Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 18, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 18, 2015

Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 18, 1863.

Carl Vinson was born on November 18, 1883 in Baldwin County, Georgia. At noon on that day, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented four time zones for the first time.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mickey Mouse debuted in a black-and-white film called “Steamboat Willie” on November 18, 1928.

On November 18, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, DC to Savannah, Georgia by train for Georgia’s Bicentennial and delivered a speech at Municipal Stadium.

Carl Vinson was honored on his 81st birthday in Milledgeville, Georgia on November 18, 1964; Vinson did not run for reelection in 1964 and retired after 50 years in office.

President Richard M. Nixon flew into Robins Air Force Base for Carl Vinson’s 90th birthday on November 18, 1973; on the trip he announced the next American nuclear supercarrier would be named USS Carl Vinson.

On November 18, 1989, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey signed the Abortion Control Act, the first abortion restrictions enacted after Roe v. Wade.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal quit his presidential campaign. I’d forgotten he was still running.

The Weekly Standard dives into the weeds of Alabama’s presidential primary process and sees an enthusiasm gap for Jeb Bush.

With less than four months to go before the state’s primary, the Bush campaign has declared, committed delegates for just 29 of 47 available spots—a sign the former Florida governor may be lagging in organization and enthusiasm in the Yellowhammer State.

Even with an incomplete slate, Bush can still fully compete for all of Alabama’s delegates to the Republican National Convention. According to the Alabama GOP’s rules, candidates running in the March 1 primary competing for 47 declared delegates, 3 for each of the state’s 7 congressional districts and an additional 26 “at-large” delegates. The registration deadline for prospective delegates was November 6, but even if Bush performs well enough in the primary to earn more than 29 delegates he currently has spots for, the state party will find enough delegates to make up the difference.

That won’t be an issue for the four presidential candidates who have at least one pledged delegate for each of the 47 spots: Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. In fact, all 4 of those candidates have more committed delegates than the 47 spots available. One other candidate, Rand Paul has 45 out of 47 committed delegates. Bush, however, has 32 delegates running for just 29 spots, with several of the at-large spots and a few congressional district spots unfilled as of the Friday deadline.

If the state party can make up the difference, why do declared delegates matter, and why did the Carson, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump campaigns even bother filling their slots? For one, more declared delegates means more on-the-ground activists touting your candidacy. For another, it can be a good indicator—to donors, to rival candidates, and to the media—of the organizational strength of a campaign. When Bush secured a full slate of Tennessee’s delegates in October, for example, the campaign touted this on their own website.

Early voting in Columbia County for the December 1 runoff elections for House District 122 and County Commission District 3 will be open beginning November 25th.

Candidates in the Special Election on December 1 for Senate District 20 met in a forum, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“I believe that our state is struggling right now with how we educate our children,” said [Brooks] Keisler, who lives in Bonaire and serves as vice president of an education software company.

All the candidates expressed a displeasure with Common Core standards in schools. Candidate Larry Walker III said the idea of common standards would be beneficial to the Houston County community’s transient military families, but he noted that current trends in education seemed to put too much power over education at the federal and state levels.

“I have more confidence in the local folks to do a better job, and I want to restore local control to them,” he said.

Candidates took differing stances on the issue of raising the high school dropout age to 17. Keisler said holding students in school who had no desire to be there could hurt the educational process of those that do.

On the other side, Perry business owner Mike Reece said that even at 17, a student’s brain hasn’t developed enough to be entrusted with a decision that could have such an impact on gainful employment.

“He’s got a long way to go to become a man,” Reece said of a hypothetical student.

The candidates were unanimous in calling for a ban on video gambling machines in convenience stores, citing mainly the amount spent on machines by people from low-income situations.

“I’ve seen what it has done in some homes,” said candidate Vivian Childs, a Warner Robins youth minister.

All the candidates expressed at least a measure of support for any potential religious freedom legislation as Christians, but candidate Jon Martin had personal experience on the matter. A Laurens County commissioner, Martin pointed to threats of lawsuits against West Laurens High School for prayer before football games and the playing of “Amazing Grace.”

“I can tell you that we as Christians are being attacked every day,” he said.

In Senate District 20, early voting is now open, and ends November 25th.

Cobb County will host a second open seat election for Superior Court in 2016, as Judge Kathryn Tankersley will retire after 14 years on the bench.

Tanksley’s decision will add a second open seat to the 2016 Cobb judicial elections. Cobb County Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs has already said she will not run for re-election next year. Candidates may qualify for the Cobb judge races in March. The election for nonpartisan races is in May.

“There are so many qualified, competent, capable people in the Cobb bar who could run for the office,” Tanksley said. She added she had calculated that announcing her retirement the week before Thanksgiving would provide sufficient notice for those who might want to organize and raise money for the race next year.

Three Georgia lawyers are suing to prevent three appointments by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The suit—filed by three attorneys, a former Macon city commissioner and a Douglasville minister—says that Deal had no constitutional authority to appoint Nels Peterson, Brian Rickman and Amanda Mercier to the state appellate bench, despite the state law passed last spring that created the new judicial posts. Instead, according to the suit, the Georgia Constitution mandates that new appellate posts be filled by election.

Assigned to Fulton Superior Court Judge John Goger, the suit asks for both a temporary restraining order to stop the new appointees from being sworn in and an injunction that would leave the seats open until the constitutional questions can be litigated. Deal and the three new appointees are all named as defendants.

“There is no provision in the Georgia Constitution which allows newly created judgeships on the Georgia Court of Appeals to be filled by appointment of the governor,” said [attorney for the trio Wayne] Kendall. “There is no provision in the Georgia Constitution which allows a seat not previously vacated by an incumbent on the Georgia Court of Appeals to be filled by appointment of the governor.”

Gov. Deal stands by his executive order intended to prevent state agencies from accepting Syrian refugees, according to Kathleen Foody with the AP.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday stood by an executive order preventing Syrian refugees from being resettled in Georgia despite legal experts’ doubts about states’ authority over the federal program.

“We’ll find out,” Deal told The Associated Press on Tuesday when asked if he believed the state could prevent resettlement. “I’ve received no indication that the Obama administration is going to cooperate with the state whatsoever. The last time we raised the issue, they wouldn’t tell us who these people were. They would not tell us where in our state they had placed them.”

Resettlement funding comes from the federal government and passes through Georgia agencies to private groups, he said. If Georgia refused to continue, services could be disrupted briefly, but funding would then be sent directly to private groups.

Deal acknowledged that state agencies can’t do much to prevent resettlement. He questioned whether federal officials can get reliable information from Syria on refugees’ background and said Congress should make changes to the program.

Since Jan. 1, 57 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Georgia, according to the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. McCrary said the process takes 18 months to 24 months and includes an in-person interview with Homeland Security officials trained to see signs of persecution.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is swimming against a national tide, but says that Atlanta will continue to welcome Syrian refugees.

Deal issued an executive order Monday meant to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

Reed voiced his disapproval over the order, saying Atlanta is and will continue to be a “welcoming city.”

“I don’t agree with the notion that we should completely close access to Georgia from Syrian refugees,” he said.

Reed also reaffirmed his call to review and strengthen screening policies at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and at major events.

“I think that you have to be realistic about your citizens having real fears. And we have to try to balance that to the greatest extent that we can, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Congressman Tom Graves and State Senate Rules Committee Chair Jeff Mullis released statements supporting Gov. Deal’s actions.

Rockdale County’s FY 2016 budget will tap the reserve fund for $8 million dollars.

On Thursday, the Tybee Island City Council will appoint a new member to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Rob Callahan who resigned to move to California.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has opined that resolutions of the Chatham County Commission may be vetoed by the Chairman.

The AG’s opinion, issued Nov. 12, came in response to an Oct. 30 letter from five commissioners, who argued the Oct. 28 veto was not allowable because the vetoed action was not a legislative act.

The county code book says the chairman may veto a resolution or an ordinance. The commissioners — Helen Stone, Tony Center, Patrick Farrell, Lori Brady and Dean Kicklighter — argued that their vote the previous week was neither. The five voted on Oct. 23 to support a motion from Kicklighter to end negotiations with the city of Savannah over control and funding of the Savannah-Chatham police department, rescind their most recent offer and begin work to begin a county police force.

County Attorney Jon Hart has argued that while the motion wasn’t specifically addressed as a resolution, it was a motion, and, therefore, a legislative act. Deputy Attorney General Dennis Dunn agreed with that opinion.

“Black’s Law Dictionary, in its most current form online, for example, defines a ‘resolution’ to be: The determination or decision … of a deliberative or legislative body,” the letter reads. “Also a motion or formal proposition offered for adoption by such a body. … The term is usually employed to denote the adoption of a motion, the subject matter of which would not properly constitute a statute; such as a mere expression of opinion; an alteration of the rules; a vote of thanks or of censure, etc.”

The Augusta Commission will consider creating a Tax Allocation District along the Gordon Highway corridor, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

At the urging of Mayor Hardie Davis, the Augusta Commission held off Tuesday on renewing the Rocky Creek Enterprise Zone, which covers part of the area, and plans to examine putting a tax allocation district there instead.

The area has seen zero growth in decades and, besides a handful of car dealerships, is a “wasteland of strip malls” despite being the city’s gateway into Fort Gordon, where the Cyber Command is bringing thousands of jobs, the mayor said.

“We have not done enough to incentivize growth and development (in the area),” Davis said. “We’re reauthorizing something that we haven’t leveraged.”

An enterprise zone designation gives developers a break in property taxes for five years, while a tax district steers new taxes created by development back into the district. A downtown tax district was used to reimburse the developer of the Holiday Inn Express on Broad Street.

The City of Clermont, Georgia will have the bare minimum number of City Council members required to pass anything once a sitting member’s term ends.

The council has five seats but just four members currently, and it loses one of the four, John Brady, after his four-year term ends Dec. 31.

Under the town’s charter, revised earlier this year by the General Assembly, the council needs at least three members to hold a meeting, let alone vote.

But a meeting also can be held with two members and the mayor, Mayor James Nix said Tuesday.

He said he would have to study what it takes to pass a measure with a majority vote.

“I have to get (the charter) back out and go through it,” Nix said. “I think we can (move forward) with three council members, maybe even two.”

Georgia and Florida have asked for a mediator in the federal lawsuit over water that has lasted more than 25 years, according to the AJC.

Throwback Thursday starts early

It’s a little bit early in the week for a Throwback Thursday, but in Meriwether County, a man was caught operating a moonshine still.

Sheriff Chuck Smith says that on November 14th around 5:15 PM deputies located an illegal moonshine still in the 9300 block of Chipley Highway, State Highway 18 in Pine Mountain.

65-year-old Jerry Lee Tumlin of Pine Mountain was arrested and transported to the Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office Jail on the following charges:

  • Felony charge Unlawful Manufacturing of Distilled Spirits
  • Felony charge Possession of Firearms by Convicted Felons
  • Misdemeanor count of Unlawful Possession of Unstamped Distilled Spirits
  • Misdemeanor count of Possession of Marijuana, less than one ounce.

Valdosta will see a different kind of throwback as Gallagher pulls into town with his Sledge-O-Matic tomorrow night at 8 PM.

[F]or those who dare be up close and personal with the comedy of a man swinging a mallet over his head then smashing it down into various things, those brave souls can see Gallagher and fellow comedian Artie Fletcher Thursday night at Mathis City Auditorium.

Gallagher said audience members will have an opportunity to smash items with the comedian for selfies.

“I’m always looking for new, creative ways to perform live,” Gallagher said.

Tickets are $20 for general seating, $40 for seats in the “Splash Zone”.

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