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.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Governor Nathan Deal swore-in former State Senator and Court of Appeals Judge Charlie Bethel to his new seat on the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.
Dalton’s Charlie Bethel was sworn in Tuesday as a Georgia Supreme Court justice, becoming Gov. Nathan Deal’s fifth appointee on the state’s highest court.
Bethel, who served on the state Court of Appeals for nearly two years, was a city councilman before representing Whitfield and Murray counties for several years in the state Senate, where the Republican was a floor leader for Deal.
“The Declaration (of Independence) says we are to resist tyrants, and the Constitution says, ‘God, please help us from becoming tyrants ourselves,’” Bethel said.
“So a good judge must have enough self-doubt to stay in their own lane, to believe in separation of powers, to understand the job of judge is to apply the law as it is, not as the judge would have it be,” he added.
“You are important because of how you treat people, because of how you do what you do, not what you do,” Bethel said. “That’s the important thing in this world.”
When asked afterwards if he planned to spend the rest of his career on the state Supreme Court, Bethel had this to say: “I have a faith that teaches me that my job is to respond to ‘call’ and so I don’t ever like to think in terms of ‘forever’ because that’s not really my call. But I don’t have any other plan to be anywhere else. My plan is to do this job for as long as I’m called to this place.”
Republican Congressman Buddy Carter (Pooler) and his Democratic opponent will meet in a public forum later this month, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The forum will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm St, Savannah.
The event is free and open to the public, but only those who register at www.LWVCGA.org or on the League’s Facebook page are guaranteed a seat. Ticket registration will go live at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Seating is very limited, and registrants will be asked to check in before they enter the Coastal Georgia Center.
The League asks that participants do not bring signs or hand out campaign literature at the event. In the spirit of civil discourse, a primary tenet of the League, attendees also are asked to refrain from disrupting the candidates’ responses or demonstrating in any way.
Participants can submit their questions for the candidates via the website. Questions also may be submitted in writing the night of the event. WTOC news anchor Dawn Baker will serve as the forum moderator. She will pose the public’s questions to the candidates and manage the proceedings.
Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah will no longer be in-network for Blue Cross Blue Shield patients, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The current contract between (Memorial’s parent company] HCA and BCBSGa expired on Sept. 30 and any claims filed starting Oct. 1, for all care provided by HCA, will be considered out-of-network and reimbursed as out-of-network under the terms of your health plan.
Through spokesperson Colin Manning, BCBSGa said they are engaged in active discussions with HCA as they work together to finalize an agreement that ensures in-network coverage for their consumers.
Any claims dating back to Oct. 1 will be covered as in-network.
Several major employers in the Savannah area that offer BCBSGa plans include, Chatham County, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Georgia Southern University and some State of Georgia employees.
Two Chatham County judges received awards for running their courts, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Superior Court Judge James F. Bass Jr. earned the 2018 STAR Award from the Council of Accountability Court Judges for his work with the Chatham County Drug Court he started in 2001.
The court, which deals with drug offenders through treatment alternatives outside of a jail/prison setting, established the benchmark for similar courts here and nationally.
Bass’s drug court last year was designated as an adult mentor drug court to assist other courts nationally in startups or to provide general improvements.
Meanwhile, Juvenile Court Presiding Judge LeRoy Burke III was named winner of a 2018 Big Voice for Children Award for his efforts at effective prevention and early intervention efforts to make a long-term difference in kids’ lives.
Brunswick City Commissioners are considering updating their alcohol ordinance, according to The Brunswick News.
The new ordinance is an overhaul aimed at bringing the local code in line with state laws, which have changed in recent years as the popularity of breweries has grown nationwide.
One change to the updated ordinances is that bartenders and restaurant servers will have to obtain individual permits to serve alcohol within the city limits. The permits would cost $25, be valid for two years and would be issued to the person, not the establishment; if a server leaves and goes to work at another restaurant, the permit carries with him or her.
[T]he new ordinance would create whole new classes and licensing fees for manufacturers who sell and could serve their products.
One other notable change is the permitting for alcohol sales in some public places, like parks or squares.
Oyster harvesting off the Georgia coast remains closed due to high water temperatures, according to The Brunswick News.
Oyster harvesting is typically closed June-September by the state Department of Natural Resources because of water temperatures higher than 81 degrees.
“This extended closure ensures that Georgia continues to meet the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to protect public health by implementing a Vibrio parahaemolyticus — Vp — control plan,” Dominic Guadagnoli, shellfish fishery manager for DNR’s Coastal Resources Division, said in a statement. “We expect this extended closure to have little adverse impact on recreational and commercial oyster harvesters since most individuals refrain from eating freshly harvested oysters during the warmer months when the combination of spawning and warm water makes oysters less desirable as seafood.”
DNR announced that while the closure continues to affect oysters, clams from approved areas are OK for harvesting.
“Unlike oysters, which are frequently consumed raw, clams are traditionally cooked with high heat — a process that kills the Vp bacteria,” Guadagnoli said.
Recreational oyster harvesting, when the season is open, requires a fishing license and in Glynn County is only allowed in an area south of Downing Musgrove Causeway leading to Jekyll Island.
Stateboro’s South Main Street Corridor Tax Allocation District advisory board met for the first time this week, according to the Statesboro Herald.
Statesboro City Council and the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners created the TAD Advisory Board last winter after the commissioners agreed to assign growth in county property tax revenue from the district to the redevelopment fund. The city had established the TAD, originally allocated only the growth in city property taxes, on Dec. 31, 2015. Taxes on the value of property as appraised in the district before that date continue to go to the city’s regular budget, but added revenue from new construction or rising values goes to the TAD fund to back redevelopment projects in the district.
“A tax allocation district is a type of development district, and those are hot these days,” McRae told the advisory board. He observed that they were also “hot before 2007” but not during the recession that followed, when property tax revenues declined.
“TADs depend on growth,” he said.
Former Dougherty County Commissioner Harry James wants his name on the November ballot as an Independent against incumbent Republican Chairman Chris Cohilas, according to the Albany Herald.
Harry James stood in the lobby of the Dougherty County Courthouse Monday, waiting patiently for a second hearing before Alapaha Circuit Judge Albert Perkins to determine if his petition to get on November’s ballot would pass muster.
In August, James turned in more than the required number of voter petition signatures to run as an independent candidate. The signatures were verified or rejected by county Elections officials. The Dougherty Elections Board was told by Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson at a called meeting that James fell 256 verified signatures short of the required number. The Elections Board, based on Elections numbers, denied James’ attempt to get on November’s general election ballot.
At that point James decided to sue the board and Nickerson.
“This never has been about getting Harry James’ name on the ballot,” James said. “This (lawsuit) is about due process and fixing a flawed elections process before, during and after me. The current system is not working, and we have to correct what’s wrong if it isn’t right.”
In July, James turned in 2,956 petition signatures, needing 2,524 verified registered voters’ support to allow his campaign to move forward. Nickerson said the Elections office had determined that 2,268 of the signatures were valid. She said that 390 of the signatures were not registered voters, and 297 were rejected for other reasons, leaving James short.
The Henry County Board of Commissioners voted to name a new fire station after the late Commissioner Reid Bowman, according to the Henry Herald.
The Henry County Board of Commissioners lent its unanimous approval at Tuesday’s meeting to a renaming of the new Fire Station No. 16 that was recently opened in the Kelleytown area.
The new fire station will be named in honor of Reid Bowman, a former Henry County commissioner who died in June. The station was a SPLOST IV project, which Bowman was instrumental in getting passed during his time on the Board of Commissioners.
His successor, Blake Prince, spoke about Bowman and the impact he had while serving on the Board of Commissioners.
“When you run against someone, it’s difficult to become friends afterward,” Prince said. “It’s a testament to Reid’s Christian background that after the election, Reid let bygones be bygones. After I called Reid, he answered the phone and he answered anything I asked him.”
Prince defeated Bowman in 2014 for the District 4 seat on the Henry County Board of Commissioners.
“In 50 years, people will still remember Reid,” Prince said. “That’s saying something. All we have is memories, and all we can do is remember. He was a great man and a good Christian.”
The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Evaluating the School Year Calendar of Georgia Public Schools will meet next week to discuss uniform school starting dates, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
When the committee was announced last month, its chairman, Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, called on school systems to not start their school years before Labor Day.
“As we celebrate Labor Day each year as the unofficial end of summer, most of our public schools have been back in full swing for nearly a month,” Gooch said at the time. “Additionally, August is typically the hottest time of year when energy bills reach their peak and student athletes’ safety is a big concern.
“I believe that for these reasons and others, it is a good time to take a look at how we compare to other states who still utilize a more traditional school calendar with their start dates after Labor Day.”
In addition to Gooch, other senators serving on the commitee include Mike Dugan, R–Carrollton, John Wilkinson, R–Toccoa, and Jack Hill, R–Reidsville.
Gainesville City Council unanimously adopted two new ordinances, according to AccessWDUN.
City Manager Bryan Lackey said the ordinances arose out of complaints received by the city that both issues were happening in the downtown area. As Gainesville Police dealt with those complaints questions began to arise as to what was the department’s best-practice procedure.
“When Chief (Carol) Martin went to address these two different situations she expressed concern that her officers felt we didn’t have the right tools or ordinances in place to address this so we’re not violating the civil rights of the people involved,” Lackey explained.
Lackey said the objective of the new ordinances is “to address this in the right way where it’s something where we’re not criminalizing what people are doing, but we can get them the resources they need (and) our officers feel like they have the right tools so that they’re not doing something wrong and violating the civil rights of an individual.”
The City of Cornelia held a public meeting to discuss a property tax millage rate higher than the rollback rate, and no citizens showed up, according to AccessWDUN.
No members of the public attended Tuesday night’s city commission meeting, where the first of three public hearings on the proposed tax increase was held.
“It is not technically a millage rate increase,” [City Manager Donald] Anderson said. “It’s just that based on the inflationary digest it’s recommended that we roll our millage rate back 0.251 percent, but my recommendation is to leave it at 8.5 mills. Reason being is, and this was our goal all along, was to increase our tax revenue without increasing taxes. We saw a big increase in our property values — that’s from development.”
The tentative tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $80,000 would be $7.74, while a non-homestead property with a fair market value of $200,000 would be $19.36, according to figures released by the city, but Ward 1 Commissioner Wes Dodd pointed out that properties that saw no increase in valuation would see no increase in taxes over 2017.
Floyd County Republican Women discussed the importance of voter turnout in November, according to the Rome News-Tribune.
“Vote. Vote,” urged state Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, who is facing a challenge from Democrat John Burnette II.
“In my district alone, there are 4,000 Republicans who only vote in presidential elections, but your local and state governments are so much closer to you,” Dempsey said. “You can catch us, you can find us, you can see us in the grocery store.”
Floyd County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace is up against Democrat Stephanie Wright.
“If you live in Rome, if you live in Floyd County, I’ll be on your ballot,” Wallace reminded the crowd of about 40 women and men.
Several speakers warned that every vote will count in the statewide races, especially the closely watched contest for the governor seat between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Rural black voters could be an important voting bloc in November, according to the Statesboro Herald.
These were not the rural voters who have gotten so much attention after helping elect President Donald Trump in 2016. They are the black rural voters living in red states. They’re staunchly Democratic even as they’re surrounded by white voters who are almost all Republicans. And they’re often overlooked by big-name candidates from both parties.
“There’s a narrative that is out in the world right now around what rural America looks like, and it completely erases the existence of black rural folks,” said Tamika Middleton, organizing director for Care in Action, a domestic workers advocacy group, in attendance at the church gathering. “We exist. There’s never been black folks who were not fighting and resisting in the rural South.”
The Black Belt’s overlap with Trump country could factor into the elections across the South next month, including competitive races for the governor’s mansion in Florida and the Senate in Mississippi. That raises the possibility that black rural voters will have an unusual opportunity to make an impact on statewide races.
But it’s Georgia where black rural voters could be especially important as Stacey Abrams campaigns to become the nation’s first black female governor. A Mississippi native who moved to Georgia as a child, Abrams is the first Democrat in years to have a real chance of winning the governor’s race. And from the beginning, when she launched her campaign in south Georgia’s Dougherty County, she’s made outreach to rural voters a key part of her strategy.
“Since the beginning of the campaign, Stacey Abrams has been focused on reaching out to a broad coalition of voters in every part of the state, including rural communities of color who have been left behind for too long,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ campaign manager.
It’s an excellent article worth reading in its entirety.
A group supporting passage of Amendment 1 has formed and will advocate for passage of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment, according to the Albany Herald.
The coalition supporting the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment, which is constitutional amendment No. 1 on the 2018 general election ballot, kicked off its paid advertising campaign earlier this week with a digital strategy designed to reach targeted voters between now and Nov. 6.
If passed, the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment will protect Georgia’s waters and lands by constitutionally dedicating a portion of the existing tax on sporting goods for conservation purposes, including the protection of lands critical to clean drinking water, support for the creation and maintenance of parks and trails, and the improvement of areas to hunt and fish. It will also support Georgia’s growing outdoor recreation industry, which has a $27 billion annual economic impact, as well as other economic sectors that rely on waters and land.
Legislation placing the amendment on the ballot received overwhelming, bipartisan support from the General Assembly earlier this year.