible way that they can be.”

Board member Everton Blair has opposed sending children back to classrooms too soon, and has even suggested delaying the start of school until around Labor Day. On Thursday, he said there were too many risks involved with sending children back to school in August.

“People are making short-term decisions with long-term implications that they may not even know,” he said. “And yes, we’re going to do everything we can to make our buildings safe, but there are still too many unknowns with this.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 16, 2020

On July 16, 1790, Congress declared Washington, DC the new capital city.

Georgia Congressman Carl Vinson set a new record for longevity in office on July 16, 1963, having served 48 years, 8 months, and 12 days since his election in 1914. Vinson’s record held until 1992 and his tenure is now sixth-longest.

On July 16, 1914, Asa Griggs Candler, retired President of Coca-Cola, wrote his brother Warren, who was a Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, a letter offering one million dollars and 72 acres of land in Atlanta for the church to establish a new university in the East.

The United States performed the first test of an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 at the Trinity site in New Mexico.

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the project, watched the mushroom cloud rise into the New Mexico sky. “Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds,” he uttered, reciting a passage from an ancient Hindu text.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday issued Executive Order, continuing the Public Health State of Emergency through July 31, 2020 at 11:59 PM.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 15, 2020

Ruby Humane Society NWGA

Ruby (above, female) and Rocky (below, male) are a bonded pair of Rat Terrier & Toy Fox Terrier Mix puppies who are available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

They are small cuddly pups that fit nicely together in your lap; which is where they prefer to be. Rocky is about one year old and weighs thirteen pounds. Only six months old, Ruby weighs just ten pounds. Both are friendly affectionate dogs looking for a quiet home to share. They would do best in an adult household or one with older children.

Rocky and Ruby like to spend their day following you around and keeping up with your daily routine. Daily walks or playing together in their own fenced in backyard are all the exercise they require. They are not ones to get into mischief and prefer to do their business outside. Both do well with other small dogs who respect their space.

Rocky Humane Society NWGA

Bruno Humane Society NWGA

Bruno is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Bruno is a blonde loveable Lab-mix who is very playful and loves everyone. He would make a wonderful companion for a family with older children as his energy may be too much for the little ones. This athletic two year old needs an active household where running, hiking, or outdoor games are a part of the daily routine. The exercise will keep him from boredom which can lead to mischief.

Once tired, Bruno is content to nap by your side. He prefers not to be alone. Another doggie pal would ease his anxiety and help keep him entertained at times when you are busy or away. Bruno loves to wrestle and play tag with his play group buddies at the shelter.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 15, 2020

On July 15, 1864, Sherman’s army began crossing the Chattahoochee River and would take the better part of three days to complete the crossing. Georgia Public Broadcasting has a series on Sherman’s Georgia campaign, and you can watch this week’s episode here.

Major General George Stoneman’s cavalry had come to the area south of Atlanta. On July 15, 1864, Stoneman wrote from camp near Villa Rica, Georgia.

As I indicated to you in my last note, we completed the bridge (Moore’s), and were ready to cross at daybreak yesterday morning, but before we essayed it a report came from Major Buck, in command of a battalion seven miles above, that the enemy had been crossing above him on a boat or a bridge, and that his pickets had been cut off.

Colonel Biddle, who was left with his brigade at Campbellton, reports the enemy quite strong at that point, with two guns of long range in each of the two redoubts on the opposite bluff, which are opened upon him whenever any of his men show themselves.

I was very anxious to strike the railroad from personal as well as other considerations, but I became convinced that to attempt it would incur risks inadequate to the results, and unless we could hold the bridge, as well as penetrate into the country, the risk of capture or dispersion, with loss of animals (as I could hear of no ford), was almost certain.

On July 15, 1870, Georgia was readmitted to the United States, with the signature by President Ulysses Grant of the “Georgia Bill” by the U.S. Congress.

On July 15, 1948, President Harry Truman was nominated at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago to run for a full term as President of the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump visits Atlanta today, according to 11Alive.

This trip will take him to the UPS Hapeville Airport Hub, which is located at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

According to a White House official, while there, the president will announce the implementation of a new policy allowing for expedited infrastructure projects in the Atlanta area and across the nation. The official said he is expected to champion his actions to cut red tape and remove burdensome regulations.

In particular, the rule changes that the president is expected to address, according to that same White House official, are tied to regulations associated with infrastructure projects like the Interstate 75 Commercial Vehicle Lane expansion project.

The project would enhance freight mobility from the Port of Savannah and Florida, according to a White House official, and promote economic development along the corridor.

Prior to the rule, the official said, it took an average of seven years to permit a highway project in the United States. Under the new rule, the process would be cut to under two years.

Continue Reading..