Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 16, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 16, 2019

April is the national month set aside to recognize Autism Awareness, Sexual Assault Awareness, and National Pecan Month. We are in the middle of National Library Week. April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day.

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 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.

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.

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.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited Augusta, Georgia on a campaign stop this week in 1964.

He came with Gov. Carl Sanders, an Augusta native, as well as U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge, an influential state leader.

Johnson’s national election over Republican Barry Goldwater appeared certain, and a week later he would easily trounce the Arizona Republican.

Lyndon Johnson, however, would not carry Richmond County on Election Day 1964, and he probably got a hint of things to come during his speech before a crowd gathered in front of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

He was heckled.

At least four times during a routine stump speech, calls from the crowd interrupted the former vice president who had taken office less than a year before with John Kennedy’s assassination.

“We want Barry!” people would shout.

Johnson didn’t carry The Peach State because he had become unpopular among whites in the Deep South for his civil rights initiatives, according to Merle Black, an Emory University professor who has spoken and written on Southern politics over the years.

Black recalled the Augusta incident in his 1992 book The Vital South: How Presidents Are Elected, which he wrote with Earl Black. He also described Johnson gaining the crowd’s support with the anecdote about his earlier abuse by hostile crowds.

“Earl Black and I wrote in The Vital South that, ‘There was no more booing from the young Goldwaterites after he finished his story,’” Merle Black wrote in an e-mail from Atlanta. “President Johnson’s leadership in passage of the civil rights bill was the main reason he lost Georgia that year.”

Thirty 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.”

Next month, John Cusack will appear for a Q&A and screening of “Say Anything” at the Savannah Civic Center.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Anne Ware Lewis, a long-time Republican election lawyer, has died, according to the AJC.

Georgia GOP Chairman John Watson said Lewis died late Sunday.

He praised her “unprecedented level of passion and leadership” as the state party’s longtime attorney.

“Her work as legal counsel was critical to the success of our party,” he said, “and Republicans across our state are devastated by her passing.”

“For decades, Anne Lewis used her passion, intellect and legal expertise to serve the Republican Party and advance the conservative movement,” said Kemp, now the governor. “Anne’s resilience — in the courtroom and in her battle against cancer — inspired countless Georgians.”

The Lewis family will receive friends 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home in Decatur. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Decatur. More information can be found here.

Voters in Atlanta City Council District 3 go to the polls today in a runoff, according to the AJC.

Governor Brian Kemp and GBI Director Vic Reynolds announced the appointment of Jaret Usher to lead a new anti-gang task force, according to GPB News.

The anti-gang task force is part of Kemp’s campaign pledge to “stop and dismantle criminal gangs,” and will be used as a tool to help local prosecutors build cases against alleged street gangs across Georgia.

Jaret Usher, a former Cobb County gang prosecutor, will lead it.

“We have the unique opportunity to go to every corner of this state,” Usher said. “We have the ability to collaborate with local, state and federal partners, share information, share knowledge and to combat the gangs as extensively as we need to and as extensively as they’re committing crimes.”

Kemp said that nearly every county in Georgia has reported gang activity, and said the task force will help law enforcement crack down on gangs and keep Georgians safe.

Governor Kemp will address Valdosta State University’s spring graduations, according to WTXL.

Governor Brian Kemp will deliver the keynote address during Valdosta State University’s Spring 2019 commencement ceremony.

More than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will be recognized during Valdosta State University’s 227th commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11.

“We are delighted that the governor of this great state will be joining us as we recognize the outstanding efforts of our spring graduates and celebrate education as the foundation upon which success is built,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU. “As a self-made businessman and public servant, Governor Kemp’s message will inspire and empower our students as they head out into the workforce and navigate life’s ups and downs, while pursuing their personal and professional goals.”

United States Senator David Perdue (R-Sea Island) spoke about President Trump’s plan to ship illegal aliens to sanctuary cities, according to the AJC.

Perdue said Monday that Trump’s comments were aimed at spurring Congressional action to stem “an explosion at the borders and exploding illegal drug traffic” at the border with Mexico.

“I don’t understand why the cities are trying to stand against the federal law,” he said of local governments that adopted sanctuary policies. “What the president is saying is right – there is an absolute five-alarm crisis at the border. It’s not just human trafficking, it’s drug trafficking.”

In the interview, Perdue was asked if he still supports the policy if those detained immigrants were moved to Atlanta. He shifted his criticism to cities that ignore federal immigration policies, and brought up the death of Kate Steinle, who was killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2015.

“That’s the unconscionable thing that happens when these people think they’re doing the liberal thing – good people suffer for that,” Perdue said. “And that’s what I think most people want to end.”

State Rep. Timothy Barr (R-Lawrenceville) spoke about the journalism legislation he co-sponsored, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Ethics in Journalism Act was introduced by State Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, on April 2, the last day of the legislative session this year. It won’t be available for lawmakers to consider until they return in January 2020. Media outlets have since reported that Welch has resigned.

Barr said the voluntary nature of accreditation addresses First Amendment concerns.

“We’re taking nobody’s First Amendment away. It’s completely voluntary. The board is made up of journalists,” he said.

Accreditation could be a “stamp of good housekeeping” for news organizations, particularly smaller blogs or websites, Barr said. The accreditation could be a way for news outlets to prove accountability in reporting, he said.

“Mostly this would be directed toward folks that wouldn’t have a big organization behind them,” Barr said. “I think it would be a good way for smaller organizations, smaller internet blog-type outlets to be able to get a stamp of approval such as, I keep referring back to, maybe a chamber of commerce.”

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Suburbs) told the Rotary Club of Lawrenceville that he believe bipartisanship is still possible, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“The House is very partisanly divided but there are going to be lots of bipartisan opportunities,” Woodall said. “I’ve spent the last eight years generating bipartisan chips in the chip jar and working together to get things done (and) I’m going to use every one of those over the next 18 to 20 months to try and move the needle forward.”

The congressman said he sees some potential for bipartisanship in areas such as the reauthorization of the federal highway bill and a major infrastructure package that touches on transportation, water and Internet infrastructure. He also said he believes there are opportunities for bipartisan work in the House Education and Labor Committee.

A fourth area where Woodall believes there could be room for bipartisanship is the National Defense Authorization Act. He warned that is not a given, however.

“That’s going to be the really interesting one this year,” Woodall said. “The National Defense Authorization Act lays out our entire national security posture for the year. No matter who’s been in the White House, no matter who’s been leading Congress, we’ve passed it every single year for 50 years.”

Glynn County government agencies reported on projects funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to The Brunswick News.

The Athens-Clarke County citizens committee on the SPLOST is working on a list of projects ahead of a projected November vote, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The commission, which has the final say on the project list, have already signaled that they intend to include several projects on the list — a $44.5 million affordable housing program, an $82 million “space modernization program” which is primarily for a new courthouse, and, if voters approve, $21 million in interest on money the government would borrow to get some of the projects going right away.

Commissioners have penciled in a November date for a vote on whether to extend the tax until collections reach about $248 million, or $278 million if the commission opts for a higher goal.

It would take about nine years to collect $248 million from the penny tax, and 10 years to reach $278 million, according to estimates. The 1 percent tax would not be a new tax, but an extension of the Special Local Option Sales Tax voters approved in a vote nearly a decade ago.

Now the citizen committee, appointed last year by commissioners and then-Mayor Nancy Denson, has asked commissioners to tell them which of the remaining 80-plus projects they favor, not as a group but with each commissioner indicating all the projects he or she would put on the final list.

Dalton Public Schools will spend $2 million dollars more without raising taxes under their next draft budget, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

State funding for Dalton Public Schools will increase by nearly $2.3 million to fund $3,000 pay raises for teachers and other certified staff, according to a draft fiscal year 2020 budget presented to the Board of Education Monday night.

“State funding is the most exciting part of this budget,” said Chief Financial Officer Theresa Perry.

The state budget approved by the legislature earlier this year provides funding for a $3,000 pay increase for teachers, counselors and other certified personnel.

Fiscal year 2020 starts July 1.

The budget calls for $84.9 million in spending, up from $81 million in the fiscal 2019 budget. It anticipates $83.6 million in revenue, up from $80 million in the 2019 budget. The school system will reach into its fund balance to cover the difference. The budget forecasts ending the 2020 fiscal year with a fund balance of $16 million.

The property tax rate would remain at 8.2 mills for the sixth year in a row. The budget projects that tax rate would bring in $31.909 million, up from $30.374 million thanks to growth in the tax digest.

Augusta is revising its safety code after a 12-year old was electrocuted last year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Savannah continues to see deployment of new solar installations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

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