Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 3, 2024

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 3, 2024

On July 5, 1737, James Oglethorpe sailed from England to Georgia with a warship and troop transports carrying a regiment to be stationed at St. Simons Island.

On July 7, 1742, General James Oglethorpe was victorious over the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the Battle of Gully Hole Creek; a week later Gov. Montiano would call off the invasion of Georgia from Florida, leaving Georgia to develop as a British colony.

On July 5, 1742, Spanish forces based in Florida sailed past Fort St. Simon, bypassing English forces there. That night, Oglethorpe’s troops left Fort St Simon and fell back to Fort Frederica.

Fort Frederica National National Monument on St. Simons Island

Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island

On July 6, 1775, Congress issued the “Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms” addressed to King George III, stating that they preferred to “to die free men rather than live as slaves.” The document was written by John Dickinson after a draft by Thomas Jefferson.

On July 4, 1776, the United States declared its independence from Great Britain.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826.

The Republican Party was formally organized on July 6, 1854.

The party was born of hostility to slavery.

In February [1854] a gathering in Ripon, Wisconsin, resolved to form a new party and a local lawyer named Alvan E. Bovay suggested the name Republican for its echoes of Thomas Jefferson. In Michigan there were meetings in Kalamazoo, Jackson and Detroit, and after the Act had passed in May, the new party was formally founded in Jackson in July. A leading figure was Austin Blair, a Free Soiler lawyer who was prosecuting attorney of Jackson County. He helped to draft the new party’s platform, was elected to the state senate in Republican colours that year and would become governor of Michigan in 1860.

Union cavalry under Gen. Kenner Garrard reached Roswell, Georgia on July 5, 1864, setting the town alight.

On July 4, 1868, the Georgia General Assembly convened for the first time after passage of the Constitution of 1868 with a legislature comprising 186 members, of whom 36 were African-American.

On July 6, 1885, Louis Pasteur successfully tested a rabies vaccine on a human subject.“

On July 3, 1889, the Georgia General Assembly held its last session at the Kimball Opera House, located at the corner of Marietta and Forsyth Streets in downtown Atlanta before moving into a new Georgia State Capitol. On July 4, 1889, the Georgia State Capitol was dedicated, then housing all three branches of the state government.

Happy birthday to Idaho, which became a state on July 3, 1890.

On July 3, 1913, the Georgia state Senate tabled a motion to allow the Georgia Women’s Suffrage Association to address the chamber.

Sliced bread was invented on July 7, 1928 at the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri.

On July 7, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act.

On July 3, 1970, the Atlanta Pop Festival was held in Byron, Georgia.

Among the artists playing at Byron were the Allman Brothers Band and Jimi Hendrix.

The Clash played their first live show on July 4, 1976 at The Black Swan in Sheffield, England.

The first female cadets enrolled at West Point on July 7, 1976.

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan on July 7, 1981.

Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985.

On July 3, 1986, President Ronald Reagan reopened the Statue of Liberty after a two-year restoration.

 

President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor posthumously to two soldiers involved in the “Great Locomotive Chase,” according to the Associated Press via the Valdosta Daily Times.

President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor on Wednesday for “conspicuous gallantry” to a pair of Union soldiers who stole a locomotive deep in Confederate territory during the American Civil War and drove it north for 87 miles as they destroyed railroad tracks and telegraph lines.

U.S. Army Privates Philip G. Shadrach and George D. Wilson were captured by Confederates and executed by hanging. Biden is recognizing their courage 162 years later with the country’s highest military decoration.

Shadrach and Wilson are being recognized for participating in what became known as “the Great Locomotive Chase.”

A Kentucky-born civilian spy and scout named James J. Andrews put together a group of volunteers, including Shadrach and Wilson, to degrade the railway and telegraph lines used by Confederates in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On April 12, 1862, 22 of the men in what was later called “Andrews’ Raiders” met up in Marietta, Georgia, and hijacked a train named “The General.” The group tore up tracks and sliced through telegraph wires while taking the train north.

Confederate troops chased them, initially on foot and later by train. The Confederate troops eventually caught the group. Andrews and seven others were executed, while the others either escaped or remained prisoners of war.

The first Medal of Honor award ever bestowed went to Private Jacob Parrott, who participated in the locomotive hijacking and was beaten while imprisoned by the Confederacy.

The government later recognized 18 other participants who took part in the raid with the honor, but Shadrach and Wilson were excluded. They were later authorized to receive the medal as part of the fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Democrats denied any cause for concern over President Biden’s debate performance, according to the AJC.

Georgia’s top Democrats have closed ranks around Biden, with U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock among the leaders who are leading the charge.

“The first thing we all need to do right now is calm down,” said Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson. “I’ve been working in Democratic politics for more than 20 years now, and I’ve never seen our party in such a panic.”

But more Democrats are going public with their concerns about the president. U.S Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said he was “horrified” by the disjointed debate, while U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas said it should disqualify him from running again.

In Georgia, former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux has become the most prominent state Democrat to call on Biden to withdraw. Bourdeaux, who is a guest on “Politically Georgia” today, said the debate proved Biden doesn’t have “the mental or physical stamina” to serve another four years.

“It’s no one’s fault, and it’s not fair. But life isn’t fair,” the moderate Democrat wrote in a commentary for the AJC. “And the best path forward is an intentional and organized process to select another Democratic nominee to beat Trump.”

The Fulton County prosecution of former President Trump and other may have hit an obstacle, according to the AJC.

Two days after Christmas in 2020, President Donald Trump met with the top two officials at the U.S. Department of Justice. Angry about his loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Trump allegedly told them, “just say that the election is corrupt, and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”

The statement was included in Fulton County’s indictment of Trump, evidence, prosecutors said, that the president had solicited false statements. It was one of dozens of actions Trump took that undergirded the racketeering and other criminal charges against him in Georgia.

But the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling Monday means it won’t be heard by a jury weighing charges against Trump. Under the high court’s decision, the president’s conversations with Justice Department attorneys are immune from prosecution.

The high court’s 6-3 ruling, which grants a president broad immunity for actions he takes as part of his official duties, will eviscerate some of Fulton County’s election interference case against Trump. And it will certainly lead to a no-holds-barred courtroom battle to decide which parts of the indictment remain and which ones must go.

The high court was straightforward in its ruling about the Justice Department contacts. But it was less clear about other key parts of the Georgia case — that Trump spread falsehoods and strong-armed state officials in an effort to steal the 2020 election.

One thing McAfee may not consider is the president’s motives.

Such an inquiry, the court said, “would risk exposing even the most obvious instances of official conduct to judicial examination on the mere allegation of improper purpose.”

University of Pennsylvania law professor Claire Finkelstein, who condemned the high court’s decision, said this greatly complicates the ensuing judicial review to determine what was an official act as opposed to a private or personal one.

That means it is possible there would be no judicial review if Trump actions were part of his constitutional duties as president, which are on an even higher tier of protection than his official duties, Finkelstein said.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #07.02.24.01, suspending Elvis Davis from office as Chair of the Dodge County Board of Education.

White Shrimp are now the Official State Crustacean of Georgia, according to WTOC.

House Bill 1314 has designated white shrimp as the official Georgia State Crustacean.

White shrimp hold significant cultural and economic benefits to Georgia residents.

According to the General Assembly of Georgia, shrimp makes up almost 80% of the value of seafood caught in the state annually.

They report that establishing white shrimp as the official Georgia state crustacean is key to recognize the importance of this crustacean in this state.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Artificial Intelligence proposed areas for regulating Artificial Intelligence in Georgia, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“(AI) will literally cure cancer,” Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, the study committee’s chairman, said during the panel’s first meeting. “However, it also has the propensity to do great harm. … It’s going to impact and change things like never before.”

Several legislative committees held hearings on AI last year, and a bill was introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives during this year’s legislative session to criminalize the use of “deepfakes” generated by artificial intelligence to impersonate candidates in political ads. House Bill 986 overwhelmingly passed the House but died in the Senate.

On Wednesday, the new Senate study committee agreed on a broad range of policy areas AI will affect that need to be addressed in any legislation Georgia lawmakers come up with, including health care, public safety, education, and transportation.

Overlapping all of those categories is how to regulate AI in a way that ensures the technology is being used ethically and transparently. A House committee planning to begin meeting soon will also take up that issue, said Rep. Brad Thomas, R-Holly Springs, who was the chief sponsor of the deep-fakes bill.

Georgia could be among the first states to adopt regulations for AI. While the European Union’s Parliament adopted AI legislation last March, Colorado is the only U.S. state to have done so, Hayley Williams, director of the state Senate Office of Policy and Legislative Analysis, told the Senate panel.

Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, said the study committee’s goal should be to foster innovation in the development of AI in Georgia with less emphasis on imposing restrictions like the EU model.

But Sen. Jason Esteves, D-Atlanta, said regulating AI systems to protect the public also must be an important goal.

“The primary function of government is to protect its citizens,” he said. “We should be ensuring we protect citizens from the potential impacts of AI.”

Albers said he plans to schedule seven or eight meetings of the study committee this summer and fall before the panel makes recommendations to the full Senate. The next meeting is set for July 17.

Douglas City Council Ward 2 member Kentaiwon Durham resigned his seat after pleading guilty to federal charges, according to WALB.

A city of Douglas commission seat is now vacant after the former commissioner plead guilty to wire fraud in federal court. A plea that holds a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In a recent city commission meeting, Douglas city manager Charles Davis announced the vacant Ward 2 seat. While city of Douglas Mayor Tony Paulk told WALB Commissioner Kentaiwon Durham resigned from leading Ward 2 in Douglas, according to Durham he didn’t resign. The seat is vacant per charter rules which states “upon the final conviction, the office of the public official shall be vacated immediately without further action.”

The guilty plea and now vacant seat comes after Durham pleaded guilty to submitting a PPP loan application and accepting over $20,000 from the program.

Although the plea agreement says the government will recommend a term of probation, Durham faces up to 20 years in prison — plus three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and forfeiture of assets.

According to the city of Douglas City Manager, Charles Davis, a special election will be held in November to fill the now vacant seat.

“Anybody from Ward 2 can reach out to the mayor or any of the commissioners, or city managers office to take any calls they need. But there will be a special election along with the general election in November,” Davis said.

The Georgia Court of Appeals denied an appeal by Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez to dismiss a lawsuit, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Georgia Court of Appeals has denied an appeal by Western Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzales who sought to dismiss a suit filed in 2023 that alleged she was not complying with state law in regards to carrying out her responsibilities as an elected prosecutor.

The original suit, called a writ of mandamus, basically ordered Gonzalez to comply with the duties of the office. The complaint was filed by attorney Kevin Epps who represents the plaintiff, Athens businessman Jarrod Miller.

During court proceedings in May 2023, Gonzalez “confessed” to the writ, but on the same day she filed an appeal to the mandamus.

Emerson also heard Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss the mandamus, which was based on statements she had previously made about not prosecuting certain criminal cases such as simple possession of marijuana and certain possession amounts of other drugs.

“The court finds if the defendant has adopted such a policy, she has grossly abused her discretion,” the judge wrote.

Gonzalez appealed to the higher courts, asking that the mandamus be dismissed as she contended that Miller did not have a standing in bringing the mandamus action. But the Court of Appeals did not overturn Emerson’s ruling.

Tybee Island Short Term Vacation Rental Owners are considering how new municipal legislation affects their investments, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Last month, nearly three years after Tybee Island City Council set a 90-day moratorium for issuing short-term vacation rental permits (STRs) in residential zones, the council set in motion a long-term plan to clear out STRs in those areas completely.

The ordinance, which passed 4-1, will drastically limit STRs on the island, making it so that those who have permits for STRs in residential zones can’t transfer them upon sale of the home or death of the owner. Areas zoned residential R-1, R-1-B and R-2 make up around 85% of the island’s land mass.

Although many of those who spoke referenced potentially ruined retirement plans, infringed upon property rights, and potential impacts to the island’s economy and small businesses, not every property owner on Tybee is against the ordinance.

Getting their neighborhoods ― and neighbors ― back was the crux of the issue for mostly year-round residents on Tybee. In 2020, during the pandemic, many of them realized they were the only person on their streets, surrounded by STRs and a revolving door of sometimes loud, disruptive guests. Tybee has 1,575 properties with STR permits, and nearly half, or 747, of those are in residential neighborhoods.

Marsha Marks and her husband purchased their vacation rental in 2008, and have been renting it out for the last 15 years, making their mortgage and property payments through their STR.

“Our dream was to retire there, or at least leave it to our daughter,” Marks said. “But she won’t be able to afford it because the taxes are ridiculous. So, after 15 years of running a very successful rental, after monitoring it very closely with no complaints, it just feels like they’re saying you’re out of luck.”

Property owners who oppose the ordinance, have largely voiced concerns for their own changing or ruined retirement plans, or loss of income. They’ve also insisted that the limitation would have a great impact on the economy – 51% of Tybee overnight visitors stay in vacation rentals, for an average of 4 nights and spend around $100 per day.

West requested an economic impact study in March, which is still going to happen, but the city has not yet signed a contract with a consultant.

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) is asking the feds to protect Georgia election workers, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Ledger-Enquirer.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., is asking the Justice Department (DOJ) and the FBI to make sure they’re taking steps to protect election workers this year and ensure the efficient administration of elections.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Ossoff requested that the agencies detail their processes for receiving and responding to threats, the steps they’re taking to make sure staffing needs are met, and how they plan to enforce laws aimed at protecting election workers..

“Protecting the integrity of our elections depends on protecting those who run them,” Ossoff wrote. “Yet over the last several years, election workers in Georgia and across the country have reported increased intimidation, harassment, and threats of violence.

“(The) DOJ must ensure the safety of election workers across the country in order to protect free and fair elections. I urge the DOJ and FBI to prioritize efforts to protect our election workers and to investigate any such threats expeditiously.”

Ossoff went on to cite a survey of election officials earlier this year in which 38% of the respondents reported experiencing harassment or abuse in their role.

Dozens of Bibb County voters’ qualifications are being challenged, according to the Macon Telegraph.

David Sumrall, head of the local Republican Party, challenged the legality of several voters’ residencies during an elections board meeting Monday. He alleged 45 voter addresses were listed as post office locations, 47 voted from North Carolina and 151 from other states.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections heard Sumrall’s claims but only accepted some of those challenges. The board voted that the GOP chair only provided enough evidence to challenge the 45 voters who had post office addresses, which puts those voters in “challenged status,” according to William Noland, the board’s attorney.

The challenges that revolved around out-of-state voters were dismissed because the board said he didn’t have enough evidence to make the claims legitimate.

“Our only course of legal action under this statute is to send them written confirmation and wait two federal election cycles, unless the voter confirms in writing that they have changed their residence,” board member Tom Ellington said.

A registered voter can be removed from the list if a voter does not respond in writing to the notice, and does not vote or appear to vote between now and two general elections for federal office from now.

“Based on my reading from the Georgia election code, we can’t remove inactive voters from the voting until two federal elections have intervened,” Ellington said.

A new Georgia law that went into effect Monday is meant to make it easier for any resident to challenge another person’s ability to vote.

Senate Bill 189, the law that Sumrall made the challenge under, includes provisions that change the rules for determining residence, eliminate QR codes from printed ballots, and require election results to be released within 1 hour of the polls closing or before 8 p.m., whichever comes first. It also increases the number of things that constitute probable cause for voter challenges, which include an elector being registered at a nonresidential address.

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