Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 6, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 6, 2020

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.

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.

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

Happy Birthday to George W. Bush, who turns 74 today.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Atlanta descended into lawless gun violence over the weekend. From the AJC:

Ninety-three people were shot in Atlanta during the four-week period of May 31 to June 27, up drastically from 46 in the same period last year, the latest complete data available. And fourteen people died of homicide in that span, compared to six during the same time frame in 2019.

Those shot have included a 10-year-old boy who survived, an 18-year-old who may have been selling water on the street in Midtown when he was killed, and an 80-year-old man who died as the unintended target of a drive-by in his home.

The numbers are still climbing.

“There seems to be withdrawal by police,” said Russell Covey, Georgia State University criminal law professor. “The lack of a police presence may create something of a vacuum of authority.”

Asked last week about the situation, Atlanta police officer Jason Segura, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers’ local chapter, said police are indeed pulling back. The violence spike can likely be attributed to officers taking a less proactive approach to preventing crime, he said.

“Officers are afraid to do their job,” Segura said last week.

Governor Brian Kemp suggested the state may take action if local officials don’t, according to WSB-TV.

In a tweet Sunday night, Kemp says, “While we stand ready to assist local leaders in restoring peace & maintaining order, we won’t hesitate to take action without them.”

Kemp called the shootings “unacceptable.”

“This recent trend of lawlessness is outrageous & unacceptable,” Kemp tweeted.

Kemp urged that people need to feel safe from crime.

“Georgians, including those in uniform, need to be protected from crime & violence,” Kemp tweeted.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters in Atlanta was damaged by “protesters,” according to the AJC.

Between 60 and 100 people wearing dark clothing approached the DPS building on United Avenue about 1 a.m., Georgia State Patrol said in a statement. The building serves as the headquarters for GSP and houses several other state agencies.

The GSP statement referred to the group as protesters and said many of them were wearing masks.

“The group caused extensive damage to several windows along the front of the building,” GSP said. A public safety vehicle that was parked outside the headquarters was damaged, and the building itself was “spray painted heavily in several places,” the statement said.

“Peaceful” armed protesters made an appearance at Stone Mountain , according to the AJC.

Authorities said the event was peaceful. However, the participants, masked, clad head to toe in black, bearing weapons and marching from downtown Stone Mountain to the park, prompted a stir on social media.

John Bankhead, spokesperson for the Stone Mountain Park Police Department, said the marchers began with a rally in near downtown Stone Mountain and then decided to march on the park. While the majority of them were African American, a minority were of other races. Not every person was armed, but most were masked.

Bankhead said the group did not have a permit to march but that police decided not to stop the group.

“We’re aware there are certain sensitivities over what the park represents,” Bankhead said. “We felt it was better to let them give their speeches and leave. It was peaceful.”

“They were actually a very friendly group,” Bankhead said. “Very pleasant. I spoke to some of them.”

Georgia’s open carry laws allow those with gun permits to visibly carry firearms into most public settings, though with some restrictions. This wasn’t the first time armed protesters held a rally in the park. In 2016, a group known as “three percenters,” a loose network of white men who also see themselves as a militia, were involved in pro-Confederate flag rallies at the park.

United States Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) spoke to the Gwinnett Daily Post about potential federal measures on COVID-19.

Loeffler said that extension [of the the Paycheck Protection Program] means Georgia small businesses affected by the pandemic have until Aug. 8 to apply for the coronavirus relief funding and, if they get the money, continue paying employees.“I think we’re going to wait and see,” Loeffler said. “There’s about $130 billion left in the PPP program and, in Georgia, we’ve been able to deliver $14 billion to employers, to businesses to help keep their doors open.

“What we need to look at is who needs to get the relief that hasn’t received it, and how can we continue to refine the program. I have kept an open dialogue with (U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin) and (U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell) about the designs of the programs and I supported legislation that ensured nonprofits such as churches and YMCAs can get access to it while limiting the ability of organizations like Planned Parenthood to access it.”

“There remains significant funding left in the CARES Act to make sure that our hospitals (and) our health agencies — our public health agencies — are funded, but also getting that relief to families and employers,” Loeffler said. “So, I’ve been really focused on the case work that we’ve done across the state to connect Georgians to that relief, but then also working with the governor to figure out what the needs are on the ground.”

“The left is pushing this dangerous effort to defund the police, and I have been working hard to support law enforcement,” Loeffler said. “I have introduced legislation that would cause municipalities and states to lose federal funding dollars if they, like New York City did (Tuesday) night, actively move to defund the police without a budgetary reason.”

More about former State Rep. Mark Burkhalter‘s appointment as Ambassador to Norway from the AJC Political Insider.

Terry Coleman, a Democrat who was briefly the state House speaker, told InsiderAdvantage that he’s “never seen anything from him but concern and compassion for all our fellow Georgians” from Burkhalter.

The outlet also reported that Fulton County Commission chair Robb Pitts, a Black Democrat, wrote a letter in support of the Alpharetta Republican.

The Chatham County Board of Health is moving the location for free COVID testing, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Bulloch County schools may start classes again online only beginning August 17, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“August 17th is the date that we’re using right now so we can have time for teachers and staff to return, as normal, during preplanning, to start preparing for what we can do to re-engage students, even if it’s online or virtually, so that we can move forward,” Wilson said during Thursday’s 9 a.m. session. “We all know this,” he continued, as 488 people logged in to listen during the livestreaming. “Our students need to be re-engaged in their learning. They need to be re-engaged socially and emotionally. We need to get back to school, somehow.”

“Our intent is to start virtually … with an option for parents to return their students to a traditional setting, a face-to-face setting, as soon as possible,” he said. “Now what that ‘as soon as possible’ means is yet to be determined. Under the state guidance, that would mean when we move out of substantial spread back to the minimal to moderate spread category.”

Right now, the plan is to start school for students learning from home, with the main part of each class provided using one of two virtual learning platforms.

Both of these platforms provide recorded lessons by teachers hired by the companies that operate the platforms, not Bulloch County Schools teachers.

But local teachers will provide supplemental instruction, working with students who need help and providing enrichment activities to those ready to learn more, much as they do in small-group breakout sessions in traditional classrooms, Wilson said.

For the supplemental instruction, and for lessons that local teachers may develop for all of their students, the school system will use Google Classroom and no longer a mix of Zoom and Google Classroom as was done for last spring’s voluntary online classwork.

Effingham County families are considering online or in-person options for fall schooling, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“Students won’t sit in front of a computer all day,” [Assistant Superintendent Travis] Nesmith said, but a full day’s work will be required. “The rigor will mirror face-to-face instruction,” the school system said on its web page.

Some teaching will be synchronous, with students seeing teachers live and some will be asynchronous, with students watching a recording of a teacher. Some work will be done offline, without using a computer at all.

Virtual students must have an adult to help them. “Courses will require a significant commitment by parents/guardians to help facilitate virtual learning,” the district said on its website. “Students must have a responsible adult who serves as the point of contact for the virtual classroom teacher(s).”

Among the issues the planners must take into consideration is being able to quickly increase virtual learning to include all the students in the school system, should the coronavirus take a nasty turn.

Dalton City Council canceled its in-person meeting this week after a staffer tested positive, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Glynn County and City of Brunswick are considering when to reopen in-person meetings, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Commission’s first in-person meeting isn’t a surefire thing, however.

“We are keeping track of (COVID-19) case numbers, and it is subject to change,” Glynn County Commission Chairman Mike Browning said last week. “We’re only making this decision to go back because we felt like it was the thing to do to serve the public.”

While the Brunswick City Commission had been seriously considering holding its July 15 meeting in-person as well, the recent leaps in COVID-19 cases has Mayor Cornell Harvey thinking it would not be the best idea.

The city continue with virtual meeting and look at holding regular meetings again in August.

Both the city and county have been meeting on virtual platforms for the better part of the last four months.

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