Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 7, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 7, 2017

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 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to General George Washington’s troops at the parade grounds in Manhattan.

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850 and  Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850.

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

On July 10, 1864, Conferderate forces retreated south across the Chattahoochee and burned the bridge behind them. General Sherman wrote later of the day,

General Garrard Moved rapidly on Roswell, and destroyed the factories which had supplied the rebel armies with cloth for years.

Over General Garrard was then ordered to secure the shallow ford at Roswell and hold it until he could be relieved by infantry, and as I contemplated transferring the Army of the Tennessee from the extreme right to the left, I ordered General Thomas to send a division of his infantry that was nearest up to Roswell to hold the ford until General McPherson could send up a corps from the neighborhood of Nickajack.

General Newton’s division was sent and held the ford until the arrival of General Dodge’s corps, which was soon followed by General McPherson’s whole army.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

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 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections

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.

On July 10, 1985, “Classic“ Coke returned, joining the new formula on store shelves.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games broke ground for Atlanta Olympic Stadium on July 10, 1993; after the Olympics, the stadium was modified for baseball and became Turner Field.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Cobb County Commissioners are considering raising the property tax millage rate.

Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce has proposed a county tax hike totaling 0.13 mills, with the increase primarily due to the costs of providing $27.4 million for new county green space.

The proposed increase, which would amount to an additional $13 in tax on a home valued at $250,000, is coming days after the county announced a 6.5 percent jump in Cobb’s tax digest, or the measure of the taxable value of property in the county. But Boyce said he believes the rate increase is needed even with that growth in the digest.

“I know people aren’t going to be happy to pay more — I appreciate that, I’m one of those guys,” Boyce said Wednesday. “But we have some major programs that we didn’t fund during the recession, and now we’re having to climb out of that hole. And this is one way we’re going to start doing that: by using revenue from assessments to start paying for these services we furloughed or didn’t do during the recession. And we have some ongoing costs of government that have to be paid.”

Commissioners will consider the tax increase at their July 25 meeting, which will also see a vote on three other property taxes levied by the county. The fire service millage rate, which funds the county’s fire department and applies countywide, is proposed to remain at 2.96 mills, while the remaining two rates only apply within two special tax districts within the county.

Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) yesterday announced via Facebook that he filed paperwork with the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to raise funds for a campaign for Secretary of State in 2018.

From the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, McKoon said he’s excited about the race, which currently includes at least three other candidates to replace Brian Kemp. Others already vying for the position include Reps. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, and Brad Raffensperger, R-Johns Creek, as well as David Belle Isle, the Republican mayor of Alpharetta, Ga.

McKoon, a controversial Republican legislator who has challenged party leadership occasionally, listed former Georgia Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart as his campaign chairman and Atlanta businessman Robert Hennessy as his treasurer. Hennessy also is active in state Republican politics.

“I decided to run for Secretary of State for a couple of reasons,” he said. “One is I’m very concerned about the integrity of the electoral process. I actually looked at running for Secretary of State eight years ago, before Seth Harp vacated the senate seat. And the issue then, and I think the issue now, is making sure people feel that their vote is going to count, that they don’t have to worry about there being any malfeasance in the electoral process, any illegal votes cast.”

McKoon said he also believes the licensing function of the office is ripe for reform.

“There’s been a nationwide study done by Americans for Prosperity that 5.4 million new jobs could be created if we would reduce the barriers to entry for licensed professions,” he said. “So that’s something I’m very passionate about, is trying to connect people on that first rung on the ladder to economic success by making it easier for them to enter a licensed profession.”

As an attorney, McKoon said he’s also concerned about the delivery of online services at the Secretary of State Office.

“I think there are a number of ways that we can improve delivery of the corporate services,” he said.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office opined that Georgia Power is required by state law to continue collecting ratepayer funds toward construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

Because of a 2009 state law enacted just after the Vogtle project was authorized, “Georgia Power cannot voluntarily agree” to suspend the surcharges, Senior Assistant Attorney General Daniel Walsh said Wednesday in a letter to state utility regulators.

Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said state law requires the company to collect the surcharge, but he declined to answer a question about whether the law allows it to reduce the surcharge. Hawkins said the surcharge “saves customers hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing financing and borrowing costs.”

The opinion from the Attorney General’s office does not appear to address whether the surcharge can be reduced.

In his letter to the PSC, Walsh said the 2009 state law unambiguously stated that the surcharge “shall” be collected — meaning it is mandatory — based on the project’s ongoing construction costs, starting in 2011.

Liberal protestors targeted Senator Johnny Isakson’s Cobb County office, opposing GOP proposals for federal healthcare reform.

Cobb County will receive $1.2 million in state grants from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Hall County Latinos are registering to vote at progressively higher rates.

Former Warner Robins Council member Dean Cowart will seek a return to council, running for the at-large seat currently held by Council member Chuck Shaheen.

Grovetown City Council will consider a significant increase in the property tax millage rate.

Grovetown city officials have proposed a rate increase from 6.9 to 9 mills.

Grovetown’s interim city administrator John Waller said the proposed increase seems large because the city has maintained a historically low millage rate and not done incremental increases each year. He added that millage rate would still be below neighboring Harlem .

“Going back and looking at a little bit of history, we’ve grown a heck of a lot since 2009. We had a flat mill rate at 7.0 from 2009-2015, so for a six-year period, we had a flat mill rate,” Waller said. “Last year, we dropped to 6.9 over seven to eight year period, and with all the growth, we never dipped into leveraging our property tax revenue.”

Savannah City Council is moving forward with an ordinance to limit short term rentals.

In a unanimous vote, the council voted to move forward with revisions to the ordinance regulating vacation rentals by limiting the amount of vacation rentals to 20 percent of the residential properties in a ward.

The percentage was chosen as a compromise between the Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association, which wanted 15-percent limit, and vacation rental representatives, who pushed for a 35-percent cap, said Bridget Lidy, director of Savannah’s Tourism Management &Ambassadorship Department.

Vacation rentals that are owner-occupied would be exempt from the cap, Lidy said.

Dredging to maintain the ship channel to the Port of Savannah will continue, even as questions arise over funding for continued work on the harbor deepening.

This year, with the help of a proactive maritime community, Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah, has secured the funding to keep the river channel operating at its proper depths, thus assuring commerce keeps moving.

“Rep. Carter worked with the Appropriations Committee in Congress to secure $23.53 million in the FY 17 budget to perform operations and maintenance at the Savannah harbor,” Carter spokeswoman Mary Carpenter said Thursday, adding that Carter has continued to work with the US Army Corps of Engineers to get another $15.72 million in its work plan for additional dredging and repairs.

“This totals $39.27 million for operations and maintenance in Savannah,” she said.

Georgia Port director Griff Lynch agreed.

“We were pleased to hear that maintenance dredging for the Savannah River is fully funded in the President’s proposed budget. Its inclusion is a credit to the entire maritime community in Savannah, who pulled together in support of this,” he said.

If approved by Congress, these funds will cover work done during the upcoming federal fiscal year, which runs from October through September. Administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, these funds will maintain the Savannah River channel at its authorized depth, including the portion recently dredged to 49 feet in the outer harbor.

New Jobs for Georgians

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, will be tapped by the Trump Administration as the next Director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public health sources said the appointment is expected to be announced as early as Friday.

Fitzgerald, 70, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has headed that state’s public health department since 2011, will succeed Tom Frieden. He stepped down in January after serving for eight years, longer than any director since the 1970s. Anne Schuchat, a veteran CDC official, has been serving as acting director.

She has strong ties to Republican leaders in and from Georgia, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich. Fitzgerald, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1992 and 1994 in her state’s 7th congressional District.

Fitzgerald was in private practice for 30 years before she was picked by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) to head the state’s public health department when it became a stand-alone agency in 2011.

Fitzgerald holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Georgia State University and a medical degree from Emory’s School of Medicine. She trained at Emory-Grady Hospitals in Atlanta, and as an Air Force major she served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command in Michigan and at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington.

Gainesville-native Ashley D. Bell will serve in the Trump Administration as associate director for external affairs at the Peace Corps.

The appointment was made by the White House, according to a Thursday announcement from the Peace Corps. Bell has been working in the State Department since February as a special assistant to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Bell, a former lawyer, made his way to Foggy Bottom after working on then-President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team. Before then he worked for the Republican National Committee as a senior strategist for communications.

“This is a very similar role to what I had at State,” Bell said. “It’s just a more senior role. I enjoyed my time at State — I definitely enjoyed my time working for Secretary Tillerson.”

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