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.
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.”