Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 12, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 12, 2019

John Percival, an Irish Member of Parliament who served as a Georgia Trustee, was born on July 12, 1733.

In the British House of Commons, Percival served on the committee on jails with a young member named James Oglethorpe, who shared his idea about a new colony in North America for the deserving poor. Percival, like Oglethorpe became a Georgia Trustee, and during Georgia’s first decade, with Oglethorpe in America, Percival worked harder than anyone to champion Georgia’s cause and secure its future.

On July 13, 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, in which states ceded some claims to the west, and a process was set up for admitting new states.

Happy Birthday to the French, who on Sunday celebrate the anniversary of Bastille Day, 14 July 1789, when citizens stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris.

On July 14, 1798, the Alien and Sedition Act became federal law.

The first three acts took aim at the rights of immigrants. The period of residency required before immigrants could apply for citizenship was extended from five to 14 years, and the president gained the power to detain and deport those he deemed enemies. President Adams never took advantage of his newfound ability to deny rights to immigrants. However, the fourth act, the Sedition Act, was put into practice and became a black mark on the nation’s reputation. In direct violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the Sedition Act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or government of the United States. Fourteen Republicans, mainly journalists, were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the act.

The United States Army Medal of Honor was created on July 12, 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation authorizing the award.

The first U.S. Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

On July 14, 1864, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 35, outlining the plan for the Battle of Atlanta.

On July 13, 1865, James Johnson as provisional Governor of Georgia, issued a proclamation freeing slaves and calling an election in October of that year to elect delegates to a state Consitutional Convention. Johnson had previously opposed Georgia’s secession and after the war was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson.

Savannah, Georgia-born John C. Fremont, who was the first Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 1856, died in New York City on July 13, 1890.

Lt. Frank Reasoner of Kellogg, Idaho died in action on July 12, 1965 and was later posthumously awarded the first Medal of Honor to a United States Marines.

On July 14, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.

On July 12, 1984, Congresswoman Geradine Ferraro (R-NY) joined the Democratic ticket with Presidential nominee Walter Mondale. Ferraro was the first woman and first Italian-American woman nominated for Vice President. Mondale and Ferraro lost the General Election in the largest ever Republican landslide to Republican President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon announced he will not run for another term, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Max Bacon, who has served as Smyrna’s mayor for 34 years, will not seek another term — that’s the bombshell news with which Bacon ended what will be his final annual State of the City address.

“Sometimes it’s just got to come to an end, and when to pick that time is tough, but I’m good — I’m good with it,” Bacon said through tears at the close of his address. “(This choice) is for myself and the folks of Smyrna. I want them to have the best, the best leadership. … I’m OK with it.”

Qualifying for the Nov. 5 election begins Aug. 19 and ends Sept. 4.

The Democratic National Committee is training field operatives in Atlanta, according to The Atlantic.

[I]nside a university building on Luckie Street, 300 college juniors were learning how to listen.

The lesson, called “Getting to Know the Community,” is part of a new training program from the Democratic National Committee that teaches young people, mostly people of color, how to be campaign organizers. Called Organizing Corps 2020, the eight-week course is designed to school 1,000 college juniors from seven battleground states across the country. The DNC has high hopes for the student trainees: Come summer 2020, it hopes to put them to work for the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez has suggested that the party has learned its lesson from 2016, especially when it comes to black voters, whom critics allege the DNC has undervalued and underinvested in. “We lost elections not only in November 2016, but we lost elections in the run-up because we stopped organizing,” Perez told a mostly black crowd at a fundraiser in July 2018 for the DNC’s I Will Vote initiative, which focuses on registering new voters. “African Americans—our most loyal constituency—we all too frequently took for granted. That is a shame on us, folks, and for that I apologize. And for that I say, It will never happen again!”

Organizing Corps, then, could have two uses for the DNC: It could help demonstrate to voters and future leaders of color that the party values them, while benefiting the party’s candidate in the short term. The program, which is run in conjunction with the Collective PAC, an organization working to elect black candidates, and 270 Strategies, a progressive consulting firm, has recruited students from a dozen cities in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, and Georgia—all swing states with sizable minority populations that Democrats think they can flip from Trump next year. All of the students will be paid $4,200 for the eight-week training, with the expectation that, after they graduate in 2020, they’ll return to their home region to work on behalf of the Democratic nominee.

These face-to-face, community-based conversations—what campaign operatives call “relational organizing”—are what the DNC says it wants to promote with the Organizing Corps program. Its goals, especially its intentional recruiting of young people of color, have won the support of many of the party’s emerging leaders, including the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, whose nonprofit organization is working to sign up more than 800,000 unregistered voters in the state, and Andrew Gillum, the former Florida gubernatorial candidate, who told me in an interview that the training is “long overdue.”

The New Georgia Project – one of Democrat Stacey Abrams’s political organizations – is holding a “game night” in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The group founded by former Democratic governor candidate Stacey Abrams has a goal of increasing the number of 18- and 19-year-old registered voters by 18,000 as part of its “Agenda for Young Georgians,” according to news releases.

The New Georgia Project “wants to underscore the importance of the upcoming 2020 election, especially with young voters in all areas of Georgia.” The Augusta event will be its first game night outside of Atlanta, a release said.

Former Fulton County Commissioner Gordon Joyner says the Attorney General’s Office has a conflict of interest, according to the AJC.

An Atlanta lawyer spent more than a year trying to get public records from a state agency, turning to the attorney general’s office for help enforcing the Open Records Act.

Now, the lawyer is suing the state agency for not complying with the law and the attorneys on the other side of the courtroom are the same people he went to for help: the attorney general’s office.

That’s a conflict of interest and should disqualify the attorney general from representing the agency in the dispute, Gordon Joyner, former head of the state Commission on Equal Opportunity, told a judge on Thursday.

The attorney general’s office argued Thursday that the state has given Joyner all the records it has left that were responsive to his request.

FreedomWorks sent a letter to Governor Brian Kemp asking him to continue the Criminal Justice Reform Commission instituted by former Governor Nathan Deal, according to the AJC.

The letter from FreedomWorks, signed by 10 state and national conservative leaders, urges Kemp to “keep Georgia at the forefront of criminal justice reform” by asking the Legislature to re-up the Council on Criminal Justice Reform next year.

The council was key to former Gov. Nathan Deal’s eight-year overhaul of Georgia’s costly and famously tough criminal justice system.

Those changes have saved taxpayers in prison spending, reduced the number of black inmates to historic lows, and expanded treatment programs for nonviolent offenders.

“The benefit to public safety speaks for itself,” read the letter, which noted that violent offenders now represent 67% of the state’s prison population, up from 58% in 2008. “This means that Georgia is focusing its resources on incarcerating dangerous criminals, as it should.”

Valdosta City Schools will attempt to engage more families of students, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Family Engagement Plan, per federal regulation for Title I districts, is the only truly amended item in the Code of Student Conduct for the 2019-20 school year, and it’s because of parent input, said Dan Altman, city schools federal program director.

The goal of the program, which is funded using Title I funds, is to get families more involved in their childrens’ education.

“Ultimately it boils down to increasing and improving student achievement,” Altman said. “When families are involved in the schools and support the child’s efforts at the school, that increases student achievement and success.”

Former Byron Fire Chief Rachel Mosby alleges in a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that city officials harrassed her for being transgender, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The city fired Mosby on June 4 citing failing job performance, but her attorney charged that the action was discriminatory based on her gender identity. Mosby, 51, had served as the city’s fire chief for more than 11 years.

In the EEOC complaint, Mosby alleges that she was subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment and was intentionally discriminated against and fired in part because of her sex and gender identity. The complaint was provided to The Telegraph by Mosby’s attorney.

“Her termination didn’t have anything to do with her transgender status,” said Byron Mayor Pro Tem Michael Chidester, who is also an attorney. “It had to do with the dissatisfaction overall with her performance as the fire chief (and) her inability to take proper direction as to the desires of council.”

Mosby identifies as a transgender female. She alleges in the complaint that the alleged discriminatory treatment of her began after she informed city leaders and began to present herself at work as a transgender female in January 2018.

Heard Elementary School in Bibb County will be one of 20 statewide to pilot a new agriculture education program, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“A lot of (students) come from subdivisions and complexes and don’t have any kind of ag,” [ag teacher Carol] Dunn said. “From what I can tell from around here, these kids are anywhere from three to five generations removed from a family farm.”

Agriculture is a subject that “ties into every single thing you teach,” she said. “I can get it into math, science, reading and history.”

Heard Elementary Principal Carole H. Coté said the school applied to the state to be one of the elementary schools to offer the pilot agriculture curriculum.

Rutland Middle School Principal Keith Groeper said the school is on its way to becoming an agriculture STEM-certified school, meaning the Georgia Department of Education would recognize it as a school focused on science, technology, engineering and math involved in agriculture.

Today’s farmers must be able to plot farmland and acreage, fly drones and plot GPS points among other technical skills, he said.

“It’s no longer two farmers fighting over what’s the best cow at an auction,” Groeper said. “It’s now there’s science on which actually is the best cow at the market.”

Glynn County’s Courthouse Space Needs Assessment Committee met with County Commissioners and a Superior Court Judge to begin their work, according to The Brunswick News.

Former Glynn County sheriff Wayne Bennett, general contractor Billy Lawrence, former banker Jack Hartman, architect John Tuten and Ralph Basham, former director of FLETC — the five members of the newly-created Courthouse Space Needs Assessment Committee — met with four county commissioners and Glynn County Superior Court Judge Steven Scarlett on Thursday to get started on the task.

“We have a propensity in Glynn County to do things according to how much money we have, not what we need to do to do it the right way,” said county commission vice chairman Bill Brunson. “I think the courthouse and maybe the 911 Center and some other things are products of that. We said ‘Well, we don’t have enough money so let’s cut this corner and kick the can down the road,’ and here we are.”

County commission chairman Mike Browning said the commission will decide how to proceed based on the committee’s findings — how much to spend on it and whether to include the courthouse expansion on the next special-purpose, local-option sales tax, include it in a later SPLOST or pay for it some other way.

This may be a long-term project, Browning said. It may not be possible to get the whole thing done in one pass and may require multiple SPLOSTs or a bond issue — although he said a bond issue was unlikely.

Red Snapper season begins today in Georgia, according to The Brunswick News.

Today marks the first day of the 2019 red snapper mini-season, which lasts through Sunday, then goes again July 19-20. As part of the opening of this highly desired recreational fishery, the state Department of Natural Resources is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to, the hope is, get a better idea as to the size of the red snapper population in the South Atlantic.

For this mini-season, there is no size limit, but the bag limit is one fish per angler per day.

The Veterans Curation Program seeks to help veterans find a place in the civilian workforce, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The lab, which opened in 2009, is one of six around the country that help veterans transition into the civilian workforce by teaching them job skills by curating archeological collections owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. New South Associates operates three full service curation programs, including the one in Augusta.

During the five-month program, veterans learn skills such as data entry, photography and other archeological and general skills.

“We hire them and we train them to work here in the lab,” David Howe, artifacts lab manager, said. “During their time here, we help them resume build and network around the city of Augusta and find jobs and cater the resumes to positions and careers they’ll like to do.”

Kelly Brown, lab manager, said the program helps transition veterans just getting out of the military who are not sure what they want to do. A total of 505 have participated in or are currently part of the program, with 89 percent of veterans getting jobs or enrolling in colleges, universities and certified programs after leaving, according to the program.

Operation Southern Shield, a cooperative effort between the Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies, begins July 15, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The third annual speed enforcement campaign is a collaboration between Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies to crack down on speeders.

Officers in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee will target drivers on interstates and other major highways who endanger the safety of others on the road by driving at speeds well above the legally posted limit.

“The mission for us is the same in our neighboring states and that is to save lives on our roads by preventing traffic crashes,” Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said. “Working together in ‘Operation Southern Shield’ has saved lives and we want everyone who is traveling in the southeast to know that if you are driving over the speed limit, you’re more than likely going to get pulled over and handed a ticket.”

State and local officers with 224 law enforcement agencies in Georgia wrote more than 11,000 citations during last year’s Southern Shield and 75% of the citations were issued for speeding. Officers wrote 8,435 speeding citations, 3,070 seat belt citations, 624 distracted driving citations and took 566 suspected DUI drivers off the road in a seven-day period.

The Floyd County Magistrate Court ended a program of appointing Constables, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Floyd County Magistrate Court will end its longstanding tradition of using constables and rely on the sheriff’s office to handle security, warrants, writs and evictions.

Chief Magistrate Gene Richardson signed an order late Tuesday abolishing the three constable positions in his court, effective Sept. 1.

As a constitutional officer, the decision is his by law.

Richardson said Thursday that few Georgia counties the size of Floyd still use constables and he wants to focus solely on judicial matters.

“I’ve been looking at it for about a year,” Richardson said. “The sheriff’s office is a law enforcement agency trained to do all that. We’re a court. The citizens are going to get better protective service this way.”

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