Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 21, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

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

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

The Heart of Atlanta Motel case would later be heard by the United States Supreme Court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The number one song in America on July 23, 1982 was “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor, from the Rocky III soundtrack.

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Savannah-area voters go to the polls on September 19, 2023 in a Special Election to fill the Chatham County Commission seat vacated by the death of Larry “Gator” Rivers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Three Democrats and one Republican will compete to finish out Rivers’ term, which expires in 2024. The candidates include three-term Elections Board Member Malinda Hodge and 2020 Chatham Commission candidate Michael J. Hamilton, Sr. The other challengers are Ni’Aisha Banks and David Tootle.

The election will not feature a primary. All four candidates will compete on the same ballot, and the winner must claim a majority vote, or 50% plus one vote. If no one posts a majority in the Sept. 19 election, the top two vote getters will advance to a runoff on Oct. 17.

[David] Tootle is the District 2 chairman of the Savannah Republicans and works in cybersecurity. He is a Benedictine graduate and served on Jack Kingston’s U.S. Senate campaign staff in 2014. He recently made news by filing a lawsuit against the City of Savannah seeking to restore John Calhoun’s name on a square downtown and to stop renaming efforts.

On a tangent, from WSAV:

A Savannah man is suing the City of Savannah after the city council voted to rename Calhoun Square, which was named after slaveholder and former senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun.

The lawsuit was officially filed on July 13. The individual suing the city, David Tootle, 38, of Savannah, alleges that the city violated state law by removing markers and a commemorative plaque with the name “Calhoun Square.”

In the six-page lawsuit, Tootle asked for an injunction to bring back the original plaque and sign and halt efforts to rename the square.

The Chattahoochee River has been reopened in Metro Atlanta after being closed due to a sewage mishap and elevated e.coli levels, according to the Associated Press.

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area closed sections of the river in late June as a precaution after elevated E. Coli contamination was detected due to a release at the Big Creek Water Reclamation Facility in Fulton County, news outlets reported. The bacteria levels are now below the criteria recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the park announced.

The park had conducted water quality sampling with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper daily since first detecting the spill nearly three weeks ago, WXIA-TV reported.

“U.S. Public Health Service officials supported the reopening after seeing continual improvement in sampling results and process improvements at the Fulton County facility,” National Park Service officials said in a news release.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper announced Jason Ulseth will serve as Executive Director, according to AccessWDUN.

The organization announced the decision Thursday after a vote by its board of directors. Ulseth will take over for Juliet Cohen, who is stepping down to take a job at Cox Enterprises.

A release from the organization said Ulseth has been co-leading it alongside Cohen since 2015. He joined Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in 2008 as technical programs director.

“Jason has demonstrated his strong leadership skills during the past 16 years and is deeply dedicated to the CRK mission,” CRK Board of Directors Co-Chair David Kirkpatrick said. “The Board is thrilled that Jason will continue to lead the organization in providing the quality programs and stewardship of the river that our communities depend on.”

The board also promoted Middle Chattahoochee Director Henry Jacobs to the organization’s deputy director position. Jacobs has worked with CRK since 2013.

Congratulations and condolences to Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) who was elected by his peers to Chair the PSC, according to the Albany Herald.

The Public Service Commission has unanimously elected Commissioner Jason Shaw as chairman of the Commission. His two-year term as chairman begins on Saturday.

Shaw succeeds Commissioner Tricia Pridemore in the role. Pridemore, while continuing her duties as a Georgia PSC Commissioner, also will serve as the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Her tenure in that role begins in 2024.

“I am honored that my fellow commissioners have elected me to serve as chair,” Shaw said. “I have great admiration for each of the commissioners here at the PSC and specifically want to say that Chairman Pridemore’s efforts over the past two years have placed the PSC in an excellent position as it moves forward with the goal of affordable, reliable and safe utility service for all Georgians.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation is posting revised weight limits on more than 700 bridges, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

House Bill 189, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed in May, lets some commercial trucks exceed the previous legal weight limit of 80,000 pounds by 10% on roads other than federal highways, which are subject to federal limits.

The 10% exemption letting trucks run with up to 88,000 pounds of cargo applies only to trucks hauling agricultural products – including livestock – and logs. However, the exemption does not apply in the 13-county Atlanta region.

The bill, which passed over the objections of the DOT, has touched off a flurry of activity by the transportation agency to comply with federal deadlines, Andrew Heath, the DOT’s deputy chief engineer, told members of the State Transportation Board this week.

The department must complete a load rating analysis of about 15,000 bridges across Georgia by Aug. 3 and post signs on bridges that lack the carrying capacity to handle the heavier trucks allowed under the new law by Sept. 2, Heath said. Failing to comply would subject the state to losing federal transportation funding, he said.

Georgia’s unemployment rate was unchanged in June, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

Georgia’s unemployment rate was unchanged last month at 3.2%, while the number of jobs rose to an all-time high, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Unemployment in the Peach State was four-tenths of a point lower than the national jobless rate of 3.6%. The number of jobs increased by 4,400 in June to a record 4.9 million.

“Georgia continues to become an economic powerhouse, attracting leading-edge businesses from around the globe,” state Commissioner of Labor Bruce Thompson said.

“While low unemployment is crucial for a thriving economy, balancing job growth with a skilled workforce capable of meeting the demands of new and existing industries is crucial. This balanced approach will help guarantee that businesses of all sizes have the talent they need to grow, scale, and succeed.”

Savannah Technical Institute is adding a second Electric Vehicle certification program, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The certificate, for would-be hybrid/EV repair technicians, is not linked directly to Hyundai Motor Group, which is constructing an EV assembly facility in Bryan County that is expected to open in 2025. Instead, the 19-hour course is meant to equip students to meet the growing demand for EV repair.

The new program comes on the heels of Savannah Tech adding electric vehicle professional certificate courses, a partnership between the college and Hyundai. Those who earn the EV professional certificate will have preferred employment for entry-level positions. Savannah Tech announced the program in May.

Statesboro City Council members voted to raise their pay, according to the Statesboro Daily Herald.

Because of a 2-1 vote of the three members present Tuesday evening, Statesboro City Council members will receive a pay raise in January that will be the first for council members in 18 years.

Although increasing the current pay rates by roughly 45%, the raises for the council members and mayor pro tempore will not lift any of their salaries to full-time levels. The salary for regular district council members will rise from $7,575 a year to $11,000, and the salary for mayor pro tem will increase from $9,342 to $13,500. But there will be no increase for the mayor’s $18,500 salary, since Mayor Jonathan McCollar previously asked that the mayor’s pay be left the same, and council members honored that in his absence Tuesday.

With District 1 Councilmember Phil Boyum and District 2 Councilmember Paulette Chavers also away, the council had a three-member minimum quorum. Mayor Pro Tem Shari Barr, who conducted the meeting, noted that she retained her voting ability as the District 5 member. The votes on all other actions Tuesday evening were 3-0.

The council had voted 3-2 on June 20, when all members were present, to advertise for the increase in salaries, following a procedure set by state law. The notices placed in the Statesboro Herald, as the county legal organ, advertised the Tuesday, July 18, council meeting as the time  for the public hearing on the raise.

Riggs, who is in the middle of a term and wouldn’t have to stand for re-election until 2025, began his comments Tuesday by saying his understanding was he wouldn’t get the raise until his next term. But City Attorney Cain Smith corrected him by saying that the raises would go to all council members, the only requirement being that they take effect after this year’s city election.

“The bookkeeping on it, staggered like that, is impossible. The state Legislature knows that. …,” Smith said. “The rate of pay would change for all council members and mayor pro tem on Jan. 2.”

Bibb County Board of Education members voted to roll back the property tax millage rate, according to 13WMAZ.

The Bibb County Board of Education voted on Thursday not to increase the millage rate. The final vote was unanimous.

The third proposal, entitled “Option C,” is a full rollback of the millage rate from 16.72 to 14.65 mills. This option would require the district to close two schools within the next five years to maintain fiscal stability. Spokeswoman Stephanie Hartley said after Thursday’s meeting they can’t be sure whether it will be two schools. She said it could be more, or less. She added there would be several public hearings before any school closures.

In a meeting Thursday evening, the board voted in favor of Option C.

Because the board chose option C, they will need to reduce programs for students and eliminate salary increases for employees.

Option C also means the school board would need to increase the millage rate by 2 mills in 2026, and plan to use a Tax Anticipation Note to pay employee salaries in 2025.

Board member Daryl Morton said he remembers the last time the board raised taxes, and they didn’t want to do that again. “Don’t raise taxes until you’ve done everything you need to do to demonstrate that’s what must happen,” he said.

The Lincoln County Board of Elections voted to reduce the number of voting locations from 7 to 3, according to WRDW.

The board tried to make changes last year, and it made national news with activists saying it was an attempt at voter suppression.

Officials denied that, saying that actually most voters in the county cast their ballots early, so there’s not a massive turnout on Election Day. They also have said some of the polling sites are unsuitable.

“I really think that while the board of elections is hoping that the citizens will give it a chance, I don’t think it’ll have a great effect on any of us,” said Shertanka Wright, registrar for board of elections.

New locations mean some might have to drive up to 14 miles when it comes time to vote or find another form of transportation.

Among those fighting the consolidation were the Rev. Denise Freeman, the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Black Voters Matter and Common Cause.

“Because we have a lot of people that do absentee voting that they won’t be able to get out. And then we have a lot of people that carpool with neighbors that are in further distance,” said Wright.

The Lincoln County Board of Elections oversees about 4,000 voters; making it to the polls is an even smaller number.

“Last year, we were here 17 days, and Election Day and only 213 people came up. So it’s not a matter of closing to keep somebody from voting. I can be open and the people don’t come,” Lilvender Bolton, director of the Lincoln County Board of Elections, said a few weeks ago: “There’s little choice but to consolidate.”

Savannah-Chatham County public schools have more than 84 openings for teachers ahead of school starting, according to WTOC.

To start the year, there are more than 80 open teacher positions at schools throughout the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System. However, staffing for teachers is looking better than it did earlier this year.

Chief Human Resources Officer Ramon Ray said they need 84 more teachers. In February, district leaders said they had 120 open teacher positions.

In total, they have 2,800 teachers to start the year. 378 of them are new to the district and had their orientation on Thursday.

The Mayor and a City Council member in Camilla will be removed from office, according to WALB.

A Mitchell County superior judge has ruled against two Camilla city councilmen in a legal battle over their residency.

Earlier in 2023, WALB News 10 reported on a lawsuit that alleged Camilla Mayor Pro Tem Corey Morgan and Councilman Veterra Pollard did not live in the city of Camilla, and therefore, were not qualified to be on the city council.

On Monday, the judge verbally ruled against them, saying they refused to provide testimony and evidence that they were required by law to provide.

WALB News 10 has learned the judge will be issuing a written order to remove them from office.

Augusta Transit will receive a $300,000 federal grant, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The $20 million in grants through the Federal Transit Administration will go to 47 communities identified as Areas of Persistent Poverty, according to an announcement issued Thursday. Augusta was the only municipality in Georgia to win one of the grants.

The program funds transit studies and planning in low-income areas. According to the announcement from the FTA, the funding will help Augusta Transit explore “microtransit services” to improve access to resources like jobs and groceries, and the implementation of electric buses for services in south Augusta.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is being challenged on his statements about Right Whales by environmental advocacy group One Hundred Miles, according to The Brunswick News.

A local environmental advocacy group has called out U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, for what they say is misinformation shared by his office regarding protections for North Atlantic right whales.

Carter introduced a bill in June that would prohibit the federal government from requiring more vessels to adhere to a low speed when approaching the East Coast during certain months of the year. His office said this rule would negatively impact coastal industries and put 27,000 jobs in Georgia at risk.

Carter’s bill pauses funding on the NOAA rule until there’s a better understanding of how monitoring technology on boats can be used to better protect whales.

One Hundred Miles sent an open letter July 6 to Carter titled “Stop Spinning the Truth about Right Whales.”

“Dear Representative Carter,” the letter begins, “We hear you when you say you care about North Atlantic right whales. Unfortunately, your actions tell us otherwise.”

“I appreciate feedback on my bill to protect both right whales and small businesses, which was formed after several policy discussions with key stakeholders,” he said. “The fact remains that, currently, Georgia’s coastal economy cannot afford a jobs-killing speed restriction that, at best, will have a minuscule impact on the right whale population and, at worst, will threaten human lives and livelihoods. We have access to advanced technology that will protect right whales without heavy-handed government interventions, and we need to use it.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 19, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinton’s performance was widely panned.

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

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

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

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

The Los Angeles Times has a great contemporaneous take on the speech.

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

First Lady Jill Biden spoke in Augusta, according to WRDW.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 18, 2023

Grace is a 1-2 year old female Wire Haired Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Grace came in with several other small dogs that were dumped, trapped and then rescued. Grace is a shy girl – she is still learning to come to people. Our volunteers have been working with Grace on leash walking and trust of others – she allows herself to be picked up and carried out to our playyards. Grace will need a patient adopter who understands that she will need time to adjust to new surroundings. A secure yard is a must!

Rose is a 1-2 year old female Weimaraner and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

It’s been said that “every Rose has its thorn” – for this Rose, it’s being a great huntress. While she gets along with other dogs around her size, she absolutely can not be left around chickens or cats. No bueno.

She can also be super shy with strangers, but warms up once you spend time with her. She’s come a long way in learning to trust and readily coming to those she knows.

For all of this, Rose really is a gentle soul. Maybe she’s just been misunderstood and needed the stability of a foster. She must have been someone’s pet at one time because she walks well on a leash, and understands some basic commands. She loves attention – especially ear rubs – and just needs someone who can be patient with her while she adjusts to her new home.

Dottie is a three-year old female Golden Doodle who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Dottie is a 3 year old Goldendoodle that came to rescue after being a stray and picked up by animal control. Her stray hold was up and has come to rescue to find her forever home. She has a very sweet disposition. She is getting along great with the other dog in her foster home as well as children. She will make a great addition to any family.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 18, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

File Under: Bidenomics Success. Metro Atlanta has the second highest inflation rate in the nation, according to The Center Square.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 17, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Someone alert Governor Kemp that kayak hooligans pose a grave threat to public safety. Some St Simons Island NIMBYs are concerned that a public kayak launch will draw bad seeds to their idyllic isle. From The Brunswick News:

Residents living near the proposed site of a kayak launch near Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island are holding a meeting today to discuss their concerns.

The residents are concerned the demand to use the kayak launch will be high and that people will park their vehicles on neighborhood streets if the parking lot is filled to capacity.

“None of our neighbors want it. I just think someone is trying to slip one by,” said Karen Babson, one of the residents living near the proposed site.

“The main thing is to keep them out of the neighborhood,” he said. “There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood.”

The parking lot will have the capacity to hold 15 vehicles. If the lot is filled and a kayaker tries to park on the residential street, Fendig said they will be ticketed.

“The rules were enforced on the usage of the property,” he said of the boat ramp near German Village. “There have been no complaints with the usage of that property.”

The kayak launch will be for kayaks and canoes only, Fendig said.

Governor Brian Kemp named Chris Hosey as the next Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp [] announced the appointment of Chris Hosey to serve as Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), following a unanimous vote by the Board of Public Safety to approve his nomination. Hosey’s appointment will take effect August 1.

“Chris has dedicated his career to protecting the people of our state as a proud member of law enforcement,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “With over 35 years of experience at the GBI, he brings a wealth of institutional knowledge and skill to this role. I’m confident he will bring the same level of commitment to the job that he has shown throughout his years of service.”

Governor and First Lady Kemp also expressed their appreciation to Mike Register for his service.

Christopher “Chris” Hosey currently serves as Assistant Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, overseeing the Investigative Division – the largest component of the agency. He began his career in 1987 as a Narcotics Agent with the Local Violators Squad and worked throughout the state in various positions as his career progressed.

In 2001, Hosey was promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge of a multijurisdictional drug task force. He also helped to create the GBI’s first state/local regional drug enforcement office. In 2012, Hosey was promoted to Inspector, overseeing drug operations, various general investigative offices, and the GBI’s Training Unit. In 2020, former GBI Director Vic Reynolds appointed him to the position of Deputy Director of Investigations.

Hosey received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Georgia Southwestern State University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

The Georgia Supreme Court will not hear an appeal of a Court of Appeals decision that will allow the Rivian economic development deal to proceed, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The Georgia Supreme Court has cleared the way for automaker Rivian to build an electric vehicle manufacturing plant east of Atlanta.

The justices have declined to hear an appeal challenging the $5 billion project’s bond agreements with the state and the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton counties (JDA). The plant will create 7,500 direct jobs, not counting the indirect jobs various suppliers will generate.

The state Court of Appeals had earlier dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of local residents accusing the state and development authority of bypassing local zoning regulations.

The Rivian project is surpassed in scope only by the huge EV plant Hyundai is building west of Savannah. The Hyundai project, the largest economic development undertaking in Georgia history, represents a $5.5 billion investment and 8,100 jobs.

A consent order between the State Elections Board and Fulton County finds that some errors occurred during the 2020 election, according to the AJC.

Vote counters made numerous mistakes during an audit of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election in Fulton County, including double-counted and misallocated votes, according to a consent order recently approved by the State Election Board and the county.

State election investigators blamed “human error” for mistakes in a system that relied on sorting paper ballots by candidate, counting them by hand, writing totals on sheets of paper and then transcribing numbers into computers, according to the consent order and investigative files obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through the Georgia Open Records Act.

Double-counting likely occurred when election workers couldn’t tell whether auditing software had recorded their initial tally, leading them to enter numbers a second time. In several cases, they mistyped vote totals or allocated votes to the wrong candidate.

A rough estimate by the AJC indicates the errors identified by investigators amounted to about 3,000 too many absentee votes counted for Biden during the audit, which was not used as Georgia’s certified vote count. Despite inaccuracies in the ballot batches that were investigated, the overall count in the audit was close to the official machine results.

“The reported inconsistencies were the result of human error in entering the data, which were not discovered in time to make corrections due to time limitations in completing the risk-limiting audit and the sheer amount of ballots, and not due to intentional misconduct,” the consent order states. “The discovered errors were a fractional number of the total votes counted and did not affect the result of the 2020 general election.”

Former State Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) will serve as Chief of Staff to House Speaker Jon Burns (R-Effingham County), according to a Press Release.

Speaker of the House Jon Burns (R-Newington) announced today he has appointed former state representative and longtime House Appropriations Chairman Terry England as his Chief of Staff. England will succeed Spiro Amburn who is retiring from state government after a distinguished career.

“We are fortunate to be welcoming Terry England back to the House as Chief of Staff,” said Speaker Burns. “Terry is a trusted leader who has earned the respect of both the members of the House and our staff, and I know he will continue to be an invaluable counselor in this new role.”

A native of Barrow County, England represented his neighbors as a state representative from 2005 until his retirement earlier this year. He served as one of the House’s most influential leaders as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee over the last twelve years of his tenure. A farmer and small business owner, England has a passion for agriculture – Georgia’s number one industry – and is a longtime supporter of youth leadership organizations like FFA and 4-H. He and his beloved wife, Cindy, reside on their family farm near Auburn, Ga.

“Speaker Burns and I have been close friends for many years, and I am proud to stand by his side as he continues to lead the House of Representatives and provides a clear, positive vision for Georgia’s future,” said Terry England. “Stewardship is what originally led me to seek public office many years ago, and it is that call to service that brings me back. I am excited about the work ahead and the opportunity to continue serving my fellow Georgians.”

“Spiro Amburn has been my friend for nearly 20 years,” added England. “He has set a high standard in the Chief of Staff’s role that will be hard to live up to, and I am keeping his phone number!”

“Spiro Amburn has admirably served the citizens of our state for decades, and we are grateful for his example of servant-leadership,” said Speaker Burns. “He has been a trusted advisor to Speaker Ralston, Speaker Jones and me throughout his tenure as Chief of Staff. Moreover, he has worked day after day to provide assistance to all the members of the House and leadership to our staff members. He is a dear friend and will always be a member of our House family.”

An experienced administrator and proven leader in state government, Amburn served as Chief of Staff for the last 14 years. He was first appointed by Speaker David Ralston and continued to serve in that capacity under Speaker Jan Jones and Speaker Jon Burns. In that role, he has served as the principal advisor to the Speaker of the House and supervised the House’s staff and its $24 million operating budget. After retiring from state government, Amburn will take a position in the private sector which will be announced in the near future.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to have served in this position, and I am grateful to have been entrusted with this tremendous opportunity to work with the staff and members of the Georgia House of Representatives,” said Spiro Amburn. “I have been fortunate to serve great leaders – and my mentor, Speaker David Ralston, deserves special mention in this regard. He showed me what it meant to put others first, and I am still humbled that he appointed me as his only Chief of Staff throughout his thirteen years of service as Speaker of the House. I am also honored by the opportunity to serve under a new leadership team during this time of transition. I know the House is in capable hands under Speaker Burns and with Terry England succeeding me as Chief of Staff.”

England will begin service on August 1 and officially succeed Amburn when he retires on September 1, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership for the Speaker’s Office.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson writes about Electric Vehicle policy, in an Op-Ed for the Savannah Morning News.

Nearly two in three Georgians agree we must do more to address climate change. In the last decade, our state has experienced 48 extreme weather events, with a total price tag of nearly $14 billion in damages. These extreme weather events often disproportionately affect historically underserved communities. And in the coming decades, these types of events will only become more frequent, not less.

Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last summer, our state has seen 14 new clean energy projects totaling $13.34 billion in investments and 12,888 new jobs, mostly related to electric vehicles.

Nearly two in three Georgians agree we must do more to address climate change. In the last decade, our state has experienced 48 extreme weather events, with a total price tag of nearly $14 billion in damages. These extreme weather events often disproportionately affect historically underserved communities. And in the coming decades, these types of events will only become more frequent, not less.

It’s time for our state to fully embrace the clean energy transition and take advantage of one of the biggest economic opportunities of our generation.

Georgia has already made significant strides in this direction. In 2021, Georgia was home to 75,211 clean energy workers, including 7,633 electric vehicle workers. Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last summer, our state has seen 14 new clean energy projects totaling $13.34 billion in investments and 12,888 new jobs, mostly related to electric vehicles.

Worker training programs will be an important part of this transition. Hyundai and Savannah Technical College recently announced an innovative partnership that will create a new Electric Vehicle Professional certificate at Savannah Technical College. This certificate will teach workers about safety in automotive shops, automotive electrical principles, and how to operate and service electric vehicles. Those who receive this certificate will be trained to build components in sub-assembly shops or manufacture electric vehicles from these components at production facilities.

Demand will only keep growing as electric vehicles become cheaper and more pervasive. Millions of people in Georgia are eligible for discounts on electric cars through the Inflation Reduction Act. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also funded networks of charging stations across the state, ensuring everyone can get where they need to go. Georgians have responded enthusiastically to electric vehicles: Our state currently ranks first for new electric vehicle registrations in the Southeast.

How someone could write that much about Georgia’s burgeoning Electric Vehicle industry without mentioning Governor Kemp or frankly even acknowledging anything other than the federal government is beyond me.

Lowndes County State Court Chief Judge John Kent Edwards Jr. was elected President of the Council of State Court Judges, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael P. Boggs gave Edwards the oath of office, council representatives said in a statement. As president, Edwards is a member of the Judicial Council which is the governing body of the state-wide Judicial Branch of Georgia.

“When over 130 of your peers ask you to serve, it’s an honor,” Edwards said. “I deeply appreciate it and accept this honor on behalf of the people of Lowndes County. Without their faith and support, I would not have the opportunity to serve. I will continue to be an ambassador for my home county and to represent all state courts to the best of my ability.”

State courts have county-wide jurisdiction in 73 counties in Georgia.

“In the past three years, there were more than 2 million cases filed in all state courts, making them the busiest courts of record in Georgia,” council representatives said. “State courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal cases, including traffic cases and all civil cases, except domestic relations, real estate and equity cases.”

“Our biggest challenge will be to assist all of our state courts in working through the backlog of cases and jury trials that were placed on hold during the judicial emergency from the past three years,” Edwards said. “Although our state courts did not close, redesigning our courtrooms and monitoring public access during the pandemic caused a delay in handling certain types of court matters.”

Floyd County courts are seeing very low turnout for potential jurors summoned, according to the Rome News Tribune.

At each summons, Floyd County Superior Court Clerk Barbara Penson said only 35% to 40% of jurors are showing up to serve. They’ve attempted to adapt to the issue, she said, but it’s causing difficulties.

“We are having to summons an overabundance of jurors that are legally obligated to show up for jury duty,” Penson said. “People are just not coming and showing up.”

At each summons, Floyd County Superior Court Clerk Barbara Penson said only 35% to 40% of jurors are showing up to serve. They’ve attempted to adapt to the issue, she said, but it’s causing difficulties.
“We are having to summons an overabundance of jurors that are legally obligated to show up for jury duty,” Penson said. “People are just not coming and showing up.”

Three Albany-area state legislators received “A+” grades from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, according to the Albany Herald.

Republican state Reps. Mike Cheokas and Gerald Greene, and Democrat David Sampson, received those top marks for supporting eight pieces of legislation favored by the Chamber.

State Rep. Bill Yearta, a Sylvester Republican, and state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, a Democrat from Dawson, each voted in opposition of the organization’s recommendations on one bill each, earning a “B” and “C+,” respectively.

“To be pro-business in our work is very important to show industry that wants to come to southwest Georgia that we support these measures,” said Greene, R-Cuthbert. “It’s not always that I get a perfect score. Sometimes I disagree with their stances, and we have conversations about it.”

Sims said it was somewhat confusing earning a “C+” for supporting seven of the eight bills. She said she is supportive of business and focuses on education and economic preparation as well as building partnerships to help grow the area’s economy.

“My 13 counties in southwest Georgia understand pretty clearly that I am an economic builder,” she said. “It is a top priority of mine. (I support) education because in order to have economic power, you’ve got to have education. That has always been a primary concern of mine for economic growth in southwest Georgia.”

Gwinnett County Public Schools employees will receive raises under the new budget, according to AccessWDUN.

According to a press release from the school system, the school board adopted a millage rate Wednesday to support the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. This follows the board’s adoption of the FY2024 budget at its June 15 meeting.

“The FY2024 budget will now include a $3,500 salary increase for teachers, a minimum 4.5% cost-of-living increase for classified staff, minimum wage increases to $15.00/hour across the board, and a longevity step for eligible employees,” the press release reads.

All eligible employees will also receive a one-time, $1,000 supplement to be paid out this fall.

The starting salary for a new GCPS teacher with a bachelor’s degree is now $55,146, up from $51,646.

“I believe our teachers and employees are the best in the business, and they have certainly earned this increase in compensation,” Superintendent Calvin Watts said. “Similar to last year, the district received information that the county-wide digest would be increasing, and our district has earmarked some of the funds to increase the teacher salary schedule to remain competitive with other districts while also maintaining our strong fiscal health. This will enable us to attract and retain superior educators and support staff while furthering the district’s commitment to improving student outcomes.”

Savannah’s Union Mission is opening cooling shelters, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The summertime heat continues to be a battle for those experiencing homelessness in Savannah, and the Union Mission is extending its services to help those without shelter to cool down.

This weekend’s opening is an extension of the program’s usual weekday hours as the staff of the organization works to accommodate those who need shelter and food as temperatures remain in the upper 80s and 90s.

“Union Mission continues to provide a place to go for the homeless population during high temperatures. We are pleased to continue to offer this critical service to the homeless community,” Michael Traynor, president and CEO, said in a press release. “We are proud of our staff for rising to the occasion during this extreme heat.”

Florida wildlife officials announced a case of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, according to The Brunswick News.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced last month that it detected chronic wasting disease, or CWD, in a road-killed deer in Holmes County, Florida, which borders Alabama and is less than 50 miles from the Georgia border. It was the first deer to test positive for the disease in Florida, a release from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said.

The disease hasn’t been confirmed in Georgia yet.

“The department is prepared and will work diligently to implement its CWD response protocol if the disease is ever detected in Georgia,” the release said.

The likelihood it makes its way here is high, said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist for DNR. That is in part because many of the deer carrying CWD aren’t showing symptoms.

If it is detected in Georgia, wildlife officials with DNR have a plan that will include intensive testing around where the positive deer was found or harvested, and in some cases limiting deer movement or removing potentially infected animals.

Killmaster said most deer that test positive will look healthy, which is why DNR is encouraging all hunters to get their meat tested before consuming it. To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been no reported cases of infections in humans, but Killmaster said it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Hunters should be aware of the disease because many infected deer are in the early stages of CWD, so they look completely normal, Killmaster said. Over time, however, symptoms like dramatic weight loss, poor body condition, subtle head tremors, droopy ears and head, and in the final stages, excessive drooling, are visible.

The case in Florida made it the 30th state to have confirmed cases of CWD.

White-tailed deer are the most hunted animal in Georgia. The DNR numbers show more than 200,000 hunters killed nearly 260,000 deer in the state during the 2021-2022 hunting season.

Those hunters can help prevent the spread of CWD by following the laws that prohibit importation of any live deer species from other states and that do not allow bringing carcasses in from out of state, the release about CWD said.

So, we’re not even going to notice that the guy in charge of deer hunting is named “Killmaster”?

Calhoun County will take more responsibility for public safety as the Edison Police Department halved their staff, according to WALB.

“We’re going to do the best we can and do all we can to protect them and help them,” Calhoun County Sheriff Josh Hilton said.

Edison’s police force is down from four officers to two officers after budget cuts. Hilton now has to work extra to make sure every town is served.

“The way I’ve got it is one man working sometimes. He has no backup. I’ve got to send another person out there. Or it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and I have to go out there. It’s no problem, but it’s quicker when you already have somebody there,” Hilton said.

Ora B. Douglass announced she will run for Peachtree Corners City Council, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Ora B. Douglass announced plans to run for the City Council Post 5 seat that will be open this fall due to Councilwoman Lori Christopher’s decision to retire after her current term ends in December.

Douglass helped establish the Psi Omega Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and served as its president for more than four years, and helped establish he chapter’s fundraising arm, The Georgia Pearls of Service Foundation, of which she is currently serving as president. The chapter performs community service projects to help high school students, senior citizens and entrepreneurs as well as clean trash and debris along 1.6 miles of Peachtree Corners Circle. And, the foundation donates funds to community services organizations in the area and provides scholarships to high school students.

Douglass said, if elected, she would like to ensure diversity and inclusion are as important as technology and growth. Her campaign slogan is “Ora for One Peachtree Corners.”

Former United States Senate candidate Herschel Walker still holds more than $4 million dollars in his campaign account, according to the AJC.

More than seven months after losing his U.S. Senate bid, Republican Herschel Walker’s campaign still has nearly $4.5 million in its account. And some donors are pressing to get their contributions back.

The most recent financial report, filed Saturday, showed six donors received refunds totaling $15,600.

Walker’s account has grown slightly since the last filing in April, when he disclosed he donated more than $1 million of his campaign cash to charities and GOP groups. It increased mostly due to a $164,000 refund from a media buying firm for ads that never aired.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 14, 2023

Happy Bastille Day, celebrating the 232d anniversary of Bastille Day, 14 July 1789, when citizens stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris.

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

On July 14, 1798, the Alien and Sedition Act became federal law.

The first three acts took aim at the rights of immigrants. The period of residency required before immigrants could apply for citizenship was extended from five to 14 years, and the president gained the power to detain and deport those he deemed enemies. President Adams never took advantage of his newfound ability to deny rights to immigrants. However, the fourth act, the Sedition Act, was put into practice and became a black mark on the nation’s reputation. In direct violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the Sedition Act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or government of the United States. Fourteen Republicans, mainly journalists, were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the act.

On July 14, 1864, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 35, outlining the plan for the Battle of Atlanta.

On July 15, 1864, Sherman’s army began crossing the Chattahoochee River and would take the better part of three days to complete the crossing.

United State Major General George Stoneman led troops in the Battle of Atlanta, and later led raids against Confederate railroads and other infrastructure. On July 15, 1864, Stoneman wrote from camp near Villa Rica, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On July 15, 1964, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was nominated as the Republican candidate for President.

Atlanta Brave Hank Aaron hit his 500th Home Run on July 14, 1968.

On July 14, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.

On July 15, 2006, a group messaging service called Twttr launched, later changing its name to Twitter. May God have mercy upon their souls.

After Williams asked the team of 14 employees to brainstorm their best ideas for the flailing startup, one of the company’s engineers, Jack Dorsey, came up with the concept of a service allowing users to share personal status updates via SMS to groups of people. By March 2006, they had a working prototype, and a name—Twttr—inspired in part by bird sounds, and adopted after some other choices (including FriendStalker) were rejected. Dorsey (@Jack) sent the first-ever tweet (“just setting up my twttr”) on March 21.

Within six months after the launch, Twttr had become Twitter. Once the service went public, its founders imposed a 140-character limit for messages, based on the maximum length of text messages at the time; this was later expanded to 280 characters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Trump’s lawyers filed a bunch of stuff in Georgia, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 12, 2023

John Percival, an Irish Member of Parliament who served as a Georgia Trustee, was born on July 12, 1733.

In the British House of Commons, Percival served on the committee on jails with a young member named James Oglethorpe, who shared his idea about a new colony in North America for the deserving poor. Percival, like Oglethorpe became a Georgia Trustee, and during Georgia’s first decade, with Oglethorpe in America, Percival worked harder than anyone to champion Georgia’s cause and secure its future.

On July 13, 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, in which states ceded some claims to the west, and a process was set up for admitting new states.

The United States Army Medal of Honor was created on July 12, 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation authorizing the award.

The first U.S. Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

On July 13, 1865, James Johnson as provisional Governor of Georgia, issued a proclamation freeing slaves and calling an election in October of that year to elect delegates to a state Consitutional Convention. Johnson had previously opposed Georgia’s secession and after the war was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson.

Savannah, Georgia-born John C. Fremont, who was the first Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 1856, died in New York City on July 13, 1890.

On July 13, 1960, John F. Kennedy was nominated as the Democratic candidate for President.

Lt. Frank Reasoner of Kellogg, Idaho died in action on July 12, 1965 and was later posthumously awarded the first Medal of Honor to a United States Marines for action in Vietnam.

On July 12, 1984, Congresswoman Geradine Ferraro (R-NY) joined the Democratic ticket with Presidential nominee Walter Mondale. Ferraro was the first woman and first Italian-American woman nominated for Vice President. Mondale and Ferraro lost the General Election in the largest ever Republican landslide to Republican President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush.

On July 13, 2013, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter first appeared on Facebook.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Bryan County, Georgia is implementing “Logan’s List,” a system that alerts first responders when they’re likely to find people with special needs on a call, according to WTOC.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 11, 2023

On July 11, 1782, British colonists including British Royal Governor Sir James Wright, fled Georgia.

Wright had been the only colonial governor and Georgia the only colony to successfully implement the Stamp Act in 1765. As revolutionary fervor grew elsewhere in the colonies, Georgia remained the most loyal colony, declining to send delegates to the Continental Congress in 1774.

Congress ordered the creation of the United States Marine Corps on July 11, 1798, after the Corps was inactive for a period following the Revolutionary War. From 1799 to 1921, Marine Corps Day was observed on July 11, but is now celebrated on November 10, the date of it’s Revolutionary War establishment.

On July 11, 1804, Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr was the sitting Vice President of the United States and Hamilton a former Secretary of the Treasury.

After he shot Hamilton, Aaron Burr quickly fled the nation’s capitol, making his way to St. Simons Island, Georgia, spending a month as a guest of Pierce Butler at Hampton Plantation.

Burr was a fugitive, but his killing Hamilton in a duel held a certain justifiable reasoning since dueling was not illegal, though morally questionable, to be sure. According to H. S. Parmet and M. B. Hecht in their Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, after the duel, he immediately completed, by mid-August, plans which he had already initiated, to go to St. Simons, “an island off the coast of Georgia, one mile below the town of Darien.”

Jonathan Daniels’ “Ordeal of Ambition” handles the situation this way: “With Samuel Swartwout and a slave named Peter (‘the most intelligent and best disposed black I have ever known’), Burr secretly embarked for Georgia. There on St. Simons Island at the Hampton Plantation of his friend, rich former Senator Pierce Butler, he found refuge…” As Georgia Historian Bernice McCullar, author of “Georgia” puts it, Burr was “fleeing the ghost of Alexander Hamilton” when he arrived on the Georgia island.

“Major Pierce Butler,” she relates, “had fought in the British army and remained in America after the war.” He had married a South Carolina heiress, Miss Polly Middleton, and acquired two Georgia Coastal plantations, which he ran like a general storming after the troops. In fact, he was so strict that none of his slaves could associate with any of the others. He also required anyone who visited his plantations to give his or her name at the gate. With this tight security, Burr should have felt safe..

Actually, Butler’s invitation to visit the island fitted the escapee’s plans nicely. Not only was the Hamilton affair a bother, but also Burr needed to get away from a lady by the name of Celeste; however, the real reason, aside from being near his daughter, who was also in the South, was the nearness of the Floridas. No real purpose is given why the Vice-President wanted to spend “five or six weeks on this hazardous and arduous undertaking.”

Daniels underscores that from this St. Simons point Burr could “make any forays into Florida he wished to make. He traveled under the name ‘Roswell King.” After his Florida odyssey, he planned to meet his South Carolina son-in-law “at any healthy point.”

Parts of the Hampton Plantation survive in the form of tabby ruins on St Simons.

Tabby Hampton Plantation TMR_0549 copy

Tabby Hampton Plantation TMR_0524 copy

A house in St. Marys, Georgia bears a plaque stating that Aaron Burr visited there in 1804.

Clark lived in the home from 1804 until his death in 1848. He was appointed in 1807 by then-President Thomas Jefferson as customs collector for the Port of St. Marys, a position he held until his death. The year Clark bought the house, he is said to have provided a temporary hideout to Aaron Burr, who was traveling in the South to evade federal authorities holding a warrant for his arrest after he killed Alexander Hamilton in their infamous duel in July 1804.

Verification of Burr’s stay in St. Marys is hard to come by. But it is confirmed that he stayed on St. Simons Island and Cumberland Island late in the summer after he killed Hamilton. That Burr knew Clark is not disputed. The two attended law school together in Litchfield, Conn., but there is no mention in either man’s records that Burr stayed in the home.

St Marys Aaron Burr Plaque TMR_1465

Aaron Burr House St Marys GA Front Side TMR_1470

Aaron Burr House St Marys GA Front

On July 11, 1877, a Constitutional Convention convened in the Kimball Opera House in Atlanta to replace the 1868 Reconstruction Constitution.

On July 11, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Aid Road Act, establishing a federal program of paying for highway development.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination for a fourth term on July 11, 1944.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on July 11, 1952.

July 11, 1969 was an epic day in rock and roll history, with David Bowie releasing “Space Oddity” and the Rolling Stones releasing “Honky Tonk Women.”

On July 11, 1985, Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan became the first major league player to strike out 4000 batters.

On July 21 at Morehouse College, the United States Postal Service will begin selling stamps featuring the late Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta), according to the AJC.

On the same day a commemorative stamp honoring the late Congressman John Lewis will go on sale, the community is invited to a public celebration of his life and legacy as a political and civil rights leader.

The July 21 event at Morehouse College is open to anyone who wants to attend, as long as they RSVP.

“In his passing during COVID, we weren’t able to have a true celebration of his life in the way that he would have liked to have had,” said Michael Collins, who was Lewis’ right-hand man up until his death three years ago. Collins is among those who played a key role in planning the first-day-of-issue event with the U.S. Postal Service.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who last month unveiled the stamp’s design during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, will also be on hand. During the event in Washington, DeJoy said the stamp will help keep alive the memory of Lewis and all that he accomplished.

“John Lewis lived a life of consequence,” DeJoy said. “He was a passionate leader of America’s civil rights movement throughout his life and a voice for his generation. Our nation certainly benefited from his fearlessness and his unfailing willingness to get into good trouble.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State Rep. Mesha Mainor held a press conference this morning by the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., according to a press release.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 10, 2023

Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850, following the death of President Zachary Taylor.

On July 10, 1864, Conferderate forces retreated south across the Chattahoochee and burned the bridge behind them. General Sherman wrote later of the day,

General Garrard Moved rapidly on Roswell, and destroyed the factories which had supplied the rebel armies with cloth for years.

Over General Garrard was then ordered to secure the shallow ford at Roswell and hold it until he could be relieved by infantry, and as I contemplated transferring the Army of the Tennessee from the extreme right to the left, I ordered General Thomas to send a division of his infantry that was nearest up to Roswell to hold the ford until General McPherson could send up a corps from the neighborhood of Nickajack.

General Newton’s division was sent and held the ford until the arrival of General Dodge’s corps, which was soon followed by General McPherson’s whole army.

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” began on July 10, 1925, in which a Tennessee public school teacher was tried for teaching evolution, against state law. Three-time Democratic candidate for President William Jennings Bryan volunteered to help the prosecution, and famed lawyer Clarence Darrow defended John Thomas Scopes.

On July 10, 1985, “Classic“ Coke returned, joining the new formula on store shelves.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games broke ground for Atlanta Olympic Stadium on July 10, 1993; after the Olympics, the stadium was modified for baseball and became Turner Field.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Bill Shipp has died, according to the Saporta Report.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 7, 2023

On July 7, 1742, General James Oglethorpe was victorious over the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the Battle of Gully Hole Creek; a week later Gov. Montiano would call off the invasion of Georgia from Florida, leaving Georgia to develop as a British colony.

On July 6, 1775, Congress issued the “Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms” addressed to King George III, stating that they preferred to “to die free men rather than live as slaves.” The document was written by John Dickinson after a draft by Thomas Jefferson.

On July 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to General George Washington’s troops at the parade grounds in Manhattan.

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850 and  Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850.

The Republican Party was formally organized on July 6, 1854.

The party was born of hostility to slavery.

In February [1854] a gathering in Ripon, Wisconsin, resolved to form a new party and a local lawyer named Alvan E. Bovay suggested the name Republican for its echoes of Thomas Jefferson. In Michigan there were meetings in Kalamazoo, Jackson and Detroit, and after the Act had passed in May, the new party was formally founded in Jackson in July. A leading figure was Austin Blair, a Free Soiler lawyer who was prosecuting attorney of Jackson County. He helped to draft the new party’s platform, was elected to the state senate in Republican colours that year and would become governor of Michigan in 1860.

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

On July 6, 1885, Louis Pasteur successfully tested a rabies vaccine on a human subject.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

Sliced bread was invented on July 7, 1928 at the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri.

On July 7, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act.

On July 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections

The first female cadets enrolled at West Point on July 7, 1976.

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan on July 7, 1981.

Happy Birthday to George W. Bush, who turned 77 on Thursday.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Emeritus Rosalynn Carter celebrate their 77th wedding anniversary today, according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

The 39th president is 98 and has been in home hospice care since February. The former first lady is 95 and has dementia. The Carter family has not offered details of either Jimmy or Rosalynn Carter’s condition but has said they both have enjoyed time with each other and a stream of family members, along with occasional visits from close friends, in recent months.

“As we have looked back at their legacy, it has been really wonderful to see the outpouring of support and respect and love,” grandson Jason Carter said recently. “That word love is really the one that defines certainly their personal relationship, but also the way they approach this world.”

For all their common joys, Rosalynn Carter added another component of a successful marriage. “Each should have some space,” she said. “That’s really important.”

Fifteen miles of the Chattahoochee River in Metro Atlanta are closed as the result of elevated e.coli levels, according to Rough Draft Atlanta.

Although 15 miles of the Chattahoochee River remain closed, treatment of wastewater being processed at the Big Creek Water Reclamation Facility has slowly begun to improve.

The plant has met two of seven parameters required under its Georgia Environmental Protection Division permit for compliance, Mark Baucom, a spokesperson for Fulton County said in a release on July 6.

Forty tanker truck loads of healthy microorganisms were transferred to the plant from the Johns Creek Environmental Campus, he said. Evidence of the slow return to compliance was also seen with five of the seven biological basins used in treating sewage showing signs of treatment.

The river remains closed today, July 6, from the Chattahoochee Nature Center south to all downstream sections of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA). E. coli counts remain elevated above the recommended level for safe water recreation, the CRNRA said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

“We are currently diverting approximately 5 million gallons of wastewater to Cobb County’s Sutton Water Reclamation Plant,” the spokesperson said.

Fulton County has reported this incident to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

The ongoing sewage spill from has been classified as a major violation of the Clean Water Act that will result in enforcement action, according to the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

“We notified Fulton County that there was a major sewer spill taking place there at the outfall, which they denied and the response to us was that the plan[t] was operating 100 percent correctly and there were no issues,” he said.

Fulton County subsequently found out the plant was malfunctioning.

“It was not treating any of the sewage coming in and was pouring raw sewage into the Chattahoochee River every single day and they were not aware of the issue,” Ulseth said.

“We’re keeping the river closed until we get water quality data that supports reopening. And we’re working closely with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to coordinate and monitor and test the water,” CRNRA Acting Superintendent Beth Wheeler said.

The sewage spill is ongoing because the design of the plant uses a biological process for much of the treatment. Bacteria treats the sewage, but all the plant’s bacteria had died. Fulton County is bringing bacteria from other plants to get it restarted, but it cannot be 100 percent operational until all the bacteria have regrown and are established at the plant, which he said takes days to happen.

The county characterized it as a plant malfunction, Ulseth said.

“But it is absolutely a sewer sewage spill because the plant treats over 20 million gallons of raw sewage every day and is not able to treat that sewage at this point,” he said.

“So this spill is a violation of the Clean Water Act. It is a major spill under Georgia law and so they are in violation. We do anticipate enforcement action coming from the state following the spill,” he said.

“We closed 15 miles of river starting at Chattahoochee Nature Center, all downstream sections, which are closer to Atlanta and very popular. But we did keep 30 miles of river open, everything north of this spill, which is from Buford Dam all the way down to the Azalea Park access point in Roswell,” Wheeler said.

Ulseth said the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization that’s dedicated to protecting the Chattahoochee River from Helen all the way down to Florida to secure enough clean water for generations.

The stretch of the Chattahoochee between Powers Island / Cochran Shoals and Paces Mill is what I consider my home stretch of water, and I’ve spent plenty of time in and out of boats along there. But not this weekend.

Former State Senator Josh McKoon, now serving as Chair of the Georgia Republican Party, spoke to the Ledger-Enquirer.

When fellow Georgia Republicans elected him last month, Josh McKoon became the first state GOP chairman from the Columbus area, tasked with uniting a party divided by polarizing opinions about their leading presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump.

What’s your reaction to being elected Georgia GOP chairman?

“I feel really honored by the fact that we had three people running for chairman that ran strong campaigns. The fact that I was able to get a majority (54%) of the convention behind me on the first ballot was very gratifying.”

“A lot of people talk about there being various factions in the Republican Party. Of course, there are factions in the Democratic Party as well. But I think it demonstrates I was able to get support from all quarters of the Republican Party.”

Understanding the governor, secretary of state and other top Republican statewide officers didn’t attend this year’s Georgia GOP convention, where Trump spoke, how do you go about reconciling differences in the party and uniting it to win in 2024?

“I have a relationship with Gov. Kemp that goes back to when he ran for agriculture commissioner in 2006 and have always enjoyed a good relationship with him. We have been in communication since the convention. Gov. Kemp has always been a loyal Republican, a friend of the Georgia Republican Party. …”

Speaking of GOP in-fighting, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) was kicked out of the Freedom Caucus, according to the AJC.

“The GOP has less than two years to show America what a strong, unified Republican-led Congress will do when President Trump wins the White House in 2024,” she said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is my focus, nothing else.”

Politico first reported that shortly before members of the House left for a two-week recess in late June a vote was taken during a meeting of the House Freedom Caucus on Greene’s status with the group. On Thursday, Politico confirmed that she had been removed from the rolls, marking the first time a member has ever been tossed from the far-right caucus.

“A vote was taken to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from the House Freedom Caucus for some of the things she’s done,” Freedom Caucus board member Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, told Politico. Later, when asked if Greene had been kicked out, he said: “As far as I know, that is the way it is.”

Although Greene is well known for past incendiary remarks about other groups, a recent dust-up with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert that included Greene calling Boebert an obscenity was apparently the cause of the far-right caucus’ ire, along with Greene’s close alliance with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The AJC notes that it’s the time of year when state legislators and regulators flock to the beaches.

The coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina turns into the state Capitol east this time of year, as the summer beach resort conference season — paid for by lobby groups — kicks into high gear.

Lawmakers are hosted typically to speak to business groups. mingle and maybe pick up a “legislator of the year award.” Sometimes they play golf with lobbyists or hit the beach with their families. Some find it educational, while to others, it’s just part of their $22,000-a-year part-time job.

Disclosures reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show that in June, the insurance agents’ lobby paid for state officials to attend their annual conference at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort on Amelia Island, Fla. The optometrists’ lobby hosted officials at the Wild Dunes Resort at Isle of Palms, SC.; the state bar’s lobby picked up the tab for their stay at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa; and the new car dealers association paid for officials to stay at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

None of those events compare in size to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce annual get-together at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St Simons Island. No business lobby hosts more lawmakers and state officials, and nobody spends more on lawmakers during the summer convention season.

Lobbyists’ reports show the chamber paid for more than two-dozen lawmakers or statewide elected officials to attend the event, at a cost of just under $22,000. That’s down slightly from the $25,000 spent last year.

Something to note: most of these will be trips to organizations’ annual conferences, and the locations chosen first and foremost to attract members of the organization. The late Mrs. GaPundit worked for a group that lobbied on behalf of dentists. I don’t know if y’all know any dentists, but as a profession, dentists take the absolute best vacations. If you want those folks to close their office for a few days and attend board meetings and professional continuing education classes, you’re going to want to be somewhere like a beautiful white-sand beach in Florida that will also accommodate their spouses and kids. And I can attest that offering tee times at a great golf course is a sure way to bring, say, corporate executives or car dealership owners to your event.

If a statewide association’s members would show up to meet in a tent in the parking lot of Buc-ees in Warner Robins, we’d all be eating beaver nuggets and brisket, but that’s probably not going to work very well.

Congratulations and condolences to Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland), who was elected Commission Chair by his colleagues, according to the AJC.

The Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, elected on Thursday Commissioner Jason Shaw as its incoming chairman effective July 22.

Shaw, who represents South Georgia (District 1) on the commission, will serve a two-year term as chair.

He noted several tough issues before regulators, including overseeing the completion of Georgia Power’s new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, which are years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

“This one is obviously a big one in terms of the dollar amount — it’s astronomical,” Shaw said. “It’s not as simple as just looking at the cost overruns; if we’re able to prove that certain costs were not prudent, then we’ve got to go back and look at replacing what was spent on that” by clawing back money from Georgia Power and using it to lower rates.

“We’re seeing unprecedented increases in energy costs across this country and it’s something that’s not always pleasant to deal with,” Shaw said. “We make decisions based on what is presented before us and what is on the record and what we think that we can win in any appeal.”

Last year’s PSC elections were cancelled pending the outcome of a lawsuit, currently before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, alleging that holding statewide elections for geographic district seats discriminated against Black voters.

Georgia’s peach farmers are looking for help in the face of a catastrophic crop failure, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The USDA’s recent declaration that the spring freezes amounted to a natural disaster unlocked some relief in the form of disaster assistance loans for farmers. But this is a short-term remedy, only applicable to this year’s losses — and scientists say the factors that caused the crop failure, which include steadily increasing winter temperatures caused by climate change, are only going to get worse.

Some farmers and agribusiness advocates see an opportunity for longer-term help in the upcoming Farm Bill, a wide-ranging package of Congressional agricultural legislation that is up for its periodic five-year renewal this fall.

Meanwhile, the state’s agricultural leaders are continuously pursuing research into more resilient peach varieties as well as technologies to help produce withstand the changing weather conditions — but say more funding is needed.

Will Bentley, president of the Macon-based Georgia Agribusiness Council, told the Telegraph that crop insurance, in its current form, is an inadequate solution to the woes of those who grow specialty crops like peaches.

In May, Bentley traveled to D.C. with a delegation of Georgia elected officials including Rep. Dickey and Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper to lobby for reforms in this year’s Farm Bill that would assist the state’s farmers.

“What we were in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago advocating for was to include specialty crops in the upcoming Farm Bill,” he told the Telegraph.

Bentley said the need for better crop insurance is a recent development caused by the declining profitability of fruits and vegetables. “In years past, most fruit and vegetables had enough margin in them that they didn’t need to have any type of protection in the Farm Bill,” he said.

“For peaches, what they do is they take the production average of the last five years, and then that’s the main calculation that they use to formulate what your insurance will cover,” Dickey said. “So if you had several bad years in a row, now, the value of what you have insured has gone down — and especially, let’s say you have a natural disaster. In the last five or six years, we’ve had two hurricanes.”

Rep. Robert Dickey said research is underway into developing later-blooming and more cold-hardy peach varieties to withstand the spring frosts partially responsible for the recent crop losses.

In his role in the state House’s leadership, Dickey said he had sought funding for research into peach farming solutions.

“I had some money in our budget this year and the governor took it out,” he said. “So I’m still trying to convince our legislature to try to invest with some research for that. [It’s] very vital to a lot of our crops. The UGA does a lot of research work on other commodities, and we just need a little bit more on peaches.”

I’ve got a bunch of Mr. Dickey’s peaches on my countertop right now, from the Brookhaven Farmers Market.

The Glynn County Board of Elections is seeking feedback on a proposed new voting precincts map, but receiving little, according to The Brunswick News.

A public comment period is ongoing until July 30 for what Glynn County elections officials describe as “substantial changes” in polling place locations and voting districts.

After they are adopted, the proposed changes will impact at least 20,000 mainland voters, but nobody from the mainland has commented so far during the ongoing 45-day public comment period, elections officials said.

One of the big changes is voting will no longer take place in public schools for security and safety reasons.

The city of Brunswick, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island voters are not affected by the changes.

[Glynn County Elections Assistant Director Christina] Redden predicted the 2024 primaries and presidential elections could generate the largest voter turnout ever.

“We encourage you to early vote,” Redden said. “If you vote on Election Day, you must vote at your poll location. We want you to be aware these changes may affect you.”

Bulloch County Commissioners met in their expanded boardroom for the first time, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Bulloch County’s elected commissioners showed up an hour early for a rehearsal in the use of new audiovisual equipment in their expanded North Main Annex boardroom before the public arrived for the 5:30 p.m. July 5 meeting.

Not everything planned for the $2 million renovation of the “annex” – as the entire county administrative office complex on Statesboro’s North Main Street is called – has been completed. The remainder of the project could take “into the fall or before the holidays,” said County Manager Tom Couch.

“It’s definitely a big improvement,” said commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson. “This makes it easier for us to communicate, I think, and you feel more professional in a room like this. … It has been needed for quite some time, and I hope the citizens understand this is not for us, it’s for them, so they can all fit in this room and feel a part of the meeting.”

Hinesville City Council is considering raising the Hotel-Motel tax, according to WTOC.

Hinesville City officials say raising the hotel-motel tax would help visitors pay for priorities in the city that includes things like building a new convention center.

Visitors to Hinesville could soon be paying a tax on their hotel rooms that’s 3% more than it is currently.

Hinesville City Council is eyeing raising the rate from 5% to 8%.

If City Council votes to pass the increase, half of the additional funds would go toward promotions to bring in tourists, conventions, and trade shows. The other half would go toward building tourism infrastructure, like a new convention center.

“Specifically for Liberty County, we’ve been really needing to build an event center. All the municipalities in the county have spoken about how much we need an event center.”

The Troup County NAACP seeks the resignation or removal of Troup County Schools Superintendent Brian Shumate, according to WTVM.

Their argument includes the district’s lowest testing scores for public schools in Georgia.

They also claim “horrible discipline practices which negativity impact students of color.”

The message for removing Superintendent Brian Shumate is directed toward Governor Brian Kemp.

Rents are rising in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The market rate for rent in Columbus reported by Zillow has risen significantly since 2020 with stakeholders pointing to inflation, property taxes and a limited supply of housing as the main causes.

Rent in the city rose about $100 between January 2016 and January 2020. However, between January 2020 and January 2023 it rose another $300 to about $1,120.

In all, the market rate rent jumped 55% from January 2016 to January 2023. The median household income in Muscogee County increased about 28% between 2016 and 2021, according to data from the Federal Reserve.

The increase of the market rate rent in Columbus slightly outpaced the nation, which increased about 47% during the same period. Other cities across Georgia saw similar increases including Macon, Albany and Augusta.

A limited housing inventory remains a primary reason for rents spiking, said Shep Mullin, a broker at Century 21 Premier Real Estate in Columbus.

Finding a rental becomes even more difficult if individuals are searching for affordable housing they can use with a voucher program, said John Casteel, chief assistant housing officer at the Housing Authority of Columbus, Georgia.

Programs require recipients’ rent to not rise above a certain threshold, Casteel said, and finding rent that low, typically under $1,000 a month, can be difficult.

“They can’t find housing,” he said. “And after six months that voucher disappears and that person’s lost their opportunity to use that voucher because they haven’t been able to find anything.”

The waiting list for public housing in Columbus hovers around 3,000, currently, Casteel said. A new mixed-income housing development, The Banks at Mill Village, opened earlier this year with 102 units.

Today, the Housing Authority development has one unit available, and thousands are on the waiting list, Casteel said.

The amount of taxes owed for his properties increasing can impact increases in rent, Robinson said.

Columbus residents and landlords have found that their property values may have significantly increased this year leading to higher tax bills.

Another problem landlords are facing is higher costs for maintenance and insurance, Robinson said. Increased demand in the global economy beginning in 2021 led to conditions that raised prices, but not wages, according to a report by the Brookings Institution.

“I had to replace an air conditioner,” Robinson said. “I used to pay about $6,500 for a system. That thing went up to $9,200 for the same thing.”

Compounding the rising taxes and maintenance costs, is insurance. Robinson said he has about four homes on one insurance policy that increased about 18% in the last year. Property insurance pricing in the United States increased 17% in the first quarter of 2023, according to the Marsh Global Insurance Market Index. This comes after the pricing rose 11% in the fourth quarter of 2022.

“Everything’s gone up,” Mullin said. “My taxes are up 20%. My insurance is up 20%. Repairs are up to hire somebody. Inflation affected rentals, sales and food costs.”

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Mike Register is leaving the agency to serve as Cobb County’s Public Safety Director, according to Atlanta News First via WRDW.

Register is familiar with the position. He held the job back in 2019 and served as the Cobb Police Chief for two years before that.

“To go back home, where I’ve given a lot of my adult life, it’s an incredible opportunity and honor to finish my career out there,” said Register.

Register will stay on through the summer. His replacement has not been named.

“I hope the person who replaces me cares about the agency and not just about the position and the title,” said Register.

Register feels the need for police reform and training is critical. He advocated for the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

“We protect your right to protest, but when your activities and behaviors become cruel then we are also there to protect the public,” said Register.

Cave Spring City Council is transitioning to a City Manager form of local government, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Cave Spring City Council is set to vote on an ordinance regarding the transition to a city manager form of government during their next regular meeting on July 11.

Local legislation passed during the last session of the Georgia General Assembly and then signed by Gov. Brian Kemp changes the Cave Spring City Charter, allowing for the hiring of a city manager.

According to Mayor Rob Ware, a transition ordinance is being drafted by City Attorney Frank Beacham.

The Columbia County Board of Education is considering adopting a millage rate to fund their FY 2024 budget, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Right now the millage rate is set to 17.35, and if it were to stay the same, homeowners will be paying more than the past year.

This is based on property values in Columbia County being on the rise. Higher values mean higher property taxes which means that even if the millage rate stays the same, taxes still increase.

“Property taxes are 40 percent of the district’s general fund revenue budget and about 90 percent of that of that revenue goes to fund salaries and benefits for our employees,” said Alex Casado, Chief Financial Officer for the district.

He says that any increase in taxes will all go to a budget that’s looking to adapt to the needs of a growing county, raises, adding new staff, materials, and more.

Right now, no change has been made, but if it were to stay the same “a taxpayer with a home valued at $200,000 can expect their taxes for all of next year at the same millage rate to increase about $151 over the course of next year, which comes to about $12.58 a month,” said Casado.

That would be around a 12 percent increase in property taxes from last year.

Lawrenceville Mayor David Still announced he is running for reelection, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“After much prayer and consideration, with the support of my wife, family and friends, I have decided to run for Mayor again in order to continue the pursuit of building a live-work-play community and making Lawrenceville the art hub of Gwinnett County,” Still said. “Working with my peers on the Council and in the community, I look forward to completing several more transformational projects in our city.”

Still was first elected mayor in 2019 without facing opposition after spending four years on the City Council. He served in various volunteer positions in the city before he became an elected official, including serving on the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association and the Lawrenceville Downtown Development Authority.

The mayor told the Daily Post that the No. 1 issue for him is to ensure Lawrenceville has “balanced housing” which will meet the needs of residents across all socioeconomic groups. He said the poverty rate in Lawrenceville is 20% while the average across Gwinnett County as a whole is around 9%.

On the jobs front, Still said the expansion of Northside Hospital Gwinnett in the city is helping to bring in some high-paying jobs — Northside is in the process of finishing up and gradually moving into a new medical office building at the hospital and is also building a new tower that will make the hospital the largest campus in the Northside system — but there is still work to be done.

Ocilla Mayor Horace Hudgins has died, according to WALB.

Mayor Horace Hudgins, who was most recently elected in 2021, died on Wednesday night around 9:10 p.m. from a heart attack, according to the city of Ocilla.

Hudgins also served as mayor from 2014 through 2015 before resigning to make an unsuccessful run for Georgia House of Representatives District 155.

He served as a city councilman from 1990 through 1999.