Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2022

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 8, 2022

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.

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.

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” began on July 10, 1925, in which a Tennessee public school teacher was tried for teaching evolution, against state law. Three-time Democratic candidate for President William Jennings Bryan volunteered to help the prosecution, and famed lawyer Clarence Darrow defended John Thomas Scopes.

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

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.

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.

On July 11, 1985, Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan became the first major league player to strike out 4000 batters.

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

“Fight over poop bacteria in Chattahoochee River goes to GA appeals court” reads the top contender for the GaPundit headline of the year. From the Ledger-Enquirer:

Columbus Water Works is continuing its legal battle with state regulators and environmental advocates over an acceptable level of fecal bacteria discharged into the Chattahoochee River from sewers. A state appellate court could determine if the water utility company and its customers will spend millions to comply with stricter regulations.

The Georgia Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case, and Columbus Water Works filed its notice of appeal in late June. The move comes after two judges ruled against the utility, upholding a sewer operation permit that enforces a stricter limit on fecal coliform bacteria.

Columbus Water Works has argued that the limit is too restrictive under federal water guidelines, and the change is not necessary to protect the river’s water quality based on more than two decades of data.

Democrat Stacey Abrams has amassed a financial advantage over Governor Brian Kemp, according to the AJC.

Stacey Abrams has far outpaced Gov. Brian Kemp in the race for campaign cash, collecting more than $28 million since she launched a second bid for Georgia’s top office. The bitter rivals have already raised more in their rematch than they did during their entire 2018 campaign.

Abrams amassed roughly $9.8 million in campaign contributions between May 1 and June 30 along with another $12.3 million through her leadership committee, a financial vehicle that can accept unlimited donations and coordinate with candidates.

Kemp has lagged Abrams in fundraising despite an edge in the polls and the powers of incumbency. He collected roughly $3.8 million in campaign contributions and another $3 million through the leadership committee over the same period.

The Democrat also holds an enormous advantage in cash on hand, with about $18.5 million in both of her accounts while spending aggressively on advertising, personnel and operations. Kemp’s campaign said he will report $7 million in the bank between the accounts.

Kemp’s campaign, which long expected to be out-raised, blamed “far-left radicals from across the country.”

“Abrams and her liberal allies can – and will – continue to outraise and outspend our campaign,” said spokesman Tate Mitchell, “but we will continue to run on Governor Kemp’s record of putting Georgians first and securing historic economic success for our state.”

Democratic mega-donor George Soros has contributed $2.5 million to Abrams’ committee since March, while Kemp has also taken high-dollar donations to boost his reelection bid.

Yesterday was a bad day for Prime Ministers. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed, according to the New York Times.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, died on Friday at 67, after being shot while campaigning for a candidate ahead of national elections.

Gun violence is rare in Japan, where just 10 shootings that contributed to death, injury or property damage were reported in 2021, according to statistics from the National Police Agency. In those episodes, one person died and four others were injured, figures that do not include accidents or suicides.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the assassination “an act of cowardly barbarism.” “I once again condemn it with the strongest words,” he said.

He added that the free and fair election, which is the basis of democracy, should absolutely be protected. The election is to be held on Sunday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced he will step down, according to the New York Times.

Bowing to intense pressure from his own party, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said Thursday that he would step down, ending a stormy three-year tenure that was marked by a landslide election victory and a successful drive to pull Britain out of the European Union, but collapsed under the weight of relentless scandals.

Mr. Johnson insisted even on Wednesday night that he would fight to remain in power. But only hours later, he gave way, overwhelmed by a mutiny in his cabinet, a wave of government resignations and a devastating loss of party support — all prompted by his handling of the latest scandal to engulf his leadership.

“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader,” Mr. Johnson said in a brief midday appearance outside 10 Downing Street. “The process of choosing that new leader should begin now.”

The decision capped a dizzying 48 hours in British politics that began on Tuesday evening with the unexpected resignations of two of the highest-ranking cabinet ministers, followed by dozens of resignations of other ministers and officials all day Wednesday and into Thursday morning.

And even with Mr. Johnson’s announcement, the fight over his status may not be finished. He said he would remain in his post until a new party leader was in place, a process that could take several months.

But some Conservatives argued that Mr. Johnson should not be allowed to stay, even as a caretaker figure. John Major, a former prime minister, wrote to one of the party’s top officials, Graham Brady, urging that Mr. Johnson either hand over his duties to the deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, or that the party arrange for a swift election of a new leader by lawmakers, curtailing the decision-making role of rank-and-file party members.

Some crackpot blew up the Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County, according to WTVM.

Multiple law enforcement agencies and a bomb squad responded to an explosion at the Georgia Guidestones on Wednesday.

The Guidestones, which are located along Highway 77 in Elbert County, were heavily damaged. At least one of the monoliths making up the landmark was destroyed in the blast.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said unknown suspects detonated an explosive device around 4 a.m., destroying a large portion of the structure.

The remaining portion of the Guidestones were demolished after the explosion.

The District Attorney says the perp could go to prison for twenty years, according to WTVM.

The person or persons who were responsible for the destruction of the Georgia Guidestones could go to prison for 20 years, according to the Elberton District Attorney Parks White.

In a Facebook post, White said that regardless of feelings about the stones or their meaning, they were a historical landmark and the destructive act was an “assault upon our community.”

Former candidate for governor Kandiss Taylor gave credit to God on Wednesday after the guidestones were damaged.

From the Athens Banner Herald:

Northern Circuit District Attorney Parks White said Thursday that he intends to prosecute whoever used an explosive to destroy the Georgia Guidestones — an act he described as “domestic terrorism.”

While no suspects have yet been identified, White said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has “many leads” in the bombing that occurred at about 4 a.m. Wednesday at the Elbert County monument.

“The power of this device they detonated was enormous,” he said about the explosive that shattered one of the 19-foot-tall sections of granite that anchored what some have called “America’s Stonehenge.”

White further stated that using the “massive explosive device” was a criminal act which placed people in danger of serious injury.

“The Guidestones are officially owned by the governing authority of Elbert County, and any structure open to the public and owned by a subdivision of the state is considered a public building,” White said, adding a conviction carries a minimum of 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

Parks White is District Attorney for the Northern Judicial Circuit, serving Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Madison, and Oglethorpe Counties.

My favorite story about this is a satirical account posted on Facebook:

Today officials with the Elbert County Historical Society, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and Federal Bureau of Investigation exhumed and opened the Georgia Guidestones Time Capsule.

“Now that the Guidestones have been destroyed, we felt it was appropriate to open the time capsule buried at the base of the monument,” said Charles Smith, President of the Elbert County Historical Society. “We hoped its contents would help shed light on the builders of the monument.”

Unfortunately the time capsule, which was buried early in 1980, did little to answer questions about the orgins of the Guidestones.

“The time capsule only held four items,” explained Sheriff Melvin Andrews. “A single eight track tape of ‘Saturday Night Fever’, a Peterbilt emblem, a October 1979 Playboy magazine signed by Burt Reynolds, and a bag containing 1,734 Quallude pills.”

“We really don’t know what to make of this assemblage of items,” said Charles Smith. “It will take weeks to determine the common thread that runs through these items.”

The Glynn County Board of Elections conducted a limited audit of two recent election, according to the Brunswick News.

[E]lection officials conducted a voluntary audit Thursday of two recent primary elections to determine their accuracy. They selected the state senate District 3 Republican primary and the U.S. House race for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Christina Redden, assistant director of elections, said Glynn County has a hybrid way to conduct an election audit. While many Georgia counties use election officials for their audits and recounts, Glynn County has volunteers from the Republican and Democratic parties who share the same table while they review each printed ballot for discrepancies. If either person has a question about the ballot, it gets set aside for further analysis.

During the random audit, six Republicans and six Democrats reviewed the ballots and found no discrepancies, Redden said.

While the audit is not required by state law, she said it’s good practice for the volunteers. Local election officials do not want people to ever doubt the accuracy of local election results, she said.

Some local elected officials in Northwest Georgia are saying they will rollback millage rates to provide some property tax relief, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Whitfield County officials said the assessed value of residential properties rose an average of 22% this year. Commercial and industrial assessments rose an average of 15%. Assessments are set by the county Board of Assessors. Members of that board are appointed by the county Board of Commissioners. But the assessors are independent of the county and have to follow rules and regulations set by the state.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Jevin Jensen said the commissioners do plan to roll back the county’s property tax rate in August to offset any revenue gains from higher property assessments.

“We have to treat everyone equally,” Jensen said. “Unfortunately, with the smaller 15% commercial and industrial increase and a wide range of individual residential property value increases, the rollback will not completely eliminate the impact for everyone, especially for someone like me whose assessment went up 38%.”

Jensen said after the digest is finalized, the commissioners will set the tax rate.

“The problem is that residential has a larger increase than commercial and industrial,” he said. “Commercial and industrial dominates (the city’s) tax digest. We have to give everyone the same tax cut, so commercial and industrial will get a tax cut and residential will see a tax increase.”

“The (Whitfield County Board of Education) is aware of the reported significant rise in property tax assessments,” said Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Mike Ewton. “We are currently awaiting the tax digest summary data from the tax assessors’ office so that we can have accurate information before determining (our) next steps.”

Jensen said the commissioners are working on the “long-term” solution to soaring residential assessments.

“We are looking at a strategy that no matter how much your assessment increases — if your (increase) is 50% and your neighbor is 20% and somebody else is zero — your homestead exemption will automatically adjust, so we don’t have to roll back the tax rate. It will automatically roll back, and it won’t be an across-the-board cut where some people get nothing and others get a lot. This will take a lot of work. It will require a change in (state) law, but we believe there is a way to do this.” [said Jensen]

The plan would have to be approved by the state legislature, which won’t meet again until January 2023, so it would not affect this year’s property taxes but could take effect before next year’s assessments are done.

State Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, said about 20 Georgia counties have such a system where homestead exemptions automatically adjust to changes in assessments.

Please take a few minutes to read that article in its entirety. It’s the best I’ve read on property tax policy.

Pooler City Council voted to adopt a rollback of the property tax millage rate, according to WTOC.

After increasing their millage rate for the first time in nearly a decade last year, the City of Pooler is rolling it back.

Tuesday City Council unanimously voted to decrease the rate from 4.597 to 4.263.

To calculate what you’ll pay first, understand that a mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in property value.

Georgia calculates your tax bill using 40 percent of your property value.

That article, though much shorter, also does a great job, in this case, of explaining how the millage rate is applied to the assessed value to arrive at the property tax bill. Though it does not explain how homestead (and other) exemptions lower your property tax bill.

Buford will consider a partial rollback of the property tax millage rate, according to AccessWDUN.

The city of Buford is planning to effectively increase property taxes.

The city is proposing a partial rollback of its millage rate from 12.6 mills to 12.55 mills. The new millage rate is 7.2% higher than a full rollback, which would have been 11.704 mills.

The full rollback rate is calculated to keep the city revenue neutral, and a partial rollback constitutes a property tax increase, according to Georgia law. A hot housing market has increased property values, leading to greater revenue for the city without a rollback.

United States Representative Rick Allen (R-Augusta) is hiring interns, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia District 12 Congressman Rick W. Allen announced Wednesday his office is seeking applicants for the Fall 2022 Internship Program, to be offered in his Washington, D.C., and district offices.

The fall semester program runs from August or September to December and is open to college students and young professionals interested in learning about the legislative process and assisting with the responsibilities of a congressional office.

“Working in a congressional office provides a unique opportunity to gain firsthand experience into how our government operates and network with individuals from all walks of life,” Allen said. “In our office, we employ a bottom-up approach to empower others to be the best they can be. Many of our former interns have used the skills gained during their internships to transition into a variety of successful career paths. My staff and I look forward to welcoming these talented young professionals in the coming months.”

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan attributes his overcrowded morgue to delays in autopsy processing by the state, according to WTVM.

He says the county morgue can hold eight bodies. But, he says they responded to 1,250 death investigations last year alone. Last year’s record-homicide rate is a huge factor. But, Bryan says they also sometimes respond to death investigations from surrounding areas like Chattahoochee and Stewart Counties.

Bryan says outside of Atlanta – Columbus has the most deaths than any other city in the state of Georgia. Bodies across Muscogee County are transported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab in Decatur. Bryan says the problem has gotten so out of hand, they’ve had to hold bodies longer. He says when he was first elected in the office in 2013, there were five crime labs. But due to budget cuts, two of those labs were closed.

“I’m apologetic to the families, but I’m at the mercy of the GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigations Medical Examiner’s Office. I can’t push him to do anything any different,” said Bryan.

Three candidates qualified for a November 8, 2022 Special Election for Valdosta City Council District 3, which was vacated by the incumbent’s death, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

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