Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 26, 2023


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 26, 2023

Lt. Colonel George Washington fought French and Indian scouts on May 28, 1754, beginning the Seven Years War.

On May 27, 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams to let Adams know of the death of a mutual friend.

On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, requiring all Native Americans to relocate west of the Mississippi River.

Georgia Militia under General John Floyd began rounding up Cherokee Indians on May 26, 1838.

General Robert E. Lee wrote a letter dated May 26, 1861 to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown asking the state to send any weapons available for Georgia volunteers who arrived in Virginia unarmed.

On May 27, 1863, Chief Justice Roger Taney, sitting as a federal district court judge, issued a decision in Ex parte Merryman, which challenged President Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the right of habeas corpus. Lincoln ignored the ruling.

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill in Paulding County, Georgia, where Sherman’s forces attacked Johnston’s Confederates on May 27, 1864. Among the combatants on the Union side was Ambrose Bierce, who would later write The Crime at Pickett’s Mill. Pickett’s Mill is the site of annual reenactments.

On May 27, 1864, the Federal Army, having been stopped in its advance on Atlanta two days earlier by the Battle of New Hope Church, attempted to outflank the Confederate position. Some 14,000 Federal troops were selected for the task, and General Howard was given command. After a five-hour march, Howard’s force reached the vicinity of Pickett’s Mill and prepared to attack. Waiting were 10,000 Confederate troops under the command of General Cleburne.

The Federal assault began at 5 p.m. and continued into the night. Daybreak found the Confederates still in possession of the field. The Federals had lost 1,600 men compared to the Confederate loss of 500. The Confederate victory resulted in a one-week delay of the Federal advance on Atlanta.

Here are some photos of the battlefield and links to additional material.

The Battle of Dallas, Georgia began on May 28, 1864.

The Battle of New Hope Church was fought near Dallas, Georgia May 25-26, 1864 between Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal troops under General William T. Sherman.

President Calvin Coolidge signed the “Comprehensive Immigration Act” on May 26, 1924.

Many Americans saw the enormous influx of largely unskilled, uneducated immigrants during the early 1900s as causing unfair competition for jobs and land. Under the new law, immigration remained open to those with a college education and/or special skills, but entry was denied to Mexicans, and disproportionately to Eastern and Southern Europeans and Japanese. At the same time, the legislation allowed for more immigration from Northern European nations such as Britain, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. A quota was set that limited immigration to two percent of any given nation’s residents already in the U.S. as of 1890, a provision designed to maintain America’s largely Northern European racial composition. In 1927, the “two percent rule” was eliminated and a cap of 150,000 total immigrants annually was established.

The law particularly angered Japan, which in 1907 had forged with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt a “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” which included more liberal immigration quotas for Japan. By 1924, strong U.S. agricultural and labor interests–particularly from California, which had already passed its own exclusionary laws against Japanese immigrants–favored the more restrictive legislation signed by Coolidge. The Japanese government viewed the American law as an insult, and protested by declaring May 26 a national day of humiliation in Japan.

Fort Frederica National Monument was established on St Simons Island, Georgia on May 26, 1936.

Fort Frederica National National Monument on St. Simons Island Fort Frederica National National Monument on St. Simons Island

On May 27, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the United States was in an unlimited national emergency and laid out conditions under which Germany’s expansionism would constitute an attack on the United States.

Happy Birthday to Gladys Knight, born in Atlanta on May 28, 1944.

May 26, 1949 was named Clay Day in Marietta, Georgia in honor of General Lucius Clay, who spoke at the courthouse square.

On May 27, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter blasted the “Stop Carter” movement in a speech in Cincinnati.

On this day in 1992, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion by Georgia-based The Black Crowes reached number one on the Billboard US Album chart.

On May 27, 1995, actor Christopher Reeves was thrown from his horse in an equestrian competition in Culpepper, Virginia, becoming quadriplegic.

Eight years ago, a poll by Rasmussen showed Democrat Michelle Nunn beating both Jack Kingston and David Perdue in a General Election matchup and Democrat Jason Carter beating Gov. Deal.

A new historical marker in Savanah commemorates Mamie George Williams, according to WTOC.

A politician, volunteer and a suffragist, Williams registered 40,000 African American women to vote in 1920 following the passage of the 19th Amendment.

“I want them to know that she was tops in politics, spoke up for African American people, that she was the vice president of a bank and that she cared about youth,” said historian Velma Maia Thomas Fann.

Not only was Williams a member of several organizations and President of the Chatham County Colored Citizen Council, she also was the first African American woman to serve on the National Republican Committee, supporting the party that freed the enslaved.

“It’s her spirit that we want to continue to have among us, that will encourage us, that will inspire us, that will motivate us. If Mamie did it during the times when she was alive with all of the obstacles and the roadblocks and everything that was in her path, what does that say to us today?” said Shirley James, a publisher at the Savannah Tribune.

The answer to that question. “Don’t get weary till your work is done.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Thirty-seven judicial circuits in Georgia will receive grants to work on reducing the COVID backlog of cases, according to The Brunswick News.

The Brunswick Judicial Circuit is among 37 in Georgia to be awarded a grant to help with the backlog of cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of more than $2.1 million will be awarded to the judicial circuit in the first and second cycles of the American Rescue Act Plan for the 2023 calendar year.

The awards include funding for temporary personnel to respond to the case backlog, such as senior judges, judges to serve by designation, court clerks, prosecutors, security personnel, investigators, victim support staff and court reporters.

Georgia Chief Justice Michael P. Boggs, chair of the Judicial Council and the ARPA Committee, said delays during the first year have subsided, though hiring challenges continue in various judicial circuits across the state. He is overseeing the application process for the grants, and the Judicial Council’s Administrative Office of the Courts is facilitating the grant application, award, compliance, and reporting processes.

The funds are awarded on a calendar year basis and all funds allocated to the judicial branch must be spent by Dec. 31, 2024.

“Despite the challenges, I’m very proud of the work our judges and court personnel are making throughout the state in successfully implementing their grant-funded case backlog plans,” Boggs said. “We look forward to the support and efficiencies the audio-visual equipment modernization will provide to move cases faster and without technical delays and I am pleased to see the thoughtful and planned responses to this opportunity.”

Western Superior Court Judge Eric Norris rejected a bid by District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez to quash subpoenas after the DA admitted violating Marsy’s Law, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The documents are sought by Watkinsville attorney Kevin Epps in connection with a recent Marsy’s Law violation by the district attorney’s office.

Norris ruled the district attorney violated the victim’s rights of Epps’ client due to the district attorney admitting to the violation and the evidence offered by Epps. The judge has ordered that Gonzalez turn over the documents in 15 days from May 19.

During a May 19 hearing on the complaint, Epps alleged the DA’s office never intended to prosecute the rape case and that Assistant District Attorney Robert Wilson used an upcoming murder trial as an excuse to “cover for Gonzalez,” who despite a shortage of staff was out of town at an event the weekend before the trial.

Among the documents sought by Epps was one that contained the words “Selma, Alabama,” according to the district’s attorney’s motion to reject the subpoenas.

Epps said Thursday that securing the documents “will reflect that my client did not get her day in trial and her victim’s right were violated because Mr. Wilson had to cover this hearing while Ms. Gonzalez was at an event in Alabama not related to any of her duties as the district attorney.”

Some Lowndes County property owners are complaining about higher property tax bills, according to WALB.

There has been controversy after the Lowndes County Board of Assessors sent property owners their 2023 Notice of Assessment. Something they say reflects increased values due to surges in the real estate market.

“When we first purchased this home in Lowndes County, our property tax was about $1,400 a year I believe. Now it’s at $2,800. So, it basically doubled in less than two years. And if the property tax is also creeping up, what benefit is there to actually advertise to make people actually come here?,” one Lowndes County property owner said.

“My appraised value increased by $17,078, in turn, caused my 40% assessed value to increase to $6,831. That caused my property tax to increase by $230.84 to a total of $1,950.12. During these difficult times, an increase of this size is difficult for most families to absorb,” Loren Bunte, a Lowndes County resident, said.

Most property owners are allowed to appeal their 2023 Notice of Assessment online, by mail or at the Lowndes County Board of Assessors office by June 28, 2023.

“If your property values that we have on that fair market value on the Notice of Assessment doesn’t match, sort of, what you would expect, that you would be able to buy your home for or sell your home for then you should absolutely appeal. And we welcome that feedback,” James Puckett, Lowndes County Board of Assessors board member, said.

Gainesville is ranked as the nation’s hottest housing market, according to AccessWDUN.

A release from Bankrate this month shows Gainesville on top of their list, which ranked both the top 212 and top 50 metropolitan statistical areas by population based on 1-year home appreciation, 1-year job growth, and population growth, as well as lowest number of active residential listings per thousand people, listings’ median days on the market, and low unemployment rates.

The index measures a metro area’s housing availability and competitiveness to indicate “market hotness.”

Following Gainesville in the top five metropolitan areas for hottest housing markets were Knoxville (TN), Fort Meyers (FL), Sarasota (FL) and Charlotte (N.C.)

Muscogee County voters will elect a new Board of Education member for District 7, according to WTVM.

People in the community filled the library auditorium seats to hear from Laketha Ashe and Pat Frey, both running for the district seven school board seat after the current school board member Cathy Williams stepped down. Ashe says she Is running for this seat because she feels more can be done for district seven.

Early voting starts May 30th through June 16th, and election day will take place on June 20th.

Macon Judicial Circuit Judge Connie L. Williford dismissed a lawsuit by the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections against Mayor Lester Miller and County Commissioners, according to 13WMAZ.

In a ruling posted late Wednesday, Judge Connie L. Williford ruled the lawsuit was fatally flawed and had to be dismissed for violating the Georgia Constitution that dictates conditions for waiving the sovereign immunity which protects government entities from being sued.

The case dates back to issues created after former elections supervisor Jeanetta Watson resigned in January of 2022. Three months later, the mayor and commission rejected the board’s nominee to fill the job after the applicant’s questionable social media posts surfaced.

The board withdrew its nomination and filed legal action in August after Miller announced plans to form a selection committee with county commissioners and members of the board. Miller said he hoped that committee could find a suitable candidate that could breeze through the confirmation process.

The crux of the dispute is ambiguous language in the consolidated government charter that states: “upon the recommendation of the Board of Elections, the governing authority shall appoint an elections supervisor… .”

The board believes only nominees it approves can be hired and alleged Miller was usurping its authority to select the job candidate.

A state constitutional amendment generally prohibits using the waiver of sovereign immunity to sue individuals, and the lawsuit named Miller and each of the Macon-Bibb County commissioners. According to that constitutional amendment that was reinforced by a March decision of the Georgia Supreme Court, the case “shall be dismissed.”

Interim County Attorney Duke Groover successfully argued that the Board of Elections was created in 1969 by a local act of the Georgia General Assembly, but that act did not grant it the power to sue and be sued – something that was specified in the creation of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority and Macon Water Authority.

“The Board of Elections’ powers are very limited. This is not a general governmental agency,” Groover told the court. “They are limited by the duties granted to them by the election code.”

The United States Supreme Court narrowed the government’s authority over some wetlands, according to the AJC.

The federal Clean Water Act defines navigable waters such as rivers and lakes as “waters of the United States” and gives the government ability to regulate wetlands. In the past, Georgia farmers and state leaders have said the law creates an additional layer of red tape and infringes on the rights of individuals.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who has helped lead a multistate push to reverse the law, applauded the ruling.

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the (Environmental Protection Agency’s) unlawful attempt to regulate nearly every drop of water on private property,” he said in a post on Twitter. “We have been fighting against this federal power grab for years, and this is a major win for hardworking farmers across our state!”

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper also issued a statement calling the ruling “an important victory for Georgia farmers, producers, and consumers and against unconstitutional overreach by the federal government.”

“For too long, the Clean Water Act has been used as a political tool to infringe on our agriculture industry, leaving farmers, producers, and property owners at the mercy of the federal government,” he said.

As a result of Thursday’s 5-4 ruling by the court’s conservative majority, the reach of the EPA’s wetlands regulations will be limited. In this case, Sackett v. EPA, an Idaho couple filed suit after being told they could not construct a new home on their property without first receiving permits from the federal government because of their proximity to Lake Priest.

U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, a Jackson Republican, said the ruling makes clear that regulatory oversight has gone too far.

“Sackett, combined with multiple Congressional Review Act resolutions recently passed in Congress, should put federal agencies on notice: the American people will not tolerate the administrative state making up authority and undermining their freedoms,” he said in a statement.

Savannah City Council adopted revisions to their zoning code to allow medical cannabis dispensaries, according to WTOC.

City Council passed a zoning amendment that would allow for pharmacies for medical cannabis or medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits after placing temporary stays on the matter since 2022.

The vote passed 6-3, but sparked long discussion at Thursday night’s meeting.

The new amendments set restrictions for where dispensaries can go within the city. Primarily, they can’t be within 2,000 feet of places like parks, libraries, day car services, schools, churches, or healthcare facilities, to name a few.

It also prevents dispensaries from going in alcohol density overlay districts… something, not all council members agreed on.

“I’m not in agreement with this. It should be able to go anywhere, in any district where a pharmacy can go, because we are looking at a medication,” said Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier.

However, the Mayor and City Manager both say these zoning specifications are in place in the event that recreational marijuana also becomes legal.

“The question is, when you know the rain is coming, do you wait until it rains to get an umbrella, or do you get an umbrella before it rains? A lot of time, when things come down from the state, we’ve then been trying to scramble,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

Savannah City Council also voted to raise the hotel/motel tax, according to WTOC.

Savannah City Council voted to raise the hotel-motel tax from 6% to 8% percent Thursday night.

It’s made possible after Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law earlier this month allowing for the increase.

Now that the increase has passed city council, it’s expected to take effect September 1st.

Savannah is now expected to collect $52 million dollars in hotel/motel tax revenue for 2023, according to City Manager Jay Melder.

“The prevailing thought around our community is that tourism should pay a larger share of community improvements and community enhancements in our city. We are a tourist city. We enjoy being a tourism city,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

Scott Ebner is the finalist for Glynn County police chief, according to The Brunswick News.

Dougherty County Commissioners are beginning the search for a new County Administrator, according to WALB.

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard says he’s only looking forward now. That’s where Dave Wills, the executive director for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, comes in.

“I wanted to bring somebody with expertise to give us solid direction on how do you move forward,” Heard said. “This isn’t his first rodeo. And I knew that he would give us excellent information. What we need to consider and what we need to do. And I appreciate Mr. Wills. And I think it’s gonna help us.”

When asked if he believed the commission was in a good place after the termination, Wills had this to say:

“I was invited here to help them understand how they could potentially move forward. So I just restrict my comments to that,” Wills said. “I’m absolutely confident that they can move on, every county does at some point. Some move quicker than others. It’s not uncommon to see managerial changes among counties. But ultimately, the commission has a responsibility to provide government, provide services to people.”

From the Albany Herald:

On at least two occasions during the meeting, Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard asked commissioners to “please stop” when their comments veered into discussion of the circumstances surrounding the actual firing of McCoy.

The final determination of the session was that the search for a replacement for McCoy will begin on June 5.

“My opinion is you should consider hiring an interim,” Willis said. “You want to be looking for experience and communication skills and someone who gets along with the people.”

An interim county administrator would likely be on the job for from three to six months during the search for a permanent administrator, said Wills, who recommended not hiring someone interested in the full-time job on an interim basis.

Sea turtles are nesting at Jekyll Island, according to WSAV.

Tybee’s first sea turtle nest of the season was found on May 17th, and a week later there are five nests that have been found on the island’s beaches.

The Marine Science Center says Tybee’s sea turtles decided to celebrate the recent holiday, as they laid 3 nests on Tuesday night, also known as World Turtle Day.

“If you happen to see a nest, feel free to take a look at it, just keep your distance, don’t try to dig the nest up. And whenever you’re on the beach and you’re playing it’s okay to dig sand castles, but once you’re done, tear down that sand castle, fill that hole back in, because when it’s time for the mamas to come on the beach or the babies to crawl to the ocean, they want a smooth pathway to lead them to the ocean,” says Tybee Marine Science Center Operations Director, Beth Palmer.

Palmer also encourages you to come out and say goodbye to Ike, the center’s resident adult sea turtle, as he is reaching the end of his stay at the center and will be released back into the wild in the next couple of months.

Comments ( 0 )