Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 9, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 9, 2023

On March 10, 1734, a group of German immigrants reached the mouth of the Savannah River, from where they would proceed on to Savannah. Today, the Georgia Salzburgers Society works to preserve the Salzburger heritage and traditions in Georgia.

On March 12, 1739, James Oglethorpe, recognized as the Founder of Georgia, wrote the Georgia Trustees, urging them to continue the ban on slavery in the new colony.

On March 11, 1779, Congress created the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

On March 11, 1861, the Confederate Congress, assembled in Montgomery, Alabama, adopted the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. Today the original signed manuscript of the Confederate Constitution is in the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries.

On March 9, 1862, CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, a Union ironclad, fought to a draw in the Chesapeake Bay.

On March 9, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed two pieces of legislation dealing with African-Americans, one recognized their marriages, the other legitimized children born to African-American couples prior to the act and required parents to maintain their children in the same way whites were required.

On March 10, 1866, Governor Charles Jones Jenkins signed legislation allowing women to have bank accounts separate from their husbands as long as the balance was less than $2000; an earlier act set the limit at $1000.

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first speech over his new invention, the telephone.

Juliette Gordon Low held the first meeting of the Girl Guides, which would later be renamed the Girl Scouts, in her home in Savannah, Georgia on March 12, 1912.

Gianni Agnelli was born on March 12, 1921 in Turin, Italy, and would come to be the wealthiest man in Italy, head and principal shareholder of Fiat, and recognized as an Italian Senator for Life in 1991. Among those who follow fashion, Agnelli has long been recognized as an archetype of the Italian approach to menswear.

His style was about more than clothes—it was an attitude, a philosophical response to absurdity. Watching him could tell you how to live, how to behave. In Italy, they call it sprezzatura, making the difficult look easy. Americans are gonzo, a spirit personified by Hunter S. Thompson, who defined it as a man who learns to fly by falling out of a plane. Agnelli might look gonzo—especially on nights when he showed up in boots and an ill-fitting tie—but was, in fact, sprezzatura; he knew how to fly all along. “When he was not perfectly dressed, it was contrived,” says Taki Theodoracopulos, the writer, columnist, socialite and son of a Greek shipping tycoon. Taki is one of the few surviving members of Agnelli’s social circle. “The tie askew, the unbuttoned shirt—nothing was an accident. Or, to put it another way, it was meant to be an accident, which made it even more stylish.”

Thomas B. Murphy was born on March 10, 1924 in Bremen, Georgia and would first be elected to office in the 1950s, winning a seat on the Bremen Board of Education. In 1960, Murphy ran for the State House facing no opposition and was sworn in in 1961. In 1973, he became Speaker Murphy and would hold the post until Bill Heath, a Republican, beat him in the November 2002 General Election.

Murphy held the top House seat for a longer consecutive term than anyone in any American state legislature. He died on December 17, 2007.


On March 11, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur obeyed the President’s order dated February 20, 1942, and left the Philippines.

Bobby Fischer, the Eleventh World Champion of Chess, was born on March 9, 1943 and is considered by many the greatest player of all time.

Clarence Thomas, originally from Pin Point, Georgia, was sworn in to the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on March 12, 1990.

Governor Ellis Arnall signed two important pieces of legislation on March 9, 1945. The first created the Georgia Ports Authority, with its first project being the expansion of the Port of Savannah. The second authorized the placement of a referendum to adopt a new state Constitution (in the form of a single Amendment to the Constitution of 1877) on the ballot in a Special Election to be held August 7, 1945.

On March 9, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation setting the Georgia minimum wage at $1.25 per hour.

On March 11, 2005, Brian Nichols shot and killed Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and court reporter Julie Brandau in the Fulton County Courthouse, leading to a lockdown of the state capitol and a number of nearby buildings. Nichols killed two more before taking a young woman hostage in Duluth; that woman, Ashley Smith, would talk Nichols into surrendering the next day. Nichols was eventually convicted for four murders and is serving consecutive life sentences.

R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007.

Happy Birthday on Saturday to former Governor Roy Barnes, who served from 1999-2003, and lost to Republican Sonny Perdue in 2002, and to current Governor Nathan Deal in 2010.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said the city is ready for St. Patrick’s Day, according to WSAV.

In just 8 days, the streets of Savannah will be flooded with the color green. Today city leaders started a series of informational press briefings to make sure everyone is up to speed on the big day.

“This is game time, said Mayor Van Johnson. “This is what we prepare for all year long and the city of Savannah has gotten quite good at it.”

The city is looking to repeat the success of last year’s expanded to-go cup zone.

He said, “The boundaries of the zone will be victory drive to the south, the river to the north, the Truman Parkway to the east, and MLK Boulevard to the west. With the expectation of a small portion near the river that will extend west to the Talmadge bridge.”

The mayor expects this year’s holiday to be more vibrant than years since it falls on a Friday – but the message stays the same – public safety comes first.

“And if people are coming here with the intention of breaking the law. Then their stay here will be a little longer than they intended,” said Mayor Johnson.

From WTOC:

Savannah City Council met today to discuss rules and zoning for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

While you may want the best spot to see the parade up close, Mayor Van Johnson says you can’t set up or even be in squares until 6 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. Also, no motor coaches are allowed. With that, comes other regulations to keep in mind.

“Pack it in, pack it out. No tents, no pop up bars, no Styrofoam containers.”

Those are rules you may be used to if you’ve been here on for celebrations before. A change from last year that will remain this year, there will be no festival zone with outdoor entertainment and alcohol sales which means no wristbands are required.

“We decided we would allow our businesses to put in the entertainment and the alcohol sales opposed to it being in the public right-of-way so they wouldn’t have to be in competition with them. It’s really a way to put Savannah first.”

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Boggs delivered the “State of the Judiciary” address to the General Assembly this week. From the Center Square via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The backlog of cases facing courts across Georgia “could take years to resolve,” Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Michael P. Boggs said during his “State of the Judiciary” address on Wednesday.

Boggs pointed to Fulton County, where he said there are more than 4,000 “pending indicted felony cases.”

“And it’s critical to note that the number of felony criminal cases that were indicted during COVID is substantially lower than the number of people arrested for felonies during that same period,” Boggs said in his prepared remarks, adding that Fulton County has nearly 14,000 “unindicted felony cases.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Brian Kemp allocated $96 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for state courts and prosecutors and $14 million for public defenders to address “the backlogs of serious violent felony cases,” Boggs said.

House Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington) apparently heard the Chief Justice loudly and clearly, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

While Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis investigates allegations that then-President Donald Trump interfered with the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, her office also should handle its day-to-day duties, state House Speaker Jon Burns said Thursday.

“They need to make sure they have the resources and bandwidth to take care of both issues,” Burns, R-Newington, told members of the Atlanta Press Club during a luncheon speech in downtown Atlanta.

On Thursday, Burns cited remarks Georgia Chief Justice Michael Boggs made on Wednesday in his State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the General Assembly.

While Boggs’[s] theme was the huge backlog of criminal cases courts throughout Georgia face in the aftermath of the pandemic, he put some numbers to the backlog in Fulton County. He said Fulton is currently saddled with more than 4,000 pending felony indicted cases and almost 14,000 unindicted felony cases.

Burns made his remarks Thursday while defending legislation the House passed this week calling for the creation of a Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission to investigate complaints against prosecutors and hold hearings.

From the Georgia Recorder:

“We just want them to adhere to the law and apply it evenly to every Georgian,” Burns said. “We just can’t throw out the rule of law because ‘I don’t like it.’ That’s just not how we do business in this state. If we do, there will be anarchy.”

He did not reference any specific issue but argued that those who disagree with a state law should work to change it rather than flaunt it.

For the record, the word the Georgia Recorder writer was looking for is “flout,” which means “to show that you have no respect for a law, etc. by openly not obeying it.” It’s a common error among English speakers. “Flaunt” means “to show something you are proud of to other people, in order to impress them.” Govern yourself according and cease flouting the rules of grammar and good taste. The writer of that piece does a fantastic job covering Georgia politics, but flout/flaunt is a pet peeve.

Governor Brian Kemp appointed Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston to fill a vacancy on the Superior Court for the Conasauga Circuit, serving Murray & Whitfield Counties, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

[The vacancy was created when Judge William T.] Boyett retired on Jan. 1. The term expires at the end of 2026. The Consasauga circuit includes Whitfield and Murray counties.

“I was honored and humbled to receive the call from Gov. Brian Kemp last week congratulating me on my appointment to the Superior Court bench,” Poston said. “He has placed a lot of trust in me, just as Gov. Deal did in 2012, and I plan to work hard to earn that trust. It has been a privilege to serve as a prosecuting attorney in this community for more than 30 years, and as the elected district attorney for the past 11 of those years. I will miss it, and I will miss being the captain of a great team of people that do the hard work of this office, prosecuting criminals, and serving victims.”

Then-governor Nathan Deal named Poston district attorney in 2012 following the retirement of district attorney Kermit McManus.

“Until I’m sworn in, however, I remain district attorney for a little longer,” Poston said. “As of today, we have not yet scheduled the swearing in ceremony which will take place at the Capitol in Atlanta. We are waiting to hear from the governor’s office about dates.”

“Once I’m sworn in, the office of district attorney will officially be vacated and my chief assistant, Scott Helton, will become acting district attorney by operation of law and will serve in that capacity until Gov. Kemp appoints someone to serve out the remainder of my term through 2024. Scott plans to pursue that appointment and would be a fine choice.

“I am working with our other judges on the details, but I will be doing civil and domestic work for several months until enough new criminal cases have been indicted for me to take on a criminal docket of my own,” he said. “The other three judges as well as senior judges like Judge (Jack) Partain will handle criminal cases assigned to me or which had been assigned to Judge Boyett until then.”

Gov. Kemp also appointed Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court Judge Ryan Hope to the bench of the Athens-Clarke County State Court, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Ryan Hope, who has served as Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court judge since 2017, was sworn in recently as the new judge for the Athens-Clarke County State Court.

Hope was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Senior Judge Ethelyn Simpson, who retired in 2022.

A new Municipal Court judge will be appointed at a later date.

The Chatham County District Attorney’s Office is experiencing staffing shortages, according to WTOC.

A slew of resignations at the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office is raising concerns.

In court, the issue has caused delays in major criminal cases, raised constitutional concerns for those charged with crimes, specifically their right to a speedy trial.

More than a dozen criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors spoke about how the shortage of felony prosecutors is affecting the criminal justice system. One defense attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the DA staffing issues are the worst he’s seen in 30 years.

“But it is having a very negative impact on my ability to do my job, the courts abilities to function,” said John Rodman, a criminal defense attorney in Savannah. He’s practiced for 15 years. “I mean, the courts are continuing cases because the District Attorney is coming and saying we don’t have the people to handle the case.”

WTOC Investigates compared staff rosters from 2020 to January of 2021 when the DA first took office to now. There’s been about a 35 percent drop in overall staff since District Attorney Shalena Cook Jones took office.

But the number of felony prosecutors is half what it was. In 2020, staff rosters from the DA’s office showed there were about 26 felony prosecutors. As of this week, there were 13 of them listed on the DA’s website.

Records show many of those who left resigned last year, and several of them went to work for another DA’s office in a neighboring circuit.

State Rep. Rick Townsend is sponsoring Senate Bill 86 by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) in the House, according to The Brunswick News.

Senate Bill 86, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, would allow eligible students participating in the Dual Enrollment program to access HOPE Grant funds for certain Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) courses irrespective of whether they’ve reached maximum credit hour caps.

Townsend, former CEO of the Golden Isles College and Career Academy, serves on the House Education Committee. He was asked to introduce the Dual Enrollment Workforce Proposal in the lower chamber by its primary sponsor.

“Health care would benefit and others would as well,” Townsend said. “It would be a great workforce development tool.”

Hospitals and the health care industry in general are experiencing workforce shortages. Other industries requiring skilled labor are too.

The measure optimizes dual enrollment opportunities for high school students. According to its sponsors, it “creates secondary and post-secondary education collaborations that make better use of the state dual enrollment and Hope Career Grant funding available for students.”

Current law requires students to use up their 30 hours of dual enrollment funding before becoming eligible for Hope grants. SB 86 would enable them to access Hope before depleting the 30 hours.

A program put together by the Phoebe Putney Health System, the Dougherty County 4C College and Career Academy and Albany Technical College is an example of the benefits the legislation would provide. The program established a path for students to complete CNA training during their junior year of high school and work at the hospital during their senior year while using the 30 hours of dual enrollment for enrollment into the nursing program at Albany State.

Townsend also is carrying Senate Resolution 175, which sets up a committee to study the impacts of SB 86.

The Third Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart will send 4500 soldiers to Europe, according to the Statesboro Herald.

About 4,500 soldiers will deploy this summer from Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia to Europe, where they will train with NATO allies as part of a troop buildup the U.S. has maintained in the region since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Maj. Gen. Charles D. Constanza and his 3rd Infantry Division command staff will deploy for an estimated nine months along with soldiers from the division’s 2nd Armored Brigade, Division Artillery Brigade and Division Sustainment Brigade, Fort Stewart officials said Wednesday.

The Georgia-based soldiers will head to Poland and Latvia to replace units from the 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Carson, Colorado, and the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.

Meanwhile, about 2,000 soldiers from the 3rd Infantry’s Combat Aviation Brigade are preparing to begin a European rotation this spring. They received their deployment orders last fall.

The U.S. military has maintained a greater presence in Europe since Russia invaded Ukraine last year to show support for NATO allies and deter further Russian aggression in the region. They have not been involved in the fighting in Ukraine.

Statewide job totals hit all-time highs, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The unemployment rate was flat in January, but job numbers hit an all-time high, state Commissioner of Labor Bruce Thompson reported Thursday.

The jobless rate of 3.1% in January was the same as December, three-tenths of a percent lower than January’s national unemployment rate of 3.4%. But the number of jobs rose by almost 17,000 from December to a record 4.87 million. That’s 160,000 jobs above payroll levels last January.

“Georgia continues to lead the nation in job creation while outpacing the nation with low unemployment numbers,” Thompson said Thursday. “Employers are hiring at a record pace, affording hardworking Georgians with opportunities in nearly every sector.”

The sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included accommodation and food services; health care and social assistance; and arts, entertainment and recreation.

House Bill 196 by State Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) passed on Crossover Day, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

House Bill 196 moves to the Senate after the House voted 170-2 Monday to increase the number of medical marijuana licenses that can be issued by the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. Crossover Day is the deadline for bills to clear at least one legislative chamber to remain alive this session.

The commission, created through a 2019 law, issued two Class I licenses and four tentative Class II licenses for medical marijuana in July 2021 after receiving more than 70 applicants.

In an effort to resolve pending lawsuits from the applicants that weren’t awarded licenses, HB 196 would allow the commission to award up to four more Class I licenses that allow growing, cultivating and manufacturing THC oil in an indoor space no more than 10,000 square feet; and up to seven more Class II licenses that allow up to 50,000 square feet of indoor space for growing, cultivating and manufacturing low THC oil. THC is a psychoactive compound in marijuana.

HB 196 provides provisions for when the number of licenses can be increased in the future, based on the number of patients added to the THC Oil Patient Registry, which consists of patients who have a medical card to receive the oil to treat medical illnesses and conditions.

The bill would also make the commission subject to the Administrative Procedure Act and laws governing open meetings and open records, and establishes a legislative oversight committee.

Among other health care related bills that crossed over to the opposite chamber is HB 383, which would increase penalties for violence committed against health care workers.

Called the Safer Hospitals Act, the bill stipulates that a person who commits aggravated assault or aggravated battery on a health care worker while on or within 100 yards of a hospital campus would be subject to three to 20 years in prison.

The bill passed in the House in a 170-5 vote.

Georgia senators were also nearly unanimous (55-1) in approving SB 246, which would create a state loan forgiveness program for Georgia nurses.

To qualify for the loan forgiveness, the applicant must be licensed and practicing in the state with at least a mater’s degree and currently employed and has been employed for at least one year as a faculty member of a nursing program at a postsecondary institution in a position that requires an advanced degree in professional training. The Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce would determine the repayment schedule and amounts.

Senate Bill 55 by Sen. Elena Parent (D-Druid Hills), colloquially called the “Lemonade Stand Act,” creates a safe harbor for underaged entrepreneurs and passed the state Senate, according to the Center Square.

“In my personal experience, setting up a lemonade stand with my daughter was a fun and rewarding bonding experience that taught her valuable skills in communication, entrepreneurship, and money management,” Matthew, the CEO and founder of Fayetteville-based SumFoods, told The Center Square via email. “Unfortunately, in many states, kids who try to set up their own businesses have been bogged down by unnecessary regulations and taxes, forcing them to obtain permits and licenses or risk being shut down or fined.”

Senate Bill 55, known as the Lemonade Stand Act, allows pint-sized purveyors to sell non-consumable goods, pre-packaged food and non-alcoholic drinks. It also permits them to skip paying the taxman if their revenues do not exceed $5,000 in a calendar year.

“Lemonade stands have been a tradition for children across the country for decades,” state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said in a news release. “The passage of the Lemonade Stand Act will allow children in the state of Georgia to continue this tradition without the added stress and expense of permits, licenses, or filing taxes.”

Richmond County voters continue early voting in a number of local elections, according to WJBF.

School Board Dist 6:
Laura Green
Ed Lowery

Blythe Mayor:
Thomas C. Cobb
Edward LaJoie

Blythe City Council:
Rebecca Bartlett Newsome
Michael Rineer
Phillip Lee Stewart

Incredibly low turnout for this special election. The average number of voters per day is 4.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office announced a new voter registration information system, according to WALB.

Raffensperger announced in a press conference on Thursday that the system’s focus is on heightened security and technology innovation.

The new system, called GARViS, will house voter records of 12 million people, including 7 million active voting records, and 833,000 inactive records, according to the secretary of state’s office.

In total, over 100,000,000 voter history records will be stored in the new system.

“GARViS is a tremendous step forward in the security and accuracy of Georgia’s voter registration system,” Raffensperger said. “This voter registration system truly reinforces Georgia’s status as the No. 1 state in America for election administration.”

House Bill 19, the FY 2024 state budget, includes $4000 raises for law enforcement, according to WALB.

The bill allows a $4,000 pay increase for Georgia police officers. WALB spoke with both state and local police agencies who say anything that will help with keeping officers employed will be beneficial.

On average, Georgia police officers make approximately $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Their pay is based on market size and location. Research shows larger cities do make more money. Douglas Police Chief Shane Edminsten says, in rural areas, their base pay can sometimes be lower than that.

“Police officers are moving from agency to agency, chasing the dollar. The younger generation that we have today don’t really care about retirement. They are worried about today, and they will chase that dollar to go somewhere else to make $40 more,” Chief Edminsten said.

“Georgia is down about 7,000 police officers over the last several years. Everybody is having to work harder, longer under more difficult conditions. So, people are choosing to do other things, or more likely, probably choosing not to get involved in the first place.” [Georgia Peace Office Standards and Training Council (POST) Executive Director Chris] Harvey said.

While pay is certainly important, Harvey says agencies are now looking at other retention incentives. He says agencies are also building a culture where officers feel valued, respected and supported while doing their jobs.

“Things like wellness programs, fitness programs, their hiring fitness trainers, nutritionist. They’re paying for training in self-defense,” Harvey said.

On Thursday, the full Georgia House is expected to debate the spending plan on House Bill 19 — the bill that would make this raise possible.

From the Associated Press via WTVM:

Georgia House budget writers support Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to give $2,000 raises to state employees, but want to double the raise for state law enforcement officers, increasing their pay by $4,000.

“With the increased attention to law enforcement and what they do, we believe that an increase is justified,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett, a Dublin Republican.

The budget would spend $32.4 billion in state money in the 2024 year beginning July 1. Counting federal and other money, the state would spend more than $61 billion. Both figures are down slightly from this year. The state ended last year with $6.6 billion in surplus cash, but Kemp hasn’t outlined plans to spend most of that.

Georgia’s budget pays to educate 1.75 million K-12 students and 465,000 college students, house 48,000 state prisoners, pave 18,000 miles (29,000 kilometers) of highways and care for more than 200,000 people who are mentally ill, developmentally disabled or addicted to drugs or alcohol.

All state and university employees and public school teachers would get $2,000 pay increases, but Hatchett said the state needs to further boost pay to state troopers and other officers by $13 million to compete with what cities, counties and neighboring states offer.

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

The Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a $32.5 billion fiscal 2024 state budget Thursday after a debate over whether to restore full funding to Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program.

The budget, which passed 167-1 and now moves to the state Senate, would increase spending by $2.2 billion – or 7.4% – over the fiscal 2023 budget the General Assembly adopted last spring.

The House version of the spending plan prioritizes mental health, adding $51.3 million to the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities (DBHDD) beyond Gov. Brian Kemp’s request, and public safety, providing a $2,000 raise to state law enforcement officers on top of the $2,000 increases earmarked for teachers and most of the state workforce.

“In an economy where every business is struggling to find staffing … filling state jobs has become even more difficult,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, told House lawmakers.

The House approved Kemp’s request for $13.1 billion to fully fund the state’s Quality Basic Education k-12 student funding formula.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) thanked State House legislators for an addition to his agency budget, according to the Albany Herald.

“I am thankful that $550,000 has been allocated for soil amendment regulation and enforcement in the House Budget this year,” Harper said. “Since taking office, I have worked closely with leaders in the General Assembly to strengthen our Soil Amendment Program at the Department to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of every Georgia consumer while also supporting and advancing our state’s No. 1 industry. I want to thank Speaker Burns and Chairman Hatchett for their leadership on this critically important issue — and look forward to working with the Senate to secure these resources.”

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the hiring of Dr. Stuart Rayfield as President of Columbus State University, according to a press release.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to support the success of students, faculty and staff,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue said. “Stuart lives in the community, has taught on campus and has an immediate grasp of how Columbus State helps us be the leading provider of a highly skilled workforce in Georgia. I want to thank Dr. Fuchko for his service and commitment to the university and look forward to Dr. Rayfield’s continued leadership in her new role.”

Rayfield most recently served as USG’s interim executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and has been interim president of three USG institutions during her 17-year career with the university system.

“I’m thrilled to return to Columbus State University as its next president. With its deep ties to the Chattahoochee Valley community, including Fort Benning, Columbus State is the driver of the region’s workforce and is poised to lead and partner with other entities to meet the demands of an ever-changing economy,” Rayfield said.

“My family and I have called Columbus home for almost 20 years, and we look forward to supporting its future. This role is personal for me. I know from experience how much hard work has gone into building this institution into what it is today, a destination in Georgia and beyond. As we look to the future, I am convinced Columbus State will continue to reflect the innovative spirit of the region and I’m eager to join them on that journey.”

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

Rayfield will be the first female president of the institution that was founded in 1958 as Columbus College and gained university status in 1996.

The NAACP Macon-Bibb County Branch claims that charges were “unjustly upgraded” after law enforcement arrested 32 people in connection , according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office arrested 32 people for various crimes when they found a stunt driving group in Carolyn Crayton Park the night of Oct. 9, according to a statement from the office. Deputies and state troopers also towed 60 cars at the park, recovered 14 weapons and “numerous narcotics” as a part of what they dubbed “Operation Street Defender.” Of those arrested, 27 were initially charged with unlawful assembly.

The NAACP said that some charges were unjustly “upgraded” to stunt driving and reckless conduct, despite the fact that the people were not driving, to get them to plead guilty.

“To first charge these people with unlawful assembly and then charge them with something more serious to get them to plead guilty, it doesn’t make sense,” said Macon’s NAACP chapter president Gwenette Westbrooks. “They need to have evidence that these people were stunt driving to charge them.”

Westbrooks called on the Bibb County solicitor-general’s office to “reverse and drop” the additional charges. She said the charges would show up on the peoples’ records and put them at risk of losing their jobs.

Former Peach County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Jeff Doles was arrested and charged with financial crimes, according to the Macon Telegraph.

According to [Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney Anita] Howard’s office, former Peach County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Jeff Doles was arrested on six counts of fiduciary theft and six counts of financial transaction card fraud following a GBI investigation that began in December.

Doles is accused of using a county-issued fuel card to purchase almost $230 in gas for a personal vehicle.

Port Wentworth City Council voted to triple council pay, according to WTOC.

Starting January 2024, Port Wentworth council members will go from making $400 per month to $1200 per month. In the mayor’s absense, council voted to amend the measure so instead of the mayor making the same amount as council, he will be paid $1400 per month.

Port Wentworth Councilmember Glenn Jones, the only one opposed. was against increasing it to this scale asking that they only double it.

The city manager said they’re basing it on Port Wentworth growing from 3,000 to almost 13,000 over the last 20 years and the compensation of council members of other cities in comparable size.

The mayor wasn’t present to participate in the vote because he is in the hospital waiting to have a critical surgery.

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