Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 27, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 27, 2016

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 27, 1864, Sherman’s Union forces attacked General Johnston’s Confederates at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

One year later, the Military Department of Georgia was created to oversee Reconstruction in the state.

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.

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 26, 1918, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the Eighteenth Amendment, which outlawed the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol. Governor Hugh Dorsey did not sign it for nearly a week, but the United States Secretary of State considers an Amendment ratified when the state legislature has voted on final passage.

The Gone with the Wind scene that includes the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was filmed on June 27, 1939, along with an alternate that used the line, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t care.”

On June 26, 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco.

The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948 after the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin, which was occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France.

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).

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Deal took umbrage at the AJC’s suggestion he ducked the Georgia Republican Party State Convention earlier this month.

“I’ll send you a dictionary so you can learn how to spell valedictorian.”

Gov. Nathan Deal greeted us with those words Tuesday, and it wasn’t because of a typo. He was taking umbrage with the coverage of his decision to skip this month’s Georgia GOP convention.

The governor sent word about a week before the convention that he wouldn’t attend because he was hosting more than 1,000 high school valedictorians at the Governor’s Mansion. But his decision also came as GOP activists threatened a sharp rebuke of the Republican for his controversial vetoes.

Said the governor:

“You did a disservice to me. You did a disservice to those graduates. This was the 23d consecutive year that governors have hosted valedictorians’ day at the governor’s mansion. Not a word was put in the print media about that being the reason I was in Augusta. That was not fair, that was not balanced reporting.

“I would like to know how many Republican delegates would have suggested to a Republican governor that he break a 23 year tradition to honor valedictorians and their families so he would be with them. Sandra and I stood there and took some 1,300 pictures and shook most of their hands over Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. I think that was the appropriate place for the governor to be.”

“To the GOP leadership, they should have looked at the governor’s schedule when they changed the date of the state Republican convention. They apparently did not bother to find out this was a 23-year tradition.”

Congratulations to Leah Levell, Bruce Levell’s daughter, who will begin work at the Republican National Committee as a member of the Strategic Initiatives team.

In her new role, announced Friday, LeVell is expected to help to craft a message for the RNC that will focus on engaging HBCUs and young Black voters this election cycle.

The 21-year-old rising college senior will be based in Washington, D.C. and will work closely with the RNC’s Director of African American Initiatives and Urban Media, Telly Lovelace.

Tamar Hallerman writes in the AJC Political Insider that Congressman Lynn Westmoreland will endorse Drew Ferguson in the runoff election to succeed him.

The Coweta County Republican said Ferguson, who faces the state senator July 26, is “a strong, conservative voice for hard-working Georgians.”

“Drew knows that through building our local economy, creating stable jobs, and fostering economic opportunity that our community will perform at its best,” Westmoreland said in a statement.

The two are campaigning together today at Sprayberry’s in Newnan.

After virtually tying in the May 24 primary, Crane and Ferguson have spent the weeks since stock-piling endorsements, the former from prominent conservatives– Sen. Ted Cruz and radio provocateur Erick Erickson are the most recent — and the latter basically everybody else. Ferguson has snagged nods from the other five Republican challengers in the race who did not make the runoff last month.

Incumbent Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas will face challenger Michael Moore in a July 26 runoff election.

In DeKalb County Commission District 4, Steve Bradshaw is scheduled to appear at a forum with incumbent Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton on Thursday night.

Providing mental health care for inmates is a major issue for the Dougherty County Jail, where one-third of prisoners suffer from a mental health disability, according to the Albany Herald.

Appling County attorney Stephen Tillman will take over as the Brunswick Judicial Circuit Public Defender, covering Appling, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Wayne and Camden Counties.

More than 350 citations were issued last Thursday night in Hall County during the “Operation Thunder Task Force” high-profile traffic enforcement action.

The Savannah NAACP Political Action Committee held a forum to discuss increasing voter turnout in this year’s elections.

In the most recent election on May 24, Chatham County’s voter turnout was only 17 percent.

At the forum, NAACP members and others in attendance were given progress updates on the three facets of the empowerment campaign: voter registration, voter education and getting voters to the polls.

Linda Carter, executive committee secretary for the Savannah NAACP and head of the voter registration effort in the empowerment campaign, said that registration isn’t as much of a problem as education and getting people to the polls.

Another major piece to the puzzle is inspiring millennials to register and vote, Jackson said.

“I think it’s apathy and people not really knowing the issues. This is something that’s happening across the country. It’s mainly just motivating our young people”

Former Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau finds himself facing the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

On Thursday, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission found probable cause that former Gwinnett Commissioner Mike Beaudreau broke the law during his 2014 bid for state Senate by accepting four campaign contributions exceeding contribution limits, failing to file required disclosure reports for three of those contributions (though they were disclosed on later reports) and failing to disclose the general purpose of his spending, including the expenditure recipients, on eight occasions.

At Thursday’s meeting, Beaudreau attributed the civil violations to the death of his campaign treasurer during the 2014 campaign. He said his campaign should have divided the contributions that exceeded limits for a single election into two elections — a primary and a primary runoff. And he characterized all the violations as simply clerical errors.

Beaudreau faces more than $13,000 in civil penalties for the alleged violations, but the amount is likely to be reduced. The commission gave him 60 days to work out a settlement agreement with the agency’s attorneys.

It appears the Commission is taking a tougher stance on violations and working to relieve the backlog that built up over years of leadership drama.

The Hall County Commission will vote tonight on the FY2017 county budget.

Dunwoody City Council rejected a proposal to prevent Dunwoody Homeowners Association members from serving on city boards.

Lower water levels at Lake Lanier have officials watching water flows.

[U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Natural Resources Manager Nick] Baggett, who oversees Lake Lanier for the corps, said the lake isn’t at a crisis point yet. However, he added there are reasons for officials, as well as people who either live on the lake or use it for recreation, to keep an eye on its water levels and use caution.

Lake Lanier’s full pool level is 1,071 feet mean sea level, and the lake is now more than three feet below that. Rocks around the base of red hazard pole behind the Lake Lanier Management Office and Visitor’s Center are currently above the water line, as are several other rocks along the shoreline that are normally just at or under the water line.

“We’re in a drought, and whenever we’re in a drought it affects our whole system,” Baggett said.

The Gainesville Times looks at the procedures in a lawsuit between Georgia and Florida over waterflows from Lake Lanier and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

If Georgia and Florida settle before the trial this fall, “then obviously somebody has got to implement whatever the settlement terms are,” Morris said. “If they don’t settle, then somebody has got to implement whatever the court decrees.”

The trial, set to start Oct. 31, centers around a lawsuit filed by Florida against Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Florida is basically accusing Georgia of “overconsumption” of water in the basin, leading to economic troubles for Florida’s oyster industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Georgia has denied the allegations.

Ralph I. Lancaster, a Maine lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the case, would preside over the trial, which would be held in U.S. District Court.

He “doesn’t have the authority to rule (in the case),” Morris said. “He will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court, then it’s up to justices to actually render an order.”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said he believes if the case moves to trial, “I would feel good from Georgia’s position in that we have a history here,” Collins said. “We have won in court, we have won in appeal and Georgia has been a leader in conservation.

“We’re being good stewards of the resources we have and, frankly, Alabama and Florida, in many instances, wouldn’t know water conservation if it hit them upside the head.”


Gators aren’t just a problem for Florida – the beach at Reed Bingham State Park in Adel was recently closed so that professional trappers could remove alligators who were getting too close to people.

Panama Canal sends larger ships to Savannah

Larger “New Panamax” container ships are now transiting the Panama Canal, as new locks are opened for business.

The waterway’s capacity doubles with the new locks, and canal authorities are hoping to better compete with the Suez Canal in Egypt and tap new markets such as natural gas shipments between the United States and Asia.

“The Panama Canal, with this expansion, is an important player not only for regional maritime commerce but worldwide,” said Oscar Bazan, the Panama Canal Authority’s executive vice president for planning and commercial development. “The canal is a winning bet.”

Authorities said Sunday said that 85 percent of the 166 reserved crossings scheduled for the next three months are for container ships. Container cargo accounts for nearly 50 percent of the canal’s overall income.

While authorities anticipate increasing commerce between Asia and ports on the U.S. East Coast, doubts remain that not all those ports are ready to handle the huge New Panamex-class cargo ships. Net cargo volume through the canal from the U.S. East Coast toward Asia fell 10.2 percent in 2015, according to official statistics. Meanwhile, the Suez recently lowered tariffs by up to 65 percent on large container carriers in an attempt to keep its traffic.

“It’s important to remember that the canal does not create demand. The canal opens the route. Supply and demand on a world level is what will decide whether the Panama Canal will really bring more volume or not,” said Antonio Dominguez, a general manager for global shipping leader Maersk Line, which moves about 14.2 percent of world commerce. “What is certain is that the current canal has maxed out.”

Harbor deepening at the Port of Savannah continues to allow larger container ships to be loaded and unloaded.

State and U.S. taxpayers are betting $706 million — the cost of deepening the Savannah River so larger ships can use it — on the hoped-for benefits of an expanded canal.

More cargo, revenue and jobs will come Georgia’s way, backers say, with metro Atlanta and its welter of warehouses and trucking terminals taking the lion’s share of new business.

“No one knows with absolute certainty what it means for Georgia and the East Coast,” said Griff Lynch, incoming executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, who’s in Panama for the festivities. “But people feel confident that there will be some incremental growth to Savannah, Georgia, Atlanta and other locations in the Southeast.”

The stakes for Atlanta and its network of distribution centers, trucking companies, rail yards and logistics firms, are huge.

Savannah and the port of Brunswick account for an estimated $40 billion in statewide economic impact, according to the University of Georgia, with most activity in and around metro Atlanta.

Power Plants and Plans

The Albany Herald takes a look at plans by Georgia Power to consider whether a location in Stewart County would be appropriate for a third nuclear reactor site in the future.

“One of many points of discussion during this IRP process has been the property and preliminary activities in Stewart County,” GPC spokesperson John Kraft said. “We are committed to preserving the option to build new nuclear generation to meet customers’ electric needs in the most reliable and cost-effective manner. However, Georgia Power has not committed to building another nuclear plant or announced any plans.”

Kraft stressed that no decision had been made on the construction of a future plant and that the company is just preserving its future options.

“We have only taken steps to preserve nuclear as an option for the future, such as selecting the site in Stewart County that is suitable for further study and evaluation,” Kraft said. “Again, we are only undertaking activities that are required given the long lead times associated with the development, licensing and construction of nuclear generation.”

The company has begun preliminary work, including geological and water studies, on the 7,000-acre tract.

“Making this decision requires thorough and detailed and years of effort to gain the necessary regulatory approvals,” GPC Chairman, President and CEO Paul Bowers said in a recent news release. “We continue to believe that nuclear energy is a vital part of a diversified generation mix for our customers and the state of Georgia.”

As GPC learned with the new units at Vogtle, it takes about seven years to secure a combined construction and operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and then another decade after that to build a nuclear plant. At the earliest, it would be after 2030 before a new nuclear plant would be built, Bowers said.

The company also agreed to add 1200 megawatts of solar over the next five years.

In a stipulation with the PSC staff signed Thursday, Georgia Power agreed to add 1,050 megawatts of utility-scale renewable power through two requests for proposals the Atlanta-based utility intends to issue next year and in 2019. The first 525 megawatts would go into service in 2018 and 2019, while the other 525 would go on line in 2020 and 2021.

In addition, Georgia Power will make its most significant commitment to date to distributed generation of renewable energy, typically smaller-scale solar projects installed on rooftops of homes or businesses. The agreement calls for 150 megawatts of distributed generation by the end of 2018.

“This agreement represents hours and hours of negotiations on behalf of ratepayers,” Commissioner Tim Echols said.

“We are pleased to have reached a stipulated agreement with the Georgia PSC … staff that balances the elements of our long-term energy plan and furthers our ability to deliver reliable and affordable energy for our 2.5 million customers,” Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft added.

The various renewable provisions in the agreement are part of Georgia Power’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative, a key element in the 2016 Integrated Resource Plan the company filed with the PSC last January. Georgia Power submits an IRP every three years, outlining the mix of energy sources it plans to rely on to meet customer needs during the next two decades.

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