Category: Georgia Politics

3
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 3, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The 2022 International Canoe Federation Kayak Freestyle World Cup starts today in Columbus, Georgia, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Headline of the week:Around Town: Company hits overdrive on I-75, and local politics put phasers on stun” in the Rome News Tribune.

Phasers on stun: Stacey Abrams’ cameo on “Star Trek Discovery” had the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful playing the president of Earth. A sci-fi buff, Abrams loved the spotlight but knew what would follow. Sure enough, damage control reports the mailers and TV campaigns are underway, citing “Planet Stacey” as well as her potential “Hollywood” ties. What’s interesting is the rematch in Georgia’s governor’s race has moved from Brian Kemp’s “shotgun sit down” with “Jake” to aliens and phasers. (Clarification: “space” aliens). Abrams, in a recent interview with the Rome News-Tribune, told us the Trek stint was an absolute hoot, adding that she couldn’t even tell her family about it until the broadcast.

Ninety-eight new American citizens were sworn in at the Carter Center in Atanta for former President Jimmy Carter’s 98th birthday, according to WRDW.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum went all out to celebrate the oldest US president in history. They opened a new exhibit: “The Colors of Peace: President Carter’s Vision through the Art of Children.” it’ll have 270 pieces of art created by children from around the world.

“Most exciting is this naturalization ceremony to welcome these new American citizens,” said Sylvia Naquib, the museum’s curator.

The museum also dropped admission rates to 98 cents for the big birthday.

Voters with disabilities had questions for statewide candidates, according to the Georgia Recorder via GPB News.

The event was put on by groups like the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities with the goal of both highlighting the electoral clout of people with disabilities and encouraging this community to speak up and be heard in the political space.

Georgia doesn’t track how many registered voters have disabilities, but nationally, the community represents about 20 million voters.

Most of the participating candidates submitted a video response to questions that were played during the event, held both virtually and in person.

A few, including Republican incumbent state Superintendent Richard Woods, Democratic insurance commissioner candidate Janice Laws Robinson and Libertarian labor commissioner candidate Emily Anderson, were the only candidates in their race to show up in person to answer questions.

Charlie Miller, the legislative advocacy director for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, acknowledged that some candidate responses were more detailed and thoughtful than others, but he still sees progress in all the responses.

“We would love more concrete answers to our questions, yes,” Miller said. “But just purely having them acknowledge the disability community, it’s a step in the right direction. I’m not saying it’s the final step, but it’s a step.”

“We said no matter what happens, even if no candidate shows up, no one sends a video, we’re still going to have it, we will still have it virtually and in-person to really show the candidates that our voice matters in the state of Georgia and in their elections,” Miller said.

A replay of the forum can be viewed on the council’s Facebook page.

Some election officials are concerned about potentially-confrontational poll watchers, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

Those fears led the North Carolina State Board of Elections in August to tighten rules governing poll watchers. But the state’s rules review board, appointed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, blocked the new poll watcher regulations in late September, leaving election officials such as Risku without additional tools to control behavior on Election Day, Nov. 8.

“It becomes complete babysitting,” Risku said in an interview. “The back and forth for the precinct officials, having somebody constantly on you for every little thing that you do — not because you’re doing it wrong, but because they don’t agree with what you’re doing.”

Poll watchers have traditionally been an essential element of electoral transparency, the eyes and ears for the two major political parties who help ensure that the actual mechanics of voting are administered fairly and accurately. But election officials fear that a surge of conspiracy believers are signing up for those positions this year and are being trained by others who have propagated the lie spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 presidential election was riddled with fraud.

The laws governing poll watchers vary from state to state. Their role is generally to observe, question any deviations from required procedure and, in some states, lodge formal complaints or provide testimony for objections filed in court.

Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp visited Hahira, where he served as Grand Marshall of the Honeybee Festival according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Governor Kemp also visited the Columbus area, according to WTVM.

Governor Brian Kemp stopped in our area today at the Kia Georgia Training Center to discuss Hurricane Ian and tout the progress the Peach state has made in recovering from the pandemic.

This visit was part of a major announcement that Georgia is ranked as the number one state for business for the 9th year in a row.

A little over a month before voters head to the polls, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is talking about the state’s economy in Troup County, picking Kia Georgia’s Training Center in West Point for a big announcement.

The plant is home to three thousand employees, producing over 340,000 vehicles per year and over 3.8 million cars since production started nearly 13 years ago.

“Governor Kemp has been a friend of Kia since his inauguration in 2018. He’s officiated two of our new model launches and celebrated with us our 10-year anniversary,” said Kia Georgia’s CEO Stuart Countess.

“…I’ve also declared a state of emergency for every county in Georgia to ensure we’re prepared for whatever this major weather event will bring our way,” said Governor Kemp.

“I’ve had the pleasure of announcing that Georgia has been named for the unprecedented 9th year in a row…the number one state for business. So, congratulations to you all,” said Gov. Kemp.

“In this past fiscal year alone, Georgia saw a record 51,132 new private sector jobs come to our state, and over 21.2 billion dollars in investments come to our communities,” said Gov. Kemp.

Governor Kemp says he will continue ensuring Georgia remains the number one state for business. News Leader 9 reached out to Stacey Abrams’ campaign for comment but has not heard back yet.

Gov. Kemp declined to answer whether he would rally with former President Donald Trump, according to Newsweek.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Kemp was asked by host Shannon Bream about reports from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that said Trump might be seeking to hold a rally in the state later this month, asking the governor if he would appear at such an event despite his “frenemy thing” with the ex-president.

“I’m not too worried about what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is speculating on. They’ve been no friend of mine,” Kemp said, brushing aside the question. “I’m focused to speaking [to] hard-working Georgians, making sure that they know I will continue to fight for them every single day.”

The previously-scheduled Macon debate of U.S. Senate candidates is canceled, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism and its media partners 13WMAZ, The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting said they would not host its planned Oct. 13 event after incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver agreed to appear.

Republican challenger Herschel Walker never responded to the debate invitation, Center for Collaborative Journalism director Debbie Blankenship said in a statement.

“The event was intended to provide Central Georgia voters with access to all the candidates before the November 8th election. However, both Warnock and Walker agreed to a debate in Savannah that will be broadcast statewide on Oct. 14. Our partner Georgia Public Broadcasting will also offer voters the opportunity to see Warnock and Oliver debate before a statewide audience on Oct. 16,” she said. “In light of these other voter access opportunities, Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism and its partners will not move forward with a debate hosting two of the three candidates on the ballot.”

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) wants to expand access to mental health care, according to WJBF.

Senator Ossoff is efforting a bipartisan bill that will eliminate out of pocket expenses for seniors on Medicare needing mental health care.

He said there is too much red tape that makes it difficult for seniors to access those needed mental health services. He believes that if passed, this legislation will strengthen Medicare.

“Those of us working on this legislation to help seniors access mental health services through Medicare, brought together more than 30 senators not from both parties to advance this. I think that Georgians want me to work together with Democrats and Republicans to do what’s in the interest of our state,” he explained.

Senator Ossoff is also working to provide easier access to mental health services and substance abuse support for veterans and military families.

Senator Ossoff’s new legislation would provide three free mental health care visits a year to Georgia veterans and military families.

The bill is co sponsored by Republican Senator Kevin Cramer.

“Veterans have put it all on the line for our country and they deserve the very best. They’ve earned the very best I want to make it easier for veterans to access the care and services that they’ve earned.”

The Gwinnett County Board of Elections will hold additional events to hire poll workers, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The county wants to hire 2,500 poll officials to work at polling locations for the election. County officials said poll officials have a chance to earn a stipend of up to $390 by working during the election.

The county would like to hire multilingual poll workers, especially people who can speak Spanish, but applicants are required to be at least 16, a U.S. citizen and demonstrate an ability to read, write and speak English.

Anyone who is interested in working as a poll official can also apply at GwinnettCounty.com/PollOfficialHiring.

Third parties voting organizations want Gwinnett election officials to stop hearing residency challenges against registered voters, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a letter to the elections board and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP; Gwinnett County Branch of the NAACP; GALEO Latino Community Development Fund Inc.; Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda Inc.; League of Women Voters of Georgia; and Common Cause.

The groups claim the county is violating voters rights on two grounds.

One is that, they assert, National Voter Registration Act of 1993 prohibited an elections board from hearing voter registration challenges within 90 days of a federal election. The other is that they assert the county’s elections board has sustained some voter registration challenges without adhering to requirements laid out in the same federal law.

State statute O.C.G.A. 21-2-230 says a voter’s registration can be challenged up to the day that voter casts their ballot or the day before their absentee ballot, if they cast one, is set to be tabulated. The county’s elections board is required to immediately consider the challenge under the state law.

The county’s election board can face sanctions from the State Elections Board if it does not comply with the law.

At the same time, the attorneys for the six groups assert that 52 U.S.C. 20507 (c)(2)(A) prohibits elections boards from hearing or sustaining voter registration challenges within the three months leading up to a federal election.

The Savannah Morning News profiles the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation (T-SPLOST) on the November ballot.

The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) referendum will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. If passed, it greenlights Chatham County to enact a penny sales tax to fund a litany of road and transportation-related projects.

At the bottom of Chatham County voters’ general election ballot is a referendum seeking enactment of a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. If approved by majority vote, TSPLOST would mean an additional 1% sales tax on goods and services sold within Chatham County to be collected for the next five years. TSPLOST revenue can only be used for transportation-related projects.

While the project lists submitted by Chatham County and its eight municipalities total $420 million, it’s only a portion of the funds needed for the heavyweight improvements targeted by local government leaders. For many projects, TSPLOST serves as the “local match” for state- and federal-level roadway projects, like the work ongoing at the I-16 and I-95 interchange in west Chatham.

“And it’s not like a one-to-one match. It’s like a nine-to-one match,” said Dave Simons, the politico hired by the Savannah Chamber of Commerce to market TSPLOST ahead of Election Day.

According to the Savannah Chamber, about a quarter of the funding ($110 million) for this year’s TSPLOST can be leveraged for more funds, leading to nearly $1 billion in total transportation projects.

And from another article in the Savannah Morning News:

According to officials, improving and expanding sidewalks and bike trails is a priority, not only for safety and health reasons but also to provide alternative transportation options for those without vehicles and to reduce automobile emissions.

More than $20 million in TSPLOST funds is earmarked for sidewalks. The City of Savannah will invest $18 million to expand sidewalks and perform maintenance.

Three other municipalities will also use TSPLOST money for sidewalks, as will Chatham County. Bloomingdale will expand its sidewalk network along U.S. 80, the city’s main thoroughfare. Thunderbolt plans sidewalk improvements along Shell Road, College Road, Mechanics Road and River Drive. Garden City will invest $300,000 in sidewalks within its limits.

Chatham County will use its sidewalk money in Isle of Hope, investing $1.5 million in the densely populated residential area.

Momentum continues to build for the Tide to Town urban trail system. The initiative is aimed at building and connecting nearly 30 miles of protected walking and bicycling trails throughout Chatham County.

The broad embrace of trails is evident in the wide range of trail projects on the TSPLOST list. Savannah, Garden City, Bloomingdale and Chatham County all designated money for trails, including the Truman Linear Park Trail, the centerpiece of the Tide to Town network.

The Rome and Floyd County Joint Services Committee is negotiating a potential Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax agreement that would put SPLOST on next year’s ballot, according to the Rome News Tribune.

This will be the first SPLOST up for a vote since the 2017 package. While many of the projects from that SPLOST have been completed — like parks upgrades and the Charles C. Parker Center in Etowah Park — several of the big ticket items like the county’s agriculture center are still in the works.

Officials have indicated there won’t be anything new to report Tuesday regarding the LOST — local options sales tax — distribution formula tentatively agreed upon in September. The city and county commissions will still have to take a vote to ratify that agreement before Dec. 31.

Cobb County Commissioners voted to regulate short term rentals, according to the AJC.

The county will now require short-term rental owners to get a certificate of occupancy and designate a local agent that can be contacted by the county to address complaints or issues. Owners will also need to notify neighbors and homeowners associations about the rental, and they can have only one listing per residence.

Linda Verde, an owner who rents out two guest bedrooms in her East Cobb home, said she supports the ordinance except for the limit of one rental unit per property. She said that owners who live on the property have more control over their unit and can mitigate any problems.

“The only way that we are able to afford that home is by short-term rentals,” she said to the board. ”We regulate everything that happens in our home.”

Short-term rentals include any type of housing unit rented for 30 days or less, often advertised online on sites like Airbnb and VRBO to be used as temporary stays. Many owners rely on short-term rentals for additional income.

The county brought the regulations in response to complaints from residents about rentals turned into party houses, too many cars parked along the streets and other general disruptions to neighborhoods.

Commissioners created a task force with short-term rental owners, members of the community and other interested parties to look at how to regulate the industry and address the concerns while still allowing the practice.

30
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 30, 2022

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

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

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

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

Texas Cannon Flag 600

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

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

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

Wyoming adopted the first state constitution to allow women to vote on September 30, 1889.

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

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

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

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

President Woodrow Wilson spoke in favor of Women’s Suffrage in an address to Congress on September 30, 1918. The bill to pass the 19th Amendment would die in the Senate that year after passing the House.

Happy 98th Birthday to former President Jimmy Carter, who was born on October 1, 1924 at Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, the first American President to be born in a hospital.

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

On September 30, 1927, Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season.

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

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

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

On September 30, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter led the Harris Poll for President over President Gerald Ford by a 50-41 margin. In November 1976, the popular vote tallied 50.08% for Carter to 48.01% for Ford, with an Independent taking nearly a point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Georgia was recognized for the ninth consecutive year as the number one state in which to do business.

Governor Brian P. Kemp [] announced that Georgia has been named by Area Development magazine as the No. 1 state for business for the ninth consecutive year. No other state has earned this distinction for so many years. Governor Kemp was joined by executives from Kia Georgia, Bridgestone Golf, and Char-Broil’s parent company W.C. Bradley Company as well as members of the General Assembly, state and local economic developers, and local officials at the Kia Georgia Training Center in West Point to make the announcement.

“We are honored to accept the title of ‘Top State for Business’ yet again from Area Development for an unprecedented ninth year in a row,” said Governor Kemp. “This is just the latest confirmation that our partnership approach, conservative governing, and dedication to saving both lives and livelihoods during the pandemic were the right choices for the people of Georgia. Thanks to our world-class infrastructure, award-winning workforce training programs, pro-business environment, and most of all our hardworking Georgians, the Peach State is a national leader in the assets job creators look for when deciding where to start, grow, and sustain a thriving business.”

The executive publication’s annual poll of approximately 50 leading site consulting firms from across the U.S. considers 13 different factors to make this coveted determination. In addition to overall Top State, Georgia earned a No. 1 ranking for the thirteenth year in a row for its workforce development program, Georgia Quick Start. The state also earned the top ranking in six additional categories, including cost of doing business, cooperative and responsive state government, competitive labor environment, and available real estate. Georgia tied for first place in energy availability and costs.

“It’s no surprise that Georgia is ranked No. 1 for the ninth year in a row by experienced location consultants,” said Area Development’s Editor Geraldine Gambale. “State and local economic developers in Georgia have consistently worked together to guide companies through the location process and retain their business for years to come.”

Area Development’s 2022 Top States for Doing Business results reflect the rankings that states receive based on scores in the following categories: Overall cost of doing business, cooperative and responsive state government, favorable regulatory environment, corporate tax environment, business incentives, competitive labor environment, workforce development programs, logistics and infrastructure, access to capital and project funding, available real estate, energy availability and costs, speed of permitting, and site-readiness programs. Georgia placed in the top 10 for all 13 categories.

“Georgia’s continued focus on business and workforce centric policies have, once again, resulted in our state being ranked as No. 1 in the nation by Area Development magazine for the ninth straight year,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “With a business climate that is second to none, Georgia has received an influx of major investments from small and large businesses alike over the past few years, culminating in one of the lowest unemployment rates in our state’s history. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the leadership of Governor Brian Kemp and our excellent team at the Georgia Department of Economic Development who will continue to promote our state as the best state in the nation to do business.”

“Georgia’s continued acclaim as the nation’s No. 1 state for business demonstrates we care about expanding opportunity for all Georgians,” said Speaker David Ralston. “Working with Governor Kemp, our General Assembly remains focused on pro-business policies like cutting taxes and incentivizing investment. These policies help create private sector jobs across our state and put Georgians to work. I thank all of the public and private partners who work with us to keep Georgia the envy of the nation.”

“Earning the title as the No. 1 state for business for nine years in a row is an amazing accomplishment, and one I attribute to Georgia’s collaborative spirit and our strong relationships with public and private partners,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Commissioner Pat Wilson. “While our mission itself is straightforward – to create hope and opportunity in every corner of the state – it is an enormous undertaking for any one team. Our combined efforts have made Georgia an attractive location for domestic and international companies seeking growth. We are grateful for the support of Governor Kemp, the Georgia General Assembly, and our local communities; and thank you to the hundreds of companies in the last year alone that chose to create the jobs of the future in our state.”

This recognition follows Governor Kemp’s announcement that the state shattered economic development records during fiscal year 2022. During this period, investments in expansions and new locations totaled more than $21.2 billion, and 51,132 jobs were created in the state through 358 projects supported by GDEcD’s Global Commerce team between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. These numbers include the two largest projects in state history – Rivian and Hyundai Motor Group – which totaled more than $10.5 billion in investments and 15,600 new jobs when combined.

About Area Development
Founded in 1965, Area Development is considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation. Editorial coverage provides valuable information pertinent to the factors, key issues, and criteria that affect a successful decision. Area Development is published quarterly and also maintains a website that receives more than one million visitor sessions annually.

Governor Kemp also gave an update on state preparations for Hurricane Ian.

Governor Brian P. Kemp today joined state and local emergency management officials, local leaders, and others in Savannah to provide an update on Tropical Storm Ian preparations and the state’s planned response. The State of Emergency issued by Governor Kemp on Tuesday went into effect this morning at 7 a.m. for all 159 of Georgia’s counties, making state resources available to local governments and entities within the hurricane impact area. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) State Operations Center is now at a Level 1 full-scale activation and continues to monitor Tropical Storm Ian’s progress. Teams from the relevant state agencies are also standing by to deploy to affected counties, when appropriate. The governor and emergency management officials are also coordinating with Georgia’s utility providers, who have been staging equipment, inspecting the right-of-way paths of power lines, and preparing to respond to any power outages homes and businesses may experience.

At this time, the Savannah Airport remains open and operational. The Savannah port terminal cleared any waiting vessels last night and operations will continue until 6 p.m. this evening. All vessels have also departed the Brunswick port terminal and pilot operations have ceased until the storm passes. The Georgia Ports Authority will reassess needs and an expected timeline for return to operations on Friday. The Georgia Department of Transportation closed the Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick at 9 a.m. today, and Houlihan Bridge is closed to boat traffic only. Please visit www.dot.ga.gov for more information.

A number of Floridians have come to Georgia over the past several days, and Georgia is welcoming them with open arms. There is still reliable hotel/motel availability with sufficient capacity to meet demand. The tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development has activated the Explore Georgia hurricane information webpage to help travelers and evacuees impacted by Tropical Storm Ian find hotel room openings and lodging availability, hours of operation for the state’s nine Visitor Information Centers, and links to emergency resources.

From WSAV:

“I would just remind Georgians to stay weather alert, especially if you’re in the southern half of the state,” Kemp said. “We think there’s going to be certainly a lot of rain and not a sustaining high winds, but certainly gusts in the 40 to 50 miles an hour.”

Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King (R) spoke about avoiding post-hurricane scams, according to WSAV.

Concerning scams, King said the legislature recently gave them additional authority so they can now regulate companies of public adjusters.

“That is the purpose of why we go into communities that have been affected by storms, to stop these characters from committing the fraud,” said King.

He continued, “Our agents will go door to door sometimes and give people pamphlets. Do not sign a contract, call us, if you have any questions about it. We ask people to, when all possible, hire a local contractor, somebody that’s not going to disappear overnight. Somebody that has a track record in the community, and to make sure that we know who you’re dealing with.”

Commissioner King says that those with questions can visit their website at www.oci.ga.gov or give them a call at 1-800-656-2298.

The Georgia State Election Board met and heard about allegations of voting equipment tampering, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.

The meeting included a presentation on state election law, an explanation of how the state’s voting machines work and a description of post-election audits. It also included a report on the breach of voting equipment in rural Coffee County.

“I think what happened in Coffee County was despicable,” board Chairman William Duffey, a retired federal judge, said after the meeting. If the investigation finds evidence of crimes, the penalties should be significant “to let people there and in other counties know that we are not going to put up with that,” he said.

Sara Tindall Ghazal, the state Democratic Party’s appointee to the board, said elections have to balance three “sometimes-competing interests” — security, accessibility and efficient administration.

“Georgia’s system reflects an attempt to balance these issues and interests,” she said. “I have trust in our election officials and in our voters to ensure that our elections will proceed smoothly and securely and that the outcome will reflect the will of the voters.”

A computer forensics team hired by allies of then-President Donald Trump traveled to the elections office in Coffee County, about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, on Jan. 7, 2021, and made complete copies of data and software on elections equipment, according to documents and deposition testimony produced in response to subpoenas in a long-running lawsuit challenging the security of the state’s voting machines. Security camera video from the elections office shows that local Republican Party and county election officials were present when the copying took place.

Blake Evans, elections director for the secretary of state’s office, walked board members through the process for the audits that Georgia now uses to check one statewide race during even-year general elections. The “risk-limiting audits” rely on statistics, mathematics and a hand count of a sample of ballots to ensure that the machine-tabulated result is accurate.

From CNN via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The Georgia State Elections Board revealed Wednesday that the board has asked the FBI to participate in an ongoing criminal investigation into the voting system breach in Coffee County because of similarities between what happened there and incidents in other states.

“The conduct in Coffee County is similar to conduct in Antrim County, Michigan, and Clark County, Nevada,” elections board Chairman William Duffey Jr. said, citing two other places where pro-Trump operatives gained access to voting systems with the help of sympathetic local elections officials after the 2020 election.

The Georgia elections board also revealed it is investigating communications between local election officials in a second Georgia county and SullivanStrickler — the same cybersecurity firm hired by attorneys working for former President Donald Trump to access voting systems in Coffee County in January 2021.

The board has received documents that include an “unexecuted engagement agreement” for SullivanStrickler to forensically image voting systems in Spalding County, Georgia, Duffey said.

SullivanStrickler says it did not image any Spalding County equipment.

“We did not image any equipment in Spalding County,” said Amanda Clark Palmer, an attorney representing SullivanStrickler, on Wednesday. “We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on any investigation as we have done up until now.”

Some county election offices report large numbers of voter registration challenges, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

One morning in late August, Zach Manifold showed up at his job running the elections office in Gwinnett County, Georgia, to find eight boxes waiting, all filled with documents challenging the eligibility of tens of thousands of people to cast ballots.

It was the physical manifestation of a law passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature in 2021, making it explicit that any voter in the state could challenge an unlimited number of fellow Georgians’ voter registrations.

Conservative activists have seized on that power to attempt to remove thousands of voters from the rolls with just weeks to go before the October 17 start of in-person early voting in this battleground state.

While election officials in other states have reported voter challenges, the biggest number appears to have been lodged in Georgia. And the challenges attempted so far in this state far exceed Joe Biden’s margin of victory in the 2020 presidential election, which he won by fewer than 12,000 votes out of some 5 million cast. That year, Biden became the first Democrat to win this traditionally red state in nearly three decades.

Dougherty County says it has sufficient poll workers for November, according to WALB.

With a workforce of over 300 poll workers, Dougherty County has filled positions for all 26 precincts.

Election offices across the country have spent weeks trying to make sure their precincts weren’t short-staffed and overwhelmed on election day. Just over a month before the general election, the Dougherty County Elections Office is now training a full staff.

“I came back and we had 100 applicants that had applied through Dougherty county human resources. We’ve also been receiving from various organizations, individuals that have stated they are also willing to work there,” Ginger Nickerson, Dougherty County Election Office Supervisor, said.

Right after Labor Day, they stopped taking applications. A total of 300 workers is the right amount to fill all of the positions within all 26 precincts, which will ensure that all aspects of the voting process are taken care of.

“It’s important because the process requires people. There are so many steps of course, by law, we need individuals to assist our voters as they come in, to ensure that the voter knows that their ballot is being counted,” Nickerson said.

A middle Georgia jury awarded $60,000 to a transgender plaintiff who sued Houston County over workplace allegations, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Sgt. Anna Lange filed a civil suit against Houston County and Sheriff Cullen Talton in the U.S. District Court in Macon in 2019, asking for the county to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses she incurred after Houston County excluded gender-confirmation surgery from its health insurance plan, as well as attorneys’ fees and damages.

The trial began Monday, and the jury had ruled in Lange’s favor by Tuesday afternoon.

“This is yet one more example of an employer violating the law by discriminating against transgender people, and the courts holding them to account for it,” said attorney David Brown, the legal director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund who worked as part of Lange’s legal team. “And so I think it’s yet one more very loud and clear message to other people who seek to discriminate against transgender folks that it won’t be tolerated.”

In June, U.S. District Court Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that Houston County’s refusal to cover Lange’s treatments violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and found it undisputed that Lange’s surgery was medically necessary.

In 2019, Lange asked county commissioners to include treatment for gender dysphoria to the county’s insurance coverage. The commissioners denied the request. Brown said Houston County spent almost $1 million defending against the civil suit.

The AJC looks at the candidates for Attorney General, a position held by Republican Chris Carr.

Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican from Dunwoody, is seeking his second full term as the state’s top lawyer. He was first appointed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016 and won his first full term in 2018.

Carr has focused his campaign on “protecting lives, protecting livelihoods and protecting liberty,” a slight twist on the “lives and livelihoods” political talking point often used by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

State Sen. Jen Jordan, a Democrat from Sandy Springs, is challenging the incumbent because she said he has spent more time pushing partisan politics instead of prioritizing the needs of Georgians. She said if elected, the first thing she would do is create a voting rights division within the attorney general’s office.

A recent poll of likely voters by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Carr received support from almost 45% of those polled. Jordan trailed by 10 percentage points, getting support from about 35%. Cowen received support from a little more than 5%. The rest of the respondents were undecided.

Ocmulgee Superior Courts Chief Judge Brenda Holbert Trammell ruled against part of an economic development package for Rivian, according to the AJC.

If the ruling survives a likely appeal, it would not only disrupt the Rivian project, but could provide a pathway for residents in other parts of the state to challenge controversial local property tax breaks to corporations and developers. The ruling is likely to send shockwaves through Georgia economic development circles, which use incentives known as tax abatements to woo industry and new development.

Ocmulgee Superior Courts Chief Judge Brenda Holbert Trammell ruled a local development authority “failed to establish” that bonds at the center of the Rivian project “are sound, feasible and reasonable.” She further sided with seven residents who challenged the Rivian incentive deal, ruling that the type of land lease negotiated with Rivian is one subject to property taxes.

Trammell also chastised the Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton counties for not doing its due diligence to determine whether Rivian is financially viable. The California-based startup reported about $15.5 billion in cash on hand at the end of the second quarter. But the company has lost billions over the past two years as it works to scale up its operations and compete with Tesla and other automakers that are converting to electrified fleets.

During the most recent financial quarter, Rivian reported a net loss of $1.7 billion, and the company’s CEO R.J. Scaringe said he expects higher costs and supply chain issues to widen the company’s losses this year. However, Scaringe said the company expects to meet its production goal of 25,000 vehicles in 2022.

Instead of paying typical property taxes, Rivian and officials with the JDA reached a payment in lieu of taxes agreement or PILOT in which the automaker would pay a reduced tax bill of more than $300 million to local governments and school systems over 25 years.

In a statement, the JDA and the Georgia Department of Economic Development said the agencies were “currently assessing all legal options.”

“As the entire country is looking to revitalize and grow domestic manufacturing, protect American jobs, and secure the country’s economic independence, we are disappointed and respectfully disagree with Judge Trammell’s decision,” the statement read. “This is a transformational project for the people of this community, the State of Georgia, and the United States of America.”

Valdosta City Council amended their alcohol ordinance to allow beer-only sales at non-restaurants, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Since 2011, the city’s alcohol ordinance has contained special provisions for “wine only establishments” on a city-wide basis which exempt these venues from the food service requirements that pertain to other establishments that serve alcoholic beverages such as beer or liquor.

In April 2021, the alcohol ordinance was amended to define and add provisions for the Downtown Valdosta Entertainment District, which allow off-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages within the DVED defined area.

“This is something that they feel will attract business to the downtown area. It is something to broaden the possibility of some mixed-use type businesses. I know something that’s been trending is the ax-throwing business, and they mentioned that they would like to serve beer. There is another business that will be opening soon that will have a bowling alley as well as some snacks and they are also interested in serving beer. It is for those types of businesses where it is not just either food and beverage only or something else but a mixture. They have seen this in other cities and they think it might be a good thing for Valdosta,” he said.

Martin reiterated the recommendation is to focus on the downtown and entertainment area rather than open it city-wide. When Councilmember Eric Howard questioned whether this would include liquor, Martin clarified it would be wine only or malt only or wine and malt. It would completely exclude liquor.

Drinking beer and throwing axes sounds safe.

 

 

28
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 28, 2022

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invaded England on September 28, 1066.

On September 29, 1526, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon landed in Georgia in what is now McIntosh County.

Long before Plymouth, or Jamestown or even St. Augustine, there was another settlement in North American: the very first European attempt to establish a permanent colony on the mainland since the Vikings 500 years earlier.

Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon and 600 Spanish colonists landed on Georgia’s coast on this day in 1526, over 200 years before Oglethorpe founded the Georgia Colony. It also represents another historic moment: the first time enslaved Africans set foot on what is now the United States.

Other sources say that the September 29, 1526 landing was in South Carolina and Vasquez de Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on October 8, 1526.

Washington Yorktown

General George Washington led continental troops into the siege of British forces under General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on September 28, 1781.

On September 28, 1863, two Union generals lost their commands after the Confederates routed federal forces at the Battle of Chickamauga.

On September 28, 1889, Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation designating January 19th a state holiday in honor of Robert E. Lee’s birthday. In 2015, Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day were stricken from the Georgia calendar.

WSB-TV took to the airwaves for the first time on September 29, 1948.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #09.27.22.01, declaring a state of emergency for Hurricane Ian.Continue Reading..

27
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 27, 2022

On September 27, 1779, John Jay, who previously served as President of the Continental Congress, was appointed minister to Spain to seek Spanish support for the revolution.

President Franklin Roosevelt made his ninth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on September 27, 1927.

September 27 is a red-letter day for the Atlanta Braves and pitcher John Smoltz. The team won a record 14th straight Division Championship on this day in 2005. Smoltz set a team record for regular season wins (24) on September 27, 1996 and extended his team record for strikeouts hitting 276.

On September 27, 2002, Smoltz set a National League record with 54 saves.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Hall County Board of Education voted to name an elementary school after the late First Lady Sandra Deal, according to the Gainesville Times.

On Monday, the Hall County school board unanimously voted to name the school Sandra Dunagan Deal Elementary School, located on Ramsey Road and scheduled to open in fall 2024.

“Our family appreciates the honor the Hall County Board of Education has bestowed on Sandra by naming this new elementary school after her,” Nathan Deal, Sandra’s husband and former Georgia governor, said in a press release from the school system. “She was an educator at heart! This will be a fitting memorial to her life as a teacher and as The First Lady of Georgia who was committed to literacy and learning.”

“Sandra grew up in New Holland and she taught and lived in North Hall,” said Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield. “Naming this school after a Hall County woman who devoted her life to the next generation represents everything that is good, noble and true — in public education and in humanity.”

“Hall county’s own, Sandra Deal, had a distinguished career in local education,” said Craig Herrington, chairman of the Hall County school board. “It is appropriate that we honor and recognize Mrs. Deal’s dedication to the children of Hall County and Georgia.”

People concerned about voting fraud allegations are signing up in greater numbers to be poll workers, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.

Outraged by false allegations of fraud against a Georgia elections employee in 2020, Amanda Rouser made a vow as she listened to the woman testify before Congress in June about the racist threats and harassment she faced.

“I said that day to myself, ‘I’m going to go work in the polls, and I’m going to see what they’re going to do to me,’” Rouser, who like the targeted employee is Black, recalled after stopping by a recruiting station for poll workers at Atlanta City Hall on a recent afternoon. “Try me, because I’m not scared of people.”

About 40 miles north a day later, claims of fraud also brought Carolyn Barnes to a recruiting event for prospective poll workers, but with a different motivation.

“I believe that we had a fraudulent election in 2020 because of the mail-in ballots, the advanced voting,” Barnes, 52, said after applying to work the polls for the first time in Forsyth County. “I truly believe that the more we flood the system with honest people who are trying to help out, it will straighten it out.”

The possibility they will play a crucial role at polling places is a new worry this election cycle, said Sean Morales-Doyle, an election security expert at The Brennan Center for Justice.

“I think it’s a problem that there may be people who are running our elections that buy into those conspiracy theories and so are approaching their role as fighting back against rampant fraud,” he said.

The Associated Press talked to roughly two dozen prospective poll workers in September during three recruiting events in two Georgia counties — Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta and where more than 70 percent of voters cast a ballot for Biden, and Forsyth County north of Atlanta, where support for Trump topped 65 percent.

About half said the 2020 election was a factor in their decision to try to become a poll worker.

“We don’t want Donald Trump bullying people,” said Priscilla Ficklin, a Democrat, while taking an application at Atlanta City Hall to be a Fulton County poll worker. “I’m going to stand up for the people who are afraid.”

I agree it’s a crazy situation.Continue Reading..

26
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2022

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp ordered the activation of state government resources ahead of the expected landfall of Hurricane Ian, according to WTOC.

Governor Kemp posted to Twitter Sunday about preparations in Georgia; “As we prepare for whatever this storm may bring, I have ordered the activation of @GeorgiaEMAHS’s State Operations Center, beginning tomorrow. We are leaving nothing to chance and will closely monitor the storm’s evolution throughout the week.”

From the Press Release:

In coordination with Director Chris Stallings of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS), the National Weather Service, and other storm response partners, Governor Brian P. Kemp has ordered the activation of the State Operations Center on Monday, September 26, to prepare for any potential impact from Tropical Storm Ian later in the week. According to the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to begin rapidly strengthening today and will continue to do so through Tuesday, at which point it will become a Category 4 hurricane. Though models suggest it will weaken before making landfall on Thursday, and its ultimate route is still undetermined, Ian could result in severe weather damage for large parts of Georgia.

“I want to thank Director Stallings and his team, as well as our emergency management partners throughout the state who stand at the ready, ensuring Georgia is prepared for whatever this major storm system could bring,” said Governor Kemp. “I urge my fellow Georgians to monitor this storm as it evolves and calmly take the necessary precautions to keep their families and neighbors safe, if the storm continues to intensify. Throughout the week, I will work closely with GEMA/HS, the weather service, public safety organizations, and others to ensure we leave nothing to chance.”

Governor Kemp and GEMA/HS are closely monitoring the status and path of the storm and will provide updates when appropriate. In the interim, Georgians are encouraged to remain weather aware by keeping a close eye on weather forecasts and media reports on Tropical Storm Ian. Those who find themselves in Ian’s eventual path can also consult this informational website provided by GEMA/HS that includes tips on storm preparedness before, during, and after a hurricane.

About the State Operations Center

The State Operations Center is a Multi-Agency Coordination Center used by state, federal, local, and volunteer agencies, as well as private sector organizations, to respond to disasters or emergencies that require a coordinated state response. It also includes the state’s 24-hour warning system.

Learn more at: https://gema.georgia.gov/what-we-do/response

Governor Kemp will campaign on Tuesday with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..

23
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 23, 2022

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

Bon Homme Richard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nirvana’s Nevermind was released on September 24, 1991.

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the availability of online sample ballots for the November elections, according to AccessWDUN.

Voters in all of Georgia’s 159 counties can now view their sample ballots on the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger made the announcement on Thursday, Sept. 22. According to a statement from Raffensberger, this new rollout will make for a more user-friendly experience for the 2022 General Election.

The sample ballot will replicate the display of a ballot marking device. Voters can select their choices on-screen and print out a marked sample ballot.

“Our job is to ensure that Georgia voters have the information they need to successfully cast a ballot,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “Our Elections Division works tirelessly to ensure that the most cutting-edge improvements are available to election officials across the state and voters in all 159 counties. Enhancements like this make elections go smoothly.”

The Georgia Commission for Access to Medical Cannabis voted to award two licenses for cannabis production, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The Georgia Commission for Access to Medical Cannabis voted this week to award licenses to Trulieve Georgia Inc. and Biological Sciences LLC to grow marijuana and convert the leafy crop into low-THC cannabis oil for sale to patients suffering from a range of diseases.

Trulieve is building an indoor cultivation facility in Adel, while Biological Sciences will set up shop in Glennville.

The legislature tried to launch a medical cannabis program back in 2015 by legalizing possession of low-THC cannabis oil. But the law didn’t provide a legal means of obtaining the drug until 2019, when lawmakers put in place a licensing process for companies interested in getting into the medical cannabis business in Georgia.

After a bill aimed at getting the process back on track failed during this year’s legislative session, Gov. Brian Kemp set aside $150,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to expedite hearings for those companies that had been denied licenses.

“The Georgia team is hard at work to begin operations as soon as possible to ensure those in need have access to Trulieve’s line of products,” Trulieve Georgia President Lisa Pinkney said. “We’re also excited to share that Trulieve’s operation and its ancillary business partners are projected to create a wide range of jobs in the state as the business grows.”

Under the 2019 law, low-THC cannabis oil may be used in Georgia to treat patients with diseases including seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, terminal cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and sickle-cell anemia.

To give you some perspective, the first medical cannabis cards were issued in 2015. My late wife was diagnosed with ALS in September 2016, which qualified her for the card. She died waiting for the state to ensure the actual availability of the medicine. That was more than 4.5 years ago. Others still wait. That’s one reason I’m skeptical of government solution.

Meanwhile, the Savannah Board of Aldermen consider regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, according to WSAV.

For the past couple of months, the City of Savannah has been drafting an ordinance for what and how having medical cannabis dispensaries in the city could look like and to also clear up some questions.

“The state has allowed low levels of THC to be sold through dispensaries by prescription only and it’s only in an oil form,” said Savannah City manager Jay Melder.

A big part of the ordinance, who gets a permit for a dispensary, but also how to introduce these dispensaries within city limits safely.

“We’re looking more at security and distances from schools and churches and all those placements,” said Interim Assistant Chief Robert Gavin. “One of the things that we want to look at, at least from the police standpoint, is the safety of not only the business or the dispensary itself when they open people going in and out.”

At this time no one in the state of Georgia has a permit to open a dispensary, there’s still some time before we can see those on the streets.

From WTOC:

It’s a joint effort right now between the city and the Savannah Police Department to establish regulations and examine where the dispensaries can be located.

This will only be prescription-based medicinal marijuana in oil form. It will be a low level of THC that isn’t smokable, vapeable or edible.

There was lengthy discussion on how the city can make sure this process is inclusive.

Some council members aren’t in favor of the process so far.

“It’s a little biased…discriminatory and what have you. It’s only gonna benefit those six companies as far as economics that are concerned,” said Post 2 At-Large Alderwoman Alicia Miller Blakely.

Alderman Nick Palumbo said he’s ready for a decision from the state and legislators have been arguing for too many years.

He said: “40,000 people who are registered and have these licenses who have cancer, who suffered from seizures, who suffered from Multiple sclerosis, from Parkinson’s Disease, from Alzheimer’s, who are in hospice, have suffered while lawmakers like us have continued arguing over the details.”

After the state legalizes it when they’re back in legislative session, Savannah’s city council will still have the power to vote.

I’m surprised the phrase “joint effort” made it past the editor’s desk.

Members of the Savannah Board of Aldermen exchanged heated words, according to the Savannah Morning News.Continue Reading..

21
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 21, 2022

On September 21, 1780, General Benedict Arnold met with British Major John Andre and began plotting to surrender West Point to the British.

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

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

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

rutherfordhayesatlanta

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams wants the November election to hinge on abortion, according to CNN via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia, is up against a GOP incumbent in a generally favorable Republican environment, while trying to meet the high expectations following her narrow defeat in the 2018 race. But she’s found an issue to center her campaign around as Election Day approaches: protecting abortion rights in Georgia.

“It’s going to be front and center in the conversation,” Abrams told CNN in an interview Saturday while campaigning at a farmers market in Atlanta.

In particular, Abrams has focused on a 2019 law signed by her Republican rival, Gov. Brian Kemp, that bans most abortions when early cardiac activity is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant. After initially being blocked, the law went into effect earlier this year following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade — a decision that has energized Democrats across the country, helping shift the midterm political landscape into more unsettled territory. Abrams is testing how much the issue can shift things in her favor in a state President Joe Biden narrowly carried in 2020, but that has long voted Republican.

“Women deserve full citizenship in the United States and certainly in the state of Georgia, and they are being denied that because of Brian Kemp’s 6-week ban,” said Abrams, who lost to Kemp by fewer than 2 points four years ago. She says she hears from outraged health care providers as she travels the state. “We are driving not only doctors and nurses out of the state, we’re likely going to drive jobs away. And that should be terrifying to anyone regardless of your political persuasion.”

“Governor Kemp’s position is his position, and there’s much more important issues for the state of Georgia than just the abortion issue,” Dr. Barry Zisholtz, a Kemp supporter, told CNN following the governor’s remarks at a Republican Jewish Coalition forum Sunday in Sandy Springs. “People want to make it just about one issue, but I think people need to be concerned about paying for their groceries and for gasoline too.”

But Abrams supporters say abortion could be a deciding factor that could sway women who previously voted for Kemp.

Georgia voters don’t appear to care so much. From the AJC:

Georgia Democrats hoping the battle over abortion rights will upend the midterm elections got mixed news from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released this week.

Only a handful of Georgians — 5% — listed abortion as their top issue in the election. And more than half of likely voters indicated that the political divide over abortion won‘t influence their decisions to cast their ballots in November.

But the poll also indicated that nearly half of respondents said they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to protect access to abortion. That includes about half of women and 90% of Democrats.

The AJC poll found that, for a significant bloc of Georgia voters, the decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case remains a key mobilizer. About 44% of likely voters said it made them “more motivated” to vote in the midterm, including roughly half of women, three-quarters of Democrats and one-third of independents.

“I think across the country, especially for women … of course it will be the Dobbs decision,” former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, now a White House aide, said when asked last week what would motivate voters.

In the new poll, 25% of likely voters said they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to limit abortion. That includes 47% of Republicans and about one-quarter of men.

But the support for abortion rights reflected in the poll doesn’t seem to be moving the needle for Georgia Democrats.

Some 36% of likely voters listed cost of living, jobs and the economy as the most important issue facing the nation. That was followed by 20% of voters who said “threats to democracy” was the top concern. About 14% listed immigration and border security.

Former Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas was arrested and charged with felony theft by taking, according to WTOC.Continue Reading..

20
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 20, 2022

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

Chester A. Arthur was sworn in as President of the United States on September 20, 1881.

The year 1881 began with Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in office. Hayes served out his first and only term and officially turned over the reins of government to James A. Garfield, who happened to be a close friend of his, in March 1881.

Just four months into his term, on July 2, Garfield was shot by an assassin named Charles Guiteau. Guiteau claimed to have killed Garfield because he refused to grant Guiteau a political appointment. Garfield sustained wounds to his back and abdomen and struggled to recover throughout the summer. Though it appeared he would pull through in early September, the autopsy report revealed that the internal bullet wound contributed to an aneurism that ultimately killed Garfield on September 19.

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A new poll by the AJC shows Governor Brian Kemp with an 8-point lead over Democrat Stacey Abrams, according to Axios.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has a commanding and expanding lead over Democratic rival Stacey Abrams with less than 50 days remaining until the widely anticipated 2022 elections, per the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution/University of Georgia poll shared with Axios.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) is in a statistical dead heat with Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

From the AJC:

The poll of likely voters released Tuesday showed the U.S. Senate race deadlocked between Warnock, who had 44%, and Republican Herschel Walker, who was at 46%. That’s within the poll’s margin of error. An additional 3% of voters indicate they’ll back Libertarian Chase Oliver, while 7% are undecided.

Gov. Brian Kemp led Stacey Abrams 50% to 42% in the AJC poll, one of the first polls that shows the Republican incumbent north of the majority-vote mark he needs to win a second term without a runoff.

Some 51% of likely Georgia voters want the Republican Party to win control of Congress, while 70% say the country is on the wrong track.

And just 37% approve of President Joe Biden’s performance in office, statistically unchanged since the last AJC poll in July. While Biden’s approval rating is rebounding in some other battleground states, he remains underwater in Georgia.

The poll was conducted Sept. 5-16 and has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points. It’s one of the first public polls in Georgia since Biden signed a federal tax and health care measure and announced his plan to forgive student college debt.

Republican Herschel Walker is setting expectations for his performance against Senator Raphael Warnock. From the Savannah Morning News:

The highly anticipated debate is less than a month away, but Walker downplayed himself when asked what he is doing to prepare for the showdown against Warnock.

“I am getting out talking to people and talking to you (referring to the media),” said Walker. “I’m a country boy. I’m not that smart. He’s a preacher. (Warnock) is smart and wears these nice suits. So, he is going to show up and embarrass me at the debate Oct. 14th, and I’m just waiting to show up and I will do my best.”

But when asked about why he declined to debate Warnock initially, he became aggravated and said he had to hunt down Warnock and told him to “put his big man pants on.”

“He may not even show up for that one,” said Walker. “He has made every excuse not to show up. I begged him until I chased him down and then he decided he was going to show up Oct. 14. I didn’t agree to do his debate because it wasn’t fair. A fair debate is doing it in front of the voters, and I’ve agreed.”

“The race is neck and neck,” said Walker. “And what I have to do is continue to get out and meet people, which is what I’m doing here. I’m more than just a football player. What I’m doing now is moving forward by talking to the voters, because that’s what really counts and let them know what I stand for. I was a great football player, but I will be a better senator because I represent the people.”

“Well, one of the things I learned is this port is the second largest generator in the country of money, and yet [they] wanted to hire 87,000 IRS agents. Wait a minute. If the Port is generating revenue, and if the second largest generator in the country is here, don’t you think we ought to take maybe 4,000 of those agents and put them here on the Port? That still leaves them 83,000. I can count. Then take maybe 3,000 and put them in the schools as police officers.”

“I am from Wrightsville, Ga.,” said Walker. “People are living paycheck to paycheck. They have to afford milk and eggs. Right now, this economy is terrible. The economy not getting better. That is a lie. We got to put money into other things and get people motivated to go to work.”

The AJC profiles the candidates for Agriculture Commissioner, Republican Tyler Harper and Democrat Nakita Hemingway.

For just the third time in over half a century, Georgia’s Department of Agriculture will have a new leader in 2023.

Since 1969, the agency has been led by two men: Democrat Tommy Irvin, who served as commissioner for more than 40 years, and his successor, Republican Gary Black, who is finishing his third term as agriculture commissioner. Now, after Black’s unsuccessful run for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat, the door has been opened for new leadership.

The candidates vying to replace Black are Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper and Democrat Nakita Hemingway, as well as Libertarian David Raudabaugh. Hemingway and Harper are the favorites, but the third-party candidate could draw enough votes to keep anyone from reaching the 50% vote share threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Whoever wins the general election will take over an agency that is critical to the state’s economy. The department is tasked with ensuring food safety; monitoring animal diseases; marketing Georgia’s fruit, vegetables and protein to the global market; and even regulating gasoline quality.

Harper says his farming heritage combined with his political experience gives him the tools to address the challenges facing Georgia’s No. 1 industry.

“I don’t think you’ll find a background, record or experience that matches what we have to go to work on day one in January to fight for this industry every day and ensure that it’s successful,” Harper said.

Chatham County, Savannah, and its other municipalities, are still negotiating Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue split after entering mediation, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Negotiations over sharing nearly $1 billion in local sales tax funds resumed Friday, but the stakeholders have yet to reach agreement.

Local leaders met in Richmond Hill for the first in a series of mediation sessions regarding the Local Option Sales Tax, or LOST. The 1% levy is applied to the purchase of most goods and services in Chatham County. Agreement between Chatham County leaders and those of the county’s eight municipalities about how to split LOST proceeds must be reached before the current accord expires on Dec. 31.

A thorny round of discussions on how to divvy up a major source of revenue began in July. The county and cities ultimately failed to reach an agreement, leading to Friday’s mediation meeting, which took place behind closed doors.

During a Monday night council meeting, Garden City’s city attorney, James Gerard, said that the jurisdictions are “closer than we were before … but it’s going to take more meetings.”

The government jurisdictions have until the end of the year to agree on a new breakdown for the LOST certificate. Otherwise, the billion-dollar revenue generator will go uncollected, resulting in severe property tax hikes for all Chatham County residents.

Warner Robins City Council approved its property tax millage rate for this fiscal year, according to 13WMAZ.

Earlier this month, Mayor LaRhonda Patrick proposed keeping the millage rate the same at 9.98 mills, but most Warner Robins property owners could see higher tax bills because property assessments went up and the city has not adopted the rollback rate.

The city notice says on average, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay about $64 more.

The Richmond County public school system is reviewing its safety plans after two shootings at football games, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Thomson-Laney football game was postposed Friday night after shots were fired near the stadium. Two suspects were detained and three guns were seized, according to the sheriff’s office. No injuries were reported.

Less than 24 hours later, gunshots were reported at the T.W. Josey High School homecoming tailgate.

The shooting took place after the football game outside of the football stadium, according to the sheriff’s office. Two victims suffered at least one gunshot wound and were brought to the hospital for treatment. Their current conditions are unknown.

19
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 19, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flags fly at half-staff today on Georgia state buildings and properties in memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, under Executive Order #09.16.22.01.

The World Champion Atlanta Braves will visit the White House, according to the Associated Press via WSAV.Continue Reading..

16
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1893 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Georgia Historical Society will observe Constitution Day today, according to WTOC.

They will have on display a draft copy of the constitution from Georgia’s Abraham Baldwin who was one of the original signers of that legal document.

“I think that really the United States is unique among a lot of countries in that we know exactly when our country began, we can tell almost the afternoon and the hour that it began, it’s not religion, ethnicity or language that unites us, it is really the constitution,” said Dr. Stan Deaton with the Georgia Historical Society.

Besides the draft copy, there will also be educational displays and other artifacts that tell the story of Georgia’s role in the founding of our nation.

Several school groups will be stopping by to learn more but they will also be open for the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and completely free at the Georgia Historical Society on Whitaker Street right by Forsyth Park.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Behold what may be one of the best pieces of political direct mail I’ve ever seen:

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday announced a $130 million dollar transfusion to support Grady Memorial Hospital, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced a package Thursday to provide $130 million for more beds in Grady Memorial Hospital in response to Wellstar Health Systems’ decision to close Atlanta Medical Center.

If Atlanta Medical Center closes, Grady Hospital will be the only level one trauma center in the city.

“While the decision to close was certainly no one’s preference, our job is to move forward together and find a viable solution to the needs of the impacted community,” Kemp said.

Flanked by Grady Healthcare CEO John M. Haupert, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and Fulton County Commission Chair Rob Pitts, Kemp said the state is dedicating funds from its American Rescue Plan allotment to increase Grady Hospital’s capacity by nearly 200 beds. Beds will be provided in a “rolling fashion” and Kemp said the beds will be more than enough to cover AMC’s patient census.

Grady opens a new surgical suite, but the state is reallocating a temporary medical unit to Grady that will increase room for patients and new beds.

Pitts said county officials are working to bring another healthcare facility to Atlanta to fill the void left by Atlanta Medical Center.

“If we’re able and want to build a new jail for lawbreakers, that we can build a new medical facility for law-abiding citizens in Fulton County,” Pitts said.

From the AJC:

The funding would finance at least 185 new beds at Grady Memorial Hospital that would be added by the end of 2023.

Kemp is tapping money that Georgia was allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal coronavirus relief package that he opposed. As governor, Kemp has the unilateral authority to spend the money as he pleases.

“These additional 200 beds will come online in a rolling fashion as Grady moves into its new surgical tower next year,” Kemp said. “This is more than enough capacity to cover” the patients that AMC serves.

Officials also said they expect to line up as much as $50 million in philanthropic donations, though they are still in the midst of securing that funding.

“There have been some commitments that have been made,” said Fulton County Commission chair Robb Pitts. “The business community is going to join with us.”

Fulton and DeKalb counties are responsible for covering the uncompensated care of their residents who utilize Grady. According to Grady officials, that cost is about $300 million, but currently the counties only fund 34% of the uncompensated care for their citizens.

Grady officials also said that the extra investments will help make the hospital the largest and most comprehensive Level 1 trauma center in the country. Haupert also emphasized that there are other “excellent” Level 2 trauma centers that offer similar clinical care and can take on new patients as well.

Wellstar says that Medicaid expansion alone would not have saved the facility, though Medicaid expansion has helped bolster the finances of struggling hospitals and improved residents’ access to emergency care.

From 11Alive:

In August, Wellstar said the hospital had faced some challenges, including $107 million in losses in the last year. They’ve battled decreasing revenue along with an increase in costs for staff and supplies; inflation and the pandemic have contributed to some of the strain.

Wellstar’s CEO Candice Saunders said they were “disappointed that a sustainable solution at AMC has not emerged,” which has now led to plans to cease operations there.

Governor Kemp was asked about whether a ban on Plan B emergency contraception was possible, according to 11Alive.

…Kemp said it’s possible but clarified Georgia’s General Assembly must be in a legislative session. He explained how it’s a possibility, but cited that lawmakers had to support the idea. However, the governor pointed out that since states have the power to construct policies around abortion, there are possibilities.

11Alive reached out to the governor’s campaign team. They verified that the audio was recorded at a University of Georgia football tailgate last week and that the voice is Kemp.

When asked about the governor’s stance on Plan B and contraception, a spokesperson with Kemp’s campaign said, “The Governor has never opposed access to contraception.”

A poll of Georgia voters shows wide agreement the state should protect the Okefenokee Swamp, according to the Albany Herald.

A clear majority (69%) of Georgians said that Georgia’s governor should take “immediate action” to protect the Okefenokee swamp from risky mining proposals.

“Across the state, from congregations in downtown Atlanta to the mountains to the coast, Georgians understand what’s at risk with proposals to mine near the Okefenokee,” Codi Norred, executive director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, said in a news release. Last year GIPL released a letter signed by over 100 clergy asking local and federal leaders to protect the Okefenokee. “We have a spiritual imperative to protect this special place.”

“God created the Okefenokee,” the Rev. Antwon Nixon of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Folkston, the founder of Sowing Seeds Outside the Walls, said. “We can never get this special place back. I live just 10 miles away. And we need the help of everyone to protect it. It’s not a one-person army. We have a duty to do our part and spread this heightened spiritual awareness to others.”

And nearly as many people (68%) surveyed think Georgia’s state representatives and senators should finish the job and pass legislation to permanently protect the Okefenokee from risky mining operations in the future. Earlier this year, bipartisan legislation to protect the Okefenokee was introduced in Georgia’s General Assembly. The bill failed to receive a vote.

“Valdosta’s mayor, council, and citizens are united in supporting any and all level of protection for the awesome beauty and resource that is the Okefenokee,” Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson said of the board that passed a resolution in 2021 urging protection of the Okefenokee.

The Georgia Water Coalition has an easy way for Georgians to make their voice heard to protect the Okefenokee. Visit www.protectgeorgia.org/okefenokee to send a message to candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.

In early September, Mason-Dixon Polling of Jacksonville, Fla., conducted a poll of 625 registered Georgia voters on behalf of the Georgia Water Coalition. Full polling results are available on the water coalition’s website: www.gawater.org/okefenokee-swamp.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office confirmed it is investigating election issues during the Primary and Primary Runoff this year in McIntosh County, according to WTOC.

Tim Gardner, a former candidate for McIntosh County Commission, filed this complaint himself, which includes information compiled by the McIntosh County Republican Party. The complaint lists discrepancies noticed by poll watchers at different precincts throughout the county.

“People were concerned about inadequacies and discrepancies done throughout the elections process they felt could’ve been a hinderance,” said Tim Gardner.

The information Gardner submitted in his complaint includes poll watchers being asked to leave before the tallying of votes, people dropping large amounts of absentee ballots into the drop box at once, and the voting scanners being down at multiple locations resulting in ballots being stored until they could be scanned – to name a few.

Gardner filed his complaint immediately following each election – and this week, he received confirmation from the Secretary of State’s office about the investigation being opened.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office confirmed the open investigation, and that not all complaints filed with the office result in an investigation.

Floyd County Board of Elections confirmed that no evidence exists that U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s husband applied for an absentee ballot for the 2020 General Election, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

During a court hearing earlier this year, Greene continued her claims that voter fraud took place during in 2020 when former President Donald Trump lost the general election.

She testified under oath — during an April hearing challenging her candidacy for alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection of the Capitol — that her husband did not request a mailed absentee ballot, despite receiving one, and when he showed up to vote in person he was told he had already voted absentee.

“We saw a tremendous amount of voter fraud. We have investigations going on right now in Georgia,” she said. “There is investigation going on in multiple states. My husband showed up to vote and when he went to vote he went to vote in person, he was told he had already voted by absentee ballot when, in fact, he had never requested an absentee ballot. There is many instances.”

Pete McDonald, interim Floyd County elections supervisor at the time, told CNHI that records show Perry Greene requested a mailed ballot, which he had done in previous elections, but did not mail it or put it in a secure drop box.

Instead, McDonald said, he brought the absentee ballot to a polling station, surrendered it to election officials and cast an early in-person vote.

However, new information from Floyd County where Perry Greene voted appears to support his claims that he never requested a ballot.

“I was not working for the Floyd County Board of Elections and Registration during the 2020 election and so I reviewed the Georgia Secretary of State’s E-Net System to see what information I could provide,” McDonald, now permanent elections supervisor, said in an emailed statement. “The E-Net system indicated that a ‘by mail’ absentee ballot was turned in by Mr. Greene prior to him completing an ‘in person’ absentee ballot on 10-23-2020. This is the same record that would have been referred to by any poll worker who was on duty at the time Mr. Greene appeared to vote in person by early ballot.”

Since, McDonald said he’s reviewed additional records and that review leads him to believe the information obtained from the E-Net system was either inaccurate or incomplete.

“In response to an open record request by Mr. Greene’s attorney, my office combed through approximately 10,000 records related to absentee ballots from the 2020 election looking for documents that might indicate that Mr. Greene’s requested a written absentee ballot in advance of the 2020 general election,” McDonald explained. “We did not locate any application from Mr. Greene for a by-mail absentee ballot or the standard yellow envelope provided to return a completed ballot, which would have indicated that a written absentee ballot was requested by and mailed to Mr. Greene.”

Republican Herschel Walker campaigned in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

Walker spoke to a crowd of about 300 at noon Thursday at the Exchange Club fairgrounds. He rolled up in a big red bus with “Herschel” written boldly along the side with larger than life pictures of the Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL standout.

In introducing Walker, state Sen. Sheila McNeill told the crowd to give him the ball and let him run.

“Come November, we can change this world,’’ Walker told the crowd in a rapid fire address that hit his opponent, Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock, and other Washington liberals.

Warnock already has spent $50 million in his campaign, Walker said. “That means they’re wasting their money,’’ given the closeness of the race.

Walker answered, “We’ll see,” when asked if he’ll accept any additional debates in the Senate race, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

At a rally in Martinez on Wednesday, U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker couldn’t say whether he would accept a second debate with incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.

On Tuesday, Warnock’s campaign officially announced they have agreed to meet at the Savannah debate Walker organized for Oct. 14, but Warnock said he hoped Walker would reconsider also attending either the Atlanta or Macon debates which Walker had vehemently rejected.and opponent Walker does not seem to be at an end.

Walker’s unwillingness to commit didn’t concern his supporters at the evening campaign event in Columbia County, though. Roughly 200 supporters gathered at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The senate candidate said he felt this race was something God called him to do, and as for Warnock, “He don’t know, but it’s time for him to go!”

A recurring theme of Walker’s speech was his view that issues like this, critical race theory, and the recent education loan forgiveness program President Biden approved were distractions from the “real issues” like the war on drugs and crime rates.

“I don’t want trees, I want police officers,” he said.

Savannah real estate appreciation is causing problems for renters, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah has budgeted more than $20 million into addressing affordable housing and homelessness needs in the city, but the housing crisis is reined in by city limits. To address the issues statewide, officials and activists are working on legislation and policy efforts to combat the crisis.

“There has been a big push this year regarding more renter rights,” said Bambie Hayes-Brown, president and CEO of Georgia Advancing Communities Together (Georgia ACT), a statewide organization focused on helping nonprofits with housing and community development needs.

While the month-to-month spikes in rent in the Savannah area are slowing after several years of ballooning, the average monthly rent for an apartment still exceeds the average worker’s wage by $9,000 a year.

“The shape of the rent curve — if that’s what you want to call it — is normalizing and balancing. And 2022 in Savannah is looking more like 2019 and 2018,” said Rob Warnock, chief economist for Apartment List. “But given everything that happened last year, it’s like we’re kind of just in this new level of price and unaffordability. That’s just the reality now for a lot of places.”

Rental prices for a one-bedroom increased 15% between August 2021 and 2022, with an average rent of $1,221. An average two-bedroom cost $1,406 in August, according to Apartment List’s monthly data report.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, rents have risen 40% in Savannah, outpacing rent growth statewide and nationally during that time.

Relief is needed beyond what the natural market is doing, advocates and renters said, but state law prohibits localities or counties from enacting rental caps. Georgia is one of 25 states with such a law.

Hayes-Brown said she and other housing advocates are lobbying for a law that would give renters a seven-day curing period if they become late on their rent. As the law stands now, rent is due on the first of the month. “They can file for eviction on the second,” Hayes-Brown said.

State Rep. Derek Mallow, D-163, introduced a bill earlier this year to allow low-income renters to qualify for a $60 credit on their income tax. For the purposes of the credit, low-income is between $27,000 for single filers and $35,000 for married households.

Savannah Chatham County schools are competing for bus drivers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Dillard’s circumstances highlight the strenuous predicament parents have found themselves in since Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools again decided it will not provide transportation to students who attended choice programs schools. Choice schools offer Savannah students the opportunity to learn a specialty, such as STEM, aviation or the arts that may not be offered at their zoned school.

Students residing 1.5 miles or greater are eligible for transportation to their zoned school. Dedicated CHOICE schools do not have an attendance zone; therefore they are not eligible for transportation, a spokesperson for the district said.

At the heart of this decision is SCCPSS’s bus driver shortage. At an August board meeting, the district reported being short 80 drivers for this school year. Overall, they are down more than 100 since their peak in the 2019-2020 school year.

SCCPSS’s bus drivers have steadily decreased since 2019 when the district employed had 328 drivers.

As of Aug. 15, the school district had hired 214 drivers with 18 of those drivers out on FMLA or worker’s compensation, district leaders reported Sept. 7, during an informal board meeting. The school district has lost between 30 and 45 drivers per year since 2019 due to payroll issues and COVID concerns. At the subsequent board meeting, the district reported eight bus drivers had resigned and another four were fired for job abandonment, mostly in July.

Hiring has been a challenge in part because of pay: SCCPSS recently increased school bus drive salaries $2 in May. Starting bus drivers with a CDL license now make $17.88. A current job listing for bus driver operate has salary between $17.78 and $24.40.

Still, the district faces considerable competition from Chatham Area Transit, which pays a minimum hourly rate of about $17.39 to its bus operators as well as from the Georgia Port Authority, which also hire drivers with CDL license at approximately $18.71 an hour, according to Zip Recruiter.

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office found several guns in a student’s car on campus, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The discovery was made during a routine search last Wednesday at Effingham County High School where law enforcement found ammunition, a 12-gauge shotgun, a pistol and an AR-15 style rifle. The student was charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone.

“Anytime there’s a weapon found or drugs, that student can be suspended up to 10 days and referred to a discipline designee and then from there, there are lots of options that can occur.” [said Effingham Superintendent Yancy Ford]

Houston County District Attorney Will Kendall spoke about challenges in prosecuting gang activity, according to 13WMAZ.

“The people of Houston County are fed up. They are fed up with the violent crime. They are fed up with the shootings. They are fed up with seeing children hurt and people dying, and they should be,” Houston County District Attorney Will  Kendall said.

“I think, in part, justice is set up to when people go off to prison, they are supposed to be reformed, pay their debt to society, and come back into the civilian world as better citizens or capable citizens. I am not saying that always happens. It’s not perfect, but certainly, my job is to serve the best interest of justice; and if we’ve got gang members running around the streets, hurting people and robbing businesses and things like that, we are going to send them to prison,” Kendall said.

“Although there are many problems that plague Houston County and communities across the nation, criminal gang street activity is one of them. One of the issues right now is serious, violent felonies in Houston County, which the large majority of them being perpetrated by criminal street gang members,” Kendall said.

“You have to collect the data first, because you have to be able to go into court and say these people are a part of a gang, an illegal gang; and these are the things that tell us that so. In prosecution, you don’t get to charge somebody with criminal street gang activity just because they are a gang member who created a crime. There has to be a nexus, and it has to be in furtherance of that gang. It could be drugs, robbery, an aggravated assault. It could be a number of things, but there has to be some kind of nexus that would basically be in furtherance of what that gang is doing,” Kendall said.

Nine months ago, Kendall’s office launched a Joint Law Enforcement Gang Task Force with more than 150 local, state, and federal officers.
Now, they’ve rolled out a software called Formulytics to create profiles on gang members.

“It’s just a software that we pushed out to all law enforcement. They are able to log in on a web platform and then put together reports on gangs,” Kendall said.

Kendall says once they prove suspects are gang members, they can compound charges.

“If it’s a burglary which would be 20 years, you can still tack on the criminal street gang activity and potentially send these folks that are essentially being a nuisance in the community, causing violent crimes in Houston County, send them off to prison for a long time, and that’s what we expect to do,” Kendall said.

Warner Robins Police Chief John Wagner announced his retirement effective October 2, 2022, according to 13WMAZ.

Brunswick and Glynn County will host a public meeting to discuss homelessness, according to The Brunswick News.

City Manager Regina McDuffie said the event would be “an all-day summit of information sharing and collaborative discussions and development of action items.”

“Glynn County Manager Bill Fallon and …McDuffie have announced a joint meeting and discussion on the community homeless,” according to a press release. “Staff are currently working on an agenda and will send it and additional information out as soon it becomes available.

People in nearly every sector of the Golden Isles — from downtown business owners to Brunswick residents, churches and law enforcement — say they have dealt with problems arising from a growing number of homeless people in the city’s downtown area.

State legislation providing new avenues for mental health treatment, along with funding, may help, but it will take time, Nora Lott Haynes, an educator, mental health advocate and researcher, told The News in a recent interview.