Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 20, 2023

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 20, 2023

General James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, signed a treaty with the Spanish government of Florida on October 22, 1736.

USS Constitution, named by President George Washington, was launched in Boston Harbor on October 21, 1791.

During the War of 1812, the Constitution won its enduring nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British warship Guerriére in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shots merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. The success of the Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous morale boost for the young American republic.

Today, Constitution serves as a museum ship, and has sailed under her own power as recently as 2012. Southern live oak, harvested and milled on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a primary construction material for Constitution.

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 22, 1832, the Cherokee Land Lottery began in Milledgeville, with more than 200,000 Georgians competing for 53,309 lots of land.

Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation on October 22, 1887 that increased the number of justices on the Georgia Supreme Court from 3 to 5.

On October 21, 1888, the Augusta Chronicle published a letter from General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Pleasant Stovall, editor of The Augusta Chronicle, wrote the famous old general, and what do you know? He answered, in perhaps the most famous letter to the editor ever printed in the newspaper.

It was published Oct. 21, 1888, and basically, the old warhorse said he didn’t attack Augusta because he didn’t have to. He wanted to get to Savan­nah where the Union Navy could bring him supplies.

However, he offered to correct the oversight if Augusta felt neglected, writing: “I can send a detachment of 100,000 or so of Sherman’s Bummers and their descendants who will finish up the job without charging Uncle Sam a cent.”

President Grover Cleveland arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States and International Exposition on October 22, 1895.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina.

 

President Warren G. Harding spoke in Alabama on October 21, 1921, and publicly condemned the practice of lynching.

Harding was a progressive Republican politician who advocated full civil rights for African Americans and suffrage for women. He supported the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill in 1920. As a presidential candidate that year, he gained support for his views on women’s suffrage, but faced intense opposition on civil rights for blacks. The 1920s was a period of intense racism in the American South, characterized by frequent lynchings. In fact, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 21, 1976, Billy Carter spoke to an audience in Albany, Georgia, about his brother’s campaign for President.

On his brother Jimmy’s drinking habits, Billy said, “Jimmy used to drink liquor. Now he’s running for president he drinks Scotch, and I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” Billy preferred the alcohol choice of his brother’s running mate, Walter Mondale – “I liked him the best of all the ones who came to Plains. He’s from a small town and he’s a beer drinker.”

Today, Billy Carter’s service station is preserved as a museum in Plains, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

On October 22, 1991, the Braves played Minnesota in the first World Series game in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves won the first game of the 1995 World Series on October 21, 1995, as Greg Maddux dominated the Cleveland Indians, allowing only two hits. Native American groups protested the names of both teams.

The Atlanta Braves won Game 2 of the 1995 World Series, beating Cleveland 4-3, on October 22, 1995.

Georgia artist Howard Finster died on October 22, 2001.

One of my dogs is named Finster, after the artist.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Eighty nine hardy souls ventured to the polls for early voting on Thursday in Augusta, according to WRDW.

Early voting continued Thursday in two important local elections: a sales tax to rebuild the James Brown arena and the battle over who’ll be the mayor of Grovetown.

In the James Brown Arena vote, 89 people took advantage of advance voting Thursday at the Augusta Municipal Building on Telfair Street, according to Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Travis Doss.

That makes a total of 462 since early voting started Monday.

Georgia Legislative Black Caucus members stopped in Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

State Rep. Dexter Sharper of District 177 welcomed the small group of attendees and led the program at Saint Timothy AME Church of Valdosta in place of the organization’s chair, Rep. Carl Gillard. Gillard was absent due to medical complications.

“It is imperative that when opportunities come for them to lend their voice of concerns, to try to be there. It’s helpful for us to know what the problems are from the people and for us not to think about or try to figure it out but to hear directly from the people so we can connect them to the right resources and organizations that they need to solve their problems,” Sharper said in an interview following the event.

He began the event letting attendees introduce themselves including Homerville Chief of Police Keith Jackson, Valdosta City Council District 1 incumbent Vivan Miller-Cody, Valdosta mayoral candidate J.D. Rice and state Rep. David Sampson of District 153.

[State Rep. Sampson] said, “What happens in marginalized communities is this, the majority party, which is the Republican party right now, they’re looking to cut out a whole bunch of benefits that we have. The Affordable Connectivity Program. You know how seniors get phones, tablets and internet in their home. They’re trying to cut that completely off. Just like they’re not expanding Medicaid.”

“With everything there is a process,” Sharper said. “The main job of the legislators is to legislate and then to come up with a balanced budget. Those are the two things that we must do. But the agencies or the organizations that we have in the state are the ones we’re able to lean on to help the individual people.”

When asked what voters should keep in mind while participating in local government city council meetings or the local elections Sharper said, “I want them to keep in mind that there is a process on how everything works. Try everything you can to be positive and a solution for the elected officials and always try to vote on someone that you see is actually doing something in your community whether they are elected or not. Support those people that really have the community at heart.”

The Georgia State House Rural Development Council meets two days next week in Statesboro, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Georgia Legislature’s House Rural Development Council, co-chaired by state Rep. Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, and Rep. Mack Jackson, D-Sandersville, will hold its next series of meetings Oct. 25 and 26 on the Georgia Southern University campus in Statesboro.

Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, who is also the representative from the 159th District, is scheduled to speak to the council at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, 158th District, chairs the House Special Committee on Healthcare and is an ex officio member of the council, and Rep. Lehman Franklin, R-Statesboro, 160th District, has said he plans to attend.

Rural health care is a major topic for presentations on the agenda.

Click here for the 10/25 meeting and click here for the 10/26 meeting.

Expect to hear more about this from state legislators. The State of Georgia will pay for some gender-affirming care for state employees, according to WRDW.

The state of Georgia will start paying for gender-affirming health care for state employees, public school teachers and former employees covered by a state health insurance plan.

The move will settle another in a string of lawsuits against Georgia agencies aiming to force them to pay for gender-confirmation surgery and other procedures.

The plaintiffs moved to dismiss their case Thursday in Atlanta federal court, announcing they had reached a settlement with the State Health Benefit Plan.

The state will also pay a total of $365,000 to the plaintiffs and their lawyers as part of the settlement. Micha Rich, Benjamin Johnson and an anonymous state employee suing on behalf of her adult child all said they spent money out of their own pockets that should have been covered by insurance.

But [plaintiffs’ lawyer David] Brown said Thursday’s settlement requires the health plan to pay for care deemed medically necessary for spouses and dependents as well as employees. That means the health plan could be required to pay for care for minors outside the state even though it’s prohibited in Georgia.

“The plan can’t treat the care any differently from other care that’s not available in the state,” Brown said.

Affected are two health plans paid for by the state but administered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare.

From Georgia Recorder:

Prior to the settlement, state coverage excluded operations to change one’s sex and related services, even when recommended by a doctor as necessary care. Recommended treatments for gender dysphoria – a feeling of strong distress because of one’s gender at birth – can include adopting a new name and style of dress, taking hormones or undergoing surgery.

Attorneys with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, or TLDEF, and Bondurant Mixson & Ellmore LLP said the old plan would reject services like mastectomies and hormone treatments for transgender patients even though the same treatment would be approved for a different purpose, which they said amounted to discrimination against transgender people.

Under the settlement, the state’s health plans will contain a provision defining transgender health care coverage. Exclusions of trans-related care will be removed, and the state will be barred from making similar exclusions, TLDEF said in a statement.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will build out electric vehicle charging stations using federal funds, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The state received about $130 million in funding through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program last year to build EV charging stations along Georgia’s interstate highways.

With the program just getting off the ground, only the states of Ohio and Hawaii have executed contracts to begin building the stations, McMurry told members of the State Transportation Board at their monthly meeting.

In Georgia, once the EV charging stations along the interstates have been completed, the DOT plans to build additional stations along U.S. 27 and U.S 76 with future federal funding, McMurry said.

“We’ve got to get the interstates first … before we jump on these [additional] corridors,” he said.

Fort Stewart is seeing rising overdoses in barracks, according to WSAV.

Describing the incident in detail, another said, “Two soldiers, one of them originally, had a drug overdose, on what he thought was perc-30 and he was found by another soldier, and the only reason that either of them is okay now is because somebody happened to have Narcan, and that was administered by several other service members in our unit. And that’s the only reason these two people are alive today.”

“The first reaction from the first soldier to OD…his reaction was ‘I don’t want to go to the hospital because of the consequences of doing drugs.’ He was more afraid of what the company was going to do to him administratively instead of his own life,” a third soldier said.

According to a report published by the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense in February, Fort Stewart ranked among military bases with the most deaths due to drug overdose, with 4 in that time period.

Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo, Georgia will receive a $1.6 million dollar federal grant, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The state park near the edge of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has been awarded a $1.6 million federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant to make major improvements, including the reconfiguration of existing campsites, water and power infrastructure upgrades and improvements to storm water management at the park.

The park is where many visitors to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge will camp since the only other camping option is a limited number of camping platforms accessible by canoe.

“Like so many Georgians, paddling and camping near the Okefenokee was a formative outdoor experience from my childhood” said U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, a supporter of the grant. “I’m delivering these resources to upgrade the tourist experience with more options for Georgia families and to conserve the precious natural environment at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.”

A missing Dougherty County man with dementia was located through the surveillance system, according to the Albany Herald.

Terry Bishop, 77, was located safe and unharmed by police in the city of Perry, Fla., the Dougherty County Police Department said in a Thursday news release. Police issued a Mattie’s Call for Bishop, and through the network of Flock safety cameras, learned that his last known location was in Fitzgerald and that he was driving south from there.

“The Flock safety cameras have the capability of capturing images of vehicles using a detailed description,” DCPD Sgt. J.C. Phillips said in a news release. “The camera timestamps a photograph of license plates and the vehicle. In the case of Mr. Bishop, our office immediately began searching the Flock cameras upon receiving the report of him missing. We were able to establish that he was traveling southbound, according to the locations and times his vehicle was seen on camera.”

“The Flock safety camera system is a new but rapidly growing technology,” Phillips said. “With the Dougherty County Police Department having Flock cameras, it also gives us access to thousands of cameras throughout the country. The system has become a must-have tool for jurisdictions everywhere.”

Augusta Commissioners asked how local law enforcement is addressing hotel overstays, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruling Efficiency Lodge, Inc. v. Neason et al., where several residents of a long-term stay hotel sued when management attempted to evict them without filing a formal eviction claim in court, determined that under some circumstances a resident at a hotel could be considered a tenant. But they returned the ruling to the lower court to determine whether or not that applied in that specific case.

In August, sheriff’s Maj. Gerald Metzler said because of the new law and the confusion around it, they would not remove people unless they had only been at the hotel a few days, and said a new county ordinance would help.

Carlyle, however, said the sheriff’s office can already remove people from the property for theft of service if they overstay without paying. Several hotel owners said that in recent years that has not been the case, and that hotel owners have even been threatened with arrest for not re-opening rooms for guests after locking them out.

From WJBF:

“We’re not even asking for the guest to be arrested for the theft of services which it really is we just want them removed from the premises and told that if they come back it’ll be trespassing,” said Andy Sharma, Hotel owner.

“It just simply boils down to bringing law and order back in and when we have situation where a guest doesn’t pay we’d like to just get back to where that’s classified as thief of services and not an eviction process,” said Andy Sharma, Hotel owner.

From WRDW:

When Sheriff Richard Roundtree came to the commission a few weeks ago, he admitted the current ordinance was old and had trouble defining how his department could act without overstepping its boundaries.

A Richmond County Sheriff’s Office deputy said their office is more than willing to respond to any calls despite the sheriff himself previously stating the current ordinance needed more teeth.

“We need to go to the Marshal’s Department, to fill out an eviction and remove them from the premises, which what it does for us is: it costs us money every day that that 30–45-day process takes place, plus filing fees, plus an attorney. So, a hotel owner could be out $4-5,000 before you remove a guest,” said Sharma.

McIntosh County Commissioners passed a resolution supporting their local shrimp industry, according to WTOC.

The McIntosh County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to seek protection for the shrimping industry at a special called meeting on Thursday.

The resolution states that an increase of imported shrimp in the United States have “continued to decimate the local shrimping industry’s ability to market and sell wild caught domestic shrimp.”

According to the FDA, 94 percent of seafood sold in the U.S. is imported, and shrimp accounts for the largest percentage within that, and they’re sold for much lower prices.

The resolution shows the county’s support for an economic disaster declaration for Georgia’s shrimping industry. This declaration must come from the federal government, and it could potentially grant relief payments to shrimpers. It’s something McIntosh County Commissioner Davis Poole said is necessary.

“To put it into perspective, if they’re trying to get $4-5 per pound, the imported shrimp is $1-2 dollars per pound. We, as a community, we as a state, are trying to put pressure on our Governor to go to Congress and say, ‘stop this.’ So, I’m very passionate about this,” Poole said.

Statesboro Police Department may raise starting pay over $50k and add signing bonuses, according to the Statesboro Herald.

n addition to now offering signing bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, Police Chief Mike Broadhead and City Manager Charles Penny propose to raise officer starting salaries to more than $50,000 as soon as Jan. 1, 2024, to address a 17-officer deficit in the Statesboro Police Department’s staffing.

They invoked the preliminary findings of a human resources consultant who is working on a pay study in pitching this plan to the mayor and City Council members during their Oct. 17 work session. The council approved the new hiring bonuses by a 3-0 vote during the regular meeting that followed. A vote on the salary increase would follow the consulting firm’s completion of the police and firefighter portion of the study.

“So, the current staffing issues did not occur overnight. It’s been going on for quite some time,” Broadhead began his presentation.

He called 2020 “kind of a watershed year,” for the Police Department’s hiring and retention efforts and noted that things have been getting worse since then. During 2020, the department hired 13 officers and lost seven through resignations, retirement or firing. But in 2021, the SPD hired seven officers and lost 11, beginning a downward trend. In 2022, the department hired nine officers and lost 13, and so far in 2023, six have been hired while nine have departed.

“Exit interviews, both formal and informal, have revealed that officers feel overworked and underpaid,” Broadhead told the mayor and the three council members present.

Glynn County Tax Commissioner Jeff Chapman wants to dispose of property the county owns through tax debt, according to The Brunswick News.

“Despite the complexities and notification challenges involved, our dedicated staff worked in collaboration with the county attorney’s office to initiate a highly successful open market sale of 14 properties provided to us by the Glynn County manager,” Chapman said.

His office is actively engaged in compiling a comprehensive parcel list of other surplus county-owned properties for commissioners to consider allowing his office to put on the market.

“This proactive effort is aimed at addressing the remaining 315 surplus county-owned delinquent properties that have gone untaxed for over a decade,” he said. “With the support and approval from the board of commissioners, our office is optimistic we can efficiently complete this process within the next 12 months.”

The goal is to return the properties to the tax rolls at the best possible selling price while ensuring all procedures are followed in a legal and fair manner.

Candidates for Statesboro City Council District 2 will appear in a public forum Monday, October 23d, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Two Bleckley County Sheriff’s Deputies are running for the main job in a November Special Election, according to 13WMAZ.

Daniel Cape and Chris Smith are both Bleckley County natives who have been working with the agency for more than a decade.

Currently, Cape serves as the interim Sheriff. He was given the role in August after Kris Coody stepped down. Previously, Cape was chief deputy for seven years and has spent a total of 27 years with Bleckley County.

Chris Smith is a Captain student resource officer with the Bleckley County School District. He started as an SRO in 2009 and has been with the sheriff’s office for a total of 19 years.

Liberal group Run for Something endorsed Domonique Cooper for Gwinnett County Board of Education District 3 in next year’s elections, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Run For Something announced Cooper is among 62 candidates it has endorsed for public office this month. Cooper will seek the school board seat currently held by Mary Kay Murphy in next spring’s nonpartisan school board elections.

“This year, we’ve endorsed hundreds of candidates nationwide from school boards to state legislatures,” Run For Something co-founder and co-executive director Amanda Litman said. “These leaders are ready to fight far-right extremists seeking to extinguish our freedoms and dismantle civil rights.”

“Gwinnett County Public Schools deserves a school board candidate to support the needs of the students, staff, and school community,” Cooper said. “Fresh ideas, new perspective, and active community engagement is a necessity. I have been committed to our schools and community for twelve years. Allow my engagement, involvement, and accessibility to be the difference in our district.”

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