Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 22, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 22, 2016

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.

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.

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

Dizzy Gillespie was born on this day in 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.

On the Presidential campaign trail, Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrived in Atlanta on October 23, 1932, speaking to 10,000, and continued on to his “second home” at Warm Springs, Georgia.

smFDR Atlanta 1932

FDR campaigning in Atlanta and Georgia in 1932.

FDR Georgia

When he arrived at Warm Springs, FDR gave a short speech:

“Two more weeks to go. . . . First, let me say this: this old hat, a lot of you people have seen it before. It’s the same hat. But I don’t think it is going to last much longer after the 8th of November. I have a superstition about hats in campaigns, and I am going to wear it until midnight of the 8th of November. . . . Well, it’s fine to see, and I’m looking forward to coming down here for the usual Thanksgiving party at Warm Springs, and having a real old-fashioned Thanksgiving with my neighbors again. I thank you!”

On October 23, 1971, the Coca-Cola Company launched the advertising campaign “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

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

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 23, 1991.

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.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Finally, a ticket we can wholeheartedly support:

evan-williams-elijah-craig

The Drug Enforcement Agency  is sponsoring the 12th Annual National National Prescription Drug Take Back Day tomorrow. Click here to find a location near you that will anonymously accept unused prescription drugs and dispose of them safely.

Libertarian Senate candidate Allen Buckley has proven he isn’t afraid to be the biggest jerk in Georgia, complaining that the Atlanta Press Club debate’s seated format might help Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson.

After a Wednesday walk-through, the campaigns of Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley were unhappy with the Atlanta Press Club’s initial decision to have a seated debate, which they said would lend itself to a less energetic discussion. Buckley went a step further, suggesting that the format would aid Isakson, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

Barksdale and Buckley’s campaigns complained to Atlanta Press Club President Lauri Strauss, and after talking with the three camps Wednesday afternoon, Strauss said all corners had signed off on a traditional podium-style debate. Strauss said the podiums would “make sure the candidates focus on the issues during the debate without the other distractions.”

Isakson’s campaign spokeswoman Amanda Maddox had this to say about the din: “Unlike our opponents, Johnny Isakson can debate standing up or sitting down.”

Senator David Perdue spoke to WDUN after the final Presidential debate.

Perdue, a Republican, said Democrat Hillary Clinton doubled down on the direction the country is currently headed.

“…more taxes, more regulations. She talked about it last (Wednesday) night, and she even said this last night, an activist, liberal, progressive supreme court.”

Perdue said Trump, by contrast, has been in the, “real world for 40 years,” creating jobs during his entire career.

“He (Trump) called her out last night as being a product of the political inside mechanism.”

Atlanta Magazine asked what effect a Clinton win in Georgia would have.

“The wild card is turnout,” said Chris Carpenter, a Democratic strategist. “Are Republican voters so turned off by Trump that they’ll stay home on Election Day? Usually, a pollster’s models are based on what’s happened in the past, but this is such a unique year that all bets are offs.”

Sandy Springs mayor and veteran GOP operative Rusty Paul believes that Georgia still leans Republican, but conceded that Georgia could go either way. Democratic operative Tharon Johnson, however, said, “Demographically, Georgia is already a blue state.” Even so, he said, for Clinton to win here would probably require support from a good number of whites who’ve voted Republican in recent years.

“If Clinton wins Georgia, it will mean Democrats have made tremendous strides in turning the state blue again,” [Tharon Johnson] said. For one, it would validate predictions that continuing demographic changes may finally have tipped the electoral scales in the Democrats’ favor—as well as indicate that voter registration efforts, such as those by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams’ New Georgia Project, had paid off. Also, a top-of-the-ticket victory would be a strong argument for national Democrats to stop treating the Peach State like a lost cause and invest more resources behind Georgia candidates, as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has suggested. Democrats have put more resources in Georgia for the 2016 general election than they did the past two cycles, Johnson pointed out, but nowhere near as much as has been spent in “target” states like Ohio or even Arizona, a longtime red state where the Clinton campaign announced Monday that it would plow another $2 million into advertising. Several polls now show Clinton leading Trump in Arizona by a slim margin.

[Chip] Lake sees a potential silver lining of a different sort if Georgia goes for Clinton. “Donald Trump losing in Georgia may be the best thing that could happen for Republican candidates in 2018,” he said, by serving as a wake-up call for complacent pols.

Gwinnett County will open additional in-person advance voting locations to reduce wait times for voters.

Gwinnett County officials plan to open two of the county’s seven satellite voting locations a week early to help address the long early voting lines seen at the county’s elections office this week.

Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash and County Administrator Glenn Stephens explained the effort to address wait times in a meeting with the Daily Post on Thursday. The satellite polling locations at George Pierce Park and Lenora Park will open at 8 a.m. on Monday, but that’s not the only effort officials are taking to reduce wait times.

About 15 extra voting machines will also be added at the elections headquarters starting on Saturday. Additional staff will be provided as well to help move people through more quickly.

“We want to go ahead and do this, which will both help in Lawrenceville and, by having the two satellite locations open five more days, may take some of the load off of the other satellite facilities during the week before the election and on election day,” Stephens said.

Georgia Association of Educators President Sid Chapman is barnstorming Georgia in opposition to the Opportunity School District Amendment #1.

With less than three weeks to go before the Nov. 8 general election, and with early voting already under way across the state, the president of the Georgia Association of Educators is on the road with the organization’s campaign against a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the state to take over “chronically failing” public schools.

In Athens earlier this week, GAE President Sid Chapman sounded a familiar refrain among opponents of Amendment 1, saying the language on the ballot does not truly reflect what the proposed change to the state constitution would do.

“When you read that, who would be against it?,” Chapman asked rhetorically in a Wednesday interview with the Athens Banner-Herald/OnlineAthens.com. He went on to paint the measure as a means by which the state could wrest schools from local control — a move that would, routinely, be anathema to the conservative state lawmakers who got the measure on the November ballot, he noted.

Proponents of the measure, like Gov. Nathan Deal — who is term-limited and will be out of office at the end of 2018, Chapman observed Wednesday — argue the Opportunity School District will provide a mechanism for getting students out of failing schools and away from problematic school district administration.

The Macon Telegraph endorsed the passage of two Constitutional Amendments – Amendment 2 creating the Safe Harbor Commission and Amendment 4 dedicating fireworks tax money for trauma care and firefighting.

The last items on the Nov. 8 ballot are the amendments to the Georgia Constitution and the the Macon-Bibb County extension of the 1 penny special purpose local option sales tax.

Amendment 2, if passed, will funnel some fees, assessments and penalties paid by adult entertainment establishments to pay for child victim services through the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. It would also allow courts to impose additional penalties for those found guilty of sex crimes from prostitution to pandering.

Amendment 4 would take existing fees and taxes on fireworks sold in the state and disburse them in the following manner according to Senate Bill 350:

  • 55 percent to the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission.
  • 40 percent to the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council for equipment and training.
  • 5 percent would go to local governments for public safety.

Both Amendments 2 and 4 are to protect the funds from the sticky hands of the General Assembly that has a habit of saying one thing and doing another with money raised for certain purposes. Once embedded in the state’s constitution, the money raised cannot be used for any other purposes. Vote yes on Amendments 2 and 4.

Macon Superior Court Judge Tripp Self has been named to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Self, 47, replaces Chief Judge Brenda Weaver, of the Appalachian Circuit, who resigned from the commission in August, according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Augusta might be interested in casino gambling if legislation passes the 2017 Session of the Georgia General Assembly.

The gaming industry has stepped up lobbying efforts at the state Capitol and the Georgia Municipal Association is looking for more ways to ensure revenue from casinos reaches local governments, said Michael McPherson, a governmental relations associate with the organization.

“There’s been many, many, many more lobbyists hired,” McPherson said. “They’re serious about bringing the message to the state.”

The state’s lobbyist database shows 67 people are now registered to lobby for gaming organizations.

Augusta Commission members and state legislators who met Thursday were receptive to the news that Augusta could be the site of a regional casino.

“I’m looking to generate money to come into the city,” Commissioner Marion Williams said. “You can’t legislate morality – that’s a decision you have to make yourself.”

Commissioner-elect Andrew Jefferson, who takes office in January, said that with neighboring states offering some form of casino gambling, he wasn’t opposed.

“Done in moderation, it would be a great source of revenue,” Jefferson said, “a win-win all around.”

Mayor Hardie Davis said he also hopes to discuss privately with the delegation changing Amendment 74 and Amendment 65, decades-old local legislation that gives a five-year tax break to businesses that make capital improvements of $1 million and $100,000, respectively.

Greg Beasley won a runoff election for a seat on the Catoosa County Water Board on Tuesday.

Local business owner Greg Beasley won a special run-off election over Marion Foster on Tuesday, Oct. 18, to become a new commissioner on the Catoosa County Utility District Authority water board.

Following the initial Oct. 4 election, which also featured Sandra Powell and Ashley Bible as candidates, Beasley and Foster sweated out another election day, which ultimately saw Beasley win by a 470 to 291 tally.

“I want to thank each and every person that got involved in the process and came out to vote at Catoosa Utility,” Beasley said. “I know you put your faith in me and I don’t want to let you down. Thank you for enduring all of my Facebook posts and messages, texts, phone calls, emails. Thank you everyone for sharing my posts and telling your friends and family about me. My heart was warmed by your support. This election was all you.”

Beasley will succeed long-time commissioner Jacob Bowman, who had exhausted all of his terms and wasn’t eligible to seek re-election.

Athens hotels saw record stays in the last fiscal year, according to the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines held a public hearing in Savannah to discuss whether new regulations are needed.

Composed of Georgia legislators, state department heads and citizens, the commission’s purpose is to determine the most efficient way to distribute petroleum products while considering safety and property rights, said co-Chairman and state Rep. Bill Hitchens.

“This is quite the complicated process, and that’s why I wanted to bring these people up here,” Hitchens said.

The commission heard from representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Department of Environmental Services, Petroleum Council of Georgia, Savannah Riverkeeper, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Coastal Sierra Club and the Center for a Sustainable Coast.

Noting the amount of trucks it would take to ship the same amount of product, Hunter Hopkins, executive director of the Petroleum Council, said pipelines are the only feasible method of transporting the petroleum the country requires. In addition, the pipeline is a safer method than trucking and shipping, when the volume being transported is considered, Hopkins said.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap will hire a new prosecutor to work on cases involving repeat offenders with guns, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Bidding for a $35 million dollar E-SPLOST project in Macon was compromised when information was leaked in advance of the bidding process.

Bibb County Board of Education member Tom Hudson said, “the process itself was compromised by leaking information to someone who is totally inappropriate and unprofessional. … I think there should be consequences.”

The bidding process for the project, paid for using money from the education special project local option sales tax, will “start from scratch,” Hudson said. Bidding will start after the board adopts a new policy to “provide clarity to the selection process and the need to maintain confidentiality at every level throughout the process,” for both bidders and district employees, according to Thursday night’s meeting agenda.

Board Chairman Lester Miller said Superintendent Curtis Jones’ recommendation about who should win the contract for the project was “a rumor out on the street” before it even got to the board for a vote.

“I don’t think anybody’s done anything wrong, it’s just the way we’ve always done things,” Miller said. “Once you have a determination that certain people are no longer in the bid process, you inform them so they don’t hold out everything as you start moving toward the other ones. That’s something we’ve never had a problem with in the past, but this time, people talk.”

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