Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 3, 2024

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 3, 2024

Benjamin Franklin became Georgia’s agent in England on June 1, 1768, making him also Georgia’s first lobbyist.

On June 2, 1774, Britain’s Parliament passed the Quartering Act, the last of the Coercive Acts, meant to punish the American colonies and reassert British control. Eventually, the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution would prohibit the forcible quartering of soldiers in private homes.

On June 1, 1775, Georgia patriots sent a care package to their brethren in Massachusetts comprising 63 barrels of rice and £122 after the battles at Lexington and Concord.

The court martial of Benedict Arnold convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 1, 1779.

Arnold negotiated his defection to the British and the subversion of West Point over several months. The British already held control of New York City and believed that by taking West Point they could effectively cut off the American’s New England forces from the rest of the fledgling nation.

In August 1780, Sir Henry Clinton offered Arnold £20,000 for delivering West Point and 3,000 troops. Arnold told General Washington that West Point was adequately prepared for an attack even though he was busy making sure that that it really wasn’t. He even tried to set up General Washington’s capture as a bonus. His plan might have been successful but his message was delivered too late and Washington escaped. The West Point surrender was also foiled when an American colonel ignored Arnold’s order not to fire on an approaching British ship.

Arnold’s defection was revealed to the Americans when British officer John André, acting as a messenger, was robbed by AWOL Americans working as pirates in the woods north of New York City. The notes revealing Arnold’s traitorous agreement were stashed in his boots.

The Treaty of Augusta was signed on May 31, 1783, between the Creek Indians and Georgia Commissioners. A second, identical document would be signed on November 1 of that year.

The first graduation ceremony for the University of Georgia was held on May 31, 1804.

On May 29, 1836, the United States Senate ratified the Treaty of New Echota, which required the movement of all Cherokee out of Georgia and led to the “Trail of Tears.”

Savannah-born John C. Fremont was nominated for President of the United States by the Radical Republicans on May 31, 1864. Fremont had previously been nominated for President by the Republican Party as their first presidential candidate in 1856.

Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding forces west of the Mississippi, surrendered on June 2, 1865, and this date is generally considered the end of the Civil War.

The Capital City Club in Atlanta was chartered on May 31, 1889.

United States Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan certified the 17th Amendment as part of the Constitution on May 31, 1913, authorizing the direct election of United States Senators. Georgia never ratified the Amendment.

On May 30, 1922, Chief Justice of the United States William H. Taft dedicated the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Inside the memorial is a seated statue of Lincoln by Daniel Chester French carved from 175 tons of Georgia white marble.

French also created the statue of Jame Oglethorpe that stands in Chippewa Square in Savannah and a seated statue of Samuel Spencer considered to be a prototype of the Lincoln carving. Samuel Spencer was the first President of Southern Railway and was originally located at the rail station in downtown Atlanta before moving to the Southern Railway passenger station in Buckhead in the 1970s and is currently at 1200 Peachtree Street in front of Norfolk Southern.

On June 3, 1941, Georgia voters ratified a Constitutional Amendment extending the term of office for Governor and the other Constitutional Officers from two years to four. Governor Eugene Talmadge campaigned for the Amendment, hoping to serve a four-year term after the two-year term he currently held, but was defeated in the 1942 Democratic Primary by Ellis Arnall. Remember this phrase: legislation almost always has unintended consequences.

On May 29, 1942, Adolf Hitler ordered all Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris to wear a yellow Star of David on their coats.

On June 1, 1942, a Polish newspaper first published information about the gassing of Jews at Nazi concentration camps in Poland.

On June 3, 1942, Curtis Mayfield was born in Chicago, Illinois and would later live in Atlanta, dying in Roswell in 1999.

On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa, became the first to summit Mount Everest.

On May 28, Tenzing and Hillary set out, setting up high camp at 27,900 feet. After a freezing, sleepless night, the pair plodded on, reaching the South Summit by 9 a.m. and a steep rocky step, some 40 feet high, about an hour later. Wedging himself in a crack in the face, Hillary inched himself up what was thereafter known as the Hillary Step. Hillary threw down a rope, and Norgay followed. At about 11:30 a.m., the climbers arrived at the top of the world.

News of the success was rushed by runner from the expedition’s base camp to the radio post at Namche Bazar, and then sent by coded message to London, where Queen Elizabeth II learned of the achievement on June 1, the eve of her coronation. The next day, the news broke around the world. Later that year, Hillary and Hunt were knighted by the queen. Norgay, because he was not a citizen of a Commonwealth nation, received the lesser British Empire Medal.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2, 1953.

On June 2, 1962, Georgia-born Ray Charles hit #1 on the charts with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

On the morning of June 3, 1962, a plane carrying 106 Georgians crashed on take-off from Orly near Paris, the deadliest crash in aviation to that date.

The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 1, 1967. The album is listed as #1 on the Rolling Stone top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song’s regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of “A Day in the Life,” the 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles’ eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.

Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America, Sgt. Pepper is also rock’s ultimate declaration of change. For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and assembly-line record-making. “We were fed up with being Beatles,” McCartney said decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles’ McCartney biography. “We were not boys, we were men… artists rather than performers.

“It was a peak,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970, describing both the album and his collaborative relationship with McCartney. “Paul and I were definitely working together,” Lennon said….

Rolling Stone should stick to writing about music.

Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter appeared on the cover of Time magazine on May 31, 1971.

Carter Time Cover 1971

On June 3, 1980, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter had amassed enough delegates to assure his nomination in the Democratic Primary for President.

On June 2, 1989, Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams, was released in theaters.

A summit between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev ended on May 31, 1988. Four years later, in 1992, Gorbachev was dancing for dollars in the United States, including the keynote address at Emory University’s graduation.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Lowndes County Republican Party Chair Gary McMillan says the Trump conviction won’t affect the Presidential election in Georgia, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“Those charges were, to use a phrase, ‘trumped-up,’ ” said Gary McMillan, chairman of the Lowndes County Republican Party. “He didn’t do anything wrong. This was a political act, not criminal.”

The conviction would have no effect on this November’s presidential race, in which Trump is a candidate, McMillan said.

The county GOP leader said his own vote in November — for Trump — would not be changed.

McMillan also said he expects Lowndes County’s vote to go to Trump this November. “That’s because we’re predominantly a Republican county.”

In the 2016 presidential race, when Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the Republican candidate carried the county with 25,692 voters, or 57.9% of the electorate, while Clinton took only 14,614 votes, or 39.7% of voters. Trump won the presidency that year.

In the 2020 race, Trump carried Lowndes again with 25,692 votes, or 55%, while Democrat Joe Biden took 20,116 votes, or 44%. Trump lost the presidency that year, but has never admitted defeat.

The Columbia County Republican Party rallied in support of former President Trump, according to WJBF.

“We wanted to come out and make sure that we showed our support for Donald Trump, and so we wanted to pull the community together and make sure that we were sending a message to America,” said Joe Edlemon, Columbia Country Republican Party Chairman.

A few days after former President Trump was found guilty, the Columbia County Republican Party wanted to show that they still supported him.

“We believe God has Donald Trump in this position for a reason,” said Diana Endres, an attendee.

More than one hundred people attended the rally. Congressman Rick Allen and other representatives were there to speak and show their support for Trump.

“President Trump has done is sacrifice himself, his business and his reputation to save this country,” said Rep. Rick Allen, (R-GA).

The election is November 5th. The biggest message today. Get out and vote.

“We got to get out and talk to the people that have never voted. Get them to understand why it’s important to vote. This whole country and our freedom is based on our voting systems,” said Rob Clifton, (R) State House District 131 Candidate.

Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post writes about local elected officials’ reactions to the Trump verdict.

“No one is above the law — including Donald Trump,” U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said.

“Nobody is above the law and today’s verdict, while a long time coming, does not change our mission in 2024 to re-elect President Biden to continue his work investing in Georgia, creating jobs and producing more opportunities for everyone,” Congresswoman and Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Nikema Williams said.

Gov. Brian Kemp accused prosecutors of being “driven by partisan politics,” and added voters will have the final say on the matter.

“The ultimate verdict is up to the American people on Nov. 5th when they will have a clear choice on the future of our country,” Kemp said.

“Total bull,” U.S. Rep. Mike Collins said. “President Trump was just found guilty in Biden’s Rigged Court. The Corrupt Deep State has weaponized the courts to attack their political opponent to sway the election away from a MAGA win.

“I’m all in on helping President Trump win against this Never-Ending Witch Hunt.”

That was a sentiment echoed by state Rep. David Clark, R-Buford, who called the verdict a “total sham” and predicted it will lead to a second Trump presidency.

“When a judge and DA run their elections on one thing only, to indict Trump and destroy him, that is not how our judicial or election system is supposed to be run,” Clark said. “When New York is plagued with massive crime and violence, and they let the criminals run rogue and create chaos in the streets while saying Trump is the biggest threat, it shows a 100% partisan bias attack to try and take down Trump for Biden.”

“America, overall, sees through this sham trial unless they are blinded by their hate for Trump. I believe Trump is about to have the biggest presidential win in history because people are tired of how our country is becoming a third-world judicial system.”

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde added, “Voters pay attention. They aren’t just coming after President Trump, they are coming after you and me … right now he’s just in the way.”

The Georgia Republican Party called it a “disgraceful decision in New York Kangaroo Court.”

United States District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner will serve as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, according to WALB.

Beginning Saturday, June 1, United States District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner assumed the duties of Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

Chief Judge Gardner, who is stationed in Albany, succeeds Judge Marc T. Treadwell of Macon, who served as Chief Judge from July 1, 2020, to May 31, 2024. Judge Treadwell will remain in active service on the court.

The chief judge assumes the position based upon seniority as authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 136 and the chief judge oversees the administrative operations of the court and is regarded as the “first among equals” among the judges of the court.

Chief Judge Gardner was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014, according to the release.

As Chief Judge, Judge Gardner will represent the Middle District of Georgia on the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Council.

It’s worth noting that Judge Gardner is the sister of former State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta).

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #05.30.24.01, appointing Matthew W. Rollins as Judge of the Superior Court of the Paulding Judicial Circuit and Executive Order #05.30.24.02, appointing the Matthew S. Swope as Judge of the State Court of Coweta County,

Governor Kemp attended a ceremony for the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

The third of four reactors at the plant south of August went into commercial operation last July, while the fourth came online last month.

“Vogtle 3 and 4 don’t just represent an incredible economic development asset for the state and a milestone for the entire country,” Kemp said during a ceremony at the plant in Burke County. “They also stand as physical examples of something I remind myself every day: ‘Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

“The men and women here in front of me are tough people, their coworkers are tough people, their businesses are tough, and they’ve outlived the tough times that stood in the way of making today possible.”

Kemp paid tribute to the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson for playing an instrumental role in building all four Vogtle reactors.

“It was Johnny who – when he was in the state House – worked to pass legislation enabling construction of Units 1 and 2,” the governor said. “And it was Johnny, as a powerful voice in the U.S. Senate, who championed and secured the production tax credits for Units 3 and 4.”

The “tough times” Georgia Power and its utility partners endured in making the Vogtle expansion a reality included seven years of delays that more than doubled the cost of the project from an original estimate of $14 billion to more than $30 billion.

The Georgia Public Service Commission voted late last year to let Georgia Power recover almost $7.6 billion of its share of those costs from ratepayers, while the company agreed to absorb about $2.6 billion. That’s expected to increase the average monthly residential customer’s bill by $8.97 for Unit 4, on top of a $5.42 rate hike that took effect when Unit 3 began operating.

Those inflated costs have prompted representatives of environmental and consumer advocacy groups to complain over the years of delays that Georgia Power should have more aggressively pursued renewable energy as a less costly alternative to the nuclear expansion.

United States Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also visited Vogtle, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited the plant near Waynesboro on Friday, capping a week of celebrations when Georgia Power showed off the newly operational Units 3 and 4.

While in the CSRA, Granholm called for more nuclear reactors to be built in the United States and worldwide because of their ability to produce power without emitting the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.

“It is now time for others to follow their lead to reach our goal of getting to net zero by 2050,” Granholm said. “We have to at least triple our current nuclear capacity in this country.”

Despite the tours and news conferences held by Georgia Power to tout the new units, some groups say it’s a bad project for Georgia.

In a 40-page report addressing issues with the project, six consumer groups found the average customer is paying another $420 a year, roughly $35 a month, for the construction project that finished seven years late and $17 billion over budget.

Georgia Power got permission to charge consumers for much of that tab.

Kim Scott with Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions cited concerns about how the project impacts customers. She says roughly 20,000 customers are disconnected in the state every month.

“Georgians are worried about inflation, Georgians are worried about how they’re going to pay not only their power bills but where they’re going to stay,” said Scott.

Granholm said the United States needs 98 more reactors with the capacity of Units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle to produce electricity while reducing climate-changing carbon emissions.

Chris Womack, CEO of Southern Co., the Atlanta-based parent company of Georgia Power, said he supports Granholm’s call for more nuclear power generation, but he added that his company won’t build more soon.

Cryptocurrency “mining” in data farms is becoming an issue in some Georgia communities, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Macon Telegraph.

Residents of Gilmer County in the North Georgia mountains recently beat back a proposed rezoning to allow a cryptocurrency server farm in that rural community. Just north of Gilmer, the Fannin County Commission has enacted a ban on crypto mining.

And several hundred miles to the south, the Southern Georgia Regional Commission, which represents 18 primarily rural counties, has published a model ordinance counties can use to put restrictions on the development of cryptocurrency farms.

Opponents complain that server farms generating cryptocurrency are extremely noisy, impose a huge drain on electricity and water resources, and don’t generate enough jobs to justify those negative consequences. For example, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, or digital currency. It was conceived as a way to let people make payments without going through third parties such as banks. It is not controlled by any government.

“It’s the biggest con on the public ever,” said Cyndie Roberson, cofounder of Gilmer County Citizens Against Crypto Mining, which brought out hundreds of residents to a meeting of the county’s planning commission to oppose the project.

The General Assembly took up the issue during this year’s session in the form of a bill aimed at growing the industry by offering a sales tax exemption on equipment purchased to equip cryptocurrency server farms and prohibiting local governments from passing noise ordinances specifically targeting crypto mining.

“Bitcoin mining is more than just an economic activity,” Bo Ginn, who manages the Sandersville crypto mining operation for Nevada-based CleanSpark Inc., told state lawmakers during a hearing on the bill in February.

“It’s an important technological advancement that brings substantial investment, innovation and job creation to Georgia, especially to our rural communities,” he said.

But Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, said she and her constituents have had a “terrible experience” since a crypto mining server farm began operating in Adel.

“The noise is absolutely atrocious,” she said. “They bring no money in, no jobs in, except for people who are there guarding the place.”

Houston also complained about the amount of electricity crypto mining uses. Large data centers are having an impact on Georgia’s power grid, as state lawmakers demonstrated this year when they passed legislation – subsequently vetoed by Gov. Brian Kemp – that would have temporarily suspended a tax break aimed at attracting more data centers to Georgia.

“We’ve built two (nuclear) reactors over at Plant Vogtle, and we’re using so much power, we’re going to have to build another one,” Houston said. “When we have to build another reactor, it’s going to be the taxpayers of this state who have to pay for it.”

Democrat Jason Carter did not rule out running for Governor of Georgia in 2026, according to 13WMAZ.

The former state senator and chair of the board of trustees at The Carter Center made the comments during an interview on 11Alive’s Sunday politics show, The Georgia Vote.

He previously ran unsuccessfully for governor as a Democrat in 2014. When asked if he plans to make another run for the office in 2026, Carter said he’s “not ruling it out.”

“My last experience didn’t go how I wanted, so it’s a much more difficult decision to make personally,” he said. “It’s important to see what the world looks like, how we’re all bringing things together, and whether we have the kind of candidates (in 2026) that are going to connect with people and do the work that needs to get done.”

He said he’s currently “hyper-focused on this 2024 election.”

Carter said both he and his grandfather will be supporting President Joe Biden.

“I think when we get to the fundamentals, by the time we get to November, you’re going to see an economic record from Biden, you’re going to see a real record on so many other issues, and you’re going to compare that to Trump’s record and those voters that right now are sort of not feeling the vibes maybe around Biden I think are going to come back,” said Carter.

“I think the people who voted to fire Donald Trump last time are going to be there to support Biden this time,” he added. “Including, by the way, my grandfather. And me.”

Carter also reflected on how Georgia politics have changed in the decades since Jimmy Carter was campaigning for state office.

“When we ran for governor, he lost in 1966 and ran again in 1970, and he told me that in that interim four years, he shook 600,000 hands,” said Jason Carter. “Just saw people where they were, met them, said ‘hi, I’m Jimmy Carter.’ And that kind of, even if it’s fleeting, that little personal connection was real. And today, our politics is so driven by fundraisers and donors and isolated candidates who are dealing with social media and other things that the biggest fear that I have–and I even felt it when I was running ten years ago–is that candidates just get isolated from regular people.”

Abigail Guzman was elected to the Gainesville City Council representing Ward 4, according to AccessWDUN.

Guzman defeated challenger Devin Pandy with 70.29% of the vote with 100% of precincts reporting. 3,494 Gainesville residents voted in this race.

That follows the passing of Longtime Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann in January at 72.

“I will say that my campaign experience has really been fantastic. It’s my very first time. I announced in January that I was running so we’ve been campaigning for four months now. And I have walked away from this experience with a full heart,” Guzman said. “I have gotten to meet amazing people in our community and nonprofits that I wouldn’t have had the privilege of knowing on that level had it not been because of this campaign. So I always felt like regardless of the outcome, like this morning, you know, I thought, regardless, I am walking away, a better person, a better human, a full heart and loving our community so much more. I already loved Gainesville, but after this campaign, it’s on another level.”

President Joe Biden appointed former Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Smyre, a Democrat from Columbus who served for 48 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, will join the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, which offers the president objective, expert advice on the conduct of U.S. intelligence.

During decades in the General Assembly, Smyre rose to become the “dean” of the House, serving as chairman of the House Rules Committee and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He played a key role in making Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a state holiday, replacing the 1950s-era state flag and its Confederate battle symbol with a new state flag, passing a hate crime law, and repealing Georgia’s 19th-century citizens arrest law.

Biden nominated Smyre in 2021 to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republican and switched it to ambassador to the Bahamas the following year. However, the U.S. Senate thus far has declined to confirm the nomination.

Last year, the State Department appointed Smyre to serve as the United States’ representative to the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Gwinnett County Commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to put a transit referendum on the November ballot, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

County commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on whether to call for a transit referendum. If approved — which previous actions by the commission indicate is likely to happen — the 30-year, 1% transit special purpose local option sales tax referendum will appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

“Gwinnett County desires to call for a referendum and to submit the list of transit projects to the qualified voters of the special district in the next scheduled election for their determination,” a resolution pending before the commission as part of its June 4 agenda packet states.

Earlier this year, commissioners voted to signal their intent to call a referendum, but the actual call for a vote could not take until after the May 21 primary took place.

If voters approve the referendum, it will pave the way for a major expansion of the county’s transit system, Ride Gwinnett. The cost would be $17 billion.

Nine Georgia county school systems will receive federal funding for electric buses, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Clayton, Douglas and Hall counties are among nine school districts in Georgia to be awarded millions from the latest bucket of federal money intended to replace the nation’s diesel and gas-powered school buses with cleaner vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday the recipients of $900 million in funding for “clean” buses — mostly electric, some propane — part of a five year, $5 billion program created by the bipartisan infrastructure law.

[Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael] Regan said with the latest funding, the program has provided about $3 billion so far to buy approximately 8,500 electric and alternative fuel buses in more than 1,000 communities nationwide. In Georgia, most of the districts receiving funding in this wave of grants are in rural parts of the state. The other county school districts receiving funds in this wave are: Atkinson, Baldwin, Brooks, Jeff Davis, Madison and Oglethorpe.

The biggest beneficiary in Georgia in this wave of funding is the Clayton County School District, which is slated to receive $8.7 million in this latest round. That’s on top of $9.8 million it received in the first round of federal funds. The school board also kicked in $2.9 million for charging infrastructure and Georgia Power provided some material support, according to the district’s executive director of transportation, Denise Hall.

Hall said the district had 467 buses prior to receiving funding from the EPA. She did not respond to a question about how many new electric buses they have purchased so far, but said they have installed 28 fast chargers and plan to have electric buses in service for the upcoming school year.

Hall said the district does not have a specific goal of completely electrifying its bus fleet, but will find “balance.”

Meanwhile, the City of Columbus has not begun to electrify their fleet, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Columbus has not yet pulled a lever committing to transition any of its nearly 4,000 city fleet vehicles to zero-emission electric vehicles. Nor has Macon.

While the other largest cities in the state are moving forward with converting their public vehicle fleets to electric, Columbus and Macon are not out of the starting gates yet, despite it being an effective step in combating climate change and public health.

Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah are years into the process of replacing gas-powered vehicles with EVs in the city’s fleet. Savannah in particular has over a quarter of its light-duty vehicles electrified; achieving sustainability goals that save the city money and lower carbon emissions.

Electrifying the city fleet is a powerful step to reduce pollution and fight climate change while lowering fuel and maintenance costs and setting an example for the community.

Neither Columbus nor Macon has a plan in place suggesting EVs will change. (Aside from the four, $400,000 dollar zero-emission Uptown Shuttle that roams Uptown Columbus, falling under Metra’s domain).

Fleet managers in Columbus and Macon blame a lack of charging infrastructure, a small government purchasing windows to purchase city vehicles, and confidence that cities have successful transitioned.

“Charging infrastructure is a big deal,” Keith Butler, fleet manager for Macon-Bibb County said. “You can’t decide what infrastructure you put in place until you know what vehicles you are going to be charging, and government vehicle choices are scarce.”

Columbus’ fleet manager, Andrea Owens, also says looking into charging stations and the cost to place them is the next step in beginning to electrify. “I’m not saying [going electric] is something we can’t do,” he said. “The cost of the charging stations would require buy-in from council.”

The City of Port Wentworth will host public meetings to discuss a proposed raise in the property tax millage rate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The City announced in a press release its intention to increase the 2024 property taxes by 34.36% over the rollback millage rate. This is a formula-based calculation for the rollback millage rate, not the current millage rate. The proposed increase will generate $848,000 in additional general funds for city operations, according to the city.

Every year, the board of tax assessors has to review the value of taxable property in the county. When there has been an increase in fair market value of any specific property, based on the trend of prices of properties that have recently been sold, the board of tax assessors is required by law to redetermine the value of such property and adjust the assessment.

When the total amount of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires a rollback millage rate that must be calculated to produce the same total revenue on the current years taxable property that last years’ millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

According to the press release, the budget tentatively adopted by the Port Wentworth city council requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate. Before the city can set a tentative budget and set a final millage rate, the state requires three public hearings to be held for the public to express their opinions on this increase.

Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch is proposing a budget that may include a partial rollback of the property tax millage rate, according to the Statesboro Herald.

During a public hearing Thursday evening, Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch acknowledged that the county government’s proposed fiscal year 2024-2025 budget is projected to use $2 million in accumulated fund balance, but he also indicated that a 1.4-mill rollback in the general property tax rate is possible.

That rollback would not be intended to reduce the county’s property tax revenue but could offset inflation in property values and produce a “neutral” amount of revenue, at the least same as last year’s. However, the separate fire fund millage rates are intended to remain unchanged. Two factors that remained unsettled as of the May 30 budget hearing were the final digest of taxable property values as determined by the Board of Tax Assessors and its staff, and the size of a surplus that will remain when the current budget closes June 30, after last year’s big tax increase.

“The general ad valorem tax rate will not be recommended tonight,” Couch said. “It’s a little premature, and it’s a little early. However, the team is willing to report that we’re confident that we can project perhaps a range that will be neutral or favorable to the county property taxpayers once the appeals are complete. The Board of Tax Assessors is still going through an appeals process, and there may be adjustments.”

Tybee Island City Council is considering a ban on short-term rentals, according to the Savannah Morning News.

After more than 20 property owners, residents and real estate agents spoke during the public hearing, Tybee Island City Council approved 4-1 the first reading of a text amendment to the short-term rental code of ordinances.

In early February, Nick Sears introduced the ordinance that would reduce the number of short-term rentals in residential districts R-1, R-1-B, and R-2 by terminating STR permits upon sale of the home. This change was met immediately with both heavy opposition and support, with homeowners coming to speak in the initial meeting for almost an hour.

Only six of the property owners that spoke during the public hearing Thursday supported the text amendment, including Shirley Wright, the chair of Forever Tybee, a non-profit that encourages resident engagement and participation on the island and in city government.

“I want to thank the council members for your courage in taking this on, and to do it for the good of Tybee and its residents now in the long term,” Wright said. “There are too many STRs on the island, especially in the residential areas.”

Tybee has about 3,300 properties, with half of those, 1,575, having STR permits and 747 of those in residential neighborhoods. Wright showed the council and members of the audience a YouTube video to demonstrate how many STRs were stacked on each other on the island.

“It’s too many rentals for a 3-mile island,” Wright said. “Many feel the absence of neighbors who once lived next door and miss what was once a cohesive neighborhood community.”

The remaining speakers all opposed the amendment, citing anything from an infringement of property rights to the potential impact to Tybee’s economy ― $2 to $3 million of Tybee’s revenue is from STRs.

The Savannah Morning News writes about the issues placed on the ballot by the political parties.

The Georgia GOP seems to care about elections. So much so that four out of eight ballot questions focused on the issue.

Some in the Republican Party have claimed “election interference” since they first spotted “suitcases full of ballots” on surveillance video in Fulton County during the 2020 election, though there has been no evidence to suggest widespread voter fraud.

Republicans also enacted changes to voting rules and made voting integrity a central campaign issue. In that context, it makes sense that these questions would appear on Republicans’ statewide ballots:

For future elections, do you want hand marked paper ballots, scanned and verified by hand count on live stream video?

In favor: 64.33% Opposed: 35.67%

Should the legislature ban registered lobbyists from serving on the State Elections Board?

In favor: 91.93% Opposed: 8.07%

Should the Georgia Republican Primary have a closed primary, meaning that only registered Republicans would be allowed to vote in the Republican Primary?

In favor: 66.22% Opposed: 33.78%

Currently, hundreds of thousands of hours and dollars are spent every year cleaning up voter rolls. Would you support an amendment to the National Voting Rights Act that would require registered voters to renew their registration every four years?

In favor: 80.1% Opposed: 19.9%

The Democratic Party of Georgia concentrated on voter access, likely in reaction to GOP-led efforts in Georgia to changing voting laws that Democrats say unnecessarily limit access.

Three out of eight questions asked voters to weigh in on access to reproductive healthcare, affordable housing, and the ballot box.

This line of questioning mimics some of the Democratic Party’s top priorities for the 2024 election. For instance, restoring nationwide access to abortion has been a focal point of Democrats this year, both up and down the ballot.

Should the State of Georgia protect reproductive freedom by repealing the current six-week abortion ban, restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade and ensuring access to contraceptives, IVF, abortion and other reproductive health care?

In favor: 90.34% Opposed: 9.66%

Should the State of Georgia improve access to safe, affordable housing by increasing the affordable housing supply, protecting tenants’ rights to habitable living conditions, and cracking down on negligence or abuse by property management companies or landlords?

In favor: 93.98% Opposed: 6.02%

Should the State of Georgia expand voter access by allowing same-day voter registration, removing obstacles to voting by mail, and making secure ballot drop boxes accessible at all times through Election Day?

In favor: 88.14% Opposed: 11.86%

Besides showing where the parties and their respective voters stand on an issue, the result offers a glimpse into which bills state legislators may introduce in a future session.

Many Glynn County elected officials face no opposition in the November General Election, according to The Brunswick News.

State Rep. Rick Townsend, R-St. Simons Island, said he believes his candidacy for a second term failed to draw challengers in the primary or the general election because most voters feel he’s doing a good job.

“I’m looking forward to representing Glynn County in the House,” he said. “I want Glynn County to be at the table and not part of the menu.”

During the next legislative session, Townsend said he will ask for tax credits to help alleviate the shortage of airline pilots. A shortage of pilots is a reason there aren’t more Delta flights to the Golden Isles.

State Sen. Mike Hodges, R-St. Simons Island, said he expected opposition because many first-term elected officials are challenged by others in the same party or by an opponent from the rival party.

“All I can say is I’m humbled,” he said. “I hope my constituents are happy with the job I’m doing. The position is not mine, it’s the voters in District 3.”

One of the challenges with Hodge’s six-county district is its size. They all share one thing in common — the desire for lower taxes.

“We want to continue to bring the tax burden down for the people of Georgia,” he said.

Republican Glynn County Commissioner Walter Rafolski won his primary election and no Democrats qualified to run, but he could face opposition if an independent candidate gets the 3,600 signatures from registered voters needed to be on the ballot in November.

District 1 County Commissioner Sammy Tostensen said he felt “blessed” he faced no opposition in the Republican primary and no challenger in November from the Democrats.

Albany City Attorney Nathan Davis retired, according to the Albany Herald.

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