Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 15, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 15, 2018

On August 15, 1903, Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation requiring that Georgia schools teach elementary agriculture and civics. Two days later, on August 17, 1903, the General Assembly condemned the practice of whipping female inmates.

The Panama Canal opened on August 15, 1914.

Georgia Governor Thomas Hardwick signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Forestry on August 15, 1921.

On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock Festival began in upstate New York.

Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppolla was released on August 15, 1979.

Paul Anderson, known for years as the “Strongest Man in the World” for his weightlifting feats, died on August 15, 1994 in Vidalia, Georgia. Anderson was born in 1932 in Toccoa, Georgia. He won an Olympic gold medal in the sport of weightlifting in 1956.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a candidate who was removed from the ballot, according to the Associated Press.

The Georgia Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal filed by a State House candidate disqualified over citizenship requirements.

A Fulton County judge last month upheld Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s removal of Maria Palacios of Gainesville from the ballot. Kemp said Palacios didn’t meet a Georgia Constitution requirement that candidates be “citizens of this state for two years.” The high court on Tuesday declined to hear Palacios’ appeal.

Palacios, who was born in Mexico, was the only Democrat running for the Gainesville-area seat now held by Republican Matt Dubnik. Dubnik is opposed on the November ballot by Independent Nancy Stead.

Congressman Jody Hice (R-10) will host “Coffee with your Congressman” in Dacula today.

Hice will hold “Coffee With Your Congressman” from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at TradeWind Coffee Company, which is located at 2300 Liam Ave., Suite No. 200, in Dacula. Hice is one of three congressmen who split Gwinnett, with the eastern part of the county, including Dacula, Auburn and Braselton, being in his district.

Hice is expected to give a brief update on legislative matters and their impact on his congressional district. Time permitting, he will also take questions from attendees.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Randy Rich dismissed an appeal by County Commissioner Tommy Hunter of a reprimand by the Commission, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“The appeal of this case has been unreasonably delayed by 224 days,” Rich wrote in his dismissal order. “This delay was caused by the petitioner’s specific inclusion of the June transcript and then complete failure to request that the transcript be prepared and filed with the clerk.”

The dismissal is the latest chapter in the ongoing saga that began in January 2017 when news broke that Hunter called Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook. It’s a saga that is expected to continue on to Georgia’s highest court with a debate over the constitutional validity of the ethics panel that recommended Hunter’s reprimand.

Hunter’s attorney, Dwight Thomas, said Rich’s decision was “not in accordance with the law.” He also raised issues with an email sent to Rich’s office from the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit’s chief deputy clerk.

Thomas said the commissioner’s team is planning to take the appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Democratic Congressional candidate Steve Foster will have to campaign from a cell after sentencing for a DUI, according to the Dalton Daily News.

Whitfield County Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris sentenced Foster, who is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Graves in the 14th congressional district, to one year in jail with six months to serve and six months on probation for his Aug. 7 conviction. A jury found Foster guilty in 15 minutes.

The conviction and sentence will not prevent Foster from being on the ballot for the congressional race, according to Whitfield County registrar Mary Hammontree. She said only a felony conviction would prevent that. DUI is a misdemeanor offense.

Messages sent to Dan Lovingood, who is the Democratic Party’s 14th Congressional District chair, were not immediately returned. Lawyer Richard K. Murray represented Foster.

Former GBI Director Robbie Hamrick died, according to the Gainesville Times.

Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-West Point) joined Congressional candidate Herman West and GOP Insurance Commissioner nominee Jim Beck at the Muscogee County Republican Party, according to WBRC.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) spoke to the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce, according to The Dallas News-Era.

Graves said that a lot was being accomplished by the Trump administration, despite the negative profile depicted on television. “It is not a true reflection of what is happening. We should celebrate success…it should never be about personalities, it should be about results,” Graves told Paulding business leaders.

Graves said the economy is re-energized and jobs are exceeding applicants. The economic engine “…is starting to roar,” he said.
“More people are employed in northwest Georgia today than at any time in [state] history,” he said.

Also, Graves noted that President Trump signed into law the largest investment in military spending in a decade. Last April his administration put forth 68 billion to rebuild America’s military, the largest increase in military spending since the Reagan administration.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners may not be able to pass their proposed property tax hike, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A county commissioner said Tuesday that he is no longer supporting a 3-mill tax increase that will be up for vote Thursday. That could mean the increase will not pass since it was only narrowly supported 5-4 by commissioners last week.

Voting for the 3-mill increase was “premature on my part,” Commissioner Joe Allen said at Tuesday’s committee meetings. “It’s not due to all the social media mess, it’s not due to what people feel.

Without a tax increase, plans to fund the bus system, libraries and several county departments could be in jeopardy after budget amendments were made to restore money to “outside agencies” such as the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority, libraries and four museums.

The Macon Telegraph looks at how budget woes will affect Paratransit.

Paratransit, a public transportation service for those unable to use the fixed route bus system due to health reasons, provides about 140 rides to Macon residents each day. About half of those trips are to and from dialysis clinics that provide life-saving treatment for chronically ill patients like Wade.

The service costs $2.50 per trip, and most riders can’t afford to pay more than that. Without Paratransit, they could be trapped in their homes. For Wade, the consequences of a Paratransit shutdown could be deadly.

Joseph Weaver, a legally blind and disabled Macon resident who depends on both the fixed route bus system and Paratransit to get around town, said some people don’t realize how important public transportation is to people like him.

“I think the bus system gets a bad rap sometimes, and I think most of it is by able-bodied people who drive,” he said. “And they don’t have – they don’t understand what it’s like to be without transportation.”

Macon-Bibb Libraries are also making plans for closing, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“We don’t have the money for one more payroll and closing the library,” Middle Georgia Regional Library System Director Jennifer Lautzenheiser said.

The Macon-Bibb County Commission is expected to vote Thursday on whether it will spend $238,000 to keep the libraries staffed and operating for another month.

“If this doesn’t happen, we have to close the library,” she said.

“This is unprecedented and really unthinkable,” State Librarian Julie Walker, of the Georgia Public Library Service, told The Telegraph by phone. “I never anticipated a day when one of our counties would decide to completely eliminate public library funding.”

An audit of the Columbus Council Clerk‘s office shows some work not getting completed, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Clerk of Council Tiny Washington will remain on paid leave after the forensic auditor presented results of a seven-month investigation that uncovered missing contracts, minutes and some ordinances still not updated, city officials said Tuesday.

After the meeting, Mayor pro-tem Evelyn Turner Pugh said council would be looking into the findings of the audit report. “Whatever the audit findings are, we are going to look at each one of them and we aren’t going to skip over them,” she said. “We are going to try and straighten them out. The citizens can have that as my word.”

From 2008 to 2018, the audit reviewed a sample of 47 contracts. All resolutions were found online in DocDepot on the clerk’s website. Only 15 of the actual contracts were available online and 19 of the original hard copy documents were found in the office. The remaining 28 contracts weren’t located, with contracts stored in boxes by the year and no order to contents. The audit recommended implementing a system to track contracts to make sure they are all signed and filed in a secured manner. The clerk said there was a backlog from a former employee.

The audit found that minutes of meetings were written verbatim while Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Record Laws call for a summary of minutes available to public in two business days of as meeting. Minutes were reviewed in 30 meetings from 2008 to 20017. In nine of the years, no minutes were found in the official book or no book was found in the vault area of the office. Only partial minutes were found for the other years.

Home Depot says tariffs will have a $300 milllion dollar effect on the company, according to the AJC.

In an interview after the Atlanta-based company announced a surprisingly robust set of results for the most recent quarter, Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome said the company remains uncertain about the ultimate impact of the tariff battle begun by the Trump administration in recent months.

[T]he tariffs imposed thus far are raising the costs of items the company sells, from laundry machines to anything containing steel or aluminum.

“But tariffs will add less than $300 million to the sales of those things,” Tome said. “Out of $100 billion in sales, so that is a manageable number.”

Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey spoke to the St Simons Rotary Club this week, according to The Brunswick News.

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority filed a lawsuit alleging a deep well on Tybee Island was not completed properly, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Rome City Commissioners adopted a curfew for children 16 or younger, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“It is not the intent to stop students going to and from the movies or on errands for their parents,” Downer-McKinney said. “For those that are having behavioral issues, it will allow us to do something and hold their parents responsible.”

City Commissioners enacted the ordinance Monday night. It calls for anyone age 16 and younger to be out of public places and off the streets between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they’re with a custodial adult.

The list of banned spots includes parks, parking lots, malls, entertainment venues, school grounds and restaurants.

Police would first issue warning citations — to both the teens and their parent or guardian. A second violation sends the child to Juvenile Court and the parent to answer a Municipal Court judge.

Snellville City Council approved a doubling of their compensation, to take effect after the November 2019 elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The City Council approved the new salaries for council members and the office of mayor Monday. It is the first raise that Snellville’s leaders have received in 35 years.

The new salary for a member of the City Council will be $8,000 per year, up from $4,000, while the occupant of the mayor’s office will be paid $12,000, as opposed to the $6,000 salary currently tied to the office.

The Henry County Board of Commissioners adopted a millage rate that will increase revenues, according to the Henry Herald.

The BOC agreed to a 12.733 millage rate with a 4-2 vote, with Gary Barham and Blake Prince voting against. The millage rate will generate around $6.2 million in additional tax revenue over last year.

Barham and Prince advocated for a 12.600 millage rate, which Barham said would have put around $1 million in revenue back in the pockets of Henry County residents. That 12.6 millage rate failed with a 2-4 vote, with Barham and Prince voting in favor.

The 12.733 millage rate was the originally-proposed millage rate that was voted on and denied during the board’s July 31 meeting. Commissioners expressed concerns over the projected use of $4 million for salary increases for county employees following a study being commissioned by Henry County. The $4 million had been mentioned in a presentation as a way part of the $6.2 million could be spent.

The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation will be located at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, according to the Albany Herald.
“The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College was created by the General Assembly and Gov. (Nathan) Deal as the state’s central resource for research and training on economic development and opportunity in rural Georgia,” [Georgia House Speaker David] Ralston said. “I am proud that the recommendations of the House RDC are being put into action. I want to thank our partners at ABAC and the University System of Georgia for their work in getting this center up and running.”House Bill 951, sponsored by state Rep. Jason Shaw, R-Lakeland, during this year’s legislative session, provided for the establishment of the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation. The bill became effective in July.“ABAC is a natural home for the center with its geographic location, talent and resources,” [State Rep. Jay] Powell said. “They have the ability to work with other USG institutions as well as all state agencies to move all of rural Georgia forward.”
“Georgia’s rural communities face many unique challenges, and the RDC has worked meticulously to identify these challenges and present workable solutions,” [State Rep. Sam] Watson said. “It has been a great honor to work alongside my Georgia General Assembly colleagues to pass legislation for the good of rural Georgia, and I’m pleased that one such bill will soon establish the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation to provide our state’s rural citizens with vital support.”
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