Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 21, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 21, 2017

On September 21, 1863, the federal Army of the Cumberland retreated to Chattanooga after its defeat at Chickamauga.

Bert Lance resigned as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter on September 21, 1977. After a jury acquitted him on ten federal charges in 1980, Lance served as Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia from 1982 to 1985.

General Colin Powell was confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 21. 1989. Powell served as National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan before being appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H.W. Bush; in 2000, Powell was nominated by President George W. Bush as Secretary of State, the first African-American to hold that post.

On September 21, 2011, R.E.M. announced on their website that they were quitting as a band.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal cut the ribbon at a metal shop in Hall County Correctional Institute.

As a former prosecutor, Gov. Nathan Deal said one of the most frustrating parts of the job was the “revolving door,” seeing the same faces and families in court because they “never broke the cycle that they are living in.”

“Some people think mere passage of time is rehabilitation,” Deal said. “It is not. In fact, it may be the exact opposite in many cases.”

The Re-entry Accountability Court Transition program, which started in 2014 for non-violent offenders to get substance abuse treatment and vocational training, is overseen by Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller. Lanier Technical College and WorkSource Georgia are partners in the welding shop program.

“We’re going to produce 30 returning citizens to Hall County on an annual basis that will have a national and state certification in welding,” Warden Walt Davis said. “That’s a skill that’s needed in this area.”

“The families of those inmates will now have a paycheck that they can depend on. Children will be supported. They won’t be in the prison system, and they won’t be in our court system in-and-out,” [Gov. Deal] said.

The State Elections Board turned over to the Attorney General’s office fifty-three voter registration forms that appear fradulent.

Fifty-three allegedly forged voter applications are being referred to the state Attorney General’s Office for possible prosecution, a decision by the State Elections Board that effectively closes the Secretary of State Office’s 2014 fraud investigation involving an attention-grabbing registration drive by the New Georgia Project.

The unanimous vote Wednesday came as the case’s lead investigator said he found no wrongdoing by the group, which was founded by then-state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams to increase the number of minorities on voting rolls.

It allows Attorney General Chris Carr to decide whether to prosecute those involved: 14 people that investigator Russell Lewis said essentially acted as independent contractors registering new voters.

The project, however, has continued to take an active role in registration efforts across the state, even as Abrams has stepped back from its operations. To date, those working with the project say it has submitted more than 215,000 voter registration forms, although not all those forms have been accepted.

FEMA and GEMA officials toured Gwinnett County yesterday to assess damages from Hurricane Irma.

[Jennifer] Busch’s home was one of about 26 houses that Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency representatives visited with Gwinnett County officials on Wednesday. The FEMA and GEMA officials were assessing damage from Tropical Storm Irma to see if the county could qualify for a Declaration of Individual Assistance.

It’s part of a long process that county officials are going through to try and get recovery assistance for Gwinnett residents whose homes were damaged during the storm.

“From a federal perspective, what we’re looking for is damage to the essential living quarters,” FEMA Emergency Management Program Specialist Steve Michaels said. “We’ve had one home where it was the garage that was damaged. The rest of the house was still functional even though the garage was messed up pretty significantly (so), to us, that would be like a minor issue because it’s not an essential part of the house …

“If it’s going through the middle of the house, what we’re looking for is major structural components being impacted.”

The FEMA assessor praised the work Gwinnett’s assessment team did after the storm to evaluate damage. County officials said they compiled their list of damaged structures by looking at 9-1-1 calls and at a state-run website that allows homeowners to report damage online.

About 200 structures were reportedly damaged in Gwinnett during the storm. County code enforcement officers began going around to check damaged structures Sept. 13.

“They’ve been pretty right on,” Michaels said. “Gwinnett County is very detail oriented and their system that they utilize and implement is one of the best I’ve seen. I’m just sort of validating that the work that they’ve already put into it is accurate, at a federal assessment level, which so far it is.”

Contrast that with Gwinnett County’s rebranding effort.

The colorful overlapping shapes of the logo revealed Tuesday look like a knockoff of the logo for Internet browser Google Chrome, they said. The cursive font used for the slogan — “vibrantly connected” — is hard to read, they said. Why can’t we just bring back the water towers, they said.

I hope it was free, they said.

The logo, slogan and other re-branding efforts — which are not final, could be tweaked and still must be voted on by the county’s Board of Commissioners — in fact cost about $123,000, according to a contract approved by the board in February. And not everyone hates them.

The Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting nominations for a newly-created seat on the Superior Court for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, serving Hall and Dawson Counties.

Georgia Department of Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle will take over the equivalent agency in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has selected Bobby Cagle as head of the Department of Children and Family Services, the sprawling child welfare agency that has suffered from mismanagement, a handful of high-profile child deaths and a shortage of foster homes in recent years.

Cagle, a former foster youth and case worker himself, serves as director of the Division of Family and Children Services under Georgia’s Department of Human Services.

Cagle’s contract, salary and moving expenses still have to be negotiated and are subject to final approval by the board.

Cagle will take the helm of an agency with a $2.4-billion budget that is responsible for 34,000 youth across Los Angeles County, more than half of whom are in “out-of-home” care.

Five candidates are running for Smyrna City Council Ward 3.

Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz stepped down from the council position earlier this month after nearly 10 years in office to make a bid for the state House. She is running unopposed for the District 42 position formerly held by Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, who is running for governor.

Qualifying ended at noon Wednesday at Smyrna City Hall with Maryline Blackburn and Jeff Carter entering the field, which already had business owner Travis Lindley, attorney Adam Taylor and Marshall Moon, who works in security.

Fire Fighters Unions  endorsed Mary Norwood and Ceasar Mitchell for Mayor of Atlanta.

IAFF announced its backing of Norwood at a morning event near Fire Station No. 1 in the shadow of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The union, which has more than 560 paying members, also endorsed Norwood in her 2009 bid for the city’s top job. It did not make an endorsement in 2013.

“Mary Norwood is known citywide, said IAFF Local 134 President Paul Gerdis, who added that the organization picked Norwood because of her commitment to public safety.

“She lost the mayor’s race by only 700 votes in 2009,” Gerdis said. “We’re not going to let that happen again. We believe we can be a difference maker in this race.”

Mitchell, who is president of the Atlanta City Council, was endorsed by Progressive Firefighters of Atlanta Local 134, an independent fire fighting labor group, during a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

The group, which has around 325 members, praised Mitchell for being a leader on pay equity, including helping efforts to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15, raise firefighter starting salaries to $40,000 and restructure the city’s pension plan.

Fulton County voters will have three candidates to choose from for Commission Chair in the November Special Election.

Qualifying wrapped up at noon Wednesday, and voters will have three candidates to choose from on the Nov. 7 ballot: Keisha Waites, Robb Pitts and Gabriel Sterling.

Waites is a former State House member who represented District 60, which includes portions of Fulton and Clayton counties. Pitts is a former Fulton County Commissioner who served between 2002 and 2014 and Sterling sits on the Sandy Springs City Council.

The county will also hold a special election to fill the District 4 seat on the County Commission, which was vacated with the passing of Joan Garner. Candidates who’ve qualified for that seat are Eddie Lee Brewster, Kathryn Flowers Glasco, Natalie Hall, Steven D. Lee, Sr., Reese McCranie and Joshua McNair. The winner of that race will serve out the remainder of Garner’s term, which also expires in December 2018.

Kennesaw State Political Scientist Kerwin Swint predicts that Georgia’s electorate will become purple in 2024.

We’ve had several false alarms. Many thought Barack Obama had a chance of carrying Georgia in the 2012 election, but by the time November rolled around, Mitt Romney won here by a comfortable eight points. In 2014 many pundits were convinced that Georgia was turning purple, as early polling had Michelle Nunn besting David Perdue in the U.S. Senate race, and Jason Carter running even with Gov. Nathan Deal. But 2014 turned out to be a mirage. Perdue beat Nunn by eight points, and Deal also beat Carter by eight.

Then in 2016, stop me if you’ve heard this one, the national Democratic Party and national media outlets were buzzing over Georgia becoming the newest swing state, likely to go to Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, again according to polling. Then November came, and Donald Trump carried Georgia by six points.

GOP supporters tend to be older with higher incomes, which means they have a higher rate of voter turnout. Also, Republicans in Georgia these days normally get to run as incumbents. Then there’s the gerrymandering of districts, which Republicans will probably get to do again after the 2020 Census, unless Democrats manage to win the Governor’s Mansion in 2018, again an uphill struggle.

That’s why I have the Year of Turning Purple pegged at 2024. It will be a presidential election year, so turnout will be high. The presidency will either be open or it will be a Democrat running for re-election. And Georgia will have several more cycles of new voters added to the mix, most of whom will likely be reliably Democrat.

The Graham-Cassidy federal healthcare bill would benefit Georgia in the short-term, according to Andy Miller with Georgia Health News.

The Graham-Cassidy bill – named for its Republican sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — would get rid of many Affordable Care Act provisions, including states’ expansion of their Medicaid programs.

It would take that money and other ACA funding and redistribute it more equally across states, allowing them greater flexibility to shape their health care systems.

The “block grant’’ approach would lead to less funding for states that expanded Medicaid and had high enrollment in their health insurance exchanges, such as California and New York. Non-expansion states such as Georgia would generally gain under the change.

The legislation has until Sept. 30 to pass. No Democratic senators support it, so the Republicans will need almost all their 52 senators to vote for it. The bill could pass with 50 Republican votes, since Vice President Mike Pence would be the one to break a 50-50 tie.

President Trump says he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

The bill worries groups representing doctors and hospitals, as well as consumer advocacy organizations.

A former MARTA executive is accused of stealing half-a-million dollars and buying a Porsche 911, among other things.

A former executive at Atlanta’s MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) public transit system pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding MARTA of more than $500,000 by writing fake invoices.

Joseph J. Erves 52, of Lithonia, Georgia, was charged via criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft. Erves has pleaded guilty.

Erves worked at MARTA from 1993-2017 as its senior director of operations. Erves oversaw the maintenance of all buses and rail cars and could approve payments of up to $10,000 for work performed on behalf of MARTA.

Erves personally approved payments to the vendors, who then funneled most of the money back into Erves’s personal bank accounts. He used the money to purchase a Porsche 911 and multiple products at high-end department stores, police say.

Erves had a previous drug conviction and had been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison in 1987, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was released in 1992.

Can’t fault his taste in cars, but maybe it was a little conspicuous in the MARTA parking lot.

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