Category: Georgia Politics

21
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 21, 2019

USS Constitution, named by President George Washington, was launched in Boston Harbor on October 21, 1791.

During the War of 1812, the Constitution won its enduring nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British warship Guerriére in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shots merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. The success of the Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous morale boost for the young American republic.

Today, Constitution serves as a museum ship, and has sailed under her own power as recently as 2012. Southern live oak, harvested and milled on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a primary construction material for Constitution.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on this day in 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina.

President Warren G. Harding spoke in Alabama on October 21, 1921, and publicly condemned the practice of lynching.

Harding was a progressive Republican politician who advocated full civil rights for African Americans and suffrage for women. He supported the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill in 1920. As a presidential candidate that year, he gained support for his views on women’s suffrage, but faced intense opposition on civil rights for blacks. The 1920s was a period of intense racism in the American South, characterized by frequent lynchings. In fact, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week.

On October 21, 1976, Billy Carter spoke to an audience in Albany, Georgia, about his brother’s campaign for President.

On his brother Jimmy’s drinking habits, Billy said, “Jimmy used to drink liquor. Now he’s running for president he drinks Scotch, and I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” Billy preferred the alcohol choice of his brother’s running mate, Walter Mondale – “I liked him the best of all the ones who came to Plains. He’s from a small town and he’s a beer drinker.”

Today, Billy Carter’s service station is preserved as a museum in Plains, Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves won the first game of the 1995 World Series on October 21, 1995, as Greg Maddux dominated the Cleveland Indians, allowing only two hits. Native American groups protested the names of both teams.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Governor Nathan Deal has a new gig, according to WSB-TV.

The Georgia Board of Regents earlier this year agreed to have Deal teach for the University System of Georgia, which includes UNG. Deal, who is recuperating from back surgery he had shortly after leaving office in January, decided to give lectures at the University of North Georgia first because it’s closer (about 30 miles) to his home in Demorest.

He’ll also soon teach at his alma mater, Mercer University, which announced Friday that Deal will be a professor. Mercer, a private university, has its largest campuses in Macon and Atlanta.

Joined by Chris Riley, his business partner and former chief of staff, Deal talked to the 15 students about campaign strategy. He discussed how candidates should define their most important issues, negative ads, his strategy against his two gubernatorial opponents, and President Donald Trump.

“Most citizens would say they don’t like negative campaigning and want an issue-oriented campaign, and then they vote for the people with the negative campaign,” Deal said before chuckling.

With Riley’s help, he is working on the syllabus for a three-credit class on campaigning and governing he’ll teach next semester at UNG.

The Board of Regents agreed to pay Deal $120,000 a year to teach, which raised ethics concerns since he picked or reappointed each Regents member when he was hired. The average salary for a full professor in the University System last year was $121,886, according to a systemwide report.

The North Georgia students, nonetheless, said they were excited to have Deal in their classroom. The former governor, some said, brought their textbooks to life.

Often described as a pragmatic politician, Deal spoke matter-of-factly about the art of campaigning. Candidates should have five issues to campaign on, they must define themselves before their opponent does so and they should not waste time trying to get everyone to support them, he said. Deal discussed how targeting voters has changed from newspaper ads to television spots on the evening news to, now, through social media and robocalls.

The students, some dressed in ROTC uniforms, were polite as they took notes by hand or on their laptops. They asked: When should a candidate focus on the issues, should an incumbent focus first on retaining his base or pursuing new voters and how did Deal’s approach change during his reelection campaign in 2014?

“We’re told it’s one of the most effective tools that you can have in a campaign is to define your opponent first,” Deal told the class.

“My real purpose is to get them to think,” he said in the hallway outside the class. “Not just to accept what they hear on a talk radio show or a television show or what some special interest group has mailed out. Think for themselves. Find out what the facts really are. And sometimes if they do that, they’ll come to a totally different conclusion than what somebody is bombarding them with and wanting them to think. If I can do that, then I feel I will be successful.”

Governor Brian Kemp said he’s still committed to funding a full $5000 raise for teachers, according to the AJC.

n a brief speech to a gathering of school superintendents Thursday, Kemp touted results from last winter’s legislative session, including full funding of the state’s portion of school budgets and new money for student mental health services and school security.

The governor also addressed teacher pay. While campaigning for the office last year, he pledged to raise pay by $5,000, but he and lawmakers produced only $3,000.

“We’ve got to continue to work on paying our educators for the critical work that they do every day, and as I said on the campaign trail my commitment is to ultimately raise the educator pay by $5,000 and I believe that we’re going to get there,” he said.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms traveled to Iowa to campaign for Joe Biden, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

tlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms visited Waterloo to help open presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign office.

Biden did not attend, but Bottoms spoke to a crowd of about 20 people. She explained why she supports Biden and addressed his recent drop from first place in Iowa polls.

“I don’t know that a lot folks expected him to stay as high in polls as he did for so very long,” Bottoms said. “I think that really speaks to the strength of his candidacy.”

Bottoms also traveled to other office openings for Biden in Des Moines, Ames and Cedar Rapids.

She said Iowa residents and Atlanta residents both have a desire to beat President Trump in 2020.

“Our issues are very much the same, whether it’s Georgia or South Carolina, we care about the same thing,” Bottoms said. “We care about health care. We care about the climate. We care about education and the future of our community.”

Two teens will be required to campaign for a candidate whose signs they stole, according to the Rome News Tribune.

According to the Ringgold Police Department, two 16-year-old boys stole campaign signs belonging to mayoral candidate Paul Lee on Sept. 25 from a yard on Guyler Street.

The resident who witnessed the theft called police and gave a description of the vehicle with its tag number, reports show.

When they confronted the student, he admitted that he and a friend had indeed taken two signs to put at their homes and said sign stealing has been an ongoing joke lately among students at the school.

“I’ve had 36 signs gone missing around the high school,” Lee said. “It’s stealing, so I asked to talk to these boys’ parents.”

Lee says he spoke with the boys and their families and offered them a deal — that he wouldn’t press charges against them if they spent a couple of hours holding the signs they stole out in public near the voting precinct on Election Day.

“I told the kids that since they wanted to steal the signs — if they wanted them in their hands so bad, then they should stand out there and hold them for three hours as punishment,” Lee explained. “It was an agreement we made. The boys and their families were there, and I feel like that punishment fits the crime.”

“I don’t want the boys to have a record,” Lee said. “I just want them to deal with a punishment for what they did.”

At least they’ll have more time for campaigning. Two candidates for Richmond Hill City Council both lost their day jobs, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Two candidates running for Richmond Hill City Council in the Nov. 5 election were laid off this week from Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., they said.

Les Fussell said he had 26 years with the company, including six years as an IT contractor, and the layoff won’t affect his retirement. He was planning to retire in June, so the layoff just accelerated his plans. “It will give me more time for a lot of things,” he said.

Mark Ott, who also was laid off this week, spent the past six years working for Gulfstream in what he called a confidential position that involved working with customers. He said it was his second tour of duty with the company.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration will host public hearings on proposed high-speed rail, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Norfolk Southern railroad line that cuts through Hall is one of three “feasible route alternatives” recommended for further study in extending the Southeast High-Speed Rail corridor from Charlotte, N.C., to Atlanta.

The 268-mile Norfolk Southern route was deemed as “good” in its cumulative score, while a 255-mile route using the Interstate 85 corridor was judged “very good” and a 274-mile route going through Athens was considered “best.”

The findings are part of the Alternatives Development Report that’s part of a draft environmental impact statement produced by the Georgia Department of Transportation on behalf of the Federal Railroad Administration.

The two agencies are seeking public comment on the statement in public meetings set for Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the DOT offices in Atlanta; Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Greenville, S.C.; and Thursday, Oct. 24, in Charlotte.

The purpose of the overall effort “is to improve intercity passenger travel between Atlanta and Charlotte by expanding the region’s transportation system capacity and improving trip time and reliability through high-speed passenger rail services,” the DOT says.

Gambling remains a hot topic at the Georgia state capitol, according to the AJC.

Adding horse racing or casino gambling would require Georgians to approve a constitutional amendment allowing the expansion. And the Legislature’s lawyers have encouraged lawmakers to pursue a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting if they want that.

“I have never seen so much energy and so much enthusiasm about this issue,” said state Sen. Brandon Beach, an Alpharetta Republican who for years has sought to bring horse racing to Georgia. “I think there is a momentum to ‘let’s go ahead and let the voters decide.’ ”

Supporters believe an expansion of the gambling industry could bring thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship. Conservative groups and religious organizations oppose expanding any form of gambling because they find it immoral and an addictive habit that breeds crime.

[Governor Brian] Kemp has said that while he opposes casino gambling, he will not stand in the way of putting an amendment before voters as long as it guarantees the revenue will benefit HOPE.

If lawmakers decide to move forward with expanding gaming, they will have to determine which form should be allowed — casinos, horse racing, sports betting or a combination — and where any revenue should go, be it HOPE, rural health care or somewhere else.

Local governments in Glynn County are finalizing their project list for a 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum, according to The Brunswick News.

The special-purpose, local- option sales tax is a one percent sales tax proposed by local government agencies and approved or denied by voters at the ballot box. SPLOST 2020 will be on the ballot in the May 2020 primary election.

Revenue from the tax must be spent in accordance with what’s described on the ballot. That likely won’t be a full list of projects, but government agencies hope that a detailed list of what they plan to do will sway the public to vote for the tax.

A one percent sales tax can bring in around $20-22 million annually, Glynn County Manager Alan Ours told county commissioners at a Tuesday work session. SPLOST can run from one to six years, depending on the types of projects and the needs of the participating government agencies.

Most county commissioners favor a five-year SPLOST, which would bring in around $100-110 million.

The Brunswick City Commission has spoken little publicly about SPLOST since a joint meeting with the county commission on Oct. 1, and city commissioners have released no list of possible projects or estimate as to how much the city would want in SPLOST revenue.

County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the county’s SPLOST list further at their next work session on Nov. 19. Utility commissioners will likely talk more about their SPLOST projects at the JWSC’s next facilities committee meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources discussed the effect of M/V Golden Ray’s capsizing, according to The Brunswick News.

Oil leaked from the shipwrecked freighter Golden Ray has tarnished marsh grasses and soiled birds’ feathers throughout local inland waters, said Doug Haymans, Director of Coastal Resources for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

And while the mix of oil and nature is never a good thing, the overall present situation is more cause for sighs of relief than hand-wringing and anguish, Haymans said. While DNR wildlife biologists have spotted several hundred shorebirds spattered with oil in recent weeks, none appear to have lost the ability to fly, feed or have been otherwise immobilized, he said.

And while some 25 percent of the St. Simons Sound estuary’s shoreline has been oiled, cleanup crews from the Unified Command are beginning to gain the upper hand on the oil leaked from the Golden Ray, he said. The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, the state DNR and Gallagher Marine Systems.

“The main point here is we haven’t had a release in over 17 days. And everything out there is either treated or weathering naturally.” [Haymans said.]

Floyd County Commissioners will set standardized lease rates for county-owned hangars at the Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Rome, according to the  Rome News Tribune.

Valdosta City Council adopted a 6-month moratorium on permitting new vape shops, according to GPB News.

The Valdosta City Council approved a moratorium that puts permits for new vape shops on hold for the next six months. Council members cited growing concerns about the health risks of vaping.

The Valdosta Daily Times reports the moratorium also keeps new liquor stores from opening in the city during the same six-month period. It doesn’t affect liquor and vape stores that are already operating in Valdosta.

Cognitive Dissonance

The AJC has two current stories with competing views. Compare and contrast.

First legal Georgia hemp fields show crop’s promise by Mark Niesse

This is where Georgia’s future hemp crop begins: in a pungent field at the University of Georgia, where several dozen cannabis plants are nearly ready for harvest.

The plants are lined in rows on one-third of an acre, sprouting fuzzy flowers that could be processed into CBD oil, the popular product sold as a treatment for a variety of conditions including pain and insomnia.

Tim Coolong, a university horticulturist, is growing the plants in preparation for farmers to start growing hemp across the state next year. Lawmakers voted this spring to legalize in-state hemp production. Currently, all CBD oil products are imported to Georgia.

“Our farmers could absolutely grow this,” Coolong said. “The cool thing about these plants is that they offer an advantage to Georgia farmers because we have a long growing season.”

Georgia farmers will jump into the booming hemp industry as soon as federal and state regulations are approved, a process that could be completed in the next few months.

Georgia’s new medical marijuana program stalls 6 months after law signed by Greg Bluestein

Six months after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law allowing companies to grow and sell medical marijuana in Georgia for the first time, the program remains stalled because he and other top politicians still haven’t appointed members of a commission to oversee the expansion.

Aides to Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston haven’t said why there’s no members yet for the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. But until they do, the expansion is effectively sidelined.

The legislation, House Bill 324, gave the seven-member commission vast oversight over the state’s medical marijuana operation, including picking which businesses can grow the plant and developing the licensing requirements that retailers must meet to sell it.

One potential cause for the lag time is that the commission is essentially a startup, unlike other boards and agencies with built-in procedures and existing members. State officials say they’ve been inundated with applications — more than 50 candidates have surfaced for the spots.

“It’s extremely frustrating for medically fragile patients to finally get a bill passed that allows the distribution of medical cannabis oil, and then still be waiting on Governor Kemp to establish the commission,” said Blaine Cloud, whose daughter Alaina suffers from a severe form of epilepsy that could be treated by the drug.

18
Oct

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

The Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania from Maryland was established on October 18, 1767.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human chattel. This period, which historians consider the era of “The New Republic,” drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed.

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781,  ending the American Revolution.

On October 19, 1790, Lyman Hall, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, died in Burke County, GA. Hall was elected Governor of Georgia in 1783, holding the position for one year, and was an early advocate for the chartering of the University of Georgia.

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 18, 1867, the United States took over Alaska from Russia and ran up Old Glory there for the first time.

Separated from the far eastern edge of the Russian empire by only the narrow Bering Strait, the Russians had been the first Europeans to significantly explore and develop Alaska.

Seeing the giant Alaska territory as a chance to cheaply expand the size of the nation, William H. Seward, President Andrew Johnson‘s secretary of state, moved to arrange the purchase of Alaska. Agreeing to pay a mere $7 million for some 591,000 square miles of land-a territory twice the size of Texas and equal to nearly a fifth of the continental United States-Seward secured the purchase of Alaska at the ridiculously low rate of less than 2¢ an acre.

On October 18, 1870, Rockdale and McDuffie Counties were created when Georgia Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating them.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

Note the dedication to Duane Allman and Berry Oakley.

On October 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. The House passed the King holiday bill, sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), by a vote of 338-90 in August. President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation on November 3, 1983.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp spoke at the University of Georgia this week, according to the Red and Black.

Gov. Brian Kemp was greeted by a barrage of handshakes and selfie requests when he entered a room full of University of Georgia students at the Zell B. Miller Learning Center on Oct. 16. Despite the suffocating volume of requests, Kemp embraced the response and encouraged the selfies to keep coming.

“I need y’all to post that photo and say ‘The governor is doing what he said he’d do,’” Kemp said, “That matters to people that are your age, and y’all are going to be in our position very soon … We can’t rely on the news media or anybody to tell our story. We got to tell it ourselves.”

Energizing the Republican voter base was just one of the various topics Kemp spoke about during his speech, answering pre-selected crowd questions. In just shy of an hour, Kemp spoke on a breadth of topics — education and healthcare reforms, school safety, economic development and medical marijuana.

Kemp highlighted his administration’s work to pass a $3,000 raise for all Georgia public school teachers and giving approximately $69.4 million to all Georgia schools to improve school security. Kemp also noted he nearly doubled the funding for the Georgia Apex Program, which puts mental health counselors in high schools. Kemp said mental health is an important issue in keeping schools safe.

Kemp drew applause when he mentioned House Bill 481 — the fetal “heartbeat bill,” which effectively banned abortions after doctors could detect a heartbeat, approximately six weeks into a pregnancy. Kemp framed the bill as part of his administration’s larger effort to “fight for life” — referencing future goals of reforming the adoption and foster-care system and protecting senior citizens from abuse in elderly homes.

New voting machines are on display at the Georgia State Fair in Perry, according to GPB News.

The secretary of state’s office is inviting voters to test them out at demonstrations across Georgia before the scheduled first use in March.

The state fair is one of many places the secretary of state’s office plans to bring the new $107 million voting system for Georgians to interact with before it is time for a real election.

Election workers have seen demos everywhere from Decatur County to Gwinnett County, and a longtime media veteran was just hired to help spread the word about the new machines.

The Dominion ballot-marking devices will replace 17-year-old direct-recording electronic machines a federal judge said cannot be used after 2019.

Only a handful of the state’s 159 counties will test the new touchscreen devices in elections this fall. Cobb County’s municipal elections will be conducted on hand-marked paper ballots as a potential back-up system in case the ballot-marking devices aren’t ready.

Georgia State Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) will introduce legislation to close a loophole in current state law, according to the Gainesville Times.

Under the current state definition for improper sexual contact by an employee or agent, sexual assault of a student occurs when the victim is “enrolled as a student at the school.” Miller wants to expand the definition to include students “within the school district.”

Felony sexual assault charges were dropped earlier this year against Webster Daniel, a former coach at Chestatee High School who worked as an in-school suspension teacher at Chestatee Academy.

Daniel has been accused of assaulting a 16-year-old female student at Chestatee High. In May, Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh sent the case down to Hall County State Court, dropping the felony charge because Daniel did not teach at the school the student attended.

“When legislation we pass doesn’t go far enough to protect our most vulnerable citizens like students in our schools, we must address necessary changes as soon as possible,” Miller said in a statement. “This legislation will fix an oversight in our existing law and will add necessary protections for victims of sexual assault by ensuring their perpetrators can be brought to justice. I hope we can get this legislation passed and to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible during the 2020 Legislative Session.”

Prefiling of legislation will begin Nov. 15, and legislators will reconvene early next year.

Former Gwinnett County assistant solicitor Greg McKeithen was indicted for alleged misuse of a database, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

A grand jury indicted a former employee of the Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office on Wednesday on several charges related to allegations that he was continuing to work as a private attorney while simultaneously serving as a prosecutor.

Former assistant solicitor Greg McKeithen was indicted on 10 counts, including eight counts of computer invasion of privacy and charges of violation of oath by public officer and theft by taking.

McKeithen is accused of accessing a prosecution database maintained by the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia several times between February and May to look up cases involving clients that he was representing as a private defense attorney.

Under state law, acting as a private attorney while also serving as a prosecutor is, by itself, a crime.

McKeithen has run for public office three times in Gwinnett, but has been unsuccessful in each attempt. In 2014, he ran for the solicitor’s office and then ran for a Gwinnett county Superior Court judgeship in 2016.

He tried again, this time as a candidate for county commissioner, in 2018.

Statesboro City Council adopted a new fee schedule for alcohol licenses, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro’s new fee levels for alcoholic beverage licenses represent an attempt to match the prices paid by license holders to the city’s costs for policing different types of establishments: restaurants, bars, pubs and so forth.

After adopting a long-proposed ordinance that included new license categories Oct. 1, City Council, by another 5-0 vote, approved the fee schedule Tuesday evening.

“We did the most revenue-neutral solution we could,” [City Attorney Cain] Smith told the mayor and council Tuesday.

The Glynn County Commission voted to delay enforcement of new golf cart rules, according to The Brunswick News.

The ordinance would have gone into effect today, but Glynn County Police Department officers will now begin enforcing the new rules on Jan. 15. Details on the ordinance can be found at tinyurl.com/golfcartlawdetails.

“I think, in an attempt to address an issue in one part of the county, St. Simon Island, we’ve created some confusion about what can and can’t be on the road,” said Commissioner David O’Quinn.

The point of confusion O’Quinn referred to relates to gas-powered PTVs modified to exceed 19 mph. Gas-powered PTVs are regulated by the county, Commissioner Peter Murphy said at an Oct. 2 town hall meeting. Modified PTVs, however, are more difficult to pin down and may be a blind spot in state law.

The ordinance won’t change, but the deadline extension will give owners of PTV, modified and standard, time to adapt to the new rules, he explained.

Four candidates are running for two seats on Brooklet City Council, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Augusta Chronicle investigates costs for a Columbia Commission retreat.

The Savannah Morning News writes about a forum for local municipal candidates.

Dougherty County Commissioners are seeking residents interested in serving on a number of boards, according to the Albany Herald.

Von Pouncey is the fourth announced candidate for Augusta Commission District 1 in 2020, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Von Pouncey, the community activist who told the Augusta Commission last week a “food desert” exists in the Laney-Walker district, is running for a commission seat.

She joins downtown businesswoman Shawnda Griffin, Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Johnson and rental property owner Michael Thurman in filing declarations of intent to seek campaign contributions. Incumbent Bill Fennoy is term-limited.

Pouncey’s resume shows a master’s degree and PhD in human resources management and personnel administration from Capella University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Augusta University. She’s currently department chair and an assistant professor of human resources at Brenau University.

Muscogee County has a third candidate for Sheriff, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

After three tries at gaining the office, former Columbus police officer Mark LaJoye has announced his intention to run next year for the sheriff of Muscogee County.

He will run against incumbent Donna Tompkins and the current Muscogee marshal, Greg Countryman.

LaJoye previously ran for sheriff in 2012 as the Republican nominee against incumbent Sheriff John Darr, who won the general election with 76% of the vote.

LaJoye was also the Republican nominee for sheriff in the 2016 election, which Tompkins won, and was a write-in candidate for sheriff in 2008, but received less than half a percent of the vote.

“A lot of people look at that as not being successful, but the thing that I look at is perseverance,” LaJoye said of his failed campaigns. “I’ll run for this position until I get elected.”

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger announced he will not run for reelection next year, according to the AJC.

His judicial career began in the early 1980s when he defeated 30-year incumbent Judge J. Oscar Mitchell for a seat on DeKalb’s State Court. Mitchell was the judge that sent Martin Luther King Jr. to prison on a probation violation charge that stemmed from a traffic ticket and a sit-in arrest.

Soon after being elected, Seeliger made headlines when he banished a Confederate flag that hung in his courtroom, saying it was “unacceptable in a court of law.”

17
Oct

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

Five thousand British and Hessian troops surrendered to patriot militia on October 17, 1777, ending the Second Battle of Saratoga, and leading to France recognizing American independence and sending military aid.

An editorial published pseudononymously by Alexander Hamilton on October 17, 1796, accused Thomas Jefferson, then a Presidential candidate, of having an affair with a slave.

Happy birthday to the Texas Rangers, created on October 17, 1835.

In the midst of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed a semi-official force of armed men who would defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana’s soldiers and hostile Indians; the Texas Rangers filled this role. But after winning their revolutionary war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Rangers, both to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier.

Paul Anderson, known as the “World’s Strongest Man,” was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17, 1932. From his New York Times obituary:

As the unknown substitute for the injured American champion at the first Soviet-American dual athletic competition, in Moscow in 1955, the 5-foot-9-inch Anderson was scorned by his hosts.

The scorn turned to snickers when Anderson called for a weight of 402.4 pounds, more than 20 pounds above the world record. The snickers stopped when the 340-pound Anderson lifted the weight. By the time he set another record, in the clean and jerk, he was being hailed by Soviet fans.

The stunning achievement at the height of the Cold War made Anderson an instant American hero, and it was largely an anticlimax when he set three more world records at the world championships in Munich, Germany, later that year.

Although virtually conceded the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Anderson was stricken with a severe inner-ear infection.

Competing at 304 pounds and with a 103-degree fever, he fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt he asked God for a little extra help and got it.

“It wasn’t making a bargain,” he said later, “I needed help.”

Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa is a private park supported by a 501(c)(3) organization.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Public Broadcasting runs down the fundraising totals for Georgia’s federal candidates.

In one of the Senate elections, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) raised about $2.4 million toward his re-election campaign, or about as much as the quarter of Democrats vying to unseat him.

Investigative journalist Jon Ossoff brought in the most money [of the Democratic candidates], raising about $811,000 in three weeks and transferred more than $532,000 from his run in the 6th Congressional District special election in 2017.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) raised over $310,000 in Q3 and has more than $1.3 million cash on hand. That could come in handy if Collins is appointed to fill the other U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Johnny Isaskson (R-Ga.) will step down from at the end of 2019. The appointee would then have to run in a “jungle primary” special election next November.

The AJC looks at the new Fulton County Commissioner, Joe Carn, and Atlanta School Board Member Aretta Baldon, who were elected in runoffs this week.

The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission has suspended Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, according to the AJC.

The Gwinnett County judge at the center of a courthouse hacking investigation has been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case against her.

Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission handed down its ruling against Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader on Wednesday, nearly a month after she and three co-defendants were indicted on felony computer trespass charges. Schrader is accused of triggering a strange — and illegal — series of events by hiring a private investigator to look into her fears that someone was trying to access her work computer.

In its ruling, the JQC’s hearing panel wrote that Schrader’s alleged actions and the subsequent criminal charges had adversely affected her ability to do her job.

“The Panel further finds that Judge Schrader’s personal decision to allow an outside third party to gain access to the County’s network — with its many subsequent repercussions, including the discovery that Judge Schrader’s actions allegedly enabled a convicted child molester to have access to Court data — also adversely affects the administration of that office, as well as the rights and interests of the public,” wrote Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, the presiding officer of the JQC panel.

Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside seeks to aggressively combat crime in local hotels, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Five hotels in Gwinnett were the sites of 271 crime incidents that Gwinnett County police responded to during a 12-month period between September 2018 and September of this year, and Solicitor General Brian Whiteside said it’s symbolic of a problem that his office is taking steps to address.

Whiteside recently sent letters to the owners of seven hotels in the county asking them to meet with him and local police officials by the beginning of November. The solicitor wants the hotel owners to do something to address the amount of crime happening at their properties, ranging from drugs and prositution to rapes, robberies and assaults.

“They’re gonna have 30 days to answer to a meeting with me or I’m going to shut them down for ordinance violations,” Whiteside said. “All of these hotels that consistently have crime, some of the hotels that you’ve heard about that have shootings, such as Knights Inn.

Whiteside said the hotels could face ordinance violations for public nuisance and having a disorderly house because of the ongoing crime issues that occur on their premises.

“They would have to answer to a judge why they have had crime over five or six years, why do they have people selling drugs, why do they have prostitution, who have people been wounded or shot and killed?” the solicitor said.

Gambling interests are in Atlanta for a dog-and-pony show under the Gold Dome, according to the AJC.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brett Harrell, who is one of a trio of chairmen overseeing a House panel tasked with examining the economic benefits of allowing gambling in the state, said the meetings won’t focus on whether Georgia should expand gaming.

“The committee’s focus is not to debate issues on whether or not a specific industry ought to be welcome into the state,” the Snellville Republican said. “Our focus is to compare impacts to existing business and quality of life as we look at new industries, new revenue streams (and) new investment in the state of Georgia.”

Representatives from Wynn Resorts, Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition and others touted gaming success stories in other states.

Virginia Galloway, a lobbyist for the Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, said it felt as though Tuesday’s meeting was a series of sales pitches. But, Galloway said, she believes expanding gaming will lead to a rise in Georgians with gambling addictions and financial problems, and attract criminal activity around casinos and horse tracks.

Georgia senators also are studying the potential economic impact of expanding gambling, which supporters say would bring thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.

Adding horse racing or casino gambling in the state would require Georgians to approve a constitutional amendment allowing the expansion.

Getting a constitutional amendment through the General Assembly is a heavy lift. Two-thirds of each chamber would have to approve sending an amendment to voters.

Kemp has said that while he opposes casino gambling, he will not stand in the way of putting an amendment before voters as long as it guarantees the revenue will benefit HOPE.

Atlanta arts venues want to protect their turf from casinos in the event gambling is allowed, according to the AJC.

A coalition of arts and entertainment venues urged Georgia lawmakers against allowing future gambling facilities from including performance spaces, saying it would undermine their business.

Allan Vella, the president and CEO of the Fox Theatre, said while the coalition didn’t oppose expanding gambling in Georgia, he worried that allowing potential casinos to include entertainment space could force arts and culture venues across the state out of business.

Vella, speaking on behalf of the Georgia Arts and Culture Venues Coalition, said allowing entertainment space at a casino or racetrack would undermine their businesses. The coalition includes the Fox and other venues across the state, such as the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth and the Augusta Entertainment Complex.

Vella said gambling revenue allows casinos to pay artists more to perform at their venue.

“Casinos will set the bar on price, and other venues in the state will not be able to compete,” he said.

WALB covers the campaign by Henry Mathis for Mayor of Albany.

The Pickens County Board of Education adopted a bathroom policy that will drive some liberals nuts. From the AJC:

Bowing to pressure from parents and residents, the Pickens County Board of Education announced today that it will no longer allow transgender students to use restrooms of their choice.

“There have been many serious safety concerns raised in the past few days. School board members, staff, and students have been threatened due to the administration’s implementation of Adams vs. St. John’s County School District,” the board said, referring to a federal court case in Florida, through a press release.

The initial decision to let transgender students use the restroom designated for the sex they identified with, not their birth sex, came after the Florida federal court ruling.

Snellville has adopted a 12-month moratorium on new vape shops, according to the AJC.

The temporary ban was put in place after a formal discussion at Monday’s city council meeting. This makes Snellville the second Gwinnett city to stop new vape shops from opening. Lilburn enacted a permanent ban in June, and Alpharetta denied an application for a new vape shop in late August.

Councilwoman Gretchen Schulz cited rising numbers of deaths from respiratory illnesses that could be linked to vaping as the impetus behind the action. As of last week, 26 people had died in 21 states, including one in Georgia, due to medical issues associated with vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This will give us time to see what, if anything, is going to be done perhaps by the state legislature or by the federal government,” Schulz said. “After 12 months we can determine where we go at that point.”

Renovations to the county courthouse dominates the discussion of a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Commissioner Bill Brunson called needed renovations to the Glynn County Courthouse the “elephant in the room,” during Wednesday’s Brunswick-Glynn County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Brunson said the 25-year-old courthouse was never built to the size consultants originally recommended, and something has to be done to alleviate the overcrowded conditions.

Besides security concerns, Brunson said something has to be done to alleviate the problems with the juvenile court, which he described as “anger on steroids.”

The work on the courthouse is estimated to cost anywhere from $20 million to $50 million, which is a concern because the proposed SPLOST is expected to generate $100 million over five years. Dedicating as much as half the SPLOST revenue on courthouse renovations may be enough to discourage voters from approving the 1-cent sales tax.

16
Oct

scritch

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

The Pennsylvania Gazette published a criticism against the British Tea Act on October 16, 1773.

The Tea Act of 1773 was a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny. In response, the “Philadelphia Resolutions” called the British tax upon America unfair and said that it introduced “arbitrary government and slavery” upon the American citizens. The resolutions urged all Americans to oppose the British tax and stated that anyone who transported, sold or consumed the taxed tea would be considered “an enemy to his country.”

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capital, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for Congress, spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and called the practice of slavery “immoral.”

Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans in Illinois and attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He denounced members of the Democratic Party for backing a law that “assumes there can be moral right in the enslaving of one man by another.” He believed that the law went against the founding American principle that “all men are created equal.”

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

On October 16, 1918, visitors to the Southeastern Fair at the Lakewood Fairgrounds were required by the Georgia State Board of Health to don face masks in order to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution too effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

Maynard Jackson was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 16, 1973. Jackson was the first African-Amercian Mayor of Atlanta; he served eight years, and was elected for a third, non-consecutive term in 1990.

On October 16, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned in Youngstown, Ohio.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division is alerting residents of Peach and Houston Counties that bears have been sighted in the woods, according to 41NBC.

According to Wildlife Biologist, Bobby Bond, as human populations increase in areas of traditional bear habitat, bears become accustomed to people and houses. He says sometimes they will ignore their traditional diet to obtain easy non-natural foods like garbage, pet food, and birdseed.

“We’ve had three bears spotted, in the Houston, and Peach County area, within the last week,” Bond said. We’ve had a couple around Warner Robins, and one close to Fort Valley, and the most recent one was near Dunbar Road, in Warner Robins.”

No word on the bears’ defecatory habits. In related news, the Department of Redundancies Department is investigating the naming of the Division.

An Albany lawyer running for office is drawing attention to something that nobody else noticed or cares about. From the Albany Herald:

Albany attorney Bo Dorough, who previously served on the Albany City Commission, sent a letter to City Attorney Nathan Davis claiming that a segment on the public access channel “is clearly advancing Ms. Hubbard’s campaign for re-election.”

“I don’t know what the city’s reaction will be, but it’s clearly an unfair advantage for the sitting mayor,” Dorough said during last weekend’s ChalkFest celebration downtown. “There are segments in the video that feature comments from prominent citizens that are clearly political endorsements.

“I think it’s only fair that all candidates running for mayor should be given equal time.”

Davis sent a tersely worded response to Dorough’s letter, saying, “You imply that an impermissible, predominantly partisan, purpose motivated the video being on the government access channel. That is not true. Supervision of city items on Channel 16 is handled impartially by the office of the city manager.”

Also challenging Hubbard for the mayor’s seat are downtown business owner Edward Allen; Henry Mathis, a businessman and former commission member; Albany State University professor James Pratt Jr.; businessman Omar Salaam, and Tracy Taylor, a Waycross firefighter who took a leave of absence from his part-time work with the Albany Fire Department to seek the office.

Governor Kemp scored a two-fer with domino appointments in Clayton County.

Gov. Kemp first appointed Tasha M. Mosley as the new District Attorney of the Clayton County Judicial Circuit.

Mosley’s appointment fill[ed] the vacancy created by Tracy G. Lawson’s recent retirement. In accepting this appointment, Mosley leaves her long-time position as Clayton County’s Solicitor General.

“For many years, Tasha has worked tirelessly to serve the Clayton County community as a strong advocate for her constituents, both in and out of the courtroom. She is beloved by her neighbors and peers, highly regarded and respected in the legal profession, and ready to take on this new adventure,”said Governor Kemp.“She has the perfect background and personality for this opportunity, and I know that she will excel.”

Kemp then appointed Charles A. Brooks as Solicitor General of the State Court of Clayton County.

“It was clear from the beginning that Charles Brooks was the right man for this job. Given his experience, the overwhelming support of his community, and his strategic vision for the office, Charles is destined to succeed as Solicitor General and make lasting, positive progress on behalf of his constituents in the years ahead,”said Governor Kemp. “This day is an exciting one for Charles, his family and community, and Bulldawg Nation.”

Gov. Kemp also appointed J. Matthew Williamson as the new Solicitor General of the State Court of Walker County.

Williamson’s appointment fills the vacancy created by Chris Townley’s recent resignation. In accepting this appointment, Williamson will leave his current role as Legal and Policy Director for Walker County.

“Matthew’s extensive experience and commitment to his local community make him an ideal choice for this important role,” said Governor Kemp. “I look forward to the positive impact Matthew will have on Walker County in his service as Solicitor General.”

“It is my great honor to serve the people of Walker County in this capacity,” said Matthew Williamson.

The Georgia Department of Public Health announced last week that it had identified a second vaping-related death.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has identified the state’s second death from a vaping-associated illness. The patient had a history of nicotine vaping, but the case is still being reviewed to determine if other substances also may have been used. The number of vaping-associated lung injury cases in Georgia is now 14, including two deaths. About 20 possible cases are under review. Cases range in age from 18 to 68 years (the median age is 31 years), and 71% are male.

The Georgia cases were hospitalized and developed pneumonia with no known infectious cause. Symptoms of vaping-associated lung injury, which worsen over time, include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems or any of these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

More than 1,000 vaping-associated lung injuries have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including at least 18 deaths. No specific e-cigarette device or substance has been linked to all cases, although the CDC’s current investigation indicates products containing THC play a role in the outbreak.

Vaping devices and products can be obtained from stores, online retailers, from informal sources (e.g., friends, family members), or “off the street.” People who vape may not know what is in these products because they can be modified to contain a mix of ingredients including dangerous and illicit substances. People who vape should not buy vaping products off the street or modify or add any substances to them.

Governor Brian P. Kemp and DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H. urge individuals to follow CDC recommendations and not use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices while this investigation is ongoing. Without knowing the specific cause of vaping-associated lung injury, discontinuing use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices is the best prevention against becoming ill.

Two state legislators are considering legislation to limit the sale of vaping-related products, according to the Macon Telegraph.

In Georgia, state representatives Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, and Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, announced Thursday they will introduce legislation during the 2020 session to address vaping and e-cigarette use.

The legislation hasn’t been completed, but Rich told The Telegraph in an email that her main goal is to limit minors’ access to vape products.

“I’m proposing requiring ID and signature for residential vape product deliveries in the same manner as required for residential wine deliveries in Georgia,” she said. “I’m also proposing that retailers of vape products be licensed, so as to cut down on the underage sales. The FDA’s investigation showed the vast majority of underage sales came from gas stations and convenience stores, not from licensed smoke shops. Finally, I would like the prohibition of flavored tobacco to extend to flavored nicotine juices, for the same reasons the flavored tobacco is restricted.”

If Congress addresses the sale of flavored vape and e-cigarette products before January, that issue won’t be addressed in Georgia’s legislation, Rich said.

Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue is a co-sponsor of the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act” which would mandate online age verification for the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. But he did not say if he would support a flavor ban.

“Senator Perdue considers this to be a very broad, multi-faceted issue that will require input from researchers and the public health community,” according to a statement from Perdue’s spokesperson.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felons heard about problems with the current law, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Georgia is one of 22 states that revokes an offender’s right to vote during incarceration and while on probation or parole and before they pay off all fines and fees.

As of April, the Department of Community Supervision oversaw more than 200,000 released inmates, 75% of those they considered to be nonviolent felony offenders. Those nonviolent felony offenders — 166,001 people with drug, property or other nonviolent offenses — would be able to cast a ballot if voting rights were expanded.

Vague voting laws in Georgia and other states alike cause confusion among felons and even poll workers, Totonchi said. The state cannot expect poll workers — who are volunteers — to keep track of who can and can’t vote. Sometimes offenders who are eligible may not know they can vote.The proposal hinges on the current law excluding felony offenders from voting because their crimes of “moral turpitude.” The phrase, the resolution says, is too vague and ill-defined to keep offenders from voting and reintegrating into the community.

Throughout the duration of the first Senate study committee meeting, it was unclear which felonies would be minor enough to warrant regaining the right to vote and if those who have served their time can vote before paying off all remaining fines and fees.

“There’s nothing in the code that spells this out. There are different code sections you can look to to guide for example the seven deadlies,” [Southern Center for Human Rights Executive Director Sara] Totonchi told CNHI, “but outside of that I think violent and nonviolent can be very tricky. Without the actual definitions it can be arbitrary.”

The Voting Rights Study Committee meets next on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at LaGrange College.

Macon-Bibb County is considering raising business license fees, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Currently businesses pay a $65 administrative fee annually for a business license, then an additional $39 per employee up to 250 employees. The proposed change would remove the limit, so any business with more than 250 employees would pay the $39 fee for all employees.

Therefore, a business with 500 employees would pay additional $9,750 annually.

Yvonne Williams, president of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, voiced concerns about the proposal.

“An increase of license fees would adversely impact the competitive advantage of businesses and citizens,” Williams said.

Macon-Bibb Commissioner Virgil Watkins, who sponsored the change, said he proposed it after learning other larger cities in the state did not have a limit on the per-employee fee. He said the additional fee is needed to offset the cost of government services to those employers.

Some large companies would be exempt because those are already exempt from the license fee for various reasons.

For instance, Geico, which employs about 5,700 people, is exempt because insurance companies pay a fee set by the state, said Assistant County Attorney Michael McNeill. The Medical Center, Navicent Health, which employs 4,600, is also exempt because it is a non-profit.

The proposal will next be considered by the Operations and Finance Committee, which Watkins chairs. The next committee meeting is set for Oct. 22.

If it is approved there, it will go before the full commission for a vote.

WALB covers the campaign by former Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn for a vacant State House seat.

In South Georgia, one of the biggest elections is focused around House District 152 seat.

It’s a special election to fill the seat Ed Rynders vacated in September.

Lee, Sumter and Worth County voters will chose from four candidates.

Jim Quinn is one of those candidates.

“I have been working hard on this,” Quinn said. “I’ve enjoyed going out and meeting people. A campaign is almost a full-time job and I really have ad a good time knocking on doors, talking to people, greeting people answering calls. One of my problems, I like to talk and I’m enjoying talking to people.”

It’s the Economy

Governor Brian Kemp addressed Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“A large part of our growth, our success and our reputation, quite honestly, I believe, as the best place to live, work and play and raise a family is made possible because of organizations such as Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful — men and women who understand that we need to protect our natural resources and keep our communities safe, green and clean,” Kemp said.

“Thankfully, over many years of visionary leadership at the state level, we’ve protected what makes Georgia so unique, and I know you all are working at the local level to do that. That’s what makes the partnership that we have in our state so great.”

Kemp highlighted work done by state legislators and agencies such as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to preserve the state’s environment where possible. He said the state “has a lot to show off” with scenic views from around the state — such as the north Georgia mountains, pecan orchards in southwest Georgia or beaches along the state’s Golden Isles coastline — being featured in movies and television shows.

The governor pointed to the challenges that Gwinnett faces as a growing county that is expected to eventually become Georgia’s most populous county in the coming years. While that brings more jobs, infrastructure investments and additional classrooms, Kemp said it has an impact on the environment, as well.

“It also presents challenges to the diverse ecosystems that we have,” Kemp said. “It means more people and, many times, more trash, litter, dumping problems … that can negatively impact the community and this county.

“But I know with every challenge comes an opportunity, and I know (with) folks like you working hard and continuing to support this effort, that you can continue to keep Gwinnett, just like our state, not only clean and beautiful but also a great place to live, work and raise our families.”

Governor Kemp spoke at the YKK zipper plant in Macon, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Governor Brian Kemp talked up a Central Georgia business Tuesday during a stop at the YKK zipper plant in Macon-Bibb County.

Kemp said top manufacturing companies like YKK provide a big boost to Georgia’s economy.

“I’ve seen buildings restructured in downtowns all over the state, and the mayor and I have talked about how vibrant the Macon-Bibb County downtown is as well right now, and I’ve certainly seen great manufacturing facilities just like this one producing literally goods for the whole world,” Kemp said.

Governor and First Lady Kemp opened the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, according to WALB.

Kemp, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and many more were in attendance at the morning’s opening ceremony.

The governor and Marty said they want the people to know that he’s fighting hard for farmers and farm families, especially after Hurricane Michael.

“Last year, we were experienced what was a generational loss and a devastating hurricane, so we’re trying to do our part to promote Georgia agriculture and the Georgia Grown program and all the good things that we have in our state,” said Kemp.

To show her support for local farmers, First Lady Marty Kemp participated in a special Georgia Grown Showcase. It was created to encourage the use of locally grown products, hence the name.

“We need to support our farmers, we need to support our programs and just make people more aware of what’s grown in Georgia. So, we were very excited to do that. So, we’re down here doing a cooking show just to show everybody what we grow in Georgia and how they can make great recipes from it,” said Marty.

Marty shared that she and the governor wanted to come to the expo to show their support for hard-working Georgians.

Tyler Perry invited Gov. Kemp and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan to a gala at his studio facility, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Perry had invited Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan to the gala – as a welcoming gesture.

Before Saturday night, Perry had never met the governor and he had hoped the two would be able to build a relationship.

Georgia’s movie industry has blossomed in the past decade – especially after the state adopted lucrative tax credits for companies producing their movies and television shows in Georgia. As a result, Georgia has become one to the leading locations for the filming of major movies and TV series.

But there’s has been growing anxiety that the industry in Georgia could decline if the state legislature pushes socially restrictive legislation, such as the anti-abortion “heart-beat” bill or the potentially discriminatory religious liberty legislation.

Gov. Kemp and Lt. Gov. Duncan will be pivotal players as to whether Georgia will continue to be a state that is friendly to the movie industry.

During the evening’s festivities, Duncan was asked his thoughts about the opening of Tyler Perry Studios.

“I’m just glad to be part of such a great celebration of Tyler’s success,” he said.

Kemp also said he was glad to be there, but he did not seem to want to engage in a deeper conversation.

Among the notable guests who attended the gala (a highly-sought invitation) were:

Beyonce and Jay-Z; former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton; “P Diddy” Sean Combs; Ava DuVernay; Samuel L. Jackson; Viola Davis; Stacey Abrams; U.S. Rep Maxine Waters; Tiffany Haddish; Tamera Mowry-Housley; Loni Love; Jeannie Mai and Jeezy; Ludacris; Usher; Tyrese; 2 Chainz; TI; Terrance Howard; Gladys Knight; Gayle King; Jenifer Lewis; Kelly Rowland; Michelle Williams; Patti LaBelle; Tina Knowles; Tamron Hall; Keshia Knight Pulliam; Storm Reid and BeBe Winans.

15
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 15-16, 2019

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

The Pennsylvania Gazette published a criticism against the British Tea Act on October 16, 1773.

The Tea Act of 1773 was a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny. In response, the “Philadelphia Resolutions” called the British tax upon America unfair and said that it introduced “arbitrary government and slavery” upon the American citizens. The resolutions urged all Americans to oppose the British tax and stated that anyone who transported, sold or consumed the taxed tea would be considered “an enemy to his country.”

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capital, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for Congress, spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and called the practice of slavery “immoral.”

Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans in Illinois and attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He denounced members of the Democratic Party for backing a law that “assumes there can be moral right in the enslaving of one man by another.” He believed that the law went against the founding American principle that “all men are created equal.”

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

On October 16, 1918, visitors to the Southeastern Fair at the Lakewood Fairgrounds were required by the Georgia State Board of Health to don face masks in order to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution too effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

Maynard Jackson was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 16, 1973. Jackson was the first African-Amercian Mayor of Atlanta; he served eight years, and was elected for a third, non-consecutive term in 1990.

On October 16, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned in Youngstown, Ohio.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division is alerting residents of Peach and Houston Counties that bears have been sighted in the woods, according to 41NBC.

According to Wildlife Biologist, Bobby Bond, as human populations increase in areas of traditional bear habitat, bears become accustomed to people and houses. He says sometimes they will ignore their traditional diet to obtain easy non-natural foods like garbage, pet food, and birdseed.

“We’ve had three bears spotted, in the Houston, and Peach County area, within the last week,” Bond said. We’ve had a couple around Warner Robins, and one close to Fort Valley, and the most recent one was near Dunbar Road, in Warner Robins.”

No word on the bears’ defecatory habits. In related news, the Department of Redundancies Department is investigating the naming of the Division.

An Albany lawyer running for office is drawing attention to something that nobody else noticed or cares about. From the Albany Herald:

Albany attorney Bo Dorough, who previously served on the Albany City Commission, sent a letter to City Attorney Nathan Davis claiming that a segment on the public access channel “is clearly advancing Ms. Hubbard’s campaign for re-election.”

“I don’t know what the city’s reaction will be, but it’s clearly an unfair advantage for the sitting mayor,” Dorough said during last weekend’s ChalkFest celebration downtown. “There are segments in the video that feature comments from prominent citizens that are clearly political endorsements.

“I think it’s only fair that all candidates running for mayor should be given equal time.”

Davis sent a tersely worded response to Dorough’s letter, saying, “You imply that an impermissible, predominantly partisan, purpose motivated the video being on the government access channel. That is not true. Supervision of city items on Channel 16 is handled impartially by the office of the city manager.”

Also challenging Hubbard for the mayor’s seat are downtown business owner Edward Allen; Henry Mathis, a businessman and former commission member; Albany State University professor James Pratt Jr.; businessman Omar Salaam, and Tracy Taylor, a Waycross firefighter who took a leave of absence from his part-time work with the Albany Fire Department to seek the office.

Governor Kemp scored a two-fer with domino appointments in Clayton County.

Gov. Kemp first appointed Tasha M. Mosley as the new District Attorney of the Clayton County Judicial Circuit.

Mosley’s appointment fill[ed] the vacancy created by Tracy G. Lawson’s recent retirement. In accepting this appointment, Mosley leaves her long-time position as Clayton County’s Solicitor General.

“For many years, Tasha has worked tirelessly to serve the Clayton County community as a strong advocate for her constituents, both in and out of the courtroom. She is beloved by her neighbors and peers, highly regarded and respected in the legal profession, and ready to take on this new adventure,”said Governor Kemp.“She has the perfect background and personality for this opportunity, and I know that she will excel.”

Kemp then appointed Charles A. Brooks as Solicitor General of the State Court of Clayton County.

“It was clear from the beginning that Charles Brooks was the right man for this job. Given his experience, the overwhelming support of his community, and his strategic vision for the office, Charles is destined to succeed as Solicitor General and make lasting, positive progress on behalf of his constituents in the years ahead,”said Governor Kemp. “This day is an exciting one for Charles, his family and community, and Bulldawg Nation.”

Gov. Kemp also appointed J. Matthew Williamson as the new Solicitor General of the State Court of Walker County.

Williamson’s appointment fills the vacancy created by Chris Townley’s recent resignation. In accepting this appointment, Williamson will leave his current role as Legal and Policy Director for Walker County.

“Matthew’s extensive experience and commitment to his local community make him an ideal choice for this important role,” said Governor Kemp. “I look forward to the positive impact Matthew will have on Walker County in his service as Solicitor General.”

“It is my great honor to serve the people of Walker County in this capacity,” said Matthew Williamson.

The Georgia Department of Public Health announced last week that it had identified a second vaping-related death.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has identified the state’s second death from a vaping-associated illness. The patient had a history of nicotine vaping, but the case is still being reviewed to determine if other substances also may have been used. The number of vaping-associated lung injury cases in Georgia is now 14, including two deaths. About 20 possible cases are under review. Cases range in age from 18 to 68 years (the median age is 31 years), and 71% are male.

The Georgia cases were hospitalized and developed pneumonia with no known infectious cause. Symptoms of vaping-associated lung injury, which worsen over time, include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems or any of these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

More than 1,000 vaping-associated lung injuries have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including at least 18 deaths. No specific e-cigarette device or substance has been linked to all cases, although the CDC’s current investigation indicates products containing THC play a role in the outbreak.

Vaping devices and products can be obtained from stores, online retailers, from informal sources (e.g., friends, family members), or “off the street.” People who vape may not know what is in these products because they can be modified to contain a mix of ingredients including dangerous and illicit substances. People who vape should not buy vaping products off the street or modify or add any substances to them.

Governor Brian P. Kemp and DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H. urge individuals to follow CDC recommendations and not use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices while this investigation is ongoing. Without knowing the specific cause of vaping-associated lung injury, discontinuing use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices is the best prevention against becoming ill.

Two state legislators are considering legislation to limit the sale of vaping-related products, according to the Macon Telegraph.

In Georgia, state representatives Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, and Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, announced Thursday they will introduce legislation during the 2020 session to address vaping and e-cigarette use.

The legislation hasn’t been completed, but Rich told The Telegraph in an email that her main goal is to limit minors’ access to vape products.

“I’m proposing requiring ID and signature for residential vape product deliveries in the same manner as required for residential wine deliveries in Georgia,” she said. “I’m also proposing that retailers of vape products be licensed, so as to cut down on the underage sales. The FDA’s investigation showed the vast majority of underage sales came from gas stations and convenience stores, not from licensed smoke shops. Finally, I would like the prohibition of flavored tobacco to extend to flavored nicotine juices, for the same reasons the flavored tobacco is restricted.”

If Congress addresses the sale of flavored vape and e-cigarette products before January, that issue won’t be addressed in Georgia’s legislation, Rich said.

Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue is a co-sponsor of the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act” which would mandate online age verification for the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. But he did not say if he would support a flavor ban.

“Senator Perdue considers this to be a very broad, multi-faceted issue that will require input from researchers and the public health community,” according to a statement from Perdue’s spokesperson.

Lula, Georgia is considering a moratorium on new vape shopes, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Lula City Council will vote at its Oct. 21 meeting on a 120-day moratorium on issuing business licenses to “businesses that primarily sell alternative nicotine products.”

Mayor Jim Grier said there are no vape shops currently registered in the city, but officials should be proactive in looking at the issue.

“It’s something that’s been in the news. … There’s a lot of emotion attached to it as well as a lot of information people really haven’t had the time to digest at this point,” Grier said.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felons heard about problems with the current law, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Georgia is one of 22 states that revokes an offender’s right to vote during incarceration and while on probation or parole and before they pay off all fines and fees.

As of April, the Department of Community Supervision oversaw more than 200,000 released inmates, 75% of those they considered to be nonviolent felony offenders. Those nonviolent felony offenders — 166,001 people with drug, property or other nonviolent offenses — would be able to cast a ballot if voting rights were expanded.

Vague voting laws in Georgia and other states alike cause confusion among felons and even poll workers, Totonchi said. The state cannot expect poll workers — who are volunteers — to keep track of who can and can’t vote. Sometimes offenders who are eligible may not know they can vote.The proposal hinges on the current law excluding felony offenders from voting because their crimes of “moral turpitude.” The phrase, the resolution says, is too vague and ill-defined to keep offenders from voting and reintegrating into the community.

Throughout the duration of the first Senate study committee meeting, it was unclear which felonies would be minor enough to warrant regaining the right to vote and if those who have served their time can vote before paying off all remaining fines and fees.

“There’s nothing in the code that spells this out. There are different code sections you can look to to guide for example the seven deadlies,” [Southern Center for Human Rights Executive Director Sara] Totonchi told CNHI, “but outside of that I think violent and nonviolent can be very tricky. Without the actual definitions it can be arbitrary.”

The Voting Rights Study Committee meets next on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at LaGrange College.

Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside will hold an event to discuss expungement of misdemeanor records, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The solicitor’s office is hosting a restriction, or expungement, summit from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at Georgia Gwinnett College. The event is only open to people who were arrested in Gwinnett, have not been convicted of the crime and cannot have plead guilty or nolo contendere.

They also have completed a first offender case and a pre-trial diversion program. Certain misdemeanors committed by someone under 18 are also eligible to be expunged.

Anyone looking to get misdemeanors expunged from their records must have already preregistered and given the solicitor’s office permission to pull their histories through the office’s website by now to participate in the event, however.

Special Runoff Elections in Atlanta yielded the following results, according to the AJC:.

Joe Carn (63%) over Gordon Joyner (37%) for Fulton Commission District 6

Aretta Baldon (58%) over Davida Huntley (42%) for Atlanta Board of Education District 2

Early voting began yesterday for local municipal elections, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Warner Robins, Perry and Centerville all have contested council races for the Nov. 5 election.

In all three cities, early voting will be held from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 1. There is no Saturday voting. Voting started on Tuesday this week because of Columbus Day.

Brunswick has also opened early voting, according to The Brunswick News.

Early voting in the city of Brunswick municipal elections kicked off Monday and will continue through Nov. 1.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, 16 people had cast their ballots, said Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell.

Early votes can be cast Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Office Park Building, 1815 Gloucester St. in Brunswick.

The early voting polls close on Nov. 1, and all city polling places will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day, Nov. 5.

For more information, contact the Glynn County Board of Elections at 912-554-7060.

Macon-Bibb County is considering raising business license fees, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Currently businesses pay a $65 administrative fee annually for a business license, then an additional $39 per employee up to 250 employees. The proposed change would remove the limit, so any business with more than 250 employees would pay the $39 fee for all employees.

Therefore, a business with 500 employees would pay additional $9,750 annually.

Yvonne Williams, president of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, voiced concerns about the proposal.

“An increase of license fees would adversely impact the competitive advantage of businesses and citizens,” Williams said.

Macon-Bibb Commissioner Virgil Watkins, who sponsored the change, said he proposed it after learning other larger cities in the state did not have a limit on the per-employee fee. He said the additional fee is needed to offset the cost of government services to those employers.

Some large companies would be exempt because those are already exempt from the license fee for various reasons.

For instance, Geico, which employs about 5,700 people, is exempt because insurance companies pay a fee set by the state, said Assistant County Attorney Michael McNeill. The Medical Center, Navicent Health, which employs 4,600, is also exempt because it is a non-profit.

The proposal will next be considered by the Operations and Finance Committee, which Watkins chairs. The next committee meeting is set for Oct. 22.

If it is approved there, it will go before the full commission for a vote.

Gwinnett County is cranking up its ethics commission again, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County commissioners appointed Dan King on Tuesday to sit on the board that will hear an ethics complaint filed by Dustin Inman Society founder D.A. King against Commissioner Marlene Fosque. King filed the complaint in August after Fosque criticized Sheriff Butch Conway for inviting King to speak at a 287(g) forum she hosted in late July. Dan King and D.A. King are not related, Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.

King has accused Fosque of making disparaging remarks about him, including citing statements the Southern Poverty Law Center has made about the Dustin Inman Society, as she criticized Conway for the invitation during a commission meeting.

“Fosque read a hate-speech,” King said in a statement to the Daily Post on Tuesday. “(That) is (a) clear violation of the Gwinnett ethics rules.”

The State Bar of Georgia’s Local Government Section president appointed Shaun Adams while the Gwinnett County Bar Association’s president appointed David Will and Fosque — who is allowed under Gwinnett’s ethics ordinance to appoint a panel member — picked Scott Drake to sit on the board.

The last member of the ethics panel is expected to be appointed by members of the sitting Gwinnett County grand jury Wednesday, District Attorney Danny Porter told the Daily Post.

Under the county’s ethics ordinance, a new ethics board must be assembled every time an ethics complaint is filed against a commissioner or county employee.

WALB covers the campaign by former Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn for a vacant State House seat.

In South Georgia, one of the biggest elections is focused around House District 152 seat.

It’s a special election to fill the seat Ed Rynders vacated in September.

Lee, Sumter and Worth County voters will chose from four candidates.

Jim Quinn is one of those candidates.

“I have been working hard on this,” Quinn said. “I’ve enjoyed going out and meeting people. A campaign is almost a full-time job and I really have ad a good time knocking on doors, talking to people, greeting people answering calls. One of my problems, I like to talk and I’m enjoying talking to people.”

It’s the Economy

Governor Brian Kemp addressed Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“A large part of our growth, our success and our reputation, quite honestly, I believe, as the best place to live, work and play and raise a family is made possible because of organizations such as Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful — men and women who understand that we need to protect our natural resources and keep our communities safe, green and clean,” Kemp said.

“Thankfully, over many years of visionary leadership at the state level, we’ve protected what makes Georgia so unique, and I know you all are working at the local level to do that. That’s what makes the partnership that we have in our state so great.”

Kemp highlighted work done by state legislators and agencies such as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to preserve the state’s environment where possible. He said the state “has a lot to show off” with scenic views from around the state — such as the north Georgia mountains, pecan orchards in southwest Georgia or beaches along the state’s Golden Isles coastline — being featured in movies and television shows.

The governor pointed to the challenges that Gwinnett faces as a growing county that is expected to eventually become Georgia’s most populous county in the coming years. While that brings more jobs, infrastructure investments and additional classrooms, Kemp said it has an impact on the environment, as well.

“It also presents challenges to the diverse ecosystems that we have,” Kemp said. “It means more people and, many times, more trash, litter, dumping problems … that can negatively impact the community and this county.

“But I know with every challenge comes an opportunity, and I know (with) folks like you working hard and continuing to support this effort, that you can continue to keep Gwinnett, just like our state, not only clean and beautiful but also a great place to live, work and raise our families.”

Governor Kemp spoke at the YKK zipper plant in Macon, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Governor Brian Kemp talked up a Central Georgia business Tuesday during a stop at the YKK zipper plant in Macon-Bibb County.

Kemp said top manufacturing companies like YKK provide a big boost to Georgia’s economy.

“I’ve seen buildings restructured in downtowns all over the state, and the mayor and I have talked about how vibrant the Macon-Bibb County downtown is as well right now, and I’ve certainly seen great manufacturing facilities just like this one producing literally goods for the whole world,” Kemp said.

Governor and First Lady Kemp opened the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, according to WALB.

Kemp, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and many more were in attendance at the morning’s opening ceremony.

The governor and Marty said they want the people to know that he’s fighting hard for farmers and farm families, especially after Hurricane Michael.

“Last year, we were experienced what was a generational loss and a devastating hurricane, so we’re trying to do our part to promote Georgia agriculture and the Georgia Grown program and all the good things that we have in our state,” said Kemp.

To show her support for local farmers, First Lady Marty Kemp participated in a special Georgia Grown Showcase. It was created to encourage the use of locally grown products, hence the name.

“We need to support our farmers, we need to support our programs and just make people more aware of what’s grown in Georgia. So, we were very excited to do that. So, we’re down here doing a cooking show just to show everybody what we grow in Georgia and how they can make great recipes from it,” said Marty.

Marty shared that she and the governor wanted to come to the expo to show their support for hard-working Georgians.

Tyler Perry invited Gov. Kemp and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan to a gala at his studio facility, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Perry had invited Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan to the gala – as a welcoming gesture.

Before Saturday night, Perry had never met the governor and he had hoped the two would be able to build a relationship.

Georgia’s movie industry has blossomed in the past decade – especially after the state adopted lucrative tax credits for companies producing their movies and television shows in Georgia. As a result, Georgia has become one to the leading locations for the filming of major movies and TV series.

But there’s has been growing anxiety that the industry in Georgia could decline if the state legislature pushes socially restrictive legislation, such as the anti-abortion “heart-beat” bill or the potentially discriminatory religious liberty legislation.

Gov. Kemp and Lt. Gov. Duncan will be pivotal players as to whether Georgia will continue to be a state that is friendly to the movie industry.

During the evening’s festivities, Duncan was asked his thoughts about the opening of Tyler Perry Studios.

“I’m just glad to be part of such a great celebration of Tyler’s success,” he said.

Kemp also said he was glad to be there, but he did not seem to want to engage in a deeper conversation.

Among the notable guests who attended the gala (a highly-sought invitation) were:

Beyonce and Jay-Z; former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton; “P Diddy” Sean Combs; Ava DuVernay; Samuel L. Jackson; Viola Davis; Stacey Abrams; U.S. Rep Maxine Waters; Tiffany Haddish; Tamera Mowry-Housley; Loni Love; Jeannie Mai and Jeezy; Ludacris; Usher; Tyrese; 2 Chainz; TI; Terrance Howard; Gladys Knight; Gayle King; Jenifer Lewis; Kelly Rowland; Michelle Williams; Patti LaBelle; Tina Knowles; Tamron Hall; Keshia Knight Pulliam; Storm Reid and BeBe Winans.

Georgian Ashley Bell will serve as White House policy adviser on entrepreneurship and innovation, according to the Gainesville Times.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to join the talented team at the White House Office of American Innovation,” said Bell in a prepared statement.

He added: “I look forward to working with stakeholders across the country to promote President Trump’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and diversity.”

According to the White House, Bell “will work each day to grow small businesses throughout America’s forgotten communities. Human capital is the most important American capital and we must cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs today to be more competitive in tomorrow’s economy.”

The Office of American Innovation, led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was created in March 2017. It makes recommendations to the president “on policies and plans that improve government operations and services, improve the quality of life for Americans now and in the future, and spur job creation.” according to the White House.

Bell will remain regional director for the Small Business Administration in the Southeast, a post he has held since February 2018. He heads up SBA operations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“I’ve been commuting from Gainesville to D.C. since August of ’16, so I’ve been home every weekend and trying to balance going back and forth with my family — my wife and kids have been in Gainesville since the election,” Bell said in a February 2018 interview.

9
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 9, 2019

Today is Leif Erikson Day, celebrating the Norse explorer being the first European to visit North America. From Mental Floss:

While the actual date of Leif Erikson Day doesn’t have anything personally to do with Leif, it was picked for the holiday because it’s the anniversary of the day that the ship Restauration arrived in New York from Stavanger, Norway, back in 1825. The arrival of the Restauration marked the beginning of organized immigration from Scandinavia to the USA. The holiday was first recognized by Wisconsin in 1930, eventually becoming a nationally observed holiday in 1964.

The Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871. A completely different kind of Chicago Fire is underway now.

On October 8, 1895, the Liberty Bell arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States Exposition.

The famously–cracked 2,000 pound pealer left Philadelphia on seven trips between 1885 and 1915. Each time it came home with more cracks. It turned out the men hired to guard the Bell were taking liberties, literally: chipping off pieces and selling them as souvenirs.

Cheering crowds greeted the Bell in Atlanta. A two–mile parade took it to Piedmont Park, where 50,000 people lined up to see it.

Liberty Bell in Atlanta

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Georgia Historical Society have an interesting video on the Liberty Bell’s trip to Atlanta. You can view a photo of the Liberty Bell Parade at the Atlanta History Center.

On October 9, 1963, the Board of Regents approved a new junior college in Cobb County that is today Kennesaw State University. The next year, Cobb County voters approved a bond referendum to fund construction.

Polling released on October 8, 1976 indicated that Democrat Jimmy Carter won the second debate against President Gerald Ford by a 50-27 margin.

Democrat Jimmy Carter challenged President Gerald Ford to make his income tax returns public on October 9, 1976.

On October 8, 1981, former Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter visited with President Ronald Reagan at the White House before heading to Egypt to represent the United States at the funeral of assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Four Presidents

Long-time Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro won his 300th game on October 8, 1984, though he wore Yankees pinstripes for that game.

United States Senator Sam Nunn announced on October 9, 1995 that he would not run for reelection. From CNN’s contemporary story:

“I know in my heart it is time to follow a new course,” Nunn told reporters gathered in the Georgia State Capitol. He said his decision followed “a lot of thought and prayer” and he expressed enthusiasm about meaningful days ahead in the private sector.

“Today I look forward to more freedom, to more flexibility,” he said, adding he planned to spend time with his family, to write, and “devote a substantial amount of time” to public policy and public service. He said he has no immediate plans for a presidential bid.

Nunn hailed America as “the greatest country in the world,” but cited problems that need attention, including education concerns, illegitimate children, and widespread violence and drugs. He expressed optimism on such items as the strong military and entitlement reform.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said of Sam Nunn’s retirement,

“For those who listened carefully, it is clear that the Democratic Party is not the vehicle for the values outlined by Sen. Nunn.”

Nolan Waters of Knight-Ridder wrote of the announcement,

Nunn’s departure is a watershed.

“Nunn is the last of the great moderate Southern Democrats. This creates a huge hole for the party,” said Merle Black, a specialist on Southern politics at Emory University in Atlanta.

Nunn, like President Clinton, helped organize a group of moderate Democrats, the Democratic Leadership Council, in an attempt to move the party rightward after the 1984 landslide re-election of President Reagan.

“He has been fighting the liberal wing of his party for over two decades,” Black said. “It’s been a losing battle.”

In place of Nunn, the state’s most prominent politician is becoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich – whose futuristic, activist style of conservatism seems radical along-side Nunn’s traditionalism.

The first C-5A airplane arrived at Robins Air Force Base on October 8, 1997.

C-5 at Robins

On October 8, 1998, the United States House of Representatives voted 258-176 to authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Bill Clinton.

President George W. Bush issued an Executive Order establishing the Department of Homeland Security on October 8, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia will host a clown-car debate of Democratic candidates for President, according to the AJC.

Georgia will host the Democratic presidential debate on Nov. 20, another indication that the state is a top political battleground in next year’s election.

Democratic Party of Georgia chairwoman Nikema Williams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday she was not clear where the debate will be held, but that it would likely be in metro Atlanta.

“All roads to the White House run through Georgia,” she said.

“When you look at what’s at stake in Georgia — two Senate races — there aren’t many opportunities like that,” [Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms] said after the Houston debate. “To have that opportunity in Georgia, it only makes sense that we bring this field of candidates to our state.”

Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer said he believed the visit from Democrats would help President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

“I am delighted that hard working Georgians will have an up-close view of these ridiculous candidates and their ruinous proposals,” Shafer said. “It should boost the president’s prospects here in Georgia.”

The Georgia Republican Party changed its rules on delegate awards, according to the AJC.

Three senior Trump campaign officials said on a conference call Monday that they pressed party officials in 37 states to make it harder for a Republican primary opponent to emerge at the nominating convention in Charlotte in August 2020.

In Georgia, that effort unfolded in May when the state GOP quietly adopted a rule that makes it harder for lesser-known candidates to win delegates.

Under the rules, a candidate who wins a plurality of votes statewide automatically captures all of the statewide and at-large delegates. And the candidate who wins a plurality in each congressional district automatically captures all three delegates from the district.

The previous rules used in the 2016 election let candidates capture at least a handful of delegates if they won 20% of the vote statewide or, in some cases, if they finished in a strong second-place in a congressional district.

That meant that Trump, who won Georgia with about 40% of the vote in the primary, netted about 42 of Georgia’s 76 delegates. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won 18 and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won the remaining 16.

The new changes only apply to presidential primaries scheduled after March 15; shortly after they were adopted, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger set the primary for March 24.

Jack Kingston and Randy Evans have applied for appointment to the United States Senate, according to the AJC.

Evans honed his legal reputation as an attorney for House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Gov. Nathan Deal, co-chair of the state Judicial Nominating Commission, counsel to the Georgia GOP and a Republican National Committeeman.

Kingston has transformed himself into a cable TV pundit – and defender of President Donald Trump – since his defeat. He’d focus a campaign on his grassroots organization skills and ties to the president, though his recent lobbyist work will be a liability.

“It’s an honor to continue serving Georgia in any way I can,” Kingston said in a statement, “and I fully trust the governor’s decision-making process.”

Monday was the voter registration deadline for many municipal elections, according to WCTV.

This year, there are several different ways for Lowndes County voters can register, including in person at the Lowndes County election office, online through the Secretary of State website, or at the Department of Driver Services.

“If you go in there and change your address or update anything, you’re automatically registered or updated in the election process.” said Election Supervisor Deb Cox.

Campaign signs have popped all all across Valdosta ahead of a few big local races. Valdosta Mayor, City Council seats, the Georgia “brunch bill” referendum, as well as an upcoming SPLOST referendum will all be on the ballot.

This year the Peach State is rolling out a new voting system. Lowndes County is one of six ‘test counties’ to try the new system.

The deadline to register online [was] midnight Monday. Election night is on November 5.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler will host an employment summit in Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The summit, part of the “Employers in the ” series of meetings, will be held 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Wiregrass Technical College, 4089 Val Tech Road, according to a statement from Labor Commissioner Mark Butler’s office.

The meetings offer the commissioner a chance to meet with employers around the state to share the department’s work.

“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.”

There’s a new addition with participation by leadership of Gov. Brian Kemp’s Georgians First Commission. That group will join in at all 12 stops in the “Employers in the Know” series, state officials said.

“The Georgians First Commission looks forward to partnering with Commissioner Butler in this event,” said Scott Hilton, GFC executive director. “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 is open in two Atlanta elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Early voting is under way for the two Oct. 15 special runoff elections. It began Oct. 7 and runs through Oct. 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Residents will be casting ballots for candidates in the District 6 Fulton County Board of Commissioners race to fill the seat vacated by Emma Darnell, who died in May, and in the District 2 Atlanta Board of Education special election to replace Byron Amos, who left the post in January to run for the District 3 Atlanta City Council seat.

In the District 6 race, Joe Carn and Gordon Joyner are heading to a runoff after getting 26.33% and 20.04%, respectively. In the District 2 campaign, Aretta Baldon and Davida Huntley are bound for a runoff after receiving 30.65% and 25.27%, respectively.

The Macon Telegraph looks at the upcoming municipal election in Warner Robins.

Three seats are up for election and one is vacant. Stephen Baughier, Charlie Bibb and Eric Langston are competing for the Post 2 seat held by Carolyn Robbins, who did not seek re-election and died Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, Post 4 Councilman Tim Thomas is facing a challenge from Kevin Lashley, and Post 6 incumbent Larry Curtis Jr. is being challenged by Miranda Britt and Jon Nichols.

The election will be held Nov. 5. Early voting starts Oct. 15 and will be done at City Hall.

Tybee Island City Council candidates discussed issues at an issues forum, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia, Forever Tybee, 100 Miles, the Junior League of Savannah and Savannah Morning News, covered a wide range of Tybee Island issues from golf carts to climate change.

Monday’s forum follows a Tybee mayoral candidate forum the LWV hosted last week.

There are four contested council seats on the Nov. 5 ballot: three four-year terms and one two-year term.

One hot-button issue for the island community is the noise and frequent overcrowding of short-term vacation rentals.

Consultants presented a plan to Savannah to raise pay for all employees, according to the Savannah Morning News.

New police officers in Savannah could have the highest pay in the region if the city accepts the recommendations included in an employee compensation and job classification study.

City Manager Pat Monahan said the wage recommendations from the pay plan would be part of budget planning for 2020. The cost to implement the plan as proposed is $5.7 million.

Council voted in November of 2018 to pay the Virginia firm $118,505 to conduct the study. The plan is part of the city’s efforts to ensure fair pay and to retain and attract employees.

The plan recommends across the board raises of 2% for all employees and also sets minimum and maximum pay rates. It also creates a step increase system for public safety employees that are non-exempt. Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime. The plan also sorts employees into three different pay plans: unified for general employees, public safety plan for sworn positions and a managerial plan for those in senior leadership positions.

Whitfield County and the City of Dalton are in a standoff over a prospective Service Delivery Agreement, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners members say they will not agree to meet with Dalton City Council members concerning the service delivery agreement that covers the county unless city officials tell them exactly what portions of the agreement the city wants to renegotiate and explain how the city officials reached a conclusion that city property owners are overtaxed.

But as of Tuesday, city officials were refusing to release that information to county officials or to the media.

On Thursday, the Daily Citizen-News sent City Administrator Jason Parker a request under the Georgia Open Records Act requesting “any reports, including text and email messages among members of the City Council, the city administrator and the chief financial officer, regarding how the city government has determined which services provided by Whitfield County its residents are taxed to support but do not benefit from as well as how it determined how much those services cost city property owners.”

On Tuesday, Parker responded to that request.

“There are no reports, text messages or emails in the city’s records which are responsive to your request,” he wrote in an email. “The city engaged with legal counsel for guidance and investigation of the service delivery strategy negotiation with Whitfield County, and how particular services are funded. All analysis of the current service delivery strategy and related funding, which could be responsive to your request, was conducted by the legal counsel and, as such, these documents and/or communication with the legal counsel are attorney-client information and/or attorney work product, both of which are exempt from disclosure under the open records laws. The investigation and analysis conducted by legal counsel is fully and/or partially exempt from production under the Open Records Act pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 50‐18‐72(a)(1), 50‐18‐72(a)(20)(A), 50‐18‐72(a)(21); 50‐18‐72(a)(41); and 50‐18‐72(a)(42).”

Under state law, cities and counties must negotiate a new service delivery agreement every 10 years, spelling out which services the different governments will provide and how they will be funded. The agreements are aimed at reducing duplication of services. Without such 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 between the cities and the county expires on Oct. 31 and covers services ranging from fire protection to operations of the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library to building permits.

Commissioners and the councils of the other cities have voted to recertify the existing agreement.

St Marys City Council voted to place the City Manager on leave and terminate him effective November 6, 2019, according to The Brunswick News.

The Georgia Municipal Association hosted a rural broadband summit in Warner Robins, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

More than 100 elected officials, executives, and state and federal representatives gathered in Warner Robins last week at the Cary W. Martin Conference for the Georgia Municipal Association’s statewide Rural Broadband Summit. The meeting, which was also supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, provided attendees an inside look at several approaches underway in Georgia to address the broadband needs of rural communities.

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., charged city officials and staff attendees to work together and foster partnerships to address broadband issues across the state.

“Broadband is much more than sending emails — it’s everything we do in life, including health care and education,” Scott said. “The solution to broadband access for the people that you represent is going to come at the state and local levels.”

The Glynn County Board of Elections is learning more about the new voting system, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections staff set up the one machine they had received at the board’s Tuesday meeting to demonstrate how it worked.

Sometime before the March 2020 presidential primary election, Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell said, the board will get the rest of the 235 touchscreens and printers and 26 scanners and ballot boxes the state government promised.

Board member Patricia Featherstone wondered if 235 machines would be enough for Glynn County.

As far as he knew, Channell said the board had never used more than 200 machines in a single election.

Channel said he could foresee two problems arising from the new machines: They take up a lot of space, and they use more power outlets that the old models.

Because the machines come in two separate parts — the printer and touchscreen — the board will need twice as many power outlets. Because they don’t come with stands of their own, the board will also need to get ahold of a lot more tables than it currently has.

The Twelfth District Georgia Republican Party will host a fish fry Thursday, according to The Brunswick News.

Osal Evans and other citizens will host the annual 12th Congressional District Fish Fry, Thursday evening, Oct. 10, at the Pathway Center, which is off U.S. Highway 301 about three miles south of Sylvania.

The “meet and greet” starts at 5 p.m., followed by the meal at 6 p.m. Although not an official GOP event, the fish fry draws Republican elected officials and candidates but is not a fundraiser. U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Georgia 12th District; Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger; and area members of the General Assembly, including Sen. Jack Hill, Sen. Jesse Stone, Majority Leader Rep. Jon Burns and Rep. Jan Tankersley are on the guest list, as are officials, party and nonpartisan, from several counties and cities.

7
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 7, 2019

The first Mennonites arrived in America on October 6, 1683 aboard the Concord.

King George, III issued the Proclamation of 1763 on October 7, 1763.

With respect to Georgia’s official boundaries, the proclamation expanded Georgia’s southern boundary by giving the colony all lands between the Altamaha and St. Marys rivers. Previously, the Altamaha had served as Georgia’s southern boundary.

So, the impact of the Proclamation of 1763 was to set Georgia’s official southern boundary as the St. Marys River from its mouth to the headwaters, then north to the Altamaha River, then north to the headwaters of that river, and then westward to the Mississippi River. Georgia’s northern boundary was the Savannah River from its mouth to its headwaters.

GeorgiaBoundaries1763

Patriot militia defeated Loyalists at the Battle of King’s Mountain in North Carolina, near the South Carolina border on October 7, 1780.

On October 5, 1864, the Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought in Bartow County, Georgia.

Cy Young threw his last professional baseball game as a member of the Boston Braves on October 6, 1911.

On October 7, 1916, Georgia Tech beat Cumberland College in the most-one-sided college football game in history, by a score of 222-0.

The Engineers led 63–0 after the first quarter and 126–0 at halftime. Tech added 54 more points in the third quarter and 42 in the final period.

Tech Cumberland Scoreboard Tech Cumberland Ball

Recently, a Georgia Tech alumnus paid $44,388 for the game ball with the intention of donating it to the trade school.

On October 4, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegram to the Georgia Democratic Party Convention delegates in appreciation for their support of his admininstration.

The Savannah River Bridge opened on October 4, 1925.

The first televised Presidential address from the White House was broadcast on October 5, 1947.

The Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) was created by the Soviets on October 7, 1949.

On October 6, 1953, WTVM-TV began broadcasting in  Columbus, Georgia.

Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Vice President Richard Nixon met in the second televised Presidential debate on October 7, 1960.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience held its first rehearsal on October 6, 1966.

President Richard Nixon proposed a structure for peace and eventual withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam on October 7, 1970.

The second Presidential debate between Republican incumbent Gerald Ford and Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter took place on October 6, 1976. During the debate, Ford said, there was “no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe”. Polling released on October 8, 1976 indicated that Democrat Jimmy Carter won the second debate against President Gerald Ford by a 50-27 margin.

Pope John Paul II became the first Pope to visit the White House on October 6, 1979. Carter’s notes from the meeting are at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.

The last four B-52 bombers stationed at Robins Air Force Base in Warner-Robins left the base for the last time on October 6, 1983.

Beverly Hills, 90210 debuted on October 4, 1990.

The Georgia Supreme Court outlawed use of the electric chair as “cruel and unusual punishment” on October 5, 2001.

President George W. Bush (43) announced military action in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.

In a televised address that evening, Bush informed the American public that “carefully targeted actions” were being carried out to crush the military capability of al-Qaida and the Taliban, with help from British, Canadian, Australian, German and French troops. An additional 40 nations around the world provided intelligence, as well as bases from which the operations were conducted.

Bush touted the multinational effort as proof that America, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, was “supported by the collective will of the world.” He also warned that the war in Afghanistan would likely be only the first front in a long struggle against terrorism. He vowed to continue to take what he called the “war on terror” to those countries that sponsored, harbored or trained terrorists.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California on October 7, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 

3
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 3, 2019

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed on November 26, 1863 and on the fourth Thursday in November every succeeding year.

This announcement harkened back to when George Washington was in his first term as the first president in 1789 and the young American nation had only a few years earlier emerged from the American Revolution. At that time, George Washington called for an official celebratory “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” While Congress overwhelmingly agreed to Washington’s suggestion, the holiday did not yet become an annual event.

Thomas Jefferson, the third president, felt that public demonstrations of piety to a higher power, like that celebrated at Thanksgiving, were inappropriate in a nation based in part on the separation of church and state. Subsequent presidents agreed with him. In fact, no official Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by any president between 1815 and the day Lincoln took the opportunity to thank the Union Army and God for a shift in the country’s fortunes on this day in 1863.

On October 3, 1922, Rebecca Latimer Felton was appointed to the United States Senate from Georgia following the death of Senator Tom Watson. After initially being rebuffed by the Senate, Felton was sworn-in on late in November, becoming the first woman to serve in the United States Senate.

On October 3, 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp presented Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk with an award from the Boy Scouts, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

In presenting Paulk with the 2019 Boy Scouts of America South Georgia Council Distinguished Citizen Award, Kemp said Tuesday evening the sheriff is a leader who exemplifies these qualities.

Kemp praised Paulk’s work with the Boy Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, the Georgia Sheriff’s Ranch and other youth organizations.

“Sheriff Paulk’s public service is quite legendary in this part of the world,” the governor said.

Kemp also extolled the virtues of Scouting and people who support Scouting.

“I appreciate Scouts for standing up for what they believe in and their values,” he said, adding many people are attacked for their values these days.

Kemp mentioned Paulk’s public service as an elected official. Paulk served four terms as sheriff from 1993 through 2008. He was then elected Lowndes County Commission chairman and served one term before opting not to seek reelection. In 2016, Paulk ran for a fifth term as sheriff and won. He has said he’s running for sheriff again in 2020.

Looking out at the audience in the ballroom of the James H. Rainwater Conference Center, the sheriff said the seats were full because “we’ve got the best governor we’ve had in quite a while. The only way I’d get a crowd this big is if I’d brought all the inmates here.”

Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp hosted a public discussion of human trafficking, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp hosted a blue-ribbon panel discussion Tuesday focusing on legislative steps being taken to combat human trafficking in Georgia.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia House Pro-Tempore Jan Jones and Attorney General Chris Carr all spoke during the panel talks.

“We have not only the opportunity to do something about this in our state, but across the country,” Kemp said. “… We want to send a clear message (to people) that are selling our children for sex: that we will not put up with that. That we are going to continue to do everything in our power, every single day, to end this evil industry. To fight the fight but also help the victims that are in the aftermath.”

“I think people just didn’t want to talk about it because it’s such an evil and ugly industry,” Marty Kemp said, “but we have to talk about it.”

After last session, Gov. Kemp signed multiple bills addressing the problem, including increasing penalties associated with human trafficking, improving victim protections and including certain crimes in the state’s definition of gang activity. Lawmakers hinted at upcoming legislation that would focus on required training to be able to identify human trafficking.

Perdue and Collins said on a federal level, other states are already looking at Georgia for “best practices” in combatting human trafficking.

“We don’t want to be the number one state for human trafficking but we want to be the number one state in terms of fixing it,” Perdue said.

Chip Rogers, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said you can show numbers as much as you want, but it’s the stories of the survivors that get people involved in helping.

“Our influence, from the American Hotel and Lodging Association perspective,” he said, “we touch every brand, we touch virtually every hotel, how do we use that influence to make other people aware of this?”

Video of a Gwinnett County Deputy returning marijuana to a citizen highlights an issue in the law, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

A video that has now gone viral on social media depicts a Gwinnett County Police officer handing a bag of marijuana back to a driver who he pulled over.

According to Corporal Wilbert M. Rundles, Public Information Officer, “the officer followed the correct policy.”

Thanks to a bill passed earlier in the year, hemp is newly legalized which leaves authorities in a bind until agencies can determine a proper way to differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

In August, Gwinnett law enforcement said via a press conference that they would no longer be making arrests for a low-level amount(s) of marijuana until they receive more guidelines on the new hemp bill.

In the video, viewers can distinctly hear the officer saying, “we cannot seize it, so you are more than welcome to have it back.”

From the AJC:

Gwinnett announced in August it will stop arresting anyone who has small amounts of marijuana. That’s because hemp and marijuana are very hard to tell apart, AJC.com previously reported. The Georgia Hemp Farming Act, which became law in May, allows for licensed farmers to grow hemp.

Unlike the GBI, which has a test in its crime lab, there is not a test that officers can use to distinguish the difference between hemp and marijuana, AJC.com reported.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) is working to be named ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee, according to the AJC.

Battle-hardened by the eight-month fight to secure disaster relief money for his South Georgia district, Tifton Congressman Austin Scott is ramping up his behind-the-scenes push to become the top Republican on the committee that oversees the Department of Agriculture.

Scott is one of three GOP lawmakers vying to lead the party on the House Agriculture Committee, the plum panel that writes the farm bill, oversees the food stamp program and looks out for ag interests following natural disasters and trade fights.

First elected in 2010, Scott is currently the top Republican on the subcommittee focused on commodity exchanges, working hand-in-hand with the panel’s Democratic chairman, fellow Georgian David Scott.

Scott credits the Georgia Legislature with keeping many local farmers afloat by quickly approving loan money after the storm, and he said one of his priorities as leader of the Agriculture Committee would be streamlining the disaster relief process. He said he’d also focus on rural development, particularly bringing broadband to underserved areas, and take another look at crop insurance and federal price support for commodities.

The top committee spot doesn’t officially open up until January 2021, and whether Scott is running for chairman or ranking Republican will be determined by which party controls the House following the 2020 elections.

Former Cobb County Commission Chair Tim Lee will be eulogized at a service on Friday, according to the AJC.

A recall petition against elected officials in Hoschton may proceed after a court ruling, according to the AJC.

A superior court judge ruled Tuesday that a citizen-led effort to recall the mayor of Hoschton and city councilman can continue.

Judge David Sweat said Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly’s racially charged comments regarding a black candidate for City Council, her failure to see that an ethics committee was named to hear complaints against her, and a no-bid construction project given to the employee of a city councilman were sufficient grounds for voters to decide whether she stays on the job.

Separately, he found that Councilman Jim Cleveland’s role in failing to appoint an ethics committee was sufficient for a recall against him to proceed.

A Houston County Sheriff’s Deputy is suing the County alleging discrimination, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Houston County sheriff’s Sgt. Anna Lange, a transgender woman who is seeking a gender transition, on Wednesday filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the county and its board of commissioners claiming she is being “denied medically-necessary care” under the county’s health insurance plan.

Lange, 46, a Houston sheriff’s deputy since 2006, according to her lawsuit, requires “doctor-recommended gender-transition treatment” for gender dysphoria.

The lawsuit contends the county is discriminating against Lange for “seeking a gender transition” in that her doing so “transgresses gender stereotypes.”

In February, Lange asked county commissioners to include treatment for gender dysphoria to the county’s insurance coverage. The commissioners denied the request.

Whitfield County SPLOST oversight committee members heard about infrastructure needs, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Whitfield County needs to try to get ahead of some of its transportation needs before small problems become big ones, County Engineer Kent Benson told members of a citizens advisory committee that will make recommendations to the county Board of Commissioners for projects to be funded by a planned 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Benson spoke to committee members Tuesday night at the Edwards Park Community Center about transportation projects identified by the Greater Dalton Metropolitan Planning Organization, which handles long-range transportation planning for Whitfield County.

Committee members said they don’t have the engineering expertise to determine which of the transportation projects are the most needed but said they agree with Benson that improving safety and staying ahead of the county’s transportation needs are vital.

“One of the major reasons we are here is because this county has been reactive for 50 years,” said committee member David Pennington IV. “It may be time to start being proactive and find ways to help this county grow over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years.”

David Blackburn dropped out of the race for a seat on the Dalton Board of Education, but his name will still appear on ballots, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The final day to register to vote for that election is Monday. Early voting in the Dalton and Varnell municipal elections starts Monday, Oct. 14, in the elections office at the Whitfield County Courthouse.

Blackburn and attorney Sam Sanders were challenging incumbent Pablo Perez in the Nov. 5 election for the seat on the school board. With Blackburn’s withdrawal, that leaves the race a two-man contest between Perez and Sanders.

In Dalton, in addition to the Perez-Sanders race for school board, former mayor David Pennington is challenging Mayor Dennis Mock.

Two seats on the Varnell City Council are being contested. Seat 3 incumbent David Owens faces Sandy Pangle. Seat 5 incumbent Bob Roche faces Richard Lowe.

Carolyn Palmer will become the next McIntosh County clerk of courts, according to The Brunswick News.

Carolyn Palmer will take the oath of office Friday as McIntosh County clerk of court, replacing embattled former clerk Rebecca McFerrin who resigned effective midnight Monday.

County Attorney Adam S. Poppell III said Palmer will be sworn in to complete the remainder of McFerrin’s term of office which will end Dec. 31, 2020.

Palmer, who was chief deputy clerk, has been running the office in an interim basis since Gov. Brian Kemp suspended McFerrin for 60 days in late March. The suspension came after a three-member panel investigated McFerrin and issued a report alleging misconduct.

Probate Judge Harold Palmer said he would swear in Palmer as soon as he received an email from the Georgia secretary of state with an official oath and documents that Palmer had to sign. Because Palmer already had taken an oath as a deputy clerk, any actions she undertook were official, he said.

Under Georgia law, the chief deputy automatically assumes the office of clerk in the event of a resignation, he said.

The Dahlonega Nugget spoke with five candidates for City Council in the November elections.

Glynn County hosted a Town Hall meeting on St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

At the top of a lot of island residents’ lists was a new golf cart regulation ordinance — details of which can be found at tinyurl.com/golfcartlawdetails — that will go into effect on Oct. 18.

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

Once the law goes into effect, LSVs will be relegated to roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less as stipulated by state law, while PTVs will be restricted to streets with speed limits of 25 mph or less.

Multiple residents expressed their confusion with how gas-powered vehicles fit into the equation. A gas-lowered PTV is regulated by the county, no question, but according to Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy — backed up by Senior Assistant County Attorney Will Worley — gas-powered LSVs are difficult to pin down.

State law doesn’t include gas-powered vehicles in its definition of LSV, Worley said. Only an electric vehicle can be classified as a low-speed vehicle, he explained.

Worley explained that, according to the state Department of Revenue, gas-powered LSVs may be able to get a regular car tag and title if they are of a certain make and model. Gas-powered LSVs that “start life” as a PTV may not qualify at all, he said.

“I won’t tell you the state law makes sense here, I’m just telling you what it does say,” Worley said.

2
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 2, 2019

On October 2, 1789, President George Washington signed a resolution transmitting the (then-twelve) amendments constituting the Bill of Rights to the states that had ratified the Constitution. Click here for the letter from Washington to Governor Charles Pinckney of South Carolina that accompanied the amendments.

On October 2, 1835, Texans and Mexicans met in the first military battle of the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Gonzales.

In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. Over the next four years, the political situation in Mexico deteriorated, and in 1835 several states revolted. As the unrest spread, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales a weapon and requested the return of the cannon.

When the initial request was refused, Ugartechea sent 100 dragoons to retrieve the cannon. The soldiers neared Gonzales on September 29, but the colonists used a variety of excuses to keep them from the town, while secretly sending messengers to request assistance from nearby communities. Within two days, up to 140 Texians gathered in Gonzales, all determined not to give up the cannon. On October 1, settlers voted to initiate a fight. Mexican soldiers opened fire as Texians approached their camp in the early hours of October 2. After several hours of desultory firing, the Mexican soldiers withdrew.

Texas Cannon Flag 600

On October 2, 1879, Wallace Stevens was born. Stevens would become a renowned poet and insurance industry lawyer. My favorite poem of his is “Connoisseur of Chaos.”

A. A violent order is disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one.

President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke at the White House on October 2, 1909.

Thurgood Marshall was sworn-in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 2, 1967.

Betty Talmadge, then wife of Senator Herman Talmadge, hosted a fundraiser with Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale on October 2, 1976.

Ground was broken for The Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta on October 2, 1984.

The last Braves game at Turner Field was played on October 2, 2016, with the Detroit Tigers besting the Braves by 1-0.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Court Judge Steve Jones issued an injunction against the “Heartbeat Bill” passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Kemp. From the Fulton Daily Report:

Judge Steve Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday against House Bill 481, which outlaws abortion upon detection of an embrionic pulse. The statute says it could apply as early as six weeks into pregnancy and carries an effective date of Jan. 1, 2020.

“In light of binding precedent, the Court determines that Plaintiffs have met their burden for the issuance of a preliminary injunction,” Jones said in a 47-page order posted Tuesday afternoon. “Plaintiffs have also shown that, absent a preliminary injunction, they will suffer irreparable harm. By banning pre-viability abortions, H.B. 481 violates the constitutional right to privacy, which, in turn, inflicts per se irreparable harm on Plaintiffs.”

Jones also issued a scheduling order, saying the case is on a four-month discovery track, ending Jan. 18, 2020. Jones said during a hearing last Monday that he expected to schedule the case for trial early next year—unless the parties agree to an expedited schedule.

Supporters of abortion bans in Georgia and other states have said their hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear their appeals and overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision affirming a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy up until the point of viability—when a baby could survive after birth.

From the New York Times:

But in a 47-page ruling on Tuesday, Judge Steve C. Jones of United States District Court in Atlanta blocked the new law as a lawsuit challenging it proceeds. He said the new law probably ran afoul of women’s right to an abortion, which he said was guaranteed by the Constitution until about 24 weeks into pregnancy.

“Under no circumstances whatsoever may a state prohibit or ban abortions at any point prior to viability,” Judge Jones wrote.

Candice Broce, a spokesman for Governor Kemp, a Republican, said in a statement on Tuesday that the state was “reviewing Judge Jones’ decision.”

“Despite today’s outcome, we remain confident in our position,” Ms. Broce said. “We will continue to fight for the unborn and work to ensure that all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, and prosper.”

From 11Alive:

Jones is a University of Georgia Alum for undergrad and law school. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the federal bench in 2011. Two other judges who blocked similar laws were also appointed by Obama. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush appointed the other three.

Judge Jones will also preside over another hot Georgia issue: the challenge to the election system brought by the non-profit organization Fair Fight Georgia. The organization is run by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

Congratulations and condolences to Philip Singleton, who won the runoff election for State House District 71, according to unofficial reporting by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison (R)      41.14%      1788 votes
Philip Singleton (R)                                 58.86%     2558 votes

From the AJC:

Singleton defeated Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison — a private school teacher who had the support of the House’s most powerful Republican — in the runoff to last month’s special election to replace former state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan.

About 9% of the district’s nearly 48,000 registered voters cast ballots in the runoff election.

Sakrison, the daughter of a former state House Republican leader and congressman, had the support of prominent Republicans, including Ralston — who donated $2,800 to Sakrison. Other Republican lawmakers donated at least $10,500 to Sakrison, and several lobbyists and statehouse special interests also donated to her campaign.

Sakrison reported about $118,000 in donations. Singleton raised almost $68,000, according to state campaign finance records.

Singleton also was the top finisher in the Sept. 3 election, securing about 37% of the 5,004 votes cast. Sakrison got about 34%. Since neither won a majority of the ballots cast, a runoff was required.

From the Newnan Times-Herald:

“We’re just honored to have the trust of the people of Coweta and Fayette counties,” Singleton said Tuesday night. “It’s obvious that the negative campaign tactics we’ve seen in this race don’t work,” he said.

“The good news is we can put all that behind us, and we can work on uniting our county and promoting strong conservative Republican values in the legislature.”

“There was a tremendous amount of slander and negative campaigning used by the opposition,” Singleton said, referencing four campaign mailers and several Facebook posts by his opponent.

There was also a mysterious robocall the night before the Sept. 3 special election, claiming to be from a pro-MARTA organization and asking people to vote for Sakrison.

The unexpired term ends in 2020, and qualifying for the 2020 election will be held in March, with the primary held May 19.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman, a conservative writer and daughter of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, has applied for appointment to the United States Senate, according to the AJC.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman, an author and financial analyst who is the daughter of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late Tuesday she applied for the job.

“What it really comes down to in the end is: are you putting yourself out there with stands you believe in,” she said of her philosophy. “I’m not trying to be politically divisive, but I’ve got a conservative perspective and I won’t give in to what the other side wants.”

Gingrich Cushman, who recently authored “Our Broken America” about the lack of consensus in politics, sees herself as a serious contender– particularly if Kemp wants to keep an eye on the suburbs.

She said her frequent media appearances for her father’s failed 2012 presidential run will come in handy, as well as her financial background. Her resume includes a five-year stint as director of financial planning for Bellsouth Mobility and a role as a senior adviser for her father.

“I’ve learned how to be cheerfully persistent and positive, with a belief that things can be better,” she said. “You need someone who can take the heat, stand by their conservative convictions and still be positive.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams has added another mark partner for her pyramid voting rights protection scheme. From The GA Voice:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has partnered up with former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams through her organization Fair Fight to help combat voter suppression in the 2020 elections.

“The Human Rights Campaign is thrilled to partner with Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight to ensure that all of us are able to vote, and that all of our votes are counted,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “The right to vote is fundamental, but it has been weaponized against underrepresented minorities throughout our nation’s history. This weaponization has primarily targeted voters of color, but it has also harmed LGBTQ Americans.”

“I am so proud to be building a partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, because this fight is all of our fight,” Abrams said. “We must make sure that LGBTQ voters and all voters across the country are able to register, to vote, and to have their vote counted – no matter who they are, what they look like, or who they love.”

Democrat Jon Ossoff has raised $800k for his Senate bid, according to The Hill.

Democrat Jon Ossoff raised more than $800,000 in the third quarter of the year for his Senate bid against incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), his campaign said Tuesday, a substantial fundraising haul for a candidate who launched his campaign only three weeks ago.

Ossoff will report more than $1.3 million in total receipts for the quarter, including funds transferred from a former House campaign committee. He will report $1.3 million in cash on hand, his campaign said.

Since announcing his Senate bid in early September, Ossoff has racked up a list of high-profile endorsements, including from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a longtime congressman and civil rights icon who holds outsize sway in Democratic circles, especially in Georgia.

But Perdue, a first-term senator, is also heading into his reelection with influential allies, including President Trump himself. He has not yet disclosed his third-quarter fundraising haul, but he reported raising nearly $1.2 million in contributions in the second quarter of the year and has more than $4.8 million in cash on hand.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond wrote county commissioners about priorities in his budget proposal, according to the AJC.

Thurmond, who is entering the fourth and final year of his first term in office, said there are six areas where he hopes to focus county spending next year. In a memo to county commissioners, he said the budget proposal he submits to them by Dec. 15 will build on prior achievements, such as increasing the county’s rainy day fund, while introducing new new initiatives.

“The following budget priorities for (fiscal year) 2020 represent our vision for providing the highest level of services and the best quality of life for our residents,” Thurmond wrote.

The areas where the CEO hopes to prioritize county spending are:

•  making neighborhoods safer;
• improving public health, social services, recreation and culture;
• strengthening the workforce and promoting economic development;
• beautification and reducing blight;
• investing in maintenance and repair of county infrastructure; and
• making government more efficient, effective and transparent.

Thurmond asked department heads to submit budget requests below 2019 spending levels. He also told them to look for additional places to cut cost in order to redirect the money to other priorities.

The League of Women Voters will host a candidate forum for Savannah Mayor and City Council, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia will host two candidates forums for the municipal elections in Savannah on Thursday, Oct. 3.

The forums will be held at the Coastal Georgia Center at 305 Fahm St.

The Savannah at-large candidates for council forum will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. A forum for the Savannah mayoral candidates will held from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Food trucks will be onsite before the first forum and during the hour break before the second forum begins.

Both forums are free, but attendees are encouraged to pre-register at lwvcga.org.

Warner Robins City Council member Carolyn Robbins has died, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Robbins, 77, died Monday. Her funeral service is at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 129 South Houston Road. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at McCullough Funeral Home, 417 South Houston Lake Road.

Robbins, who had been battling health issues for some time, did not seek re-election to Post 2 during qualifying earlier this year in August. The Post 2 term ends this year.

Her husband and high school sweetheart, Tony Robbins, died Aug. 22. They raised three children together.

Statesboro City Council District 4 member John Riggs proposed a moratorium on new apartments, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“I would like for you to think about it for a few days. I would like to hear what our attorney has to say,” he told the city’s other elected officials Tuesday during the 9 a.m. council meeting.

“This is due to us having too many apartments and not enough students,” Riggs said.

“Just remember my goal is to keep the apartment complexes that we have now full, keep their rents high, but not too high,” Riggs added. “Every new apartment that we build, it makes an older apartment seem obsolete, or they drop the rent on it and possibly sometimes they don’t do background checks.”

Interviewed after Tuesday’s meeting, Riggs indicated that he wants new regulations on apartment complexes too. But first he wants to halt “anything that is going to lower the values or the rents in other people, because that “causes people that you don’t want to live there, bad people moving in,” he said.

Glynn County and the City of Brunswick discussed a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County and Brunswick City commissioners held a joint work session on Tuesday to talk about their Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2020 plans.

An agreement between the city and county commissions over the property expired last year when the city failed to make significant progress on its construction by an agreed-upon deadline.

County commissioners voted in a past meeting to set a SPLOST referendum on the May 2020 primary election ballot. If it passes a public vote, the collection of the new penny sales tax would begin when SPLOST 2016 collection ends in September of 2020.

To get the referendum on the May ballot, the county, city, Jekyll Island Authority and Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission need to, by the end of December, hash out the cut each agency will get and lists of projects they would like to use the tax revenue on.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division announced a record year for sea turtle nests, according to The Brunswick News.

The state Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division announced Monday, “Sea turtle nests on Georgia beaches took a hit from Hurricane Dorian with about 20 percent of nests ‘still in the ground’ when the hurricane swept the coast. About three-quarters of the remaining nests were either destroyed or waterlogged and poor hatching success is expected. Roughly 80 nests are still incubating on Georgia’s coast.

“The good news: With 3,928 loggerhead nests laid since April — the most ever recorded since surveys began in 1989 — an estimated 240,000 hatchlings had already emerged before Dorian arrived.”

Interestingly, St. Simons Island didn’t break nesting records this year, despite the unusually active season. St. Simons closed out the season with six nests total, seven sort of the 2016 record of 13. Catherine Ridley, SSI Sea Turtle Project coordinator, said the Sea Turtle Project has some plans in the works to hopefully make the island a more-inviting place for future nesting seasons.

“There were likely many reasons for our lower numbers, but I suspect that lighting issues and other human activity were at least partly to blame,” Ridley said. “When you look at Georgia’s developed islands, especially St. Simons and Tybee, you see a common theme. These problems essentially amount to a type of habitat loss — we have stretches of beach that would otherwise be great nesting habitat, but with too much artificial light, they’re effectively lost to turtles. If SSI is ever going reach our full potential and contribute to the recovery of the species, those are issues we have to take seriously and correct through increased education and stronger ordinances.

“This winter, we’re planning to launch a new community-wide sea turtle certification program. Local businesses and citizens will be able to complete different levels of turtle-friendly actions to demonstrate their commitment to wildlife. And with the help of a new online rating system, beachgoers will be able to choose which hotels, condos, and restaurants to support based on the business’ track record and compliance with conservation measures. Glynn County’s lighting ordinance is also decades old, so we hope to take a look at strengthening that language as well. I’m excited about everything we have planned. Our community works so hard to support sea turtles and other wildlife, and we want to ensure everyone has the tools in place to take action.”

M/V Golden Ray appears to have released some oil into St Simons Sound, according to The Brunswick News.

The Unified Command, the group tasked with responding to the shipwreck, reported dealing Monday with a “significant discharge” of oil from the Golden Ray, said spokesman Michael Himes, a U.S Coast Guard Petty Officer. The command also reported “weathered” tar balls washing up on the sand at Jekyll Island.

The 656-foot freighter has foundered on its port side in the sound – between St. Simons and Jekyll island — since overturning on Sept. 8 while heading out of the Port of Brunswick with a cargo of some 4,200 vehicles. The command is in the process of pumping some 300,000 gallons of fuel from the Golden Ray, the first phase in removing the behemoth ship from the sound. The Unified Command had pumped some 74,134 gallons of fuel from the Golden Ray as of Tuesday, Himes said.

The Unified Command responded to Monday’s release of pollutants from the ship with skimmer boats to remove oily sheens on surface water. Also, workers placed of thousands of feet of absorbent booms and barrier booms to remove and contain pollutants. Containment booms also were placed to surround the Golden Ray, the Unified Command said. Additionally, divers worked on the submerged portion of the ship to seal areas where the oil is leaking, Himes said.

Fletcher Sams, Executive Director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper, said Unified Command officials told him they worked from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to contain the discharge from the ship. Fletcher found plenty of new signs of “fresh oil” during an inspection on the water Tuesday, he said. “It’s bad, man,” Sams said. “It’s bad.”

Mercer University School of Medicine will open two new clinics in Peach and Clay Counties, according to the Albany Herald.

Following up on the successful launch of Mercer Medicine Plains in July 2018, Mercer University School of Medicine plans to open two additional rural health clinics in the coming weeks to continue delivering on its commitment to meet the healthcare needs of rural Georgians.

Mercer Medicine, the primary care practice and division of the faculty practice of MUSM, will establish comprehensive healthcare facilities in Fort Valley in Peach County and Fort Gaines in Clay County.

When Mercer Medicine Plains was dedicated, Mercer President William D. Underwood said that Mercer Medicine’s first clinic outside of Macon “represents part of a broad-ranging initiative by the university to transform access to health care in this state” and would serve as a model for additional rural health clinics around the state.

Augusta may be seeing an early start to flu season, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In a rare early showing, 30 people have tested positive for flu at University Prompt Care offices, which could be a harbinger of another severe flu season ahead, the medical director said.

Since Friday, there have been 30 positive rapid tests for flu, Dr. Bo Sherwood said.

“This is early” to see so many cases, Sherwood said. “Now if this keeps up another five days in a row, then a notice should go out that this is it. This is flu season and it is hitting hard and it is going to be this way for a while.”

While every flu season is different, flu usually begins circulating in Augusta anywhere from mid-November to mid-January. It is possible that this could be a false beginning, that there could be an outbreak and then die down for a while, which has happened in some previous seasons, Sherwood said.

The Floyd County Democratic Party will host a meet-and-greet for local candidates, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Rome voters will get a chance to talk with City Commission candidates one-on-one Thursday at a gathering hosted by the Floyd County Democratic Party.

The free meet-and-greet is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Willingham Village community room, 560 N. Division St. Tina Bucher, the party’s communications director, said in a release that all nine candidates have been invited and refreshments will be served.

Gainesville City Council approved a moratorium on vaping shops, according to the Gainesville Times.

Tuesday evening’s decision by the Gainesville City Council establishing an immediate 120-day moratorium on vape shops did create a somewhat hazy environment with numerous unanswered questions.

The final vote tally was 4-2 in favor of the moratorium.

Despite the split vote the intent of the resolution was clearly unanimous, but questions about what would (or could) happen next led Gainesville City Councilwomen Ruth Bruner and Barbara Brooks to vote “no” on the measure.

City Attorney Abb Hayes said a lot of detail still needed to be worked out in the resolution he presented at the end of the voting meeting.

City Manager Bryan Lackey explained after the meeting adjourned that enforcement of the moratorium on existing vape shops would not begin immediately, but encouraged vape shop owners to contact the city if they have questions.

An email from the United Tea Party of Georgia has caused a kerfuffle, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

An email from United Tea Party of Georgia which included a reference to carrying guns into a Gwinnett library where a 287(g) forum is set to be held Wednesday has Democrats alleging the Tea Party plans to intimidate opponents of the controversial immigrant detention program at the forum.

The forum is being hosted by Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, the black Alliance for Just Immigration, Racial Justice Action Center and Project South at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the library, which is located at 455 Camp Perrin Road in Lawrenceville. The organizers pitched the forum as a chance to learn about “the real impact (the 287(g)) program has on immigrant communities.”

“Billed as a ‘Community Forum’ it will really be a place for just the anti-Butch Conway and anti-law groups to speak their mind,” the unsigned email from the United Tea Party of Georgia states. “I am planning on going and would love to have some company! We need to arrive early because they may recognize us and claim the room is full. NOTE: You can carry a weapon (open or concealed) in the library as long as you have a valid permit. I will certainly be armed.”

The email prompted pushback from two Democrats running for county offices in 2020. Gwinnett Commission chairman candidate Curt Thompson and Commission District 1 candidate Kirkland Carden reached out to their supporters with the allegations of intimidation by the United Tea Party of Georgia against 287(g) opponents.

“This threatening, and intimidating remark is another in a long line of questionable actions and conduct by the most ardent supporters of the 287(g) immigration enforcement policy,” Thompson said in a statement.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 1, 2019

Original Communist (O.C.) Karl Marx published Das Kapital on October 1, 1867.

Voters in the state of Washington adopted the state constitution on October 1, 1889.

The first World Series of baseball opened on October 1, 1903.

On October 1, 1908, Ford introduced the Model T.

Former President Jimmy Carter was born on October 1, 1924 at Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, the first American President to be born in a hospital.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the 21st time beginning on October 1, 1931.

In a Special Election October 1, 1940, Florence Gibbs became the first woman elected to Congress from Georgia, completing her late husband’s term and serving through January 3, 1941, but no standing for a full term of her own.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

The Carter Center in Atlanta was dedicated on October 1, 1986.

Mikhail Gorbachev named himself Chairman of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet on October 1, 1988.

President George H.W. Bush condemned Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait in a speech to the United Nations on October 1, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the House District 71 Special Runoff Election, and no one could be happier than the Newnan Times-Herald editor who headlined the story, Hallelujah: HD 71 runoff is Tuesday.

Polls in District 71 in Coweta and Fayette counties will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for voting.

Republicans Marcy Sakrison and Philip Singleton were the top-two finishers in the Sept. 3 special election, but neither got a majority, meaning a runoff election is required.

Early voting for the election wrapped up Friday. Because of the short runoff time frame, there was only one week of early voting. There were a total of 983 early votes cast, said Jane Scoggins, Coweta elections supervisor.

That’s compared to 1,673 early votes for the Sept. 3 election, in which there were three weeks of early voting.

Governor Brian Kemp will be in Valdosta this week, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

— Kemp is listed as the special guest Tuesday evening, Oct. 1, for the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen’s Award Banquet honoring Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk at James H. Rainwater Conference Center.

— The governor is scheduled to participate in the Homebuilders Association of South Georgia luncheon, noon Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Birdie’s, downtown.

— Kemp is scheduled to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Arglass, a glass manufacturer for the alcohol industry, Thursday morning, Oct. 3, on Rocky Ford Road. Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority spearheaded bringing the manufacturer to South Georgia. Arglass is expected to bring at least 150 jobs to Lowndes County.

— First Lady Marty Kemp is scheduled to visit Nashville in neighboring Berrien County. She is scheduled to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Jacob’s Well Wednesday morning, Oct. 2.

The Georgia House and Senate are requesting budget documents from state agencies, according to the AJC.

After getting little information on the subject during hearings last week, the Georgia House and Senate are asking state agencies to turn over the unedited plans they submitted to the Kemp administration to meet the governor’s demand for 4% budget cuts this year and 6% next year.

The memo to state agencies was sent Monday, the day before they will begin receiving less money to run everything from the state patrol and prisons to environmental protection and agriculture education programs.

Joint House and Senate budget hearings were held last week, but they largely consisted of economists talking about the possibility of a recession. Kelly Farr, head of Kemp’s Office of Planning and Budget, told lawmakers the governor is still reviewing the budget cut plans.

The House and Senate budget offices are now requesting copies of the unedited plans and any supporting documentation from agencies.

Georgia State House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones has applied for appointment by Gov. Kemp to the United States Senate, according to a press release.

Georgia House Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton) today applied to Governor Brian Kemp for the appointment to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.

“If given the honor of serving our great state in the U.S. Senate, I will work tirelessly as your partner on behalf of all Georgians in support of conservative policies that will bring greater prosperity and opportunity,” Rep. Jones wrote in a letter to Gov. Kemp. “No one will outwork me as I fight for votes alongside Senator Perdue and President Trump in all corners of the state for the 2020 election – and then proudly share a ticket with you in 2022. I have the experience, I have the know-how, and I have the work ethic to win and serve our state’s 10.5 million residents.”

Rep. Jones, the highest-ranking female legislator in the history of the Georgia General Assembly, said her family has experienced the American dream of each generation doing better than the one before.

“Our challenge now is to make improvements on this success story,” she said. “I know conservative governance provides the best means for a higher quality of life and prosperity for Georgia families. And I know government should seek to strengthen families, not replace them, and encourage self-reliance, not undermine it.”

Rep. Jones’ resume highlights the legislative work she’s done to expand school choice, protect taxpayers from the costs of Obamacare and crack down on human trafficking. She’s strongly supported efforts to promote the sanctity of life and protect Second Amendment rights, as well as standing up against illegal immigration and banning sanctuary city policies.

“I greatly admire the lifetime of service that Senator Isakson has given to us and will strive to continue his legacy of servant leadership,” Rep. Jones wrote in the closing of her letter. “I submit myself for your consideration as a candidate for U.S. Senate committed to win the seat in 2020 and 2022 and always put Georgians and Americans first in every way.”

From the AJC:

While some Republicans snicker that she could not survive a competitive primary — she’s rarely faced determined opposition in her establishment-friendly district — Kemp’s blessing could scare away the threat of a conservative challenge.

At this point, most handicappers would have to name Jones and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, as the top competitors for the U.S. Senate spot.

Collins has strong connections to President Donald Trump, given his position as the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Jones has stronger connections to Kemp.

Both Collins and Jones are close to House Speaker David Ralston. The latter received this bouquet from the speaker on Monday:

“Speaker Pro Tem Jones is a trusted leader who has earned the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. She has a proven record of fighting for Georgia values, particularly improving educational opportunities for young people.”

The Georgia Supreme Court open seat gained another candidate, according to the AJC.

Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson’s decision to join the field further scrambles the race.

He is the only black candidate so far in the running for the seat held by retiring Justice Robert Benham, the high court’s first African-American jurist. And he entered after an intense effort in African-American legal circles to draft a black candidate.

Johnson paired his announcement with an endorsement from Larry Thompson, a former deputy U.S. Attorney in George W. Bush’s administration. Thompson called Johnson “fair, experienced, compassionate, in love with the law and determined to get to the right decision.”

The format of the nonpartisan race makes it even more unpredictable. It will be decided not in November 2020, but in May — concurrent with statewide primaries. With four candidates now in the field, it likely won’t be settled until a July runoff between the top two finishers.

The AJC reports that voter registration is surging ahead of the 2020 elections.

More than 352,000 people signed up to vote in the past 11 months, the vast majority of them automatically registering when they obtain a driver’s license, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. The influx has boosted Georgia’s voter rolls to a record high of nearly 7.4 million.

Many of the new voters are racial minorities or under age 30, both groups that are more likely to support Democrats than Republicans, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

About 47% of the new voters who identified their race are minorities and 45% are age 30 or younger, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of a list of voters registered from Nov. 6 to Aug. 12. By comparison, 40% of all Georgia voters are minorities and 14% are age 30 or younger. The voter list was obtained from the secretary of state’s office and provided to the AJC by Fair Fight PAC, a political action committee that supports Democratic parties nationwide.

Similar numbers of new voters have been added to the rolls each year since September 2016, when Georgia started automatic voter registration at driver’s license offices. About 365,000 new voters have registered each year at Georgia’s driver’s license offices since the beginning of 2017, for a total of 989,000 new voters, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Dredging of the Inner Harbor in Savannah is underway, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“I’m grateful to stand before you today and deliver what I think amounts to the best news yet for the Savannah Harbor, and that is that the final construction phase for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project as of today our efforts begin on the actual deepening of the inner harbor,” said Col. Daniel Hibner, commander of the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He spoke to a crowd of local, state and national officials gathered at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa.

“The action of putting a dredge in these waters to deepen the channel is evidence that we have delivered on our environmental stewardship promises. A lot of mitigation work led to this moment and is still being accomplished. We’ve proven that we can deliver on critical environmental demands, and now the remaining portion of this channel is on its way to 47 feet.”

The project is expected to net more than $282 million in annual benefits to the nation and has a benefit-to-cost ratio of $7.30 for every $1 invested, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The total cost of the project is about $973 million.

The harbor deepening will allow larger cargo ships to call on the Port of Savannah with a longer tide window and with heavier loads of imports and exports.

“At the end of the day the Georgia Ports Authority’s effort, along with the Corps’, delivers a strong message that Savannah is prepared for growth and poised to maintain its role as a leader in global commerce,” [Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff] Lynch said.

Candidates for Mayor of Tybee Island met in a forum, according to The Savannah Morning News.

The trio of candidates — Tybee Island City Council members Wanda Doyle and Shirley Sessions, and general contractor and businessman Mack Kitchens — gathered at the Burke Day Public Safety Building on Sept. 30 for this forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Coastal Georgia, Forever Tybee, 100 Miles, the Junior League of Savannah, and Savannah Morning News.

The candidates were asked questions that they had not reviewed in advance on a variety of topics ranging from environmental conservation to the proliferation of golf-cart rentals on this visitor-destination island. Following brief introductions, Doyle, Kitchens, and Sessions answered related but randomly chosen inquiries, with their responses being meticulously timed.

The Glynn County Commission is considering a ban on renting vehicles from public property, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Commissioner Bob Coleman and his wife will be tried in Glynn County Superior Court beginning November 4, according to The Brunswick News.

Both Colemans were charged by a Glynn County grand jury in January with 15 counts of felony violation of the Georgia Insurance Code — five counts of insurance fraud and nine counts of violating the Georgia Insurance Code’s reporting and disposition of premium requirement.

Both Bob and Sherry Coleman have maintained their innocence. In June, Bob Coleman released a statement appealing to the public to hold him innocent until proven guilty.

Bob Coleman was elected to a third four-year term in the At-large seat Post 2 seat on the Glynn County Commission in 2016. He was first elected to the commission in 2008.

Oakwood will hold a second public meeting on a proposed property tax millage rate that is higher than the full rollback, according to the Gainesville Times.

Oakwood is proposing to keep its tax rate the same, but residents who have seen property values increase would see a tax increase, if the rate is approved.

The city’s tax rate is 4.174 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

The city’s finance director, Carl Stephens, has said that to keep the city revenues the same, the tax rate would have to be lowered to 4.014 mills.

Residents whose tax values remained the same would see no changes in their tax bill and residents whose tax values dropped would see their taxes drop.