Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 22, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 22, 2021

On June 22, 1633, Galileo Galilei recanted his published theory that stated the sun was the center of the world and the earth was not.

Georgia’s Trustees voted on June 22, 1737 to seek bids for building churches at Savannah and Frederica.

Georgia Whigs voted on June 22, 1775 to join a boycott against British goods. That same day, the Continental Congress approved the issuance of $2 million in debt-backed currency.

The donut was invented on June 22, 1847.

The Battle of Kolb’s Farm was fought near Marietta, Georgia on June 22, 1864.

The United States Department of Justice was established on June 22, 1870.

Judson Lyons, the first black lawyer in Georgia, died on June 22, 1924, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

On June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill.

On June 22, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed a law extending the 26th Amendment Right to Vote at age 18 to all federal, state, and local elections.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is again blaming Atlanta’s crime wave on everyone else. Governor Brian Kemp fired back. From Fox News:

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp responded on Monday to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms blaming the city’s crime spike on the GOP-led reopenings during the coronavirus pandemic, stressing that people are “tired of leaders blaming somebody else for problems that they have in their own jurisdiction.”

“I know I’m fed up with it,” Kemp told “Fox & Friends” on Monday.

Bottoms blamed the crime wave in her city on lax gun laws, young people being out of school and the Republican governor’s decision to make Georgia one of the early states to begin reopening.

Asked if officers have been “hesitant” to respond to crime amid heightened tensions of the past year, Bottoms said “absolutely not.”

“Remember in Georgia, we were opened up before the rest of the country, even before the CDC said that it was safe for us to open so our night clubs and our bars remained open so we had people traveling here from across the country and partying in our city,” Bottoms told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle on Friday.

Killings are up 58 percent in Atlanta from 2020, but even that year, amid widespread lockdowns, was one of the deadliest in decades, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There were reportedly 157 homicides in 2020, up from 99 in 2019.

“For two months we’ve had a crime suppression unit working, using extra state resources, emergency funding to try to help with the problem because I hear about it every single day,” Kemp said on Monday.

“And in just two months by putting boots on the ground and officers on the street and in the air and working with state and local partnerships we’ve done almost 3,100 arrests, we’ve apprehended 71 people who had outstanding warrants and we’ve impounded almost 300 vehicles going after street crimes.”

“We’re not blaming that on anybody else and we’re just doing something about it and it’s about time she [Bottoms] did as well,” he continued.

Kemp tweeted Saturday in response to Bottoms: “According to the mayor, rising crime in our capital city is everyone’s fault but hers. Getting Georgians back to work, back to school, and back to normal didn’t lead to more crime. The left’s anti-police, soft-on-crime agenda is to blame.”

Governor Kemp also authored an Op-Ed on rural broadband:

Delivering on a promise I made on the campaign trail, we have worked with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) to develop and launch our Rural Strike Team. This partnership is bringing local developers, elected officials, and industry leaders together to encourage businesses to invest and take advantage of opportunities in rural Georgia.

In addition to the Strike Team, this year, my budget proposal included $40 million for a new Rural Innovation Fund that will provide accessible capital to start-ups, existing industries, and local job creators in rural communities across our state.

I am proud of the record number of new projects announced in rural Georgia, significant increases in jobs and investment, and new partnerships that will ensure we work together to bring prosperity to every region of the Peach State. But we cannot take our foot off the gas – there is still more work to be done.

These conversations range from business owners looking to connect with customers, students and teachers needing reliable access to virtual classrooms, patients seeking access to tele-health services, and congregations trying to watch a service on Sundays. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the necessity of high-speed broadband access was driven home to all of us. This is no longer an optional service for many families – it is an essential need that impacts kitchen tables from Hahira to Hiawassee.

Under the Gold Dome in 2019, working with members and leadership of the General Assembly, we took a significant step toward overcoming this obstacle by signing Senate Bill 2 into law. This new law encouraged EMCs and community leaders to work together to develop creative solutions to close the digital divide in our state.

Now, we are seeing the direct results of this important legislation.

After the passage of SB2 in 2019, Georgians in Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baldwin, Bibb, Brantley, Butts, Clayton, Coffee, Coweta, Crawford, Dooly, Emanuel, Fayette, Glascock, Hancock, Henry, Houston, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Lamar, Laurens, Macon, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Pierce, Pike, Pulaski, Putnam, Spalding, Turner, Twiggs, Upson, Ware, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilcox, and Wilkinson counties will now have expanded access to high-speed internet in their local communities.

In the months to come, my office will be exploring every opportunity to utilize federal coronavirus relief funds to continue our momentum on expanding access to high-speed internet – no matter your zip code.

Together, we will continue to tackle this problem head on and bring greater opportunities and economic prosperity to rural Georgia.

From a WSB-TV story in February 2021:

[Police Chief Rodney] Bryant gave Channel 2 a spreadsheet showing Atlanta Police had 1,719 officers including recruits with a gun as of January 26, 2020. That’s nearly 300 less than the goal of 2,000 officers set by former mayors Bill Campbell and Kasim Reed.

According to Atlanta Police documents, the department had 1,451 sworn officers as of February 11, 2020. Typically sworn officers work in one of Atlanta’s six zones or in a specialized unit like homicide or cybercrimes.

State Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) writes that Georgia should celebrate Juneteenth, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Originating in Galveston, Texas, Juneteenth has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1866. Juneteenth’s commemoration is on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger, proclaiming and enforcing freedom of enslaved people in Texas, which was then the last state of the former Confederacy in which slavery was still being permitted by the state government.

From the Jim Crow era to the 2021 voter suppression efforts, African Americans have consistently stood up for their rights as American citizens. We were granted freedom in 1865 but the struggle continues to go on.

This was proven again recently in Georgia, as Gov. Brian Kemp released a statement that Juneteenth would not be a state holiday citing that the state constitution sets asides 12 state holidays, and they are all being used. This shows the lack of understanding by Gov. Kemp and his Republican base to truly understand what it means for equal rights, for voting rights, for acceptance and yes, for love of a fellow race.

By denying the African-American community a day of celebration in remembrance of the struggle for freedom, a day of peace and history, especially in one of the leading Confederate states, proves that our governor is incapable of striking a tenor of peace and love.

We must remember Juneteenth but the battle for full and equal treatment remains elusive. It requires education, empowerment, and faith that we shall overcome the transgression shown us, past and present, and seek peaceful understanding that under God’s hand we are all one people.

With all due respect to Senator Jackson and his sincere beliefs, I think the problem was that President Biden signed the Juneteenth bill on Thursday, February 17th. It would have been irresponsible at best for Governor Kemp to decide on Thursday to observe a new federal holiday by giving state employees the very next day off. I’m all for having a good conversation about how the state should observe the holiday, but I don’t blame this on Governor Kemp when President Biden didn’t sign the bill till the day before the proposed holiday.

A state Senate study committee will look at violence against healthcare workers, according to the Gainesville Times.

A state Senate study committee will meet for the first time in the coming months to look at the issue of violence against health care workers. Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said the committee was created during the last legislative session.

“I think that the violence against health care workers has grown exponentially over this past 15 months or so,” Miller said.

The study committee will look at the latest statistics and determine best practices and potential legislation “in an effort to combat this alarming and growing trend against health care staff,” Miller said.

Deb Bailey, NGHS director of governmental affairs, said hospital officials took these numbers to Miller to discuss the growing problem of violence against staff.

“The safety of our staff is our No. 1 priority as well as the safety of our patients, and we are taking a no tolerance position on violence against our staff,” [Northeast Georgia Health System vice president of facilities Kevin] Matson said.

Athens-Clarke County commissioners are considering a government-sponsored homeless camp, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Commissioners voted 6-4 last week to approve a resolution to deal with homelessness, with the goal of finding a site for the camp by July 20.

Commissioners Russell Edwards, Mike Hamby, Patrick Davenport and Allison Wright voted against the resolution. Before the vote, Davenport said he had been on the fence but decided that the main problem is a lack of affordable housing and that should be the focus.

Wright called the encampment plan a “huge liability for public property that I do not agree with” as well as a stress on Athens-Clarke staff. Edwards said he was simply not ready to support a government-sanctioned encampment.

“I’ve been looking at how these operations go in other cities and I’m just not yet convinced that this is the model I’d like to go with. I’m a little more curious about perhaps a model driven or led by the service providers, where maybe they conduct something like this on private property,” Edwards said.

The need for the encampment is attributed to the substantial homeless population in Athens. Officials cite similar projects they consider successful, such as a sanctioned encampment in Seattle, as well as the ones in Savannah and Douglas County.

Nakita Hemingway, a cut-flower farmer from Gwinnett County, will run for Commissioner of Agriculture, according to the Albany Herald.

Hemingway, a cut-flower farmer, Realtor, and mother of four, chose to announce her candidacy on Juneteenth, a commemoration of the official end of slavery more than 2 1/2 years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Hemingway, a Georgia native, has ancestors who were brought here as slaves and became rice farmers in coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

Hemingway said she believes that agriculture is the key to growing Georgia’s economy, and she is running a campaign centered around building a world-class food system.

“Our state has so much potential,” she said. “We can use agriculture to overcome many challenges around food insecurity, poverty, and economic development in our rural and underserved communities. And with the right leadership, I know that we can build a more prosperous future for all Georgians.”

Hemingway has been endorsed by state Rep. Donna McCleod, former state Rep. Curt Thompson, and former candidate for the Georgia Public Service Commission Daniel Blackman. She also has endorsements from organizations including Vote Mama, Our American Dreams, Indivisible Georgia, the Working Families Party, African Women’s PAC, and Her Term.

The Chatham County Legislative Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission met under the leadership of State Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Savannah), according to WTOC.

During Monday’s meeting, Georgia Representative Carl Gilliard, who also chairs this commission, shared some powerful words with the group. He said “I’m tired of going to funerals.”

“I see so many t-shirts walking around with their loved ones. We should be sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said Rep. Gilliard.

The group bounced ideas and possible programs off one another.

The Chatham County District Attorney’s office, in partnership with Feed the Hungry, just received a grant to pilot the “Show Your Guns” program, which focuses on 16 to 25 year old’s facing criminal charges for a firearm possession offense.

“Those persons, if they follow the program, they will not be convicted or have that on their record,” said Rep. Gilliard.

It’s partnerships between law enforcement agencies and grassroot organizations that, Keith Strickland says, will help curb gang and gun violence.

Kingsland and Camden County are seeing a large number of fentanyl overdoses, according to The Brunswick News.

Kingsland police are warning about the presence of dangerous drugs laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl after emergency officials responded to eight overdoses Friday night.

And more Camden County victims reportedly drove to the Southeast Georgia Health System hospital in St. Marys for treatment after having bad reactions to the drug.

Emergency officials responded to reports of people ranging in age from 25 to 50 years old who were unconscious or unresponsive, resulting in life saving measures such as CPR and the administration of Narcan.

Authorities are urging the public to avoid all illicit drugs, including marijuana, that could be laced with the drug.

“Fentanyl has become a major epidemic in our area and our officers have received additional training to assist in dealing with it,” he said. “All have been provided with narcan which has been administered by our officers on multiple occasions to render aid to subjects in an opioid medical emergency.”

Warner Robins City Council voted to combine two municipal departments, according to 13WMAZ.

Mayor Randy Toms appointed City Administrator David Corbin to temporarily hold the newly-created position of Community and Economic Development director.

The positions being combined are Community Development Director, which is vacant since Sherri Windham retired in April, and Economic Development Director.

“Those two departments used to be together and, in fact, when I first took office, I saw a need to separate them,” said Toms.

We asked for examples of why Toms felt the separate departments weren’t meeting his needs.

“I strongly desired a downtown development for a long time and I haven’t really seen as much progress in that, so I want the joint department to focus on trying to do what we can to make a downtown thrive,” said Toms.

The City of Dalton named Andew Parker the sole finalist for City Administrator, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Democrat Devin Pandy announced he will run for Mayor of Gainesville, according to AccessWDUN.

Pandy, who was the Democratic nominee in November’s 9th District Congressional race, talked Monday on WDUN’s Martha Zoller Show about his plans to run for local office.

To date, Pandy is the only Democrat to announce his candidacy. Republican City Councilman Sam Couvillon has also announced his intentions to run for the office. Two other candidates – local businessman Morgan House and longtime council member George Wangemann – also announced plans to run, but both have since decided against seeking the office. Current Mayor Danny Dunagan announced in April he would not run for re-election as mayor; instead, he plans to run for the city council post now held by Couvillon.

Rome City Commissioners will again consider a downtown open container ordinance revision, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Rome’s Alcohol Control Commission unanimously gave its blessing Monday to a 90-day trial of an open container ordinance in downtown Rome.

The citizen board is sending it to the full city commission for action.

They also approved a request from the Downtown Development Authority to allow open container public consumption of alcohol at the River District Arts Fest, set for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rome has allowed open containers at special events like the First Friday concerts for the past four years without any serious problems.

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