Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 15, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 15, 2023

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 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 14, 1791, George Washington addressed the Grand Lodge of Georgia Masons in Savannah.

On May 15, 1791, George Washington left Augusta for Savannah.

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

On May 15, 1800, President John Adams ordered all 125 employees of the federal government to begin packing to move the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.

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 United States declared war on Mexico 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.

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 13, 1864, 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute camped at Mt. Crawford near Harrisonburg.The next day they would continue their march to New Market, Virginia.

On May 14, 1864, the VMI Corps of Cadets marched 15 miles and camped overnight at Mt. Tabor, near New Market, Virginia. The next day they would march into history.

On May 15, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Military Division of the Mississippi remained engaged against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Resaca, Georgia.

On May 15, 1864, at New Market, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, Major General John C. Breckenridge commanded 4800 Confederate soldiers, including the entire Corps of Cadets from Virginia Military Institute. Breckenridge previously had served as United State Representative and Senator from Kentucky, and as the youngest Vice President of the United States under President James Buchanan. Breckenridge was the Democratic nominee for President in 1860, coming in third in the popular vote and second in the Electoral College to Abraham Lincoln.

Breckenridge attacked forces under Major General Franz Sigel and they skirmished through the morning until Union forces broke through the Confederate lines.

When a gap opened in the Confederate lines, Breckenridge realized that the only force available was the VMI cadets.

He turned toward an aide and issued the following command;

“Put the boys in, and may God forgive me for the order.”

The charge of the VMI cadets remains the most noticeable feature of the Battle of New Market. With rain pouring the cadets broke the charge of the 34th Massachusetts Regiment and then advanced themselves in attack.

When the day ended, 10 cadets had been killed and/or mortally wounded. Another 48 suffered wounds.

Ten cadets died or suffered mortal wounds that day. New Market hosts the oldest continuous historical battle reenactment in the United States that is still held on the original terrain, but this year’s is canceled because of COVID-19, as was last year’s.

On the anniversary of the Battle of New Market, the roll of those who died there is called.

On the same day, the Battle of Resaca was fully engaged in Northwest Georgia.

On Saturday, May 14, the fighting at Resaca escalated into a full-scale battle. Beginning at dawn, Union forces engaged the Confederates along the entire four-mile front. In the early afternoon Schofield’s Army of the Ohio attacked the sharply angled center of the Confederate line. The assault was badly managed and disorganized, in part because one of Schofield’s division commanders was drunk. As the Union attack unraveled and became a fiasco, Johnston launched a counterattack on Sherman’s left flank. The counterattack collapsed, however, in the face of a determined stand by a Union artillery battery. In the evening Union forces pushed forward and seized the high ground west of Resaca, which placed the bridges leading south from the town within artillery range and threatened Johnston’s line of retreat.The following day Sherman renewed his assault on the Confederate center.

Carl Sanders was born on May 15, 1925 in Augusta, Georgia. He served in the United States Air Force, Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate, where he was President Pro Tem. In 1962, Sanders won the Democratic Primary for Governor, defeating former Governor Marvin Griffin, and in November was the first Governor of Georgia elected by popular vote after the County Unit System was abolished.

American artist Jasper Johns was born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was born on May 15, 1967 in Lansing, Michigan. Smoltz pitched a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series in 1991, sending the Braves to their first World Series since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Smoltz was chosen for the All Star team eight times and won the Cy Young award in 1996.

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.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flags fly at half-staff today on state buildings and properties in observation of Peace Officers Memorial Day under Executive Order # by Gov. Brian Kemp.

A statewide seatbelt campaign / enforcement party begins now. From the Gainesville Times:

A statewide effort focusing on seat belts will kick off next week as part of the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign, according to authorities.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office said the campaign starts on May 15 and runs through the Memorial Day weekend.

“During this period, HCSO will be a part of the statewide effort enforcing Georgia’s seat belt and child passenger safety laws with the goal of saving lives in the event of a traffic crash,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“Mistakes happen on the road every day, and the goal is for everyone to be able to walk away when a mistake behind the wheel leads to a crash,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said in a news release.  “Seat belts offer the best protection to anyone riding in a vehicle in the event of a crash, and taking a few seconds to buckle a seat belt before every trip could one day save your life or the life of a family member or friend.”

Beyond buckling up, the Sheriff’s Office is asking drivers to stay at safe speeds, avoid distractions such as phones, settle navigation issues before driving and drive sober.

Fort Benning‘s name has been changed to Fort Moore, according to WTVM.

Fort Benning will officially become Fort Moore during a ceremony at Doughboy Stadium on May 11.

The name change honors retired Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” and Julia Moore for their meaningful and lasting contributions to our soldiers, the Army, and the nation.

Also in line for a new name: Savannah’s square formerly known as Calhoun Square. From WTOC:

That square has been nameless since November when City Council voted to removed the name of John C. Calhoun. The name of Calhoun Square was removed because the council felt that the legacy of Calhoun didn’t reflect the City of Savannah.

The city has been accepting suggestions for a new name since March 28.

John C. Calhoun was the seventh Vice President of the United States, serving for both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.

However, he wasn’t from Savannah, or even from Georgia. He was from South Carolina and a staunch advocate for slavery.

For those reasons, the city council decided to remove his name from the square.

“That process was put in place to make sure that when we do rename or name public property, that it’s done in a way that’s fair, requires a lot of public input, and is structures so that we put a level of importance on how we recognize and name not only our local leaders, but our important cultural aspects that make the City of Savannah special,” said Joe Shearhouse, Director of Policy, External Affairs with the City of Savannah.

Those applications are due no later than Monday night at 11:59 p.m.

There is a coalition of people in Savannah that want to see the square named after Susie King Taylor, who was the first Black nurse in the United States.

If that were to happen, the square would be the first of the 22 in the city to be named after a woman or a person of color.

Georgia Peach Farmers were hit hard by weather and will see dramatically reduced crop yields, according to 13WMAZ.

Mother Nature wasn’t kind to one of Georgia’s top crops, the one we’re known for here in Central Georgia — peaches.

Lawton Pearson sits on the state’s Peach Council and owns Pearson Farms. He says Central Georgia peach-growers saw about a 90 percent loss this year. His wife Lanier says it will be slim pickings this summer.

“On a good year, you hope this tree has 700 peaches on it,” she said pointing to a tree with very few peaches on it.

“We have anywhere from five to 10 percent of a peach crop this year, so it’s worse than anything I’ve ever seen,” Lanier said.

Pearson says not enough chill hours in December, a warm February, and frosts in March compounded another to create the disaster.

“It’s kind of like a triple-whammy — one of those events we could have sustained and had a loss, but not this significant,” she said, which means you might feel in the pits when you go to the produce aisle this summer.

“You will not be able to find a Georgia peach in grocery stores this year,” she projected.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is asking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to reconsider proposed lower boat speed limits designed to protect Right Whales, according to The Brunswick News.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has joined the attorneys general in four other states in urging NOAA to reconsider proposed amendments to its North Atlantic Right Whale Strike Reduction Rule.

The amended rule under consideration by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would require all boats 35 feet in length and longer to cap maximum speed at 10 knots, or roughly 11.5 mph, when in Atlantic waters frequented by right whales. It also calls for expanding the area and season of compliance.

NOAA’s current 10 knot speed limit rule applies to vessels at least 65 feet in length.

Carr has joined the AGs in the states of South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Alaska in requesting NOAA rethink the rule.

A letter signed by the five earlier this month cites potential legal issues over safety concerns for harbor pilots and mariners in general.

“In addition to commercial shipping, the proposed rule has the potential to seriously disrupt the recreational fishing and boating communities of our states,” the letter signed by the AGs says.

“In short, the proposed rule has the potential to inflict serious economic damage on our states and citizens and will likely be challenged legally because of its substantive and procedural problems. While we generally share NOAA’s concerns regarding the protection of the North Atlantic right whale, we believe there are alternative ways to protect these whales without inflicting unnecessary economic damage to our states. We respectively ask that you reconsider the proposed rule and allow for further time to study possible alternative solutions to this problem. The livelihoods of millions of Americans are potentially at stake.”

Among those supporting expansion of the regulation is the Georgia Conservancy, which noted to NOAA that mother and calf pairs are at high risk of vessel strikes because they frequently rear and nurse nearshore and close to the surface of the water.

Georgia waters are calving grounds for the whales.

AG Carr also opposed the Cobb County Commission-drawn district map, according to the AJC.

In a brief filed Friday, Carr argues that the county’s amendment to its district map overruling the state Legislature “contravenes the state’s reapportionment law, is beyond the commissioners’ power, and is void,” as he previously argued in an unofficial opinion letter earlier this year.

Keli Gambrill, a sitting county commissioner, filed a lawsuit in her capacity as a resident against her fellow board members after the Democratic majority passed its own map last year to preserve Commissioner Jerica Richardson’s seat.

Richardson had been drawn out of her district by state lawmakers in early 2022, which would have rendered her unqualified to serve the rest of her elected term if the county had not taken action.

By amending its own electoral map, the commission created a constitutional question of whether the home rule provision of the state constitution allows a county board to redraw its own district lines. While the county legal team argues that it can, Carr and other state officials have decried the move as unconstitutional.

“Home rule allows counties to fill in gaps left by higher authorities. In this case, the General Assembly explicitly addressed the gap that the Board of Commissioners tried to fill, namely Cobb County’s voting districts,” Carr says in the brief.

If Superior Court Judge Ann Harris rules in Cobb County’s favor, the redistricting process across the state of Georgia could be completely upended as counties begin to practice a newfound power of drawing their own district lines — a move that many argue is highly unlikely.

If the court rules the state’s map is lawful, Richardson could be forced to vacate her District 2 seat, leaving the board in a 2-2 partisan split until a special election can be held for the position.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers agreed to study the effects of dredging on turtle populations, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia conservation group One Hundred Miles moved to dismiss its lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers after the agency announced Friday that it would voluntarily conduct the study. The group sued in December, asking a U.S. District Court judge to order the Corps to produce such a report.

“The Corps has now committed to what we’ve asked for, to go back and review the science,” Catherine Ridley, a One Hundred Miles vice president, said Monday. “The science is clear: Spring and summer dredging puts Georgia’s sea turtles and decades of conservation progress at risk.”

Environmentalists and the Army Corps have battled since 2021 over the agency’s plan to end a policy that for three decades has prohibited the dredging of accumulated sand and mud from harbors in Georgia and the Carolinas during the nesting season for sea turtles.

In place since 1991, the seasonal limits are intended to protect sea turtles from being killed and maimed by the vacuum-like suction pumps of hopper dredges during the warmer months, when female turtles are most abundant near Southern beaches. Conservationists credit that policy with helping threatened and endangered turtle species begin a fragile rebound.

Since the 1990s, maintenance dredging in Georgia and the Carolinas has been confined to a period roughly between December and March. Giant loggerhead sea turtles, federally protected as a threatened species, typically start nesting in May. Smaller numbers of endangered green and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles lay eggs in the region as well.

Georgia State Senator Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) continues working to improve literacy, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Even before he became a state senator in 2020, Billy Hickman supported efforts to improve literacy in the Statesboro and Bulloch County community. But, as a state senator, Hickman was able in the 2023 General Assembly to get the full force of state government behind a literacy initiative.

On April 13, Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 211 into law, establishing the Georgia Council on Literacy. Senate Bill 211 was sponsored and championed by State Sen. Hickman, who represents District 4, which includes Bulloch and several other counties.

“The creation of the Georgia Council on Literacy is a major step forward in improving early literacy rates in our state,” Hickman said after the signing. “It is vital to ensure our children receive literacy instruction backed by evidence-based principles.”

Last week, Hickman shared his love of reading and commitment to children’s literacy when he came to Kid’s World Learning Center and read to a group of pre-k children.

Hickman read “Llama Llama Red Pajama” to the 60 or so 4- and 5-year-olds at Kid’s World on Savannah Ave. Hickman kept the children entertained with the rhyming tale of a little llama who just won’t go to sleep with questions and comments that made the story even more amusing.

“This is so much fun and it’s important for these kids to see someone like me come to them and take the time to read out loud,” Hickman said. “I know it’s something Jack (Hill) did all the time.”

Hickman was referring to the late State Sen. Jack Hill, who passed away in 2020. Hickman won a special election in August 2020 to replace Hill.

“Literacy is the basis of our children learning,” Hickman said after finishing reading to the Kid’s World children. “In our area and in Georgia, we are not doing enough to get our kids reading and the COVID pandemic just made it worse.

“In some school systems in my senate district, less than one-third of kids are reading on their grade level. If we don’t address that issue head-on, we will put those kids and our whole state at a terrible disadvantage.”

Hickman said he sponsored Senate Bill 211 to specifically establish oversight from the Council on Literacy ton help schools and the state increase literacy. The heart of the bill reads: “…to require local school systems to develop and implement five-year literacy plans for such school system and individual literacy plans for students in kindergarten through grade five…”

Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned in Georgia for the Biden / Harris 2024 ticket, according to WRDW.

“Here in Georgia, we’ve delivered over $4 billion to rebuild roads, bridges, and airports,” she said.  “In Atlanta alone, new sidewalks and bike lanes on Central Avenue and Pryor Street, expansion of the Beltline, and, finally, more upgrades to Concourse D at Hartsfield-Jackson.”

“The price of insulin for seniors is capped at $35 a month. Prescription medication will be capped at $2,000 a year,” she said. “And 50,000 seniors in Georgia will have more money to pay for groceries and retire with dignity because people voted.”

She also referenced the recent mass shooting in Midtown when talking about gun violence.

“Instead of saving lives from gun violence, extremists, state by state, made it legal to open carry a gun without even a permit or background check. Meanwhile, we mourn for the mother killed at a medical facility just a few blocks from here,” Harris said.

“Georgia remains the center of the political universe, and Georgia Democrats understand our power in the last election and the runoff election, and we’re gearing up to do it again,” [Georgia Democratic Party Chair Nikema Williams] said.

Statesboro’s proposed budget includes pay raises, higher property taxes, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Citing inflation in costs and increased competition in the job market, Statesboro City Manager Charles W. Penny has proposed a 5% across-the-board raise for the city government’s employees and a 2-mill increase in its property tax rate.

Increases in sewer rates, solid waste collection and disposal fees and natural gas base rates are also anticipated in the fiscal year 2024 budget assumptions Penny and City Finance Director Cindy West delivered to the mayor and council during a Tuesday, May 9, work session. The city’s fiscal years run July through June, and a public hearing is slated for June 6 so the council can adopt the budget June 20 to take effect July 1.

“Our most important resource is our employees, and so what we’re recommending to you is a 5 percent, across-the-board pay plan adjustment,” Penny said early in his presentation.

The raise is needed because of inflation, he said, and the percentage comes recommended by the human resources consulting firm Condrey & Associates. The firm led by Stephen E. Condrey completed the city’s previous compensation plan study in 2019, and Penny proposes to have the firm do a new study during fiscal year 2024, to be put into effect July 1 2025, to sort out the pay levels for different jobs and experience levels.

The staff’s budget assumptions include 10% growth in property taxes from new construction and rising property values, adjusted down from a preliminary suggestion of 17% from the county Board of Tax Assessors’ office. The 10% growth would yield an estimated $607,830.

But the increase of 2 mills in the tax rate that Penny recommended is calculated to yield around $1,829,000 additional revenue.

Last year he also suggested, but the council did not adopt, a millage rate increase. Instead, the city took advantage of growth in its tax digest, including inflation in property values. But the city government still, as Penny had predicted, spent more than it took in as new revenue to the general fund, reducing its fund balance by roughly $600,000.

The city could again balance its budget – including the raises – without a tax increase, Penny said. But he added that this would further erode the fund balance, which he has called a “rainy day fund,” by an estimated $1.34 million.

“But with the cost of living, with all this inflation, last year we spent $600,000 of that fund balance, and that’s a non-recurring fund, and so our fund balance went from about 54% of our general fund down to 46%, and so that’s headed in the wrong  direction, and salaries are not going down,” Penny said.

A mill is 1/1000th of the assessed value of property, and most property in Georgia is assessed for taxes at 40% of market value. An increase of 2 mills, from the current 7.308 mills to 9.308, would be a $156 tax increase on a $200,000 home with a $2,000 homestead exemption. On that example, provided in the city’s presentation, the tax is now $570.02 and would rise to $726.02.

“In my understanding, the consensus when we left was that, yes, we are going to need to go up, but there was concern expressed by me and others that we realize people are hurting,” Barr said. “We’ve got a lot of folks on fixed incomes. We’ve got a lot of low-income people. … So there’s a concern about people for whom it’s going to be a struggle.”

So the mayor and council talked about ways to mitigate the effect on those residents, including possibly expanding a city program to assist people in financial distress with their utility bills.

Savannah-Chatham County schools are also budgeting for pay raises in the coming year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Board of Education heard a presentation of its draft budget for fiscal year 2024 last week. The budget will be passed by late June and goes into effect July 1; it’s the nine-member board’s top responsibility as elected officials.

This year’s budget — which included a preliminary $15 million deficit — focuses on hiring nearly 50 teachers to combat flailing literacy rates across the district, a 5% raise for all district employees and a substantial rate hike in health insurance. And while the district distributed an online survey to which more than 1,000 people responded, several of respondents’ top issues were not addressed in the draft budget presentation.

The $561 million budget includes an increase of $30 million in local revenue and a $12.9 million increase in state revenue.

But while funding has risen due to an increase in property values, expenditures also have increased, including a hefty rate hike for employee health insurance, as mandated by the state.

State funding is estimated to grow by $12.98 million from last year, but a health insurance rate hike is expected to cost an estimated $18 million. The rate hike is mandated by the state and equates to $635 more per month per employee than the previous fiscal year.

But state revenue comprises a fraction of the district’s half-a-billion dollars in revenue. Most of that money — $366.7 million, or 65% — comes from local taxes. During the 2023 fiscal year, the district lowered the millage rate 0.50 mills, but did not adjust the rate for FY2024.

According to the online survey, keeping the millage rate low was the No. 1 priority of Chatham County residents and parents. The millage rate of 17.63 means a property owner with a home valued at $250,000 would pay about $141.30 annually, according to the school district.

Other major expenditures include an extra $16.2 million for a districtwide pay increase of 5% for all full-time employees and funds to hire several administrative positions, including those in human resources, maintenance, information security and information technology.

Savannah City Commissioners appointed Jean Brown Rivers to the vacancy created by the death of her husband, the last Commissioner Larry “Gator” Rivers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Rivers, 73, died of cancer on April 29. Since he had not served three years of his four-year term, the law requires the commission seat be filled by special election. The appointment of Jean Rivers is temporary. She will serve as the representative for District 2 until a special election is held on Sept. 19.

Following the meeting, Chatham County Chairman Chester Ellis said the decision to appoint Jean Rivers was based on the commission’s desire to keep the process from being overly politicized. Ellis said Jean Rivers was not interested in running for the position in the special election, only to fill out the time between now and Sept. 19.

“What we tried to do today, and what you saw us do was stay out of conflict. I would rather the District [2] folks determine who was gonna represent them,” Ellis said.

The 2020 death of another sitting commissioner was resolved the same way. In August 2020, District 2 Commissioner John Holmes died in office of COVID-19. Holmes’ wife, Yvonne Holmes was chosen to fill out the rest of his term.

[District 3 Commissioner Bobby] Lockett said while Gator Rivers was holding the seat, “she was also his advisor,” helping him through big decisions on commission.

“I’m sure she’ll do a good job. She’s a very community-conscious person. I’ve known her for a long time, so I’m very pleased and I’m sure we can do what needs to be done,” Lockett said. “We’ve got to keep the district moving.”

Ellis said Jean Rivers will be sworn in within the next two weeks, prior to the next Chatham Commission meeting, scheduled for May 26.

Savannah will receive $3.5 million in federal funding for homeless services, according to WTOC.

According to executive director of the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless, Jennifer Dulong, the $3.5 million is a renewal that will go toward the expenses of eight different programs in the area. That includes projects like City 54 which is permanent supportive housing for people with special needs, the Economic Opportunity Authority’s Tom D. Austin House, which offers family housing, and Union Mission, which offers various housing options, among others.

“Sustainability is relevant, we absolutely cannot afford as a community to lose any funding for any of these projects. We need every single bed space available; we need every single permanent supportive housing unit available to help our citizens who are experiencing homelessness. When communities lose some of that money, there’s a chance that they could lose some of that access to that housing and those bed spaces,” Dulong said.

The most recent data from the Authority – from January of 2023 – shows 712 people experiencing homelessness in Chatham County. Dulong says this funding will help continue to meet the needs of the community and they’re seeing progress.

Tybee City Council adopted a resolution seeking greater law enforcement powers, according to WTOC.

The resolution doesn’t change any laws or city ordinances, but it does show intention of city officials to reach out to state and federal lawmakers with their concerns about large, unpermitted events on the island, in hopes that new laws could give them more control over how many people are on the island at any given time.

Just three weeks ago, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 people came to Tybee Island for the annual Orange Crush beach bash: a number of people that city leaders said they were unprepared and unable to handle.

Mayor Shirley Sessions had previously told WTOC that because Tybee doesn’t have control of Highway 80- the State of Georgia does- they cannot control how many people are on the island at once.

But a new resolution by the Tybee City Council is aiming to start the process of changing that- by calling on federal and state lawmakers “to work together to achieve any legal modifications necessary to make emergency actions appropriate for public safety purposes to include potential closing of Highway 80 or restricting access to Highway 80 in certain areas in order to prevent the overburdening of county and city resources and infrastructure and to protect the citizens of every impacted community and city within Chatham County and beyond.”

The resolution also states that the City is “in need of the expansion of emergency powers” to “invoke protections in the event a local declaration of emergency is authorized.”

The resolution also said that unpermitted events on Tybee have significantly burdened City resources because of illegal activity like gunfire, drugs, and reckless driving.

It passed unanimously.

Former Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris (R) has been nominated as Chair of the Fulton County Board of Elections, according to the AJC.

Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts, a Democrat, picked former Commissioner Lee Morris, a Republican, to lead the board responsible for certifying election results, setting the number of polling places and deciding whether to allow voting on Sundays during early voting.

Fulton includes almost all of the city of Atlanta, and about 73% of its voters supported Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock last November and Democratic President Joe Biden in 2020.

Morris’ nomination comes as the State Election Board is considering an attempted state takeover of Fulton’s elections board. A performance review recommended against a takeover in January, finding that the county had made improvements in operations and training since 2020, but the Republican majority on the State Election Board hasn’t yet voted on whether to dismiss the matter.

If appointed by the Fulton Commission during its Wednesday meeting, Morris would give Republicans three out of five members on the board. The Democratic and Republican parties each nominate two of the board’s members.

It’s unclear if Morris has enough votes on the Fulton Commission to be approved. Five of the Commission’s seven members are Democrats, meaning Pitts would need one other Democrat to get a majority in support of Morris.

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