Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 20, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 20, 2022

On April 20, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned his commission as a Colonel in the United States Army.

On April 20, 1982, the Atlanta Braves set a major league record, winning the first twelve games of the regular season.

On April 20, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation authorizing a $165 billion dollar bailout for Social Security, saying,

“This bill demonstrates for all time our nation’s ironclad commitment to Social Security. It assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half a century ago. It assures those who are still working that they, too, have a pact with the future. From this day forward, they have one pledge that they will get their fair share of benefits when they retire.”

On April 20, 1992, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation naming Pogo ‘Possum the official state possum of Georgia.

On April 20, 1999, two students entered Columbine High School in Colorado and killed twelve student and one teacher, and wounded 23 others before shooting themselves.

Cairo, Georgia hosted the Braves’ World Series trophy at the Jackie Robinson Boys and Girls Club, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

It was more than just having the World Series trophy on hand that was cause for celebration Friday afternoon at the Jackie Robinson Boys and Girls Club in the small town of Cairo, Georgia.

Friday also marked the 75th anniversary of the club’s namesake breaking Major League Baseball long-entrenched color barrier. A journey that began in Cairo.

Robinson, born near Cairo, was tapped by Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey to be the first Black player in modern baseball. His first game with the Dodgers was April 15, 1947. He drew a walk and scored a run as the Dodgers beat, as circumstances would have it, the Braves, then based in Boston.

Dr. Linda Walden, a distant relative of Robinson’s, called the event a great opportunity for young people.

“Greatness resides in Cairo and Grady County,” she said. “Jackie Robinson opened doors for so many races. He showed they can excel in whatever they want to do, just like he did. He never gave up, he never gave in and he never gave out. He made a difference for people who were marginalized.”

The Braves also presented the club with a 2022 15-seat Chevrolet van and will have kids from the club come to a game on April 22 to sing the national anthem before a game.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The City of Port Wentworth will descend further into chaos stay together for the kids. From the Savannah Morning News:

The effort to divide Port Wentworth has stalled as city officials search for a research group to conduct a feasibility study into splitting the municipality into two jurisdictions.

City Manager Steve Davis told council Tuesday the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government rebuffed requests to prepare an analysis of the fiscal consequences of a municipal split. The news came near the conclusion of an all-day retreat hosted by the Georgia Municipal Association to address the city’s future.

According to Davis, the Carl Vinson Institute, which conducts analyses on the incorporation of municipalities, does not do studies on dividing cities. The Vinson Institute previously studied the incorporation of Wilmington Island in 2018.

Davis said the next steps — such as requesting the services of a different organization — will have to be determined at a future meeting with council.

In March, Norton introduced the idea of a city split when he called for a special meeting after an 11th-hour push to dissolve the city charter failed.

The special meeting was canceled due to a lack of quorum. At the next council meeting, members unanimously approved a resolution that would explore dividing Port Wentworth along two possible lines: the Interstate 95 or the original boundary before the north side was annexed into the city (believed to be near the Sonny Dixon Interchange or Bonnybridge Road).

Governor Brian Kemp announced yesterday that he joined the American Governors’ Border Strike Task Force, according to a Press Release.

In the absence of federal leadership, states are partnering together to create the American Governors’ Border Strike Force to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations by increasing collaboration, improving intelligence, investing in analysis, combating human smuggling, and stopping drug flow in our states.

“What happens at our nation’s Southern Border impacts every single community in America,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “While President Biden largely ignores my colleagues and my proposals to secure our border and protect our communities, we are going to continue to be proactive in addressing these pressing issues. Together and on behalf of our constituents, we will coordinate and focus our efforts to target cartels and criminal networks. Our ultimate goal is to improve public safety, protect victims from horrific crimes, reduce the amount of drugs in our communities, and alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border. As we do this important work, Marty, the girls, and I ask all Georgians to join us in praying for the brave men and women of our Georgia National Guard who are already engaged in these efforts in Texas.”

The Border Strike Force will coordinate states’ efforts with two key missions to start.

Partner at the state fusion center level to disrupt and dismantle cartels:

  • Share criminal justice information to improve investigations in the border region and nationwide, especially in communities adjacent to or crossing state boundaries.
  • Coordinate and improve interdiction on interstates to combat drug trafficking and human smuggling.
  • Co-locate intelligence analysts in border states to improve collaboration, real time response, intelligence sharing, and analysis connected to border security.
  • Assist border states with supplemental staff and resources at state fusion centers, such as on rotation assignments, to share information obtained both on the border and in other states.
  • Send law enforcement to train in border states to detect, track, and curb border-related crime.

Focus state law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle cartels:

  • Target cartel finances that fund criminal activity in the border regions to seize the tools used to assist the cartels.
  • Monitor cybersecurity issues that may increase vulnerability along the Southern Border, such as criminal networks that operate on social media to recruit traffickers.
  • Review state criminal statutes regarding human trafficking, drug trafficking, and transnational criminal organizations to ensure the laws deter, disrupt, and dismantle criminal activity.
  • Review state criminal justice statistics and information to determine crimes that can be traced to the Southern Border.
  • Develop interstate procedures to fill any identified gaps or identified inconsistencies in existing plans to address border crime.

Governors in the following states have also joined the American Governors’ Border Strike Force: Arizona, Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding creating the American Governors’ Border Strike Force is available upon request or online in the press release section at gov.georgia.gov.

The Warner Robins Police Department is offering a free gun safety class, according to 13WMAZ.

“People who come to this class are ignorant — not ‘bad’ ignorant, just they’re not knowledgeable about guns, so we try and teach them about the different parts, the correct terminology,” Captain John Clay said.

The department started offering their citizens firearm training course years ago. Captain Clay says he instructs beginner level shooters on several topics.

“When you can use it to defend yourself, then we talk about situational awareness and preparing for the time you have to use it,” he explained.

Since Governor Kemp passed a new gun law making permit-less carry legal, the classroom to firing range course will cover some revised material.

There’s another part of gun safety law that officers are dealing with: encounters with civilians.

“Unless an officer has some kind of criminal activity in mind that you’ve done, we can’t just walk up to people that we see with a gun,” he explained.

Though the law allows for permit-less carry, those who aren’t lawful weapons carriers, like minors or convicted felons, can still be arrested.

“And in the course, I see that you have a gun and I find out you are a convicted felon, then you’re still arrested. Even though you didn’t have the permit, because that’s the reason why you don’t have the permit — because you are a convicted felon,” he said.

Mike Collins leads in fundraising for the Tenth Congressional District primary election, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Collins had raised $1.1 million through the first quarter of this year in a bid to succeed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, who is leaving Congress to run for Georgia secretary of state. While $531,000 of Collins’ money came in the form of a loan he made to his campaign, he also raised $562,535 from individual contributors.

[Vernon] Jones, a former DeKalb County CEO and Democratic state representative, lagged behind Collins and six other Republican candidates in the battle for bucks. A late entry after dropping out of the race for governor, Jones had raised $265,651 through March 31.

Collins has the most money left in his treasury by far heading into the final weeks of the primary campaign, reporting $743,953 cash on hand as of March 31. The only other candidates with more than $200,000 remaining in their campaigns at the end of last month were Curry with $298,602, McMain with $296,143, and Sims with $286,913.

Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young is calling for a Grand Jury to be empaneled to investigate current Mayor Hardie Davis, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Davis, who has nine months left in office, is the target of an ongoing state ethics investigation. In a divorce filing last week, his wife accused him of having an affair with a mayor’s office consultant, which Davis denied. He’s resisted open records requests and had his credit card spending curbed by the Augusta Commission, according to prior Augusta Chronicle reports.

“Records are being withheld or their release stonewalled, unchecked spending has occurred in violation of county policies and a state investigation is under way concerning the use of public resources for political purposes,” Young wrote in a Tuesday letter to Chief Augusta Superior Court Judge J. Daniel Craig.

Craig said he received Young’s request but could not comment.

“The statutory process that he has asked to be employed is one that would make any comment by a judge inappropriate,” Craig said.

Davis responded that only Augusta’s CEO – the mayor – could call for a grand jury investigation, while Young could “offer his opinion” to Craig.  Davis said the judges of the Augusta Circuit each recused themselves from the mayor’s legal affairs. That was in his divorce case.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree is concerned with gangs and homicide trends, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said his agency would be taking “decisive action” after a spate of homicides since Thursday. There have been five homicides in the past five days.

Roundtree said the agency is “acutely aware” of the uptick and will be acting quickly in an attempt to solve these homicides and prevent others in the future. In the statement, Roundtree said that at least two of the shooting victims were killed as a result of gang violence.

“We have plans for selected enforcement action to target those criminals who are participating in gangs and the associated gun violence and drug trafficking,” Roundtree said in the statement.

Only one arrest has been made in any of the five homicides, with Yelena Buckner being charged with murder in Herron’s death. Roundtree did not specify which of the five homicides are believed to be gang related.

Tuesday’s homicide brought the total number of homicides to 12 so far in 2022, including five in April. The number of homicides is on a similar pace to last year, where there were 10 homicides by April 19, according to data maintained by The Augusta Chronicle

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) announced $100 million in federal funding for new barracks at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia, according to WTOC.

“Something that I hear consistently in installations across the state, and particularly from junior enlisted personnel is shortages of housing and concerns about the quality of housing on post,” Sen. Jon Ossoff said.

Fort Stewart soldiers are also receving upgraded tanks, according to WTOC.

The soldiers who operate these new M1-A2 tanks say they can see and feel the difference inside and out-starting with a paint that’s cool to the touch and helps prevent a thermal signature the enemies can find in the field.

The Army’s newest version of the Abrams tank weighs roughly the same as the old one, but lighter components offset the upgrade in hardware inside.

“They did push more power to the generator to run all the components, they installed an auxiliary power unit so we can run it without the engine running,” SSG Joseph Lee, 3rd Battalion-67th Armor Regiment said.

“It’s a much better vehicle all around, especially to be able to fight at night and stay in the fight longer.”

They expect to have a total of 174 of these tanks in the division by sometime next year.

No word on how many cup holders are installed.

Statesboro City Council approved its first four licenses to print money for package sales of liquor, according to the Statesboro Herald.

City Council on Tuesday evening approved the first four “location reservations” for liquor stores to be established in Statesboro. All four are planned to be created by renovating existing buildings.

So this is actually more “pre-licensing,” than actual licensing, but it’s progress.

Gwinnett County Commissioners voted for pay raises for many county employees, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

County commissioners added late items to their business meeting agenda on Tuesday to create a new Juneteenth county holiday, to give county first responders a 10% market adjustment pay raise and to give other county employees an 8% market adjustment pay raise. The raises mean the minimum hourly rate a Gwinnett County government employee could earn is $15 per hour.

“We take pride in Gwinnett being a preferred public sector employer,” County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson said. “We also know a generous compensation and benefits package is essential to keeping this status and shows our current employees we appreciate their hard work and dedication to the Gwinnett community. At the same time, we hope these incentives will attract prospective employees to consider a career in public service.”

The first responders who will get 10% market adjustments include police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and paramedics, corrections officers, E911 workers and employees of the District Attorneys and Solicitor’s offices.

The raises and the new county holiday comes on the heels of county employees becoming eligible to take up to four weeks of parental leave and receive family planning benefits on April 1. Parents now get up to four weeks of paid leave when their child is born or adopted, or when a foster child joins their home. Several family planning benefits — such as information about conception, fertility assistance, prenatal nutrition and post-partum to surrogacy, adoption and return-to-work support — were rolled out earlier this year as well.

The Dalton Board of Education voted to pay $2000 bonuses in the end-of-April pay period, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Gov. Brian Kemp and the state legislature approved one-time supplements of $2,000 for public school employees, whether they be full or part time, said Theresa Perry, Dalton Public Schools’ chief financial officer. “We are getting revenue (from the state) to cover 80%” of the $2 million it will cost Dalton Public Schools to provide those $2,000 supplements to approximately 1,000 employees.

Perry also informed the school board members the system will receive less in equalization funding for fiscal year 2023 than the record-high $5.5 million Dalton Public Schools was allotted for the 2022 fiscal year. Perry estimates $4.48 million in equalization funding from the state for fiscal year 2023, which begins July 1.

Albany City Commission is considering regulating hotels and motels, according to the Albany Herald.

Renting rooms by the hour or as a permanent place of residence would no longer be allowed under an ordinance under consideration by the Albany City Commission.

The commission could vote later this month on the quality transient housing ordinance presented during a Tuesday work session. The ordinance would apply to all hotels and motels in the city that rent five or more rooms.

Large hotels and chain operations pretty much follow the standards set out in the ordinance, but there have been issues at extended-stay operations, Commissioner Chad Warbington said.

Some of the establishments are hot spots for “crimes and drugs and prostitution and human trafficking,” Warbington said. “By putting this in place, I think we will improve public safety.”

Among the rules that would apply to extended-stay facilities is one that would cap stays at six consecutive months under the draft ordinance. A shorter, 30-day maximum also is under consideration. After a break of two days, the lodger could return.

Claxton City Council voted to add a third district as part of redistricting, according to WTOC.

According to data from Georgia’s Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office, under the new maps District 1 would elect 2 members to city council and is made up of a majority black population.

District 2 would elect 3 members to city council and would be made up of a roughly 50% Black population, a 27% white population, and a 21% Hispanic population.

District 3 would elect 2 members to city council and would be majority white.

Each district would have 2 sitting incumbents with a resignation leaving an open seat in district 2.

City officials say the new district won’t change the number of seats on city council and that the city’s central voting location will remain the same.

The new redistricting maps were approved by the state legislator and await signing from the governor.

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