Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 6, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 6, 2016

On April 6, 1776, the Continental Congress announced that all ports in America would be open to trade with other countries not ruled by the British. The action was taken several months after Britain passed the American Prohibitory Act which forbade trade with the colonies and was intended to punish colonists for the growing rebellion.

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

If you think there’s a chance you might be out of town on May 24th or if you’d simply prefer to vote from the comfort of your own couch, you can apply for an absentee mail-in ballot.

Today is the first day absentee ballots can be mailed to Georgia voters for the General Primary and Nonpartisan Election set for May 24. To request an absentee ballot, voters can submit a written application to their local county registrar or log onto the office’s “My Voter Page (MVP)” to print the application and mail the completed form to their registrar.

“Through MVP, requesting an absentee ballot has never been easier in Georgia,” stated Secretary of State Brian Kemp. “I was proud to bring this new innovation to our state along with other helpful web-based platforms, such as the online voter registration system and the ‘GA Votes’ smartphone app. Georgia is a national leader in utilizing technologies to educate citizens about elections, voting, and the importance of participation in the electoral process for all levels of government.”

If you live in Sandy Springs City Council District Three and want to vote by mail, the procedure is different:

The Sandy Springs Special Election will not appear on the absentee ballot you get from Fulton County.

In order to vote by mail-in absentee ballot for the Special Election for City Council, you must request a City Council ballot directly from the city.

Here is the information on requesting a mail-in ballot for this election:

If you live in District 3 within the City of Sandy Springs, you can request an absentee ballot for the City’s Special-Called Election to fill the District 3 City Council seat by downloading the application and either:

  • Hand deliver to the City Clerk at Sandy Springs City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500, Sandy Springs, Georgia 30350, or
  • Mail to the City Clerk at Sandy Springs City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500, Sandy Springs, Georgia 30350, or
  • Email to the City Clerk at vote@sandyspringsga.gov, or
  • Fax to the City Clerk at 770.206.1420

If you also want a regular absentee ballot for the state and Fulton County offices, you must request that ballot separately also.

Qualifying reopens today and tomorrow for Republicans considering running for State House in District 3 (Upper left-hand corner around Ringgold) or District 52 (Sandy Springs). From the Georgia Republican Party,

Due to the withdrawal of the incumbent in State House District 52, the Georgia Republican Party will reopen qualifying for the May 24, 2016 Republican Primary for State House District 03 on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 and Thursday, April 7, 2016, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m. on each day.

Qualifying shall take place at the Georgia Republican Party Headquarters, 3110 Maple Drive, Suite 150, Atlanta, GA 30305, (404) 257-5559. Candidates must present a picture ID at the time of qualifying. The qualifying fee is $400.00.

In South Georgia’s House District 151, Democrat James Williams may be bounced off the ballot as the only challenger against Republican incumbent Gerald Greene.

[T]he Georgia Secretary of State’s Office — which keeps the official records used by political parties to qualify candidates — says its records were wrong about which district Williams lives in, likely disqualifying him from the race.

The mix-up apparently happened four years ago when the state last re-drew district lines in a statewide process known as redistricting, including around House District 151 which includes part of Dougherty County as well as all of Terrell, Calhoun, Early, Randolph, Webster, Stewart, Quitman and Clay counties.

State officials this week blamed local officials for the problem.

“During re-districting, Dougherty County elections officials incorrectly designated Mr. Williams as living in House District 151,” Georgia Secretary of State spokeswoman Candice Broce said in an email. “Mr. Williams lives in House District 154. When alerted to their error, county officials corrected their mistake.”

Lester Tate has resigned as Chair of the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, citing legislative actions to change the JQC’s composition.

Tate, a Cartersville attorney, quit because he says legislative leaders are trying to take over the commission, in order to protect their friends on the bench.

“The bottom line is, judicial ethics and politics simply do not mix,” Tate said in an interview Tuesday with 11Alive News.  “And we have been subject to an onslaught of political interference and meddling” from all three branches of Georgia government, especially the legislature. “A large cloud of political pollution has gathered over the Judicial Qualifications Commission.”

The state constitution set up the Judicial Qualifications Commission decades ago as an independent commission responsible for 1) investigating complaints of judicial misconduct against judges — and anyone can file a complaint with the JQC — and 2) removing judges from office whenever the accusations are confirmed.

The legislature decided earlier this year to put the question to the voters in November — to abolish the independent Judicial Qualifications Commission.  The legislature would then create a new commission with members appointed by legislative leaders.

State Senator Josh McKoon has endorsed his colleague, Mike Crane, in the primary election for the Third Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

“I have had the honor of serving with Mike in the Georgia State Senate for the past 5 years. In that time Mike has been a friend, a brother in arms, and a true champion for the cause of conservatism,” said McKoon.

“It is imperative that we send a rock solid conservative to Washington. Someone who will hold fast to the principles we hold dear, who will be a champion for small government, lower taxes and less regulation. Someone who will be a champion for life and religious freedom; someone who can stand up to the pressure of the Washington cartel. Mike Crane is that man. I can personally attest to Mike’s character, his conviction, and his courage. He has stood up to the political class in Atlanta, and he will do the same in Washington,” said McKoon.

Dick Yarbrough has an interesting perspective on the religious liberty fight that took place rages on.

In a democracy, there are only two ways a political decision can be made: The application of pressure or the lack thereof. In other words, you either apply pressure on those who are making the decision or you keep the pressure off so they can come to the conclusion you desire.

It was obvious that in the case of the Religious Freedom bill, there was more pressure put on the governor to veto the bill than there was pressure to sign it. Most major companies in the state, along with chambers of commerce, the entertainment industry, the Atlanta professional sports franchises, the National Football League and a number of ministers strongly opposed the religious freedom bill and were vocal in predicting dire consequences if it was signed by the governor.

Having spent most of my life in a large corporation, I can tell you that the last thing a company wants is controversy. Management doesn’t like it and, most importantly, shareholders don’t like it. Big companies are an easy target for special interest groups and it was obvious that many of the corporations had heard from those opposed to the bill and not as many who were in favor.

That leads me to communications. The opponents of the bill were clear and succinct in stating the reasons why the bill should be defeated and if it passed the Legislature, why it should be vetoed.

In my opinion, proponents of the religious freedom bill did a poor job of communicating their case. They stayed on the defensive through much of the debate and seemed unable to clearly articulate the need for such a law.

Proponents of the religious freedom effort say they will be back at it again next session. If they hope to be successful, they need to do a better job than they did this session. Get an articulate spokesperson (someone like Ed Setzler, R-Cobb.) Get some clear and concise messages. Have some tangible examples to cite as to why the legislation is needed. Let businesses know that they will pay the price for their opposition. Threaten to boycott them and their services. Broaden your base of support. Make friends and allies. Talk to civic clubs. PTAs. Garden clubs. Run ads advocating the need for the bill.

I don’t agree with everything Dick writes in that column, but it’s not a requirement that I do in order to recognize some well-written points.

I can’t help but think that Jade Morey’s presence in the greater Warner Robins area is at least partly responsible for the incredibly patriotic new paint job on a Houston County water tower.

Macon-Bibb County could spend more than $800,000 for a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees on the county pension plan.

In Columbus and Muscogee County, an effort is underway to assess the impact of Fort Benning on the surrounding area.

A study is underway to determine the impact of the U.S. Army’s cuts at Fort Benning on the city and surrounding region, with a couple of “town hall” gatherings scheduled this week to solicit feedback from the general public.

The meetings on Thursday and Friday, which will take place at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center, are part of an effort by the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Partnership Joint Development Authority to ultimately develop a plan for dealing with the downsizing of the military here.

“We really want the people to come out,” Gary Jones, the chamber’s executive vice president of military affairs, said of the two meetings that will include an update from Matrix Design Group, a Denver-based consulting firm with offices across the United States.

The crux of the dilemma facing Columbus and the surrounding communities is the U.S. Army’s reduction of its troop strength from 490,000 to 450,000 due to federal budget cuts. Several brigades are being inactivated, including the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning.

The town hall meetings will be held 6-8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m.-noon Friday at the Convention and Trade Center, inside Room 104. The overall effort has been dubbed, “Community Impacts Associated with Army Personnel Reductions.” For more information, visit www.fortbenningciar.com.

DeKalb County

Yesterday around 9 AM, Emory University announced it had purchased some 60 acres and 400,000 square feet of office space in Executive Park in the City of Brookhaven.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said, “We are pleased that Emory has acquired Executive Park. We expect Emory’s presence to be a catalyst for revitalization of this great area, which the city welcomed into Brookhaven less than a year and a half ago.”

And it would be only a matter of hours before we learned how much revitalization would be coming with the purchase. At 2 PM, the Atlanta Hawks and Emory announced a joint development for the site.

The Atlanta Hawks and Emory Healthcare on Tuesday announced plans to partner as well as build a first-of-its-kind training and sports medicine center on Executive Park Drive in Brookhaven, which will serve as the team’s official practice site.

The privately-funded facility will feature the most advanced technology in sports medicine and athletic care built within a state-of-the-art training center with amenities. The team expects to break ground this summer on the 90,000-square-foot facility, and the Hawks Basketball Operations Department will be housed in the facility upon its completion.

The entire roster of doctors, surgeons and specialists from Emory’s current Sports Medicine Center will also make Brookhaven its permanent home and treat patients inside the new facility.

“When we became owners, one of our top priorities was to provide the resources necessary to build a world-class training facility—a key element of being a first-class franchise that consistently competes at the highest level,” said Hawks Principal Owner Tony Ressler. “We are thrilled with the partnership that Steve and Bud have forged with Dr. Boden and the Emory team in developing a new facility that will be at the forefront of how professional teams approach integrating sports medical technology in their training centers,”

Additionally, the new Hawks/Emory facility will bring new jobs to the area.

The 90,000-square-foot facility will be located on about five acres at 22 Executive Park Drive, and is expected to bring at least 200 permanent jobs to the city. The development of the Brookhaven site will not require any rezoning action by the city’s planning commission.

“The city of Brookhaven is proud to be home to the Atlanta Hawks and Emory Healthcare,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. “This innovative training and sports medical facility fits within our city’s vision for smart growth and a high quality of life. Bringing an elite athletic franchise and world class healthcare to Brookhaven fosters investment, visibility and well-being for our vibrant community.

“We welcome the Atlanta Hawks, Emory Healthcare and their visitors to Brookhaven.”

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin was impressed by Executive Park’s location.

“The location of the facility was a significant factor in our search and Brookhaven stood out as an area that perfectly fit many of our needs,” Koonin said. “It is central to many of our players and basketball operations staff and a thriving young community,.

“I would like to thank Mayor Ernst and the city of Brookhaven for how they have welcomed our project and I look forward to working together to create a community partnership.”

Contrast that to the proposed location of a professional soccer facility elsewhere in DeKalb County that cratered. This development will likely see an investment at least equal to that of the soccer field proposal, with taxpayers picking up the tab for none of the costs, while the soccer deal would have cost county taxpayers at least $12 million.

Speaking of taxpayer dollars for athletic facilities, the Warner Robins City Council is considering a proposed sports complex that would cost $22 million, and include 9 outdoor baseball fields, two indoor basketball courts, and an indoor track.

Commissioners Nancy Jester and Larry Johnson are co-hosting a Town Hall for Businesses with Complaints about county government.

Commissioner Larry Johnson and Commissioner Nancy Jester will co-host a countywide Town Hall for DeKalb County taxpayers to discuss and offer public input on businesses who have repeatedly and willfully ignored code violations and businesses which fail to uphold community standards which can have a negative impact on county property values, can propagate criminal activity and can weaken the County’s overall economic development efforts.

This Town Hall falls under the authority of the Study Group appointed by CEO Lee May to study Businesses Facing Numerous Citizen-Initiated Complaints of which Commissioner Larry Johnson and Commissioner Nancy Jester were appointed to.

Wednesday 27 April, 2016, 6:30 PM to 8 PM
Maloof Auditorium
1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur

No word on whether a Festivus Pole will accompany the Airing of Grievances.

Georgia Power Considers New Nuclear Plant

That’s likely a bit of an overstatement – they’re actually considering studying the possibility, but doing so costs millions of dollars and takes years, so the company is laying the groundwork to study the issue and maybe later think about a new plant. From the estimable Walter Jones, reporting for the Augusta Chronicle,

Georgia Power is seeking permission from regulators to look at constructing a new reactor.

“We are committed to preserving the option to build new nuclear generation to meet customers’ electric needs in the most reliable and cost-effective manner,” said company spokesman Jacob Hawkins, noting that Georgia will have an estimated 2.4 million added residents by 2030.

Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton stressed Tuesday that no ultimate decision on additional reactors will be made in the vote on the plan that Georgia Power filed this year.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that if we do ultimately vote on that topic in the IRP, it will be a vote just to study it,” he said. “It’s not a vote whether we move forward or chose not to construct new nuclear in the future.”

The planning request is just to allocate funds to keep the nuclear option open, insiders say.

“It’s not a decision on whether there will be new nuclear,” Eaton said. “It’s just a decision on whether to study, which the costs associated with that are not insignificant.”

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