Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 21, 2023

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 21, 2023

On November 21, 1620 (November 11 under the calendar used then), the first governing document of the English colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Mayflower Compact, was signed by most of the male passengers of the Mayflower.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

The Georgia Trustees outlawed rum in the colony on November 21, 1733 after James Oglethorpe wrote them that it was responsible for sickness and death in Georgia. Two-hundred eighty-six years later, Richland Rum is being distilled with Georgia-grown sugar cane in Richland, Georgia.

President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 the first “public day of thanksgiving and prayer.”

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go. Washington

North Carolina ratified the Constitution on November 21, 1789, becoming the twelfth state to do so.

On November 21, 1860 Governor Joseph Brown called a Secession Convention following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.

The only major battle on Sherman’s March to the Sea occurred at Griswoldsville on November 22, 1864; on the same day, federal troops marched into Milledgeville. On November 23, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman himself entered Milledgeville, where he used the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters.

 

Milledgeville-Old-Governor-Mansion-3

On November 25, 1864, Sherman’s 14th and 20th Corps moved toward Sandersville while the 17th Corps fought briefly against a mix of Kentucky Militia, Georgia Military Institute cadets, and Georgia convicts.

On November 27, 1864, Sherman ordered the courthouse in Sandersville, Georgia burned.

On November 25, 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel filed a patent for dynamite. On November 25, 1895, Nobel wrote his will, leaving the equivalent of roughly $186 million (2008 dollars) to endow the Nobel prizes.

November 21, 1922 was the first day of Rebecca Latimer Fulton’s service in the United States Senate from Georgia as the first woman to serve in that chamber.

On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fourth Thursday in November as the modern Thanksgiving celebration.

[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

On the same day, a Japanese navy fleet left port headed toward Pearl Harbor.

President John F. Kennedy became the fourth President of the United States to be assassinated in office on November 22, 1963. The next day, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been arrested for shooting Kennedy.

President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience played its first show at the Bag O’Nails Club in London on November 25, 1966.

On November 22, 1988, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was first unveiled publicly at Palmdale, California.

Back to the Future II was released on November 22, 1989.

Construction on the Georgia Dome began on November 24, 1989.

On November 24, 1992, Republican Paul D. Coverdell defeated Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler in the runoff election for United States Senate. We are thankful that Georgia has runoff elections, not something silly like drawing straws or instant runoff voting.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A hand-recount of the Valdosta Mayor’s election confirmed that Mayor Scott James Matheson was reelected, according to WALB.

A group called the Concerned Clergy of Valdosta requested a hand count of all ballots from the 2023 Valdosta Mayoral Race. That’s because concerns were raised on election night regarding the software company used to display results.

“There seems to be some discrepancy between the number of votes, ballots and votes cast, so we called for a hand count of the ballots hoping to have some type of clarity,” Dr. Ronnie Mathis, a concerned clergyman and Valdosta advisor, said.

The recount happened on Sunday, November 19, with four counters appointed by the concerned clergy. Officials say the hand count revealed that Mayor Scott James Matheson was the official winner with a total of 2,650 votes, which matches the original count of votes on Election Day, November 7.

“The recount was the same as Election Night, the official and complete numbers,” Tiffany Linkswiler, assistant Lowndes County elections supervisor, said. “The race was very close for the two top for the mayor of Valdosta, and they just wanted more confidence to make sure everything was correct.”

Meanwhile, the concerned clergy says they want to hear from both the software company and the board of elections to understand what happened with data input on election night.

“The numbers are just not adding up. Based upon the software, there were 5,769 votes for the mayor’s race, but based upon the board of elections, only 5,239 votes. It’s for transparency and it’s to restore confidence in the equipment. Every single one we’ve done since its inception a few years ago has been spot on. If someone doesn’t believe the results, you can’t dispute humans sitting there counting ballots,” Mathis said.

The Concerned Clergy of Valdosta says in the next few days, they are working towards a meeting with a representative from the software company and the board of elections supervisor to understand the complete process of data input during elections.

No word on whether Fulton County’s District Attorney intends to indict the preachers.

The AJC has a guide to Metro Atlanta runoff elections. I count eleven.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will suspend lane closures for the holiday, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

To accommodate the expected increase in holiday traffic, the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) will suspend lane closures on Georgia interstates, major state routes and roads near major shopping centers, malls or districts beginning at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22, until 10 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26, with the aim of improving traffic flow during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

Georgia DOT anticipates increased traffic congestion on metro Atlanta interstates from the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 20, with heavy to worse-than-normal traffic levels expected for Wednesday, Nov. 22. Motorists should exercise caution on Sunday, Nov. 26, as this day has a high potential for crashes, with post-holiday congestion occurring between 5 and 8 p.m.

That article has a lot more information and is worth reading if you’re traveling this week.

Georgia gas prices continue to decline, according to AccessWDUN:

In their weekly fuel price report, the auto agency said Georgia’s statewide average as of Monday morning was $2.82 per gallon for regular gasoline. Monday’s average was three cents lower than one week prior, 21 cents lower than one month prior, and 30 cents lower than one year prior.

It would cost an average of $42.30 to fill a 15-gallon tank of regular gasoline as of Monday.

“Good news drivers, gas prices continue to decrease at the pump ahead of Turkey Day,” said Montrae Waiters, AAA-The Auto Club Group spokeswoman. “Governor Kemp’s extension of the gas tax suspension until November 29th, and lower crude oil prices continue to be the driving force reducing gas prices, which is sure to help Georgians manage the high cost of food and travel this holiday.”

The most expensive gas in Northeast Georgia as of Monday could be found in Rabun County, which had an average of $2.92 per gallon. Meanwhile, the cheapest gas in the area could be found in Habersham, Dawson and Hart counties, which all had averages close to $2.74 per gallon. A full list of county average gas prices is available here.

The national average for a gallon of gas was also down as of Monday. AAA reported the nationwide average was down five cents from the week prior to $3.31 per gallon.

Thanks to Governor Brian Kemp.

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

The busiest days to fly will be Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 2.6 million passengers on Tuesday and 2.7 million passengers on Wednesday. Sunday will draw the largest crowds with an estimated 2.9 million passengers, which would narrowly eclipse a record set on June 30.

A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals based in St. Louis narrowed the ability of private plaintiffs to bring voting rights lawsuits, according to the AJC.

A divided federal appeals court on Monday ruled that private individuals and groups such as the NAACP do not have the ability to sue under a key section of the federal Voting Rights Act, a decision that contradicts decades of precedent and could further erode protections under the landmark 1965 law.

The 2-1 decision by a panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis found that only the U.S. attorney general can enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires political maps to include districts where minority populations’ preferred candidates can win elections.

The majority said other federal laws, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, make it clear when private groups can sue but said similar wording is not found in the voting law.

Chief Judge Lavenski R. Smith noted in a dissenting opinion that federal courts across the country and the U.S. Supreme Court have considered numerous cases brought by private plaintiffs under Section 2. Smith said the court should follow “existing precedent that permits a judicial remedy” unless the Supreme Court or Congress decides differently.

“Rights so foundational to self-government and citizenship should not depend solely on the discretion or availability of the government’s agents for protection,” wrote Smith, another appointee of George W. Bush.

Monday’s ruling applies only to federal courts covered by the 8th Circuit, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Meanwhile, several pending lawsuits by private groups challenge various political maps drawn by legislators across the country.

It’s likely the case eventually will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the issue was raised in a 2021 opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

“I join the court’s opinion in full, but flag one thing it does not decide,” Gorsuch wrote at the time, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. “Our cases have assumed — without deciding — that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 furnishes an implied cause of action under section 2.”

On Nov. 10, three judges on the conservative-dominated 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected arguments that there is no private right to sue under the Voting Rights Act. In a Louisiana congressional redistricting case, the panel said the U.S. Supreme Court so far has upheld the right of private litigants to bring lawsuits alleging violations of Section 2, as have other circuit appellate courts.

Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose visited Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

It’s an issue that Gwinnett County leaders and some of some of their municipal counterparts are working with U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath to address locally, but it’s also a nationwide problem: trains blocking local roads by either being so long that they take long periods of time to pass through or by parking in railroad crossings.

That was one of the issues that brought Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose to Duluth last Friday for a meeting with McBath and leaders from several Gwinnett cities as well as the county’s transportation department.

The talks focused on overall safety of railroads crossings, but the meeting also came months after the Federal Railroad Administration awarded $888,000 to Gwinnett to study eliminating three crossings in the county.

“The railroads go right through the heart of some of these communities directly,” Bose told the Daily Post in a one-on-one interview after the meeting. “We want to make sure that citizens feel safe to have the railroads go through and also to make sure that vehicles can go through from one side to the other, emergency responders can go from one side to another, also school kids can feel safe crossing railroads tracks in a reasonable manner.”

McBath told the Daily Post that she wanted to be able to highlight what the Biden Administration’s infrastructure investments in Georgia were doing, particularly in regard to railroads. The railroads portion of that specifically highlighted the funding to study eliminating the railroad crossings in Gwinnett, she said.

Some Georgia elected officials want the Ocmulgee River corridor to become the site of a National Park, according to 13WMAZ.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, Rep. Sanford Bishop, and other leaders are still backing the effort to make the Ocmulgee River Corridor into a national park.

That’s despite a new study from the National Park Service saying it’s not economically feasible.

“In the end, the decision to name these grounds a national park is within the domain of Congress,” Warnock said.

Despite a National Park Service study saying it’s not economically feasible, Warnock says he, Reps. Bishop and Austin Scott and Sen. Jon Ossoff still want to make it a reality.

“The study is one step in the process,” he said. “The good news is that this is a bipartisan effort, and we’re continuing to grow allies and commitment to this. We’re working on the legislation.”

Bishop said the study was conducted prior to actions to make the national park designation more attainable.

“Some of those items have already been addressed. As we move forward with the process, that will be brought out before the Natural Resources Committee, and, of course, in Congress as we move through the sausage-making process to make this a reality,” Bishop said.

The original Ocmulgee River Corridor Park plan was supposed to span from Macon all the way to Hawkinsville.

Revis says now, they have cut the proposed site to an area bounded on the south by Highway 96 in Twiggs County.

Statesboro City Council extended a program to help low individual residents pay their utility bills, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro city officials recently modified a program they had created with special federal funding three years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic so that it can again assist people who are behind on their water and sewer or other utility bills.

As reauthorized Nov. 7, 2023, by City Council through an amendment to the agreement with nonprofit Action Pact Inc., the program is expected to end when the remaining $50,929 is used up.

But when the utility bill assistance program had used less than one-tenth of its allocation by December 2020, the mayor and council shifted $13,000 to food relief. A series of city-funded free food distributions in cooperation with the Feed the Boro volunteer effort then began in January 2021.

Even after that shift in funding, some of the money designated for the utility bill assistance program was never disbursed, as staff members informed the mayor and council this fall. As spelled out in the original “memorandum of understanding,” or MOU, with Action Pact, the assistance was available only to Statesboro residents with financial hardships attributed to COVID-related causes, such as the 2020 shutdown.

Warner Robins City Council voted to allow Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 11 AM, according to 13WMAZ.

On Monday night, the Warner Robins City Council voted to change the brunch bill ordinance, effective immediately. It is the bill that raises the alcohol sale time from 12:30 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Sundays.

[Kelly Cox, partner and manager at Another Broken Egg Cafe] says it helps business revenue. The restaurant makes 20-22% in alcohol sales, so Cox says the extra time is a benefit.

“We close at 2:00 p.m., so people may not think this is impactful, but I promise you on the other days when we open at 7: 00 a.m. that’s when we’re serving,” she said.

Mayor LaRhonda Patrick says the money doesn’t just help businesses.

“We also want to make sure we’re continuing to increase revenue and the brunch bill is the way we do that,” she said.

The city’s goal is to put money into restaurants’ pockets and lower the amount they take from yours.

“We are about raising revenue for the city, not raising taxes,” Patrick said.

Warner Robins is the last in the county to approve this type of bill. Macon allows 11:00 a.m. sales too, which Cox says, made businesses question where to set up shop.

Valdosta city council members heard concerns about affordable housing, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Council members Eric Howard of District 4, Tim Carroll of District 5 and Thomas McIntyre Sr. of District 3 planned the evening’s educational meeting. McIntyre was unable to attend due to illness while Howard and Carroll hosted the meeting at the Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation building.

“We just wanted to let our citizens know the rights they have as a renter and a homeowner,” Howard said in a brief interview prior to the meeting.

The meeting was held in an open-dialogue session allowing for attendees to ask questions regarding the difference between a citation, violation or a condemnation, what it means when a city marshal visits, and plans that the city is taking to address housing as a whole.

The council members are looking forward to hosting more town hall meetings in the future focusing on ranging topics.

Glynn County government offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday, according to The Brunswick News.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources offices in Brunswick will close Thursday and Friday for the holiday weekend, though law enforcement officials will be patrolling local waterways.

The Georgia Ports Authority announced cargo throughput numbers, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Savannah handled 449,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized cargo last month — the port’s fourth-busiest October ever and a 5% increase over October 2019, the most recent year not affected by the pandemic. But business is down for the first portion of the current fiscal year, which began July 1.

The Port of Savannah moved 1.7 million TEUs in July, August, September, and October, a decrease of 18% over the same period during the last fiscal year. The good news is Georgia Port Authority officials announced Friday that all berths at Savannah’s Garden City Terminal are open for business for the first time in two and a half years.

“Our infrastructure planning efforts will be realized with Berth 1’s opening, and we now have ample berth capacity to handle demand,” said Kent Fountain, the authority’s board chairman. “The timing is important for the holiday season and last-minute orders.”

Like Savannah, the Port of Brunswick also saw a decline in activity last month. The ports authority moved 67,500 units of autos and machinery in October, down 5.8% compared to October of last year.

However, Roll-on/Roll-off cargo business for the first four months of fiscal 2024 increased 17% over the same period in fiscal 2023.

Wayne Fisher’s job title was upgraded to Warner Robins Police Chief from the previous interim job, according to 13WMAZ.

At the Warner Robins City Council meeting on Monday, the council entered executive session and, as they returned, they announced that current Interim Assistant Police Chief Wayne Fisher has been appointed as the full-time chief.

He had previously served as the interim chief back in October 2022, but he then handed the reins to current Interim Police Chief Roy Whitehead in January.

Whitehead is leaving the department entirely. He was hired to offer an outside perspective in the search for a permanent police chief.

John Wagner, who served as the city’s police chief for three years, retired in October 2022. He was in law enforcement for 31 year

Former Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will lead a national think tank’s Georgia-based group, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins will head the new Georgia chapter of the America First Policy Institute, a national think tank, the organization announced Monday.

Collins, a Republican from Gainesville, represented Georgia’s 9th Congressional District from 2013 until 2021. Before that, he served three terms in the state House of Representatives.

Collins ran for the U.S. Senate in an unusual open-format 2020 primary that featured candidates from both major parties on the ballot. He finished third behind Democrat Raphael Warnock, who went on to win the seat in a runoff, and Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

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