Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 9, 2015

9
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 9, 2015

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 was succeeded in office by Millard Fillmore.

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.

Georgia Politics

Peach Stand

July is the peak of peach season in Georgia, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Sea turtles are likely to break their own record for nesting sites in Georgia.

A little more than halfway through their nesting season, Georgia sea turtles are poised for record-setting reproduction with more nests already documented than in all of last year. As of Sunday, the nest total was 1,764 on beaches from Tybee Island to Cumberland Island.

“Based on the mid-season total, we predict 2,500- 2,800 loggerhead nests on Georgia beaches in 2015,” Georgia Sea Turtle Coordinator Mark Dodd wrote in an email update to the small army of volunteers and professionals who patrol the beaches daily to monitor and protect sea turtles. “The final number will depend on how strongly they finish up the season.”

The previous record season was 2013 when 2,289 nests were recorded.

Loggerheads, which are federally listed as threatened, can grow to be more than 3 feet long and tip the scales at more than 300 pounds.

Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston announced study committee members.

House Speaker David Ralston announced Tuesday the appointment of legislators to serve on committees studying a handful of complex issues, including vacation rentals, welfare fraud and saltwater intrusion.

The short-term rental of houses has grown in popularity around the state, especially along the coast and around major sporting events like the Masters Tournament and University of Georgia football games. But the hotel industry objects the same taxes and regulations don’t apply, and often neighbors object to the increase noise and traffic.

Rep. Spencer Frye, D-Athens, is the only Democrat on the committee, which includes no one from the coast or Augusta.
However, three of the five members on the saltwater-intrusion committee are from the coast, including Reps. Bob Bryant,D-Garden City; Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah; and Ron Stephens, R-Savannah.

The chairwoman is Rep. Lynn Smith, R-Newnan, who also chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. The fifth member is Rep. Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear, who is Gov. Nathan Deal’s floor leader. Smith and the Deal administration have often clashed with coastal legislators on water policy.

State Rep. Dusty Hightower (R-Carrollton) will serve on the Georgia House Study Committee on the Use of Drones.

The Georgia Court of Appeals will hear a case involving the denial by Georgia DOT of a request by a KKK group to adopt a 1.5 mile stretch of highway.

As part of GDOT’s Adopt-A- Highway program, signs are erected to identify groups that adopt stretches of roadway.

The section of roadway requested by the group would be ineligible for adoption, officials said in 2012, since the posted speed limit exceeds the program’s maximum of 55 mph. The speed limit is 65 mph. The statement also said that seeing signage and members of the KKK along a roadway would “create a definite distraction to motorists

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis was sentenced to 5 years in prison, to serve 18 months, after being convicted of corruption in office.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler spoke to WABE about employment trends in Georgia.

“Pay attention to how many jobs are being created with the layoff numbers, because right now this is definitely a job market – because there is a lot of jobs that are out there right now that are currently open.” Butler said.

Members of the Hall County Republican Party and the Gainesville City Council spoke against a district voting plan that would do away with at-large voting in city council elections.

Bill Johnson, a member of the Hall County Republican Party executive committee, defended the current system by advocating for citywide representation, rather than by street, subdivision or specific demographic community.

Echoing the position of most council members, Johnson said, “You represent the entire city of Gainesville. In my view, it will do nothing but divide us into smaller segments. For that reason, I certainly oppose district voting.”

The Newtown Florist Club, a local civil rights group, and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials are working together to bring an end to the city’s at-large electoral system, wherein voters across Gainesville cast ballots for all City Council candidates.

They want to replace the at-large process with a district voting system, whereby only voters in a particular geographic area select a candidate from their ward to represent them.

Debra Pilgrim, chairwoman of the Hall County Republican Party, said that while she sees merit in both arguments, she is concerned that advocates of district voting are not being forthright in their intentions.

“My fear, though, is that the proposal here … is not being done for the purest reasons,” she said. “It’s almost a way of segregation. And as history has shown us, separate but equal does not work.”

Meanwhile, Sheila Nicholas, chairwoman of the Hall County Democratic Party, cited examples of how at-large voting has been perceived to entrench racial discrimination in local governments across the nation and state.

An ethics probe in Tybee Island will become a full-blown investigation into actions by the Mayor Pro Tem.

On Wednesday, the Tybee Ethics Commission considered a complaint from three city residents, who suggested that Councilwoman Wanda Doyle could have violated the city charter and ethics ordinance in May when she asked city staff to distribute an email to island business owners.

After an hourlong discussion in executive session, the ethics commission voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing within the next 30 days to answer two questions posed in the complaint:

“Is it ethical for a Tybee elected official to direct the City Clerk, who serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and all of the Council, to carry out an assignment using city property and resources that is contrary to the expressed opinion (vote) of the majority of other elected officials and to name others as being responsible for introducing a City ordinance?” and “Is it ethical for the Tybee City Clerk to pass along an assignment from one council member that is contrary to the expressed opinion of the majority of council to a staff member who reports to the City Manager with or without authorization from the City Manager?”

Carrollton Board of Education voted to keep the millage rate the same as last year, which will result in higher tax revenues due to assessment increases, according to The Times-Georgian.

Wandering around Savannah with a drink is apparently a thing. New rules to expand areas where outdoor drinking is allowed are being pared back over concerns about red solo cups littering the squares.

Drinkers will have to continue throwing away their To-Go cups before strolling into Forsyth Park, except for special events, under the latest version of the city of Savannah’s proposed alcohol ordinance.

Last September city staffers had proposed expanding the outdoor drinking zone south of Jones Street to include the park, but the proposed change has since been limited to special events because of concerns about To-Go cups seeping into surrounding areas, said Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Herman.

“The police had concerns about enforcing it full time,” Herman said. “(The ordinance) also recognizes the special events there generally involve alcohol and makes it permissible.”

Proposed revisions also open up entertainment options for people who are not old enough to imbibe.

Army to cut back in Georgia

Georgia bases will host about 400 fewer soldier under cutbacks proposed to take effect between now and 2017.

950 soldiers from Fort Stewart in Hinesville, 3,400 soldiers from Fort Benning in Columbus and 40 soldiers at Fort Gordon in Augusta will be cut.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) wants answers from top brass on how decisions were made on cutbacks, according to a press release.

“I am demanding answers from the Department of Defense on how they are justifying these troop cuts in Georgia. I have also taken steps to block a Senate vote on the president’s nomination of a new congressional liaison for the Department of Defense in light of the Department’s failure to give Congress a heads up before these cuts were made public. I have talked in great detail with Secretary McHugh today and will continue to fight to see to it that we preserve every soldier in Georgia that we can,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“We cannot afford to reduce our military readiness at a time when the threats to our security here at home and throughout the world are growing at an alarming rate. Instead, we should be using our military to send a clear signal to the rest of the world that America has no intention of standing down in the fight against the threat of terrorism worldwide.”

Senator David Perdue (R-GA) echoed his colleague’s sentiments.

“When national security alerts are at an all-time high and ISIS is recruiting new terrorists daily, scaling back our military is nonsensical. Today, I spoke directly with Secretary of the Army John McHugh to express my concern for this proposed cut back, specifically the impact on Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, and Fort Gordon. Georgia’s strong military community cannot be significantly reduced at a time when we need it most,” said Perdue.

“Furthermore, these cuts are an example of Washington’s inability to responsibly budget. Funding our military should be our top priority. In order to combat our growing global security crisis, we need a strong military supported by a strong economy and a budget that reflects these priorities. I urge President Obama, as our Commander in Chief, to reconsider his dangerous downsizing and finally provide a coherent military strategy.”

Senator David Perdue and Josh McKoon on Immigration

Yesterday, United States Senator David Perdue joined five other Senators in a letter questioning the Department of Homeland Security about how it deals with “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

“Your Department has refused to confront so-called ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions, endangering the public safety and leading to tragedies such as the recent killings of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, California, and Angelica Martinez in Laredo, Texas,” said the Senators in a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. “Yet, rather than enhance the successful Secure Communities program, confront sanctuary jurisdictions, defend federal law enforcement’s legitimate use of detainers, request additional resources, or ask Congress for a legislative solution, your Department has unilaterally designed a program that will endanger the American people.”

“It is also our understanding that… your Department will only seek the transfer of an alien in the custody of state or local law enforcement if the criminal alien has a conviction for a limited number of criminal offenses, engaged intentionally in organized gang activities, or poses a danger to national security. However, even in many of these cases, DHS will simply request “notification” of the release date from state and local law enforcement, rather than issue a detainer. Additionally, the mere fact that an alien has been charged with or arrested for an offense is no longer acceptable, as your Department will only seek to assume custody of any criminal alien once that alien has an actual conviction.”

Meanwhile, Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) will revise his Senate Bill 6, which originally dealt with denying drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. From WRBL.com in Columbus,

A Georgia lawmaker says law enforcement agencies should be sanctioned for not cooperating with federal requests to keep people in the country illegally in jail.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Columbus Republican, says he may propose financial penalties for those agencies that refuse to hold people or incentives for those that honor the requests. He still is developing a proposal for the next legislative session.

The fatal shooting of a woman in San Francisco has renewed scrutiny on cities and counties that don’t fully cooperate with immigration authorities. A Mexican man in the U.S. illegally has been charged in her death.

Critics of the immigration holds have said the practice weakens law enforcements’ ability to work with immigrant communities and can mean people arrested on minor charges are deported.

I spoke to Sen. McKoon about his legislation yesterday after his press conference.

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