Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 15, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 15, 2019

On July 15, 1864, Sherman’s army began crossing the Chattahoochee River and would take the better part of three days to complete the crossing. Georgia Public Broadcasting has a series on Sherman’s Georgia campaign, and you can watch this week’s episode here.

Major General George Stoneman’s cavalry had come to the area south of Atlanta. On July 15, 1864, Stoneman wrote from camp near Villa Rica, Georgia.

As I indicated to you in my last note, we completed the bridge (Moore’s), and were ready to cross at daybreak yesterday morning, but before we essayed it a report came from Major Buck, in command of a battalion seven miles above, that the enemy had been crossing above him on a boat or a bridge, and that his pickets had been cut off.

Colonel Biddle, who was left with his brigade at Campbellton, reports the enemy quite strong at that point, with two guns of long range in each of the two redoubts on the opposite bluff, which are opened upon him whenever any of his men show themselves.

I was very anxious to strike the railroad from personal as well as other considerations, but I became convinced that to attempt it would incur risks inadequate to the results, and unless we could hold the bridge, as well as penetrate into the country, the risk of capture or dispersion, with loss of animals (as I could hear of no ford), was almost certain.

On July 15, 1870, Georgia was readmitted to the United States, with the signature by President Ulysses Grant of the “Georgia Bill” by the U.S. Congress.

On July 15, 1948, President Harry Truman was nominated at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago to run for a full term as President of the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp appointed Jeffery O. Monroe as a Judge for the Superior Court of Macon County through December 31, 2020. Gov. Kemp also appointed Jeffrey A. Watkins as a Judge for the Superior Court of the Cherokee Judicial Circuit for the same term. Kemp appointed former Democratic State Rep. Margaret Kaiser to the Board of Juvenile Justice for the Fifth Congressional District.

Governor Kemp will announce at 3 PM today at the State Capitol his first appointment to a new state business court, according to AccessWDUN.

Governor Brian Kemp plans to announce his nominee for the first statewide business court judgeship during a ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol Monday afternoon.

In a press release the governor’s office said the new judgeship is part of Amendment 2, passed by Georgia voters during the general election in November, 2018.

The release explained that the language for the amendment was codified during the 2019 General Assembly, where it received bi-partisan support.

Kemp’s nominee will need to be approved by both chambers of the state legislature.

Gov. Kemp spoke Sunday at the the 45th annual Georgia Association of Educational Leaders summer conference at Jekyll Island, according to The Brunswick News.

Kemp gave the opening address for the conference, which is taking place at the Jekyll Island Convention Center until Wednesday.

“Folks, we have never ever had anybody who spoke up for public eduction the way that Brian Kemp does,” said Jimmy Stokes, outgoing executive director of GAEL.

Kemp emphasized education priorities throughout his campaign for governor, and he has made good on several proposed changes since taking office. His team led legislative efforts that resulted in a $3,000 pay raise for teachers across the state, as well as $30,000 grants for every public school to put toward campus safety and security.

While campaigning, he also heard many concerns, he said, about state standards that teachers are required to use. Kemp said he plans to soon name a citizens review panel that will participate in the standards review process.

“This will help put education back in the hands of the teachers and the parents,” he said

A teacher shortage crisis is another growing concern among education leaders across the state, Kemp said.

“We’ve heard all the daunting statistics,” he said. “In Georgia, 44 percent of our educators are leaving the profession within the first five years of teaching.”

The Washington Post ranks David Perdue’s U.S. Senate seat as the 8th most likely to flip in 2020, according to the Roanoke Times.

Georgia is another traditionally Republican state where a star Democratic candidate recently reshaped strategists’ views. Even though she didn’t win, Stacey Abrams’s gubernatorial race revealed the partisan makeup of Georgia, shifting it slightly less red. In addition to winning a majority of younger and nonwhite voters, Abrams won a majority of women.

Democrats tried and failed to recruit Abrams to run for Senate. As such, Republican Sen. David Perdue has a long list of Democrats vying to challenge him for in his first Senate reelection campaign. Perdue raised nearly $2 million this spring while one top Democratic candidate, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, raised just half a million.

The Federal Aviation Administration will decide whether to accept the Camden Spaceport’s application by December 16, 2019, according to the AJC.

“We are now at T-minus 1, a final decision by the FAA is the only outstanding item,” said Steve Howard, Spaceport Camden’s project lead and the county’s administrator. “When we submitted our application to the FAA earlier this year, we were optimistic about a licensing determination in 2019, with (this) news we anticipate achieving that goal.”

Camden County is pursuing the development of the spaceport on a 12,000-acre facility in Kingsland. Camden officials have spent the past few years trying to secure a license from the FAA to move forward with the project.

Camden officials were expecting the FAA to determine by the end of last year whether it would give the project the launch site operator license it needs to continue with the project.

Glynn County Commissioners will hear about a new tourism improvement district and additional taxes, according to The Brunswick News.

Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau President Scott McQuade said that proceeds from a tourism improvement district could go to pay for various infrastructure improvements, signage, gateways and beautification in specific areas of the county.

“In the past, we’ve considered the bed tax may be the only way to fund these improvements, but what I’m going to talk about Tuesday is the opportunity to look at the tourism improvement district as another potentially viable source for funding some infrastructure improvements, and specifically some tourism infrastructure improvements,” McQuade said.

Similar to a tax allocation district, in a tourism improvement district tax money is collected from specific types of businesses in a limited area and used for improvements only within that area.

“That district assesses itself and uses its funds to beautify main street or something along those lines,” McQuade said. “It’s very similar to that, but it works specifically for tourism improvements and would be something that’s levied upon a specific category of business. In other words, not all businesses have to join the assessment. It could be specifically hoteliers for instance.”

“The primary reason (to use the tax district over increasing the bed tax) would be because there’s a lot more resources specifically for infrastructure improvements, where the bed tax tops out at a pretty shallow funding level for improvements,” McQuade said.

The Floyd County Commission asked staff to recommend regulations for “tiny houses,” according to the Rome News Tribune.

Tiny homes are single-family residences that are usually 400 to 600 square feet in size. Some are built as recreational vehicles while others follow the building codes for homes.

“Give us the pros and cons on it. Look at it the same way you’re looking at hobby farms and wedding venues,” Commission Chair Scotty Hancock told Rome-Floyd Planning Director Artagus Newell.

None of the land-uses Hancock cited are currently allowed in residential areas, although there numerous lots of more than 20 acres outside the city of Rome.

“Some areas would like to see a tiny home on a lot than maybe a mobile home,” Commissioner Rhonda Wallace said.

Newell said interest has been growing in tiny homes over the past decade and the structures could help address the affordable housing shortage. Many elements, however, are prohibited by the Unified Land Development Code.

Cherokee County and its municipalities will enter mediation in August over a Service Delivery Strategy Agreement, according to the Tribune Ledger News.

Service Delivery Strategy, or SDS, is a set of agreements designed to make sure residents aren’t overtaxed for a duplication of county and city services. Georgia requires counties and cities to form these agreements once every 10 years.

Negotiations between the cities and county started early last year, but they missed an initial state deadline of Oct. 31 to reach agreement, and requested an extension from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The local governments received an extension through June 30, and are in non-compliance while another extension request is pending.

The cities, represented by attorney Andy Welch of Smith, Welch, Webb and White, argue that the current strategy has many city residents paying too much in county property taxes for services that primarily benefit unincorporated county residents, citing reports Cherokee County has submitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

A mediation, which will be a public meeting with elected officials from Cherokee County, Canton, Holly Springs, Mountain Park, Waleska and Woodstock, is scheduled for Aug. 6, though a time and location haven’t been set yet. Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher is to serve as the mediator.

City and county officials were optimistic about the mediation.

“I’m positive that at least we’re making some steps toward an agreement, whatever that means,” said Holly Springs City Manager Rob Logan.

Dr. Richard McCormick is running for the 7th District Congressional seat in the Republican Primary, according to the Forsyth County News.

McCormick, an emergency medicine physician at Gwinnett Medical Center, is one of nine Republicans who have declared their intention to run for the seat in 2020 and is promising to bring his conservative beliefs to the campaign trail.

On the issues, McCormick has said he supports the FairTax initiative, the Second Amendment and is pro-life.

McCormick served for more than 20 years in the Marine Corps and Navy as a pilot and emergency medicine physician, serving in combat zones in Africa, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.

He is a graduate of Morehouse School of Medicine, completed his residency in emergency medicine through Emory University while training at Grady Hospital and received an MCA from National University.

McCormick will face longtime state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), former Home Depot executive Lynne Homrich, former Atlanta Falcons player Joe Profit, Air Force veteran Ben Bullock, businessman Mark Gonsalves, co-founder of the Conservative Diversity Alliance Jacqueline Tseng, former education executive Lerah Lee and former college professor Lisa Noel Babbage.

State Representative John LaHood (R-Valdosta) received the Outstanding Legislator of the Year award from the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly, according to the Albany Herald.

“Rep. LaHood has proven he’s a devoted, knowledgeable and effective advocate for Georgia seniors,” Vicki Vaughn Johnson, chairwoman of the Georgia Council on Aging, said. “We are so pleased to be able to recognize him for his efforts.”

LaHood, a senior living owner and operator, received the Legislator of the Year award before a crowd of about 120 during CO-AGE’s annual meeting in Macon.

Sea turtles continue to break nesting records on the Georgia coast, according to The Brunswick News.

Several days ago, Georgia topped its all-time nesting record, and as of late Friday afternoon, there were 3,550 nests. That’s 259 more than the 2016 record.

And hatchlings are already heading out into the ocean.

“It’s been a really hot summer so far, so we have a lot of nests that are actually emerging quite a bit quicker than that right now,” said Mark Dodd, head of the state Department of Natural Resources sea turtle program. He was speaking at one of One Hundred Miles’ Naturalist 101 presentations. “The sex of the hatchling is actually determined by the temperature of incubation. Sea turtles don’t have sex chromosomes — or, at least, we haven’t found them — and so their sex is determined by temperature.”

Different areas across the state are in the process of breaking their individual nesting records. Cumberland eclipsed its highest number Wednesday with the discovery of nest No. 868, according to the data on seaturtle.org. At press time Friday, there were 892 nests. Little Cumberland had 106 nests in 2016, and as of Thursday was as 123. Jekyll Island had 182 nests as of Friday, topping 2016’s 170. And it’s not over yet.

“They generally lay between one and eight nests a season — the average is about five and a half or six nests a season,” Dodd said. “They’re like clockwork — every 12 days, they’re on the beach, once they start nesting. They lay approximately 115 eggs per nest, but can be variable — the most I’ve seen this year is 185 a nest, and the lowest about 55.”

“They’re really one of the iconic species of the coast,” Dodd said. “They define who we are, they’re a part of who we are. If we lose them, which we were really concerned we were going to do in 2004, we lose a part of ourselves.”

From the Statesboro Herald:

So far this year, researchers and volunteers in those three states have cataloged more than 12,200 nests left by loggerheads, a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act. That’s already far ahead of the 11,321 nests in the previous highest count three years ago.

Loggerhead nesting along Georgia’s 100-mile (161-kilometer) coast hit its low point in 2004 with fewer than 400 nests.

So far this year, more than 3,500 loggerhead nests have been recorded on Georgia’s beaches, surpassing the state’s 2016 record of 3,289. Mark Dodd, the state biologist who heads Georgia’s sea turtle recovery program, said he expects the final count to reach 4,000 nests by the end of August.

The busiest U.S. state for sea turtle nesting by far is Florida, which had a record 122,707 loggerhead nests in 2016. The numbers are so large that Florida doesn’t keep a running count during the nesting season. Final counts are typically completed in the fall.

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