Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 22, 2021

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 22, 2021

On January 22, 1733, James Oglethorpe arrived at Yamacraw Bluff, where the colony of Georgia would be founded.

On January 23, 1775, the Georgia Commons House elected three delegates to the Second Continental Congress.

On January 22, 1861, following the passage of Georgia’s Secession Resolution, six delegates, including both from Gwinnett County, signed a statement protesting the decision to secede. On January 23, 1861, Georgia’s members of the United States House of Representatives resigned following passage of the Secession Ordinance; her Senators had resigned earlier. The next day, the secession convention in Milledgeville elected ten delegates to a conference of Southern states in Montgomery, Alabama.

On January 22, 1866, Georgia Governor Charles Jenkins signed a resolution by the legislature asking for federal troops to be removed from Georgia.

Jekyll Island

On January 24, 1915, the first transcontinental telephone call was placed from Jekyll Island, Georgia

On January 23, 1923, Georgia ratified the Twentieth Amendment to the US Constitution, which ended Presidential terms on January 20th following an election and those of Congress to January 3d.

January 24, 1933 saw the first sales tax in Georgia proposed to fund schools and aid for farmers.

On January 22, 1959, Atlanta buses were integrated after a federal court decision.

On January 24, 1960, Martin Luther King, Jr. became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, sharing the pulpit with his father.

On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court issued its 7-2 decision in the case known as Roe v. Wade.

On January 23, 1973, President Richard M. Nixon announced that terms had been reached to settle the Vietnam War, a document known as the “Paris Peace Accords.”

On January 24, 1987, some 12,000 to 20,000 civil rights protesters marched in Forsyth County, a week after a smaller protest. From the New York Times reporting:

CUMMING, Ga., Jan. 24— This small town in Forsyth County was overwhelmed today by civil rights marchers, members of the Ku Klux Klan and their sympathizers and an army of National Guardsmen and law-enforcement officers who kept the opposing groups separated.

Guarded by what a spokesman for the Governor’s office called ”the greatest show of force the state has ever marshalled,” a crowd of marchers estimated at 12,000 to 20,000 funneled slowly into Cumming, where a week earlier counterdemonstrators, throwing stones and bottles, disrupted an interracial ”walk for brotherhood” prompted by the all-white county’s racist legacy.

As the marchers headed into Cumming, which has a little more than 2,000 people, they found waiting for them, behind a stern-faced force of 2,300 guardsmen and police officers, a group of hundreds if not thousands of white, mainly young, rural men and women, repeatedly shouting, “N***er, go home!”

Whatever the final figure, the march was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations since a 1965 rally that followed a march from Selma, Ala. to Montgomery. The rally, led by Dr. King, drew 25,000 people.

Seriously, read the Times report.

On January 24, 2001, the Georgia House of Representatives approved legislation changing the state flag to the Barnes design with the state seal on a blue background and a banner depicting five previous flags that flew over Georgia.

2001GeorgiaFlag

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Baseball legend Hank Aaron died overnight, according to WSB-TV.

Legendary Atlanta Brave and Major League Baseball record holder Hank Aaron died Friday at the age of 86, according to Aaron’s daughter.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, on Feb. 5, 1934, Henry Louis Aaron was one of eight children born to Herbert and Estella Aaron.

Aaron said he knew that Atlanta was becoming the hub for the civil rights movement and said he didn’t think he would become a figure that would emerge out of that movement.

“I think it hit me when we played an exhibition game, and I don’t know when, in Macon. I think it hit me when I realized that I had some kind of role that I should be playing. I’m not talking about a baseball role, I’m not talking about somebody going out on the baseball field, someone who had a role to play to help other blacks like myself,” Aaron told Klein.

As Aaron started turning into “Hammerin’ Hank,” he would eventually meet the biggest figure of the civil rights movement – right in the stands.

“I didn’t spend much time with him. I met him here, at the ballpark. Came here with some other friends of his, and I met him then. I didn’t spend as much time as I would have loved to have spend with him. I made that up, of course, by spending a lot of time, and still spending a lot of time, with my brother now, Andy Young. I wish I could have spent a lot of time,” Aaron said.

“I realized he was the voice of a lot of African-Americans around. I realized that he did some things, said some things that you started thinking, you know, if things had been a little different we could have done this, and he was making it a reality. He was making all those things a reality.”

Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey held a press conference yesterday to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts, according to the AJC.

The need to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations in Georgia is taking on greater urgency amid the third wave of the virus and an increase of cases involving a more infectious strain of the disease.

But Georgia already has been shipped almost all of the vaccine doses the state was allocated. A primary challenge now is that Georgia needs more, Gov. Brian Kemp and state health officials stressed Thursday.

“We still have far more demand than supply,” Kemp said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

And the state now has five confirmed cases of the highly infectious U.K. strain of the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes a case in Cobb County. Only a tiny fraction of COVID tests are analyzed for the strain, so experts say it is likely that it is much more prevalent that the numbers indicate.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Department of Public Health told lawmakers Thursday that vaccine reluctance is widespread and an issue the state is facing in hospitals as well as its own health departments.

“Only about 30% of our own staff in our own health departments wanted to be vaccinated — which means 70% did not,” Toomey said. “The same was true in hospitals.”

The state had such a “disappointing” response to the vaccine by medical workers that officials decided to move forward with opening eligibility for all Georgians 65 and older.

Weeks ago, officials pointed specifically to medical workers in rural areas showing the most hesitancy, but on Thursday, Toomey said the issue extended to some metro hospitals as well.

“We had such little uptake among health care workers that it was, frankly to me, disappointing. Not only because you know they are at high risk to acquire COVID but that they serve as role models in the community,” she said. “That your own doctor, your own nurse, your sister, your cousin who’s a nurse’s aide or a staff in a hospital says, ‘well I wouldn’t get that,’ I think that sets a tone of distrust.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News:

Pharmacies and health clinics had given out more than 550,000 doses to Georgia nursing homes, hospitals and people at least 65-years-old as of Thursday, marking roughly half of the vaccines Georgia has received so far, said state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

That’s far short of the 2 million Georgians now eligible for the vaccine who will need two doses each.

“I can’t control the supply we’re getting,” Kemp said at a news conference Thursday. “But if we get more … we will do everything in our power to empower not only the government, but also private-sector partners to get this vaccine in people’s arms.”

Biden, who was inaugurated Wednesday, has pledged to distribute 100 million vaccines over the next three months by using the federal Defense Production Act to spur vaccine production and setting up Federal Emergency Management Agency-run vaccination centers.

The governor urged Georgians Thursday to continue wearing masks, washing hands and keep distance from each other as fatigue over safety measures takes root nearly a year after the pandemic began.

“Our hospitals cannot handle another surge of COVID-19 patients on top of their current workload,” Kemp said. “This is not an all-clear signal. We’ve got to continue to keep our foot on the gas.”

Two Cobb County educators have died after contracting COVID-19, according to CBS46.

A spokesperson for Cobb County Schools sent CBS46’s Melissa Stern this statement:

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support from the entire Cobb community & the state of Georgia for members of our school family who have been impacted by COVID. We continue to ask every Cobb family & staff member to do everything they can to stay healthy & safe: follow public health guidance.”

Cobb County school officials released the following statement:

“Every member of our school community has been impacted by the ongoing battle against COVID-19. We continue to ask our staff, students, and families to follow public health guidance—wear masks and social distance—so we can stay as healthy as possible. Our hearts go out to the Johnson family and the entire Kemp community. Ms. Johnson was a valuable part of our academic community. The outpouring of support for her family during this difficult time shows how much she was loved and positively impacted those around her.”

Five inmates in Athens-Clarke County jail tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“In the almost a year since COVID has been an issue, there have been no positive tests for inmates whatsoever,” [Clarke County Sheriff John Q.] Williams said. “But about two weeks ago, we had our first case and in this two-week span the number is at five total positive tests.”

“Immediately after the first test was positive, we put them in quarantine and that’s why some inmates were not allowed to go to and from court as a precaution,” he said.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says federal unemployment payments are preventing some Georgians from going back to work, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Some Georgia employers are having a hard time filling job openings because generous unemployment benefits are encouraging them to stay home, state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday.

Before $600 weekly unemployment checks authorized by Congress during the early stage of the coronavirus pandemic ran out last year, unemployed Georgians receiving maximum state and federal benefits were bringing in $50,180 per year, Butler told state lawmakers during a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting.

Even those receiving minimum state and federal benefits were taking home the equivalent of $34,060 a year, he said.

At the same time, about 90% of Georgians receiving state unemployment benefits were earning $30,000 or less before being laid off, Butler said.

“Companies are having to increase entry-level pay” to compete, he said.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods is asking for more funding for mental health in schools, according to the Albany Herald.

Woods asked lawmakers during budget hearings this week for funding to hire more school counselors, school nurses, social workers and military family liaisons.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that addressing students’ mental and physical health and well-being is an urgent need,” Woods told members of the House and Senate appropriations committees. “We do believe additional funding dedicated to school counselors along with funding for state-level and school social worker and school nurse positions would equip schools [to] continue responding to our students’ needs.”

“There’s more education than just the academic side,” Woods said. “Providing and meeting the basic needs of our students will help prepare them and get them ready to learn in the days ahead.”

Former Chatham County Commission Chair Al Scott might run for Congress, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“The only thing I haven’t done in my political life that I used to daydream about is go to Congress,” Scott said.

Not exactly an announcement of his candidacy for the First Congressional District seat. In the next breath, he expressed reservations about making frequent “treks” to Washington, D.C.

Yet Scott’s words were not tinged with a teasing tone. This wasn’t some offhand remark to an unexpected question.

A Scott candidacy would change the dynamic of the 2022 election. Scott is a pro-business Democrat. He’s the leader of the Savannah branch of the NAACP and a known commodity up and down the Georgia coast. He holds significant influence at the state level and within Georgia Ports Authority circles.

That’s not to say Scott is universally loved. He alienated many with his authoritarian style during his tenure as Chatham Commission chair. And many younger, more progressive Democrats don’t appreciate his moderate viewpoints.

But make no mistake: Scott can do what the parade of underqualified candidates the Democrats have run against Carter and against Rep. Jack Kingston over the last 30 years could not. Scott can win.

The writer of that piece, Editorial Page Editor Adam Van Brimmer, apparently thinks Scott can beat Rep. Buddy Carter, who was reelected in November with 58.65% of the vote. Nope. There’s no such thing as an undecided voter, a crossover voter, or a candidate who appeals to voters of the other party. They are extinct.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Extreme Northwest Georgia) has filed articles of impeachment against Joe Biden, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Greene posted to Twitter a five-second video saying: “I just filed articles of impeachment on President Joe Biden. We’ll see how this goes.”

Neither Greene nor her press spokesman immediately returned messages to the Dalton Daily Citizen-News seeking comment.

“I would like to announce on behalf of the American people we have to make sure that our leaders are held accountable,” Greene said during an appearance on Newsmax. “We cannot have a president of the United States that is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments.”

Governor Kemp appointed former Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Heap has criticized the board in the past, calling for more transparency, particularly for victims. Heap, who is replacing former State Rep. James Mills, said she was humbled by the appointment and wants to show the parole board operates.

“I’ve always been a very strong advocate for victims and their rights,” she said. “Their rights begin when the crime occurs, and it carries through the conviction. If a person is sentenced to either prison or probation, I think (victims) have a right to be heard and notified of any hearing. I think they should have a meaningful voice in the system.”

Heap has criticized the board’s decision to release inmates convicted in violent crimes early. But she emphasized she does not oppose parole when warranted because “people deserve a second chance.”

“I’m a full advocate of that. But with people who continue to commit violent crimes while they’re in prison, you have to assess the situation and make a determination among all the board members,” she said.

“I just want to make sure that the victims have been notified, that they had a say,” Heap said. “Ultimately, it will be our (the board’s) decision, but then our decision is based on receiving all the information.”

Gwinnett County Board of Education members elected Everton Blair Jr. as Chair and Karen Watkins as Vice Chair, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The board also voted 3-2 to retain the Daily Post as its media organ for 2021. Johnson and Watkins cast the dissenting votes, with Johnson asking that a request for proposals be put out to give the board the option to look at other media outlets to possibly serve as the organ.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to consider a different media source to represent our board in a different way — in a way that is more inclusive and that represents all of our board members in a fair and equitable manner,” Johnson said. “I highly suggest for us to provide an opportunity for other members of our community who in the media and relations field to have the opportunity to petition to the board the opportunity to represent us from a media perspective.”

Gwinnett County public schools resume some in-person learning this, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County Public Schools announced Friday that the district will resume in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 25 for students whose families have selected that option.

The district did note that Tuesday, Jan. 26, is a scheduled Digital Learning Day for all students. It is one of four at-home asynchronous learning days this semester that will provide additional planning time for teachers, the district said.

The district began the spring semester with both in-person and digital learning on Jan. 7. But as COVID numbers in the county increased, which also caused a shortage of teachers who either had COVID-19 or had been in contact with someone who had it, the district went to digital only learning for all students this past week (Jan. 19-22).

Georgia now has a contract allowing it to draw water from Lake Lanier, according to the AJC.

The agreement, between Georgia and the Corps, allows for access to the lake for drinking water purposes for Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, and for the cities of Buford, Gainesville and Cumming. While Lake Lanier has been used to provide drinking water for decades, there was never a formal agreement and there has been litigation questioning the use as part of the tri-state water wars involving Alabama and Florida.

Linda MacGregor, Gainesville’s water resources director, called it a “significant event” that’s been worked on for a long time. The agreement means metro Atlanta will have enough water for its population through 2050 and solidifies a decision the Corps made in 2017.

“It removes one uncertainty for the water supply for Georgia,” MacGregor said. “This is very important as a milestone. … We’ve been using Lake Lanier as a water supply, but the state never had a permanent right to it.”

The contract resolves a dispute that dates back to 2009, when a U.S. District judge ruled that water supply was not an authorized purpose of Lake Lanier and threatened to cut metro Atlanta’s water use in half.

Roswell Mayor Lori Henry proposed an even split between individuals and businesses for distributing $800,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to the AJC.

If the grant relief funds are approved by Council members, qualifications for the payouts would be determined at a later date, a statement said.

“This is something the city can do to help families in need pay their mortgage, rent, utilities or buy groceries,” Henry said in the statement. “It also allows us to help those brick-and-mortar businesses struggling due to COVID stay afloat until the vaccine is widely distributed and we can get back to normal.”

Berkeley Lake City Council is considering whether to allow home delivery of alcohol, according to the AJC.

The proposed change to the Gwinnett County city’s alcohol ordinance follows House Bill 879, which lets businesses deliver wine, beer and alcohol to their customers’ homes. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law in August of last year.

By passing the law, the city would help both customers who are avoiding close contact with others and businesses looking to expand their services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lois Salter said.

“We have a good many folks who are trying to avoid contact until they can get vaccinations, which are hard for a lot of people to access right now,” Salter said.

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