Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 26, 2019


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 26, 2019

On July 26, 1775, the United States Postal Service was created by the Second Continental Congress, may God have mercy on their souls. Benjamin Franklin served as the first Postmaster.

On July 28, 1868, United States Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified and was now part of the Constitution. The first section of the 14th Amendment often forms the basis for litigation and reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Georgia initially rejected the 14th Amendment in 1866, later ratifying it on July 21, 1868 as a condition for readmission.

On July 27, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved the first impeachment article against President Richard M. Nixon.

The first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century, it charge[d] President Nixon with unlawful activities that formed a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in and to cover up other unlawful activities.

The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House.

The majority included three conservative Southern Democrats and three conservative Republicans.

On July 28, 1978, Animal House was released, instantly becoming one of the greatest films of all time. In case you’ve never seen the film, there is a tiny little bit of adult language in the following clip.

On July 28, 1994, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating “The General” locomotive, which was stolen in 1862 during the Great Locomotive Chase. Today, The General may be viewed at The Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

A bomb exploded at a free concert in Centennial Park in Atlanta on July 27, 1996.

Police were warned of the bombing in advance, but the bomb exploded before the anonymous caller said it would, leading authorities to suspect that the law enforcement officers who descended on the park were indirectly targeted.

Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the concert, was charged with the crime. However, evidence against him was dubious at best, and in October he was fully cleared of all responsibility in the bombing.

Former Georgia Governor Zell Miller took the oath of office as United States Senator on July 27, 2000. Miller would go on to win a special election for the remainder of the term in November 2000.

On July 27, 2014, former Braves manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with former White Sox player Frank Thomas, who was born in Columbus, Georgia.

On July 26, 2015, former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first pitcher inducted who had undergone Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

Smoltz won the 1996 Cy Young award and reached the playoffs 14 times with Atlanta. The Braves won five pennants and the 1995 World Series with Smoltz on the roster. He’s the first pitcher to win more than 200 games and save at least 150 games. He’s also the first player inducted with Tommy John surgery on his resume.

Smoltz understood his debt to John.

“I’m a miracle. I’m a medical miracle,” Smoltz said. “I never took one day for granted.”

Smoltz also heaped praise on former manager Bobby Cox and teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who were inducted a year ago, and delivered a message to parents of the players of tomorrow as the number of Tommy John surgeries continues to escalate.

“Understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 or 15 years old,” Smoltz said to warm applause. “Baseball is not a year-round sport. They’re competing too hard, too early. That’s why we’re having these problems.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp swore in Tyrone Oliver as the new Commissioner for the Department of Juvenile Justice, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp swore in Tyrone Oliver July 25 following Oliver’s approval by the Board of Juvenile Justice. Offenders 21 and younger are served by the DJJ.

“Police Chief Tyrone Oliver has long been a pillar of the Newton County community, both as a career law enforcement official and a strong leader in numerous organizations,” Kemp said. “As commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, I know that Tyrone will lead with integrity to ensure that Georgians in his care have the right tools to succeed and improve their lives for the better.”

Oliver replaces Niles, a longtime Hall County law enforcement official, who was removed as commissioner after admitting in court proceedings that he gave misleading statements about his education.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg heard arguments in the case seeking to force hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia, according to the Gainesville Times.

Lawyers for election integrity activists grilled Georgia election officials about cybersecurity measures taken to protect the state’s elections infrastructure, seeking Thursday to convince a judge to order an immediate halt to the state’s use of outdated voting machines.

But the plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to order the state to immediately stop using the current system, which it plans to use for special and municipal elections this year and which the plaintiffs fear would be used in 2020 if a new system isn’t implemented in time.

The plaintiffs in this case — the Coalition for Good Governance and individual voters — asked Totenberg last August to force Georgia to use hand-marked paper ballots for the November election. While Totenberg expressed grave concerns about vulnerabilities in the state’s voting system and scolded state officials for being slow to respond to evidence of those problems, she said a switch to paper ballots so close to that election would be too chaotic.

Lawyers for state election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, argued in court filings that concrete steps have been taken to address the concerns, including arranging for the purchase of new voting technology and adding security measures to existing systems.

They also argued that paper ballots have vulnerabilities and that putting an intermediate system in place while the state is moving to a new voting system would be “an impossible burden” on state and local election officials.

From the AJC:

A packed courtroom listened as U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg considered a request that she immediately put the state’s 17-year-old voting machines out of service for this fall’s local elections, which include votes for the Atlanta school board, the Fulton County Commission and city councils across the state.

Totenberg didn’t signal how she would rule, but she said last fall that Georgia’s direct-recording electronic voting machines create a “concrete risk,” and election officials “had buried their heads in the sand” about vulnerabilities. At the time, she declined to disqualify the state’s voting machines just weeks before November’s high-turnout election for governor.

Those potential vulnerabilities have been addressed, said Merritt Beaver, the chief information officer for the Secretary of State’s Office. The full list of risks hasn’t been released.

“I feel confident in Georgia’s elections system,” said Michael Barnes, the director of the state’s Center for Elections Systems, which creates ballots and distributes them.

Totenberg could rule anytime after the two-day hearing concludes Friday.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture released proposed rules for hemp production, according to The Albany Herald.

This year Georgia, like Florida, joined other states in the production of hemp plants that are used in making CBD products, as well as other products. Earlier this month the Georgia Department of Agriculture released a proposed set of rules related to growing, storing, transporting and processing the plant.

The 2018 U.S Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, where it was listed with marijuana as a Schedule I substance said to have a high risk of abuse and no federally accepted medical use. The law allows the production of hemp containing up to .3 percent THC, the main ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high.”

CDB oils are regulated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Under the proposed Georgia rules, which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, growers must keep records of sampling of plants for THC content exceeding the limit and pesticide use.

The rules also allow for state inspection and destruction of plants violating the requirements concerning THC content and improper use of pesticides.

Those who grow, transport and process hemp must be licensed. Processors would be subject to rules involving records and destruction of hemp products deemed in violation of regulations.

The state Agriculture Department is accepting written comments on the proposed rules through Aug. 12. For additional information, visit [the Ag Dept website].

From the AJC:

To grow hemp in Georgia, farmers will have to pay an annual fee, submit to inspections and keep accurate harvest records.

But crops can’t be planted until the state finalizes rules over the hemp program.

Under the rules, an annual hemp grower license would cost $50 per acre, up to a $5,000 maximum. A hemp processor permit would cost $25,000 up-front and $10,000 every year after.

All licensees would have to undergo inspection and sampling of their hemp crops. It any hemp sample exceeds the 0.3% THC limit, the entire crop will be destroyed.

Coweta County Solicitor General Sandy Wisenbaker was named 2019 “Solicitor General of the Year” by the Georgia Association of Solicitors-General, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

District Attorney Herb Cranford Jr. said Wisenbaker has distinguished herself as one of the most highly regarded solicitors in the State of Georgia.

“From the perspective of the District Attorney’s Office, it is great to have a solicitor with whom we can work closely and find mutually beneficial solutions to issues,” Cranford said. “Sandy represents the people of Coweta County well and we are lucky to have her in this important role.”

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia (PAC) is the overarching judicial branch government agency supporting Georgia prosecutors and their staff, which includes 49 District Attorney Offices (primarily Felony cases) and 65 Solicitor-General Offices (only Misdemeanor cases).

The Hall County Commission adopted an ordinance governing deployment of new wireless equipment, according to the Gainesville Times.

Under the rules, any new, modified or replaced pole on a right of way zoned residential cannot be more than 50 feet tall. In areas that are not zoned residential, poles must be 50 feet or shorter, or within 10 feet in height of the highest pole within a 500-foot radius, whichever is higher.

The ordinance is a response to Senate Bill 66, a state law that encourages companies to put small cell technology on existing poles. The technology will help deploy broadband access to rural areas and allow for more areas to get 5G technology.

Democrat Derrick Wilson, who is running for Gwinnett County Commission District 3 in 2020, denies a claim that he is a few fries short of a happy meal, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County Commission candidate Derrick Wilson has pushed back against comments a spokesman for Commissioner Tommy Hunter made comparing the candidate to a McDonald’s Happy Meal earlier this week.

In response to the letter, Hunter’s spokesman, Seth Weathers, told the Daily Post in a statement that Wilson “seems to be a few fries short of a Happy Meal.”

“It just appears to me that the people of District 3 need a change,” Wilson said. “I have learned that you are reflective of the company you keep. Mr. Weathers making the comment that I am ‘a few fries short of a happy meal’ provides further insight to the type of person Mr. Hunter is.”

Paulette Chavers announced she will run for Statesboro City Council District 2, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Council District 2 is poised to have an election contest this fall, with Paulette Chavers campaigning for the seat held by incumbent council member Sam Lee Jones, who plans to seek re-election.

Also up for election are the District 3 and District 5 seats, held by incumbent council members Jeff Yawn and Derek Duke, who also plan to run but have no challengers known to the Statesboro Herald at this point. Candidacies for the Nov. 5 nonpartisan city election, which involves only those three districts, won’t become official until qualifying week, Aug. 19-23, when candidates file paperwork and pay the $227 fee at City Hall.

Whitfield County municipalities are nominating members of a committee to reommend projects for an upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The city councils of Cohutta and Tunnel Hill could decide in the next couple of weeks who will represent them on the advisory committee that will make recommendations for the projects that could be funded from a future Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Each city will have just one representative on the committee.

The city of Varnell will also have one representative on the committee. The mayor and council of Varnell appointed Paul Wilson to the committee Wednesday night. The other applicants from Varnell were Dan Peeples and Jan Pourquoi. They also applied for the committee from Whitfield County Board of Commissioners District 3 and could be selected for the committee by Commissioner Roger Crossen.

Each of the five county commissioners will appoint two people to the committee from their district. Commission Chairman Lynn Laughter is elected county-wide. The Dalton City Council as a whole will appoint three members. Each of those two bodies will appoint an alternate.

The committee members will advise the elected officials on which projects should be funded by a SPLOST that is expected to be put before county voters in either the May 2020 general primary or the November 2020 general election. The county commissioners will have the final say on what is placed on the ballot.

Qualifying for Lilburn City Council and Mayoral elections has been set, according to the AJC.

Candidates interested in running for one of Lilburn’s open elected official positions may qualify for the Nov. 5 municipal general election 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19 through Aug. 21 in the city clerk’s office at City Hall, 340 Main St. The qualifying fee for mayor is $150, and for council member is $105.

All voting to elect the mayor and two city council members takes place at Lilburn City Hall, regardless of county polling places.

Advanced (absentee in-person) voting begins 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Oct. 14 through Nov. 1. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. If there is a need for a runoff election, the date of this election will be Dec. 3.

Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold have also set qualifying dates for November’s elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Qualifying as a candidate is Aug. 19-23. Early voting begins Oct. 14. Final election day is Nov. 5. Run-off election, if necessary, is Dec.3.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division lifted a consent order affecting the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission, according to The Brunswick News.

The Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division placed the utility under a consent order in 2014, when a sewer pump station on St. Simons Island dumped around 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the catch basin and retention pond at Gascoigne Condos.

In the consent order, the JWSC agreed to pay the state $10,000, submit corrective action and inflow and infiltration reduction plans and to monitor the site of the spill for one year. As conditions of the order, the utility had to minimize or eliminate sewer overflow and routinely assess the condition of the sewer system.

“We have met all the conditions of the order, and it has been satisfied,” [Interim Executive Director Andrew] Burroughs said.

The Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division performed necropsies on some pilot whales that beached themselves at St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.


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