Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 23, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 23, 2017

On June 23, 903 AD, the Icelandic Parliament, the Althing or Althingi, was established and is the world’s oldest.

In honor of the Icelandic Parliament, here’s the greatest Icelandic band ever, the Sugarcubes, playing at Auburn in 1988.

On June 24, 1497, John Cabot first sighted North America, claiming it for the British Crown.

Off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, British Commodore Sir Peter Parker spent June 23, 1776 preparing to land the next day, charged with supporting loyalists to the British crown.

On June 25, 1788, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the tenth states to vote for ratification of the United States Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. A committee was appointed to be chaired by George Wythe to draft a proposed Bill of Rights.

On June 24, 1795, the United States Senate voted to ratify Jay’s Treaty between the UK and United States. The terms of the treaty required an appropriation from the U.S. House of Representatives to implement it, and Congressional opponents tried to defeat the appropriation, which was approved by a 51-48 margin on April 30, 1796. Click here for more background on the treaty and controversy.

On June 23, 1819, Texas declared its independence from Spain.

On June 24, 1853, President Franklin Pierce signed the Gadsden Purchase, acquiring what it now southern Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico.

On June 23, 1862, General Robert E. Lee met with his commanders in preparation for what would be known as the Seven Days’ Battles.

General Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River toward Pennsylvania on June 24, 1863.

On June 23, 1865, Georgia-born Cherokee Stand Watie became the last Confederate general to surrender.

On June 25, 1868, the United States Congress provisionally readmitted Georgia to the Union following the Civil War with the requirements that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and never deprive any citizens of voting rights.

On June 25, 1876, Indians under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

John R. Lynch was the first African-American elected Chairman of the Republican National Convention on June 24, 1884; Lynch was nominated by Theodore Roosevelt.

Woodrow Wilson married Ellen Louise Axson of Rome, Georgia in Savannah on June 24, 1885.

On June 23, 1888, Frederick Douglass became the first African-American nominated for President, receiving one vote from Kentucky at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention nominated Benjamin Harrison for President of the United States; Harrison’s grandfather was William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin from all road, rail, and barge traffic.

Following World War II, Germany was divided into occupation zones. The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and, eventually, France, were given specific zones to occupy in which they were to accept the surrender of Nazi forces and restore order. The Soviet Union occupied most of eastern Germany, while the other Allied nations occupied western Germany. The German capital of Berlin was similarly divided into four zones of occupation.

The United States response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin was undertaken in what was to become one of the greatest logistical efforts in history. For the Soviets, the escapade quickly became a diplomatic embarrassment. Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission. And the successful American airlift merely served to accentuate the technological superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union. On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade.

General Lucius D. Clay of Marietta, Georgia was military Governor of occupied Germany at that time.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in West Germany on June 24, 1977. It’s astounding.

Rickey Henderson made his major league debut with the Oakland A’s on June 24, 1979, stealing his first base.

On June 24, 1982, the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution was defeated, having garnered the ratification of thirty-five states, three shy of the requisite Constitutional Majority.

Hopes for ratification before the deadline next Wednesday were dashed this week when the amendment was rejected by the Illinois House and the Florida Senate, two states in which supporters felt they had a fighting chance.

Had Illinois and Florida ratified the amendment, there was at least some chance that either Oklahoma or North Carolina would have provided the final needed vote.

Prospects were far slimmer in the other nonratifying states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Phyllis Schlafly, a leader of a group called Stop-ERA, hailed the defeat of the amendment tonight, saying: ”They realized E.R.A. is dead and I think that that is an admission they have lost the battle. My feeling is that E.R.A. will take its place with the prohibition and the child labor amendments as ones which did not have enough support of the American people to be in the Constitution.”

On June 25, 1990, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Georgia v. South Carolina, a boundary dispute. From Wikipedia:

A… 1922 Supreme Court decision, also called Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U. S. 516, also held that all islands in the river belong to Georgia, but that the border should be in the middle of the river between the two shores, with the border half way between any island and the South Carolina shore.

Since the 1922 case, a number of new islands were created in the river between the city of Savannah and the ocean, due to the deposit of dredging spoilage or the natural deposit of sediments. In some cases, the new islands were on the South Carolina side of the previously drawn boundary, and Georgia claimed that once a new island emerged, the border should be moved to the midpoint between the new island and the South Carolina shore of the river. In some cases, the state of South Carolina had been collecting property tax from the land owners and policing the land in question for a number of years.

When an island causes the border to leave the middle of the river, it raises the question as to how the border line should return to the middle of the river at each end of the island. South Carolina advocated a right angle bend at each tip of the island, while Georgia advocated a “triequidistant” method which kept the border an equal distance between the two shores and the tip of the island (resulting in a smooth curve.

Former Atlanta mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. died on June 23, 2003.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov. Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal helped open the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College.

A total of $5.1 million in funding was allocated to establish the Milledgeville facility, which was dedicated in honor of First Lady Deal as a surprise. The Center’s mission to improve Georgia’s literacy rate is founded in research-based practices for children from birth to age eight, providing support to educators in K-3 classrooms, child care centers and preschools through professional learning and training.

“Today marks a pivotal milestone for both Georgia’s educators and youngest learners,” said Deal. “Sandra has selflessly devoted her platform as first lady to childhood education, and the Center could not be named after a more appropriate advocate. We strongly believe that early language development and literacy are vital skills for putting our young children on the path to success, and the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy will work tirelessly to ensure our educators are equipped with the right tools and instruction to get them there. I commend the members of the General Assembly for working with me to bring the Center to life, and I look forward to working with its governing board as it works to foster a positive impact on children, families, educators and communities across our state.”

Deal first announced plans for the Center in February as part of his Amended Fiscal Year 2017 (AFY 2017) and proposed FY 2018 budgets. $2.4 million was allocated in the AFY 2017 budget for the initiative, with an additional $2.7 million proposed for the FY 2018 budget. The Center will work with universities, technical college early childhood education programs, alternative educator preparation programs and other public and private stakeholders to engage the community at large. Current staff and partners have been collaborating with many state agencies with the goal to provide access to and the ability to reach all counties in Georgia.

“As a former educator, I believe the better we prepare and strengthen the skills of our teachers, the more capable and confident they will be in diagnosing road blocks to achievement and helping children become successful,” said First Lady Sandra Deal. “The ability to read well and understand the content is the gift that keeps on giving. This priceless gift provides self-confidence and positive life choices, and it is a crucial economic tool we can give to the State of Georgia.”

For more information about the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy, visit www.galiteracycenter.org.

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Sandra Deal CenterGov. Deal also announced the appointment of Billy D. Nelson, Jr. as Solicitor General for the State Court of Long County, filling a vacancy created when he named Mark Hendrix as Solicitor General for Liberty County.

Gwinnett County Republican Party changed the location of tomorrow’s cookout to the Gwinnett GOP HQ in the lower level of Gwinnett Place Mall.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue, in his new role as Secretary of Agriculture in the Trump Administration, hosted his counterparts from Canada and Mexico in Savannah.

On a day the Commerce Department announced the U.S. trade deficit rose to its highest level in a year during the first quarter, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue set the table for NAFTA renegotiations, hosting the agricultural ministers of Canada and Mexico in Savannah for their first trilateral talks on the issue.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, Perdue and his North American counterparts — Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and Jose Calzada, Mexican secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food — agreed the 23-year-old agreement has produced more positives for agriculture interests than negatives.

“We three are aligned in that NAFTA has been relatively good for the ag sectors of all three countries,” [Perdue] said. “The purpose of this meeting is not heavy negotiations on NAFTA — that will be done by our trade negotiators. Rather, it’s important for all three countries that we develop personal relationships of trust and candor with one another as we discuss the issues before us on NAFTA renegotiations.

The National Park Service is intervening in a dispute over allowing development on Cumberland Island.

Most of Cumberland Island is a national park, including 9,000 acres that are designated as wilderness. Beloved for its maritime forest and its deserted beaches covered with the enormous driftwood “bones,” the descendants of the island’s wealthy owners still own about 800 acres outright. When the heirs of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler late last year asked to subdivide their 88-acre tract near the park’s popular Sea Camp, it set into motion a wider debate about development on the island.

The county had negotiated with property owners as well as representatives of environmental groups to come up with a compromise zoning district for the island. A recent draft of that zoning district allowed a density of one home per 15 acres of private land and offered even greater density if owners agreed to cluster homes. But before the county commission could vote on the proposal, the parties met with the National Park Service.

“During that meeting the NPS director expressed interest in taking the lead in negotiations,” Camden Planning Director Eric Landon wrote in a memo to the commissioners. “This would require the county to delay action and allow the NPS additional time to work with each party individually.”

In a letter dated June 9, Cumberland Island National Seashore Superintendant Gary Ingram encouraged the progress already made and noted “the situation involves a difficult balance between private property concerns and the preservation of the character and purposes for which Cumberland Island National Seashore was established. The complexity is increased further by the number and diversity of the interests involved.”

Augusta University announced it is opening a School of Computer and Cyber Sciences.

In light of the $60 million investment the state is making in the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, Augusta University is “upping our game” in cyber and computer sciences programs by creating a new school, President Brooks Keel announced Thursday morning.

AU will create the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, making it the university’s 10th separate college or school, and will have a national search to find a dean, Keel said.

“It gives it more prominence, more focus and allows us to strategically think more carefully about how we move forward and puts it in a place where we can really shine a light on it,” he said.

Muscogee County Board of Education members may be deposed in a suit against the board.

The same day the Muscogee County School Board had its annual training about proper conduct for a governing body, the board’s attorney informed its members that two members had volunteered to be subpoenaed by an attorney filing suit against the school board.

Board attorney Greg Ellington on Thursday forwarded to members an email from District 8 representative Frank Myers to the attorneys for Montravious Thomas and his mother, who in March filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Muscogee County School District and other defendants. The lawsuit alleges contracted behavioral specialist Bryant Mosley body-slammed Montravious, then 13, “no less than” five times while trying to discipline him Sept. 12 in the Edgewood Student Services Center. The lawsuit also alleges the injuries Montravious suffered during the confrontation resulted in his right leg being amputated below the knee Oct. 18.

In his email to Montravious’ attorneys, Renee Tucker and Forrest Johnson of the law firm Forrest B. Johnson & Associates, Myers wrote, “I have what I believe is very relevant information regarding that case. I believe the evidence I possess would be very important to the goal of seeing that justice is served upon everyone involved in this matter.”

Myers asked Montravious’ attorneys to “put me under subpoena and take my deposition regarding these issues in the very near future.”

Myers added, “I am also authorized to share with you that John Thomas would not object to being placed under subpoena for the same purpose.”

Houston County Board of Elections member Tony Robbins was recognized for 44 years of service on the board.

“He is not retiring from the Board of Elections,” Stalnaker said. “We just felt like he needed to be acknowledged for the time that he has served.”

Robbins explained that he is the Republican appointee on the board, serving with Democratic Party appointee Kathy Shelton and three others appointed by the county commission.

“We have partisan appointments, but when it comes to the elections, for our citizens, we don’t know a party,” he said. “We make sure it’s done fairly, correctly and we do our best to get people in and out.”

Hall County Public Schools will have their own drug dog patrolling the halls.

The district announced its plans for the dog, which was part of a $50,000 budget request to keep drugs out of county schools, on Thursday.

The drug-sniffing dog would be owned by the school system, according to the announcement from district spokesman Gordon Higgins. The dog will cost an estimated $15,000, according to Higgins, including the cost of the animal, its training, equipment and food. Veterinary services are being donated.

Gwinnett County Commissioners are considering their options on property tax rates after significant growth in the value of the tax digest.

Chief Finance Officer Maria Woods and Chief Tax Appraiser Stewart Holiver told commissioners on Tuesday Gwinnett’s preliminary tax digest is expected to have grown by nearly $1.4 billion over the last year. That means growth from $27.5 billion in 2016 to $28.9 billion this year.

“What we’re seeing from the (2016) to (2017) digest is close to a five percent increase in the digest,” Woods said.

Woods presented commissioners with four possible millage rates to chose from. The options presented to commissioners on include a rollback rate of 12.718 mills, keeping the rate at 13.176 mills, or raising it to either 13.75 or 14.176 mills. Commissioners are expected to set a rate at their July 18 meeting.

Two public hearings would be held the week before that vote, while a third public hearing would be held the same week as the vote.

Grayson City Council set July 10 and 17 for public meetings on the property tax millage rate.

Cobb County Commissioners may levy a “blight tax” as part of a “Community Redevelopment Tax Incentive Program.”

A Lesson from CD-6?

Emory University Professor of Political Science Alan Abramowitz writes about “The Real Lessons of Handel-Ossoff.”

To win this race, Jon Ossoff had to get a large share of the 6th’s anti-Trump Republicans to vote for him. To do this, he ran a campaign aimed at convincing these GOP voters that he was a safe choice by playing down his liberal views and emphasizing his support for reducing the deficit and cutting wasteful government spending. The hope was that projecting a moderate image would make it easier for soft Republicans to cross party lines in the special election.

But there was a major problem with Ossoff’s strategy: Karen Handel was not Donald Trump, and the Ossoff campaign failed to effectively tie Handel to Trump. Polls in the district found that Trump was unpopular, as was the GOP’s health-care plan, which had been crafted largely by Tom Price and was strongly supported by Handel.

But the Ossoff campaign did not strongly go after Handel for her support of either Trump or the American Health Care Act.

Partisanship is a very powerful force in American politics today. Dislike of the opposing party is so strong that it is very difficult to convince voters to cross party lines for any reason.

Healthcare

Georgia’s opioid crisis may also be affecting job creation and economic development.

The state’s emerging opioid crisis may be partly to blame for the workforce shortages stymieing local efforts to attract new jobs.

This was one of the revelations from the second meeting of the state’s new House Rural Development Council, which met recently in Toccoa. The group of legislators is tasked with identifying potential policy fixes for the economic challenges facing the rural Georgia.

“We have a drug problem in Stephens County, and it’s a big one and it does impact the labor force,” Barry Roberts, director of operations for ASI Southeast, told legislators Friday during a meeting that was livestreamed.

The substance-abuse problem, which manifests itself at ASI Southeast as failed drug tests, is one issue that “needs to be on your radar,” he told state lawmakers.

It’s not a problem unique to the northeast Georgia community, though. Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is monitoring the growing statewide impact of the opioid crisis.

“I’ve talked to my peers up in the Northeast, where this epidemic started, about the impact it’s having on the economy and their workforce, and we’re starting to see that here,” Clark said.

Medicaid cuts being discussed as part of health care reform in Washington would have a greater impact on Georgia’s children’s hospitals, according to a report.

“Hospitals in Georgia stand to lose an estimated $3.4 billion of Georgia’s $4 billion in total Medicaid cuts over the next 10 years,” according to the study. “Communities in regions across the state are at risk, as opposed to just one or two large cities.”

The study projected the largest losses in Medicaid funding – $1.6 billion – would occur in metro Atlanta, followed by $265 million in Northwest Georgia.

Rural areas would also be hit hard by reductions in Medicare and Medicaid.

Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding.

“A lot of hospitals like [ours] could get hurt,” says Kerry Noble, CEO of Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems, the public hospital in the poorest county in Missouri.

And a rural hospital closure goes beyond people losing health care. Jobs, property values and even schools can suffer. Pemiscot County already has the state’s highest unemployment rate. Losing the hospital would mean losing the county’s largest employer.

“It would be devastating economically,” Noble says. “Our annual payrolls are around $20 million a year.”

“Medicaid cuts are always hard to rural hospitals,” Watson says. “People have less employer-sponsored coverage in rural areas and people are relying more on Medicaid and on Medicare.”

2018 Elections

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) has been endorsed by the conservative GOPAC.

The board of directors for GOPAC announced it is endorsing the Duluth-based senator in the campaign. It is the highest profile endorsement Shafer has gotten so far, joining a list of backers that includes philanthropist Bernie Marcus, state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens and every member of the Public Service Commission.

“Senator David Shafer’s success at leading the Georgia Senate to pass policies to increase economic and personal security leads the roster of reasons the GOPAC Election Fund will work to elect him as Georgia’s next lieutenant governor,” GOPAC Chairman Dave Avella said.

According to the organization’s website, it played a key part in the “Republican Revolution” of 1994, where the GOP took control of Congress and Gingrich became Speaker of the House.

“I am proud to accept this endorsement from an organization that has played such an important role in the history of the modern conservative movement,” Shafer said.

The news about GOPAC’s endorsement comes as Shafer prepares to hold a campaign fundraiser in Buckhead next week. The event will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at War Horse, 3290 Northside Parkway, in Atlanta.

An event posting on Facebook shows supporters can either make contributions to his campaign during the event, or mail them to David Shafer for Georgia Inc., P.O. Box 880, Duluth, Ga. 30096.

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