Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 3, 2020

The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on September 3, 1776 at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

A fleet of 22 French ships arrived off the coast of Savannah on September 3, 1779 to help wrest control of the city from the British.

On September 3, 1862, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in Atlanta and within five miles of its border by the Confederate government. Two years later, September 3, 1864, General William T. Sherman would occupy Atlanta.

The Georgia General Assembly expelled 25 of 29 African-American members from the State House on September 3, 1868, arguing that Georgia’s constitution did not allow them to hold office.

Anne Frank, age 15, and seven other Jews who were hiding together in Amsterdam were the last Dutch prisoners transported to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944.

Having received the Democratic nomination for President, Jimmy Carter began the General Election with an address from his front porch in Plains, Georgia on September 3, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is not considering further tightening COVID-19 orders, according to WABE.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 2, 2020

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Georgia was named “Top State for Doing Business” for the seventh consecutive year by Area Development magazine, according to a press release.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 1, 2020

The last hanging in Atlanta took place on September 1, 1922 outside the Fulton County jail.

On September 1, 2004, United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

The University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research in the Special Collections Libraries Building is hosting a free exhibit called “Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster 1844-2012,” according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The exhibit’s nearly 50 posters stretch across nearly two centuries, from the 1840s, the earliest days of political posters, up nearly to the present. Two 1844 hand-colored posters promoting Whig Party candidate Henry Clay and Democrat James K. Polk are the earliest of the political works of art, while posters from 2012, when incumbent Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney faced off for the presidency, bring the show up nearly to the present.

The show also features work by some of the United States’ best-known artists who lent their skills to political campaigns, such as Ben Shahn’s posters for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and limited-edition campaign posters produced by Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol for Democratic candidate George McGovern in 1972 and by Roy Lichtenstein for the Bill Clinton-Al Gore team in the 1990s.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Dove season opens Saturday, according to the Albany Herald.

Georgia’s dove hunting season opens Saturday, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“The start of September brings one of my favorite times of the year,” Georgia DNR Commissioner Mark Williams said. “Georgians span out across our great state to enjoy a sporting tradition that goes back generations – the dove hunt. With over 50 DNR-managed dove fields and some of the best habitat around, Georgia presents our great sportsmen and sportswomen significant opportunity to enjoy the upcoming season. This year more than ever, it is time to head outdoors and have a distanced way to be together with family and friends. I wish everyone a good hunt and safe season.”

The official 2020-2021 dove seasons are Sept. 5-30, Nov. 21-Nov. 29, and Dec. 8-Jan. 31. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day (Sept. 5) and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remainder of the season dates.

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday issued Executive Order renewing the Public Health State of Emergency and Executive Order, providing guidance on addressing the pandemic.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 31, 2020

On August 31, 1864, Confederates charged Union forces at the Battle of Jonesboro, in which the CSA suffered more than 1400 casualties in one hour.

On August 31, 1955, the first solar powered car was demonstrated by William Cobb of General Motors.

On August 31, 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which the Senate had previously passed.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will make an economic development announcement on Tuesday at Amazon’s Gwinnett fulfillment center, according to a press release.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 28, 2020

General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates met General John Pope’s federal forces at the Second Battle of Manassas on August 29, 1862.

Union General William T. Sherman’s forces tore up 12 miles of railroad between Red Oak and Fairburn on August 29, 1864.

On August 30, 1888, Asa Griggs Candler bought one-third interest in the Coca-Cola company, bringing his total ownership to more than two-thirds of the company.

Georgia native Ty Cobb debuted with the Detroit Tigers on August 30, 1905.

August 28, 1929 saw Governor Lamartine Hardman sign a Constitutional Amendment authorizing the levy of a state income tax.

Advertising in the rights of way of state roads and placing signs on private property without the owner’s approval were prohibited in the first Georgia law regulating outdoor advertising, which was signed by Governor Richard Russell on August 27, 1931. Over the years, both practices would become enshrined in Peach State political strategy.

The United States Air Force Academy moved to its permanent home in Colorado Springs on August 29, 1958.

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream Speech” on the Mall in Washington, DC.

The Beatles played their final concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.

On August 29, 1971, Hank Aaron broke the National League record for most seasons with 100 or more RBI, as he drove in his 100th run to make 11 seasons hitting that mark.

An obscure college professor named Newt Gingrich began his political career on August 28, 1974, as he kicked off his first campaign against Congressman Jack Flynt.

Old Newt Pic

Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox was nominated for President on the American Independent Party ticket on August 27, 1976, making the race probably the only one to ever feature two former Georgia governors. During the campaign, Maddox described Jimmy Carter as “the most dishonest man I ever met.”

On August 29, 1977, Lou Brock stole his 893d base, to surpass the record set by Georgia-born Ty Cobb.

On August 30, 1979, President Jimmy Carter reported being attacked by a rabbit near Plains, Georgia. Here’s an interview in which President Carter was asked about the rabbit incident.

On August 27, 1982, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke the record for stolen bases in a season, nabbing number 119 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Georgia Governor Zell Miller addressed the Democratic National Convention on August 27, 1996. In 2004, Miller would address the Republican National Convention, likely becoming the first Georgian to address both major parties’ national conventions. Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney also addressed the ’96 DNC. That day, President Bill Clinton signed a Welfare Reform bill, called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was indicted on August 30, 2004 on racketeering, bribery and wire fraud charges and would later plead guilty to tax evasion.

On August 27, 2008, Barack Obama became the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the first African-American nominee of a major United States political party.

On August 28, 2008, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools revoked the accreditation of the Clayton County Public Schools. Later that day, Governor Sonny Perdue removed four members of the Clayton County Board of Education upon the recommendation of an administrative law judge.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

First Lady Marty Kemp and Tyler Perry released a Public Service Announcement on sex traficking, according to a Press Release.

In partnership with First Lady Marty Kemp and the GRACE Commission, Tyler Perry – a world-renowned filmmaker and philanthropist – released a public service announcement (PSA) urging Georgians to join the fight against human trafficking. The PSA calls viewers to action by imploring them to participate in the First Lady’s Human Trafficking Awareness Training to learn about warning signs and who to contact for help.

“We are deeply grateful to Tyler Perry for his dedicated work and leadership to support survivors and raise awareness about human trafficking,” said First Lady Marty Kemp. “With his partnership, more Georgians will be equipped with the knowledge to identify potential instances of trafficking – but most importantly, they will be equipped with the ability to save lives.”

The PSA was produced by Tyler Perry Studios.

An article in the Wall Street Journal looks at business shutdowns and the COVID pandemic.

In response to the novel and deadly coronavirus, many governments deployed draconian tactics never used in modern times: severe and broad restrictions on daily activity that helped send the world into its deepest peacetime slump since the Great Depression.

Five months later, the evidence suggests lockdowns were an overly blunt and economically costly tool. They are politically difficult to keep in place for long enough to stamp out the virus. The evidence also points to alternative strategies that could slow the spread of the epidemic at much less cost. As cases flare up throughout the U.S., some experts are urging policy makers to pursue these more targeted restrictions and interventions rather than another crippling round of lockdowns.

“We’re on the cusp of an economic catastrophe,” said James Stock, a Harvard University economist who, with Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina and others, is modeling how to avoid a surge in deaths without a deeply damaging lockdown. “We can avoid the worst of that catastrophe by being disciplined,” Mr. Stock said.

The impact of lockdowns on families, the economy and mental health also mattered, he said: “When you see unemployment numbers going through the roof, businesses not just threatened week to week but potentially [never] being open again, you have to take that into account,” said [California secretary of health and human services] Dr. Ghaly.

The experience of the past five months suggests the need for an alternative: Rather than lockdowns, using only those measures proven to maximize lives saved while minimizing economic and social disruption. “Emphasize the reopening of the highest economic benefit, lowest risk endeavors,” said Dr. Mina.

Social distancing policies, for instance, can take into account widely varying risks by age. The virus is especially deadly for the elderly. Nursing homes account for 0.6% of the population but 45% of Covid fatalities, says the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a free market think tank. Better isolating those residents would have saved many lives at little economic cost, it says.

And this Wall Street Journal Editorial lauding Gov. Kemp’s approach:

Remember when the national press corps portrayed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp as a villain for reopening the state’s economy too soon? Well, more than a few states would like to be in the Peach State’s pandemic and fiscal position now.

Start with the state’s economy, which had a relatively low jobless rate of 7.6% in July. Construction was never shut down, and schools in much of the state are opening for classroom instruction. The state expected a budget shortfall of $1 billion for the year but the actual deficit was $210 million. Mr. Kemp says sales tax revenue is rebounding and the state hasn’t exhausted its $700 million reserve fund.

Georgia saw a surge in coronavirus infections in June and July, which the Governor attributes to people “letting down their guard” during holiday weekends, graduation parties and the like. But new cases have fallen 30% since July 26, hospitalizations by 23.4%, and test positivity to 9% from 13.1%.

Georgia saw a surge in coronavirus infections in June and July, which the Governor attributes to people “letting down their guard” during holiday weekends, graduation parties and the like. But new cases have fallen 30% since July 26, hospitalizations by 23.4%, and test positivity to 9% from 13.1%.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan announced the formation of a Senate Law Enforcement Reform Study Committee, according to a Press Release:

The study committee will examine the techniques, patterns, and practices of law enforcement and was established pursuant to SR 1007 – adopted during the 2020 legislative session.

“Law enforcement officers across our state put their lives on the line for us every day, and are generally underpaid and oftentimes not provided with tools for success. This committee will engage in a comprehensive study of our law enforcement practices in order to examine whether we are adequately equipping officers with the necessary training to protect our communities,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “I look forward to the committee’s work on this issue, and believe this coalition will continue to build upon the work accomplished this past session.”

“Recent events involving the use of force by law enforcement across our country has brought certain policing practices into question,” said Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens). “While law enforcement officers are here to protect and serve the citizens of our state, they are sometimes put into situations where they have to make a split-second decision that could cost them their life. In this study committee, our goal is to closely examine law enforcement techniques and patterns in order to ensure the safety of our citizens, as well as our first responders, and identify areas where current practices may need to be revised. I am honored to serve as chairman on this committee and I look forward to working with my fellow committee members over the next few months to study possible solutions to this critical issue.”

The Study Committee on Law Enforcement Reform will be chaired by Senator Bill Cowsert (R – Athens). The following Senate members were also appointed to serve on this committee:

Senator Jesse Stone (R – Waynesboro)

Senator John Albers (R – Roswell)

Senator Harold Jones (D – Augusta)

Senator Gail Davenport (D – Jonesboro)

Senator Randy Robertson, Ex-Officio (R – Cataula)

Georgia Gwinnett College Professor Fang Zhou spoke to WABE about being a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

“The National Republican party has to understand Georgia is a battleground state. Georgia is going to be extremely competitive,” he said. “I am honored in the sense that the Georgia Republican Party understands the Asian voters, although a small demographic group, are going to be oftentimes in a very close election, could be the decisive voters. Or a very close margin victory in a very very close election. I am honored they understand this demographic”.

Zhou explained why he is in Atlanta and not in Charlotte. He said he does miss being physically at the convention and misses seeing and physically experiencing many parts of the process.

“This is my first time as a delegate. The disappointing aspect is not having the opportunity to be on the convention floor and not have the opportunity to network with delegates with other states,” he said. “They’re doing the best they can to engage the delegates with the speakers. But it is not the same.”

The Georgia State Elections Board referred issues related to absentee ballot processing by the Fulton County elections office to the Attorney General’s office, according to WABE.

Frances Watson, investigations supervisor with the secretary of state’s office says they received 250 complaints from voters who had problems receiving their absentee ballots for June. She said of those complaints, about half were about applications sent in by mail and half were by email.

The investigation found that Fulton had violated Georgia code regarding processing and mailing a requested absentee ballot.

“If one person being denied their right to vote is to many, 250 is certainly too many,” said state elections board member David Worley, who added that there is “no margin for error when it comes to processing absentee ballot requests.”

“Our job is to decide whether there is probable cause to refer to attorney general,” said Worley. “Beyond that, this is going to be a severe problem in November if it’s not fixed.”

Georgia’s Secretary of State certified the results of the August 11 Primary Runoff elections, according to the Griffin Daily News.

The League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia raised $30k to provide eight ballot drop boxes for Chatham County to use in the November election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The drop boxes have already been ordered, and are set to be delivered on Sept. 9. Rolfes said they’re hoping to have the boxes in place and installed by the end of September.

“I think people see that it’s very urgent, and it is something tangible that you can do that you know is going to make a difference,” Rolfes said. “And that just really resonated with people.”

The Glynn County Board of Elections reversed an earlier decision on voting procedures for a referendum to dissolve the county police department, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Board of Elections voted Wednesday to rescind its earlier decision to hold a special election on a referendum on whether to abolish the Glynn County Police Department, deciding instead to place it on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Board Chairwoman Patricia Gibson said board members made the best decision they could with the information they had last week when the five-member body voted 4-1 to hold the referendum separately but parallel to the November general election.

The board reversed its decision after further discussions with Ryan Germany, legal counsel for the office of Georgia Secretary of State. Germany said in a letter to the board’s attorney, Mark Johnson, that he saw no reason to hold a special election for the referendum.

“While I understand that the referendum question itself is controversial in Glynn County, I am trying to consider this issue from an election administration standpoint,” Germany wrote. “I don’t see anything in election law that requires the board to hold it separate and apart and thereby make the entirety of the November election more difficult for Glynn County.”

Whitfield County will ask the Dalton Building Authority to float a bond and speed up projects to be funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that voters approved in June, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

County Administrator Mark Gibson said officials want a bond to finance the Tier 1 projects (repairs at the courthouse and jail), as well as construction of the planned Riverbend Park, near Southeast Whitfield High School, and renovations to Westside Park, including adding two turf/soccer fields and resurfacing of the Miracle Field, a special turf field for baseball for those with special needs, as well as retiring the bond indebtedness on Fire Station 12.

“These are the major projects the bond will cover,” he wrote in an email.

Gibson said the bond will not exceed $26.5 million.

The four-year SPLOST is expected to raise $66 million and will start collections on Oct. 1. A SPLOST is a 1% sales tax on most goods sold in the county.

Without a bond, county officials would have to wait for the money to come in to start the projects. The bond will borrow against that revenue to allow the projects to be started more quickly.

New federal unemployment benefits may take 3-4 weeks to come online for Georgia residents, according to the Center Square.

Unemployed Georgians may have to wait three to four weeks to receive an additional $300 weekly federal jobless benefits, Georgia labor officials said Thursday.

GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler said the state can’t use the same application to process the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) payments because its flagging criteria are different from the U.S. Department of Labor’s.

Among other things, unemployment applications can be flagged for back taxes, child support or overpayments. FEMA’s system does not screen for those scenarios.

The program, called Lost Wages Assistance (LWA), supplements benefits for people who already receive at least $100 a week in unemployment benefits. GDOL still will apply for the payments regardless of the delays.

Initial claims for unemployment are down, according to the Albany Herald.

Initial unemployment claims in Georgia fell below 100,000 last week for the fifth week in a row, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

For the week ending Aug. 22, 56,768 jobless Georgians filed first-time unemployment claims, down 1,331 from the previous week.

Democrats in the Georgia House of Representatives complained this week that the state’s backlog of unprocessed unemployment claims is unacceptable and called on Gov. Brian Kemp to boost staffing at the labor department to speed up the processing of claims.

But Butler said simply hiring temporary workers lacking experience in the complexities of handling unemployment claims wouldn’t solve the problem.

“Our big issue is not processing claims,” Butler said Thursday. “Besides fraud, it’s dealing with appeals and redeterminations. … You cannot program a computer to do that. It takes a very experienced, well-trained [Department of Labor] person.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 26, 2020

On August 26, 1864, having withdrawn from trenches and fortifications outside Atlanta the previous day, U.S. General Sherman sent most of his forces westward around Atlanta and toward the south of the city. Sherman’s forces tore up 12 miles of railroad between Red Oak and Fairburn on August 29, 1864.

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. Ratification took place on August 18, 1920, as the Tennessee House of Representatives adopted it, but adoption became official on August 26, when United States Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the Amendment. It reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

On August 26, 1939, the first televised major league baseball game aired, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds split a doubleheader in Ebbets Field.

On August 26, 1961, the 718th Engineer Light Equipment Company of Fort Valley and the 210th Signal Base Depot Company of Augusta were called up to take part in the American response to the crisis in Berlin.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for President by the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey on August 26, 1964.

On August 26, 1965, Sonny & Cher were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘I Got You Babe’, the duo’s only UK No.1. Sonny Bono was inspired to write the song to capitalize on the popularity of the term “babe,” as heard in Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe.’

On August 26, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed a Welfare Reform bill, called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Protests in Downtown Atlanta went wild last night, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Atlanta police said an officer was injured, eight people were arrested and an Atlanta precinct was damaged.

The crowd started to gather around 8 p.m. at Woodruff Park shouting for justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man shot multiple times by police in Wisconsin.

Fireworks were set off as the crowd wound its way through the Downtown area.

“This was not a peaceful protest as fireworks were discharged, frozen water bottles and rocks were thrown at police officers,” Atlanta police wrote in a statement to FOX 5.

Members of the crowd were seen busting out at least one of the windows at the Atlanta Police Department Zone 5 Precinct and scrawling graffiti over on the building.

“The Zone Five Precinct sustained property damage to include broken windows and graffiti sprayed on the building,” police stated.

“One officer was injured from being sprayed with Mace,” police wrote.

MARTA suspended Streetcar service and closed the Five Points and Dome Station ahead of the protests as well as rerouted buses to avoid the area.

Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 25, 2020

On August 25, 325, the Council of Nicea adopted the Nicene Creed.

General Charles Lee of the Continental Army told Congress that Georgia’s value to the young nation required more forces to defend against the British on August 24, 1776.

On August 25, 1864, Union troops stopped artillery bombardment of Atlanta and withdrew from fortifications around the city. On the same day, in Virginia, Confederate forces attacked Federals under Gen. Grant at Ream’s Station.

On August 25, 1877, delegates to the state Constitutional Convention approved a new post-Reconstruction state Constitution, the seventh in state history, to be submitted to the voters on December 5, 1877.

The all-time highest score in a professional baseball game was recorded on August 25, 1922, as the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies by 26-23.

On August 24, 1931, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution appointing a committee to work with the Governor in planning a bicentennial celebration to be held in 1933.

Paris was liberated from German army control on August 25, 1944.

On August 24, 1945, the United States Postal Service held a first day of issue ceremony in Warm Springs, Georgia for the release of a stamp bearing the images of Franklin D. Roosevelt and The Little White House.

FDR Warm Springs

On August 25, 1950, President Harry S. Truman ordered the seizure of the nation’s private railroads by executive order.

On August 25, 1973, the Allman Brothers of Macon, Georgia released “Ramblin’ Man” as the first single from the album “Brothers and Sisters.” From the Wall Street Journal,

Dickey Betts: In 1969, I was playing guitar in several rock bands that toured central Florida. Whenever I’d have trouble finding a place to stay, my friend Kenny Harwick would let me crash at his garage apartment for a few days in Sarasota. One day he asked me how I was doing with my music and said, “I bet you’re just tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best you can.”

Then one day in 1972, I was sitting in the kitchen of what we called the Big House in Macon, Ga.—where everyone in the band lived—and decided to finish the lyrics.

My inspiration was Hank Williams’s “Ramblin’ Man,” from 1951. His song and mine are completely different but I liked his mournful, minor-chord feel.

Except for Kenny’s line, the rest of the lyrics were autobiographical.

The WSJ article is worth reading in its entirety if you’re a fan of the Allmans.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones (D-DeKalb) spoke at the Republican National Convention, according to the AJC.

In his speech, the former DeKalb County chief executive slammed a Democratic Party he said confines Black voters to a “mental plantation they’ve had us on for decades.”

“But I have news for them: We are free people with free minds. I am part of a large and growing segment of the Black community who are independent thinkers,” he said. “And we believe that Donald Trump is the president that America needs to lead us forward.”

Long a controversial figure, Jones was ostracized by fellow Democrats well before he endorsed Trump in April. And after he backed Trump, state party leaders called him a “traitor,” considered whether to sanction him and backed his primary rival. He later decided not to run for another term.

Jones dismissed the pushback in his address, noting that “all hell broke loose” when he endorsed Trump.

“I was threatened, called an embarrassment and asked to resign by my party. Unfortunately, that’s consistent with the Democratic Party and how they view independent thinking Black men and women,” he said.

“But I’m here to tell you that Black voices are becoming more woke and louder than ever.”

Herschel Walker also spoke at the RNC, according to USA Today.

Former NFL running back and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker defended President Donald Trump on the opening night of the 2020 Republican National Convention, saying accusations the president is racist “hurt my soul.”

“I take that as a personal insult, that people would think I’ve had a 37-year friendship with a racist,” he said in his three-minute speech. “People don’t know what they’re talking about. Growing up in the deep South, I’ve seen racism up close. I know what it is. And it isn’t Donald Trump.”

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order, renewing the EO issued on June 6, 2020 addressing unlawful assemblage, and extending it through September 21, 2020 at 11:59 PM. The most notable provision, to my mind, is the continuing authorization of the call-up of as many as 1000 National Guard troops. Carry a big stick, indeed.

Governor Kemp last week published an Op-Ed in the AJC criticizing the paper’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia is making progress in the fight against COVID-19, but you wouldn’t know it from reading the state’s flagship newspaper.

During this crisis, the AJC has turned into a tabloid rag – appealing to supermarket shoppers waiting in line, six feet from their neighbor.

Many states are sinking economically, but we are weathering the storm. Georgia avoided draconian budget cuts, maintained our AAA Bond Rating, and added thousands of new jobs in July. Moody’s said it best: “Georgia’s strong governance and fiscal management … will enable the state to sufficiently manage the economic downturn.”

In short, we are doing our job to save lives and jobs. Now, it is time for the AJC to do theirs.

The AJC must acknowledge DPH Commissioner Toomey’s expertise and that public health officials are not a monolith. Every article written requires both sides of the story. Let the readers – not the editors – decide who has better data and a more convincing argument.

Secondly, if the AJC really believes that mask mandates will end this pandemic, use the front page – above the fold – to urge Georgians to wear one. Better yet, put your money where your ink is and send a mask to every subscriber.

Finally, the AJC should remember that our rights are worth protecting, even during a crisis. The paper chided my decision to protect private property owners from government overreach and urge – not mandate – Georgians to wear masks. This is still America, right?

This is a critical moment in our fight against COVID-19 and it’s time for the AJC to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Gov. Kemp urged Georgians not to drink anything that looks, sounds, or smells like it might be bleach.

The governor’s office released a statement over the weekend addressing reports received by the state’s Department of Public Health that people were using diluted chlorine dioxide to “treat” the virus.

“Chlorine dioxide is a bleach-like cleaning agent and, if ingested, can have severe, adverse health effects, including death,” the notice from Kemp’s office said.

Here’s the thing: I totally understand where Gov. Kemp comes from on the idea that adults can be trusted to make good decisions; but then he also has to tell them not to drink bleach.

Kemp announced that higher federal unemployment benefits will be restored, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Unemployed Georgians will soon begin receiving enhanced federal unemployment benefits that were cut off at the end of last month when the program expired, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday.

The $300 weekly supplements will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Lost Wages Assistance Program, a new grant initiative President Donald Trump announced after Democrats and Republicans in Congress couldn’t reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief package.

“This news is truly life-changing for hardworking Georgians in every part of our state,” Kemp said. “We deeply appreciate the Trump administration’s leadership to help us provide timely unemployment assistance to families weathering the economic impact of this pandemic.”

Trump approved up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund early last month to provide financial assistance to Americans who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Georgia Department of Labor will deliver a system meeting the new FEMA guidelines to process these weekly supplements as quickly as possible,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “We will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Labor, FEMA, and Governor Kemp’s office to provide financial support for Georgians during this pandemic.”

Gov. Kemp told WSB-TV that he may order fun police strike teams to address some COVID outbreaks.

Gov. Brian Kemp said he is considering creating mobile testing strike teams to deploy to schools, colleges and universities in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. The strike team could also be used at long term care facilities or at other potential hotspots.

Kemp told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that he’s worried about what he’s seen at some schools across the state with large gatherings of students.

“I don’t know if it’s because the cases are declining, and people don’t sense the urgency to have a test right now like it was two or three weeks ago. I’m not exactly sure what that is,” Kemp said.

Bulloch County reported its lowest COVID numbers since mid-June, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Columbus-Muscogee County reports similarly, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Muscogee County reported 18 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths Monday as pandemic data points continue to drop following record highs in mid-to-late July.

According to the latest data release from the Georgia Department of Public Health, 5,304 coronavirus cases and 122 deaths in Columbus have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic. Monday’s new case count was the lowest seen in Muscogee County since late June. However, Mondays are typically a slow data reporting day statewide.

Georgia Southern will open its football season at 25% capacity in the stands, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The University of Georgia faculty continues to criticize administration reopening plans, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

More than 350 faculty members have signed a new petition calling for “an immediate change in plans” as fall semester begins.

At the same time, four top public health experts on the faculty of the UGA College of Public Health have called on the UGA administration to change its “regime of secrecy” and to replace the university’s small surveillance plan with a more ambitious plan that could work.

UGA has released a statement defending its plans.

“Combined with other comprehensive measures to protect the community, an emphasis on social distancing, and a mandate to wear face coverings indoors, UGA is taking decisive action to promote the health and safety of its faculty, staff and students,” the UGA statement says in part.

Richmond County schools announced how they will assess whether to close facilities, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Richmond County schools will consider closing a school if 10% of the district’s students have COVID-19, and the system will close a classroom or wing if someone is diagnosed, system officials said Monday.

“We are monitoring symptoms every day for staff and students. Our target is about 10%. When schools get into that range, we’ll start making decisions” about closing a school, said LaMonica Hillman, the assistant superintendent for student services.

Glynn County Board of Elections says a scheduling issue , according to The Brunswick News.

Georgia legislators earlier this year passed a set of bills that gave the state power to abolish local police departments if the people so chose — an authority that only lasts through 2021 — and called for a referendum of the registered electorate in Glynn County.

One problem: Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bills too late, according to the board of elections. The bills seemed to meet the standard of a special election, and there was not enough time to provide the public the legally required notice to get the referendum on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Instead, the five-person board has opted to hold the special election separately and on the same day, the only legal option it sees. At a Friday emergency meeting, some board members suggested doing so may require parallel apparatus to the general election, which would entail separate polling places and poll workers.

State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak and the bills’ sponsor in the Georgia Senate, disagreed with the board’s Friday vote. He believed the referendum should be included on the Nov. 3 ballot.

“I think it’s a mistake to hold it as a separate election, and I don’t think the law requires it,” Ligon said.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office says it will reopen grant applications for absentee ballot drop box funding, according to the Henry Herald.

Counties that have not yet taken advantage of the grant can apply for up to $3,000 to offset up to 75% of the cost, including purchase and installation, of the absentee ballot drop boxes. The county’s grant application window is open now until Sept. 15.

The Albany-Dougherty County Board of Elections set Sunday advance voting for the November general election, according to the Albany Herald.

Last week, the Albany-Dougherty Election Board set Sunday Oct. 25 as one of two weekend options. County voters can cast ballots from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Oct. 24 and from noon-4 p.m. on Oct. 25.

“There was a request for Sunday voting, and (the board) unanimously approved it,” Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said.

The board traditionally provides a Sunday voting option during presidential and gubernatorial election years, she said.

All weekend and advance in-person voting will take place at the Candy Room of the Riverfront Resource Center. That location is considered safer during the pandemic than voting at the Government Center, in which the county Elections office is located.

Georgia is maintaining strong reserve funds during the pandemic, according to the AJC.

Tax collections — which were expected to plummet by $1 billion or more in only a few months — came in stronger than expected. And most of the $2.8 billion in savings the state had built up by the beginning of 2020 remains in reserve.

“We weathered the end of the fiscal year and the beginning of the pandemic well,” said state Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, chairman of the Georgia House tax committee. “This is exactly the reason why we need reserves. This pandemic proves why adequate reserves are good and prudent.”

After a recession in the early 2000s, the state built its reserve to $1.5 billion by 2007, a savings account that was equivalent to about 8% of what it spent in a year.

Then the Great Recession hit, and within a year two-thirds of it was gone to fill budget holes. After two years the state had about enough money in reserve — $100 million — to fund state government for a single day.

When he took office in 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal — with an eye toward rebuilding the fund — began annually telling state agencies not to ask for more money. The record savings account Deal left Kemp when he took office in 2019 could run state government for more than a month without any other revenue.

You can thank Governor Deal for putting Georgia on such a strong economic foundation.

A Chatham County Superior Court Judge ordered a hand recount in the Runoff Election for House District 163, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Democrats [Anne Allen] Westbrook and Derek Mallow vied for the seat, with Mallow ahead by only 20 votes following certification of the results last week.

A hand recount can be done with a court order or when a test deck of ballots for a machine do not match a test hand recount.

Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner ruled Monday afternoon that votes in the runoff will be recounted by hand.

The Board of Elections opposed the hand recount, Westbrook said.

In his ruling Turner noted the petitioners cited a pending federal suit filed in the Northern District of Georgia with sworn declarations that question the accuracy of the QR bar code system that reads the code instead of reading the marked candidate choice.

“An electronic recount would not identify any such discrepancies unless they were part of a small sample set used to calibrate the machines used for a recount,” Turner wrote. Judge Turner also noted the petitioner questioned a 40-count decline in ballots.

Turner found there is good cause for a hand recount of the 5,338 ballots and that the recount is a reasonable, practicable and warranted solution.

United States Attorney BJay Pak (Northern District of Georgia) spoke about how the pandemic is affecting federal court operations, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Pak told the Gwinnett Chamber on Monday that his office’s caseload is on par with what it has been in past. Pak, who lives in Lilburn, is the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and has been handling fraud and face mask hoarding cases that have arisen out of the pandemic. His office also continues to handle scam cases, including tech support and romance scams.

“You would think that all crime had declined during the pandemic, but that’s not necessarily true,” Pak said. “During the pandemic, federal agents have continuously carried out their mission enforcing federal law and my AUSA’s who work for me have done the same, and they continue to support law enforcement, both state and local, in enforcing all of the laws and keeping our community safe.”

“Not withstanding the disruption of our operations for over five months, I’m happy to note that we’re actually on track to prosecute the exact same number of people that we prosecuted in 2019.”

“Recently five small business owners were indicted in connection with (paycheck protection program) fraud, $4.41 million in loans taken out by these businesses when they had zero employees and they use it to finance a luxurious lifestyle,” Pak said. “It’s a very common pattern. In fact, our task force here in Georgia has more than 100 active cases that we’re looking at right now. We can’t bring charges against everyone, but we are taking the ones that are most egregious … to make an example out of it and to deter future conduct.”

The City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County have both passed mask mandates. Other local governments are adopting mandates, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Cities including Columbus, Milledgeville, Warner Robins, Smyrna and Sandy Springs passed measures in recent days requiring masks on city-owned public property, which squares with Kemp’s latest executive order.

Rockdale County also passed a mask mandate, and officials in LaGrange this week approved a measure authorizing police to enforce mask requirements at local businesses that choose to adopt them.

Restaurants in the state, which have been battered by the virus’ economic impacts, have mostly adopted masking practices for employees and customers since being allowed to re-open in late April, said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

Bremer, who helped launch the marketing campaign, said most Georgia restaurants have put up signs asking customers to wear masks on the premises and noted she has seen little resistance to facial coverings as restaurants seek to boost confidence that customers can dine safely.

“What I am hearing and I am seeing anecdotally is people wearing face coverings,” Bremer said in a recent interview. “There are not many [restaurants] that are not complying with that. I think there’s a social pressure there.”

A majority of Whitfield County Commissioners have said they oppose a mask mandate, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Three of the four commissioners present [at a Monday meeting] — Roger Crossen, Greg Jones and Barry Robbins — weren’t wearing masks even though signs on the door said masks were required. Only board Chairman Lynn Laughter was wearing a mask.

Seating was limited in the meeting room because of social distancing restrictions put in place because of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Almost all of the two dozen or so people who were present seemed to be there because the board was scheduled to discuss a possible mandate that people wear masks in public.

There were also several people outside the gym protesting a mask mandate.

When it came time for commissioner discussion, four of the five — Crossen, Jones, Robbins and Commissioner Harold Brooker, who was taking part by phone — said they do not favor a mask mandate.

When commissioners asked for a show of hands, almost everyone in the room indicated they opposed a mask mandate.

Rome adopted a mask mandate, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Gateway Domestic Violence Center in Gainesville has served twice as many victims as during the same period last year, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gateway’s executive director Jessica Butler said the emergency shelter housed 107 people between April and July. In that same period last year, the number of people housed was 57.

“Some of those we’ve housed in the shelter have also been in a hotel for part of their stay, either because we were full or because we needed to spread people out because of COVID,” Butler said.

In that same four-month span, Gateway paid for 167 hotel nights for those seeking emergency shelter. The center paid for only 26 hotel nights in the same period in 2019.

Most of the reasons for hotel rooms were related to COVID-19, which has resulted in a $12,000 increase in hotel bills compared to last year.

The Richmond County Republican Party will host an Acceptance Speech Watch Party on Thursday beginning at 8 PM at their headquarters located at 1100 Azalea Drive in Augusta.

The Coweta County Republican Party will host a watch party on Thursday starting at 6 PM at headquarters located at 15 Perry Street, Newnan, GA 30263.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 21, 2020

James Oglethorpe and the Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Coweta Town, delineating geographic areas open to British settlement, on August 21, 1739.

On August 23, 1784, four counties is western North Carolina declared themselves the State of Franklin, setting up its own Constitution and treaties with local Indian tribes. In 1788, they rejoined North Carolina but would eventually become part of a new state, Tennessee.

On August 21, 1831, Nat Turner led the largest slave rebellion in American history; Turner was later hanged in Jerusalem, VA.

The first of the Lincoln-Douglass series of seven debates was held in Ottawa, Illinois, on August 21, 1858, pitting Democrat Stephen Douglass against Republican Abraham for the United States Senate seat held by Douglass. Expansion of slavery in the United States was the topic for the debates.

The Kimball Opera House, serving as the Georgia State Capitol, was sold to the state on August 23, 1870.

On August 21, 1907, Georgia Governor Hoke Smith signed legislation to place a Constitutional Amendment designed to disenfranchise African-Americans by requiring passage of a literacy test to vote. A number of exceptions allowed local officials to exempt white voters whom they wished to allow to vote; one exemption was for anyone descended from a U.S. or Confederate wartime veteran – the so-called “grandfather clause.”

On the same day, Gov. Smith also signed legislation prohibiting fishing on Sunday, subject to misdemeanor prosecution.

The sale of Coca-Cola Company from the Candlers was announced in the Atlanta Constitution on August 22, 1919.

On August 21, 1935, Benny Goodman and his orchestra began a seven-night stand at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, beginning the Swing Era.

Happy 61st birthday to Hawaii, which became the 50th State on August 21, 1959; they’ve undoubtedly been receiving AARP literature in the mail for ten years.

On August 23, 1961, four African-American citizens attempted to play tennis at Bitsy Grant Tennis Center in Atlanta, which was informally “whites only.” The Tennis Center was hastily closed rather than allow them to play, but it was the first volley leading to the eventual desegregation of Atlanta’s public recreation facilities.

N/S Savannah, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship, visited the Port of Savannah on August 22, 1962. Savannah was named after S.S. Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. N/S Savannah is moored at the Port of Baltimore and designated a national historic landmark.

The 1968 Democratic National Convention began in Chicago on August 21, 1968.

More than 3000 demonstrators disrupted the Democratic National Convention on August 22, 1968.

The name of Julian Bond of Georgia, then-27 and too young to serve, was placed in nomination for Vice President during the 1968 DNC.

On August 22, 1972, it was the Republicans’ turn, as demonstrators struck outside the Republican National Convention.

Nolan Ryan recorded his 5000th career strikeout against Rickey Henderson of the Oakland A’s on August 22, 1989.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp announced yesterday that Georgia issued more than a billion dollars in bonds.

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that the State of Georgia successfully sold $1.133 billion in two different series of general obligation bonds to fund new construction projects and equipment, make repairs and renovations to existing facilities, and purchase and retire outstanding bonds to achieve debt service savings.

“Georgia works diligently to maintain our coveted triple-A bond rating,” said Governor Kemp. “I am incredibly proud of our state’s fiscal responsibility and efficient use of taxpayer resources, and I commend Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, and the General Assembly for their partnership to maintain Georgia’s strong financial track record. This very successful bond sale allows us to continue to invest in critical renovations and repairs of capital projects all across the Peach State, ensuring previous investments in the state’s existing facilities are preserved and that the facilities continue to meet both current and future needs of citizens, support economic growth, and provide job opportunities within Georgia’s construction industry.”

The Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission – responsible for issuing the state’s bonds – approved the bond sale at its meeting today. The bond issues were sold on a competitive basis via five different bids with investors showing solid demand for Georgia’s highest-rated bonds.

The overall true interest rate cost for the bonds was 1.5242 percent, which was the lowest ever for an issue of the state’s general obligation bonds. The interest on all the bonds is exempt from Georgia state income taxation for in-state residents, and a large portion of the bonds are exempt from federal income taxes.

Three of the bids were for the 2020A bonds, which are exempt from federal income taxes. The state achieved rates of 0.21 percent for the five-year bonds; 0.52 percent for the ten-year bonds; and 1.63 percent for the twenty-year bonds for a blended rate of 1.56 percent for the 2020A tax-exempt bonds. Two of the bids were for the 2020B bonds, which are subject to federal income taxes, with those rates at 0.43 percent for the five-year bonds and 1.46 percent for the twenty-year bonds for a blended rate of 1.43 percent for the federally taxable 2020B bonds.

The largest amount of funding provides over $378 million for local school systems’ K-12 and state schools projects. The second largest amount of funding provides over $302 million for Board of Regents projects for the University System of Georgia. The Department of Transportation will receive over $152 million for roads, bridges, and rail projects. The Technical College System of Georgia will receive over $99 million for various projects.

“Providing state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to educate Georgia’s elementary, secondary, and higher education students is an important component of preparing children and young adults for future employment opportunities.” said Governor Kemp. “Additionally, by maintaining the state’s existing infrastructure facilities and renovating them to meet the needs of tomorrow, we can ensure that those facilities contribute to our state’s long-term prosperity and that prior investments were made well.”

Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s rating agencies assigned their triple-A bond rating with a stable outlook to the State’s General Obligation Bonds last week.

Gov. Kemp also issued Executive Order, forming a commission to investigate the indictment of Hart County District 1 Commissioner R.C. Oglesby. From Fox Carolina:Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 20, 2020

On August 20, 1781, General George Washington sent Continental troops from New York toward Yorktown, Virginia to engage British troops under Gen. Cornwallis.

On August 20, 1906, Gov. Joseph Terrell signed legislation to build a statue of Georgia founding father James Oglethorpe in Savannah and a bill to build a statue of former Confederate General and Georgia Governor John B. Gordon at the State Capitol.

The Georgia Department of Archives and History was created by legislation signed by Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey on August 20, 1918.

On August 20, 1920, the American Professional Football Association, which would later be renamed the National Football League, was formed in Akron, Ohio.

On August 20, 1923, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation requiring state schools teach the United States and Georgia Constitutions and students pass an exam on the documents before being allowed to graduate.

On August 20, 1965, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones was released in the UK.

On August 20, 1974, President Gerald Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President of the United States.

RIP, Todd Nance.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is about sick and tired of the liberal media, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 19, 2020

USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” in battle against the British ship Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia on August 19, 1812. Launched in 1797, Constitution is today the oldest commissioned vessel in the United States Navy. Live oak from St. Simons Island were cut and milled for timber used in the constructions of Constitution. From a 1977 New York Times article:

The Constitution won her way into Americans’ hearts in 1812, when she defeated the British Guerriere off Nova Scotia in an exchange of broadsides. The spirit of the Constitution crew was noted by the Guerriere’s commander, James Dacres, who boarded the Constitution to present his sword in surrender.

”I will not take your sword, Sir,” the captain of the Constitution, Isaac Hull, replied. ”But I will trouble you for your hat.”

In the battle, a sailor — whether British or American is disputed by historians — is said to have cried out, ”Huzzah, her sides are made of iron!” as he watched an English cannonball bounce off the side of the Constitution. It was the birth of her nickname.

Part of the ship’s secret lay in the wood used in the design by Joshua Humphreys. He picked live oak, from St. Simons Island, Ga. The wood has proved so strong and resistant to rot that the original hull is intact, said Anne Grimes Rand, curator of the Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Mass.

The Georgia Department of Insurance was created on August 19, 1912 when Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation regulating companies selling policies in the states.

Governor Nathaniel Harris signed the first state law requiring school attendance for children 8-14 years of age on August 19, 1916; on the same day, Harris also signed legislation authorizing women to practice law in Georgia.

“Georgia” was designated the official state song on August 19, 1922 with Gov. Thomas Hardwick’s signature on a joint resolution passed by the General Assembly; in 1979, “Georgia On My Mind,” replaced it.

Adolf Hitler became President of Germany on August 19, 1934.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency supported a coup in Iran that restored the Shah of Iran on August 19, 1953.

On August 19, 1976, President Gerald R. Ford was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Ford received 1,157 (52.6%) delegates to 1,087 for Ronald Reagan (47.4%). Georgia’s 48 delegates voted for Reagan on the first ballot.

On August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. On the same day, Dr. Betty Siegel became the first female President of a state college or university in Georgia when she was named President of Kennesaw College on August 19, 1981; under her leadership, it became Kennesaw State University in 1996. Siegel served until 2006. Kennesaw State was recently named the 4th best college for food in the nation.

Gainesville will celebrate its Bicentennial in 2020, according to the Gainesville Times.

Nearly two centuries ago, on April 21, 1821, the crossroads trading post known as Mule Camp Springs took a new name: Gainesville, named in honor of War of 1812 hero General Edmund P. Gaines. Seven months later, on November 30, 1821, Gainesville was officially charted by the Georgia General Assembly and designated as the county seat of Hall County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Do you really want the dateline to read “Buckhead” when you’re defending yourself against claims of being rich and out-of-touch with Georgia Republican voters? From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune:

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., defended her wealthy background during a campaign stop in Atlanta Tuesday to mark the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

Loeffler, an Atlanta businesswoman who has poured $15 million of her own money into her U.S. Senate bid so far, has faced criticism from opponents over large attack ad buys and her use of a private jet on the campaign trail.

Speaking at the Penley Art Gallery in Buckhead Tuesday, Loeffler embraced her wealth as an example of American capitalistic success while stressing that she knows “what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck” after working her way through college and in the business world.

Loeffler has also faced broadsides from Collins’ campaign over her financial resources, which the four-term Republican congressman from Gainesville has sought to cast as an effort to buy her way to winning a Senate seat she was appointed to in January, following former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement.

Governor Brian Kemp named Tommy J. Smith to a seat on the Superior Court of the Middle Judicial Circuit, according to a press release:

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced his selection of Tommy J. Smith to fill a vacancy on the Superior Court of the Middle Judicial Circuit. Smith will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Kathy Palmer.

“I am confident that Tommy will serve Georgians well on the Middle Judicial Circuit,” said Governor Kemp. “He has the right background, expertise, and temperament for this role, and I know he will lead by example and excel on the bench.”

Tommy J. Smith earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and law degree from the University of Georgia. He has served as a law clerk, attorney, municipal court judge, solicitor general, and state court judge. Smith is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the American Bar Association. He and his family reside in Lyons.

The Middle Judicial Circuit serves Candler, Emanuel, Jefferson, Washington, and Toombs Counties.

Governor Kemp also announced plans to use million dollars in federal Coronavirus relief funding, according to AccessWDUN.

The Republican Kemp says he will allocate more than $65 million of the $105 million he controls. Of that money, at least $17 million will subsidize daytime supervision for students whose school systems are providing all-virtual instruction.

Families with incomes of 85% or below of the statewide median would be eligible for subsidized slots, if parents are working or attending college or job training.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

“One of the biggest problems that we’re having right now is schools that are going virtual,” Kemp said Tuesday. “The parents can’t go back to work because they’re stuck home with the kids. So we’re trying to get some more child care.”

The state also would spend $14 million to provide equipment to extend Wi-Fi signals into parking lots and surrounding neighborhoods at Georgia’s 2,300 schools and spend $1.2 million to buy 1,000 Wi-Fi transmitters that would be installed in apartment complexes or mobile home parks to improve connectivity for students.

The state will spend $11.5 million to expand student mental health services at universities and technical colleges and spend $10.4 million to create a new electronic platform for the Technical College System of Georgia. Private colleges will split $10 million in general COVID-19 relief money, and the state will spend $3.3 million to expand rapid training of construction workers.

Gwinnett County Commissioners adopted the rollback property tax millage rate, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Commissioners voted to roll back the county’s millage rate to 6.95 mills. At that rate, the general fund portion of a homeowner’s tax bill — which also includes separate city, code enforcement, police, fire and school system millage rates — is not expected to increase this year.

“In accordance with state law, the county advertised our notice of current year tax digest and five-year history of levy on Aug. 9 in the Gwinnett Daily Post,” Gwinnett County Director of Financial Services Buffy Alexzulian told commissioners. “This agenda item is to approve a resolution establishing the millage rates for 2020.”

The Gainesville Times looks at which local governments are requiring masks.

Gillsville Mayor Roy Turpin said the city had no immediate plans to issue a mandate, but “the people around here will probably do what’s right” and officials would monitor the situation. Clermont Mayor James Nix said Clermont also had no definite plans to require masks on its properties but was looking at its options. Braselton Town Manager Jennifer Scott said Braselton encourages but does not require masks in city buildings. Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin said the mayor and City Council had not yet taken a position, but the city encourages people to follow public health guidelines.

Gainesville is encouraging precautions but has not issued a mask mandate at city facilities.

Hall County is not requiring masks for visitors at its facilities but does encourage them.

Masks are required in Flowery Branch city buildings.

In Oakwood, visitors are required to wear masks at City Hall. City Manager B.R. White said employees can take theirs off if they are social distancing or in their own office. Visitors’ temperatures are taken before they enter, White said.

Three points to the Gainesville Times and its writers for their exhaustive coverage.

The Gwinnett Commission is still considering whether to send absentee ballot requests to all voters, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

A proposal to send out the applications, as well as pay an estimated $516,000 to cover of postage for return envelopes for the ballots, had been on the commission’s agenda for Tuesday. Instead of making a decision on it, however, the county’s leaders delayed voting on the items until their Sept. 1 meeting.

“Based on things we heard earlier from our elections staff, I think we’ve got some unanswered questions that we need answers to before we act on this, so I’ll make a motion that we table this item until Sept. 1,” Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.

The county had 569,415 registered voters as of July 1. Two cost estimates for mailing the applications were made based on an estimate that there could be 610,000 registered voters for the general election.

“The Election Supervisor provided cost estimates for two options from contracted vendor Sure Bill Envelopes and Forms,” Mangano said in a separate July 24 letter to commissioners. “The cost estimates cover printing, sorting, postage, and mailing but they do not include data processing of the necessary files. The first option, using a No. 10 carrier envelope, has an estimated cost of $322,690. The second option, using a 6 inch by 9-and-a-half-inch envelope, has an estimated cost of $347,090.”

Why not at least consider costs for smaller subsets of voters, like anyone who has voted in any election between 2016 and 2020?

The Floyd County Board of Elections heard complaints about the runoff elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

[T]he three-member citizen board officially certified the results to send to the state, then went into a closed session to discuss personnel. No action was taken.

Problems during last week’s Republican primary runoff, including errors in the voting cards and delayed openings, led to an emergency court order keeping the precincts open until 9 p.m. Combined with late reporting of the results, it has sparked concerns about the county’s readiness for the Nov. 3 general election.

GPB News reports that at least 1700 absentee ballots were rejected after being received too late.

According to the state’s absentee voter file, 261,129 ballots were accepted by county elections officials, meaning .68% of all absentee-by-mail ballots returned came in too late.

Overall, 1,874 ballots were rejected, the rest for missing or invalid signatures or was submitted by an ineligible elector.

In the June 9 primary, GPB News found that at least 8,479 absentee ballots were received after polls closed, about .74% of the record 1.1 million votes cast by mail.

But some counties do not enter in their late ballot rejections into the state’s absentee voter file, giving an incomplete look at how many votes do not count.

As of the latest version of the state absentee ballot file, the number is 2537 voters whose absentee ballots were rejected for arriving late.

The Towns County Board of Elections is recounting votes in the runoff for Sheriff, according to Fetch Your News.

After the Osborn campaign filed a petition stating cause and the Board of Elections consulted with the county attorney, Towns County will hold a recount of the sheriff’s race.

On August 12, sheriff candidate Daren “Bear” Osborn issued his initial request for a recount. The same day, the Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) opened an investigation into Towns County for possible election interference. However, the SOS didn’t specify for what race or expand upon the investigation. The Board of Elections Chairman Janet Oliva was unaware of the SOS investigation. No one from the state has contacted Towns County about election interference as of August 18.

In Osborn’s first letter, he called attention to the “small marginal difference of 40 votes a recount could show error in counting, including absentee ballots.”

The certified county results brought the margin down to 38 votes between the candidates with Kenneth “Ode” Henderson receiving 1,884 and Osborn garnering 1,846.

Since Towns County is in the middle of two recounts, both will take place on the same day.

United States District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled against a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s law setting the order of candidates on general election ballots, according to the AJC.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg denied an effort to overturn a Georgia law that requires candidates in the same party as the most recently elected governor to be listed first on the ballot in partisan general elections.

The plaintiffs in the case, including the Democratic National Committee, had argued that the law gave Republican candidates an unfair edge. Expert witnesses told the court that Republicans received a 4.2 percentage point advantage, on average, from being listed first on the ballot in Georgia elections since 2004.

But Totenberg ruled Thursday that she was bound by an April decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar ballot order case from Florida.

The 11th Circuit found that “alleged injury of vote dilution based on an average measure of partisan advantage is legally insufficient to establish standing to challenge the constitutionality of the ballot order statute,”

Two former Clarkston City Council members are seeking election as Mayor, according to the AJC.

Yterenickia “YT” Bell and Beverly Burks will face off on the Nov. 3 ballot, with the winner serving until the end of 2021, when Terry’s term would have ended.

Terry gave up his post in March when he qualified to run for the county commission. Since then, Councilman and Vice Mayor Awet Eyasu has served as acting mayor.

Savannah Police are converting to an electronic system for issuing citations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Bulloch County and Statesboro are both considering adopting mask requirements, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson said Monday the issue will be discussed during Tuesday’s Bulloch County commission meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Bulloch County Annex, but the matter has not yet been decided. He said he wears a mask and asks county employees to do so as well, but “I understand that for medical reasons some cannot wear masks.”

Layne Phillips, public information officer for the city of Statesboro, said discussion of a mandatory mask order is on the agenda for City Council’s regular work session Tuesday at 4 p.m. in City Hall.

“My understanding is that Mayor (Jonathan) McCollar wanted to have a council-wide discussion to weigh options,” she said.

Glynn County public schools students are under a mask mandate adopted by the board of education, according to The Brunswick News.

Students who do not have masks will be provided one, said Scott Spence, superintendent.

If a student refuses to wear a mask, school staff will meet with the student and parents. If the student still refuses to wear a mask and is supported in that decision by the parents, school leaders will look into virtual learning options, Spence said.

Students also will be required to wear masks on buses. Those who do not have a mask will be provided with one.

The challenge, he said, will be when parents refuse to support the requirement and do not allow their child to wear a mask.

“At that point we will have no alternative but to look into virtual learning options to meet the educational needs of that particular child,” Spence said.

Ludovic Ortuno has been named Georgia’s trade representative to Canada according to a press release from the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome CIDEP’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Ludovic Ortuno and his colleagues to our strategic international team,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Building upon our strong international economic relationships like those shared with Canada and increasing opportunities for Georgians will prove vital as we look toward recovery from COVID-19. I would like to thank Gail Morris for her committed, professional and successful representation during her 10 years of service as Georgia’s managing director in Canada. I am confident that CIDEP’s team will continue to strengthen the successful framework she built in this extremely important market.”

The new Canada team will be comprised of a total of five professionals who will serve the state from CIDEP’s headquarters in Montreal, Québec. Montreal is an important partner to Georgia in both the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces (SEUS-CP) Alliance and the Regional Leaders Summit (RLS). Through the RLS, seven international regions from five different continents exchange best practices on topics of mutual interest. Other members of the RLS include Upper Austria, Austria; São Paolo, Brazil; Shandong, China; Bavaria, Germany; and Western Cape, South Africa.

“I welcome Ludovic Ortuno as the state of Georgia’s new representative in Canada. His appointment is a clear sign of the continued importance placed in the Canada-Georgia relationship,” said Consul General of Canada to the Southeast U.S. Nadia Theodore. “My team here at the Consulate General of Canada, as well as our colleagues at the provincial offices, look forward to collaborating with Ludovic to further strengthen bilateral ties.”

I deduct three points from the writers of the press release for improper use of “comprised.”

Augusta City Commissioners took no action on a proposed rehab center for first responders, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Candidate qualifying continues for seats on the Richmond County Board of Education, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Four incumbents qualified Monday to run again for their seats on the Richmond County Board of Education and perennial candidate Brian Green also signed up.

Candidate qualifying for the nonpartisan district 1, 4, 5, 8 and 10 posts runs through noon Friday at the elections office. The fee to run is $100.