More than 80% of DeKalb County voters approved of the E-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education) renewal, despite no visible campaign nor media coverage. From the AJC:
School districts use E-SPLOSTs to pay for capital projects and technology. The revenue from the special taxes can’t be used for daily operating expenses such as salaries.
More than 80% of DeKalb voters approved the tax renewal, which takes effect in July when the current five-year tax expires. The DeKalb school district estimates the renewal will generate between $660 million and $700 million in revenue. City Schools of Decatur will also get an estimated $41 million from the tax.
I was talking with someone who said that seemed like a massive failure on the part of supporters of the E-SPLOST. Maybe. But maybe lying low was the best possible strategy, as no opposition coalesced either.Continue Reading..
John Willis Menard became the first black man elected to Congress on November 3, 1868 from the Second District of Louisiana. Menard’s election opponent challenged the results and prevented Menard from taking his seat, though in defense of his election Menard became the first black man to address Congress.
In 1927, at age 29, Russell was named Speaker of the House – the youngest in Georgia history. In 1930, Russell easily won election as Georgia governor on his platform of reorganizing state government for economy and efficiency. Five months shy of his 34th birthday, Russell took the oath of office from his father, Georgia chief justice Richard B. Russell Sr. He became the youngest governor in Georgia history – a record that still stands. After Georgia U.S. Senator William Harris died in 1932, Gov. Russell named an interim replacement until the next general election, in which Russell himself became a candidate. Georgia voters elected their young governor to fill Harris’ unexpired term. When he arrived in Washington in January 1933, he was the nation’s youngest senator.
Russell had a long and storied career in the United States Senate, during which he served for many years as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, unofficial leader of the conservative Southern wing of the Democratic party and a chief architect of resistance to civil rights legislation. He also ran for President in 1952, winning the Florida primary.
The Stamp Act, however, was a direct tax on the colonists and led to an uproar in America over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation.
Passed without debate by Parliament in March 1765, the Stamp Act was designed to force colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to have a stamp embossed on all commercial and legal papers. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense—”Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”
Outrage was immediate. Massachusetts politician Samuel Adams organized the secret Sons of Liberty organization to plan protests against the measure, and the Virginia legislature and other colonial assemblies passed resolutions opposing the act. In October, nine colonies sent representatives to New York to attend a Stamp Act Congress, where resolutions of “rights and grievances” were framed and sent to Parliament and King George III.
Trump arrived at the box the Braves provided for him shortly before 8 p.m. He and wife Melania waved to onlookers from the box, located in the corner of the stadium down the right-field line. Both the former president and former First Lady participated in a pregame rendition of Atlanta’s Tomahawk Chop.
The Braves did not show Trump on the stadium’s screen prior to the game.
Months after calling for a boycott of Major League Baseball, Mr. Trump and wife Melania attended the game between the Braves and Houston Astros at Truist Park in Atlanta. They were seen doing a chopping gesture – a Braves’ gameday tradition considered offensive to many Native Americans.
Mr. Trump was joined by U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, a former NFL running back who received the endorsement of the former commander-in-chief. Walker is looking to unseat freshman Democratic Senator Rafael Warnock of Georgia in 2022.
Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.
Edward M. McIntyre, who had been Richmond County’s first Black commissioner, was elected Augusta’s first Black mayor by more than a 1,000-vote margin in a runoff election.
“I’m just eager to go to work,” he said the day after his victory. “I’m delighted the people saw fit to give us a majority vote, and I look forward to working with city councilmen because they’re people with a tremendous amount of talent that we need.”
R.E.M. will see the release of a 25th anniversary edition of “New Adventures in Hi-Fi.” That was the album that marked the band’s turn from “cool-weird” to “weird-weird” in my opinion. From the Athens Banner Herald.
On Friday, a 25th anniversary deluxe reissue arrives, stocked with B-sides, rarities, unreleased video footage and photos and interviews with the original quartet.
Q: A lot of fans consider this album peak R.E.M. How do you feel about it when reflecting on the band’s catalog?
Mills: It’s a standalone for us. It’s not like any other record or part of any other series of records we did, other than it being done on the Monster tour. It’s very much its own animal. It is a singular record. I don’t know of anyone else who has made a record on the road like that.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Today is the last day of Early Voting ahead of Tuesday’s elections. Municipal offices and referendums are the main items on the menu.
Former President Donald Trump will attend Saturday’s World Series game in Sunday, dooming my chance of seeing my two favorite baseball teams compete in the Fall Classic. From the AJC:Continue Reading..
October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.
And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.
This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down—[up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
Floyd County PAWS was one of 15 animal welfare organizations invited to a special adoption event at the Governor’s Mansion. The invitation was extended by First Lady Marty Kemp.
The event was Pet Adoption Day and Georgia Grown Festival and took place on Sunday. Fifteen adoption groups, animal shelters and humane societies were in attendance, with approximately 60 dogs and 60 cats available for adoption. Seven Georgia Grown vendors were also invited and showcased locally-made dog treats, pet care items, and non-pet items.
Jeff Mitchell, Floyd County PAWS director, said PAWS staff and volunteers from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office took a total of 18 animals — 7 cats and 11 dogs — to the event.
“You had to apply to be considered for an invitation,” Mitchell said. “We registered and we were chosen to go. It was a great event.”
Mitchell said while none of the PAWS animals were adopted at the event, one cat was adopted by a volunteer when they returned. He also had a lot of interest from families that he’ll follow up with.
Cannoli has been with Floyd PAWS for more than 100 days ( sad face ) He is such a good goofy boy, but would prefer the company of females opposed to the males. He likes to eat his food in private ! He will wait until you “can’t see” him to eat his treats ! Cannoli bounces around like he is 4 pounds so his size does not bother him at all ! But will definitely make you laugh, he always looks like he is smiling when he is running around being silly !
Early voting continues in Columbus with a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax on the ballot, according to WTVM.
Early voting for how Columbus’s SPLOST funds will be used wraps up this Friday. Citizens are given the option to vote to approve a 1% increase in sales tax that would benefit local projects.
Mayor Henderson tells us about 1500 people have voted early and about 500 absentee ballots have been requested. You can make your voice heard in the special election on November 2.
Houston Circuit Superior Court Judge Katherine Lumsden removed elected Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones’s lawyer from representing him, according to WSAV.
Superior Court Judge Katherine Lumsden on Monday removed Christopher Breault from representing Columbus-area District Attorney Mark Jones. That’s because Breault could be a witness in the trial scheduled to start Nov. 8.
Breault contacted a potential witness in an electronic message that prosecutors cite as part of the misconduct allegations against Jones.
Attorney Chris Breault released a statement on the proceedings saying:
“It is clear that Judge Lumsden is prejudiced against DA Mark Jones and determined to deprive him of a fair trial. She is very biased in favor of Law Enforcement—her husband is a long-time member of the Georgia State Patrol. This afternoon we filed a Motion to Disqualify Unfair and Biased Judge, and expect her to be removed from the case.”
Separate from this case, the charges against Jones in the destruction of property case where he was accused to damaging property at the Columbus Civic Center, have been dropped by the state.
Of Breault’s exchange with Loyd, Lumsden wrote: “The use of the defendant’s private lawyer/friend (not law enforcement or the DA’s investigator) to find and persuade a witness is unheard of and fraught with ethical problems…. However, trying to explain the ethical issues this conduct creates for a member of the bar and how Mr. Breault’s conduct is properly attributable to the defendant potentially takes us far beyond the defendant’s case being considered by this jury.”
Breault represented Jones in a September trial on felony charges Jones damaged the Columbus Civic Center parking lot while filming a 2020 campaign video. That ended in a mistrial, and the charges finally were dismissed in an order Superior Court Judge Jeffery Monroe signed Oct. 22. Records show that dismissal also was filed Monday morning, around the same time as Lumsden’s order, which was dated Oct. 23.
Jones was indicted Sept. 7 on nine felony charges alleging he tried to influence witnesses, to persuade a detective to commit perjury, and to bribe staff prosecutors by offering them $1,000 to win convictions in murder cases.
During Thursday’s hearing, Breault asked Lumsden what was wrong with Jones’ offering bonuses for murder convictions. Lumsden said it’s illegal.
“You cannot pay your employees by conviction,” she said. “The law is very clear…. It’s prohibited by state statute, Mr. Breault.”
Breault said Monday that Lumsden still has not cited the state law to which she referred, despite his request for a specific code section.
I’m honestly curious about that last part. Can an elected District Attorney not lawfully pay performance bonuses to staff attorneys? Shouldn’t that be legal? Why not?
LaTosha Brown, the Georgia-based co-founder of Black Voters Matter, wanted to let the Democrats in charge in Washington know that she is losing patience.
“The Democrats have a responsibility to use the fullness of the power which we’ve given them so that they actually protect the voting rights, they protect the democracy in this country,” she said. “I am glad that they’ve gotten on one page where there is the passage of the bill, but they also have another tool available to them, which is to end the filibuster for the sake of moving forward.”
A poll conducted in May on behalf of the AJC found that 46% of Georgians approve of the new law and 44% oppose it. But there was a sharp partisan divide: 81% of Republicans supported the state’s changes while 75% of Democrats did not.
Georgia had enough money in its rainy day fund to cover 39.3 days of expenses before finishing last fiscal year with a surplus, according to a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Pew report ranked Georgia 17th-highest in the U.S. for the number of days its rainy day fund could keep the government running based on estimates at the end of the previous fiscal year, which ended June 30.
Pew estimated Georgia had $2.7 billion in its rainy day fund at the end of June. The state ended the last fiscal year with a $3.7 billion surplus, however, and added more funding to its rainy day fund as a result, the State Accounting Office reported in September.
Georgia’s rainy day grew to nearly $4.3 billion because of the surplus. State law requires 15% of the state’s general revenue funds be placed in the reserve account.
“States use reserves and balances to manage budgetary uncertainty, including revenue forecasting errors, budget gaps during economic downturns, and other unforeseen emergencies, such as natural disasters,” Pew’s report said. “This financial cushion can soften the need for severe spending cuts or tax increases when states need to balance their budgets.”
President Joe Biden nominated Michèle Taylor as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to the AJC.
She’s the second Georgian to be nominated to serve in a key diplomatic post in weeks.
Taylor is a board member of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and has helped lead a range of other humanitarian groups. The daughter of a Holocaust survivor, she also was a member of the Holocaust Memorial Museum Council.
She has deep ties to local Democratic politics. She was the vice chair of the Democratic Party’s finance committee and played leadership roles in former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s 2013 re-election campaign and Michelle Nunn’s unsuccessful 2014 U.S. Senate bid.
Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter (D) will send out revised property tax bills to Grayson residents. This will cost Gwinnett County taxpayers so that the Commissioner could try to pad her own income. From the AJC:
Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter will mail out revised bills to Grayson residents on Nov. 1, her office announced Monday. The bills will list both county and city taxes and be due by Jan. 1.
A Superior Court judge ruled in September that Porter must collect property taxes on behalf of Grayson, a city with less than 5,000 residents. The city filed a lawsuit against Porter after she declined to collect without personal compensation.
Porter planned to challenge the judge’s order, but that’s no longer the case. Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who represented Porter in the lawsuit, told the AJC in a Monday email that they do not plan to appeal.
“Commissioner Porter determined that it was in everyone’s best interest at this time to settle with the City of Grayson as long as the city was willing to give her the additional time she needed to get the job done,” Sears said.
Grayson’s lawsuit came after Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 201 into law earlier this year. The law stops tax commissioners in select counties from negotiating tax contracts with cities to increase their own pay and instead gives responsibility for negotiations to county commissions.
The state law currently affects only Fulton and Gwinnett because it only applies to counties with more than 50,000 tax parcels or 14 or more cities within them. Other tax commissioners in Georgia also raise their salaries by charging cities per-parcel fees for municipal tax collection.
The state Legislature hastily passed the bill after Porter, who took office this year, announced plans to charge eight Gwinnett cities a new $2-per-parcel fee for tax collection. The fees would have raised her $141,098 annual base salary by more than $110,000, making her the highest paid elected county official.
Commissioners have tapped Athenian First Development Corporation (AFDC) to run the initiative, modeled after a similar effort in Gwinnett County. In a 7-1 vote on Oct. 19, the commission selected AFDC against staff recommendation.
Commissioner Allison Wright cast the dissenting vote. Commissioner Carol Myers was not present and Commissioner Russell Edwards did not vote.
The local government put out a request for proposals to run the program in August, receiving only one bid. Government staff had recommended re-opening the request process, citing concern over Athenian First Development’s lack of experience.
Commissioners, including Ovita Thornton, wanted to move forward so that the government could begin helping residents facing eviction. The program should be up and running in December, according to Commissioner Tim Denson.
“I’m thinking about families that are going to be on the street,” said Thornton.
Members of an Augusta ad-hoc redistricting committee are getting an earful in response to a proposed redistricting plan, including some who say the Summerville and Forest Hills neighborhoods are being denied a voice in the process.
“District 3 has absolutely no representation,” homeowner Jane Bennett said at a Monday public hearing. “Yet it stands to be the most impacted.”
District 3 includes the two neighborhoods as well as Augusta’s only area of significant growth, around Fort Gordon, but the commission has refused to add District 3 Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight to the panel, despite her requests.
“I’m a little concerned that the members most affected are not on the committee,” said architect Robert Mauldin, a Summerville homeowner.
Gwinnett County had more than 957,000 residents last year, according to the decennial census, a 19% increase over 2010. Updated population counts must be used to redraw single-member district boundaries so each has an equal number of constituents plus or minus 1%, according to the law.
All maps eventually go through the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office, which certifies them before the state legislature votes on them. The governor must sign to approve the new boundaries.
The school board could have decided to use Gwinnett County Public Schools staff or a third party, such as a law firm, for developing maps. The school district’s executive director of administration and policy, Jorge Gomez, suggested the reapportionment office because it has the expertise to make sure the process follows the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other legal standards.
The board will decide on the principles it would like to guide redistricting. For example, Gomez said, the board could propose to redraw the maps with the least amount of change to current voting districts, or to better align the districts with high school clusters, which would entail more change.
Chattooga was selected to be part of NBC News’ second iteration of the “County-to-County” initiative. In 2020, the network met with officials from five swing-state counties who helped explain the presidential race.
Now, seven counties from across the nation, representing different demographics, are expected to illustrate which way the vote will lean come the midterms next November.
“You can’t find one county that sums up America,” NBC News’ Chuck Todd said. “We want to see where the vote is shifting. That’s why we’re in Chattooga County.”
Frederick Williams, chairman of the Dougherty County Board of Registration and Elections, cited crowding and residents forced to wait outside for long periods of time in seeking to move elections next year from the Flint River Resource Center.
“I have a real easy task today, and that is to ask for some money for the ‘22 year,” he said, drawing chuckles from commissioners. “Last year we utilized the Civic Center for voting, and it was a tremendously good idea. We had great results. We had very few problems with restrictions and keeping order.”
The cost to hold 13 days of early voting at the Civic Center totaled $35,000, he said, and the request for the 2022 election is for 17 days. Williams said he plans to ask the city of Albany to split costs with the county.
During early voting last year, the state system used by counties crashed in the early days of polling, resulting in people waiting for hours outside in some cases.
Prior to that, Commissioner Russell Gray said, there had not been issues at the resource center. The county’s population also has declined while the cost for elections has continued to climb.
“I look at the general trend of elections going up and up and up,” Gray said. “I guess from a fiscal responsibility, if you look at the cost per vote or cost per turnout, there’s a pretty big financial burden on the county. I just have a hard time funding more and more to pay for the cost for an election. We’re not really getting any more people in to vote.”
The chairman of the state Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee said she hopes there will be another opportunity for Georgia to apply for aid under the American Rescue Plan Act.
“I would hope to see a second window for applications, because many people may be unable to meet the Oct. 31 deadline,” state Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, said. “My hope is that everyone will be able to get the assistance they need and deserve.”
Georgians initially had 30 days to apply for aid. Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget office extended the deadline from Aug. 31 to the end of this month. Now, James said she is hoping for another extension.
“ARPA’s purpose is to deliver $350 billion for eligible state governments to respond to the COVID pandemic and bring back jobs,” James said.
Students in Muscogee County will no longer have to quarantine from in-person classes after coming into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
This new change was announced tonight at the school board meeting and will go into effect this Wednesday.
The Muscogee County School Board says this rule will only apply as long as the close contact happened while everyone was wearing a mask that covered their nose and mouth. This guidance is intended only for student close contacts that happen in classrooms or classroom like settings.
Bibb County public schools are beginning a national search for a new Superintendent, according to 13WMAZ.
The school board will pay up to $12,000 to the Georgia School Board Association to look for candidates, according to a contract it unanimously approved at a regular meeting last Thursday.
[Incumbent Superintendent Curtis] Jones, of Griffin, is set to retire next June. He was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year and National Superintendent of the Year in 2019. Under his leadership, graduation rates increased from 71.2% in 2015 to 80.67% in 2020. Jones’ salary was $418,612 in 2020, according to open.ga.gov.
When Jones was hired, the district was still reeling from the criminal saga surrounding disgraced former schools superintendent Romain Dallemand. Dallemand was hired in 2010 at the recommendation of a private consulting firm, ProAct Search, with which the school board contracted. That company has since been embroiled in controversy of its own.
Brunswick short-term rentals may soon be required to register with the city and pay a bed tax like those in the county.
The city finance committee was told at Monday’s meeting that the city ordinance would mirror one approved by Glynn County officials earlier this year.
The county hired an independent company to monitor ads to rent homes in the county, and those property owners are required to pay a tax and ensure certain requirements are met such as fire extinguishers and the guest know the limits on the number of occupants, noise and vehicles. Those who didn’t register with the county have been send letters notifying them they have 30 days before they are cited.
City attorney Brian Corry said the city cannot restrict the location or the number of vacation rentals in Brunswick. But he pointed out there are few rental units in city limits and the ordinance gives the city the ability to collect accommodation taxes. After the county’s ordinance went into effect, in July, it generated an additional $300,000 a month in tax revenue.