Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2018


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 10, 2018

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

On May 12, 1740, Georgia forces under James Oglethorpe took Fort Diego in Florida from the Spanish and mocked the defenders’ jean shorts.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

The worst American defeat of the Revolutionary War occurred at Charleston, South Carolina on May 12, 1780. American Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who surrendered that day would later accept the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1787, the designated starting day. Because a large number of delegates had not arrived the opening of the Convention was moved to May 25.

On May 12, 1789, the Society of St. Tammany was founded in New York and would grow to a dominant home for political bosses. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (Signet Classics) remains one of the best historical versions of how political machines worked.

George Washington visited Georgia on May 12, 1791. From Purysburg, South Carolina, Georgia officials escorted Washington on a barge twenty-five miles down the Savannah River to Savannah, where he would stay four days.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

On May 14, 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis, Missouri to explore the Northwest United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond.

On May 12, 1864, Confederate General Joseph Johnston pulled his Army of Tennessee and Georgia back to Resaca, Georgia. In Virginia, Major General John B. Gordon saved the life, or prevented the capture of General Robert E. Lee at Spotsylvania. After the war, Gordon would serve as Governor of Georgia and United States Senator. On May 12, 1864, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets awoke in Staunton, where they had marched from Lexington 18 miles the previous day; after another 19 miles headed north up the Shenandoah Valley, the would make camp at Mt. Crawford, near Harrisonburg. The cadets ranged in age from fifteen to twenty-five years.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton.

On May 12, 1970, Georgia National Guard troops were mobilized to end race riots that had broken out the night before in Augusta. On that same day, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, my father’s favorite player as a youth, hit his 500th home run.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

On May 11, 2011, Newt Gingrich announced via Twitter that he would run for President. Two days later, I caught up with Newt at Fincher’s Barbecue in Macon for a brief interview the day he was scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention.

Happy Birthday to Minnesota, which became a state on May 11, 1858. Y’all talk funny.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced three appointments to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Deal announced the following appointments to the Court of Appeals of Georgia: the Honorable E. Trenton “Trent” Brown III will replace the Honorable Tilman Eugene “Tripp” Self III following Judge Self’s appointment and confirmation to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, the Honorable Elizabeth Gobeil will fill the vacancy created by the appointment and confirmation of the Honorable Elizabeth Branch to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Honorable Elizabeth Gobeil will replace the Honorable Elizabeth Branch following Judge Branch’s appointment and confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and the Honorable Stephen S. Goss will replace the Honorable Gary B. Andrews, who will retire at the end of July. Deal also announced Andrew W. Pope will fill the solicitor general vacancy within the State Court of Thomas County and Ryan R. Leonard will fill the district attorney vacancy within the Douglas Judicial Circuit.

The appointments will take effect upon swearing in.

E. Trenton “Trent” Brown III, Court of Appeals
Brown is a superior court judge of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit and previously served as the state court judge of Putnam County. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. Brown and his wife, Jill, have two children and reside in Eatonton.

Elizabeth D. Gobeil, Court of Appeals
Gobeil is a director and appellate division judge with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. Gobeil and her husband, Bart, reside in Savannah.

Stephen S. Goss, Court of Appeals
Goss is a superior court judge in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. Goss and his wife, Dee, have three children and reside in Albany.

Andrew W. Pope, Thomas County Solicitor General
Pope is the owner and managing attorney of Andrew W. Pope, P.C. Attorney at Law in Thomasville. He previously served as solicitor general of Thomas County from 2006-2012. Pope earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southwestern State University and a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He and his wife, Brecca, have two children and reside in Thomasville.

Ryan R. Leonard, District Attorney, Douglas Judicial Circuit
Leonard has worked for the Douglas Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office since 2006 and has been the acting district attorney since March 2018. He received a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and a law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law. Leonard and his wife, Erika, have two children and reside in Douglasville.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is meeting with Congressional leaders to advance the Trump administration’s agriculture policy, according to the AJC.

The former Georgia governor has quietly met with House GOP leaders on Capitol Hill in recent days, helping them strategize how to sell the $867 billion measure to skeptical colleagues. And he huddled with President Donald Trump and the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture committees on Thursday in the Oval Office to further discuss their approach moving forward.

Perdue has voiced support for the most divisive portion of the House GOP’s farm bill: a requirement that most able-bodied adults under 60, including the parents of children older than 6, work at least 20 hours a week or participate in a job training program to receive sustained benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. SNAP currently has work requirements in place for able-bodied people under 50 without dependents, but many states have waivers that critics say has made the rules essentially ineffective.

House Democrats are completely opposed to the legislation, which GOP leaders hope to bring up for a floor vote next week. They frame the proposed work requirements as cruel, racially-motivated and nearly impossible to administer.

“This bill takes 1.6 million needy families off of the SNAP program,” said Atlanta Democrat David Scott, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee. “Why? A work program that you manifest and walk around and say able-bodied men or able-bodied people should work and not be on food stamps.”

The Fannin County Board of Education has voted to allow some teachers to possess guns in schools, according to AccessWDUN.

Teachers who wish to possess a firearm must have a permit and go through training approved by the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office. That stipulation would be circumvented if the teacher has a military or law enforcement background. Each faculty member who takes part must also pass a background check annually.

Coweta County will not consider arming teachers, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Lowndes County Commission approved spending $5.8 million for a soccer complex near Hahira, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Candidates for Board of Education seats in Bibb and Houston Counties spoke to the Macon Telegraph about improving school safety.

Harris County School District Superintendent Jimmy Martin resigned effective immediately, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

WLTZ in Columbus looks at the history of Columbus Mayoral candidate Zeph Baker.

Public documents from business tax liens to campaign financial disclosure forms show bare minimum , Zeph Baker has a problem following the law.

According to court records, Baker’s recent speeding ticket for 98 miles an hour is one of nine citations he’s received in the past five years including no insurance, no state tag, and one in 2016 for driving on a suspended license.

It’s significant because it also shows his home address in Newnan.

Baker currently has 11 uncancelled tax liens associated with Majestic Sunz, the most recent in January of this year but perhaps the most troubling trend is Zeph Baker’s continued refusal to submit finance disclosures required by law.

Most recently he missed a March 31st deadline to show the public who is financing his campaign and how the money is spent.

It’s a pattern that dates back to 2008, during his first campaign and every one since.

Columbus City Council has voted to spend $10 million in surplus funds, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannah City Council voted 7-2 on Thursday to approve the budget amendment that includes funding for a new backhoe for city cemeteries, computer security upgrades following a malware attack, and an early learning center touted by Mayor Eddie DeLoach as a anti-poverty initiative.

The vote came after the Savannah-Chatham School Board on Wednesday had directed staff to develop a firm proposal after being presented with the plan to establish the learning center at East Broad Street Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year. If an intergovernmental agreement is approved, the city funds would go towards the cost of accommodating 3-year-olds since the state does not generally provide Pre-K funds for children that age.

DeLoach was joined by Aldermen Carol Bell, Bill Durrence, Brian Foster, John Hall, Julian Miller and Estella Shabazz in supporting the spending plan that was opposed by Aldermen Van Johnson and Tony Thomas.

Savannah will take over a $43.5 million dollar reservoir constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Corps of Engineers built the $43.5 million, 100-millon gallon reservoir at the urging of city water officials as a solution to potential drinking water issues that could result from the deepening of the Savannah Harbor. The reservoir gives Savannah added assurance that its water customers will always have access to fresh water, said Chief Infrastructure and Development Officer Heath Lloyd.

“The Corps is deepening the channel of the harbor by approximately five feet and an extreme high spring tide could push salt water closer to our intake and if that salt water gets into our system then technically we have no way to treat it,” he said. “The reservoir creates a pool of water, approximately 100 million gallons, so if we were to have one of these extreme high tide events, we would be able to pull from that reservoir during the high tide event and not pull salt water into our distribution system.”

But while federal and state dollars built the reservoir, the annual maintenance and operation bill, now estimated at $300,000 will be city funded. And because water and sewer services in Savannah are self-funded, that means anyone who gets a water bill will be paying to keep the reservoir operating.

Statesboro City Councilis considering competing proposals for allowing 18-20 year olds into bars for music performances, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Glynn County Commissioners discussed a proposed FY 2019 budget of $142 million, according to The Brunswick News.

Campaign Finance Law

James Salzer of the AJC writes about a problem with the state’s ethics law that dates to when Primary election dates were changed without changing the campaign disclosure schedule.

Candidates don’t have to file full campaign disclosure reports of what they’ve raised and spent from early April until the beginning of July, more than a month after voters go to the polls to pick Republican and Democratic nominees.

“It’s ridiculous that we don’t have pre-primary reports,” said Rick Thompson, a former director of the state ethics commission who runs a company that works with candidates to help them comply with reporting requirements. “Almost every other state has pre-election reporting.”

In the past, primaries were more likely to be in July, so the midyear campaign finance filings would come shortly before the vote. Now the last full report before the primaries is filed shortly after a March 31 deadline.

Sarah Henderson, the executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause Georgia, said candidates who win election this year need to change the system so the public gets a better idea of who is funding campaigns and how hopefuls are spending their money.

“The state’s filing deadlines need to be updated to reflect our new primary schedule,” she said. “The public has a right to know before they cast their vote as to how the candidates are paying for their campaigns.”

In my opinion, the story earlier about Zeph Baker points to another shortcoming in the ethics laws – you can go for years without filing required disclosures from previous campaigns, then run for office again. A simple rule that a prospective candidate must be current on all past filings before running for another office would be a sensible addition to the Ethics in Government Act.


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