Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2019

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2019

King Henry VII of England was crowned on October 30, 1485.

King Charles I of England granted a charter for a new colony called Carolana that included much of present-day Georgia, along with the current states of North and South Carolina, on October 30, 1629.

Stephen Douglas of Illinois campaigned in Atlanta for President of the United States on October 30, 1860. Douglas had defeated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senate in 1858, giving rise to the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

On October 30, 1871, Republican Benjamin Conley became acting Governor of Georgia after Republican Governor Rufus Bullock resigned; Conley served as President of the state Senate before taking office as Governor.

Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

On October 30, 1938, a science fiction drama called War of the Worlds was broadcast nationwide in the form of a series of simulated radio broadcasts.

Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 30, 1945, becoming the first African-American professional baseball player in the major leagues.

On October 30, 1970, a fastball from Nolan Ryan was timed at 100.9 miles per hour, putting him in the record books.

On the same day, Jim Morrison of the Doors was sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrision died before the case was heard on appeal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order allowing the late Senator Leroy Johnson to lie in state in the Georgia Capitol on Thursday, October 31, 2019, and ordering the lowering of flags to half-staff on that date for state buildings and properties.

The Georgia Department of Public Health identified a third vaping-related death, according to CBS46.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has announced the third vaping-related death in the state.

The department says it has identified 25 cases of vaping-related illnesses in Georgia and now three deaths. The identity of the latest victim has not been released.

Symptoms of vaping-related illness include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Vaping is an increasing concern for public health and education officials, according to the Albany Herald.

“I’ve been getting a lot of requests from schools to come out and talk about the harms of vaping and what they (students) can do to quit,” said Ebonee Kirkwood, tobacco cessation specialist for the Southwest Georgia Health District. “There has been an increase in concern in the school system.”

Of the 34 deaths attributed to vaping and e-cigarette use recorded as of Oct. 22, two have occurred in Georgia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths also have been confirmed in 23 other states.

Among Dougherty County public school students, vaping seems to be relatively low, compared to other systems in the area. Among students, less than 7% of 12th graders reported using one of the products at least once within the previous 30 days, according to an annual student health survey released by the Georgia Department of Education.

Out of 4,693 students who answered the question in grades 6 through 12, 26 reported using the product daily over the previous month.

In Lee County, a little more than 20% of 12th-graders reported using one of the products at least once within the previous 30 days and nearly 9% – 25 out of 281 who responded – used them daily during that period.

Atlanta City Council is considering limiting sales of vaping supplies, according to the AJC.

Amid national discussion surrounding vaping, the Atlanta City Council is considering a move to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and the sale of all vaping products to those younger than 18.

The city’s public safety committee postponed voting on the proposed legislation Tuesday after hearing from vape proponents, who were concerned the ban would hurt businesses. Councilman Michael Julian Bond presented the legislation to the council at last week’s council meeting.

At Tuesday’s public safety meeting, vape proponents argued that banning the flavored vapes might not reduce the number of young people attracted to the devices. They said many teenagers use the e-cigarettes for the nicotine — not the flavor. Thus, imposing an age limit on who can by the products might cause minors to purchase vaping products on the black market. Some also worried it would put vape shops, whose customers are often youth, out of business.

Bond suggested the committee hold a work session with vape proponents to better educate councilmembers on the safety and dangers of vaping. No date was set for that discussion.

Several cities in metro Atlanta have already taken steps to restrict where vaping devices can be used or where stores can operate in their jurisdiction. Snellville banned vaping at city-owned buildings, parks, and other spaces. Alpharetta also passed laws limiting where the shops can go and how much they can sell in tobacco and vape items. Smyrna has passed a law making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, possess or use a range of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vapes and electronic hookahs.

A federal judge held that a local sheriff requiring warning signs at sex offenders homes , according to the AJC.

A federal judge on Tuesday said a Georgia sheriff’s plan to post “no trick-or-treating” signs at sex offenders’ homes was unconstitutional.

The ruling comes after three registered sex offenders sued Butts County Sheriff Gary Long to stop his office from the practice, which began last year with deputies planting signs that urged Halloween revelers against stopping. Deputies put up some of the signs while others among the county’s 200 registered sex offenders were told to display one themselves or face unspecified trouble, according to the complaint.

U.S. District Court Judge Marc T. Treadwell’s order applies only to the three plaintiffs, meaning it wouldn’t stop the sheriff’s office from placing signs at other registered sex offenders’ homes. But the judge said Long’s legal authority to place the signs was “dubious at best.”

The sheriff disagreed with the ruling but said he’d abide by it.

The sheriff’s plan to place the signs “run afoul” of the First Amendment because it compels the men to display the message even though they disagree with it.

The sheriff said he’d sought legal advice in 2018 before placing the signs and believed it was appropriate.

Bibb County voters will decide on a $185 million dollar five-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to the Macon Telegraph.

The US Army Corps of Engineers announced it will delay increasing dock fees on Lake Lanier, according to the Gainesville Times.

Those increases were challenged by several legislators, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

The Corps will hold off on permit fee increases to do a national review of shoreline management fees, according to a social media post from the Corps’ South Atlantic Division.

The increases, announced in June, would have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and affected the Corps’ South Atlantic Division. Under the revised fee schedule, new dock or facility permits would have gone from $400 to $835, and re-issue permits would have increased from $175 to $835.

“I’m very encouraged that the Corps took our concerns seriously and made the decision to hold off on increasing permit fees. Residents of the Ninth District living on or near Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell — and those throughout the southeast living near Corps waterways— will no longer be hit with significant and unexpected fee increases come January,” Collins said in a statement.

The Corps of Engineers also announced their decision on how to proceed at the Savannah River near Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that it will choose an option that will demolish New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in favor of a rock weir fish passage that will lower the pool in the Savannah River significantly.

The decision, which is widely and vehemently opposed by Georgia and South Carolina leaders, will likely end up in a lawsuit perhaps as early as this week, officials said. The Corps left open the door for a higher water level, but it will require local entities to contribute to it.

The Corps said it will hold a “public engagement” on the plan from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in Augusta at the Boathouse Community Center, 101 Riverfront Drive, where it will discuss details of the plan. But public reaction to the plan from Georgia and South Carolina at all levels of government was swift.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., said the move would violate the requirements of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016, which authorized a fish passage but also required the pool in the Savannah River be maintained “for navigation, water supply, and recreational activities, as in existence on the date of enactment of this Act,” which on Dec. 16, 2016, was 114.5 feet above sea level.

Woodstock City Council approved a New Small Business Occupational Tax Waiver program, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News.

Under the program, newly organized businesses in a commercial location with less than 10 employees which open in the city qualify, among other requirements, for the waiver of the application, inspection and occupational tax fees for their first year.

An occupational tax license, more commonly known as a business license, is required for all commercial and home-based businesses by each local jurisdiction.

The waiver program is intended to encourage business owners to consider Woodstock as a favorable and encouraging environment to begin their business.

“Woodstock has been focusing on programs for a few years that help foster a business-friendly community to attempt to grow our employment base,” said Mayor Donnie Henriques in a statement. “From partnerships with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development and Chattahoochee Tech to establish the area’s first co-work space to small business programming support through city supported agencies and nonprofits, we have seen an increase in the community of like-minded individuals looking to establish businesses in the area. We hope that the waiver of these fees is seen as a further incentive to take that next step here in Woodstock.”

Columbus Council member Evelyn Turner Pugh attended her last meeting after 31 years of service, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Tuesday was Turner Pugh’s last meeting after serving nearly 31 years on council. She was first elected in 1988 and last elected to a four-year term in 2016.

She announced Oct. 8 that she will be retiring at the end of the month due to health challenges. Turner Pugh has battled Parkinson’s disease for over a decade.

[Valerie A.] Thompson was appointed by the council to fill the rest of Turner Pugh’s term, and will take the seat effective Nov. 1. She will hold the post until an election can be held, and has said she will not seek re-election.

“She has conducted herself with a fierce loyalty for her district without losing sight of the fact that her votes impacted citizens throughout this community,” [Mayor Skip Henderson] said. “And that’s tough, you ask any district councilor, that is a very, very difficult thing to do.”

The Glynn County Commission Finance Committee voted to move forward with opening a third early voting location, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell told board members in January that opening a third early voting location would cost around $8,500 per election and $17,000 at a minimum for the 2020 presidential election cycle.

To give Glynn County’s busy voters more options, the board hopes to open a new early voting polling place in the county-owned Ballard Complex at the corner of Community and Old Jesup roads.

“To support this request, the Ballard Building will be out of public rental service for 122 days and the Brookman Building will be out of service for 11 days,” according to a memo from Public Works Director Dave Austin to the committee. “Based on last year’s statistics this will cost Glynn County 49 days of rental revenue at Ballard at a cost of $3,675 and 11 days of revenue for Brookman at $825 for a total of $4,500 potential loss of revenue.”

Committee member Bill Brunson asked why it would be necessary to take the building out of circulation for 122 days.

For all the elections the board is required to provide three weeks of early voting, said Channel. The building would also have to be secured and access restricted to elections personnel only during the voting period.

“In my opinion, there is no greater use of that building than the voting process. The public, all the community gets to use it,” Channell said.

Ultimately, the committee unanimously recommended the county commission allow the board of elections to use the Ballard Complex.

A stranded manatee near Savannah was saved by contractors, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Workers with Continental Heavy Civil Corp., the corps’ contractor, found the grounded manatee on the morning of Oct. 1. The 10-foot-long animal apparently tried to swim from the Little Back River into Rifle Cut during high tide, became stuck and was left high and dry when the tide fell. Continental’s crew kept the manatee wet until responders arrived.

“It was a really large female, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen,” said DNR senior wildlife biologist Mark Dodd, who was among the responders. “She was a big fat girl.”

The manatee appeared healthy. Female manatees sometimes ground themselves to avoid unwanted attention from males, Dodd said, but no males were seen in the area. The female probably could have made it to deep water on her own with the next high tide, Dodd said, but her stranding gave staffers with the DNR Wildlife Conservation Section and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute the opportunity to check her health and fit her with a satellite transmitter to track her movements.

Then instead of moving the bulky animal to the water, they brought the water to her.

Continental employee used a bulldozer to dig a shallow channel to the river. As water surged in, the manatee was eased onto a stretcher and hauled to deeper water, where she was released unharmed. Dodd even waded in to shoo her in the right direction.

Two first-time candidates are running for an open seat on Gainesville City Council, according to AccessWDUN.

The Ward 5 post became an open race when longtime councilwoman Ruth Bruner announced in February that she would not be seeking re-election.

Bruner’s announcement to step down presented the opportunity Gainesville residents Juli Clay and William “Bill” Bush saw as their time to step forward and seek Bruner’s seat.

Two other ward seats in the city will be up for re-election and appearing on the ballot, but the incumbents representing those wards are in uncontested races: Ward 2 representative Zach Thompson and Ward 3 representative Barbara Brooks are both unopposed.

Richmond County election officials learned of a state purge of voter rolls through the newspaper, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that more than 300,000 voters who did not vote or otherwise contact the elections office in the last two general elections will get a notice next month – sent to their last known address – that their registration will be canceled unless they respond.

A copy of the notice, posted online by the Atlanta newspaper, showed the form using the return address of a voter’s local county election office.

Travis Doss, the deputy director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said the office learned about the proposed cancellations in the newspaper.

Typically the office removes inactive voters during the spring after a general election, but Richmond County hasn’t seen the notice or been told how many local voters will be sent one, he said.

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