Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 30, 2020

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Jun

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 30, 2020

On June 30, 1665, England’s King Charles signed a royal charter for Carolina, defining its southern border and also claiming all land in what is now Georgia.

On June 30, 1775, the Continental Congress passed the Articles of War, laying out complaints against Britain’s Parliament.

“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

Today could well be called Intermodal Transportation History Day in Georgia. The first four-lane highway in Georgia was announced on June 30, 1937 from Atlanta to Marietta. The first C5 air flight took place from Dobbins in Marietta on June 30, 1968 and MARTA rail service began on June 30, 1979.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell first went on sale on June 30, 1936; on June 30, 1986, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Margaret Mitchell.

Superman made his first appearance in Action Comics #1 on June 30, 1938.

Ohio became the 39th state to ratify the 26th Amendment on June 30, 1971, lowering the voting age to 18.

Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing was released on June 30, 1989. Lee was born in Atlanta and graduated from Morehouse College.

The Augusta boyhood home of former President Woodrow Wilson has no changes planned to address modern criticisms, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

On Saturday, Princeton University trustees decided to remove Wilson’s name from its public policy school, citing his “racist thinking and policies.”

Wilson’s ideology makes him “an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms,” Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said in the statement.

Wilson was born in 1856 and moved in 1858 with his family to Augusta, where he lived during the Civil War and Reconstruction until the family relocated in 1870, Montgomery said.

Known early as a progressive and champion of workers’ rights, Wilson oversaw the re-segregation of the federal workforce and made no effort to prevent states from segregating or removing African Americans from federal jobs altogether, according to a Historic Augusta biography.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Trump campaign is reserving TV time in Georgia, according to CNBC.

President Donald Trump’s campaign, facing a growing disadvantage in polls, has started reserving spots for a television ad blitz set to run in several swing states during the final months of the race.

The ad buy, worth more than $90 million, comes as some in the Trump campaign see warning signs in multiple key states, including Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina, according to people familiar with the matter.

The development also follows news that the Trump campaign reserving ad space in Georgia, a traditionally reliable state for Republican presidential candidates. A recent Fox News poll had Biden ahead of Trump there by two points.

Some on the campaign are convinced that the president faces hurdles even in Georgia and North Carolina, these people said.

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday issued Executive Orders renewing the Public Health State of Emergency (E.O. 06.29.20.01) and ordering social distancing, encouraging mask use, and limiting allowable gatherings (E.O. 06.29.20.02).

From 11Alive:

In addition, Gov. Brian Kemp is planning to go on a statewide tour of cities ahead of the July 4 holiday to encourage citizens to wear a mask and heed public health advice.

Kemp’s director of communications Candice Broce confirmed to 11Alive that the governor will be traveling this week to Albany, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Savannah and Valdosta to promote mask use. Kemp has been seen in public wearing a mask himself.

Kemp signed a second executive order which will continue to ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is more than six feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, mandates social distancing and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile.

The order also indicates that the state Board of Education must provide rules, regulations and guidance for the operation of public elementary and secondary schools for local boards of education in accordance with guidance from Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state Department of Public Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The second executive order runs through July 15, 2020.

From WJCL:

“As we continue our fight against COVID-19 in Georgia, it is vital that Georgians continue to heed public health guidance by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and practicing social distancing,” Kemp said. “While we continue to see a decreasing case fatality rate, expanded testing, and adequate hospital surge capacity, in recent days, Georgia has seen an increase in new cases reported and current hospitalizations.”

From Fox5Atlanta:

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, More than 2,300 cases were reported in the last 24 hours. Since Friday, 6,422 cases have been reported bringing the total to 79,417.

While cases continue to increase in the Peach State, the number of deaths remains low. There have only been 14 deaths in the past 72 hours.

“While we continue to see a decreasing case fatality rate, expanded testing, and adequate hospital surge capacity, in recent days, Georgia has seen an increase in new cases reported and current hospitalizations. Given these trends, I am extending previous COVID-19 safety requirements and guidelines that were due to expire on June 30 at 11:59 PM. Dr. Kathleen Toomey and the Department of Public Health, along with our local public health partners, will continue to monitor ongoing cases and related data to ensure that we are taking appropriate measures moving forward. Together, we can win the fight against COVID-19 and emerge stronger.” [said Kemp].

On his Twitter page Monday, Kemp said he spoke with the heads of Grady Health Systems, Tift Regional Medical System, and Eastside Medical about the current COVID-19 situation.

“Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and continue to follow the guidance provided by public health officials. Together, we can protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians!” Kemp wrote.

From the AJC:

In another sign of concern over the increased cases, Kemp extended coronavirus restrictions two weeks for businesses and restaurants that were set to expire Wednesday. It’s a break from a string of orders that steadily relaxed regulations.

Asked specifically about requiring mask usage, Kemp has said that mandating them is a “bridge too far,” and he expressed concern there was not enough public support to institute a statewide order.

“There’s some people that just do not want to wear a mask. I’m sensitive to that from a political environment of having people buy into that and creating other issues out there,” he said recently. “But it’s definitely a good idea.”

There was also no requirement at the state Capitol that lawmakers, lobbyists and Georgia State Patrol officers wear masks, although the Georgia House mandated that legislators wear the face coverings during the two-week rebooted legislative session that ended Friday.

From the Gainesville Times:

Northeast Georgia Health System said Friday, June 26, there has been an increase in new cases.

“We also saw the number of confirmed positive patients currently being treated in our hospitals creep up to 75 on Wednesday, which is the highest it’s been since late May,” hospital spokesman Sean Couch wrote in an email.

NGHS, which treats those from Hall and surrounding areas, has reported 112 deaths and 961 patients discharged total. On June 29, it was treating 61 patients who have tested positive, with 34 of those at the Gainesville hospital. Numbers were down to 46 on June 15, well below a height of 159 on April 29.

A Coastal Health District COVID-19 testing site closed early on Monday after reaching its testing capacity, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We have reached maximum capacity for testing at the soccer complex testing site on Sallie Mood Drive in Savannah,” the district tweeted Monday morning. “As a result the line for testing is closed for today, June 29.”

Spokeswoman Sally Silbermann said the district has sufficient testing supplies, but staffing and time constraints limit how many people can flow through the site. The heat is problematic, too. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for Chatham County for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday with heat index values expected to reach between 105 and 108 degrees.

Governor Kemp signed the FY 2021 budget, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a $25.9 billion state budget Tuesday that he called “bittersweet” because of $2.2 billion in spending cuts brought on by the devastation the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking on Georgia’s economy.

“This budget reflects our values as a state. It prioritizes education, health care and public safety,” Kemp said during a signing ceremony at his Capitol office. “But this budget speaks to some of the hard choices made by state leaders.”

Despite 10% across-the-board reductions to state agency budgets, Kemp stressed that he and legislative budget writers still were able to fully fund K-12 student enrollment growth as well as projected growth in Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids programs.

Bulloch County voters return to the polls August 11 in four runoff elections, according to the Statesboro Herald.

In Bulloch County, two races – for the District 4 State Senate seat and for county solicitor-general – will appear on the Republican ballot for the Aug. 11 runoff election.

Meanwhile, nonpartisan ballots will include just one runoff involving the entire county – a largely symbolic one between the same two state Senate candidates – and a runoff in only a portion of the county for a Board of Education seat.

“Only those who were 65 or above or were disabled and requested to be put on the rollover list will automatically have the ballot mailed to them,” she said. “But anybody else, if they want one, they’re going to have to request it.”

One of the contests on the Republican ballot will be the runoff between Dr. Scott Bohlke and Billy Hickman, CPA, to represent Senate District 4 in the Georgia Senate in the 2021-22 term. The other race for Republican voters throughout the county is the runoff between Catherine Sumner Findley and Mark A. Lanier to become solicitor-general of the Bulloch County State Court.

Bohlke and Hickman also appear as candidates for the state Senate seat on the nonpartisan ballot, but there it is only a runoff to fill the remainder of the late Sen. Jack Hill’s term, through this December, and the Legislature has now adjourned for the year.

Also nonpartisan, the only Board of Education race requiring a runoff is between incumbent Heather Mims and challenger Lisa Deloach in BOE District 7, which makes up about one-eighth of Bulloch County by population.

Columbus Council District 4 voters will still have a runoff election on August 11, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Columbus Council District 4 special election runoff that was almost canceled is back on after the second-place finisher dropped out and the third-place candidate decided to stay in.

That means Toyia Tucker will face Elaine Gillespie in the Aug. 11 election involving voters in five of Columbus’ 25 neighborhood voting precincts.

Chattahoochee Valley Libraries have suspended curbside pickup after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Ledger-Enquirer. The system also delayed the next phase of its re-opening plan due to rising COVID numbers.

Gwinnett County Public Schools will offer a choice between in-person and online learning in the new school year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Thursday, district officials confirmed plans to have students back in the classroom when the school year begins Aug. 5. The catch is that there will be an alternative option to have a child do digital learning for the fall semester instead. Families have to make that decision early in July.

“Students will attend school based on the option chosen for all of first semester (through December),” district officials said in a statement. “A change may be made after the first nine weeks, if it is needed to better serve the student.

“On Monday, June 29, an email will be sent to the enrolling parent of every GCPS student. That parent will be asked to select one of the two options for each student in the home. Decisions must be made by July 10. Students in families who do not select an option by July 10 will be assigned to in-person instruction. Families will receive verification of their selection for each child.”

“Leaders thoroughly studied combining in-person and digital learning. The many challenges related to this option make it one the school system cannot effectively manage with existing resources.

“Therefore, it was determined that the most prudent course of action is to open the school year with in-person instruction, along with an option for digital learning, for students in grades K-12.”

Muscogee County School District also is offering student families a choice between return to in-person or online, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Parents and guardians in the Muscogee County School District will be able to choose whether their children return to in-person instruction at reopened schools or remain at home for remote learning, according to the superintendent’s plan presented to the school board Monday via video conference.

Employees also will have that option, according to the plan.

But students and employees who return to school will be required to wear face masks to lessen the risk of spreading the deadly coronavirus, said Superintendent David Lewis.

A Program Manager in the office of Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis was arrested for battery, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Lula City Council approved an FY2021 budget smaller than the current year, according to AccessWDUN.

Lula City Hall will be closed to the public through July 7 after an employee tested positive, according to the Gainesville Times.

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