Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 1, 2023

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 1, 2023

On March 1, 1778, the Georgia legislature confiscated property owned by 117 people after labeling them traitors.

The Articles of Confederation were ratified on March 1, 1781.

The nation was guided by the Articles of Confederation until the implementation of the current U.S. Constitution in 1789.

The critical distinction between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution —the primacy of the states under the Articles—is best understood by comparing the following lines.

The Articles of Confederation begin:

“To all to whom these Present shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States”

By contrast, the Constitution begins:

“We the People of the United States do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

On March 1, 1875, Governor James Smith signed legislation making cruelty to animals a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $50.

Paul Broun, Sr. was born on March 1, 1916, in Shellman, Georgia, and served 38 years in the Georgia legislature.

Broun was first elected to the state senate in 1962 in a historic election that took place after the federal courts struck down Georgia’s long-established county unit election system. Broun was one of several new senators elected in a class that included Jimmy Carter, the future president of the United States; Leroy Johnson, the first black legislator elected in Georgia since Reconstruction; and politicians like Hugh Gillis, Culver Kidd, and Bobby Rowan, who would have a lasting impact on legislative politics.

Broun was elected to nineteen consecutive terms in the senate, where he served as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the University System Committee.

Dorothy Felton was born on March 1, 1929, and served as the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia legislature.

Dorothy Felton was the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly and eventually became the longest-serving Republican and the longest-serving woman of either party in the state legislature. She also worked for more than a quarter of a century for the right of the Sandy Springs community of Fulton County to incorporate as a municipality, a goal that was not achieved until four years after she retired from elective office.

Felton was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1974 from a district in Sandy Springs.

The City of Camilla has placed a marker commemorating the 1868 Camilla Massacre, according to WALB.

In response to the expulsion of Georgia’s African-American legislators elected in April 1868, many members of the Republican party rallied in Albany to march to Camilla on September 19, 1868.

The group was met with violence and backlash from many white people and dozens of African-Americans were killed as a result. Many more were injured as well.

Following the incident, many Black voters did not participate in the November 1868 presidential election out of fear.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

National Democrats find themselves in a pickle when considering holding their 2024 National Convention in Georgia. From the New York Times:

The battle between Chicago and Atlanta over hosting the 2024 Democratic convention is heating up with a new claim from Illinois that Georgia’s lenient open-carry gun laws — already an issue with several public events in Atlanta — could make security a nightmare.

With a decision possibly weeks away, officials involved agree that Atlanta and Chicago now appear to lead New York, the third of the finalists still under consideration. Union officials have for weeks pressed President Biden and the Democratic National Committee to pick the more union-friendly city; Chicago has 45 unionized hotels while Atlanta has just two, they say.

But recent events have brought a new argument: Georgia’s lenient gun laws could make it extremely difficult to keep firearms away from the delegates. The Secret Service is likely to declare the convention a “national security special event” and supersede state ordinances with its own rules inside a fortified perimeter.

But in hotels, along bus routes and at meetings and parties far from the core convention sites, guns could find their way in, security consultants are warning, especially if Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, holds to his pro-gun views and refuses to intervene.

Georgia Democrats have scoffed at the pitch. The State Farm Arena, which would be one of the main sites of the convention should Atlanta win the bid, has protocols in place that prohibit carrying a firearm, despite gun laws that ostensibly allow weapons into most public spaces.

“Atlanta offers an enormous amount of historical and current symbolism. It’s obviously the home of the civil rights movement but also more recently the home of, you know, wins by Senators Ossoff and Warnock,” [Atlanta City Council President Doug] Shipman said, pointing to the narrow twin electoral victories of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in 2020, and Mr. Warnock’s victory again last fall. “I think there are a lot of different factors that go into that calculus. I’m not sure that the gun laws are going to have any particular impact on the decision.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney discussed what “special grand jurors” on the Fani Willis Trump investgation can say publicly, according to WJBF.

Judge Robert McBurney told ABC News that the panelists are only formally barred from speaking about the grand jury’s deliberations but can talk about witness testimony and the final report.

In a “farewell session” with the grand jury panelists, McBurney said he “reminded them of their oath, which is a statutory obligation that they not discuss with anyone outside their group their deliberations.”

“I explained you don’t talk about what the group discussed about the witnesses’ testimony, but you can talk about witness testimony,” he added, per ABC News. “You could talk about things that the assistant district attorneys told you. … And then finally, you can talk about the final report because that is the product of your deliberations, but it’s not your deliberations.”

Under the Gold Dome Today – Legislative Day 26

Wednesday – March 1, 2023

TBD Senate Rules Committee; Upon Adjournment – 450 CAP

7:00 AM Cancelled – Senate Ethics – 307 CLOB

7:30 AM Senate Veterans, Military, & Homeland Sec – 450 CAP

8:00 AM HOUSE AGRICULTURE & CONSUMER AFF – 606 CLOB

8:00 AM HOUSE Ways & Means Sales Tax Sub – 403 CAP

8:00 AM Senate Natural Resources & Envt – 450 CAP

8:15 AM HOUSE Ways & Means Public Fin & Policy Sub – 403 CAP

8:30 AM CANCELED HOUSE Education Policy Sub – 506 CLOB

9:00 AM HOUSE RULES – 341 CAP

9:00 AM Senate Health & Human Svcs – 450 CAP

10:00 AM HOUSE FLOOR SESSION (LD 26) – House Chamber

10:00 AM Senate Education & Youth – 307 CLOB

11:00 AM Senate Government Oversight – 307 CLOB

11:00 AM Cancelled – Senate Public Safety – Mezz 1 CAP

11:30 AM Senate Insurance & Labor – 450 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC SAFETY & HOMELAND SEC – 506 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION – 606 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE PUBLIC HEALTH – 415 CLOB

1:00 PM HOUSE BANKS & BANKING – 406 CLOB HYBRID

1:00 PM HOUSE Ways & Means Tax Rev Sub – 403 CAP

1:00 PM HOUSE Judiciary Non-Civil Hong Sub – 132 CAP

1:00 PM Senate Floor Session (LD 26) – Senate Chamber

2:00 PM CANCELED HOUSE TECH & INFRA INNOV – 406 CLOB

2:00 PM HOUSE HEALTH – 403 CAP

3:00 PM  HOUSE GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS – 606 CLOB

3:00 PM HOUSE INDUSTRY AND LABOR – 506 CLOB

3:30 PM HOUSE JUDICIARY NON-CIVIL – 132 CAP

Speaking of guns, two Cherokee County legislators filed bills to prevent the state from enforcing federal gun laws, according to the Rome News Tribune.

State Sen. Colton Moore, R-Trenton, and state Rep. Charlice Byrd, R-Woodstock, have introduced legislation aimed at stopping Georgia law enforcement from enforcing federal gun regulations.

Byrd is the chief sponsor of House Bill 293, also known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.” HB 293, along with its state Senate companion SB 67, which is sponsored by Moore, have yet to come to a vote.

Georgia law enforcement would be limited to enforcing state laws when it comes to firearms, ammunition and accessories, Byrd said in an email.

“It is quickly making its way through ‘Red America’ in states like Iowa, Ohio, and Kentucky,” Byrd said. “States have always had the right to not enforce federal law under the ‘anti-commandeering’ doctrine. There’s excellent Supreme Court precedent dating all the way back to before the Civil War when the Federal Government tried to force the state of Pennsylvania to round up runaway slaves and return them. Pennsylvania refused, and the Supreme Court confirmed it was their right to do so.”

Moms Demand Action turned out in force at the State Capitol yesterday, according to WTOC.

Mom’s Demand Action is a national movement that focuses on protecting people from gun violence.

A Savannah councilmember was on a bus full of parents from our area asking representatives to pass legislation on gun safety.

“We use Michelle and Brenda and I. We made loud noise for boys because we were survivors from 2015. We all had sons killed in senseless acts of violence,” said District 3 Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan.

They are parents with Mom’s Demand Action and they’re bringing attention to House Bill 161 and Senate Bill 75 that would make it a misdemeanor to store, transport or abandon an unsecured firearm in a place where children have access.

Mom’s Demand Action says this session they want lawmakers to make this legislation a priority and they’ll be back again next year to continue trying to make a difference.

House Bill 88, the Coleman-Baker Act, by State Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) passed out of the State House, according to WSAV.

The Georgia House passed a bill Tuesday that could offer hope to families of over a hundred cold case victims.

Although not a law yet, HB 88, or the Coleman-Baker Act, gets victims’ families a step closer to not only reopening cases but to potentially applying new technology and resources to help in solving them.

It would bring closure to the families of Rhonda Sue Coleman, Tara Louise Baker and other cold case victims.

The Coleman-Baker Act would give crime victims’ families a look at case files if six years have passed. Law enforcement agencies would also be required to have a system in place to accept such requests and reinvestigate the case if the families call for it.

Though the legislation overwhelmingly passed in the House, it will need the support of the Senate before heading to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk.

The House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Tax Revisions heard two proposals to raise taxes on cigarettes and vaping supplies, according to the Georgia Recorder via the Albany Herald.

This week, the House Subcommittee on Tax Revisions held its first hearing on House Bills 191 and 192, which would raise taxes on cigarettes and vape products respectively. The cigarette tax is expected to bring in $90 million, which would be dedicated to health care programs for Georgians. The subcommittee didn’t vote to move the bill along to full committee consideration.

Under HB 191, the price of a pack of smokes would increase a penny per cigarette to 20 cents, bringing Georgia’s total state tax to 57 cents. The tax on vape products would increase from 7% to 15% under HB 192. Cigars and smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco would be exempt.

The goal is to reduce health risks caused by smoking, and at the same time, create a dependable source of revenue for the state, Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican from Savannah and the sponsor of both bills, said.

“If you smoke hard enough and long enough, you’re going to get sick,” Stephens, a pharmacist, said. “It shouldn’t be up to the taxpayers in the state of Georgia to fund your health care cost for your decision. It’s your choice, but it should not be my bill to pay.”

Stephens said the state subsidizes health care costs at about $699 million in Medicaid expenses alone as a result of tobacco-related illnesses, and the annual health care expenditures in Georgia caused directly by tobacco use is about $669 billion.

Lee Hughes of the American Cancer Society referenced a 2020 Landmark Communications poll which found that nearly 75% of adult Georgians approved of a one dollar per pack increase.

“The history of this tax is very interesting. Twenty-one years ago, Georgia elected its first Republican governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue,” Hughes said, “This was something he pushed in his very first year in office. It went from 12 cents to 37 cents a pack.”

[State Rep. Michelle] Au said the original intent was to bring the tax to the national average of $1.91, “which is actually quite fitting because the bill number is HB 191,” she added. “We didn’t choose that. It just happened because the universe tells us things sometimes through our bill numbers.”

In addition, Au said a price increase would be more likely to dissuade young people from smoking, as they are likely to have less disposable income and be less addicted than older smokers.

Republican Rep. Trey Kelley from Cedartown challenged Scott’s stance saying a 20 cent increase would do little to deter some mothers from smoking, even if they are aware of the adverse effects.

Rep. Jason Ridley, a Republican from Chatsworth, had much to say about the pitfalls the bill presents, claiming citizens residing in border communities could easily travel to another state to save on tobacco costs.

“When we start taxing people, I don’t care if it’s a penny, for something they want to do, that’s the most un-American thing I’ve ever heard of in my entire life,” Ridley said.

Others said the bill could harm businesses that rely on tobacco sales. Angela Holland, the President of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, said raising the taxes higher than those of Georgia’s border states, especially in the Augusta market, could have a negative impact on business.

Senate Bill 233, “The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act” by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Forsyth County) passed out of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, according to the Associated Press via WRDW.

The Senate Education and Youth Committee voted 6-5 on Tuesday to pass Senate Bill 233, sending it to the full Senate for more debate. The bill must pass the Senate by Monday for the state House to take it up, or it will likely die for 2023.

Supporters argue that the vouchers for private school tuition, home schooling supplies, therapy, tutoring or even early college courses for high school students would help students who aren’t well-served by local school districts.

“Even in the best of the best, public education is not one size fits all,” Sen. Greg Dolezal, a Republican from Cumming who sponsors the bill, told the committee.

Opponents argue the bill would pressure the state’s $12.5 billion K-12 school funding formula, and that $6,000 would not be enough to pay tuition at most private schools, meaning the money would benefit middle class and rich families more than poor ones.

The bill’s prospects are unclear. State senators rejected a similar plan last year on a 29-20 vote, although some Republicans who voted no may have have been motivated by opposition to then-Sen. Butch Miller’s bid for lieutenant governor. Miller lost a primary to current Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones. The road could be even tougher in the House, where some rural Republicans have long resisted school choice expansions.

Senate Bill 221 by Sen. Max Burns (R-Augusta) passed out of the Senate Ethics Committee, according to the AJC.

The Republican-sponsored proposal would expand the ability of Georgia residents to challenge the eligibility of other voters, based on a belief that elections are rife with the potential for fraud.

But the legislation advanced Tuesday with a 5-3 vote by the Senate Ethics Committee. Senate Bill 221 could receive a vote in the full Senate within days.

Voter advocates say the bill would permit unreliable change-of-address data to be used against people who temporarily relocate, including college students, military members and the poor. The measure specifically targets the homeless by requiring them to register to vote by using the address of their county’s courthouse.

The legislation also calls for an outright elimination of absentee ballot drop boxes after the General Assembly passed a voting law in 2021 that confined them inside voting locations.

In addition, the bill would require digital ballot images to be displayed online, mandate audits after both primary and general elections, and prohibit non-U.S. citizens from working in county election offices.

State Sen. Rick Williams, a Republican from Milledgeville, said college students should ensure that they only change their addresses temporarily when they’re at school so that they’re not challenged.

The Senate Ethics Committee also passed a separate bill on Monday that would ban county governments from accepting outside funding to help defray elections costs, a reaction to millions of dollars donated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg since 2020.

From the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald:

“It’s a confidence bill,” said Georgia Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Max Burns, a Republican from Sylvania. “It’s the ability to make sure, as we implement Georgia law, we follow it consistently. There are a lot of counties who are interpreting the law differently.”

The bill, rewritten Monday, would make it easier to challenge the eligibility of voters, require county officials to record video of every ballot drop box, ban counties from hiring election workers who aren’t American citizens and let counties opt out of the state’s electronic ballot markers in favor of paper ballots.

A separate measure seeks to make it a felony for county officials to take private money to pay for elections, after Republican attacks on a suburban Atlanta county for taking such money.

The new language reacts to the fears of Republican primary voters who still believe that balloting in Georgia is insecure, despite the state’s 2022 election being conducted without widespread controversy. It would build on the Georgia’s 2021 election law, enacted over bitter opposition, which said every voter in the state could submit an unlimited number of challenges of voter eligibility, shortened the period to request an absentee ballot, and shortened the early voting period before a runoff election.

“The most important thing is to ensure that everyone on our voter rolls is a legitimate, legal voter,” Burns said.

House Bill 517, the “Homeowners Opportunity Act” by State Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon), passed out of the House Governmental Affairs Committee and would limit the ability of local governments to regulate homebuilding, according to the Georgia Recorder.

Macon Republican Rep. Dale Washburn presented his two companion bills during Tuesday’s House Governmental Affairs subcommittee meeting that he said will make new houses more affordable for first-time buyers who he says are priced out of the market because of overreaching local building codes.

There is fierce opposition to House Bill 517 from local government officials who don’t want to be handcuffed in determining design and zoning standards that fit into their communities. They fear that shoddy new rental housing will be built under the guise of filling Georgia’s workforce housing shortage.

His bill requires local governments to issue building permits for single-family homes that measure 1,200 to 2,500 square feet and meet the state building code minimum.

House Bill 517 would exempt residences located in designated historic districts or housing that is subject to a private covenant and contractual agreements like a neighborhood homeowners association.

“This is about workforce housing,” Washburn said. “But it is also about the little first-time homebuyer who would like to buy a home and often they can’t afford to buy one where they’d like to buy because a local city council is telling them if you build a house in our city, we want you to build it according to our taste.”

Tifton Mayor and real estate agent Julie Smith said the legislation removes vital public input from local citizens working with their elected officials to establish standards that are appropriate for each community.

“Anytime that we do anything on a local level, we have public hearings,” said Smith, who is also the president of the Georgia Municipal Association. “They’re heard by our planning and zoning boards which are people, residents of our community who have volunteered their time to be a part of this.”

Another controversial housing measure that’s alive in the Senate chamber is Senate Bill 188, which promotes build-to-rent residences by barring local governments from denying permits or making landlords pay business taxes.

The build-to-rent market is increasing in popularity among corporate real estate developers that are building neighborhoods of rental properties of townhouses and other single family residences in place of the traditional apartment complexes.

Washburn said his housing plans have the support of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Association of Realtors, the Georgia Association of Homebuilders and Georgia Habitat for Humanity.

House Bill 353 by State Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) amends state law restrictions on Coin Operated Gambling Amusement Machines and passed out of the House, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

House Bill 353 would award non-cash redemption gift cards to winners that could be redeemed anywhere in the state for any legal product. Under current law, COAM winners can redeem their prizes only for merchandise sold in the store where the machine they played is located.

Gift cards would take away the temptation to illegally pay out prizes in cash, a problem that has plagued the industry for years, Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, the bill’s chief sponsor and chairman of the House Regulated Industries Committee, told his fellow committee members.

“Twenty years ago, this business was almost put out of business because of video poker,” he said. “It had gotten so out of hand there was little respect for the law.”

Powell said the 10% share the state derives from COAM proceeds for Georgia’s HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs has become the fastest growing source of revenue for the lottery. He said going with gift cards would drive up that revenue even further.

Powell’s bill now moves to the House Rules Committee to schedule a floor vote. Meanwhile, a Senate version of COAM reform is pending before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

Governor Brian Kemp’s administration is raising questions about the Buckhead divorce secession incorporation bills, according to the AJC.

Kemp executive counsel David Dove outlined nearly a dozen questions about the constitutionality of the two bills that cleared a Senate panel this week, warning in a memo late Tuesday they could reshape local governments in ways that “ripple into a future of unforeseen outcomes.”

Writing that they “demand evaluation for the unique constitutional and statutory challenges they pose,” Dove challenged lawmakers to “meaningfully” resolve the issues before taking further action.

It was the first time Kemp’s office raised serious issues about the breakaway push this year, and it could lead Senate leaders to delay a vote on the tandem of Buckhead cityhood measures ahead of a critical legislative deadline.

The memo came just after supporters of the Buckhead divorce achieved a minor victory. With the blessing of Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Senate committee approved Senate Bills 113 and 114 on Monday, giving Buckhead City boosters their first legislative success.

Republican Holt Persinger (Winder) was elected to a vacant seat representing House District 119, according to US News & World Reports.

Holt Persinger beat fellow Winder resident Charlie Chase in a runoff on Tuesday in House District 119, which includes most of Barrow County and a corner of Jackson County.

Persinger won about 60% of votes while Chase won about 40% according to final unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
A runoff was required after no candidate won a majority in a seven-candidate field on Jan. 31.
Persinger will succeed Danny Rampey, who withdrew without taking office after being arrested on drug and theft charges.

Persinger will take office as soon as his election is certified, joining the General Assembly for the closing weeks of a regular session scheduled to run through March 29.

Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones‘s field staff will hold mobile office hours in Dalton, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones’ statewide field representatives will be hosting mobile office hours for constituents in the local communities. On Wednesday, Luke Hetland, North Georgia field director, will be at the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library, 310 Cappes St. in Dalton, from 1 to 3 p.m. Please RSVP to Hetland at Luke.Hetland@ltgov.ga.gov.

For more information on the field representative program, please visit https://ltgov.georgia.gov/constituent-services/statewide-field-representatives.

The LG’s office also announced mobile office hours in Banks County.

Gwinnett County Commissioners voted to approve a Gwinnett Place Mall Site Revitalization Strategy, according to AccessWDUN.

Board Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson says the Global Villages concept ensures an inclusive and equitable redevelopment for current residents and businesses.

“The mall revitalization has never been a top-down approach. At its foundation, we wanted to hear public feedback to shape our decisions,” Hendrickson said. “As our main stakeholders, their opinions, foresight, time and commitment were key elements to confidently move the project forward.”

The Gwinnett Place Mall Site Revitalization Strategy includes an action plan for the redevelopment, which is expected to take place over the next 20 years.

“This is history in the making, and I’m honored to have a front-row seat,” said District 1 Commissioner Kirkland Carden. “As the commissioner who represents the mall area, I wanted to make sure it is an economic force for Gwinnett County. Our vote tonight will make that happen.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The strategy calls for tearing down most of the existing Gwinnett Place Mall property — except for the Macy’s, Mega Mart and Beauty Master anchors — and replacing it with a mixed-use “Global Villages” redevelopment concept.

Gwinnett Place Mall is Gwinnett County’s oldest mall, having opened in 1984, but it had been in a steep decline for at least a decade before the county closed on a $23 million purchase of most of the property in 2021, and it was being used as a filming site for movies in addition to retail purposes in its final years.

The county bought the interior retail spaces in the mall, including the old food court and the former Belk anchor.

The strategy calls for several “villages” with residential uses, as well as a cultural center, a central lawn that can host events, retail and restaurants. The Macy’s, Beauty Master and Mega Mart anchors would remain standing and serve as anchors for the redeveloped property.

The idea is that the redeveloped property would highlight the diversity of the area, which is on the outskirts of a large Korean community, sometimes called K-Town, that spans the Duluth and Suwanee areas in Gwinnett County.

“Some of the key takeaways and recommendations that came out of our community included for this site to celebrate and support an international mix of cultures, to design the development with multigenerational families in mind, and to make the development a place where you can work, live and play,” Gwinnett County Economic Development Director Roman Dakare said.

Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar gave his “State of the City” address, according to WTOC.

The mayor pointed at things like a lower crime rate in the last year, neighborhood refurbishment and social programs designed to improve the city.

He also talked about the growth that is already underway with the impact of Hyundai nearby and several supplier companies coming to Bulloch County.

“We’re expecting, by the end of 2026, Statesboro and Bulloch County will have more than 100,000 people combined,” said Mayor McCollar.

Augusta City Commissioners are considering a study committee on their municipal charter, according to WJBF.

Mayor Johnson is pushing the effort to allow the charter change to be placed on the ballot to allow the mayor a vote, but he did not involve the entire commission in the process, that’s why some are backing the effort to have more discussions.

“I think we should have a review of the government we’ve been talking about it for years but going to Atlanta without communicating is just not the route to take especially since we’re able to do it at home ourselves,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

“Truthfully, I don’t see a reason in doing a study, it’s just prolonging, pulling people. This is long overdue, I definitely want to see this work, should have been done a while back,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.

The Administrative Services Committee did not recommend the call for more study on changing the city charger even though some committee members feel it’s the right way to go.

“I do think the community should weigh in on this, I think we should convene a study,” said Commissioner Francine Scott.

“I’m all behind 100 percent for having the mayor be able to cast his vote,” said Commissioner McKnight.

Former Savannah-Chatham County Public School System schools chief Sheila Garcia-Wilder has sued the district alleging she was terminated in retaliation for whistle-blowing, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Sheila Garcia-Wilder, the former chief of schools for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, has filed a civil lawsuit against the district that claims she was terminated in retaliation for raising concerns that Black male students and special needs students were disproportionately disciplined with suspension and expulsion.

In her first month as chief of schools in July 2019, Garcia-Wilder said she started receiving “expulsion packets” from SCCPSS principals. Inside the expulsion packets were discipline recommendations, including short- and long-term suspensions, for students who had gotten in trouble for a wide array of infractions. In her position, Garcia-Wilder was responsible for approving or disapproving these discipline recommendations.

Garcia-Wilder discovered after reviewing the expulsion packets that more than 50% had not been processed according to SCCPSS policies and procedures. In many cases, parents had not been made aware within the required 10-day timeframe that their child was scheduled for a discipline hearing. Some parents were not made aware that a disciplinary hearing was even available. Some students who were expelled or suspended were falsely marked as present in the classroom. A high number of suspensions and expulsions were not being recorded and reported — and, even if they were, the district wasn’t sending the report to the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE).

Garcia-Wilder sent a copy of the root-cause analysis to SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett along with the disciplinary findings that the school system was not following legal standards ahead of an October 2019 meeting.

According to the lawsuit, “At this time, Superintendent Levett threatened Dr. Garcia-Wilder, indicating that she could remove Dr. Garcia-Wilder from her position and place her in a position where she would “feel comfortable.”

The Hall County Board of Education voted to spend more than $11 million dollars on large touchscreen displays for classrooms, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Hall County school board on Monday approved $11.08 million in funding to replace projectors in all schools with interactive touchscreen panels over the next three years.

“It is necessary,” Superintendent Will Schofield told the board, explaining that the projectors have reached the end of their lifespans. He said all classrooms will get a fresh coat of paint as well.

The 86-inch panels will be purchased from Clear Touch, a company that specializes in creating interactive technology for schools and universities.

Turpin explained the decision to purchase the panels now, saying, “The price has come down to the point where they’re a better return on investment than projectors.”

An Adderall shortage is affecting some Savannah-area residents, according to WTOC.

The FDA announced the shortage of the drug in October and it still affecting people in our area.

Many options in the catalog for Adderall that Georgetown Drug Company has to choose from are out of stock and more expensive.

“Each bottle usually has one hundred tablets in it and so some weeks we’re allocated two bottles, some three, some none at all,” said owner Neal Hollis.

He believes the shortage comes from a high demand.

“The supply just can’t keep up with that. It’s being prescribed so often now that sometimes we don’t have enough to meet that need.”

“A kid who does truly have ADD or ADHD and is well controlled on Adderall, without it their symptoms come back. If they’re impulsive they become more disruptive in school. If they have focus issues they can’t learn as well. They can’t test as well,” said Dr. Ben Spitalnick with the Pediatric Associates of Savannah.

The City of Perry will offer an interactive course on municipal government, according to 13WMAZ.

If you’re over 18, a resident of Perry, and you have an interest in how the city works– Perry University is something city officials say may be just for you.

“Our goal is to make sure that these participants are well informed and educated and kind of be like ambassadors for the City of Perry. So, when they’re going out to their friends, family, community members, they can let other people know and educate them about the community that they live in,” [city communications manager Tabitha Clark] said.

For five weeks, Perry residents get an inside look through interactive classes of economic and community development, city services and public safety which just so happens to be a crowd favorite.

“So what they do is they’ll get to ask questions, see the equipment that they use, what they do because a lot of times it’s kind of surprising that what you think police and fire mainly do they don’t really do, they do a whole lot more,” Clark said.

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