Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 31, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 31, 2018

The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on September 3, 1777 at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

A fleet of 22 French ships arrived off the coast of Savannah on September 3, 1779 to help wrest control of the city from the British.

On August 31, 1864, Confederates charged Union forces at the Battle of Jonesboro, in which the CSA suffered more than 1400 casualties in one hour.

On September 3, 1862, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in Atlanta and within five miles of its border by the Confederate government. Two years later, September 3, 1864, General William T. Sherman would occupy Atlanta.

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

The Georgia General Assembly expelled 25 of 29 African-American members from the State House on September 3, 1868, arguing that Georgia’s constitution did not allow them to hold office.

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

The last hanging in Atlanta took place on September 1, 1922 outside the Fulton County jail.

Anne Frank, age 15, and seven other Jews who were hiding together in Amsterdam were the last Dutch prisoners transported to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Having received the Democratic nomination for President, Jimmy Carter began the General Election with an address from his front porch in Plains, Georgia on September 3, 1976.

On September 1, 2004, United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

On August 31, 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which this Senate had previously passed.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Gainesville Times profiles what it calls the five best barbecue shops in Hall County.

Governor Nathan Deal delivered the Environmental Address at a forum sponsored by Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“We have a lot of good things happening, but we are always trying to be conscious that people will not come, and they will not stay, if they do not feel that you have an environmentally friendly state or county as the case may be,” Deal said. “Thank you for making that an important subject as your county grows.”

“When you have economic growth, you can also have a clean and beautiful environment, and (Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful’s) dedication to that prospect has been very important because in talking with economic development companies that are looking at our state, there are many ingredients that they find important,” Deal said.

“One is they want to know what the quality of life is. If they are going to bring people from other parts of the country or other parts of the world and located and build factories and offices, they want to know whether or not their employees are going to be satisfied to live in those communities.”

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Executive Director Schelly Marlatt said she appreciated hearing the governor connect environmental protection and preservation with economic development. She said the two “go hand in hand” with each other.

The Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission held demonstrations of six potential new voting systems, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

At a meeting of the statewide Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, held in co-chair Rep. Barry Fleming’s home county of Columbia County, six voting systems vendors demonstrated their technologies after morning panels on voting rights, access, security and intergovernmental relations.

John Fortuna, a Green Party candidate for state senate, said the state needs paper ballots and ballot scanners at each polling place.

In contrast with the concerns, former Republican party official Dave Barbee called the need for a paper trail “metal hats” and said he trusted every vote he’d cast since the last time paper ballots were used.

With paper ballots, “somebody always found another box that had ballots that weren’t counted,” Barbee said.

Rick Barron, elections director for Fulton County, said a switch to paper will make early voting difficult in the populous county.

“The biggest complaint with paper ballots in early voting is voters receive the wrong ballot,” he said. “Whatever system you end up deciding on, please be sure it accommodates early voting.”

Greg Bluestein of the AJC looks at the competing visions for electoral victory in the Governor’s race.

Stacey Abrams needs to reach deep into the vast pool of left-leaning voters who rarely cast ballots in midterm elections. Brian Kemp aims to wring out every conservative vote he can. And they both intend to relentlessly appeal to skeptical independents who skipped the primaries.

Kemp’s path to victory starts with the blueprint President Donald Trump carved out when he carried Georgia by a 5-point margin in 2016. He struggled mightily in metro Atlanta and other dense urban areas, but he ran up huge margins in more lightly populated areas.

The Republican nominee hopes to hold his own in metro Atlanta – particularly the more moderate suburbs – and try to wrack up huge gains in GOP territory in the exurbs and rural stretches.

“He’ll be dependent on pro-Trump forces in rural areas, and that will give him some breathing room if he struggles in metro Atlanta,” Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University political scientist, said of Kemp. “It will hinge on just how large the Trump turnout will be.”

Abrams’ electoral math is more complicated as she seeks to flip a state office that hasn’t been in Democratic hands since Roy Barnes was defeated in 2002.

She has long zeroed in on two sometimes-overlapping blocs: minority voters who make up the bulk of the Democratic electorate and low-propensity voters who rarely cast ballots in midterm elections.

She’s tailoring her appeal by not veering from progressive stances on guns, abortion and tax policy while also keying on broader themes to target moderates who could be open to voting for a Democrat.

Stacey Abrams, Democratic candidate for Governor, campaigned in Columbus, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

More than 150 people crammed into the 124-seat auditorium at the Columbus Public Library. Another 100 stood outside, unable to get into the hall. Abrams addressed those outside before she went in to speak to an enthusiastic crowd.

“It is possible to have a lot of prosperity and a lot of progress and still have people left out and left behind. It is entirely possible to be in the No. 1 state in which to do business and have the lowest unemployment rates in a generation and still have 40-percent poverty rates in parts of south Georgia, to have 18-percent poverty rate across the state and to have one of the highest poverty rates for children in the nation,” Abrams said.

“If the free-market system was going to solve it, it would be solved by now,” she said. “… Sometimes the market needs a little help and that’s why I am the only candidate proposing to help the economy with the 44 percent of private sector jobs are in small businesses. Now, you will hear me and our opponent talk about small businesses, but I am the only one willing to put our money where our mouths are.”

“High-speed internet is like rural electrification was in the 1920s,” Abrams said. “You must have it if you want to compete in the state of Georgia. There are 600,000 households that do not have access and even more have access but can’t afford it. If we do this work right, if we leverage our AAA bond rating and our ingenuity, this is not just about high-speed internet. This creates thousands of jobs across Georgia. Jobs that pay well and help lift up our economy in every county.”

The Georgia Department of Agriculture is working to develop more export markets for Georgia products, according to Growing Georgia.

Georgia pecans are among his topmost concerns. Hurricane Irma hit pecan orchards hard last year during what was supposed to be their most productive year ever with an estimated 110 million pounds in the state cut back to some 80 million pounds.

Pecans also have been subjected to a one-two punch by tariffs blocking them from their rapidly growing Chinese market. Mr. Thompson is scheduled to attend a pecan “field day” in Byron on Sept. 6 where he will learn more about the crops’ and their producers woes.

With Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor and now the U.S. secretary of agriculture, the sector’s complaints weren’t apt to be overlooked. Earlier this week, Mr. Perdue announced that $12 billion in government funds would be coming to the rescue of farmers and ranchers across the country who are affected by tariffs “unfairly targeted for unjustified retaliation.”

The $12 billion plan includes three programs: a Market Facilitation Program which includes direct assistance for farmers, the Food Purchase Distribution Program focused on assisting farmers with excess crops, and the Trade Promotion Program aimed at building new export markets.

Mr. Perdue, the agriculture secretary, said while announcing the programs that “It’s important to note all of this could go away tomorrow if China and other nations simply correct their behavior. But in the meantime, the programs we’re announcing today buy time for the President to strike long-lasting trade deals to benefit our entire country.”

Local schools are seeking changes to legislation that revised the rules on passing school buses, according to The Brunswick News.

House Bill 979, passed in the Georgia legislature this year, changed a former law that required vehicles to stop for school buses, no matter the direction they were traveling on a four-lane road, even when a raised median existed in the middle of the road.

The new law allow drivers coming from the opposite direction of the stopped bus on four-lane road with a raised median to continue driving.

Richard Woods, the state school superintendent for the Georgia Department of Education, issued a statement recently in which he expressed his worry that the new law is unsafe.

“In my role as leader of the Georgia Department of Education, I maintain my position that this change in law does not reflect best practices to ensure student safety, and could endanger Georgia’s kids as they travel to and from school,” Woods said.

Jim Pulos, assistant superintendent for operations and administrative services for Glynn County Schools, raised his own concerns about the law change at a school board work session earlier this month.

“The safety of our kids is of the utmost importance, so I’ve asked transportation to make sure that they go to all the routes that could have a potential of crossing over multiple roads to make sure that they do a curbside pickup,” Pulos said.

The Gwinnett NAACP wants an investigation into the former Buford City Schools Superintendent, according to the AJC.

“The citizens of the city of Buford, Gwinnett County and nationally have been shocked with Hamby’s apparent hatred of black people,” it said in a written statement released Thursday.It called for a review of Hamby’s disciplinary actions against employees and students, and of policies the school district enacted during his tenure.

“Mr. Hamby’s comments demonstrate racial hatred and bigotry and the Buford City School System will be held accountable if other victims step forward with similar experiences as Ms. Ingram,” said Gwinnett County NAACP President Penny Poole.

The Rome-Floyd County Land Bank Authority is making headway in redeveloping blighted properties, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“To me, it’s a double-phase benefit,” said Rob Ware of Cave Spring, one of the five appointees who make up the citizen-board. “These are properties nobody was paying taxes on. But the real good news is we’re increasing the housing stock in Rome and Floyd County.”

[Rome Community Development Director Bekki] Fox said they’ve sold 29 properties transferred from the local governments and have nine more under contract as of last week.

“And remember, we don’t get the best of the best. We get the worst of the worst,” she said.

“We’re making an impact … a blighted home affects property values and this can make a tremendous, tremendous improvement to a neighborhood,” Fox said.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission is considering a rezoning application that includes 5 “tiny houses” for homeless people with disabilities, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Jamie Johnson was appointed to the Whitfield County Board of Education, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Johnson is also one of two candidates, along with Terry Ross, in the Nov. 6 special Republican Party primary for the District 2 seat.

“I’m very excited and honored to get an opportunity to serve on the Whitfield County school board,” Johnson said Thursday evening. “I would like to thank the grand jury for their time and consideration. I look forward to working with the members of the school board and to continue to make the school system the best it can be.”

[Rodney] Lock was elected to the school board in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. He was the sole Republican to qualify for the seat in March. No Democrat qualified. With his victory in the May GOP primary, Lock appeared set for a third term. But his resignation and withdrawal from the race have forced the county to hold another GOP primary. The general election for that seat, which will also be a special election, will be on March 19, 2019. It will only include the winner of the GOP primary, since no Democrat qualified originally, and any independent or write-in candidates.

Former Medical Examiner Dr. Joseph Burton was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of trading prescription opioids for sex, according to AccessWDUN.

Jason Kenneth Bell of Cochran, Georgia was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for threatening United States Senators, according to AccessWDUN.

Savannah’s Elba Island liquified natural gas terminal is undergoing a $2 billion dollar expansion, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah City Council delayed consideration of a construction management contract for a new arena, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannah City Council on Thursday delayed by two weeks consideration of an $11.2 million contract with AECOM Hunt to manage the construction of the new $140 million arena, after learning the contract amount is actually about $3.9 million more than city staff had initially reported.

The vote for the delay came after staff explained during the morning workshop that a misreading of the fee proposal had led staff to initially report that the contract was $7.3 million – the amount that was on the meeting agenda until Wednesday.

The originally reported amount should have been a red flag since it was so much lower than the amounts submitted by the other two finalists for the contract, said Alderman Bill Durrence.

Lisa Ring, the Democratic candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is campaigning door-to-door, according to The Brunswick News.

Democratic groups in the 1st District have been working hard to get more choices on the ballot in areas where Republicans have often found themselves running unopposed after the primary season.

“For too long, people’s needs have taken a back seat,” Ring said. “We deserve a democracy. I want to encourage people to expect more from their elected leaders.”

The initiative has been successful in Glynn County, with democratic challengers in each of the school board and county commission races with the exception of the county commission District 4 race, in which incumbent Bill Brunson is running unopposed.

Ring would like to see the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour, a movement that has gained some steam in parts of the country. Ideally, Ring would like to raise the minimum wage higher, saying that a raise to $18 to $24 an hour would be necessary to help people in places like Savannah pay their bills with a living wage.

Free Money

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) announced $7.1 million dollars in loans from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority to local governments in the Second Congressional District, according to the Albany Herald.

State Rep. Gerald Greene (R-Cuthbert) announced more than $3 million dollars in Community Development Block Grants for his district, while State Senator Greg Kirk (R-Americus) announced $3.8 million in CDBG grants.

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