Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2019

On September 26, 1928, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in Atlanta on behalf of Democrat Alfred Smith’s campaign for President.

The first televised debate between major party candidates for President took place on September 26, 1960 between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon.

Kennedy emerged the apparent winner from this first of four televised debates, partly owing to his greater ease before the camera than Nixon, who, unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup. Nixon fared better in the second and third debates, and on October 21 the candidates met to discuss foreign affairs in their fourth and final debate. Less than three weeks later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by his Republican opponent.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported the state’s first vaping-related death, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A news release says the patient had a history of heavy nicotine vaping but none of vaping THC.

The statement says the patient who died was among nine identified cases of vaping-related illness in Georgia, and other possible cases are being reviewed.

The department says all had pneumonia without any known infectious cause. The patients were 18 to 68 years old with an average age of 26 years. They include seven males.

From the AJC:

The state agency said the patient was a man over the age of 35 who did not live in metro Atlanta. He had a history of heavy nicotine vaping, but no history of vaping THC, which has been linked to a majority of the mysterious vaping-related lung diseases afflicting e-cigarette users.

The death is one of nine confirmed cases in Georgia. The nine people were hospitalized and developed pneumonia with “no known infectious cause,” according to the agency.

In Georgia, those sickened range in age from 18 to 68. The median age of the cases is 26; seven are men.

From GPB News:

Gov. Brian Kemp and DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey urge individuals to follow the CDC recommendation that individuals should not use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices while this investigation is ongoing.

The CDC cautioned users to avoid purchasing products with THC or CBD oils off the street, and said users should not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.

“Voting rights” organizations are urging DeKalb County to stop canceling the registrations of voters using temporary addresses, according to the AJC.

Voting rights organizations sent a letter Wednesday demanding that DeKalb County election officials stop canceling the registrations of voters without notification or a legitimate challenge to their residency.

DeKalb should ensure that voting rights are protected after the county elections board recently canceled the registrations of seven voters who listed the address of a mental health business as their residence, according to the letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The business provides temporary housing for people who need a place to stay to avoid psychiatric hospitalization.

Elections officials should make at least two attempts to call and email voters whose residency has been challenged, the organizations said in their letter. In addition, challenges to residency should be submitted in writing from registered voters, not government officials.

The Georgia Composite Medical Board is seeking public comments on proposed rules, according to the AJC.

The state board that regulates physicians is asking for public comment on a proposed rule that would protect the licenses of doctors who default on their student loans or fail to meet service obligations.

The change is already mandated by a new state law, Senate Bill 214, and the board is simply changing its rules to comply with it.

Georgia law used to specifically call for license suspensions in such cases. The new law inserted a “not” and now prohibits them.

The Georgia Composite Medical Board will hold a public hearing on the rule changes at 8 a.m. Nov. 7 at Emory University. The hearing is scheduled for the Emory Conference Center at 1615 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. People who can’t attend can send their comments by email to by Oct. 25.

All five proposed rule changes can be reviewed on the board’s website at this link.

Georgia has a gang problem, according to speakers at a meeting of the Georgia House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention. From the Augusta Chronicle:

Rep. Carl Gilliard, chairman of the state House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention, stated that belief at a meeting Wednesday of the group in Augusta. The Savannah Democrat said 71,000 gang members have been identified throughout the state, but believes there are many more. The committee was created during the 2019-2020 session to study ways to prevent the increase of gangs and youth violence in the state.

The meeting was the committee’s third and this one focused on gang prevention, said Rep. Brian Prince of Augusta, who is a member.

“It gave us an opportunity at the first meeting to talk about the problem, identify it,” Prince said. “The second meeting we had in Savannah, Georgia we actually had some people that gave some sort of testimony about what is going on, not just out in the community, but in the jails and prison system.”

“Law enforcement continues to tell us they can’t do it by themselves. It’s going to take a collaborative community effort,” Gilliard said. “Our hopes are that as we bring coalitions of people from around the state that we are able to get the information that is needed to help our law enforcement.”

“The governor has really pushed for prosecution of gangs and taking it seriously and addressing this,” [Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Natalie] Paine said. “To have the chairman here today and this committee studying, gathering information (on) what are our issues here in Georgia and what are the ways we can combat this the most effectively, I think that is a great step in dealing with this epidemic here in Georgia.”

Georgia Democrats are calling their parent for money asking for a national investment in the state, according to the AJC.

[D]espite the predictions that Georgia will be a top 2020 battleground, Democrats are growing increasingly concerned that the national party still hasn’t devoted any significant resources to the state.

They’ve penned memos to Washington pleading for immediate investment to pay for field operatives and voter training. They’ve had quiet internal discussions to lay the groundwork for when the money comes. And they’ve lobbied national leaders to give more than lip service to the state.

“We need boots on the ground. We need more money to flow to this state. We need more training. And we need (national) leadership to be making trips here,” said Lewanna Heard-Tucker, the Fulton County Democratic chairwoman. “There needs to more noise and excitement so folks can see this state matters.”

Although Democratic presidential candidates are lavishing more attention on Georgia, none has built any lasting infrastructure in the state. No candidate has established a campaign office in Georgia or hired any full-time staff devoted to the state.

By contrast, a pro-Trump “Victory” operation is already humming, with staffers who have crisscrossed Georgia for months to hold rallies and training sessions, some geared toward women and Asian American voters that Republicans have struggled to keep in the fold.

Bibb County School Superintendent Curtis Jones delivered the State of the District address, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Among the achievements noted by Jones was Bibb schools closing the gap with the state on a calculation used to measure Georgia public schools’ student achievement and on graduation rates.

Bibb’s College and Career Ready Performance Index score for 2018 was 67.2 compared to 76.6 for the state. In 2012, Bibb’s CCRPI score was 57.3, compared to 74.1 for the state, Jones said.

Bibb’s graduation rate was 79.4% for 2019, compared to 82% for the state. In 2012, Bibb’s graduation rate was 52.3%, compared to 69.7% for the state.

“Still not good enough, but it’s where we want to go,” Jones said.

Some Bulloch County seniors continue working for property tax relief, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson, at the BOE’s regular meeting Sept. 12, asked board members to be ready to tell him where they stand on the exemption request during this Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. “work session.” The second regular meeting of the month, it includes a time for board members to discuss several topics with the public listening, but with no scheduled time for further comments from the public.

Only the first regularly scheduled BOE meeting each month includes “public participation,” and the tax exemption has been a topic at the last two opportunities. At least four representatives of the pro-exemption seniors spoke to the board Aug. 8, when more than twice as many people spoke against an age-based exemption. However, pro-exemption leaders objected to the way that ratio came about, and two – Kay Anderson and William Emley – spoke again Sept. 12.

Speaking to the board, Emley said it is a fact that all Bulloch County property owners, including those who are not parents or guardians of children in school “have the responsibility of providing financial support … for children’s education.”

“To me that seems to be unfair,” Emley said. “It is a fact that nearly 100 counties in Georgia have some type of age-based school tax exemption. Some of them include 100 percent school tax exemption to their senior citizens who are retired and on fixed income.”

The University of Georgia will name the college of education for Mary Frances Early, the first African-American graduate of the University, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Naming an academic unit such as a college for a person requires Board of Regents approval, UGA President Jere Morehead said in a meeting of his cabinet of high-level administrators, who voted unanimously to approve naming the college for Early.

The late Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter (now Charlayne Hunter-Gault) were UGA’s first black students when they enrolled as undergraduates in the winter of 1961. Early transferred from the University of Michigan as a graduate student later that year. All three went on to distinguished careers, but Early was the first to get a diploma when she received a master’s in music education in 1962. She later earned a Specialist in Education degree from UGA.

The naming of the college for Early is “honorific” — in contrast to naming colleges, schools or buildings for donors who have given large sums of money, such as buildings in the university’s new Terry College of Business complex.

Early’s career in music education included stints as music director for Atlanta Public Schools, teaching at Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clarke Atlanta University, where she was head of the music department.

In 1981, she was the first African American elected president of the Georgia Music Educators Association.

White County Sheriff Neal Walden announced he will not run for reelection, according to AccessWDUN.

Speaking with WRWH Radio Wednesday morning, Walden, who is in his 28th year as sheriff, said it’s time to do something else.

“They talk about the golden years,” Walden said. “I think it’s about time for me to take a little bite of the golden years. I’ve enjoyed my career. I’ve never got up a day in my life and said, ‘I don’t want to go to work’. It’s always been that challenge, you know, to go see what’s happening, who you can help.”

Walden began his law enforcement career in 1979, working for then-Sheriff Frank Baker Sr. Following Baker’s death, Walden ran for the office and has been serving ever since.

In his seventh term in office, Walden thanked the citizens for allowing him to serve over the years.

Rome Commission candidates will meet the public in two forums, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Floyd County Republican Party is hosting the first candidate forum Thursday at 6 p.m. at Moe’s Original Bar B Que, 107 W. First St., next to Bridgepoint Plaza.

“This is open to the public and there will be microphones for people if they want to ask the candidates questions,” Floyd GOP spokesman Mickey Tuck said Wednesday, adding if folks wish to order food first, they should arrive by 5:30.

Eight out of the nine candidates running for seats in Wards 1 and 3 have confirmed they will be there. Only Ward 1 incumbent Milton Slack will not be able to attend as he has a previous obligation in Brooklyn, New York.

The second candidate forum on Oct. 1 is being put on at 6:30 p.m. by the Theta Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. at Thankful Baptist Church’s Russell Family Life Center, 935 Spider Webb Drive in Rome.

Registered voters in the city of Rome will be able to select three candidates for each ward and the top three in each race will start four-year terms in January.

Francine Scott became the first announced candidate for Augusta Commission Super District 9, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The super district comprises commission districts 1, 2, 4 and 5. Commissioner Marion Williams is term-limited can’t run again next year after serving two consecutive terms. No one else has announced plans to run in the election next May.

Scott said she would bring to the commission “a wealth of experience,” including her more than 30 years in administrative roles with state agencies such as the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Georgia Department of Corrections’ operations and planning division.

Brunswick will get even more awesome when a new Stripling’s opens there. From The Brunswick News:

Buster Byrd and Dennis Carey have been Stripling’s General Store customers for years because of the high quality meats and fresh produce.

But the stores, Perry, Bogart and two in Cordele, aren’t a short drive down the road for residents in the Golden Isles — at least for the time being.

The two businessmen are opening a Stripling’s General Store franchise in Brunswick on U.S. 17 near the causeway leading to St. Simons Island.

It’s likely many visitors to the Golden Isles are already familiar with Stripling’s, which sold some of its products at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The meats sold at the store are all produced at a USDA plant in Moultrie.

Byrd said he and Carey were interested in a franchise because the four existing stores are all in rural areas, but they have a loyal clientele who go out of their way to shop there. Both men believe their store will earn a similar reputation when it opens. Under ideal circumstances, the store could open next summer by July 4th weekend, but it’s more likely the opening will be around Labor Day weekend.

Besides smoked meats, the butcher shop will also showcase a variety of fresh-catch seafood, offering shoppers a taste of the nearby sea. Setting it apart from previous locations, Stripling’s Golden Isles will highlight an impressive variety of fine wines that will pair well with a day at the beach or an at-home dinner.

On-the-go favorites include Stripling’s housemade sausage dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, Brunswick stew, and sausage biscuits, to name a few. A plethora of general groceries, including artisanal cheeses, dips, crackers, preserves, sweets, wine and beer, will also be available for purchase.


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

On September 25, 1789, Congress adopted the first twelve amendments, called the Bill of Rights, to the United States Constitution. A little more than two years later, in 1791, enough states had ratified ten of the Amendments, with two not receiving sufficient support.


On September 25, 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with General John Bell Hood and visited troops at Palmetto, Georgia.

Ronald Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Justice of the United States on September 25, 1981. In an interview with Terry Gross, she recalled receiving the call from President Reagan:

“I was working in my office on the Arizona Court of Appeals,” she tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I was at the court in my chambers when the telephone rang. And it was the White House calling for me, and I was told that the president was waiting to speak to me. That was quite a shock, but I accepted the phone call, and it was President Reagan, and he said, ‘Sandra?’ ‘Yes, Mr. President?’ ‘Sandra, I’d like to announce your nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. Is that all right with you?’ Well, now, that’s kind of a shock, wouldn’t you say?”

The Princess Bride was released on September 25, 1987. Inconceivable!

On September 25, 2008, the last car came off the line at GM’s Doraville Plant.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp has received a shortlist of recommended candidates for appointment to a vacancy on the Superior Court for the Enotah Judicial Circuit, which serves Lumpkin, Towns, Union, and White Counties.

The Judicial Nominating Commission has submitted recommendations to fill a vacancy within the Superior Court of the Enotah Judicial Circuit. The vacancy was created by the resignation of the Honorable N. Stanley Gunter. Gov. Kemp will fill the vacancy from the recommendations provided. The Governor’s Office will contact candidates to schedule interviews.

The following names were submitted to Gov. Kemp:

•  Jeremy D. Clough – Judge, Juvenile Courts, Enotah Judicial Circuit
• T. Buckley Levins – Senior Assistant District Attorney, Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit
• Kerry B. Morris – Special Assistant Attorney General, Department of Family and Children Services; attorney, Law Office of Todd L. Lord

If the Governor wanted my two cents, I’d say that the only candidate I know of the ones listed is Jeremy Clough, and I know him to be a fine man whose work ethic, temperament, and philosophy would make him a good judge whom I could enthusiastically support.

The AJC looks at the five-year relationship between President Trump and Senator David Perdue.

Five years ago this month, when he was best known as a real estate mogul-turned-reality star who raised questions about President Barack Obama’s citizenship, Donald Trump telegraphed his admiration for David Perdue, the political newcomer who’d unexpectedly secured the GOP nomination for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat.

“He’s a fantastic guy who will fight hard against ObamaCare,” Trump tweeted.

The tweet came after the duo’s initial Trump Tower meeting in September 2014, where they laid the groundwork for a political alliance that would help shape Trump’s anti-establishment presidential run and facilitate Perdue’s rise as one of Capitol Hill’s foremost “Trumpsplainers.”

This year, Perdue’s Democratic challengers are all too happy to broadcast the senator’s ties to Trump, especially his loyalty after the president’s blunt comments about African countries and four freshmen congresswomen of color that many considered racist. They’ve also highlighted his continued support of Trump’s trade and disaster relief policies, even as both have led to near-term pain for local farmers.

Georgia Democrats are speaking in support of an effort to impeach President Trump, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson, John Lewis and David Scott were the first Georgia congressmen to call for presidential impeachment proceedings to move forward. U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Albany, also backed the impeachment inquiry late Tuesday.

Johnson, D-Lithonia, said the president’s “recent admission” of discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden is “profoundly troubling.”

“Attempting to coerce a foreign government into digging up dirt on a political opponent, then trying to cover it up by unlawfully refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress, crosses a red line,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. “President Trump’s repeated obstruction and flagrant disregard of his oath of office demands the issuance of Articles of Impeachment.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Austin Scott also commented.

Scott said in a prepared statement Tuesday evening, “Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has succumbed to the belligerent left and their media allies to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against the President. Democrats continue to waste time and taxpayer dollars on endless investigations while refusing to address the many challenges our nation faces.”

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, slammed U.S. House Democrats in a statement to CNHI, saying, “Just when you think they can go no lower, Washington Democrats have proven us wrong.

“No plan to grow jobs, no plan to allow hard-working Americans to keep more of their money and no plan to keep us safe, but wasted energy on an impeachment process that is going nowhere in a hurry,” Ralston said. “President Trump’s record of creating jobs, growing our economy, cutting taxes and making sure America stands strong in the world is beyond dispute. Also beyond dispute is the obsessive hatred of Washington Democrats.”

That’s a very thorough article by Riley Bunch, which is worth reading in its entirety.

From the AJC:

Several Democratic contenders for top Georgia offices also announced they would back filing formal charges against the Republican, changing course amid allegations that he pressured a Ukrainian leader to investigate his top political rival.

In an even trickier spot was freshman Congresswoman Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, whose 2018 upset victory in a Republican-leaning suburban district was the state party’s crowning achievement in the midterm. She refused to answer reporters’ questions following a closed-door meeting with Pelosi and other Democrats on Tuesday afternoon.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

“The administration should absolutely follow the whistleblower process, I call on it to do exactly that, and I know that it will,” said U.S. Rep. Woodall, R-Ga.

“But when the House Democrat majority moves to start impeachment proceedings based on that complaint before it even holds a hearing to gather the facts, we have the answer to whether this is a serious constitutional effort or a partisan political exercise.”

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice struck a stronger tone in a statement Tuesday night where he accused Democrats of attempting to “nullify the will of the people and overturn the results of the 2016 election” while also accusing Democrats and the media of being “dead set on resisting” Trump.

“The abrupt and absurd decision by Speaker Pelosi to formally begin impeachment proceedings without waiting for a single piece of evidence is a dramatic overstep to distract from the real issues that matter to the American people,” Hice said.

“The simple fact that Speaker Pelosi could not be bothered to wait a mere 24 hours, when the President has said he would release the call’s transcript, indicates just how desperate and misguided the Left has become.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is working to bring together resources for homeless people, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, is working to bring together resources for homeless individuals, particularly homeless veterans, in hopes of better addressing the issue in communities Carter represents.

That effort began Monday with an initial roundtable discussion in Glynn County that included representatives from numerous local resources aiming to address homelessness in this area, as well as local government leaders including Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey and Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker.

“All of us have the same common goal, and that is to end homelessness,” Carter told the meeting participants. “… I always like to say that none of us is as smart as all of us. If we’re duplicating services, or if we’re concentrating and we’ve got an overabundance of one thing and not enough of another thing, then we’re not really doing everything that we can do.”

Most of the one-hour meeting Monday, held at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce office, was spent on introductions from the various attendees, who shared their organizations’ missions and plans.

Democrat Governor Stacey Abrams presented a fictional account speech in Pooler, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Abrams, the founder and chair of Fair Fight, spoke to members of the public at the National Association of Letter Carriers’ office on U.S. 80. Her visit came on National Voter Registration Day, an unofficial national holiday that started in 2012.

“My name is Stacey Abrams, and I am not the governor of Georgia,” Abrams said at the start of the talk, which drew about 70 people into the crowded building on U.S. 80.

“I like to announce that because some people think I’m confused,” Abrams said. “You see, I recognize that by legal sufficiency we have someone else who sits in that office, but I was raised by two United Methodist ministers and two Civil Rights activists who raised me to believe that, if you see something that’s wrong, you need to say it’s wrong.”

“To concede an election, to say that it was true and right and proper, when in Pooler, Georgia, people got turned away because they ran out of provisional ballots … When that happens in the state of Georgia, when that happens in Pooler, Georgia, but also in Troup County and in metropolitan Atlanta and in Stewart County and across the state, then the right to vote was not fair and proper, and I will not say it was so if it is not so.”

The Gainesville Times looks at north Georgia applicants for appointment to the United States Senate.

Several local applicants have sent in their resumes for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

Local applicants include Collins, radio host and former Kemp adviser Martha Zoller, CEO of The Norton Agency Frank Norton Jr., Gainesville City Schools teacher Lewis Fraser, and Northeast Georgia Health System employee Andy Whitener.

A Collins spokesperson declined to comment on Collins’ application for the Senate position. In a statement last month, Collins praised Isakson’s leadership.

“Johnny Isakson has been a standard of public service and statesmanship for decades in Georgia. He’s always drawn on his extensive roots in our state to deepen his advocacy for all Georgians,” Collins said. “Johnny faithfully remembers the forgotten, including America’s veterans. I’ve looked up to him as a mentor and still work to emulate him.”

Zoller, of Gainesville, is currently a radio host with WDUN. She was previously Kemp’s director of field offices and worked with Kemp’s campaign as director of outreach. Before that, she was a policy adviser to U.S. Sen. David Perdue and for Perdue’s campaign. She has worked for several Georgia radio stations.

“I have traveled the state of Georgia on behalf of elected officials and heard the needs that constituents had throughout the state,” she said. “I would be honored to continue to do that service in the United States Senate.”

 The Georgia Court of Appeals will hear defendants in a RICO case involving Floyd County schools, according to the Rome News Tribune.

On Aug. 12, Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach ruled that the DA could drop both indictments, which gives them a six month period in which to re-indict. Attorneys for defendants in the case argued the court should have thrown out both indictments.

The distinction between allowing the district attorney to drop the indictments and having the court throw them out boils down to whether or not the case continues.

Attorneys for the defendants of the RICO case are petitioning the court of appeals to overturn Niedrach’s decision stating the last two indictments were void and therefore the entire case needs to be dismissed.

According to information presented in court, Derry Richardson is accused of using his position as maintenance director in the school system to steal millions of dollars from the Floyd County School system over a period of years and included family, friends and co-workers in the ongoing scheme.

Multiple people have been charged with RICO violations and other charges in the case. Along with Derry Richardson, his wife Lisa Richardson, his father Jimmy Richardson and brother Dwayne Richardson are all charged in the plot.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) will build training sites at Fort Benning, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

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

The plans also call for expansion later at the post, which is near Columbus.

The structures will be made from portable shipping containers or other appropriate materials that can be relocated to different sites if needed. But specifics of what each replica would look like are not included in the federal contract.

The AJC looks at the prospective hemp industry in Georgia after passage of legislation to allow the practice.

Andy Peck wants to start growing hemp plants at his nursery in Dacula, but like many farmers across Georgia, he’s worried that government regulations will stifle the new industry before it starts.

Peck wouldn’t be allowed to sell hemp to anyone except processing companies, which don’t exist yet in Georgia. He couldn’t ship his product outside Georgia, but out-of-state producers could bring their hemp here. With such an uncertain market, Peck doesn’t know whether hemp would even be profitable.

Since Georgia lawmakers legalized hemp farming earlier this year, Peck and 71 other people have submitted public comments to the state Department of Agriculture, almost all of them expressing concerns about the state’s proposed regulations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained their comments through a request under the Georgia Open Records Act.

“The way they proposed it isn’t going to work for Georgia farmers,” said Peck, who would like to grow hemp along with violas, ferns, perennials, annuals and other flowers in greenhouses on his 21 acres at Quail Hollow Nurseries. “We want to make sure Georgia is competitive with the rest of the South. The way the laws are written now, we won’t be.”

Warren Hanchey of Whole Leaf Co., a business that grows hemp in Colorado and Oregon, said the hemp regulations require farmers to enter into written agreements with processors, but processing plants haven’t been built yet. He said farmers should be able to do business with any plant that offers the best price and service.

“They’re just trying to over-regulate everything,” said Hanchey, who lives in Johns Creek. “We’re trying to create all-new steps in Georgia to grow the hemp. I’m afraid it’s going to lead to a disaster for the farmers getting into this.”

The Georgia Department of Agriculture will review the public comments and decide whether proposed regulations should be changed, said Julie McPeake, a spokeswoman for the department. The state is waiting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release federal hemp program rules before moving forward with Georgia’s regulations.

Savannah has hired a firm to help collect overdue water bills, according to AccessWDUN.

A city in Georgia that is owed about $6.5 million in overdue water bills has hired a debt collector to help reel in the delinquent payments.

News outlet report the city of Savannah has hired Professional Credit to assist in collecting unpaid water bills from about 12,500 accounts. The highest delinquent bill owed to the city is more than $27,000.

The city Revenue Director Ashley Simpson says it’s become increasingly difficult to collect on delinquent accounts especially because some of the holders moved away, passed away or filed for bankruptcy.

Augusta Commissioners declined to support the call by colleague Sammie Sias to drawdown the Savannah River for a second look at potential changes, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta won’t be asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a second drawdown of the Savannah River after one city commissioner’s call to do so gained no support Tuesday.

Commissioner Sammie Sias would not say why he specified the corps’ alternative 2-6a for removing the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in his Tuesday request for another drawdown, other than that “all options are still on the table.” Lowering the river level would show the impact of one of six corps proposals , and the corps has said that particular alternative has the least effect on water levels.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners discussed a proposal to give county employees time off to vote, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners Virgil Watkins and Elaine Lucas came up with an idea to give county employees a holiday on election days.

The idea met some resistance from fellow commissioners so Watkins modified the time off to include wellness and other civic activities and reduced it to a half day.

Those changes still didn’t work.

The resolution came before the Operations and Finance Committee, which Watkins chairs. After Watkins explained the motion, Commissioner Scotty Shepherd made a motion to table it, and the motion was approved 3-2 without discussion.

The Chatham Area Transit Board of Directors met to discuss art, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Sept. 24 CAT board meeting saw the debut of a proposal to add unique murals to neighborhood bus stops outside of Savannah’s historic core. Board member Clinton Edminster, who was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, suggested this initiative as a way to strengthen the connection between CAT and various communities that it serves with individualized artworks reflecting the surrounding neighborhood’s character.

Although this concept garnered initial encouragement among board members on Tuesday, Chairman Michael O’Halloran was quick to point out that there is no room in CAT’s budget to fund the initiative.

“I really think it could improve the shelters. … Art’s important, and I’m not opposed to it. I like art,” O’Halloran said, while adding that when Edminster approached him with the idea, he responded, “Plan on us not funding it.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved new funding agreements with the Westin Savannah hotel and the Savannah Convention Center regarding ferry services across the Savannah River. The agreements stipulate that each of the two Hutchinson Island visitor destinations will pay $50,000 annually to support ferry operations.

Statesboro will seek outside funding for transit, according to the Statesboro Herald.

City of Statesboro staff members are ready to move forward with applications for state 10% matching funds and a federal 80% grant toward equipment costs of $811,750 to launch a city bus system.

The system is expected to cost $658,800 a year to operate and maintain, with a different federal grant potentially providing 50% of that and rider fares a little over $78,000 annually. These projections are for a system with the main buses running two, two-way fixed routes, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Of four options presented by Connetics Transportation Group, or CTG, in its May transit study report, city staff last week recommend this as the most “cost effective” option based on ridership projections. But it has the highest up-front capital cost and second-highest annual operating cost.

Albany Commission Ward IV member Tommie Postell was honored by colleagues, according to the Albany Herald.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard presented Postell with a proclamation declaring Tuesday Tommie Postell Day in the city, and Postell also received a letter and proclamation from U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany.

“He’s a legend, during the era of civil rights and, of course, in today’s time,” Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard said during an interview following the reception. “He will be sorely missed for his ferocious opinions at times, (but) then he could be as humble as a lamb.”

Three candidates – John Hawthorne, Leroy Smith and Demetrius Young are vying to replace Postell in the Nov. 5 municipal election.

Candidates for Valdosta Mayor and Council will meet in a political forum this week, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Valdosta Divine Nine sponsors a political forum 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at Mathis City Auditorium, 2300 N. Ashley St.

A meet-and-greet with the Valdosta mayoral and Valdosta City Council candidates is 5 p.m., organizers said.

Mayoral candidates are Kevin Bussey, Scott James Matheson, J.D. Rice David Sumner and Brooks D. Bivins.

City Council at-large candidates are Jeremy Stone, Adrian Rivers, incumbent Councilman Ben H. Norton and Edgar “Nicky” Tooley.

A forum on human trafficking will be held in Brunswick on Sunday, according to The Brunswick News.


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

James Oglethorpe was named Commissioner of Indian Affairs and Charles Wesley was named Secretary of Indian Affairs by the Georgia Trustees in London on September 24, 1735.

The Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the first federal judicial system, was adopted on September 24, 1789 with the signature of President Georgia Washington. Under the Act, the original size of the Supreme Court was five Associate Justices and a Chief Justice. Washington nominated John Jay as Chief Justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson as Associates.

Also established on September 24, 1789 were the office of Attorney General of the United States and the United States Post Office Department.

On September 24, 1862, the Confederate Congress adopted the Seal of the Confederate States of America.

The Decatur Female Seminary opened with 60 students on September 24, 1889 and would later be chartered as Agnes Scott College.

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

On September 24, 1960, USS Enterprise CVN-65, was launched from Newport News Shipbuilding in Norfolk, Virginia, the first Galaxy-class starship nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Enterprise was inactivated on December 1, 2012 and decommissioned on February 3, 2017.

On September 24, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter resumed campaigning after the first debate against President Gerald Ford.

On September 24, 1979, CompuServe offered the first dial-up computer information service to consumers.

Launched as MicroNET in 1979 and sold through Radio Shack stores, the service turned out to be surprisingly popular, thanks perhaps to Radio Shack’s Tandy Model 100 computers, which were portable, rugged writing machines that dovetailed very nicely with the fledgling, 300-baud information service.

MicroNET was renamed the CompuServe Information Service in 1980. Around the same time, CompuServe began working with newspapers to offer online versions of their news stories, starting with the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch in 1980. At least 10 major newspapers were offering online editions through CompuServe by 1982, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Examiner.

On September 24, 2009, it was announced that the College Football Hall of Fame would move to Atlanta, where it opened on August 23, 2014.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A federal judge heard arguments on Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” according to the Gainesville Times.

The law signed in May by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women realize they’re expecting. It allows for limited exceptions.

It is scheduled to become enforceable on Jan. 1. Amid confusion caused by public discourse surrounding the law, abortion providers have stressed that clinics remain open and abortion remains legal in Georgia and nationwide.

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights in June filed a constitutional challenge to the law on behalf of Georgia abortion providers and an advocacy group. They’ve asked U.S. District Judge Steve Jones to keep the law from taking effect while that challenge is pending.

After hearing arguments from both sides Monday, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said he plans to rule as soon as possible on that request.

From the AJC:

Attorneys for the ACLU said the new law is essentially a ban on abortions, but lawyers for the state said the procedure still could be performed before cardiac activity is detected.

The new law could outlaw abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, which is before many women know they are pregnant.

The legal arguments were similar to those made in other states that passed similar legislation this year, but they also focused on “personhood” language in the Georgia law, which extends legal rights to fertilized eggs.

“No state interest is strong enough to justify banning abortion before the point of viability,” [ACLU lawyer Susan Talcott] Camp said. “A ban at any point before viability must fall.”

Jones asked attorneys on both sides of the argument whether they thought it was possible to keep the “personhood” pieces of the law intact while stopping the abortion ban from going into effect.

That language would allow parents, once a heartbeat is detected, to claim an embryo on their taxes as a dependent, and it would be counted toward the state’s population. A court can also order a father to pay child support after a heartbeat is detected.

Camp said the purpose of the law, House Bill 481, was to ban abortions and the “personhood” language was inserted only to “create a framework to justify banning abortion and therefore all of the provisions should be struck down.”

Governor Brian Kemp appointed Gwinnett County Chief Deputy Sheriff Lou Soltis to the Georgia Board of Corrections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Democratic Governor Stacey Abrams and former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland will speak at Georgia Southern today, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Stacey Abrams, former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and 2018 Democratic nominee for governor, will speak in the Performing Arts Center on the Statesboro campus at 2:30 p.m.

Lynn Westmoreland, Republican former U.S. representative from Georgia’s 3rd District, is scheduled to speak, also in the PAC on the Statesboro campus, at 5 p.m.

Alternating campuses, Westmoreland is also to speak in the Ogeechee Theatre on the Armstrong campus in Savannah at 2:30 p.m., and Abrams is slated to speak in Jenkins Hall on the Armstrong campus at 5 p.m. But that particular Abrams’ appearance is open only to students because of limited seating, the university announced.

The Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion affecting property tax valuations of some affordable housing in Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

In the case of Heron Lake II Apartments, LP, et al v. Lowndes County Board of Tax Assessors, the high court reversed a lower court ruling involving low income housing tax credits and how they should be valued in the calculation of property tax values, court documents show.

The state Supreme Court ruled Monday that the tax credits do not represent “actual income.” That means tax assessors will have to appraise affordable housing properties with the “”income approach,” said Thompson Kurrie Jr., a lawyer with the firm of Coleman/Talley who represented the appellants.

The income approach involves determining tax value based on the income the property generates.

The high court also ruled that certain sections of state law the Board of Assessors had claimed were unconstitutional did not, in fact, conflict with the state’s constitution, according to court documents. The sections in question dealt with “taxation uniformity,” which requires all properties of the same class to be taxed in the same manner.

“If the high court had not overturned the lower court’s ruling, affordable housing in Georgia would become unaffordable due to rising ad valorem taxes,” he said. “The rent generated by (rent-controlled property) is relatively low.”

The New Georgia Project and League of Women Voters are holding voter registration drives in Augusta today, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

As part of National Voter Registration Day, the New Georgia Project is holding 75 events in 22 cities across the state, including eight in Augusta, according to a statement.

The CSRA League of Women Voters will join the New Georgia Project in conducting a daylong drive at Augusta University, both groups have said.

The New Georgia Project, founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, is committed to engaging “new American majority” voters – people of color, voters between 18 and 29 years old and unmarried women, the statement said. The groups make up 62% of Georgia but only 53% of registered voters, it said.

Democrat Jon Ossoff will also hold a voter registration event, according to the AJC.

Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff will launch what he calls the “biggest voter registration drive this state has ever seen” on Saturday with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, one of his most prominent supporters.

Ossoff, one of four Democrats challenging Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, also on Monday rolled out the endorsement of a second Democratic congressman: U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, whom he once worked for as a congressional aide.

The former 6th District candidate promised to mobilize a vast “grassroots army” when he announced his campaign this month, and he’s likely to use the Saturday rally at the MLK Recreation Center in Atlanta to call on the national Democratic party to ramp up investment in Georgia.

Ossoff faces three other Democratic rivals in the quest to topple Perdue: Business executive Sarah Riggs Amico, Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

Early voting begins October 14 in the November 5 Special Election for State House District 152, which was vacated by the resignation of State Rep. Ed Rynders, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Qualifying closed Wednesday with three Republicans and one Democrat entering the race. The Republicans include Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn, Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta and national guardsman Tyler Johnson. The only Democrat to qualify was retiree Mary Egler of Leesburg.

All candidates will run together on a single ballot with party affiliations listed.

The district includes Lee and Worth counties and part of Sumter County.

Early voting begins Oct. 14. A runoff would be Dec. 3 if no one gets a majority

Six candidates for two seats on the Brunswick City Commission addressed voters, according to The Brunswick News.

The six candidates seeking two Brunswick City Commission seats had a wide variety of opinions at a candidate forum Monday on where they’d like to take the city if elected.

Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, running for the 7th District Congressional seat being vacated by Congressman Rob Woodall, endorsed the idea of impeaching President Trump, according to the AJC.

The 7th District candidate, who narrowly lost her bid for the suburban Atlanta seat last year, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she was “deeply troubled” by allegations that Trump pressured a Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner.

“In light of those and other instances of apparent disregard for the law, I believe Congress needs to open an impeachment inquiry,” she said.

“This is not a decision that I take lightly. But given this administration’s continued stonewalling of congressional investigators, it is only through an impeachment inquiry that the facts will be fully aired.”

A Georgia Senate Study Committee is considering whether the state should regulate e-scooters, according to the AJC.

Advocates say the devices can be part of the solution to the region’s traffic mess. Critics say they’re a menace to public safety.

“We don’t want to throw water on it,” said Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, the chairman of the committee that is studying regulations. “We want it to flourish.”

Gooch’s committee met for the first time Monday. It’s the latest government reaction to the proliferation of scooters in parts of Atlanta and elsewhere. Between February and June of this year, Atlanta alone saw more than 2.2 million scooter trips. During the same period, there were 286 scooter-related crashes and 125 injuries.

In January, the Atlanta City Council approved rules that — among other things — required scooters to be parked upright on sidewalks, leaving room for pedestrians. But several scooter-related deaths this summer prompted Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to impose a moratorium on permitting new scooters while the city revisits its regulations.

Cities such as Marietta, Norcross and Smyrna have banned the devices, and others have issued temporary bans while they decide how to regulate them.

Senators also may consider rules of the road for scooters and whether state regulations should pre-empt local rules.

The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission will host a forum on a project financed by the 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

Utility personnel and contractors can explain the particulars of the project to anyone who attends, and a short presentation will be given every 30 minutes. The open house is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the JWSC’s main office, 1703 Gloucester St. in Brunswick.

Augusta Commissioner Sammy Sias wants another looks at what a lower Savannah River looks like, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

One Augusta commissioner wants the Army Corps of Engineers to again draw down the Savannah River to simulate water levels that would result if the agency goes through with one of its alternative plans to demolish the New Savannah River Bluff Lock and Dam and install a rock weir in its place.

Sias did not return a message seeking comment, but he’s requesting that the corps lower the river level to show the impact of one of its alternatives – Plan 2-6a – for removing the lock and dam and building the weir. The corps’ earlier preference was for option 2-6d, a rock weir with a 250-foot floodplain excavated on the Georgia side of the river.

Savannah District corps spokesman Russell Wicke said the corps has received no request for another drawdown based on any of its alternatives and made no plans to conduct one. The corps’ final decision on the fish passage report was expected this month but has been postponed to mid-October, he said.

The Statesboro Herald opens a two-parter on overcrowding in the Bulloch County Jail.

A proposal to help ease overcrowding in the Bulloch County Jail and avoid a tax increase has stalled as Bulloch County commissioners and Sheriff Noel Brown appear to be at an impasse.

Brown has asked for one to two new jail pods, renovated and expanded office space, and more deputies. During a recent public meeting, the sheriff said there were almost 400 inmates in the 466-bed jail on that particular day and he needs more cell space.

The proposed plan was to close the Bulloch County Correctional Institute (CI), adjacent to the jail complex, thus ending the intake of state prisoners, and use the CI facility and staff for the sheriff’s needs. However, Brown said the plan, which commissioners said would solve the overcrowding until more SPLOST funds may become available, won’t work because he can’t supply enough eligible inmates to fit the plan.

Dalton and Whitfield County continue to work on a service level agreement, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

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.

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.

On Monday, the county Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 to recertify the existing agreement. The city councils of Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell had already done so. Commissioner Harold Brooker was absent from the meeting, and Chairman Lynn Laughter typically votes only in the event of a tie.

That leaves the Dalton City Council, which has been locked in a dispute with the Board of Commissioners for almost a year over whether city taxpayers should fund part of the administration of the services paid for by the county’s special tax districts as well as the sheriff’s office’s patrol division. The special tax districts pay for the county fire department and the county’s share of joint services.

Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch disagrees, and said the failure of the proposed plan is mainly due to lack of communication between Brown and Bulloch County commissioners.

Rome City Commission voted for speed detection cameras, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Rome City Commission approved on Monday an ordinance allowing the use of speed-detection cameras in school zones.

But the vote came over the objections of some members and there are still several hurdles to clear.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily a bad idea. I just think we need more time to consider it,” Commissioner Wendy Davis said.

Commissioners Jamie Doss and Bill Irmscher joined her in voting against the measure. Commissioners Randy Quick, Milton Slack, Sundai Stevenson, Craig McDaniel and Evie McNiece made up the majority in the 5 to 3 vote.

Hall County Commissioners are considering regulating vape shops and hookah lounges, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners is set to vote on the regulations on Oct. 10 after a public hearing. A first reading and public hearing will be held Thursday.

The rules will regulate businesses that sell “non-traditional” tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, bongs and hookah pipes.

Business owners will have to be at least 21 years old, pass a fingerprint background check and get approval from commissioners after two public hearings. There will be an annual license fee of $2,000, similar to the county’s alcohol sales ordinance.

If the business sells to an underage person, the first violation within a two-year period will result in a mandatory hearing before commissioners, a minimum $500 fine and a license suspension for up to 60 days. The second violation within a two-year period will also result in a mandatory hearing before commissioners, but the business will lose its license and have to pay a $750 minimum fine.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

From the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends debuted on NBC on September 22, 1994.

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some other noteworthy names:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fewer than 4 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schrader, Ward, Kramer and Frank Karic were indicted.

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

From the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

From the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Woods [visited]:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Valdosta Daily Times covers the Superliberal Supermajority bus tour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the AJC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Associated Press:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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