Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 15, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 15, 2019

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.

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

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.

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.

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

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.

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.

Fort Pulaski National Monument in Savannah celebrated the 175th Anniversary of a battle for control of the fort, according to the Savannah Morning News.

[Park Ranger of Interpretation Jamie] Niles said the battle for Fort Pulaski made history. It was the first time that rifled cannons breached heavy masonry walls in combat.

“When the fort was completed in 1847, those new rifled guns didn’t exist. They were in development at the time,” Niles said. “It was considered state of the art technology.”

Union forces fired at the Confederate fort from Tybee Island — over a mile away — with the rifled cannons. The artillery burst through the southeast wall, exposing the powder magazine on the other side of the fort.

Confederate forces surrendered within 30 hours.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation presented awards for preservation, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Kehoe Iron Works in Savannah received the Marguerite Williams Award, presented annually to the project that has had the greatest impact on preservation in the state. The building also received an award for Excellence in Rehabilitation.

Kehoe Iron Works was recognized for the sheer scale and impact of its rehabilitation while overcoming significant challenges, including remediation of a brownfield site, according to a press release from the Georgia Trust.

Today, the complex features 8,000 square feet for events and gatherings and an outdoor plaza and amphitheater featuring a commanding view of the Savannah River. This project is an excellent example of the vision and historic preservation ethic that has brought an important piece of the city’s industrial, cultural and architectural history back to life, the Georgia Trust wrote in a press release.

Also winning an Excellence in Rehabilitation award was the 12 W. Oglethorpe Ave. project in Savannah, now home to Husk restaurant.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp sat for a Q&A, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Q: What are your thoughts on the medical marijuana cultivation bill and how that settled out? That one went to conferences as well, didn’t it?

A: Yes, it did. It was a long conference, too. You know, the speaker and the lieutenant governor and I, and all the legislative leaders that we’re working on that issue, we were all working on that, which is a little bit unusual, I think. Most of the time, it’s the legislators doing that with just direction from the different parties, but we were all actually in the same room … got a lot done. You know, some people feel like the House bill was where we needed to be, and some people felt like the Senate bill was too restrictive. And we ended up somewhere in between, which I think is probably a good fit. I have very mixed emotions on that bill. I do believe there’s people in the industry that are pushing the medical side to lead to recreational marijuana, which I’m absolutely against. You won’t see that happen on my watch as long as I’m governor. That concerns me greatly. I think that’s a bad way for us to go.

Q: … Now that the session is over, what are some of the main things you’re planning to work on?

A: Well, doing exactly what I said I would do. … We’re going to start working on what we need to do next session. We had a very aggressive agenda this year. I think we got a lot more done than people thought we would, but now we’re already digging in on really reforming, streamlining and looking at ways (to) make state government more efficient.

… And then we got a lot of other big issues on our plate. … It’s taken a lot of my time dealing with D.C. on this whole disaster relief thing. Absolutely ridiculous that they cannot get a bill passed up there to help our farmers. And our folks down there are literally dying on the vine. I will say that Sens. Isakson and Perdue, I had been working constantly with them. They are doing everything in their power to get a deal done. It’s just the Democrats don’t want to play ball with them. And they probably won’t come out and say this because they’re still hopeful that they can get something done. It’s all politics.

Gov. Kemp will sign House Bill 324, the medical cannabis bill, this week, according to the AJC.

Kemp’s office said he plans to sign House Bill 324 on Wednesday at the state Capitol, which would for the first time legalize the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana through small growers, state universities and licensed sellers.

In an interview earlier this month, Kemp expressed his support for the measure but said he was torn over whether it was the best way to expand the program.

“It’s a very, very tough issue. But there’s a lot of legislative support for it. I respect the legislative process, and I understand why people are doing it, and I understand why people have grave concerns about this,” he said. “I have all of those feelings. It’s a really tough spot.”

Six private companies can grow medical marijuana, but no dispensaries will be allowed until a state board licenses them.

Pharmacies can provide medical marijuana oil to patients, but few pharmacies are likely to participate because doing so could jeopardize their federal permission to sell other drugs. And two proposed university-run marijuana programs will be dependent on federal approval.

David Emadi, the new Executive Director of the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, said they will issue subpoenas in delayed investigations, according to the AJC.

The new director of the state ethics commission plans to subpoena bank records from the campaign of 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and groups that raised money to help her in last year’s nationally watched race.

Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ former campaign manager, said, “The Abrams campaign worked diligently to ensure compliance throughout the election and, had we been notified of any irregularities, would have immediately taken action to rectify them.”

“The new ethics chief — a Kemp donor and former Republican Party leader — is using his power to threaten and lob baseless partisan accusations at the former Abrams campaign when they should be focused on real problems like the unethical ties between the governor’s office and voting machine lobbyists instead.”

“Those investigations are all moving forward,” Emadi said. “What I can say about the investigation into the Abrams campaign is, in the relatively near future, I expect we will be issuing subpoenas for bank and finance records of both Miss Abrams and various PACs and special-interest groups that were affiliated with her campaign.”

Congress failed to fund Hurricane relief measures in Georgia, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The $14 billion aid package is desperately needed by farmers and others who suffered losses when Hurricane Michael swept across the state in October, Gov. Brian Kemp said recently.

Kemp said the lack of action by Congress shows “we have reached a low point as a nation.”

“This gridlock exposes the rotten core of some in Congress,” Kemp said. “They would rather crush an entire industry — destroying the livelihood of countless Americans — than do something that the opposition party wants. This dire situation highlights the brokenness in Washington.”

Liberal Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking at a run for United States Senator, according to the AJC.

As he weighs a U.S. Senate run, Democrat Jon Ossoff is sharpening a populist message that echoes his party’s liberal wing: a pledge to stop “criminalizing poverty,” a promise of a debt-free higher education system, a vow to legalize recreational marijuana and a guarantee of health insurance for all Americans.

The Democrat is one of a half-dozen high-profile contenders eyeing a race for the seat if Stacey Abrams, who is set to decide this month, sets her sights elsewhere. Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson already filed the paperwork necessary to run, while other contenders could do so soon.

“It’s past time to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis – whose prohibition only enriches cartels, bail bondsman and the owners of private prisons. And we should be enlightened enough now to treat addiction and mental illness with healthcare, not with prison.” [said Ossoff]

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will host private meetings with crime victims, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia’s Parole Board and Office of Victim Services  are inviting crime victims  from anywhere in the state to Augusta Technical College to meet confidentially with board members and staff during a Victims Visitors’ Day, April 24.

Victims of crimes whose perpetrators may eventually be considered for parole will be able to meet with the Parole Board members and staff from the board’s Clemency Division. This is the 31st such event the five-member board has hosted since the Victims Visitors’ Day program was launched in 2006, but only the second time the board has visited Augusta.

“This event affords the crime victim an opportunity to speak directly to the Parole Board and give us information for the case file that will be important when we make a parole decision,” Terry Barnard, State Board of Pardons and Paroles chairman, said in a news release.

“Not only is the information the victims provide important to the parole process, we want victims to understand the parole process and their role, which again is vital to the board making informed parole decisions,” Barnard said. “We consider every item of information in the case file before making a decision, and that includes the victim’s information.”

A Skidaway Island creek has been renamed from Runaway Negro Creek to Freedom Creek, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted last Thursday to rename Runaway Negro Creek, a creek near Skidaway Island, to Freedom Creek.

On Jan. 5, Georgia Archives officials submitted the application for the name change to the USBGN to change the waterway’s name. The federal board is responsible for determining geographic name usage across the country.

The name change was originally proposed after a public interest meeting during the summer of 2017, according to a press release from Sen. Lester Jackson (D-District 2).

Qualifying for a vacant seat on Flowery Branch City Council runs today through Wednesday, according to AccessWDUN.

The post was left vacant when Mary Jones resigned in December, citing health concerns.

Jones’ term was set to expire in 2019, so the special election will fill the vacancy through the end of the year. Another election will be held in November for the next term.

Middle Georgia peach crops may be doing well this year, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“We’ve got a really good crop of peaches on the trees,” said Will McGehee, sales manager at Pearson Farm in Peach County. “We are as excited this year as we have been in a long time.”

The peach crop is particularly important in Middle Georgia because it’s labor intensive and employs hundreds of people, including migrant workers who come up from Mexico on a temporary work visa during the season. Stores in the area see an impact during a bad year when the workers aren’t here.

In a good year, the crop generates about $50 million in Georgia, and most of that comes from Middle Georgia. Growers produce about 140 million pounds of peaches in a typical year, according to the Peach Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to the jobs that peaches bring the Middle Georgia, the crop is also responsible for a significant amount of tourism. Pearson Farm, Lane Southern Orchards in Peach County and Dickey Farms in Crawford have packing houses that are open to the public and draw thousands of tourists when the crop is coming in.

Warner Robins Economic Development Director Gary Lee is appealing his suspension after being indicted, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A Warner Robins city official who was suspended after being accused of criminal misconduct has requested a hearing before the mayor to appeal his suspension.

Gary Lee, 54, the city’s economic development director, is on suspension without pay, after his indictment on a felony charge of making a false statement to a sheriff’s investigator during a criminal investigation.

One of Lee’s attorneys said the suspended director is innocent of charges against him and was, in fact, acting “in the capacity of a whistleblower.”

Rome and Floyd County will present an update on SPLOST projects on Thursday, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package contained $1,379,000 used to renovate the former Zartic plant for expanded recycling operations.

Collections for the $64.9 million SPLOST package ended March 31 but the 1-cent sales tax continued. Revenue since April 1 is funding a $63.9 million package of projects approved by voters in 2017.

City Manager Sammy Rich and County Manager Jamie McCord are slated to present status reports to each SPLOST Citizen Advisory Committee. Most of the 2013 projects are done, but Chulio Hills subdivision is still waiting for its secondary access road.

Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy will host a Town Hall on Wednesday, according to The Brunswick News.

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