Category: Georgia Politics

8
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2019

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia, seizing Blue Mountain.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

Grant’s Army of the Potomac remained engaged against Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House through May 21, 1864.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday signed the “Heartbeat” bill, according to CNN.

Currently in Georgia, women are allowed to undergo abortion procedures up to their 20th week of pregnancy. Starting on January 1, the bill Kemp signed generally would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant.

“(The bill) is very simple but also very powerful: a declaration that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection,” Kemp, flanked by supporters of the bill, said Tuesday morning before signing the legislation at the state Capitol.

“I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law. But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy. We are called to be strong and courageous, and we will not back down. We will always continue to fight for life.”

The legislation says that “no abortion is authorized or shall be performed if the unborn child has been determined to have a human heartbeat.” It includes some exceptions, including if the pregnancy risks the life or poses substantial and irreversible physical harm to the pregnant woman.

From the AJC:

Supporters filled a ceremonial room in Kemp’s office and applauded House Bill 481, which outlaws most abortions once a doctor can detect a fetus’ “heartbeat” — usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant.

In signing the bill in Georgia, Kemp kept a promise he made during his 2018 campaign.

“All life has value, all life matters and all life is worthy of protection,” Kemp said. “I’m signing this bill to ensure all Georgians have the opportunity to live, grow, learn and prosper in the great state of Georgia.”

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll conducted last month found that about 49% of Georgia voters surveyed oppose the bill, with about 44% saying they support it.

From FetchYourNews:

Speaker Ralston spoke at [the] bill signing ceremony:

At its core, House Bill 481 – appropriately known at the LIFE Act – is about protecting those who truly cannot protect themselves.

But, as I close, I’d like to acknowledge and thank the strongest supporter of this legislation – our Governor, Brian Kemp.

Governor Kemp is a leader whose compass does not bend with the polls or pundits. He was clear from the beginning that making Georgia a leader in protecting life was a top priority.

Governor, thank you for your leadership – I’m honored to serve with you.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

“I thank God for this day,” said a tearful Rachel Mary Guy, a pro-life advocate in Georgia who was deemed medically futile as a fetus. “Every day I fight and I pray that abortion ends, but I truly never thought that we would see a day like this.”

A conservative majority on the nation’s high court has emboldened pro-life advocates, who see an opportunity to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that has protected a woman’s right to an abortion.

Savannah‘s film industry is not afraid of repercussions from the bill signing, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Attorney Charles “Bo” Bowen said the legislation, known as the “Heartbeat bill” will likely never go into effect. Bowen founded the Savannah Film Alliance in 2015 and currently serves on numerous local corporate, banking, transportation and entertainment boards and councils.

Bowen said actors are not the ones who make location decisions.

“It’s investors,” Bowen said. “And as long as they can get the best deal here, they’ll film here.”

Bowen said Georgia’s reputation, however, will take a hit.

“Georgia needs a reputation for moving forward,” Bowen said. “In the best case scenario, this (abortion bill) will affect, but not cripple the industry.”

Democrat Emily Leslie, who is running for State House District 106, condemned the legislation, according to Patch.com.

“In defiance of popular mandate, the rights of women, and the settled laws of this nation, Governor Kemp has signed House Bill 481 into law. This far-right extremist bill has no purpose but to punish the vulnerable and marginalized, and to strip women of their legal protection, their bodily autonomy, and their rights. As he did during the campaign, Governor Kemp shows a profound ignorance of the law, disrespect for the rights of women, and little regard for trying to bring our state together and ease political tensions.”

“Once again, Governor Kemp shows who his real constituency is: the radical far-right interests who control him and his office. Not only does the Governor strike at fundamental rights, he will do untold economic and cultural damage to our state in the process of abusing his power. It is not only cisgender women and girls who may need access to abortion services, but all gender identities who have the capacity to become pregnant.”

“I call upon all Georgians to continue to make their voices heard in opposition to this repressive law, and will continue to support the efforts of a number of women’s, civil, and human rights organizations who are standing up for choice. Voters in my district, and across Georgia, are prepared to hold the Governor and his conservative legislative allies–allies like my opponent Brett Harrell–accountable in the next election.”

Daniel Merritt announced he will run for the Republican nomination in the First Congressional District, challenging incumbent Buddy Carter (R-GA), according to the Savannah Morning News.

Merritt has no political background.

Now he’s running for Congress. Many missed last week’s announcement, as it was overshadowed by Stacey Abrams’ decision not to challenge incumbent David Perdue for one of Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats.

For Coastal Georgia, Merritt’s declaration is almost as significant as Abrams’. Carter’s hold on his congressional seat is firm —district residents lean heavily conservative and the only projected Democratic challenger, Lisa Ring, is a progressive liberal who lost decisively to Carter last November.

The biggest threat to Carter is one from a fellow Republican. If he’s going to lose, it is more likely to be in a primary than a general election.

How Merritt differentiates himself from Carter is at the heart of discussions about his candidacy. Carter’s greatest vulnerability — his perceived affinity for President Donald Trump’s policies — is also his greatest strength within the Republican base. Carter recently evolved his stance on the issue — offshore oil exploration — he has most drawn criticism for.

There’s little room to attempt to run to the right of Carter, a la Gov. Brian Kemp versus Casey Cagle in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial contest. Especially with Carter already having more than $1.1 million in his campaign account.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) held an information session on government services available to constituents, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Ranger Republican said he plans to make Local Government Services Day an annual event.

“You want to better help and assist your communities and we want to help you do that,” Graves told the crowd.

His office assembled representatives from a range of agencies at Georgia Highlands College’s Heritage Hall. Each presented an overview of programs they offer, then handed out information and answered questions at their booths set up around the room.

Chattooga County Sole Commissioner Jason Winters said there was a wealth of useful information on tap. New to him was a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that awards grants of up to $7,500 to low-income seniors in rural communities to repair their homes.

Gwinnett County is unlikely to revise its transportation blueprint before the new Metro Atlanta transit agency comes online, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

There had been some talk about revising the Connect Gwinnett Transit Development Plan after the defeat of the county’s MARTA referendum in March, but Nash said that may not happen since The ATL’s submission period is coming up soon.

“I don’t think we have time to do that, particularly allowing for public input to fit their time table,” Nash, who also sits on The ATL board, said. “The (Connect Gwinnett) plan represents the best cumulative view of potential transit projects for Gwinnett.”

Implementation of the Connect Gwinnett Transit Development Plan was never contingent on the passage of the MARTA referendum which the county held in Gwinnett, although MARTA would have been contractually bound to use the plan as a guidebook for providing and expanding service to the county. Although voters rejected the proposed expansion of MARTA into the county, the Connect Gwinnett plan remains on the table.

Nash said the plan will serve as the basis for what the commissioners will consider sending to The ATL for inclusion in the regional transit plan this summer.

The Bibb County Commission voted against allowing alcohol sales by movie theaters, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert was the tiebreaker for a county commission vote that comes a month after a request to sell beer and wine at the AmStar 16 movie theater was denied.

Southern Theatres, the operator of AmStart 16, has requested an appeal hearing on their alcohol license, according to Chris Floore, assistant to the county manager for Public Affairs.

The mayor’s swing vote on Tuesday night was made after the ordinance was tied 4-4. Reichert joined Commissioners Al Tillman, Scotty Shepherd, Larry Schlesinger and Virgil Watkins in voting against prohibiting current and future movie theaters from getting alcohol beverage licenses.

Those in favor of the ban were Commissioners Joe Allen, Bert Bivins, Valerie Wynn and Elaine Lucas. Commissioner Mallory Jones did not attend the commission meeting.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, by early 2017 alcohol was already being sold at more than 400 locations of three largest movie chains in the U.S.

7
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 7, 2019

On May 6, 1789, the Constitutional Convention in Augusta, Georgia adopted a new Georgia Constitution.

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

On May 7, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant disengaged his Army of the Potomac from fighting against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Battle of the Wilderness.

Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant’s forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee’s smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant’s strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861, Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant’s advance was noted by James M. McPherson:

[I]nstead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another “Chancellorsville … another skedaddle” after all. “Our spirits rose,” recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, “we marched free. The men began to sing.” For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center have produced a series called 37 Weeks, which chronicles serially Sherman’s March to the Sea through Georgia in 1864. This is week three of the series, with episodes clocking in at under two minutes. If you enjoy learning about Georgia’s history, it’s great watching.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

Jefferson Davis spoke in Savannah, Georgia on May 6, 1866.

Davis … defend[ed] the South’s cause in the Civil War, stating, “In 1776 the colonies acquired State sovereignty. They revolted from the mother country in a desperate struggle. That was the cause for which they fought. Is it a lost cause now? Never. Has Georgia lost the State sovereignty which … she won in 1776? No, a thousand times no.” Davis’s fiery remarks were captured by reporters for the New York Times and other northern newspapers.

Because of the national attention generated over his visit to Alabama and Georgia, Davis took a more conciliatory tone in a speech that evening, noting, “There are some who take it for granted that when I allude to State sovereignty I want to bring on another war. I am too old to fight again, and God knows I don’t want you to have the necessity of fighting again… . The celebration today is a link in the long chain of affection that binds you and the North together. Long may it be true.”

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute barrier for running the mile.

For years, so many athletes had tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes that people made it out to be a physical impossibility. The world record for a mile was 4 minutes and 1.3 seconds, set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden in 1945. Despite, or perhaps because of, the psychological mystique surrounding the four-minute barrier, several runners in the early 1950s dedicated themselves to being the first to cross into the three-minute zone.

At 6 p.m., the starting gun was fired. In a carefully planned race, Bannister was aided by Chris Brasher, a former Cambridge runner who acted as a pacemaker. For the first half-mile, Brasher led the field, with Bannister close behind, and then another runner took up the lead and reached the three-quarter-mile mark in 3 minutes 0.4 seconds, with Bannister at 3 minutes 0.7 seconds. Bannister took the lead with about 350 yards to go and passed an unofficial timekeeper at the 1,500-meter mark in 3 minutes 43 seconds, thus equaling the world’s record for that distance. Thereafter, Bannister threw in all his reserves and broke the tape in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. As soon as the first part of his score was announced–”three minutes…”–the crowd erupted in pandemonium.

A “sub-four” is still a notable time, but top international runners now routinely accomplish the feat. Because a mile is not a metric measurement, it is not a regular track event nor featured in the Olympics. It continues, however, to be run by many top runners as a glamour event.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

On May 6, 1984, Spinal Tap played a “comeback show” at CBGB’s in New York.

On May 6, 1996, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta was the most dangerous city in America.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succeed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 1997.

Happy Birthday to Bill Kreutzman, one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead. On Kreutzman’s 31st birthday, the Dead played at Boston Garden. The next night was the legendary Cornell show.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia state government revenue is up more than 24% over last April, according to a press release.

Georgia’s April net tax collections totaled $2.87 billion for an increase of $559.7 million, or 24.2 percent, compared to April 2018 when net tax collections totaled $2.31 billion. Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled $19.91 billion for an increase of almost $939.7 million, or 5 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year when net tax revenues totaled $18.97 billion.

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections totaled over $1.58 billion for an increase of $454.6 million, or 40.3 percent, compared to last year when Income Tax collections totaled nearly $1.13 billion.

These components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

▪ Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) declined by $40 million, or -6.5 percent.

▪ Individual Income Tax Return payments increased by $307.2 million, or 48.9 percent, compared to last year.

▪ Individual Withholding payments for the month were up $70.7 million, or 7.9 percent.

▪ All other categories, including Non-Resident income tax payments, increased a combined $36.7 million.

Governor Brian Kemp will sign House Bill 481, the “Heartbeat” bill, this morning at 10 AM. From the AJC:

The governor’s office on Monday confirmed the timing of the signing of the bill, which Kemp said upholds his promise to enact the “toughest abortion bill in the country.” After initially backing a weaker measure, Kemp endorsed the “heartbeat” bill in March and lobbied lawmakers to approve it.

Democrats, medical lobbies and civil rights organizations have forcefully opposed the measure, warning it could force women to take dangerous steps to seek abortions and cost millions in tax dollars to defend. They also say it could jeopardize Georgia’s pro-business reputation.

The new legislation would outlaw most abortions once a doctor detects a heartbeat in the womb – which is usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before most women know they are pregnant.

HB 481 would not take effect until the beginning of next year, so the timing of a legal challenge is not yet certain. But the ACLU and other critics have vowed they will bring a lawsuit targeting the legislation — and promised electoral payback as well.

“Signing this bill is not the end of the HB 481 fight,” said state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, “it marks beginning of women in this state working to take their place at political table because we’re finished being on the menu.”

From the Macon Telegraph:

Exceptions to the law would include:

▪ The abortion would prevent the death or severe physical impairment of the mother.

▪ The pregnancy is 20 weeks or less along, and the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. There must be an official police report alleging an offense of rape or incest occurred.

▪ A doctor determines the pregnancy is “medically futile,” meaning that a severe and incurable birth defect or chromosomal abnormality would result in the child having little to no life expectancy.

Section 15 of the act states the abortion law would become effective on Jan. 1, 2020. That could change if the law is challenged in court.

No state has put a “heartbeat” bill into lasting practice. A federal judge in Kentucky prevented that state’s law from taking effect earlier this year. A state judge struck down Iowa’s 2018 fetal heartbeat law earlier this year. Lower courts struck down North Dakota’s 2013 fetal heartbeat bill, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the North Dakota court’s decision in 2016.

Gov. Kemp has signed House Bill 455, the Shore Protection Act, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed amendments to the Shore Protection Act into law Friday. H.B. 445, sponsored in the senate by Republican State Sen. Ben Watson (District 1), prescribes new ways to define the scope of the state’s influence on private beach-front property.

For its first four decades, the law defined the state’s jurisdiction by drawing a zigzag line connecting 20-foot native trees to each other and to shore-front buildings erected in 1979 or earlier. Many agreed this system worked poorly and was hard to administer. The changes create a 25-foot regulated zone between private beachfront development and the landward reach of the sand dune or from the high tide line on beaches without dunes. The 25-foot line is measured from a functional seawall or bulkhead where those exist.

″(T)he updates made to the Shore Protection Act will help further protect our shoreline with more consistent and clarified boundaries and reduce confusion and unnecessary burdens placed on coastal property owners and businesses,” Watson said in a prepared statement. “We worked with the Department of Natural Resources on this measure and are sure that it will allow for better preservation of our coastline for generations to come.”

Gov. Kemp also signed Senate Bill 8 by State Senator P.K. Martin, creating a new license plate honoring Atlanta United.

“In every game, Atlanta United demonstrates how people from all walks of life can come together and rally behind one cause,” said Governor Kemp. “It’s a testament to the fact that we have so much more that unites us – even though it doesn’t always seem that way.”

Funds raised through the sale of the license plates will benefit the Atlanta United Foundation, which supports Soccer in the Streets, Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations that promote soccer, health, and teamwork.

“As a proud fan of Atlanta United FC, I was honored to champion Senate Bill 8 at the State Capitol,” said Sen. P.K. Martin. “By creating this speciality tag, we not only showcase our loyalty but create a sense a pride and unity throughout Georgia.”

The Georgia Supreme Court will hear an appeal of the court order dismissing a lawsuit challenging the 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s election, according to AccessWDUN.

The lawsuit says tens of thousands of votes were never recorded in the race and the contest was “so defective and marred by material irregularities” as to place the result in doubt. It contends an unexplained undervote in the race was likely caused by problems with the state’s paperless touchscreen voting machines.

Republican Geoff Duncan beat Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by 123,172 votes to become lieutenant governor. Amico is not a party to the lawsuit, which was filed in November by the Coalition for Good Governance, an election integrity advocacy organization; Smythe Duval, who ran for secretary of state as a Libertarian; and two Georgia voters. It was filed against Duncan and election officials.

In an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, lawyer Bruce Brown argues the judge erred by not allowing discovery prior to trial. But even without evidence that might have turned up in discovery, it’s clear that the election was flawed enough to “place in doubt the result,” he wrote.

Generally, almost all voters vote for the race at the top of the ballot in this case the governor’s race and then it drops slightly for down-ballot races, the appeal says. But in November’s election, there was a much bigger drop in total votes recorded in the lieutenant governor’s race than in the governor’s race than normal, and other down-ballot races didn’t experience a similar decline. In recent elections, the lieutenant governor’s race has gotten about 99.2% as many votes as the governor’s race, which means the undercount could be more than 127,000 votes in November’s election, the lawsuit says.

Democrat Jon Ossoff said he’ll consider running for U.S. Senate against Republican David Perdue, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Speaking in Gainesville, Ga., to a local group of Democrats, Ossoff told a questioner, “I’ll take a look at the U.S. Senate race.”

“I want to make sure we have the strongest possible candidate to challenge David Perdue. Whether or not I’m a candidate, I will work to defeat David Perdue,” he said.

“In Georgia, we need a senator who has the decency to stand up for people who are suffering, who has the skill to deliver the resources that Georgia needs, and who has the integrity to uphold the standards of conduct that we expect from our elected officials,” Ossoff said.

“It pains me that now we’re at a point where we’re simply relieved that the president of the United States is not a foreign spy. That’s a pretty low bar for the presidency,” he added. “How do public servants like David Perdue go to work everyday and go meet their constituents everyday, in good faith, knowing that you’re enabling a liar and a fraud who’s abusing his power? And who doesn’t treat people with the basic respect that we demand children treat people with? Those are my thoughts on David Perdue.”

Former Cobb County Democratic Party Chair Michael Owens will run against Democratic Congressman David Scott in the 13th District, according to the AJC.

Owens contends that Scott, 73, has been absent and out of step with his solidly-Democrat southwest Atlanta district, which sweeps from Powder Springs to Stockbridge. He pointed to Scott’s residency outside the district – he lives in the neighboring 5th – and his recent support of Republican incumbents, including U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, ex-Rep. Mia Love and Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce.

“Those relationships aren’t bringing home the bacon,” Owens said in an interview. “What those Republican relationships are doing is making it harder for us to flip seats here in Georgia. It sows discord among those of us who are fighting the most.”

Owens said Scott, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, has gotten too cozy with the payday lending industry and other corporate interests. He singled out Scott’s vote last year in favor of rolling back portions of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul.

“I want to make sure that we stop allowing and supporting policies that are directly attacking our black and brown communities,” the Mableton resident said.

Municipalities in Chatham County presented their wish list project for a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Savannah Morning News.

SPLOST 7, if approved by voters on Nov. 5, would begin collections on Oct. 1, 2020, and run for six years.

The requests are the first step in the process that will include negotiations with the county and municipalities and prioritizing projects. Intergovernmental agreements are needed to allow for a six-year SPLOST collection, otherwise the one cent tax can only be collected for five years.

Chatham County Chairman Al Scott said the lists should be finalized by August.

The United States Navy will name an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer after former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced on Monday that Nunn — who served as the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman for years — will be the namesake of an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer that will be built in the future. The Navy has not specified when the ship will be built.

“Senator Nunn’s impact on the Navy and Marine Corps team cannot be overstated,” Spencer said in a statement. “His leadership in the Senate, specifically as the long-serving chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, helped streamline the military chain of command and strengthen our Navy and Marine Corps team.

“I am pleased that Senator Nunn’s legacy of service to our nation will continue in the future USS Sam Nunn.”

Current U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., praised the Navy’s decision to name the ship in honor of Nunn. These days, Purdue is the senator from Georgia who sits on the Senate Armed Forces committee.

“Senator Sam Nunn is a good friend of mine,” Perdue said in a statement on Twitter. “His knowledge of national security issues is unmatched. As Chairman of SASC, Sam worked across the aisle to solve monumental issues during trying times. Sam is a great American, and I’m delighted to see him honored in this way.”

Chatham County is projecting that the SPLOST 7 would raise $400 million dollars over its six-year course, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Former Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau will be among ten U.S. veterans honored by the French government for his role in D-Day, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division is accepting entries for a commercial food shrimp cast-net lottery, according to The Brunswick News.

For the past 20 years, what’s called a controlled-access system for commercial food shrimp netting’s been in place, with an annual limit of 200 licenses. It won’t be known how many new licenses are up for this year until the license renewal deadline passes June 1.

To be part of the lottery, people need to complete and submit an application to CRD no later than 4 pm. on June 6. Applications are available at coastaldnr.org/commercialfishing, and from the DNR’s Coastal Regional Headquarters at One Conservation Way in Brunswick. Only one application per person is allowed.

Five candidates qualified for an open seat on Thomasville City Council, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A person to fill a vacant Thomasville City Council seat is expected to be chosen at a Monday, May 13, city council meeting.

The vacancy to be filled resulted when Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Greg Hobbs, former District 1 city council member and council-appointed mayor, after Hobbs was indicted in February on city-related charges.

The qualifying period ended Friday, April 26. City council members received the names last week.

“The plan is they’ll be ready to vote Monday night,” Carson said.

The council will vote in the open during the meeting.

Applicants were vetted to ensure they meet qualifications for the council position. Qualifications are the same as if those applying were running in a regular race for a council seat. Those applying must live in District 1 and be a registered voter.

The court disposition of the case against Hobbs’ will determine if or when he can return to the council.

Statesboro City Council will consider a contract for a new City Manager and the proposed FY 2020 budget today, according to the Statesboro Herald.

3
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 3, 2019

May 3d is National Widow’s Day.

Georgia delegates convened in Augusta on May 4, 1789 to approve a new state Constitution and consider amendments.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

One year and one day after General Sherman began the Atlanta campaign, on May 4, 1865, Atlanta surrendered. On the same day, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia and into the Wilderness. The Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, between the Army of the Potomac, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

One year after that, on May 4, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet convened in the old Georgia State Bank Building, which was located at the site of the present-day Wilkes County Courthouse in Washington, Georgia.

On May 5, 1886, Jefferson Davis attended a public reception at Savannah, Georgia’s City Hall.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young threw a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers on May 5, 1904.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, making a 15 minute sub-orbital flight that reached an altitude of 115 miles, during which he experienced about five minutes of ‘weightlessness.’ He was launched in the 2,000-lb. capsule Freedom 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida… The flight traveled 302 miles at a speed relative to the ground of 4,500 mph. The mission was named Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7.

On May 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played a show at Georgia Southern.

The British band played in Hanner Fieldhouse to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 people, according to a retrospective by Jim Hilliard in the Statesboro Herald. The gym’s capacity was about 1,500.

Hilliard said organizers figured they could sell 1,800 tickets at $2.50 each, which would be enough to pay the band and have some money left over for expenses.

The Stones had played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday, May 2, and advance ticket sales were brisk the Monday and during lunch Tuesday, the day of the concert.

Hilliard said he signed the contract booking the Stones on behalf of Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity. The contract called for the new fraternity to pay the band $3,000 for the appearance. Hilliard said he got a $1,500 loan from First Bulloch Bank to make the deal happen.

The Stones were expected to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play for at least an hour, but Hilliard had lined up three front bands, and “it proved to be a fatal flaw in plans for the concert,” he said in his retrospective.

The noise was deafening as the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — hit the stage nearly an hour late.

Jagger and the other band members were “openly hostile” at having to wait so long to play.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard members shot into a crowd of protesting students, killing four and wounding nine others on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

On May 4, 2003, I married Mrs. GaPundit. Saturday would have been our 16th Anniversary. May the Fourth be with you, my love. The Leia to my Luke Han.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission sent Governor Brian Kemp short lists for three vacancies, according to the Daily Report.

Nominees are now on the governor’s desk to fill vacancies in the Coweta, Macon and Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Courts. They could become some of the governor’s first judicial appointments since taking office in January.

The Coweta Judicial Circuit vacancy was created by the resignation of Judge Jack Kirby. Kirby retired at the end of January after a 40-year legal career. He was appointed to the Superior Court in 2006.

The Macon Judicial Circuit opening comes from the resignation of Judge Edgar W. Ennis Jr. He also retired at the end of January after 11 years in that job and 44 years of law practice.

The Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit spot will fill the seat of Judge Gail Flake. In 1993, then-Gov. Zell Miller appointed her to that post. Flake is retiring from the bench after a 42-year legal career.

Jill Biden, a potential First Lady, will speak in Dunwoody on May 15, according to the Reporter Newspapers.

House Bill 12 by State Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) will require schools to post a number for reporting bullying, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

“These horrific things are happening, and we’ve just got to take a stand and we’ve got to stop them,” Williams said Thursday.

“It’s just encouraging people to speak up, take a stand and be alert, and if you see something, say something,” he said.

The bill stalled in the Senate last year but sailed through the General Assembly this year. The sign will include the 24-hour phone number for the state Division of Family and Children Services.

Senate Bill 48 by State Senator P.K. Martin, mandates dyslexia screenings in public schools, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp has signed off on a measure that requires new teachers to be trained how to spot signs of dyslexia and mandates that – eventually – all kindergartners will be screened for the language disorder.

“Today is a great day. It’s a day that we finally acknowledge dyslexia in our Georgia code,” said state Sen. P.K. Martin, a Republican from Lawrenceville, speaking at a bill-signing event held Thursday at the Wheeler High School library in Marietta.

“From this day forward, we will begin the process of making sure that all students receive the tools that they need to succeed,” Martin said.

Tina Engberg, who is the state leader for the parent advocacy group Decoding Dyslexia Georgia, which was formed in 2013, said she was elated to see years of hard work at the state Capitol culminate with the bill’s signing.

“We’re the parents who know our children are dyslexic,” said Engberg, whose teenage son is dyslexic. “There are vast numbers of people who don’t yet know that about their child, and this is why (the bill) is so important.”

Between 190,000 to 380,000 Georgia students likely struggle with dyslexia, according to the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr spoke to the Albany Herald.

Before speaking at a joint meeting sponsored by the Albany Rotary Club on Thursday, Carr talked with The Albany Herald about the state and national opioid crisis, about Georgia’s gang problem, about storm recovery in southwest Georgia and about his decision to include Georgia in a multistate lawsuit to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional and therefore stricken from national law.

“There are two ways you can deal with the gang problem we face in Georgia,” a slimmed-down Carr said over a cup of coffee at Elements Coffee in Albany. “You can acknowledge there is a problem and deal with it, or you can pretend it’s not a problem and things will get worse.”

“Fortunately, Gov. Kemp appointed Vic Reynolds of the GBI to head a statewide task force charged with tackling this issue. He couldn’t have selected a better man for the job. And, already, there’s buy-in from three U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the GBI, Corrections, Justice, sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys. They’re all saying, ‘Let’s talk.’ That’s a big step.”

Talking about the human trafficking issue that he says is “much more widespread than people think,” Carr said both the federal and state governments are taking steps to halt the “despicable act” of luring children and teens into the sex trade using drugs and other means. The attorney general said almost 800 youngsters from 135 to 140 counties in the state were taken for the purpose of human trafficking last year.

“People can talk about First Amendment rights all they want — and I’m a big First Amendment guy — but I don’t think selling children for sex falls under the First Amendment of the Constitution in any way or form,” he said.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter may run for reelection as a Democrat in 2020, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter pledged Thursday to run for reelection next year for one final term as the county’s top prosecutor.

Whether he’ll do that as a Republican — which he has done every time he’s run since he was first elected in 1992 — or flip parties and run as a Democrat remains to be seen. As Gwinnett’s political demographics change, he’s not ruling out either party for his run in 2020.

“I have things that I want to do over the next five years and if I’m going to run, I’m going to run where I feel I have the highest chance of success because I don’t know the difference between a Democratic prosecutor and a Republican prosecutor,” Porter said.

“I think if a prosecutor changes because they’re either a Republican or a Democrat, then they’re not doing their job. The other thing is I haven’t had opposition since 1992, so I’m going to have to learn again how to run a political race so if I talk to people I trust and we think our best chance is switch parties, then that’s what I’ll do.”

 

WABE‘s Emma Hurt looks at the toll in Southwest Georgia from stalled federal disaster funding.

This week a group of Southeastern Senators, including Georgia’s renewed efforts to pass a federal disaster relief package. For months it’s been stalled in a partisan debate over how much money should be included for Puerto Rico.

In Southwest Georgia, farmers have been waiting for the aid since October, when Hurricane Michael devastated the region.

Garet Franklin owns a Ford dealership in town, and it’s also clear to him agriculture runs this local economy: “There’s me, the hospital and a huge peanut mill. And that’s the economy here. And the hospital’s full of farmers, I sell to the farmers, and the farmers are what allow the peanut company to exist.”

And the farmers have taken a big hit in Southwest Georgia. Hurricane Michael was a category five storm that brought 150 mile per hour winds and destroyed $2.5 billion worth of crops in the state last fall.

Georgia has already lost its top pecan-producing state status to New Mexico, with no quick way to get it back. Pecan trees take a decade to mature.

Steve Singletary is chairman of the Bank of Early in Blakely and runs his family’s farm too. He said if there’s not a good crop this year, it’ll get even worse.

“Everybody’s tied to agriculture. Now that may not be your business but that’s what’s furnishing the money flowing around town, is agriculture,” he said. “And when it’s hurt, everybody hurts.”

The City of Atlanta could allow residents some say in up to 2% of city spending, according to the AJC.

Under the proposal being developed, residents could cast votes to determine how up to 2% of the city’s annual budget — roughly $13 million currently — is spent. The program is modeled after similar ones in Seattle, New York, and Durham, N.C.

At a work session Tuesday, Councilman Amir Farokhi said he proposed it to build trust in City Hall, which has been the center of a federal corruption investigation since January 2017.

Emory Healthcare will spend $1 billion dollars developing health facilities in Executive Park, in the City of Brookhaven, according to Georgia Health News.

Emory University announced Thursday that it’s planning a $1 billion development for Executive Park, which would include a 140-bed hospital.

That facility would focus on orthopedics, according to an article in the Reporter Newspapers. It would not have an emergency room.

The planned “live-work-play health innovation district” would take 15 years to build, Emory said. It would be across the street from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s massive health care project, which includes a $1.3 billion hospital, expected to open in 2025.

After adding DeKalb Medical Center last year, Emory currently operates 11 hospitals. Experts say the new hospital would require a certificate of need from the state in order to be built.

From the Brookhaven Reporter:

The Executive Park site is across the street from a massive new Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta medical complex under construction. Emory already operates several medical offices in Executive Park, including a joint medical and training facility with the Atlanta Hawks basketball team that opened in 2017.

Rezoning plans for the property at North Druid Hills and I-85 were filed May 1 with the city of Brookhaven. If all goes well, construction of a new Musculoskeletal Center building as part of Emory’s existing Orthopaedics & Spine Center could begin this fall, according to Robin Morey, Vice President and Chief Planning Officer for Emory University.

CHOA’s 70-acre medical campus across the street will include a $1.3 billion hospital. The two healthcare campuses will “bookend” each other, Morey said, and the location of both near the interstate makes it ideal for patients having to visit from throughout the state.

North Druid Hills Road traffic is already a concern for anyone who lives and drives in the area. Morey said building out medical offices and a hospital rather than retail at Executive Park would result in fewer cars.

Emory officials say they will be making road improvements within Executive Park to provide easy access from the North Druid Hills corridor in and out of the site and with the addition of roundabouts that will facilitate on-site traffic operation while discouraging cut through traffic to Sheridan Road. Emory is also working with CHOA to align their main entrances.

The city of Brookhaven recently purchased 1.5 acres of an unused parking lot on Buford Highway with future plans for the Georgia Department of Transportation to build a bridge over I-85 and into Executive Park. The city says the new bridge would provide a second entryway into southern Brookhaven and would relieve some of the traffic on North Druid Hills Road.

Middle Georgia tourism generates more than $6 billion dollars in economic activity yearly, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Macon’s culture, history and musical heritage are the biggest tourism drivers of a diverse landscape, said Gary Wheat, president and CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

There are museums like the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Tubman Museum and the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Then there’s the history behind the Cannonball House and Hay House.

The top site in Macon is the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Monument which averages about 150,000 visitors a year. The park’s expansion is projected to increase that number by 30 percent, Wheat said.

A hotel-motel tax brought in nearly $4 million in Bibb County in 2017 and a combined $2.9 million for Warner Robins and Perry, according to figures from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Those taxes help fund convention and visitors bureaus and some tourist attractions throughout the state. There’s also a separate sales tax charged for each night stay that goes to local municipalities and the state.

Lee County Commissioners discussed the use of proceeds from a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax passed earlier this year by voters, according to the Albany Herald.

“This meeting was to budget that money and identify some projects, identify the desires of some of our commissioners and get ready to get moving as quickly as we can improving transportation in Lee County for our citizens and hopefully for future investment,” Commissioner Rick Muggridge said.

T-SPLOST will be collected for five years before having to be voted on again, and Muggridge said the extra tax collections would provide an estimated $3 million a year for transportation projects in the county.

Muggridge said that currently, the county has been spending about a million dollars a year, averaging around 8 miles a year of resurfaced roads and almost no paving of current dirt roads.

“This will be a real change for us,” Muggridge said. “This is pretty exciting times.”

Georgia Power will drain the last ash ponds at Plant Yates, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The dewatering process of Ash Pond 2 is set to begin in mid-May, according to Aaron Mitchell, general manager of environmental affairs for Georgia Power.

Draining the water out of the large pond is a major step in completing the ash pond closure on the Plant Yates property, located along the Chattahoochee River in northwest Coweta.

The water will be pumped into a water treatment plant that has been built adjacent to the pond. Once treated, it will be discharged into the river.

Once the pond is drained, the coal ash – known in regulations as coal combustion residuals, or “CCRs,” will be removed from the pond and placed in an unlined Ash Management Area on another part of the Plant Yates property.

Former Flowery Branch Council member Mary Jones has died, according to the Gainesville Times.

2
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 2, 2019

On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games.

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Senators Johnny Isakson (R) and David Perdue (R) called again for disaster relief, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

“We’re not here today to talk about an agricultural disaster. We’re not here to talk about a hurricane, a storm or a fire,” said Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson during the event, which was held in Washington, D.C., but broadcast over the internet.

“We’re talking about a disastrous failure of the government of the United States of America to respond to the needs of its people,” Isakson said.

The nearly $14 billion aid package would benefit a range of states, including California, Alaska, Florida, the Carolinas and some Midwestern states, but Democrats have argued that the additional $600 million proposed for Puerto Rico, which is still struggling from a 2017 hurricane, is not enough.

Georgia Sen. David Perdue, a Republican, said he believes the two sides are close to striking a deal behind the scenes but noted that it would have to be something that President Donald Trump is willing to sign. Trump has groused on Twitter about the island’s use of federal funds it has already received.

“Just rest assured that we are not going to give up on this until we get this resolved and get disaster relief flowing to all these people across 12 states that are hurting today,” said Perdue, who is a close Trump ally.

Democrat Stacey Abrams is working on her next initiative, after passing on a 2020 Senate bid, according to the Savannah Morning News.

With her decision this week not to run for U.S. Senate, Abrams is directing her political energy squarely into promoting voting rights, the cause that helped propel her unsuccessful bid in Georgia last year to be the nation’s first African American female governor and made her a star in national Democratic circles.

Abrams’s command center is now Fair Fight Action, a nonprofit she formed in December to increase access to elections and combat what she describes as Republicans’ systemic efforts to suppress voters of color. The organization, where at least four former campaign aides work, has already filed a federal lawsuit over the election, lobbied for legislative reform and released videos featuring Abrams.

If the group is successful, it could help further boost the ranks of voters of color in Georgia, a state that saw a record turnout of 1.9 million Democrats last year, when Abrams narrowly lost the governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp. That could also bolster Democratic fortunes in 2020 – as well as Abrams personally if she decides to challenge Kemp to a rematch two years after that.

Rebecca DeHart, the past executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party, is Fair Count’s CEO. Abrams’s sister, Jeanine Abrams McLean, a longtime population researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the group’s program director.

Fair Count began in 1998 under another name: Third Sector Development, the group Abrams formed to provide technical assistance to community organizations in Southern states.

Fair Fight Action also got its start as a different organization that Abrams founded years ago, called Voter Access Institute. When Abrams changed the name in December, she also adjusted the group’s articles of incorporation to allow it to participate in political activity.

Governor Brian Kemp appointed Lynne Riley as State Treasurer, according to a state press release.

Riley, who previously served in the General Assembly and most recently led the Department of Revenue as State Revenue Commissioner, will be Georgia’s first female State Treasurer.

“A dedicated public servant throughout her entire career, Lynne was a strong advocate for her constituents in the General Assembly and led the Department of Revenue with integrity and skill. This promotion is well-deserved given her success within the Deal administration and mine. I am excited to appoint her to this position, and I am confident that she will excel in her new role,” said Governor Kemp.

“I want to thank Governor Kemp for this opportunity, and I look forward to beginning this new chapter in public service. To ensure that our best and brightest days are always ahead, I will work tirelessly in the Office of the State Treasury to make Georgians proud and keep the Peach State on solid financial ground,” said Lynne Riley.

“Lynne Riley is an excellent choice for State Treasurer, and I look forward to working with her in my capacity as Chief Investment Officer. The State Treasurer’s responsibilities are vast and increasingly complex, and while I have enjoyed serving in a dual capacity in recent years, I believe our state will be better served by having Lynne and I specialize in our respective areas and collaborate to meet the needs of Georgia’s citizens,” said Steve McCoy.

With Riley’s appointment, Steve McCoy will remain in his role as Chief Investment Officer. In the coming days, Governor Kemp will name Riley’s successor at the Department of Revenue.

Governor Kemp will today sign Senate Bill 48, by State Senator P.K. Martin, which includes dyslexia mandates for public schools, according to the AJC.

The legislation for the state’s first dyslexia mandate, Senate Bill 48, also requires new teacher training and a three-year pilot program to test out screening and intervention methods before the full-blown mandate to screen all kindergartners starting in 2024.

The state burn ban is now in effect through the end of September, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Every year, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division imposes restrictions on outdoor burning to comply with Federal Clean Air Regulations.

“During the summer months in Georgia, the ozone in the air we breathe can reach unhealthy levels,” said Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge. “The EPD has identified outdoor open burning as a significant contributor of the pollutants that form ozone. Consequently, outdoor open burning in metro Atlanta and larger counties is restricted during the warm-weather season.”

For more information about the state burn ban, visit epd.georgia.gov/air.

Former Governor Nathan Deal will speak at a University of North Georgia commencement this month, according to a press release from the University.

Deal, who was in office from 2011-19, is the keynote speaker at the 6 p.m. May 3 commencement, which honors graduates of UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business, College of Science and Mathematics, and Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis

Deal represented Georgia’s 9th District in Congress from 1993-2010 before his two terms as governor. He is also a retired U.S. Army captain.

Joy Hawkins, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, is the keynote speaker for the 3 p.m. May 4 ceremony, where she will address graduates of the College of Education and College of Health Sciences and Professions.

Hawkins previously served as director of Literacy for All and was a policy adviser and deputy chief operations officer for former Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) blames the Democratic Chair of the Judiciary Committee for the lack of direct testimony by Attorney General William Barr, according to AccessWDUN.

Collins issued a statement Wednesday, saying [Congressman Jerry] Nadler sabotaged the hearing by refusing to read a less-redacted version of the report.

“It’s a shame Members of the House Judiciary Committee won’t get the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Barr this Thursday, because Chairman Nadler chose to torpedo our hearing. The attorney general gave clear, informative testimony in the Senate Wednesday, as he offered to do more than a month ago in the House tomorrow.”

“By rejecting the chance to question Attorney General Barr or read the materials he’s provided, Democrats are trying to prolong an investigation the special counsel completed. Ultimately, though, they’re ignoring the will of the majority of Americans who want Congress to move on and secure our border and continue to strengthen our economy.”

The United States House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee approved legislation aimed at helping Right Whale populations, according to The Brunswick News.

A bill that would open up $5 million in annual grants to protect North Atlantic right whales received approval Wednesday in the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.

House Resolution 1568 — whose lead sponsor, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., is one of nearly two dozen people running for the Democratic nomination for president — provides $5 million per year from 2019 to 2029 that would go to relevant state and tribal agencies, research institutions and nonprofits with expertise required in right whale conservation.

“The SAVE Right Whales Act would authorize financial resources for research and to develop and test innovative technologies to reduce entanglements and ship strikes,” [Congressman Jared] Huffman said. “It would also direct NOAA to conduct a survey and map food sources in the Atlantic Ocean, which would valuable insight into the needs of right whales.”

U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., spoke for the Republican minority against the legislation.

“The Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife did hold a hearing on this issue on the North Atlantic right whale back in March, and what we also learned was that the right whale was hunted nearly to extinction through the late 19th Century, and that the North Atlantic population’s so small that it lacks a sufficient genetic pool to produce a growing population,” McClintock said. “We’ve heard shipping, other commercial activity, seismic testing blamed, but the fact is that other whale populations in the North Atlantic have been growing at a very healthy rate.”

The Gwinnett Daily Post brings more on the announcement by State Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross) for the 7th Congressional District.

“We have a unique opportunity to elect someone who reflects the values and the rich diversity of our district,” Lopez Romero said in a statement. “I know that I am the right person for the job.”

The immigration attorney joins a growing field of Democratic candidates including Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux, former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign official Nabilah Islam, former Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves and Snellville-based attorney Marqus Cole.

There has never been a Hispanic member of Congress elected from Georgia, although Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez said he believed a Latino candidate did run for the Fourth Congressional District seat several years ago.

“But she certainly is the first Latina running for Congress and she would be the first Hispanic to represent Georgia in Congress,” Gonzalez said.

“I think it is a national race,” Gonzales said. “In the last election, we saw Rep. Rob Woodall win by less than 500 votes in a highly contested race so that certainly makes this a very competitive race.”

“And that was in a mid-term election. For a presidential election, with the growth of the Latino electorate in Gwinnett County in particular, certainly you’re going to see a tremendous amount of attention to that race not only locally, but certainly nationally I think.”

“I’ll continue to use my expertise on immigration and international affairs to improve our world standing as a beacon of hope for democracy,” she said. “The narrative of Washington Republicans couldn’t be further from the truth. The immigrants I know are hard-working and embrace the best of American values.”

“I will push for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.”

Derik Minard has been appointed as the new Fire Chief for Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Brunswick Commission approved an intergovernmental agreement with Glynn County regarding flooding problems, according to The Brunswick News.

1
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 1, 2019

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.

Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_(1863-1865)

On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

On May 1, 1971, “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night was the #1 song in the nation.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

On May 1, 1991, Rickey Henderson broke the major league baseball stolen base record on the same day that Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball, recorded his seventh no-hitter.

The official state tartan of Georgia was designated on May 1, 1997.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Carolyn Meadows of Georgia was elected President of the National Rifle Association, beating incumbent Oliver North, according to Breitbart.

The National Rifle Association board of directors re-elected CEO Wayne LaPierre in Indianapolis on Monday. The NRA board also elected Carolyn Meadows as the new president of the powerhouse organization and granted outgoing president Lt. Col. Oliver North a lifetime seat on the NRA’s executive council.

The board elected Meadows as president, only the third woman ever to hold that position. She has served on the NRA board of directors since 2003, and has been second vice president since 2017. As such, it was expected that the board of directors would eventually elect her to the president’s chair.

Meadows is a longtime political veteran, not only on Second Amendment issues but of other conservative issues as well. For years she was the national committeewoman representing Georgia on the Republican National Committee, and has been in leadership at the American Conservative Union (ACU) and its movement-wide flagship annual event, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

NRA officers serve one-year terms, and the remaining officers were all reaffirmed. The board of directors will vote again on the organization’s leadership after its 2020 annual meeting, which will be held in Nashville.

From Patch.com:

The new president of the National Rifle Association is a lifelong East Cobb resident who lives in metro Atlanta’s 6th congressional district which has already been declared a battleground 2020 election. Carolyn Dodgen Meadows was elected during the NRA’s recent national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, and in a recent interview, she said whoever eventually becomes the Republican nominee against McBath will get the NRA’s endorsement.

Meadows has worked on dozens of county, state and national political campaigns, including campaigns for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole. She was an RNC national committeewoman from Georgia and served as a delegate for many years.

She has also been active in the American Conservative Union and served as chair of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association Board.

From the AJC:

Carolyn Meadows, newly elected as president of the National Rifle Association, promises to bring the group’s resources to bear when U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath is up for reelection.

She lives in the 6th Congressional District, where Democrat McBath campaigned, drew national attention and won in part on her gun control stances last year.

“Whoever (runs against McBath) will get an endorsement from the NRA,” Meadows said shortly after arriving home from the raucous NRA convention in Indianapolis.

Meadows, 80, is no stranger to political or fratricidal strife. She is a pioneer in Georgia Republican politics. She campaigned door-to-door for Republican Bo Callaway as governor in 1966, when Georgia was deep blue. She ended up on the winning side of Cobb County Republican politics in 1988, when a subset of conservative Christians with eyes on Pat Robertson as a presidential candidate managed to corral power for a while.

She has served as a Georgia representative on the Republican National Committee, helped organize the 1999 state presidential campaign for Steve Forbes, and supported Casey Cagle for governor in 2018, bringing with her an NRA endorsement.

“She has shattered a lot of glass ceilings throughout her time,” Cagle said. “She is a testament to what hard work can do for you, and she never shied away from that. Or from her convictions.”

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will run as a Democrat for the United States Senate, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Tomlinson made the formal announcement Wednesday on Facebook — one day after fellow Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said she would not enter the race against incumbent Republican senator David Perdue.

“I’m running for U.S. Senate in 2020 because I have spent my life ensuring that government makes a positive difference in yours,” Tomlinson said in the Facebook video.

State Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross) has declared herself a candidate for the 7th Congressional District seat being vacated by Republican Rob Woodall, according to the AJC.

In an interview, the Gwinnett Democrat said she would focus her campaign for one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. House seats on improving workforce development and easing student debt while trying to avoid more “Washington dysfunction.”

Lopez Romero said she planned to emerge from the crowded field by recruiting more first-time voters who often skip primaries. The district, which spans parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, is home to one of the nation’s more diverse electorates.

“The district should have already flipped – it’s trended Democratic for years,” said Lopez Romero. “We didn’t do well in 2018 to reach out to those potential first-time voters. We need Democrats that have been disenchanted or haven’t been reached, and if we do we can flip the 7th.”

Lopez Romero, an attorney who was born in Mexico, defeated a well-connected party activist in 2016 to become the first Latina elected to the state Legislature. She emerged as a party go-to on immigration and voting rights issues, and a staunch opponent of GOP-backed restrictions on abortions and expansion of gun rights.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr will investigate allegations of the Roman Catholic church covering up child abuse allegations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia’s attorney general Tuesday has followed more than a dozen state prosecutors by reportedly opening a probe into sex abuse claims against the Catholic Church – this time in a region whose leader heads in a few weeks to take over the scandal-ridden Archdiocese of Washington.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta reported that Attorney General Chris Carr and others have been working on the case since summer, and the investigation itself is just starting, the outlets reported.

Carr told Channnel 2 that his office has been in “open dialogue” with the church and that Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory encouraged them to do the investigation. Georgia has a second Catholic diocese, based in Savannah, which is also included in the probe.

Carr told the Atlanta media that the investigation will be handled by Georgia’s Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council. If any prosecutions come out of the investigation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, they’ll be handled on a local level, he said.

“I heard from those that I go to church with every Sunday,” Carr, who is Catholic, told the Journal-Constitution and Channel 2. “And I saw the level of anger and frustration and distrust. Both on a personal and professional level, this was important to me. I think it’s important that we hold accountable those that have done wrong but also lift the cloud of suspicion from those that may not have.”

Senate Bill 15 by State Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) is under fire from activists asking the Governor to veto the legislation, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The critics, who delivered a petition to the governor’s office, said the bill’s vague language requiring schools to report suspicious incidents to authorities could lead to racial profiling and overpolicing.

“This bill will take something as simple as a schoolyard fight and turn it into, potentially, a criminal record,” said Democratic Rep. Renitta Shannon of Decatur. Shannon said it would be better to focus on common-sense gun control and add more counselors in schools.

Bill sponsor Sen. John Albers, a Republican from Roswell, responded in an emailed statement Tuesday that the bill only requires reporting “a reasonable suspicion of violent criminal activity.” He emphasized the word “reasonable.” Albers had previously said the goal of the legislation is to identify problems before they happen. Albers said he spoke about the bill with parents from Parkland, Florida, where 17 high school students and staff were killed by a gunman in February 2018.

The bill would also require that public schools in Georgia receive a threat assessment every four years and conduct regular violence- and terrorism-response drills. It would create the position of “school safety coach” and a smartphone app that students and others could use to report suspicious activity.

From a separate story in the Valdosta Daily Times:

The bill allows students and others to anonymously report “suspicious, unsafe or unlawful activity” through an app maintained by the state’s counterterrorism agency. And it tasks principals, or their designees, with reporting suspected criminal activity – particularly any potentially violent act – to local law enforcement.

“We do recognize that there are opportunities where we don’t want to get law enforcement involved in our children’s lives too early,” Rep. Trey Kelley, a Republican from Cedartown who serves as the majority whip, said of a last-minute change that attempted to narrow the scope of what principals are to report.

“But when there’s a reasonable suspicion of violent criminal activity, we owe that responsibility to our children and our teachers to address it,” Kelley said.

The anonymous tips would be made through an app overseen by the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the state’s post-9/11 agency that gathers counterterrorism and criminal intelligence information.

The bill also requires schools to hold mass casualty drills – with or without students present – and undergo regular reviews to pinpoint security vulnerabilities.

Prospective medical cannabis users face uncertainty in supplies of the medicine, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The in-state production and selling of low THC oil was legalized by Gov. Brian Kemp when he signed Georgia’s Hope Act into law on April 17. But there are factors at play beyond just the simple limitations of plant growth, harvesting and production.

Georgia medical marijuana advocates think it will be one to two years before the first batch of state-sanctioned THC oil is ready for patients. That means many patients who need the oil now still don’t have a legal way to get it in Georgia.

The new law leaves most of the state’s medical marijuana program in the hands of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, an appointed board with broad powers that include issuing licenses to producers and establishing quality control requirements.

Members have not yet been appointed, and the commission must be formed before growing can begin, said state Rep. Micah Gravley, one of the sponsors of the act.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway will continue participating in the federal 287(g) immigration program, according to the AJC.

Over the past decade, Conway’s deputies working in the Gwinnett County jail have questioned more than 52,000 arrestees about their immigration status. Nearly 15,000 of those questioned have been handed over to federal immigration authorities as part of the controversial program.

“It has saved people,” the sheriff said in a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I certainly think there have been fewer child molestations, rapes, murders, robberies.”

Conway says he’ll renew his agency’s participation in 287(g) when the three-year term of the current agreement with the federal government expires in June. And while such renewals have garnered little attention since Gwinnett joined the program in 2009, a growing protest movement is already forming to oppose the sheriff and Gwinnett’s continued participation in 287(g) — with an eye toward making the program a central issue in the 2020 election season.

Two Democrats have announced their intentions to run to replace Conway as sheriff of the state’s second most populous county, a quarter of whose 927,000 residents are foreign-born. Both challengers have said they oppose the program.

An Augusta Commission committee approved an additional $100,000 dollars to fight U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to lower the level of the Savannah River, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta leaders could be getting more ammunition in the fight to save New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam after an Augusta Commission committee on Tuesday approved $100,000 more for experts. Some Augusta residents also said Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis’ taxpayer-funded vehicle needs to keep a city decal on it.

The Augusta Commission held a required public hearing needed before the decals could come off, as Davis has requested out of concern for his safety. Arlene White said Davis can choose what he wants on his city vehicle “as long as he pays for (the vehicle) himself” which elicited laughs and cheers from the audience. There was no action after the short hearing and the commission would have to give its approval for the decals to come off, Commissioner Sammie Sias said.

Augusta Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier had requested the additional money in part because the two expert firms hired by the city, Merrick & Co. and Cranston Engineering Group, had already exceeded the $45,000 Augusta and North Augusta allocated for them by more than $36,000 in the furious run-up to get the cities’ lengthy comment about its objections to a plan proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the deadline.

Lyle Grant was placed on paid leave as Varnell Police Chief after the District Attorney referred allegations to a grand jury, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Varnell Police Chief Lyle Grant was placed on paid administrative leave on Tuesday after District Attorney Bert Poston said a Whitfield County grand jury will hear evidence from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on May 30 concerning Grant’s providing a county-owned, encrypted radio to a Dalton wrecker service.

Mayor Tom Dickson said Grant is on leave pending a decision by the grand jury. Lt. Greg Fowler will serve as interim chief.

The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office referred the matter to the GBI in March after Grant gave the radio to Bob Cummings, owner of Bob’s Wrecker Service in Dalton. The sheriff’s office said in a statement at the time, “It was determined shortly after starting the investigation that criminal charges could arise from this incident, therefore the case was turned over to the GBI to investigate.”

“Until the district attorney actually had done something, there had been nothing to say Chief Grant had done something wrong,” Dickson said. “I think what he did was probably not the right thing to do, but did it go to the level of being criminal? The sheriff’s office had made some allegations, but allegations are not charges. The District Attorney’s Office saying they would present this indictment gives it a little more weight. Pending the outcome of that, we will decide what to do moving forward.”

The Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority hired Vanessa Wagner as their new director of business development, according to The Brunswick News.

Wagner has more than 10 years of marketing, sales and business development experience in public and private sector industries. She most recently worked in the Washington D.C. metro area, where she served as the small business and entrepreneurship manager for the Loudoun County Economic Development Authority, the No. 1 county in Virginia for business growth from 2016 through 2018.

“I am excited to bring the skills and experience I have gained in my past economic development and other marketing roles to support the long-term vision for Brunswick and Glynn County,” she said. “During my visit to the area I was impressed with the infrastructure and existing resources for the business community. I can’t wait to help tell Brunswick and Glynn County’s story to help attract new opportunity.”

The Glynn County Commission discussed spending SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds for a new animal control center, according to The Brunswick News.

n SPLOST 2016, the commission set aside $1.5 million for a new animal control facility. After paying an architect — Ussery Rule Architects — to design a new shelter, $1.33 million is left. The architect’s design is estimated to cost $2-2.5 million, depending on how much fat is shaved off.

Building the proposed shelter out as designed would cost an estimated $2.5 million. By changing some construction materials and building half of the dog kennels, the cost could be reduced to $2 million.

[Commissioner Allen] Booker suggested paying for the money out of the county’s pocket and reimbursing itself with SPLOST 2020 revenue.

The county could do that, or could issue bonds to cover the cost and use SPLOST revenue to pay off the bonds, Mumford said.

Ultimately, the commission decided to hold off on making a formal decision to give [County Attorney Aaron] Mumford time to prepare a list of funding options.

The Rome city school board will discuss transportation at a retreat, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Hall County‘s burn ban begins May 1, according to the Gainesville Times.

30
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 30, 2019

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis arrived in LaGrange, Georgia for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham‘s announced retirement has drawn two candidates into the 2020 election for an open seat on the state’s high court.

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle was first out of the gate, according to the Daily Report.

“This is an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often—for there to be an open seat,” Doyle told the Daily Report Friday.

Both developments are historic for the court. Benham is the longest-serving member—appointed by Gov. Joe Frank Harris in 1989—and the first African American justice. His departure will leave the court with only one jurist of color: Chief Justice Harold Melton. The court also has only one woman, Justice Sarah Warren—appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal last year. Only three other women have served in the court’s history:  Justice Leah Ward Sears, who retired in 2009; Justice Carol Hunstein, who retired last year; and Justice Britt Grant, who left last when when President Donald Trump nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

“I started thinking about this a couple of years ago,” Doyle said Friday. That’s when she finished her term as chief judge, and she missed the administrative and representative duties. In talking with justices she knows, she thought she would enjoy the greater role they play on state commissions and boards. Plus she loves writing opinions and delving into the kind of cases that usually go on to the high court from the intermediate appellate court, she said.

“The things that get you excited are those bigger cases that are usually taken up on cert. Those are the ones that keep you up at night,” she said.

Doyle ran for an open seat to win election to the Court of Appeals in 2008. The former Holland & Knight partner beat six opponents to win the job.

Former Democratic Congressman and 2018 candidate for Secretary of State John Barrow has also announced, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Barrow, who lost a December runoff for Georgia secretary of state to Brad Raffensperger, said in a statement that he hopes to replace retiring Justice Robert Benham.

“When Justice Benham retires, the Supreme Court will lose almost as much experience as the rest of the court combined,” Barrow said. “That’s why I’m running, to offer my experience to help maintain the kind of balance we want in our Supreme Court.”

Barrow said former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans will chair his campaign. Evans lost in the Democratic primary to nominee Stacey Abrams.

Barrow’s father was a Superior Court judge who oversaw the integration of Clarke County, Ga., schools in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. He attained his law degree from Harvard Law School, has clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 5th and 11th circuits, and practiced law for 23 years, the statement said.

Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she will not run for the United States Senate against Republican Senator David Perdue, according to GPB News.

In an interview with GPB News Monday night, Abrams said that she is also not ruling out a White House run next year but will also not provide a timeline for any decision on that race. There are currently 20 candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

“What I want is to continue to address the challenges that I see in our state and in our country around voter suppression and making certain that people are counted in the census,” she responded, without missing a beat.

The former state House Minority Leader said she will instead continue to work on two Georgia-focused initiatives, Fair Fight (dealing with Georgia’s elections) and Fair Count (dealing with the census) and find ways to “continue to center Georgia, but think about how we as a state continue to be a part of a national conversation.”

Her next run is likely to be a rematch with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who narrowly defeated Abrams in a nationally-watched race that served as a proxy war over voting rights and the role the state should play in overseeing elections.

Abrams spoke to the New York Times for an article published earlier this week.

“If people I respect legitimately think this is something that could be so,” Abrams said about the possibility of a challenge for the country’s highest office, “and it’s not my mom and sister saying, ‘You should do this,’ then I owe those people the courtesy of thinking it through.”

Do you have self-doubt about anything? I don’t characterize it as self-doubt. I characterize it as evaluation. You should always give thought to what you want and why you want it, and that’s why for me having an unusually public rumination has been a bit discomfiting. These are important jobs. It’s not that I doubt my capacity, but I need to make certain I’m doing it for the right reasons. Yes, I believe I could win a Senate election. I’m determined. I’m a very good campaigner. But the question is: Do I want to do the work of being a senator in the way that I think it should be done? And am I the best person? The answers may be no. But knowing that is not a function of doubt or confidence. It’s a function of: Is this the most effective role for me to play? And: Does it help me do the work that I think needs to be done?

What about self-doubt outside politics? Dating has been this sort of glaring issue.

Welcome to the world. Exactly. I’ve jokingly said I wasn’t good at dating so I stopped doing it. I regret that I allowed self-doubt in that one area to color how I approached an entire facet of my life. I’m working to remedy that, but it’s taken some time for me to get there. So yes, I am capable of self-doubt. It’s usually not in the professional space, but in the romantic-relationship space.

Given how well you did in that election with increasing turnout, what factors explain your opponent, Brian Kemp, doing as well as he did and winning? Georgia’s a very divided state. In the South, and in Georgia in particular, race is the strongest predictor of political leanings.

The white population is still largely Republican, and the communities of color are largely Democratic-leaning. That means you have a divided politics. I’ve never denied that. The issue is, are all of the people speaking up? That has not been so in Georgia. In the 2014 election cycle, 1.1 million Democrats showed up. In my cycle, 1.9 million. That addition of 800,000 voters is emblematic of who wasn’t speaking up before. But what we call attention to are the 1.4 million-plus who were purged and the 53,000 who weren’t processed and the thousands who were given provisional ballots. I do not believe that Georgia has made this dramatic transition to a space where we no longer have conservatives in the state. My point is that I believe we have reached a place where those who share my values actually outnumber those who share the values of my opponent. And that wasn’t made manifest because of his structural racism and how he diminished people’s ability to vote.

I saw that recently you said something like you’d won your election but you just didn’t get to have the job. Yes.

From the AJC:

[Abrams's decision] triggers a new phase of the Senate race, which has been slow to develop while Abrams has deliberated. She plans to stay neutral in that contest, which so far has attracted one candidate who said she would run only if Abrams does not.

In the interview, Abrams said she was tempted by the possibility of challenging Perdue, who she said has struck “an allegiance with Donald Trump that’s not in the best service of Georgians.”

But she’s long favored seeking an executive role, she said, and stuck with her instincts after much deliberation.

“It’s a job. In the hullabaloo of running for office there’s an amnesia about that. People are interviewing for a job and the responsibility is to think through that job. And you have to think about what it’s like in the worst day of that job,” she said.

Even as she closed the door on a Senate run, she pointedly did not rule out a White House bid. She’s stoked that possibility in a string of headline-generating appearances, though she’s issued no firm timeline on her decision.

“This conversation was about the Senate,” she told the AJC. “I have not decided what I’m going to do about other races, but Georgia will always be at the center of my plans.”

Former Bibb County Superintendent of School Romain Dallemand entered prison in Ocala, Florida, to serve his sentence for a tax evasion conviction, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Warner Robins Economic Development Director Gary Lee has been reinstated to the position from which he was suspended after an indictment, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“After careful and prayerful consideration I have come to the decision to reinstate Gary Lee to active service with pay,” [Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Keith] Lauritsen said in the release. “I believe it to be in the best interest of the city to allow the district attorney’s case against Mr. Lee to be resolved, and thus postpone any actions by the city until the outcome of this legal matter is determined.”

The charges against Lee stem from an investigation by the Houston County sheriff’s office into allegations of possible criminal misconduct allegedly made by Lee against another city employee in his department. Lee reported the allegations to Toms. Lee is accused of falsely telling a sheriff’s investigator that he did not sign a document regarding the city’s alcohol and controlled substance policy. The investigator concluded that Lee did sign the document.

Governor Brian Kemp traveled to Savannah to sign legislation renaming the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center as the Savannah Convention Center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Kemp sat in the building in question before a crowd of about 75 on Sunday afternoon where he signed House Bill 525 into law. He had been in town for a few days for his first 100 days tour. Last Thursday, Kemp announced that a California-based plastics resin company is bringing close to 200 jobs to Pooler.

“Today I’ll be signing a bill that creates the Savannah-Georgia Convention Center Authority, a new state-based entity right here in Chatham County, to oversee and maintain this building for future conventions, trade shows and economic development opportunities,” Kemp said. “This legislature also changes the building’s name from the Georgia International Maritime Trade Center to the Savannah Convention Center.”

Sen. Ben Watson (R-District 1) said the former name was a mouthful.

“The name was a little bit of a struggle prior to this, and this makes it a little bit simpler. It more accurately reflects the structure of the convention center, so the funding mechanism and the authority that will be governing it now will reflect what will be happening in the future,” Watson said.

The bill was sponsored by Ron Stephens (R-District 164) and initially passed the House in early March. On March 28, the Senate voted to pass the bill with an amendment introduced by Watson to assign the convention center under the Department of Economic Development for administrative purposes along with adding it to the list of state authorities. The House passed the bill on April 2.

The bill gives the governor the power to appoint six of its 11 voting members. Previously, each of six state representatives and two state senators from Chatham County ha[d] the ability to appoint a member to the local authority.

Governor Kemp also signed House Bill 471, which addresses police stops for suspected DUI, according to the AJC.

A new Georgia law prevents police officers from telling drivers that their refusal to take breathalyzer tests could be used against them in court.

The legislation, House Bill 471, changes the language police officers read to suspected drunk drivers when they’re pulled over.

The bill passed the Georgia General Assembly after the state Supreme Court ruled in February that requiring suspects to blow into breathalyzers is a violation of constitutional protections against self-incrimination.

Officers can still mandate blood or urine tests, and they can also ask drivers to voluntarily take breathalyzer tests.

Senate Bill 6 by States Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Cobb), to prevent drones from flying over state prisons, receieved Kemp’s signature, according to the AJC.

Gov. Kemp named three new members of the State Board of Education, according to the AJC.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced the appointment of Scott Sweeney to represent the 6th Congressional District on the state education board Monday. Sweeney, a businessman, is from East Cobb and represented the area during two four-year terms on the county school board. The Republican was defeated by a Democrat in his re-election bid last year, and replaces accountant Barbara Hampton on the state board.

Kemp also appointed retired Dougherty County Schools Superintendent David “Butch” Mosely to fill the open state board seat for the 2nd Congressional District. Mosely, who retired in 2017, led seven school districts and was named 1999 Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia Association of Education Leaders.

Jason Downey, a lawyer and former Macon-Bibb County school board member, was appointed to succeed Vann Parrott in the 8th Congressional District.

Kemp also named two new members of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, the agency that credentials teachers: Coweta County Schools Superintendent Steven Barker and retired teacher Catherine Jones, now the executive director of the Butts County Chamber of Commerce.

Qualifying has opened in a June 18, 2019 Special Election for Coweta County Sheriff, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Qualifying for the Coweta County Sheriff’s race began Monday morning and runs through noon on Wednesday.

Candidates for sheriff must pay a $2,425 qualifying fee and submit certified copies of their birth certificates and high school diplomas, as well as a fingerprint and background check performed by the Coweta County Probate Court.

The special election for sheriff, to fill the unexpired term of Mike Yeager, will be June 18. It will be the only issue on the ballot.

Early voting for the election runs May 28 to June 14, at both Coweta early voting locations – the Voter Registration Office at 22 East Broad St., Newnan, and Central Community Center, 65 Literary Lane, Newnan, near Sharpsburg. There will be one Saturday of early voting, June 8.

A federal court heard a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Stacey Abrams’s fundraising vehicle nonprofit Fair Fight Action challenges 2018 election procedures, according to AccessWDUN.

The lawsuit accuses the secretary of state and election board members of mismanaging the 2018 election in ways that deprived some citizens, particularly low-income people and minorities, of their constitutional right to vote. It seeks substantial reforms and asks that Georgia be required to get a federal judge’s approval before changing voting rules.

The suit was filed by Fair Fight Action, an organization founded by Abrams, and Care in Action Georgia, a nonprofit that advocates for domestic workers. Several churches, including Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the spiritual home of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., joined the suit in February.

They allege that November’s vote was marred by problems including long waits at polling places, absentee ballots that weren’t received or weren’t counted, missing or erroneous voter registration records, malfunctioning voting machines and poorly trained poll workers.

Lawyers for the state argue that allegations of “unrelated actions by mostly local officials” don’t amount to constitutional violations requiring judicial intervention and that the legislature, not the courts, should set election law.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones on Monday heard arguments on a motion from state election officials to dismiss the lawsuit. He gave the parties a week to submit additional briefs before he rules.

From the AJC:

Kemp signed a bill this month that calls for new voting machines that print paper ballots, extends the time before registrations are canceled and places limitations on precinct closures.

“The system worked,” said Josh Belinfante, an attorney for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “There were concerns raised. … The state fixed them.”

The legal complaint points to long lines on Election Day, erroneous cancellations of absentee ballots and voter registration purges of those who didn’t participate in recent elections. It also cites flaws in election management, including delays because voting equipment ran out of batteries and provisional ballots being withheld from some voters.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods (R) honored two Augusta area schools, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Two Columbia County schools were honored for two separate distinctions by the state school superintendent Monday.

Richard Woods presented a banner to students, faculty, staff and parents at Riverside Elementary School for its designation as a military flagship school by the state of Georgia. The school is the only one in the county to earn the honor, which is awarded for services and programs that cater to students of military families.

Martinez Elementary School became the first in the county to have a state science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, certification. The banner ceremony included presentations of STEM-related projects by students.

Augusta will continue spending to oppose federal plans to change the level of the Savannah River, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta has already spent much more than the $45,000 it allotted to put together a critique of the plan for New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam but the city has built a strong case to negotiate a better alternative with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a city official said.

Augusta’s battle to save New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam needs more funding, but the city has already laid out a strong case against the recommendation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and hopes to begin negotiations soon on an alternative, a city official said. But that request might meet with some skepticism as the fight has become blurred with a potential whitewater park that the Augusta Commission has yet to see.

29
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 29, 2019

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

A new historical marker in Savannah commemorates Mary Musgrove, who served as an interpreter for James Oglethorpe and helped maintain relations with the Creek Indians.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Department of Public Health is recommending measles vaccinations, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Three Georgians were diagnosed with the illness in January, bringing the total number of cases statewide to six.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. Health officials say it is particularly dangerous for infants who cannot be immunized until they are at least 12 months old and young children who have only received one dose of measles vaccine.

“Measles can be prevented through vaccination,” said Dr. Cherie Drenzek, chief science officer and state epidemiologist, Georgia Department of Public Health. “Keeping immunization levels high is critical to preventing outbreaks or sustained transmission of measles in Georgia. It also provides herd immunity for those who cannot be vaccinated.”

Health officials say people with symptoms of measles should contact their health care providers immediately but they should not go to doctor’s offices, hospitals or public health clinics without first calling to warn about any symptoms. Health care providers who suspect measles in a patient should notify public health immediately.

Governor Brian Kemp discusses his administration’s first 100 days in the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Amended 2019 Budget invested $69 million in security upgrades at all 2,292 schools in our state. By providing one-time, $30,000 grants, local leaders can determine the most effective way to keep students safe in the classroom.

In addition to upgrading security, the Amended Budget for 2019 doubles funding for mental health services in Georgia schools. These two budget items will ensure a safe and effective learning environment – no matter your ZIP code.

To keep our communities safe, we created a Gang Taskforce within the GBI. Led by gang prosecutor Jaret Usher, this highly specialized team will work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to stop gang violence and dismantle organized criminal networks.

During the 2019 Legislative Session, I was proud to partner with lawmakers to pass the Patients First Act. This legislation paves the way for state leaders to craft innovative flexibility options that help lower healthcare premiums, enhance accessibility, and ensure quality outcomes in every part of our state.

I was also proud to champion a carefully crafted, balanced bill that helps patients with chronic, debilitating diseases to get the medicine they so desperately need. House Bill 324 expands access to low THC oil without opening the door to recreational drug use.

Governor Kemp signed House Bill 387, which will allow volunteer fire departments to place liens on buildings owned by non-subscribers after fighting a fire, according to the Rome News Tribune.

House Bill 387 lets volunteer fire departments place liens against non-subscribers who ask for help but later refuse to cover the cost.

Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said about 25% of the fire departments in Georgia are volunteer. Many are nonprofits offering subscription services where no other protection is available.

“A (Georgia State) Firefighters Association representative contacted me about carrying it since I have a public safety background,” the retired Georgia State Patrol trooper said Sunday.

“It came out of an issue common to many volunteer fire departments across the state but also because of a substantial fire in Chatham County,” Lumsden added.

The featured bill at the signing ceremony was SB 77, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, which provides added protection for monuments within the state.

Former Forsyth Mayor Paul H. Jossey Jr., who served for twelve years, has died, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Former State Representative Joe T. Wood has died, according to the Gainesville Times.

In 1965, Wood started a run of 23 consecutive years serving the people of Hall, Forsyth and Dawson counties in the Georgia House of Representatives.

“He was especially strong at veterans affairs,” Jackson said. “We passed a lot of bills in that area.”

The Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, Ga. honored Wood by naming one of its buildings after him, which is a 150-bed capacity. He also worked to help secure funding for Gainesville College, Lanier Tech and Interstate 985.

Christopher Tomlinson, Executive Director of the State Road and Tollway Authority and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, said rental scooters could become part of transportation, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“For us, we’re looking at transit and wanting to coordinate with both the public sector and the private sector. (Scooter sharing services) Bird, Lime, (plus) ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft, (and) bikeshares,” Tomlinson said. “These are all parts of the region’s transit solutions.”

House Bill 930, which was signed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in May, created the 16-member Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, also known as the ATL, a new regional authority that will implement transit projects across 13 metro counties and ensure plans connect efficiently across jurisdictions.

Technology will be a key component the ATL will focus on, Tomlinson said, with the board expected to pursue this year policies and standards dealing with electric scooters, colloquially referred to by some as e-scooters.

Tomlinson’s comments follow the Marietta City Council’s unanimous vote in February to ban shareable dockless scooters, applying to rentable scooters provided by several companies, though residents will still be allowed to ride their own scooters.

Georgia’s United States Senators lauded Medicare rules changes, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, both R-Ga., had high praise for President Donald Trump’s administration Thursday after a proposed rule change regarding Medicare reimbursements was announced.

The rule change would allow rural hospitals in lower income areas receive high Medicare reimbursement payments.

“Too many Georgia hospitals have been forced to close in recent years, and it appears that this rule change is consistent with our efforts,” Isakson said in a statement. “If so, this is a huge victory for Georgians and it will help ensure patients have continued access to emergency and medically necessary care.”

Perdue said, “Improving the wage index will help protect rural hospitals in Georgia from devastating reductions in Medicare payments and ensure the long-term viability of our health care network. This is an important step toward leveling the playing field, and Sen. Isakson deserves a great deal of credit for his efforts on this issue.”

Limited broadband access is affecting agriculture in Georgia, according to the Albany Herald.

“We’re creating all sorts of useful data on machines in the field, but if we don’t have a reliable way to get it off the machines, processed and back into the farmers’ hands, it’s not going to be utilized,” Porter said.

Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia’s 1st District, Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia’s 8th District and Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr met with members of the UGA Precision Agriculture team and stakeholders from the Georgia Cotton Commission, Georgia Peanut Commission, Georgia Pecan Commission and the Flint River Water District on April 17 on the UGA Tifton campus to discuss the importance of broadband access for the future and sustainability of Georgia agriculture.

Porter and UGA agricultural engineer Glen Rains said tools such as auto-steer technology, variable rate irrigation, in-field controllers, smartphone apps, soil moisture sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles are all critical precision agriculture tools they use in their research for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. These technologies help UGA scientists be more efficient in the field, but many of the state’s producers are restricted by the lack of broadband access or poor-quality broadband service.

“We’re sitting on the cusp of all of this new and innovative technology. Most of our farmers have this technology, but it’s underutilized for that one reason,” Porter said.

“We know that information regarding our crops can change, sometimes hourly,” Porter said. “We know we definitely need daily decisions when we’re looking at it. We need the data uploaded and a decision made within a day, maximum. Sometimes we may want it a little faster if it’s a fast-moving disease. We just don’t want the information to be sitting on a controller or field computer for weeks or seasons at a time. The timeliness is gone. There’s very little use for it anymore.”

Three out of four options for the Columbus Government Center include partial or complete demolition and replacement, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Officials estimate around 300,000 square feet will be needed to replace the complex.

A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is the most likely source of funding for the project. Henderson said during his State of the City address earlier this year that he would ask council to consider the tax once the Muscogee County School District tax for special projects expires in 2020.

Voters would be asked to approve the tax that can only be utilized for capital projects.

South Georgia towns are seeing increased gang activity, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“Gang activity is located throughout the whole state of Georgia,” [GBI Special Agent in Charge Mark] Pro said. “It’s not just in larger cities. It’s everywhere.”The Georgia Gang Investigators Association tried to fill the void by polling local law enforcement early last year. The group tallied more than 71,000 gang members and associates in Georgia, which is a figure that includes prison inmates.

[Governor Brian]

Kemp often cites the group’s findings – and local news reports – when pledging to “stop and dismantle” criminal street gangs.

“All you have to do is pick up your local paper, turn on the television or talk to your law enforcement in your local community,” Kemp said at a recent press conference. “It is a serious issue in our state – one that we cannot afford to ignore if we hope to be the best state in the nation to live, work, start a business and raise family.”

In Lowndes County, the sheriff’s office reported at least 300 active gang members and associates claiming affiliation to everything from Crips to Ghost Face Gangsters and Aryan Brotherhood, the latter being white supremacist prison gangs.

Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk attributed roughly two-thirds of all local crime to gangs. Auto thefts and break-ins appear to be the most common gang-related offenses, but he said a recent murder was also gang related.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mike Hamby spoke to the Athens Banner-Herald.

What is the internal force that drives you in public service?

Hamby: I think the driving force is how can we have a government that provides the tools. It doesn’t necessarily do the work for people, but provides the tools to make their lives better. We need to make sure there are tools in our toolbox that can help people who live here in Athens achieve what they want to do with their lives. I think that is important. You have to think about what decisions you will be making will impact life for someone 10 years down the road.

What are issues facing this council in coming months?

Hamby: First off the bat is SPLOST 2020. This will be a transitional SPLOST. Affordable housing, not only in Athens, but across the country is an issue facing many cities. We have an opportunity with SPLOST to put $40 million into affordable houses. I looked at some examples. Seattle is putting $75 million in affordable housing. Washington, D.C., I think is spending $60 million and Atlanta around $50 million, so $40 million in Athens will take it a long way.

Another key component is a new judicial center. Out courthouse is over 100 years old. The community has grown and the number of judges we have has grown so we need new space that is safe and accessible.

Some Hall County officials still believe a local reservoir will be needed, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority ratified an extension of the letter of intent for the 850-acre county-owned property at its April meeting. The letter is the same from year to year but needs to be renewed annually.

Permitting work on the reservoir stopped in 2016, after the Georgia Environmental Protection Division said the proposed reservoir was not needed to meet the state’s water supply needs through 2050. Judson Turner, then-EPD director, said in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that revised population projections showed slower growth, so the new reservoir would not be necessary.

“We think when you look out to 2060 and you look at the growth, we definitely think it is going to be justified based on what population growth is going to be,” County Administrator Jock Connell said.

The county is waiting to see what happens with the “water wars” legal dispute between Florida and Georgia, Connell said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Water Control Manual update also could affect the project, he said. The manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin was last updated in 2017, and Corps spokesman Pat Robbins said updates are usually done every five years, depending on funding.

The City of Savannah has issued an RFP to operate Historic Grayson Stadium, where the Savannah Bananas play baseball, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Bananas currently pay the city $20,000 a year in rent, under the existing lease agreement. The new terms in the city’s request for proposals would require the operator to take over field maintenance, which costs the city about $103,000 a year, according to the RFP documents. The operator would also become responsible for providing janitorial services, pest control and paying the stadium’s electric bill. And a $1 surcharge would also be added to the cost of each ticket to help pay for stadium improvements.

In turn, the city would be responsible for capital expenses exceeding $5,000 involving the foundation, structure, roofs, walls, stadium seating, electrical and lighting systems, air conditioners, plumbing, and water heaters.

The city has proposed including $7.5 million for stadium improvements in the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum going before voters this fall. The improvements are unlikely to be included on the final SPLOST list, because of the limited amount of funding and priority being placed by staff and council members on other projects.

The Glynn County Commission will discuss a new animal shelter for Animal Control and a potential 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) vote, according to The Brunswick News.

“We’re going to receive a report on an option that (county) staff has come up with,” said commission Chairman Mike Browning. “They’re looking at every way they can to get it within budget. They came back and said they wanted to present us some options and get direction from the county commission.”

Commissioners set aside $1.5 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2016 revenue for the shelter, which it plans to build at the county’s public safety complex off the Ga. 25 Spur.

The subject of another penny sales tax first came up in public discussion at a county commission planning retreat in March. Commissioner Mike Browning said most commissioners were “receptive” to putting it on the ballot in the 2020 general presidential election.

Citizens voted to approve SPLOST 2016 during the 2016 general election. It will run for four-and-a-half years, ending in September 2020 or when $71,595,000 in revenue has been collected.

When interviewed in March, most commissioners were in favor of imposing the next SPLOST for the maximum duration, six years.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will host an open house to discuss improvements on the Tybee Island Causeway, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Project recorded the first nesting site of the season, according to the Savannah Morning News.

For the sixth straight year, the first nest was found on Cumberland Island National Seashore. Georgia Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Mark Dodd said the state’s southernmost barrier island has plenty of beach-nesting habitat, a number of female loggerheads that tend to nest there and a particularly dedicated Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative member, wildlife biologist Doug Hoffman of the National Park Service.

But Cumberland is just the start. Loggerheads, Georgia’s leading marine turtle and a protected species, nest on all barrier islands in the state. The season will hit full stride by June.

Loggerheads are already on track for recovery in Georgia. Gains in nesting for the big turtles named for their chunky heads are averaging 3 percent a year. Nesting in Florida and the Carolinas is also increasing.

While laying 1,735 nests in 2018, loggerheads had 2,155 nests in the state in 2017 and a record 3,289 the year before, when they topped for the first time a Georgia recovery benchmark of 2,800 nests.

26
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 26, 2019

Cashew Furever

Cashew is a young female Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Furever After Rescue in Macon, GA.

I need a new family to love me, to comfort me during thunderstorms and those horrible firework things. Yikes!! To be patient and understanding if I’m shy before I get to know you. But then I will surely think you hung the moon in no time!! I’d love to share adventures with you. I love to be on the go and would so enjoy a fenced in yard to play in. I’ve never been crated. I’m leary of little kids, they kinda scare me, but older children are great fun.

I love chasing critters in the yard and they say I’m predatory with cats whatever that means, they’re a no no. Doggie siblings welcome!! Could I be the right match to complete your family? I’m a beautiful 5 year old lab mix who would love nothing more than to snuggle on the couch with you. I’m a real sweetheart and a smart gal, even know some basic commands. I also know to go outside to do my business, am fixed up so I can’t have more babies and up-to-date on these awful shots they gave me and something called a microchip to boot. So, I’m good to go and hoping to find that perfect match!!

Buster Furever

Buster is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Furever After Rescue in Macon, GA.

I am a 1-2 year old lab mix. I must be mixed with something good because my foster family tells me I’m a good boy ALL the time! I am up to date on all vaccinations and neutered. I’m 100% crate trained and house trained. I’ve NEVER had an accident of any kind since coming into my foster’s home. I get along wonderfully with my fur siblings ( a female and male boxer) as well as my human foster siblings ( 2 boys ages 6 and 17 ).

I’m not sure how I behave around cats because I haven’t been around any but can be cat tested if needed. I know simple commands like sit and lay. I also know what hush means too! ? I love to play AND be lazy so I would be great with or without a house full of children. I would probably most enjoy having a fur sibling to play with because I play a whole bunch with my fur sister, Lucy. We play chase in the yard and love tugging on ropes and toys. If you think I might be a good addition to your family, let’s set up a meet and greet!

Kat Furever

Kat is a medium-sized, female 11-month old German Shepherd and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Furever After Rescue in Macon, GA.

I am a lean, long-legged puppy and my foster mom thinks I will be less than 40 lbs when I’m full grown. My perfect forever home will be one where I am part of a pack. I need a strong, confident handler who understands real dogs and confident fursiblings that I can run and play with. I love playing with other dogs and have been around cats without a problem. I am good with kids but I am not a “lovey dovey” dog who enjoys lots of petting; I display my affection during play and other ways. I am known to catch my foster family by surprise when I occasionally jump in their laps for some quick one on one time!

I walk beautifully on a leash. I am up to date on all vaccinations and spayed. I am also house trained and crate trained although I prefer to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. I will be the perfect companion for another dog and an active family who is looking to add a low maintenance, loyal pack member. I do not enjoy going to human stores but I had a blast last time I went camping!

26
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 26, 2019

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

On April 26, 1866, the Atlanta Ladies’ Memorial Association held a Confederate memorial observance at Oakland Cemetery for the first time.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it has become custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 26, 1913, 13-year old Mary Phagan was found dead, having been sexually assaulted, in the basement of a pencil factory in Atlanta. Guilt was pinned on the Jewish owner of the factory, Leo Frank. Frank was convicted, but later his sentence was commuted after Governor John Slaton concluded from his own investigation that Frank had been framed. Frank was later hanged by a lynch mob.

On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl in the Soviet Union.

Thirty-two people died and dozens more suffered radiation burns in the opening days of the crisis, but only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.

On April 27, Soviet authorities began an evacuation of the 30,000 inhabitants of Pripyat. A cover-up was attempted, but on April 28 Swedish radiation monitoring stations, more than 800 miles to the northwest of Chernobyl, reported radiation levels 40 percent higher than normal. Later that day, the Soviet news agency acknowledged that a major nuclear accident had occurred at Chernobyl.

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Trump Administration put a hold on expanding offshore drilling, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Trump administration is suspending plans to expand offshore drilling, including plans to drill off Georgia, after a recent court ruling blocked drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal.

Bernhardt said the agency would delay indefinitely its five-year plan for oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf as the case goes through the appeals process.

“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal in a report published Thursday. The plans had been expected to be released in the near future.

From the Brunswick News:

A March 29 federal court order invaliding an executive order behind the Trump administration’s offshore energy plans led to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ordering an indefinite suspension of all those efforts Thursday.

An Interior spokesperson told The Hill after the WSJ story broke, “Given the recent court decision, the department is simply evaluating all of its options to determine the best pathway to accomplish the mission entrusted to it by the president.”

Governor Brian Kemp will today signs a number of bills, including one to expand broadband access, according to the AJC.

The Republican will ink the broadband measures at a signing ceremony in Dahlonega, part of a stretch of mountainous north Georgia territory where residents have long complained about spotty connectivity.

The measures aim to bring more competition to residents with few options.

One proposal, Senate Bill 2, will allow electric membership corporations to sell internet service along with power. And Senate Bill 17 lets telephone cooperatives to offer internet services.

A third measure, Senate Bill 66, allows telecom firms to set up 5G technology equipment on public land. That proposal, however, will primarily benefit large cities that are likely to receive faster cellphone internet service long before rural areas.

Lawmakers tucked about $2 million into this year’s budget proposal for rural internet funding; some estimates project it will cost well over $1 billion to rewire the entire state.

Governor Kemp yesterday signed a number of other bills, according to AccessWDUN.

Among the measures getting Kemp’s signature was a bill sponsored by State Rep. Matt Dubnik of Gainesville. House Bill (HB) 287 amends portions of the state’s so-called PTIP program. (Read more at the link below).

The full list of legislation signed during the ceremony is below. Click on the House Bill number to see full content of each bill.

HB 186 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R – Savannah)
HB 321 by Rep. Jodi Lott (R – Evans)
HB 63 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta)
HB 287 by Matt Dubnik (R – Gainesville)
HB 290 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta)
SB 16 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta)
SB 18 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta)
SB 168 by Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus)
SB 184 by Sen Greg Kirk (R – Americus)
SB 207 by Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge)

Senator Chuck Hufstelter (R-Rome) discussed healthcare legislation passed this session, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“This was a huge year for healthcare … About 90% of what I wanted to see happen happened,” the Republican chairman of the chamber’s finance committee told the Rome Rotary Club.

Hospitals will have greater leeway to expand and add services under legislation revising certificate-of-need requirements.

“I’m a free-market person, but health care is not always a free market,” Hufstetler said in explaining the conflict. “There are some people who need to be treated for free and if someone just cherry-picked off the good business, that could leave (hospitals providing indigent care) vulnerable.”

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the legislation, HB 186, Thursday — along with a slew of other healthcare legislation — at a ceremony at CTCA in Newnan. Hufstetler was among the lawmakers invited, but the Rotary Club engagement conflicted.

He also hailed SB 16, which makes it easier for some specialists licensed in other states to get licensed in Georgia, and SB 18, which addresses direct primary care.

“If someone wants to contract with an independent physician — it’s usually around $50 a month — it’s not an insurance issue (anymore),” he said.

House Bill 287 by State Rep. Matt Dubnik was also among legislation signed by Gov. Kemp, according to the Gainesville Times.

House Bill 287 was introduced by Rep. Matt Dubnik and co-sponsored by Rep. Lee Hawkins, both Gainesville Republicans.

The legislation will get rid of an income tax deduction currently offered to physicians who teach future doctors and replace it with a new income tax credit. Registered nurses and physician assistants who train students would also qualify. Only community medical professionals, not those who work in a university setting, would be able to get the tax credit.

The goal is to incentivize medical professionals in Georgia to train the next generation of health care providers, Dubnik said.

“With the primary care shortage in Georgia, this is just another tool in our tool belt to keep those future doctors here in Georgia,” he said.

A Medicaid waiver proposal by the Kemp administration could be modeled on a proposal by Grady Memorial Hospital, according to the AJC.

Clark entered a program that Grady invented in 2017 to lower its emergency room costs by diverting some of its most frequent ER visitors into a specialized clinic. Grady leaders believe their program could be replicated across the state, and possibly across the country, to cover more patients at a lower cost.

As Gov. Brian Kemp explores options for a limited expansion of Medicaid in Georgia, Grady’s program could provide one way to bring more federal health care dollars into the state to cover more people in a cost-efficient way.

Kemp’s research into Medicaid waiver plans is just beginning. But the approach he has mentioned so far, several times, is Grady’s.

“They (the Trump administration) want us to figure out ways to innovate,” Kemp said in his most recent comments, on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB. “Grady has a plan” to better deliver the right health care to people, he said, and the administration wants states to develop ideas that can spread across the country. “People are very excited about this, and I am as well.”

Since the clinic started in 2017 with a $2 million private grant, it’s enrolled about 250 patients. Some fell out of the program, and others kept up with appointments but didn’t follow directions. Overall, 64 patients have graduated, moving on to regular care teams. Grady estimates the pilot project saved 44% of what the hospital would have spent on their care.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) spoke at a roundable hosted by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

One of the key issues discussed was the chamber’s opposition to the FAA’s so-called “1,500-hour rule.”

The rule requires new pilots to receive an airline transport pilot certificate attesting that they have 1,500 hours of cockpit training, chamber officials said. It mostly impacts regional – rural – trunk carriers where 1,500-hour pilots are difficult to find and recruit, thus creating a pilot shortage and curtailing regional air service.

Another topic discussed at the meeting pertained to issues surrounding the measurements of the Base Realignment and Closure process, which determines the possibility of a military base closing, chamber officials said.

“Congressman Scott is very accessible to his constituents,” [Chamber President Myrna] Ballard said. “He takes the time to listen to the concerns of the business community. These face-to-face discussions with our elected officials are the best way to advocate for our members.”

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at Mayor Skip Henderson’s first proposed budget.

Henderson presented his recommended budget to council during a regular council meeting Tuesday.

The total balanced budget recommended is $282,597,030, which is a 2.64 percent increase over the 2019 adopted budget of $275,340,292.

The proposed budget consists of $152.8 million in General Fund revenue, which includes $34.8 million in Local Option Sales Tax funds, $34.8 million in Other Local Option Sales Tax funds and $94 million in all other operating fund revenues.

The city is projecting a 2 percent increase in the 2020 tax digest (the assessed value of all taxable property in the county) Henderson said, and the budget reflects $2,010,000 in new General Funds revenue.

The Rome Office of Tourism is working to attract part of a Disney film production, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“We’ve been courting a Disney blockbuster,” [Ann] Hortman said. “Filming would begin sometime in the fall and we’re super excited about it.”

Through the first quarter of 2019, tourism-related expenditures tracked by the local Office of Tourism has amounted to $2.1 million, which is down about 3.1% from the first quarter of last year.

The Hall County Board of Elections is considering revising their bylaws, according to the Gainesville Times.

Changes up for a vote include allowing more time for public comment on future bylaw changes and basing party appointments on presidential rather than state elections.

The five-member board currently has two members appointed by the Hall County Republican Party, two appointed by the Hall County Democratic Party and a chairman, the Rev. Tom Smiley, appointed by the Hall County Board of Commissioners rather than a political party.

Current bylaws state that members should be appointed by the two parties that got the most votes in the last election for all members of the Georgia General Assembly. The proposed changes would base members’ parties on which parties’ candidates for president got the most votes in the last election.

“If there were to be a presidential candidate that received more votes than a Republican or Democrat candidate, then according to these bylaws we would seat two members from that party,” Smiley said at the board’s April 9 meeting when potential changes were being discussed.

Savannah City Council voted to hired former Chatham County Assistant Manager Pat Monahan as an interim city manager, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah City Council also approved a management contract for a new arena, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Forsyth City Council approved a new entertainment district that will offer liquor to go, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The City Council on April 15 approved an entertainment district that includes the courthouse square and surrounding blocks. It will allow people in the district to carry alcoholic drinks in designated cups sold by the city.

Mayor Eric Wilson said the idea and policy grew out of a visit to the city of Monroe. Officials there said it had been working out well and there had been no problems.

Open containers will be allowed in the district from 5-11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The policy will go into effect as soon as the cups come in, hopefully within a couple of weeks, Tammie Pierson, Main Street director, said.

25
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 25, 2019

James Oglethorpe won reelection to the British Parliament while in America on April 25, 1734.

The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

On April 25, 1996, Georgia Governor Zell Miller signed Senate Bill 519 designating English the official language of Georgia.

Click here for the text of the bill.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump spoke in Atlanta yesterday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Trump on Wednesday provided an update of sorts, including progress in creating and bolstering several federal initiatives to combat the crisis.

There were a record-breaking 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017 and opioids were involved in 67.8% of them, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But these deaths may be on the decline. Complete data has yet to be released, but provisional data from the CDC show an overall 3.2% decline in overdose deaths from September 2017 through September 2018.

He promoted his administration’s border security efforts as part of the solution to the crisis and praised China’s recent decision to schedule fentanyl. Trump also claimed that opioid prescriptions have gone by more than a third since he took office.

“Already during my time in office, we have reduced the total number of opioids prescribed by 34%. That’s a pretty amazing number,” he said.

And at the Justice Department, Attorney General Bill Barr plans to move forward from delivering the Mueller report to Congress by focusing on matters he deems more pressing, including the opioid crisis, a source close to Barr told CNN.

During his speech in Atlanta, the President bolstered his administration’s border security efforts, including a southern border wall, as a great deterrent to drug smuggling — attempting to connect the issue to opioids.

Trump said Customs and Border Protection seizures of meth and cocaine and heroin and fentanyl at the southern border are up 45% in the last two years.

“They’re going up much higher. We are seizing it all over. You probably saw the numbers today. We are detaining, capturing, call it anything you want, more people than ever before,” Trump said.

From WSB-TV:

The president also said he expects to carry the state when he runs for reelection next year.

“I love the state, and I guess they like me, because I’ve done well from the beginning,” Trump told Elliot.

Trump won Georgia in 2016.

“I think it’s in play only for us in the upcoming election, to be honest with you. I know, (Sen.) David Perdue is going to be running, and I’m running, and we’re going to do very well,” Trump said.

Elliot also asked the president about the delay in federal aid for South Georgia farmers still suffering seven months after Hurricane Michael.

Trump blamed congressional Democrats.

“A lot of that money goes to farmers, and that’s what we’re doing, and David Perdue is working very hard, and I’m working very hard, but they’re trying to hold us up, but it’s not appropriate,” Trump said.

From the AJC:

“I made a very strong statement about the border and I was criticized. They said, ‘It’s not that bad.’ Well, let me tell you that statement was peanuts compared to reality,” said Trump, who was introduced at the Atlanta summit by First Lady Melania Trump. “But we are confronting reality and confronting the grave security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border.”

Moments later, the president vented about Democratic opposition to his immigration policies.

“Congress must also act to fix, however, our horrible, obsolete, weak, pathetic immigration laws,” he said. “We could solve the entire problem – I say 45 minutes, but it could go a lot quicker than that, let’s bring it down to 15 minutes – if the Democrats would agree to do certain basic commonsense things with respect to our laws.”

Trump got backup from the state’s Republican hierarchy, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who both greeted him at Hartsfield-Jackson as Air Force One touched down. Several members of Georgia’s congressional delegation praised Trump’s initiative.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson noted the crisis has “touched so many families, including my own.” He added: “Georgia and states across the country, along with our medical community and first responders, now have better tools to fight this epidemic to help more Georgians and Americans.”

By midafternoon, roughly two hours after arriving in Atlanta, Trump was aboard Air Force One again.

From Georgia Public Broadcasting:

During his keynote address, Trump highlighted the initiatives fronted by his administration, including increased funding, drug take-back programs, increased access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone and supporting faith-based recovery initiatives.

His remarks were punctuated when he asked State Director of Faith-Based Initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Monty Burks to join him on stage. The president introduced Burks as a former addict who was ushered into recovery “when two women of prayer from his hometown church helped him get onto a path of recovery.”

The president went on to say that critical to combating the opioid crisis, “is my strong support for faith-based initiatives. America is a nation that believes in the power of prayer and strength of fellowship and we believe in the grace of God.”

In Georgia, government agencies such as the Department of Public Health and the Department of Corrections offer faith-based support programs to help connect community members with resources.

Over the past two decades, researches have become more invested into evaluating the success of faith-based programs with respect to health outcomes. Some studies have reflected the positive impacts that initiatives organized around religious institutions can have.

The promotion of faith-based programs and initiatives is just one facet of the Trump administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the opioid crisis in America. During his speech, Trump also touted the increased funding for medication-assisted treatment programs and targeting ports of entry to stop the influx of illegal drugs from other countries.

From the Associated Press:

The first lady spoke briefly about her visits to hospitals and treatment centers and her meetings with doctors and nurses as part of her own campaign to highlight the “terrible toll the opioid epidemic is having on children and young mothers.”

“My husband is here today because he cares deeply about what you’re doing to help the millions of Americans affected by the opioid epidemic,” she said.

Governor Brian Kemp embarked on a statewide tour celebrating his first 100 days in office, according to 11Alive.

Kemp highlighted what he called a “historic increase” in pay for grade school teachers across the state, a larger investment in mental health services for students and school security, new solutions for Georgia’s healthcare system, along with new overall efforts aimed at safety for communities statewide.

“Working with the General Assembly, we have allocated millions in relief efforts for Georgians still reeling from Hurricane Michael. Republicans and Democrats came together to overwhelmingly pass budgets that fund our priorities while keeping our state’s fiscal house in order,” the governor said.

“By launching the Georgians First Commission, we will make Georgia the top state in the nation for small business. Job growth in our state is beating national trends and companies around the world have Georgia on their mind,” Kemp said. “We have a lot to celebrate after the first 100 days of my first term, but we are just getting started. Together, the next 100 days will build on these successes and keep Georgia moving in the right direction.”

From the AJC:

At Wednesday’s event and other public appearances, the governor has characterized his support for House Bill 481 as a fulfillment of campaign promises, and he said he’s not worried about repercussions from opponents who warn of economic and political payback.

The legislative session will also be remembered for what didn’t pass, most notably a transportation measure that would have given the state more oversight of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, cleared the way for new rural mobility initiatives and expanded a jet-fuel tax break that would primarily benefit Delta Air Lines.

While he stayed publicly neutral on the airport takeover measure, Kemp recently revealed he opposed the changes. But he remains miffed the aviation tax break, which he personally jockeyed for during the final day of the session, didn’t win approval.

“I had a plan that Delta supported that was going to be good for them on the jet-fuel tax and would have provided much-needed funding for rural airports,” he said. “Some in the Legislature, for whatever reason — and I’m still kind of baffled — didn’t agree with that. But we’re committed to working on that.”

Governor Kemp visited Macon on his statewide tour, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Gov. Brian Kemp met with Middle Georgia school district leaders for an education roundtable as part of a statewide tour marking his first 100 days in office.

The governor and school officials discussed a range of topics that included teacher morale, pay raises and dual enrollment programs during Wednesday’s meeting at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

One of the highlights of Kemp’s first few months in office was backing a $3,000 pay raise for teachers that state legislators approved. On Tuesday, the Bibb County school board approved a 2 percent bonus for full-time employees.

Kemp said the pay raise is a good start but more can be done to improve teacher morale and retain them for the long-term.

“We have to show a commitment for a number of years to led educators know that we appreciate them,” Kemp said.

 From 13-WMAZ:

He held an open table talk at Middle Georgia Regional Airport with more than two dozen Central Georgia educators to hear their thoughts and questions on initiatives.

Kemp talked about his work to increase teacher pay, increase mental health programs and security in schools, and school testing.

“I feel like as long as people are having that dialogue and they know that we’re listening and trying to do what we can I don’t think they’re expecting a miracle from us, they just want us to be at the table and try to help with the issues they’re facing every day,” said Kemp.

House Bill 53 could impact recess for students in Savannah-Chatham County public schools, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The bill, which the Georgia House sent April 4 to Gov. Brian Kemp, mandates 30 minutes of daily activity or unstructured time for kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary students except in certain circumstances, while the Savannah-Chatham County’s more generous policy mandates 30 minutes of recess for pre-K to fifth-grade students except on certain occasions.

Kurt Hetager, chief public affairs and administrative services officer, said legislators in Atlanta grappled with some of the same issues the Savannah-Chatham County school board did as they discussed House Bill 83, such as how far the lawmakers want to dig down into the details to dictate how schools determine when recess is provided.

Savannah-Chatham County board members and the Wellness Committee discussed the language of the policy last year, especially the difference between the word “recess” and “unstructured break time.” The board purposely used the word “recess” in its policy. The Savannah-Chatham County policy does allow for teachers to withhold recess on occasion for academic reasons, but allows parents to request their children’s recess not be withheld for this purpose.

Savannah-Chatham County’s policy requires principals provide at least 30 minutes of recess each school day for students in pre-K through grade five. It also strongly encourages a “regularly scheduled, supervised recess period” for students in grades six to eight but leaves it at the principal’s discretion.

For students in grades six to eight, local boards of education are tasked with writing policies for who in the district will be authorized to determine when, where and for how long recess is provided, if at all. The local policy also should cover whether unstructured breaks can be withheld for disciplinary, academic or other reasons.

“When the dust settles on this bill, we’ll modify as appropriate,” Hetager said.

The Glynn County Board of Education is working on its FY 2020 budget, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Board of Education met Wednesday to hold one of its first in-depth discussions of the upcoming year’s school system budget. The school board will vote in July to approve the budget and will hold two public hearings beforehand.

Total expenditures for fiscal year 2020 are estimated to be $139,469,700, which is about a 5 percent increase from fiscal year 2019’s budget.

Estimated total revenue for fiscal year 2020 is $136,138,600.

Additional funding from the state budget will come in this year to cover salary raises that Gov. Brian Kemp promised to provide to the state’s teachers and other staff.

The state budget included funds to help cover a $3,000 increase in the state salary scale for certified employees. All other staff will receive a 2 percent pay increase.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is predicting a good sea turtle nesting season this year, according to The Brunswick News.

Mark Dodd, head of the state Department of Natural Resources’ sea turtle program, displayed a graph showing an upward trajectory over a significant number of years. While nesting goes in cycles, the last couple years have been above average. Even last year’s number of 1,735 nests, which was below 2017’s 2,187, was above what it could have been.

As it stands, nesting’s growing at around 2.5-3 percent annually.

The pattern tends to indicate this will be a significantly bigger year than last, and some of the people participating in the cooperative meeting pegged it at a record year. Not so much more than 2,500 nests statewide, but topping 3,000.

There were 3,291 nests recorded in 2016, according to seaturtle.org, an online database of sea turtle nesting statistics.

Cave Spring City Council aims to vote on a rewrite of their alcohol ordinance before July, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“We’d like to have it done within 60 days,” Mayor Pro Tem Tom Lindsey said following a Tuesday night work session on a proposed draft.

City Attorney Frank Beacham is using Rome’s ordinance as a template. He’s also incorporating elements that council members like in other Georgia cities such as Ball Ground, Kennesaw, Dahlonega and Acworth. The work session focused on tailoring the changes to Cave Spring — as it exists and as they’d like to see it develop.

“Cave Spring is not like Rome,” Council member Nellie McCain said during a discussion of how close to homes, schools and parks that package stores may be located.

Plans are to meet at least one more time — perhaps two — to vet the draft ordinance, with Beacham making changes as required. A May 7 session is expected to focus on rules for on-premises consumption.

Council members also are discussing the possibility of visiting some of the nearby downtown districts to see how their provisions work in practice.

Doesn’t that last part sound a little like a pub crawl?