Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2017

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

On April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American professional major league baseball player when the Brooklyn Dodgers bought his contract.

Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005).

Byron, Georgia once hosted nuclear missiles.

Q: Not everyone’s aware there were nuclear missiles in Byron. Was it a secret?

A: It wasn’t secret we were there but the site was classified as to how the missiles and radars worked. My clearance was top secret. But the site wasn’t common knowledge. When I came in 1962, I stopped at a barber shop on Main Street to ask directions to the missile base and they told me, “There aren’t any missiles around here.” I said, “Yes sir, there are, that’s where I’m going.” So he said, “We’ll you must mean that place up the road — there’s a lot of soldiers around there.” So I guess they did a good job of being there but keeping what was going on low key.

Q: Where was “up the road?”

A: Just north of Byron on Boy Scout Road. The site was there from 1960 to 1966.

Q: What missiles would you have launched if needed? And why were missiles located in Byron?

A: We were in Byron for general defense but our big role was to protect Robins Air Force Base and the Strategic Air Command wing stationed there in those days. It was mostly to protect them from Soviet bombers. With its strategic planes and big bombs, SAC was instrumental and the most powerful defense we had in the Cold War. We were in Byron and had a sister site on the other side of Robins over in Twiggs County. They were Battery A and we were Battery B. We had the base well covered.

Q: And the missiles?

A: Nike-Hercules nuclear warhead missiles. They were really, really fast, accurate and powerful missiles.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Sixth District race appears to be drawing more out-of-town media to Georgia than anything since the 2016 Presidential Primary. From the Chicago Tribune:

In the first 10 days of early voting, 17,871 ballots have been cast and self-identified Democrats have outnumbered Republicans by a 19-point margin. On Friday, however, the Democratic margin was just five points.

Meanwhile, Ossoff’s rivals had their arms full defending the Republican record in the Trump era. Karen Handel, a near-miss candidate in two statewide races – currently polling highest to make the runoff’s second spot – repeatedly rejected the House GOP’s health-care proposal and the negotiations to strip “essential health benefits” from the current system.

“That’s not Tom Price’s plan,” said Handel. “Not every single time do we have a mandate that is horrible.” Moments later, longtime tea party activist and candidate Amy Kremer said that she, too, opposed the bill; Ossoff deflected one of her attacks by praising her “bipartisanship” for criticizing both parties.

Republicans hope that in a runoff, with Ossoff facing just one Republican, he won’t be able to zoom around the partisan differences.

From the New York Times:

The shifting conservative fault lines are on display in the affluent and mall-dotted northern suburbs of Atlanta, which were at the front end of the South’s political realignment in the 1970s when they turned away from their Democratic roots and elected a loquacious young college professor named Newt Gingrich to Congress.

The special election on April 18 has drawn substantial attention because one of the Democrats running, Jon Ossoff, has raised a remarkable $8 million, and his success in a Republican-leaning district could presage a midterm backlash against Mr. Trump. (Voters will pick from candidates of both parties on a single ballot; if no one clears 50 percent, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election.)

One of the leading Republican candidates, Karen Handel, even wore her practicality as a badge of honor, citing not just Reagan but also Margaret Thatcher’s “relentless incrementalism” credo.

“Republican voters are expecting that we get down to business and deliver and do the job,” said Ms. Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, failed Senate candidate and failed candidate for governor. This time around, she said, the expectations from the party base have shifted.

Bob Gray, who calls himself an outsider and is a businessman supported by the conservative Club for Growth, played to type at the forum as he twice criticized Speaker Paul D. Ryan for having “failed” on the health care legislation. But in an interview, Mr. Gray allowed that he would have backed the House-drafted bill (which the Club for Growth opposed), shied away from the Tea Party label and sounded more like a furrowed-brow centrist than a fire-breathing conservative.

“This is the problem with D.C.,” he said. “Everybody has retreated to their political corners with a jersey on. We need people like President Trump who want to go to D.C. and change the way they do business. The American people are tired of the bickering.”

“For eight years, the heroes in this movement were the Freedom Caucus members, and now they’re suddenly in the bad camp?” asked the Republican strategist Chip Lake, a touch of wonder in his voice. “It’s really confusing right now as a Republican to figure out who’s on first.”

That’s at least the second time I’ve seen a reference to Newt Gingrich being elected from Atlanta’s northern suburbs in the 1970s, but it isn’t correct.

Gingrich was elected from the 6th for the first time in 1978, but at that time, it stretched from Haralson, Carrol, and Heard counties along the Alabama border, through Douglas, Heard, Coweta, south Fulton, Fayette, Clayton, Henry, Spalding, Pike, Butts, Lamar, and Jasper Counties, mostly south of Atlanta. It wasn’t until 1992 that Gingrich’s district moved to where it currently lies, in the northern suburbs. At that time, then-Speaker Tom Murphy renumbered that northern suburban district with the number of Gingrich’s district, and Gingrich ran there, nearly losing the Republican Primary to challenger Herman Clark.

State Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) stars in radio ads designed to boost GOP turnout in her husband’s former district.

The ads are the latest salvo from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to House leadership that has spent $2.2 million on ads – and $3 million overall – trying to rev up GOP voters and deflate Democrat Jon Ossoff’s candidacy.

Betty Price, who like her husband is a physician, has not endorsed any of the 11 Republicans in the 18-candidate contest but urged conservatives to elect a “proven Republican.” She also considered joining the field, before announcing about an hour before qualifying ended that she would not mount a campaign.

The Marietta Daily Journal looks at the 8 candidates running in a Special Election in Senate District 32.

Cobb County Democrats have their eyes on flipping the seat, said Michael Owens, chairman of the Cobb Democratic Party.

“District 32 sits firmly within the 6th District, and while they have not been getting as much publicity — the congressional candidates have been getting all the media attention — some of the candidates that we have for the 32nd District have been working just as hard as well,” Owens said. “They’re doing the same things, they’re trying to reach out to voters, but there’s no doubt that as Democrats, we have to energize, to turn out the vote and canvas.”

Sue Everhart, former chair of the Georgia Republican Party, said hanging onto the seat is a big deal for the Georgia GOP.

“The 32nd District is very important,” Everhart said. “Of course, all the districts are, but I think the 32nd has shown a lot of leadership through the years… We’ve had good representation with Judson Hill, and I hope that continues.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-2d District) writes that President Trump’s proposed federal budget is bad for residents of his district.

[W]hen analyzing President Trump’s 2018 Budget Blueprint with this metric, I am led to the inescapable conclusion that the President’s budget would be a recipe for disaster for our country and for the people of the Second Congressional District of Georgia.

Budgets reflect values. They reflect a prioritization of scarce resources. Although a president’s proposed budget is just the beginning of a lengthy negotiating process with Congress, it is nonetheless a signal of what that administration does and does not care about.

Unfortunately, this administration’s 2018 Budget Blueprint speaks loud and clear that it does not value rural communities nor their contributions to the United States. This budget seeks to eliminate vital programs and reduce resources for our workers, our farmers, our students and teachers, and our seniors. This budget would inhibit our nation’s ability to innovate in an increasingly competitive world, and would drastically curtail vital safety nets for our most vulnerable populations.

By proposing a cut of over 20 percent to the USDA, it is clear that the current administration does not appreciate the role our agriculture sector plays in sustaining our quality of life, nor the vital role USDA plays in supporting both rural communities and the nation more broadly.

The president’s budget seeks to eliminate funding for rural infrastructure, cut staffing at USDA Service Centers, and reduce rural business assistance. Instead of creating efficiencies, such cuts would simply make it harder for everyone, and ultimately more difficult for our country to continue to produce the highest quality, safest, most abundant, and most economical food and fiber in the industrialized world.

Savannah is looking to become a yachting center after passage of a sales tax break for major repairs.

The president and CEO of Colonial Group is so sure of that potential that he is putting up some $50 million to convert the former Intermarine shipbuilding yard on Lathrop Avenue into a world-class yacht repair and refit facility capable of competing with Florida and possibly even Europe.

The only potential stumbling block – the need for legislation giving yacht owners the same tax incentives they now get in Florida — was eliminated when the Georgia General Assembly passed such legislation on the last day of its 2017 session.

With that regulatory framework in place, Colonial is ready to begin work on the facility, acquired in a bankruptcy sale in 2010, in the hopes that Savannah Yacht Center will be ready to serve its first customers either late this year or early next year.

SYC is ready to begin letting construction contracts as soon as the bill is signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Bryan County News looks at the priorities of the Georgia School Board Association.

“We think the GSBA’s work really played a major part in helping bring out the vote against the Opportunity School District,” [Bryan County School Board Chair Eddie] Warren said. “And I know the Georgia School Board Association did a lot of work at the capitol pointing out OSD’s weaknesses and that woke up a couple of legislators, I believe.”

According to an email from GSBA Executive Director Valerie Wilson, the committee considers “legislative positions submitted by local boards of education for recommendation to the delegate assembly. The committee will also review annually all standing legislative positions. Any revisions or deletions will also be submitted to the Delegate Assembly.”

A look at some of the GSBA’s 2016 legislative positions included such things as protecting the sovereign immunity of local school systems, opposition to a voucher system and “a tax system that yields adequate funding, is fair, is stable and is transparent,” according to a 2016 GSBA handbook.

Another likely legislative priority for GSBA members will be [to]  “maintain the integrity of the teacher retirement system,” Warren said. “That one has been targeted the last few years as the state tries to figure out how to save money. It’s always a topic.”

Getting the legislature to come up with the money for such things as school nurses and counselors is also frequently listed by GSBA members as a priority when it comes to dealing with lawmakers.

“Those types of things seem to get nixed by legislators at times,” Warren said. “They tend to want to put the burden for nurses or counselors back on the local school system to fund it if they want it.”

Grantville City Council Member Mark King will not yet face an ethics board meeting over a complaint against him because of vacancies on the board.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will consider a revised ordinance designed to lessen the impact of film production on local residents.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the city’s rainy day fund is up to $175 million.

Augusta is home to a commercial drone company seeking to bring the technology to agriculture.

“I can say that I worked on drone systems in the military,” he said, but could not be more specific. Over the past couple of years, as federal regulations on UAV and drones have become better defined, he has been looking into practical applications for the technology he loves and discovered there is huge growth potential for drone use in agriculture.

Information was recently released by the University of Georgia Extension Service about a team of crop scientists and engineers from the school who are developing all-terrain rovers and aerial drones to collect data on crop health.

Scheiner said these devices can be outfitted with multi-spectral and thermal cameras, as well as other technologies, to help researchers and farmers measure stress tolerance, growth patterns, soil temperature, water distribution in fields and even nitrogen levels in individual plants.

“What that means is we can look at crops and see that there’s not enough water here,” he said. “There’s too much water there. Soil temperature is too hot or too cold. You have possible pests, possible disease. These plants seem to be stunted. This way we can help farmers react to these threats. They can go out and say, we need to add more fertilizer or we need to add more pesticide, that sort of thing.”

Forty million dollars from the recently-passed SPLOST will fund a new Bibb County courthouse annex and parking deck.

With many proposed projects and the county expecting to collect about $30 million in sales tax funds annually, commissioners created a priority list for projects at their planning retreat in January. Using that list and the shovel-ready status of some projects as a starting point, Macon-Bibb’s sales tax project manager consulted with county departments and created a prospective timeline, Floore said.

Commissioners are set to discuss — and may vote on — the timeline and budget for the projects Tuesday.

Camden County is considering a rezoning more than 1000 privately-owned acres on Cumberland Island.

In December, Camden County officials approved a variance to allow Lumar LLC, made up of Coca-Cola heirs including the Rev. Sam Candler, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, to divide an 88-acre tract near the park’s Sea Camp into 10 lots. The request and decision set off a storm of protest from legions of campers and day visitors across the country who argue that development will ruin the wilderness experience on Georgia’s largest barrier island.

Two appeals were filed, but before the scheduled April 4 hearing both Lumar and the appellants requested time to negotiate a compromise solution.

Savannah-Chatham County School Board has received about 700 applications for the next school superintendent.

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