Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2015


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2015

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

Coca-Cola was first served at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in Atlanta on May 8, 1886.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

On May 8, 1977, the Grateful Dead played at Cornell University’s Barton Hall, years later the show is widely considered to be their best ever. Here’s the best song from the best show.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

The first phase of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is paying historial dividends as divers recover artifacts from the Civil War ironclad CSS Georgia.

Built in 1862, the ironclad was originally intended to be a gunboat but was too heavy to maneuver offensively against the Savannah River’s strong currents, according to Steve James of Panamerican Consultants, the Memphis firm conducting field work on the recovery.

So the Georgia was subsequently anchored in the river to help protect Fort Jackson and Savannah. She was intentionally scuttled by Confederate troops in 1864 rather than surrender her to the rapidly advancing forces of Union Gen. William T. Sherman.

The wreck was discovered during a 1968 dredging operation. A small-scale recovery effort in the 1980s removed two cannons, a few cannonballs and other artifacts. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The latest recovery work will remove the entire remains of the vessel to make way for the Corps to deepen in that area.

Georgia Politics

Former State Senator Joey Brush was killed in a motorcycle accident yesterday.

Brush, 59, died after a car pulled out in front of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Columbia Road about 8:30 a.m. Kimberly Crouch, 49, of Augusta, had stopped at a stop sign on northbound Louisville Road at Columbia Road and didn’t see the motorcycle before attempting to drive through the intersection, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. Crouch was found at fault in the wreck and charges against her are pending, Morris said.

“Joey and I were good friends,” said state Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling. “My heart just breaks.”

Brush served two terms in the state House in 1992-93 and 1995-96. During his tenure there, Brush was active in education-related issues and was instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill 709, the Education Reform Act.

He became a member of the Georgia Senate in 1997. As chairman of the Senate’s education committee he handled all of the Department of Education bills, including helping with the School Safety Act.

“Joey was one of the hardest-working public servants I have known,” said state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem. “He was passionate about educating kids and made significant contributions to Georgia as chairman of the State Senate Education committee. The Columbia County community will miss him.”
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle also mourned Brush’s passing.

“Our state lost a noble Georgian today. Senator Joey Brush was not only a fierce advocate for conservative values in the Georgia legislature but was also a great friend,” Cagle said. “He will be deeply missed and his legacy will not be forgotten.”

Lee May to resign from DeKalb Commission

Today at 10 AM, DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May will announce his resignation from the DeKalb Commission District Five seat to which he was elected, but will retain his current appointment as iCEO.

The vacancy in May’s District 5 seat on the DeKalb County Commission has made it difficult for the remaining six members to pass numerous pieces of legislation.

The impasse has also stymied efforts for the commission to appoint a temporary replacement for May in District 5.

There will have to be a special election to fill May’s seat on the commission

May’s resignation from his commission seat means he cannot return to the commission if Burrell Ellis is acquitted at his retrial, which is set to begin in early June.

If Ellis is acquitted and resumes his job as CEO, May will be out of office.

If Ellis is convicted and removed from office, there will be a special election to select a permanent replacement to serve the remainder of Ellis’s term, which runs through the end of 2016.

I believe that the Special Election will be held June 16, 2015, though no official announcement has been made. On Facebook, State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, who represents part of DeKalb County, floated the idea of running for May’s commission seat.

John Ernst on DeKalb County Government and Ethics

John Ernst, who serves as Chair of the DeKalb County Ethics Board, penned an OpEd for the Reporter Newspapers,

Corruption in politics is a tale as old as time. In our state, we’ve had Schrenko and Walker and now Boyer. It’s foolhardy to believe that we’ll one day rid ourselves completely of unethical behavior. In DeKalb County, many point to flaws in our county executive form of government as the reason for abuse.

Whatever the case, DeKalb has the strongest ethics board in the state — on paper. Members of the Board of Ethics now have the ability to fire unethical employees, whether they be secretaries, department heads, members of the Board of Commissioners, or even the CEO himself.

Within the past year, we addressed a major defect of our Board of Ethics. For a long time, we lacked funding and full membership.

After pushing the Board of Commissioners and the Interim CEO’s office for an increase in funding, we received nearly $200,000 for our annual budget, a nearly 10-fold increase over previous board budgets. We also were able to push DeKalb County to fill all of the remaining vacant board seats, we hired investigators, and we hired a lawyer with ethics experience at the State Bar to advise the board.

With our house now in order, we’ve focused on moving through our caseload of complaints efficiently and effectively.

I remain hopeful that we will restore local government from the crisis of confidence that has been afflicting it for years. We will only be proud of our government when we make ethics an essential and integral component of leadership.

Nancy Jester: A Broken Government in Disarray

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester also writes of the ills plaguing DeKalb County, in the Brookhaven Post.

In just the past few days DeKalb County taxpayers have witnessed media reports highlighting the following:

  • Federal prosecutors issuing a subpoena to DeKalb County seeking records on Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Darryl Jennings, Sr. and a pool hall at the center of a bribery scandal.
  • A former DeKalb County police officer indicted on charges that he violated his oath of office by taking bribes.
  • Media reports that of the 11 officials and vendors mentioned in the blockbuster Special Purpose Grand Jury report, in addition to Burrell Ellis, none has come to criminal prosecution and there is a possibility the statute of limitations will expire.
  • And, the issue of the now infamous $4,000 payment from a DeKalb County vendor, which could have been graft, theft – or a setup to embarrass a high-ranking official.

J. Tom Morgan, a former DeKalb County District Attorney has stated, “This is just the tip of an iceberg, is my best guess.”

I fear Mr. Morgan may be correct. The true victims of our broken government in disarray are the taxpayers – the working men and women of DeKalb County who love our county, love their families, and try to do the right thing by going to work, obeying the law, and paying the very taxes that fund DeKalb County government.

 Others are breaking what they are building – and it must stop.

I told WSB TV and the Atlanta Journal: “We can’t just keep depending on reform by scandal and reform by indictment.”

It is time for transformational reform. It is time to hold people accountable. It is time to create a transparent atmosphere and demonstrate to DeKalb County taxpayers their elected and appointed officials are serious about respecting them and their tax dollars.

Brian Donegan on Mike Huckabee’s Announcement

Brian Donegan of Lawrenceville traveled to Arkansas for the Presidential campaign kickoff of former Governor Mike Huckabee and sent in this report.

I was honored and proud to travel to Hope Arkansas the other day to attend what was billed as Mike Huckabee’s big announcement.  Ever since he told the world he would make an announcement on May 5th during an interview with Fox News last month an online community of Huckabee supporters has been alive with excitement.  Several of us made plans to go.

So what was it like?  The energy in the Hall was incredible.  Having a feeling that it would be packed Phil DaCosta, who was nice enough (or crazy enough) to drive us both ways, and I decided to go early to make sure we had seats.  We were right.  Every seat was filled, and it was SRO in the aisles and along the walls.  There was even overflow rooms that I heard were filled as well.  Don’t treat it as gospel but my estimation is that there was between 2,000 and 3,000 people there.  The town of Hope as a population of 8,000 people

How was the speech?   I believe that Governor Huckabee is the best communicator in our party.  Was he at his absolute best?  Close but not quite.  But he brought the crowd to its feet multiple times and had us chanting “We like Mike!” several times.  It was chock full of his Conservative populist style.  There was humor and emotion and I laughed and shed tears at times.  When he made it official early on during his we tore the roof off the building as supporters jumped up and down, hugged, and hollered until there was no tomorrow.  Other highlights were strong statements regarding ISIS, adopting the FairTax, and empowering people to fight poverty (reminding me of Jack Kemp).

What are his chances?  In a growing field of mostly fresh faces and what will be the highest quality field of candidates for the Republican nomination in decades it would be foolish to put my rose-colored glasses on and tell you “it’s Huckabee all the way!  Wooo!”  Things are so wide open that it is anyone’s race.  However his skill of communicating a positive Conservative message and being able to deliver it home to people who would otherwise ignore it otherwise leads me to believe that Mike’s biggest challenge is winning the GOP nomination.  Being the best communicator, his charm and likability is a huge plus and had the liberals at the Daily Kos scared in 2007 and has them all frightened now because I think Governor Huckabee wins the White House if he is our nominee.

Georgia Republican Party Chairman’s Race

Jordan Peebles spoke to both the candidates for Georgia Republican Party Chairman and wrote it up. It’s an excellent summary of the race we will decide next weekend.

Alex Johnson is one of the two candidates seeking chairmanship, and he has become particularly famous among young people and the 3rd district. I first found out about him through a friend request on Facebook and soon found out about his desire to become Chairman through a Facebook message. After calling him for an interview, I was able to find out more information than what social media provided. Aside from his career, he has previously served as the Vice Chairman of the College Republicans at Oglethorpe, Chairman of the DeKalb Young Republicans, and precinct chairman. Also notable was his run for State Senate in 2010 in district 41 where he gained 42% of votes in a Democratic region. He has given money to various campaigns, knocked on doors, sent out e-mails, and called people on the phone.

One of Alex’s largest issues with the state party is the lack of commitment to educating people. He believes elected officials should be held accountable for their actions, such as voting on the recent Transportation bill, tax increases, and bailing out organizations. To hold these officials accountable, he wants Republicans to be educated on their voting records. He will do this through “volunteers and/or staff at community events both talking with people and gathering data for continued contact via email and local parties“. I was curious about how we hold officials accountable when we have such a diverse spectrum of policy views in our Party. To this he responded that “grassroots should decide the policies we support”, then the state committee should decide policies we support; he added that “debates and discussion need to happen”. He also believes “the party should pass resolutions pointing out bad politicians”, and “by educating the population, they can vote out people”. He provided an example by stating, “the RNC passed a resolution against Common Core.”

I first met Chairman Padgett when I was elected as Chairman of the Georgia Teen Republicans. He invited me to meet him at his office in Atlanta, and he gave me a tour of the building. Over the past year, I’ve witnessed his involvement with campaigns in the fall and younger Republican organizations. He has always been an entrepreneur, working with an accounting firm, Alzheimer’s care homes, shopping centers, and an ambulance business. His involvement with the GOP is meritorious; he has previously been a County Chairman, District Chairman, Area Vice President, Assistant Secretary for the state Party, and Secretary for the State Party. He has also served on the state committee and state executive committee. As current Chairman, he works with the RNC.

When he was first elected chairman, he promised to “engage every Republican in the state”, and he believes the last election vindicated that promise. He also promised to have more activity in social media, make more personal appearances, and have a stronger committee system. Through his tenure he has helped the GA GOP Facebook page become the second most liked state Facebook page in the nation, made more than 300 personal appearances across the state, made 2-4 press releases per week, and strengthened the committee system through the Veterans Committee and Minority Engagement Committee. From his perspective his top three accomplishments are increasing minority engagement (increased the black vote for Governor Nathan Deal from 5%-10%), raised 6.5 million dollars, and “won all the way down the ticket” in the fall.

His final words for the interview were: “It’s one thing to talk about accomplishing – it’s another thing to have accomplished.”

Don Cole on Ben Carson’s Presidential Announcement

Don Cole continues his analysis of the competing Republican candidates for President with a review of Ben Carson’s announcement.

Dr. Ben Carson burst on the American political scene with his message at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 7, 2013. Before that message, he was a well known neurosurgeon, famous for a miraculous operation separating twins conjoined at the back of their heads.

His announcement was at Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, last Monday, May 4. The entire program lasted a little over an hour. It included an honor guard, special music, and an introductory video about Ben Carson. His speech was approximately 30 minutes.

Carson did not use notes in his announcement speech. His style of delivery was conversational, much like a TED talk. He rarely raised his voice but his words were powerful.

He announced his candidacy with, “I’m Ben Carson and I’m a candidate for President of the United States.” His message focused on two main themes – the greatness of America and the the economy.

During his message, Carson had what I call a Rick Perry moment when he was about to introduce his campaign team. He stumbled for a moment trying to come up with their names and asked, “Who do we have?” He did it in a light hearted manner and brought each member of his team on the stage with him.

In closing he addressed the lack of political experience issue. He contrasted political experience resulting in bloated budgets to his experience in solving real and complex problems. He closed with a simple description of what the nation needs.

The real pedigree that we need to help to heal this country, to revive this country. Someone who believes in our constitution and is willing to put it on the top shelf. Someone who believes in their fellow man and loves this nation and is compassionate. Somebody who believes in what we have learned since we were in kindergarten. That is, that we are one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

Ben Carson has a simple style of communicating that is disarming. He comes across as a man who has an inner strength shaped and molded through his experiences and his faith.

Pipeline getting the shaft?

Gov. Deal has announced that Georgia will oppose the construction of the Palmetto Pipeline.

“We’re going to object from the state level, and I think that process will then go to the courts for a judge to decide,” Deal told a local television station after speaking at a Columbia County Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

“We’ve been in consultation with the head of DOT and agreement that the state is going to disagree to that pipeline.”

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle stated his opposition later in the day.

“There are many unanswered questions about the Palmetto Pipeline Project,” he said. “This project needs to be properly vetted and its intentions must be clearly laid out. I cannot support the project without knowing the implications for our state and coastal Georgia.”

In Waynesboro, citizens came out to a public meeting hosted by GDOT to discuss the pipeline.

Almost all of the roughly 50 people who spoke on Thursday at Georgia Department of Transportation’s final hearing on Kinder Morgan’s Palmetto Pipeline application said the project is an unconstitutional use of eminent domain, an environmental threat and an excuse for a multimillion-dollar company to get richer.

“Granting eminent domain to a private company takes away one of our core rights that are spelled out to us in our Constitution,” said William S. Morris III, the chairman and CEO of Morris Communications Co. and owner of The Augusta Chronicle. “Georgia citizens will in no way benefit from this proposed pipeline,” said Morris, who owns land affected by the route.

Kinder Morgan Vice President Allen Fore defended the project, which would build a 360-mile pipeline that would transport up to 7 million gallons of oil per day from Belton, S.C., to terminals in North Augusta, Savannah and Jacksonville, Fla.

Fore said the pipeline is needed to meet demands of Georgia’s population for the next 25 years and to provide the first direct petroleum pipeline to Savannah and Jacksonville.

Bits and Pieces

September Guy, a former senior solicitor in Dunwoody Municipal Court, has been appointed as a DeKalb County Magistrate Court Judge.

Former Governor Roy Barnes will lead a class-action lawsuit against Home Depot over a data breach that exposed information on the company’s customers, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

“The evidence, in my view, is overwhelming that Home Depot knew that they had problems in the security of their customers’ financial information,” Barnes said. “And they failed to do anything to prevent what has turned into one of the largest security breaches in the country, if not the world.”

Stephen Holmes, spokesman for Home Depot, pointed out that the May 1 filing by Barnes’ firm is not a new suit or action but merely a court-ordered consolidation of the existing suits. Holmes also declined to discuss the specifics of the case.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on details at this point, but I can tell you that we strongly disagree with the claims and will defend the case vigorously in the proper forum,” Holmes said.

Former Congressman Jack Kingston spoke to the Smyrna Business Association and warned that a Base Realignment and Closure Committee could form at any time.

Kingston predicted Dobbins would not close if a BRAC is created in the near future, but the reserve base might not be left untouched.

“I think Dobbins is in excellent shape except for the fact that they may reduce the number of planes and jobs,” Kingston said after speaking to about 20 members of the Smyrna Business Association at a luncheon Thursday.

There are nearly 2,500 Air Force reservists and civilians assigned to the 94th Air Wing and 22nd Air Force combined, which are headquartered in Dobbins, said Lt. James Wilson, spokesman for Dobbins.

There are also more than 2,000 Navy, Marine Corps and Army reservists assigned to Dobbins, Wilson said.

Wilson said Dobbins has eight C-130H3 cargo aircraft and five UC-35 aircraft.

As a former member of the House Committee on Appropriations, which worked to whittle down the budget of the Department of Defense, Kingston said he learned a lot about staying safe during a BRAC.

State School Superintendent Richard Wood visited Newnan High School.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods visited Newnan High School (NHS) teacher Barbara Landreth, who is one of the 10 longest-serving teachers in Georgia.

‘I’m really glad to be able to come here and talk with you,’ said Woods.

Landreth has been teaching at NHS since 1961. She first taught ninth and 10th-graders. She later added yearbook and switched to 11th grade English.

Woods spent time talking with Landreth about her teaching career and what changes she had seen in education throughout it.

She said some of the biggest changes she has seen are the family, technology and variety of offered subjects.

‘With all the choices and dual enrollment options, it’s just terrific,’ she said.

Woods also asked what she thought of all the testing students have to do now.

‘I think it has worn me out this week,’ she said. ‘I don’t know about this testing. If we have to do it, we have to do it . . . the students were ready for it.’

The Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (POST) has opened an investigation of the conduct by Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill (D), who was involved in a shooting in Gwinnett County.

The Georgia Peace Officers and Training Council has opened an investigation into the Gwinnett County arrest of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.

However, since the sole charge of reckless conduct lodged against Hill is a misdemeanor, the investigation lacks punch at this point, said POST Operations Director Ryan Powell, whose organization certifies officers for duty.

“Because it’s a misdemeanor at this point, we have no authority to immediately suspend his certification,” he said Thursday. “He is clear to continue training and to serve as a peace officer.”

Hill was arrested Wednesday and charged with reckless conduct in the shooting Sunday evening of a friend of his, Gwenevere McCord, 43, of Jonesboro. In a 911 call, Hill reportedly told dispatchers McCord was shot in the side during a “police tactic” exercise inside a model home in a Gwinnett County subdivision.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-7th) addressed constituent questions about foreign policy at a Town Hall meeting in Suwanee.

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