Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2022


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2022

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, for the New World on September 16, 1620. Thirty-five of 102 passengers were members of the English Separatist Church seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Originally aiming to reach Virginia, Mayflower eventually landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Forty-one delegates signed the United States Constitution, including Abraham Baldwin and William Few representing Georgia, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 before adjourning sine die.

The United States government took out its first loan on September 18, 1789, the proceeds of which were used to pay the salaries of the President, and First Congress. Was that the first payday loan? On the same day, future President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to E. Rutledge in which he requested that a shipment of olive trees be sent via Baltimore.

President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793.

We know from that newspaper article, and from Masonic ritual, that Washington placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone at the southeast corner of this building. However, we do not know whether that meant the southeast corner of the Senate wing, the first section of the building to be completed, or the southeast corner of the whole building as intended, which would locate it over on the House side. Two centuries later, the Architect of the Capitol is still searching for that cornerstone. Metal detectors have failed to locate the silver plate.

On September 17, 1796, George Washington began working on the final draft of his farewell address as the first President of the United States of America.

On September 15, 1831, Dr. Samuel Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler – missionaries – were tried in a Lawrenceville courtroom for living as white people among the Cherokee and refusing to take an oath of loyalty to Georgia, convicted and sentenced to hard labor. Some historians refer to this case, which went to the United States Supreme Court on appeal, as the beginning of the events that led to the forced removal of the Cherokee people from Georgia on the “Trail of Tears.”

HMS Beagle, carrying Charles Darwin, arrived at the Gallapagos Islands on September 15, 1835.

President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850, requiring that slaves be returned to their owners even if they were in a free state.

The Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee met the Army of the Potomac under General George McClellan at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.

The Battle of Antietam actually consisted of three battles. Beginning at dawn on September 17, Union General Joseph Hooker’s men stormed Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops around the Dunker Church, the West Woods, and David Miller’s cornfield. The Federals made repeated attacks, but furious Rebel counterattacks kept the Yankees in check. By early afternoon, the fighting moved south to the middle of the battlefield. Union troops under General Edwin Sumner inflicted devastating casualties on the Confederates along a sunken road that became known as “Bloody Lane,” before the Southerners retreated. McClellan refused to apply reserves to exploit the opening in the Confederate center because he believed Lee’s force to be much larger than it actually was. In the late afternoon, Union General Ambrose Burnside attacked General James Longstreet’s troops across a stone bridge that came to bear Burnside’s name. The Yankees crossed the creek, but a Confederate counterattack brought any further advance to a halt.

The fighting ended by early evening, and the two armies remained in place throughout the following day. After dark on September 18, Lee began pulling his troops out of their defenses for a retreat to Virginia. The losses for the one-day battle were staggering. Union casualties included 2,108 dead, 9,540 wounded, and 753 missing, while Confederate casualties numbered 1,546 dead, 7,752 wounded, and 1,108 missing.

General Robert E. Lee retreated from Antietam Creek on September 18, 1862, following the bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1893 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

On September 15, 1904, Wilbur Wright made the first in-flight turn in an airplane.

On September 17, 1932, the Georgia Division of the Roosevelt Business and Professional League was created to work with the Georgia Democratic Party to support FDR’s Presidential campaign in the Peach State.

The original stimulus act was announced to bring $70 million in federal money to Georgia to build roads and public buildings on September 16, 1933.

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act requiring males 26-35 years of age to register for the draft. On the same day, Sam Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and would go on to hold the post for 17 years total, the longest tenure of any Speaker.

Early on the morning of September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

On September 18, 1973, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter filed a report claiming that he saw an Unidentified Flying Object in the sky above Leary, Georgia in 1969.

Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m (EST), one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. It was said to have appeared to have closed in on where he was standing but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance. Carter felt that the object was self-luminous, but not a solid in nature. Carter’s report indicates that it was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.

Click here to view a copy of the report, allegedly on file at the Carter Center.

Jimmy Carter received the first ever endorsement of a national ticket by the National Education Association in his bid for President on September 17, 1976.

The Georgia General Assembly approved a new state Constitution on September 18, 1981, which was placed on the 1982 ballot and after approval by voters, went into effect in 1983.

On September 18, 1990, Atlanta was announced as the location for the 1996 Summer Olympic games.

On September 15, 1996, the Texas Rangers retired #34 in honor of the most dominant pitcher in professional baseball history, Nolan Ryan.

Ted Turner announced on September 18, 1997 his intent to donate $1 billion to the United Nations.

R.E.M. and Gregg Allman were among the inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006.

The Georgia Historical Society will observe Constitution Day today, according to WTOC.

They will have on display a draft copy of the constitution from Georgia’s Abraham Baldwin who was one of the original signers of that legal document.

“I think that really the United States is unique among a lot of countries in that we know exactly when our country began, we can tell almost the afternoon and the hour that it began, it’s not religion, ethnicity or language that unites us, it is really the constitution,” said Dr. Stan Deaton with the Georgia Historical Society.

Besides the draft copy, there will also be educational displays and other artifacts that tell the story of Georgia’s role in the founding of our nation.

Several school groups will be stopping by to learn more but they will also be open for the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and completely free at the Georgia Historical Society on Whitaker Street right by Forsyth Park.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Behold what may be one of the best pieces of political direct mail I’ve ever seen:

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday announced a $130 million dollar transfusion to support Grady Memorial Hospital, according to Fox5Atlanta.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced a package Thursday to provide $130 million for more beds in Grady Memorial Hospital in response to Wellstar Health Systems’ decision to close Atlanta Medical Center.

If Atlanta Medical Center closes, Grady Hospital will be the only level one trauma center in the city.

“While the decision to close was certainly no one’s preference, our job is to move forward together and find a viable solution to the needs of the impacted community,” Kemp said.

Flanked by Grady Healthcare CEO John M. Haupert, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and Fulton County Commission Chair Rob Pitts, Kemp said the state is dedicating funds from its American Rescue Plan allotment to increase Grady Hospital’s capacity by nearly 200 beds. Beds will be provided in a “rolling fashion” and Kemp said the beds will be more than enough to cover AMC’s patient census.

Grady opens a new surgical suite, but the state is reallocating a temporary medical unit to Grady that will increase room for patients and new beds.

Pitts said county officials are working to bring another healthcare facility to Atlanta to fill the void left by Atlanta Medical Center.

“If we’re able and want to build a new jail for lawbreakers, that we can build a new medical facility for law-abiding citizens in Fulton County,” Pitts said.

From the AJC:

The funding would finance at least 185 new beds at Grady Memorial Hospital that would be added by the end of 2023.

Kemp is tapping money that Georgia was allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal coronavirus relief package that he opposed. As governor, Kemp has the unilateral authority to spend the money as he pleases.

“These additional 200 beds will come online in a rolling fashion as Grady moves into its new surgical tower next year,” Kemp said. “This is more than enough capacity to cover” the patients that AMC serves.

Officials also said they expect to line up as much as $50 million in philanthropic donations, though they are still in the midst of securing that funding.

“There have been some commitments that have been made,” said Fulton County Commission chair Robb Pitts. “The business community is going to join with us.”

Fulton and DeKalb counties are responsible for covering the uncompensated care of their residents who utilize Grady. According to Grady officials, that cost is about $300 million, but currently the counties only fund 34% of the uncompensated care for their citizens.

Grady officials also said that the extra investments will help make the hospital the largest and most comprehensive Level 1 trauma center in the country. Haupert also emphasized that there are other “excellent” Level 2 trauma centers that offer similar clinical care and can take on new patients as well.

Wellstar says that Medicaid expansion alone would not have saved the facility, though Medicaid expansion has helped bolster the finances of struggling hospitals and improved residents’ access to emergency care.

From 11Alive:

In August, Wellstar said the hospital had faced some challenges, including $107 million in losses in the last year. They’ve battled decreasing revenue along with an increase in costs for staff and supplies; inflation and the pandemic have contributed to some of the strain.

Wellstar’s CEO Candice Saunders said they were “disappointed that a sustainable solution at AMC has not emerged,” which has now led to plans to cease operations there.

Governor Kemp was asked about whether a ban on Plan B emergency contraception was possible, according to 11Alive.

…Kemp said it’s possible but clarified Georgia’s General Assembly must be in a legislative session. He explained how it’s a possibility, but cited that lawmakers had to support the idea. However, the governor pointed out that since states have the power to construct policies around abortion, there are possibilities.

11Alive reached out to the governor’s campaign team. They verified that the audio was recorded at a University of Georgia football tailgate last week and that the voice is Kemp.

When asked about the governor’s stance on Plan B and contraception, a spokesperson with Kemp’s campaign said, “The Governor has never opposed access to contraception.”

A poll of Georgia voters shows wide agreement the state should protect the Okefenokee Swamp, according to the Albany Herald.

A clear majority (69%) of Georgians said that Georgia’s governor should take “immediate action” to protect the Okefenokee swamp from risky mining proposals.

“Across the state, from congregations in downtown Atlanta to the mountains to the coast, Georgians understand what’s at risk with proposals to mine near the Okefenokee,” Codi Norred, executive director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, said in a news release. Last year GIPL released a letter signed by over 100 clergy asking local and federal leaders to protect the Okefenokee. “We have a spiritual imperative to protect this special place.”

“God created the Okefenokee,” the Rev. Antwon Nixon of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Folkston, the founder of Sowing Seeds Outside the Walls, said. “We can never get this special place back. I live just 10 miles away. And we need the help of everyone to protect it. It’s not a one-person army. We have a duty to do our part and spread this heightened spiritual awareness to others.”

And nearly as many people (68%) surveyed think Georgia’s state representatives and senators should finish the job and pass legislation to permanently protect the Okefenokee from risky mining operations in the future. Earlier this year, bipartisan legislation to protect the Okefenokee was introduced in Georgia’s General Assembly. The bill failed to receive a vote.

“Valdosta’s mayor, council, and citizens are united in supporting any and all level of protection for the awesome beauty and resource that is the Okefenokee,” Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson said of the board that passed a resolution in 2021 urging protection of the Okefenokee.

The Georgia Water Coalition has an easy way for Georgians to make their voice heard to protect the Okefenokee. Visit to send a message to candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.

In early September, Mason-Dixon Polling of Jacksonville, Fla., conducted a poll of 625 registered Georgia voters on behalf of the Georgia Water Coalition. Full polling results are available on the water coalition’s website:

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office confirmed it is investigating election issues during the Primary and Primary Runoff this year in McIntosh County, according to WTOC.

Tim Gardner, a former candidate for McIntosh County Commission, filed this complaint himself, which includes information compiled by the McIntosh County Republican Party. The complaint lists discrepancies noticed by poll watchers at different precincts throughout the county.

“People were concerned about inadequacies and discrepancies done throughout the elections process they felt could’ve been a hinderance,” said Tim Gardner.

The information Gardner submitted in his complaint includes poll watchers being asked to leave before the tallying of votes, people dropping large amounts of absentee ballots into the drop box at once, and the voting scanners being down at multiple locations resulting in ballots being stored until they could be scanned – to name a few.

Gardner filed his complaint immediately following each election – and this week, he received confirmation from the Secretary of State’s office about the investigation being opened.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office confirmed the open investigation, and that not all complaints filed with the office result in an investigation.

Floyd County Board of Elections confirmed that no evidence exists that U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s husband applied for an absentee ballot for the 2020 General Election, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

During a court hearing earlier this year, Greene continued her claims that voter fraud took place during in 2020 when former President Donald Trump lost the general election.

She testified under oath — during an April hearing challenging her candidacy for alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection of the Capitol — that her husband did not request a mailed absentee ballot, despite receiving one, and when he showed up to vote in person he was told he had already voted absentee.

“We saw a tremendous amount of voter fraud. We have investigations going on right now in Georgia,” she said. “There is investigation going on in multiple states. My husband showed up to vote and when he went to vote he went to vote in person, he was told he had already voted by absentee ballot when, in fact, he had never requested an absentee ballot. There is many instances.”

Pete McDonald, interim Floyd County elections supervisor at the time, told CNHI that records show Perry Greene requested a mailed ballot, which he had done in previous elections, but did not mail it or put it in a secure drop box.

Instead, McDonald said, he brought the absentee ballot to a polling station, surrendered it to election officials and cast an early in-person vote.

However, new information from Floyd County where Perry Greene voted appears to support his claims that he never requested a ballot.

“I was not working for the Floyd County Board of Elections and Registration during the 2020 election and so I reviewed the Georgia Secretary of State’s E-Net System to see what information I could provide,” McDonald, now permanent elections supervisor, said in an emailed statement. “The E-Net system indicated that a ‘by mail’ absentee ballot was turned in by Mr. Greene prior to him completing an ‘in person’ absentee ballot on 10-23-2020. This is the same record that would have been referred to by any poll worker who was on duty at the time Mr. Greene appeared to vote in person by early ballot.”

Since, McDonald said he’s reviewed additional records and that review leads him to believe the information obtained from the E-Net system was either inaccurate or incomplete.

“In response to an open record request by Mr. Greene’s attorney, my office combed through approximately 10,000 records related to absentee ballots from the 2020 election looking for documents that might indicate that Mr. Greene’s requested a written absentee ballot in advance of the 2020 general election,” McDonald explained. “We did not locate any application from Mr. Greene for a by-mail absentee ballot or the standard yellow envelope provided to return a completed ballot, which would have indicated that a written absentee ballot was requested by and mailed to Mr. Greene.”

Republican Herschel Walker campaigned in Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

Walker spoke to a crowd of about 300 at noon Thursday at the Exchange Club fairgrounds. He rolled up in a big red bus with “Herschel” written boldly along the side with larger than life pictures of the Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL standout.

In introducing Walker, state Sen. Sheila McNeill told the crowd to give him the ball and let him run.

“Come November, we can change this world,’’ Walker told the crowd in a rapid fire address that hit his opponent, Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock, and other Washington liberals.

Warnock already has spent $50 million in his campaign, Walker said. “That means they’re wasting their money,’’ given the closeness of the race.

Walker answered, “We’ll see,” when asked if he’ll accept any additional debates in the Senate race, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

At a rally in Martinez on Wednesday, U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker couldn’t say whether he would accept a second debate with incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.

On Tuesday, Warnock’s campaign officially announced they have agreed to meet at the Savannah debate Walker organized for Oct. 14, but Warnock said he hoped Walker would reconsider also attending either the Atlanta or Macon debates which Walker had vehemently rejected.and opponent Walker does not seem to be at an end.

Walker’s unwillingness to commit didn’t concern his supporters at the evening campaign event in Columbia County, though. Roughly 200 supporters gathered at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The senate candidate said he felt this race was something God called him to do, and as for Warnock, “He don’t know, but it’s time for him to go!”

A recurring theme of Walker’s speech was his view that issues like this, critical race theory, and the recent education loan forgiveness program President Biden approved were distractions from the “real issues” like the war on drugs and crime rates.

“I don’t want trees, I want police officers,” he said.

Savannah real estate appreciation is causing problems for renters, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah has budgeted more than $20 million into addressing affordable housing and homelessness needs in the city, but the housing crisis is reined in by city limits. To address the issues statewide, officials and activists are working on legislation and policy efforts to combat the crisis.

“There has been a big push this year regarding more renter rights,” said Bambie Hayes-Brown, president and CEO of Georgia Advancing Communities Together (Georgia ACT), a statewide organization focused on helping nonprofits with housing and community development needs.

While the month-to-month spikes in rent in the Savannah area are slowing after several years of ballooning, the average monthly rent for an apartment still exceeds the average worker’s wage by $9,000 a year.

“The shape of the rent curve — if that’s what you want to call it — is normalizing and balancing. And 2022 in Savannah is looking more like 2019 and 2018,” said Rob Warnock, chief economist for Apartment List. “But given everything that happened last year, it’s like we’re kind of just in this new level of price and unaffordability. That’s just the reality now for a lot of places.”

Rental prices for a one-bedroom increased 15% between August 2021 and 2022, with an average rent of $1,221. An average two-bedroom cost $1,406 in August, according to Apartment List’s monthly data report.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, rents have risen 40% in Savannah, outpacing rent growth statewide and nationally during that time.

Relief is needed beyond what the natural market is doing, advocates and renters said, but state law prohibits localities or counties from enacting rental caps. Georgia is one of 25 states with such a law.

Hayes-Brown said she and other housing advocates are lobbying for a law that would give renters a seven-day curing period if they become late on their rent. As the law stands now, rent is due on the first of the month. “They can file for eviction on the second,” Hayes-Brown said.

State Rep. Derek Mallow, D-163, introduced a bill earlier this year to allow low-income renters to qualify for a $60 credit on their income tax. For the purposes of the credit, low-income is between $27,000 for single filers and $35,000 for married households.

Savannah Chatham County schools are competing for bus drivers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Dillard’s circumstances highlight the strenuous predicament parents have found themselves in since Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools again decided it will not provide transportation to students who attended choice programs schools. Choice schools offer Savannah students the opportunity to learn a specialty, such as STEM, aviation or the arts that may not be offered at their zoned school.

Students residing 1.5 miles or greater are eligible for transportation to their zoned school. Dedicated CHOICE schools do not have an attendance zone; therefore they are not eligible for transportation, a spokesperson for the district said.

At the heart of this decision is SCCPSS’s bus driver shortage. At an August board meeting, the district reported being short 80 drivers for this school year. Overall, they are down more than 100 since their peak in the 2019-2020 school year.

SCCPSS’s bus drivers have steadily decreased since 2019 when the district employed had 328 drivers.

As of Aug. 15, the school district had hired 214 drivers with 18 of those drivers out on FMLA or worker’s compensation, district leaders reported Sept. 7, during an informal board meeting. The school district has lost between 30 and 45 drivers per year since 2019 due to payroll issues and COVID concerns. At the subsequent board meeting, the district reported eight bus drivers had resigned and another four were fired for job abandonment, mostly in July.

Hiring has been a challenge in part because of pay: SCCPSS recently increased school bus drive salaries $2 in May. Starting bus drivers with a CDL license now make $17.88. A current job listing for bus driver operate has salary between $17.78 and $24.40.

Still, the district faces considerable competition from Chatham Area Transit, which pays a minimum hourly rate of about $17.39 to its bus operators as well as from the Georgia Port Authority, which also hire drivers with CDL license at approximately $18.71 an hour, according to Zip Recruiter.

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office found several guns in a student’s car on campus, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The discovery was made during a routine search last Wednesday at Effingham County High School where law enforcement found ammunition, a 12-gauge shotgun, a pistol and an AR-15 style rifle. The student was charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone.

“Anytime there’s a weapon found or drugs, that student can be suspended up to 10 days and referred to a discipline designee and then from there, there are lots of options that can occur.” [said Effingham Superintendent Yancy Ford]

Houston County District Attorney Will Kendall spoke about challenges in prosecuting gang activity, according to 13WMAZ.

“The people of Houston County are fed up. They are fed up with the violent crime. They are fed up with the shootings. They are fed up with seeing children hurt and people dying, and they should be,” Houston County District Attorney Will  Kendall said.

“I think, in part, justice is set up to when people go off to prison, they are supposed to be reformed, pay their debt to society, and come back into the civilian world as better citizens or capable citizens. I am not saying that always happens. It’s not perfect, but certainly, my job is to serve the best interest of justice; and if we’ve got gang members running around the streets, hurting people and robbing businesses and things like that, we are going to send them to prison,” Kendall said.

“Although there are many problems that plague Houston County and communities across the nation, criminal gang street activity is one of them. One of the issues right now is serious, violent felonies in Houston County, which the large majority of them being perpetrated by criminal street gang members,” Kendall said.

“You have to collect the data first, because you have to be able to go into court and say these people are a part of a gang, an illegal gang; and these are the things that tell us that so. In prosecution, you don’t get to charge somebody with criminal street gang activity just because they are a gang member who created a crime. There has to be a nexus, and it has to be in furtherance of that gang. It could be drugs, robbery, an aggravated assault. It could be a number of things, but there has to be some kind of nexus that would basically be in furtherance of what that gang is doing,” Kendall said.

Nine months ago, Kendall’s office launched a Joint Law Enforcement Gang Task Force with more than 150 local, state, and federal officers.
Now, they’ve rolled out a software called Formulytics to create profiles on gang members.

“It’s just a software that we pushed out to all law enforcement. They are able to log in on a web platform and then put together reports on gangs,” Kendall said.

Kendall says once they prove suspects are gang members, they can compound charges.

“If it’s a burglary which would be 20 years, you can still tack on the criminal street gang activity and potentially send these folks that are essentially being a nuisance in the community, causing violent crimes in Houston County, send them off to prison for a long time, and that’s what we expect to do,” Kendall said.

Warner Robins Police Chief John Wagner announced his retirement effective October 2, 2022, according to 13WMAZ.

Brunswick and Glynn County will host a public meeting to discuss homelessness, according to The Brunswick News.

City Manager Regina McDuffie said the event would be “an all-day summit of information sharing and collaborative discussions and development of action items.”

“Glynn County Manager Bill Fallon and …McDuffie have announced a joint meeting and discussion on the community homeless,” according to a press release. “Staff are currently working on an agenda and will send it and additional information out as soon it becomes available.

People in nearly every sector of the Golden Isles — from downtown business owners to Brunswick residents, churches and law enforcement — say they have dealt with problems arising from a growing number of homeless people in the city’s downtown area.

State legislation providing new avenues for mental health treatment, along with funding, may help, but it will take time, Nora Lott Haynes, an educator, mental health advocate and researcher, told The News in a recent interview.

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