Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 14, 2023

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 14, 2023

The Trustees of the Georgia colony learned on April 17, 1737 that Spain had 4000 soliders and two warships in Havana, Cuba and was planning on invading Georgia or South Carolina. Thus began the rivalry between then-Spanish occupied Florida and Georgia. Floridians would have to wait until after the 1873 invention of blue jeans by Levi Strauss to develop their modern uniform of jean shorts.

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.

On April 15, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress issued “Rules and Regulations,” which would serve as an interim state Constitution until the Constitution of 1777 was adopted.

On April 15, 1783, the United States Congress ratified a preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain, which was signed in November 1782.

George Washington, recently elected President, left his Mount Vernon home on April 16, 1789 for his inauguration in New York.

“I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.”

On April 13, 1861, Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter after 33 hours of bombardment by Confederates.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House; Lincoln survived nine hours before dying the next day.

On April 16, 1865, Columbus, Georgia fell to Union forces. The Battle of Columbus is widely considered to be the last battle of the Civil War. Though it is not unanimously held to be, a 1935 Act of the Georgia General Assembly declared it the war’s last battle.

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”

“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”

“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”

“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”

RMS Titanic sunk at 2:20 AM on April 15,1912.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians threw his first no-hitter on April 16, 1940 against the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park.

Jackie Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, became the first African-American professional baseball player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson scored the winning run in that game.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1965. On April 16, 2006, a new, larger portrait of Dr. King was unveiled in the Georgia State Capitol.

The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed on April 15, 1966 to assist and honor Confederate veterans. One of its most well-known projects was the “Lion of the Confederacy” memorial in Oakland Cemetery.

Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.

By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus

A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.

On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and intellectuals in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, mourned the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaoban, considered a liberal reformer.

On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.

Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves David Justice and Greg Maddux, who were both born on this date in 1966.

Thirty-four years ago this month “Say Anything” was released, marking the directorial debut of Cameron Crowe, who wrote “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and later directed “Singles.”

John Cusack, four years past playing a college freshman in The Sure Thing, plays graduating high school senior Lloyd Dobler. Ione Skye, three years after her debut in the very dark drama River’s Edge, plays the brilliant and shy Diane Court. And John Mahoney, four years before he found sitcom immortality as Frasier Crane’s father Martin, plays Diane’s adoring and deeply flawed father, Jim. Writer and first-time director Cameron Crowe was best-known at the time for the screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High — which is fondly remembered now as the launching pad for many respectable careers, but which Roger Ebert had called “a failure of taste, tone and nerve.”

DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta and known for playing Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Star Trek series, was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 15, 1992.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The world’s largest peanut (statue) will return to its perch in Ashburn, Georgia after suffering hurricane damage in 2018, according to the Albany Herald.

If you drive through this small southwest Georgia community just 40 miles from Albany today, it isn’t much different than it was when I was a teenager in the ’80s. The one glaring difference is that now, after regular business hours, except for people passing through the “main drag” is pretty quiet.

And there was another stop just off the normal route …”the peanut.” The Big Peanut could be seen from Interstate 75 but was surprisingly private. Back then, there were lots of trees around it, so it was the ideal spot to park and drink a beer or make out. I don’t think any of us knew (or cared about) the history of the peanut. We just thought it was a cool place to be.

Erected in 1975, the peanut and its base stood 20 feet tall, a fitting tribute to the importance of the crop to Turner County’s economy and to its farmers. It was dedicated to the memory of Nora Lawrence, a beloved journalist who was editor and co-publisher of Ashburn’s local newspaper.

In 1998, the fiberglass legume was named the state of Georgia’s official peanut monument. Twice it was the answer to “Jeopardy!” clues, and it got worldwide attention in 2014 when Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher took a selfie in front of the big nut and posted it on Instagram. No doubt about it … the peanut was a hit with locals and travelers alike.

Fast forward to 2018. Hurricane Michael made its way north from the Gulf of Mexico and hit this area hard. And like so many homes and businesses in Michael’s path, the peanut was a casualty of the terrible storm. Of course, there were more important things to do in the hurricane’s aftermath than fix a statue, so the broken peanut was stored away.

The dream of rebuilding the structure took a positive turn in the summer of 2022, when Ashley Miller, the executive director of the Ashburn/Turner County Chamber of Commerce, met state Sen. Carden Summers. Summers asked Miller what he could do for Turner County, and she said, “We’d love to fix our peanut.”

Summers spoke with Gov. Brian Kemp, and Ashburn soon received an appropriation of $55,000 from the Department of Agriculture. In addition, Ag Georgia Farm Credit donated $10,000, and The Turner County Young Farmer’s Association raised another $11,000 for the project.

Mableton voters go to the polls on Tuesday in runoff elections, according to the AJC.

Aaron Carman — the mayoral candidate backed by the group that advocated against cityhood and later pushed to be de-annexed from the city — received the majority of the votes with about 36%. He will face Michael Owens, who received just over 30%, in the mayoral runoff.

None of the candidates for Districts 2, 3, 4 or 5 received more than 50% of the vote, so those races will also head to runoff elections.

Facing off in the District 2 runoff will be Monica DeLancy and Dami Oladapo. In District 3, residents will vote for Keisha Jeffcoat or Yashica Marshall.

Patricia Auch, the candidate sponsored by the de-annexation group, will face Cassandra Brown in the District 4 runoff. District 5′s race will include TJ Ferguson and Cheryl Davis.

Governor Brian Kemp signed a number of pieces of legislation in Savannah, according to a Press Release:

Governor Brian P. Kemp today signed several education bills into law in Savannah, including the Safe Schools Act (HB 147), SB 211HB 538HB 440, and SB 45.

A key part of the governor’s legislative agenda this year, the Safe Schools Act (HB 147) builds on his commitment to keeping Georgia’s students, teachers, and school personnel safe. The legislation modernizes school safety protocols by equipping teachers with skills to protect students. It also establishes a voluntary School Safety and Anti-gang Endorsement for teachers to help them spot and prevent gang activity and recruitment in classrooms.

In addition to the Safe Schools Act, Governor Kemp signed several other important bills into law, including SB 211, which establishes the Georgia Council on Literacy; HB 538, which provides for evidence-based literacy instruction and for the assessment of student needs and literacy levels; HB 440; which authorizes public and private schools to stock a supply of undesignated ready-to-use glucagon; and SB 45, which allows parents to submit seizure action plans to their child’s school and requires the Department of Education to develop and implement training guidelines and model seizure action plans for use by public schools and school systems.

“I am honored to sign these important bills into law to make our schools both safer and more successful,” said Governor Kemp. “These bills will help improve literacy in our state and ensure our schools have the resources they need to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for both students and teachers. As governor, and as a father of three daughters, I want to make sure every Georgia student can take part in the unprecedented opportunity here in the Peach State.”

Governor Kemp would like to express his sincere thanks to Senate President Pro Tem John Kennedy, Majority Leader Steve Gooch, Sen. Billy Hickman, Rep. Bethany Ballard and others who helped to secure the caucus priority literacy legislation, and Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Rep. Will Wade, Sen. Mike Hodges, Rep. Matt Dubnik, Rep. Chris Erwin, Rep. Bill Hitchens, and Rep. David Wilkerson for their work getting the Safe Schools Act passed. Their dedication has helped to make our schools safer and our communities stronger.

From the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald:

Gov. Brian Kemp signed new laws Thursday that will require Georgia schools to perform annual drills for responding to campus shooters early in the school year and to perform literacy assessments for younger students three times per year to see if they can read at grade level.

The school safety bill, House Bill 147, was one of the Republican governor’s legislative priorities for the beginning of his second term. It mandates that all Georgia public schools conduct an active shooter drill involving teachers and students by Oct. 1 each year. Students would be required to participate unless local districts allow parents to opt their children out.

“We continue to put the safety of our students and educators first in the state of Georgia,” Kemp told the school superintendents. He said his safety bill “modernizes school safety protocols and equips those who work in our schools with the skills they need and want to protect our students in the classroom.”

At Kemp’s urging, lawmakers earlier set aside $115 million to make school safety grants worth $50,000 available to every K-12 school in the state.

Depending on what test is being administered, there are different estimates of how many Georgia students read on grade level. The state’s own test had nearly 63% of students score below grade level on the English Language Arts test, although state education officials note a different figure shows 64% of third graders are reading proficiently. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, a nationwide test that allows for comparisons between states, found only 32% of Georgia fourth graders were proficient in reading in 2022.

“That’s a problem because third grade marks that transition where you stop learning to read and you have to start reading to learn to go further in your education,” said state Rep. Bethany Ballard, a Republican from Warner Robins who sponsored the House literacy bill. “It’s that make-or-break turning point year.”

From WSAV in Savannah:

Two health-related bills were signed: HB 440, and SB 45. The first allows both public and private schools to stock a supply of undesignated ready-to-use glucagon for diabetic students. SB 45 allows parents to submit action plans to treat their students for epilepsy or a seizure disorder.

The bill signing took place at the Marriott Savannah Riverfront after Kemp delivered remarks at the Georgia School Superintendents Association Spring Bootstraps Conference.

Governor Kemp also signed Senate Bill 42, which increases penalties for some businesses if they fail to post required public information on human trafficking, according to Access WDUN.

The new law allows authorities to fine noncompliant businesses between $500 and $5000 for multiple offenses.

A press release from the Governor’s Office notes that Governor Kemp believes, “human trafficking is a reprehensible crime that has no place in our state or our country,” and that, “by signing SB 42 into law, we are once again sending a message that we will not rest until we have secured justice for victims and removed this evil from our communities.”

State First Lady Marty Kemp added that, “human trafficking is a heinous crime that preys on the vulnerable and robs individuals of their freedom,” and said that she is,”thankful for the Georgia General Assembly’s overwhelming and bipartisan support for this important piece of legislation and the tireless work of my fellow GRACE Commission members.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

The new law increases the penalty for business owners who fail to post notices that explain how victims of human trafficking can reach national and state hotlines to get help.

“This common-sense measure imposes minimum fines for failing to post required notices by public entrances, where they will be easily seen by the public, and in restrooms where victims of trafficking may be able to see the notice while away from their trafficker,” Marty Kemp said at a bill signing ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion.

“It may not sound like much, but the reality is this simple step could save lives if the notice reaches the right person. This is especially critical in busy areas where traffickers often hide in plain sight.”

Business owners who fail to post the notices in both English and Spanish can be fined $500 to $1,000 for a first conviction and from $1,000 to $5,000 for a second conviction. The law allows business owners up to 30 days to post the notices after being notified by law enforcement that they are in violation of the law.

Georgia law requires the notices to be posted in certain types of businesses, including truck stops, bars, adult entertainment businesses, hospitals, airports, rail and bus stations, hotels, and government buildings.

State Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick, sponsored the bill and it was carried in the House of Representatives by Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville. Both served as floor leaders for Kemp during the 2023 legislative session and attended the bill signing along with other GOP legislators.

United States Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme NWGA) held a Town Hall in her district, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“The biggest one is our debt,” Greene said. “We are $31 trillion in debt. That’s an amount of money that none of us can comprehend. None of us even know what $31 trillion would look like.”

“Great schools like LaFayette High School need to be a place where kids can be kids,” Greene said. “Kids can get a good education — not be brainwashed, not be confused to believe things about other people and themselves. I’m telling you right now: our biggest battle is not the debt, it’s to protect our children from this great lie that is being told to them — because this lie is so destructive.”

“This gender-affirming care is a medical industry that should not exist for kids,” Greene said.

After about an hour, Greene answered all the questions in the fish bowl. Before she exited the stage to Van Halen’s “Jump,” Greene thanked God that Georgia isn’t like New York City.

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