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

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Sep

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

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On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated,

“. . . on the first day of January [1863] . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Atlanta on September 22, 1877. Click here to read the text of his speech in Atlanta.

White vigilantes seeking to assault African-Americans after reports of four white women being assaulted led to the Atlanta Race Riots on September 22-24, 1906, which would claim the lives of at least 25 African-Americans and one white person.

On September 22, 1918, the City of Atlanta gasoline administator prohibited non-emergency Sunday driving to conserve fuel for the war effort.

Friends debuted on NBC on September 22, 1994.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed William “Billy” Sparks to the bench as Superior Court Judge of the Rome Judicial Circuit, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Walter Matthews.

Georgia’s gas supply could be restored by the weekend, but it may take several more days before all stations are running again, according to Gov. Deal.

“We have been told by the Federal Energy Commission that they’re putting a quota on every state at the outset, so that the line and product on the line is distributed throughout the entire area that is effected by this,” Deal told reporters, according to a report by WXIA 11Alive, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s broadcast partner.

“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions, the company said in a statement. “Colonial continues to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so as markets return to normal.”

Anne Holton, wife of Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine, kicked off a day of phone banking for the Clinton/Kaine campaign in Atlanta yesterday.

“When the polls go up and the polls go down, he’s said all along it’s going to be a close race.” Holton told a group of about 100 women gathered at Amelie’s French Bakery in downtown Atlanta for a phone-banking event. “But we’re gonna win it. And let’s win it with Georgia in the plus column. If you all deliver Georgia, we will deliver the nation.”

Atlanta-based Gray Television says the pace of political ad buying has changed.

“While political revenue remains significant, Gray stations are receiving political advertising orders later than usual and current orders generally are being placed with only a few days advance notice before broadcast,” the company reported Sept. 20. The company owns and/or operates television stations across 51 television markets.

“The Trump campaign and/or allied PAC’s have purchased advertising time in some Gray markets, and it has expressed interest in placing advertising in up to 9 states involving up to 17 Gray markets,” the company added. “At this time, however, the campaign’s future spending is currently impossible to predict. The Clinton campaign and allied PAC’s are currently active and/or are expressing interest in placing advertising in up to 6 states involving up to 7 Gray markets. Recent polling between Clinton and Trump appear to have tightened and could lead to increased ad spending by the respective campaigns and related PAC’s. Nevertheless, there can be no assurance that increased spending will materialize given the very unusual nature of this year’s late presidential campaign season.”

Gray also reported that its stations “are currently seeing somewhat more competitive statewide races in Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina than previously predicted. On the other hand, Senate races in Ohio and Colorado have not led to the robust advertising spending as was widely anticipated. Furthermore, some historically large political advertisers have very recently indicated that they may direct funds to organizing voters and other campaign activities rather than advertising.”

U.S. District Court Judge William Duffey, Jr. ordered Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to release information on rejected voter registration applications.

U.S. District Judge William Duffey Jr.’s ruling on Tuesday is a victory for Project Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit waging an ongoing fight for records detailing Georgia’s process for reviewing voter registration applications and the reasons why applications are rejected.

Project Vote has been seeking the records since May 2014, and finally sued, it said, after Kemp responded to its request with incomplete database records.

The NAACP and others have accused Georgia of frustrating the minority vote by failing to promptly determine the eligibility of thousands of black, Latino and Asian voters. In 2014, the organization sued the state, contending the delays could potentially deprive minorities of their right to vote in that year’s elections.

In the separate Project Vote case, Judge Duffey said Tuesday that the threatened injury over caused by blocking the release of certain voter registration records outweighs the harm to the state, which had sought to dismiss the case citing privacy concerns and the costs, monetary and in worker’s time, associated with producing the records.

Kemp has consistently maintained his office was cooperative and transparent with Project Vote over the records, and that his staff always acted in good faith in dealing with Project Vote.

Dougherty County voters will be able to vote on Sunday, October 30, after the county board of elections approved a full weekend of voting.

The Dougherty County Board of Registration and Elections voted unanimously Wednesday to allow a Sunday voting period from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 30.

The Sunday vote would follow a state-mandated Saturday voting period, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 29. Both weekend voting sessions will be conducted at the Riverfront Resource Center’s Candy Room at 125 Pine Ave.

“My recommendation is that we hold the Sunday vote on Oct. 30, the day after the state-mandated Saturday vote,” Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. “That would allow for a full weekend of voting in Dougherty County.”

Nickerson noted that the county had approved a similar Sunday voting period in 2014, and that it had been well-attended. Asked by Board Chairman Walter Blankenship if there was talk of a statewide move to take the Sunday vote out of the separate counties’ hands and make it mandatory, the elections supervisor said only “five or six” counties had indicated they were interested in such action when polled.

“I believe during the last county-determined Sunday voting day in 2014, there were only about 10 counties that voted to approve it,” Nickerson said.

Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) is requesting federal election monitors for the November General Election.

“We should ask for federal protection,” the Georgia Democrat said Wednesday, warning “the election can be stolen on election day at polling places.”

Lewis, who was badly injured in 1965 while marching in Selma, Alabama for voting rights for African-Americans, said several states including Georgia, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina should be monitored, and potentially all of the states that belonged to the confederacy.

Lewis said the 2016 presidential election is the first since 1965 that voters don’t have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act due to a Supreme Court ruling three years ago. The lawmaker said it was a “shame and a disgrace” that Congress hasn’t acted on the issue.

The American Farm Bureau Federation awarded its Friend of Farm Bureau Award to thirteen Georgia members of Congress.

Georgia legislators receiving the award are: Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and Reps. Rick Allen, Sanford Bishop, Buddy Carter, Doug Collins, Tom Graves, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Tom Price, Austin Scott, Lynn Westmoreland and Rob Woodall.

Perdue, serving his first term in the U.S. Senate, is a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Allen and Scott serve on the House Agriculture Committee, where Scott chairs the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit.

Bishop serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee in Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. Hice is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The Macon League of Women Voters held a forum on the Opportunity School District with speakers for and against the Amendment.

[Senator John F.] Kennedy was asked specifically what would happen to Bibb County Schools if they were taken over. He said there were of a few possibilities.

“First of which is a cooperative model between the new superintendent and the local school system that’s there,” Kennedy said. “I would submit to you that’s the most likely model that’s followed.”

If the amendment is passed, Gov. Deal will appoint a superintendent to the new school district, approved by the state senate, that’ll have the power to fire teachers and principals.

Kennedy’s question to the crowd of about 30 people was simple:

“How long are we going to leave these children in a failing schools and not do something about it?”

Gwinnett County School Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the county school system will not formally oppose the Opportunity School District amendment.

[W]hile Wilbanks didn’t take a side on the issue, he also noted how the question is presented to voters.

“As with many ballot issues, the preamble and the question that will appear on the ballot are written in a way that someone who’s not informed about it would be inclined to vote in support of it,” the superintendent said. “Obviously, if I was writing the preamble about the ballot question, I would probably do the same thing. I’m not here today to advocate for or against Amendment 1, but I do encourage you to learn all you can about it.”

Wilbanks went on to note that Gwinnett does not have any schools on the list that’s subject to a potential state takeover, and the Gwinnett County Board of Education has not issued an official policy statement.

“But we do believe that something does need to be done and that’s what we’re trying to work through,” he said.

However, Gwinnett School Board Chairman Dr. Robert McClure has told the Daily Post that while the board hasn’t made an official policy about the issue, the group is not in favor of the proposal. He said it doesn’t make any more sense than the federal government running local schools, and that it would be only slightly better because the best government is the smallest that’s closest to the problem.

Cobb County Board of Education member David Morgan is taking flak for missing meetings while promoting passage of the Opportunity School District amendment.

Cobb school board member David Morgan will not attend tonight’s board meeting. Instead, he’ll be promoting Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District at a Mableton Improvement Council forum.

Morgan is the only Cobb school board member publicly favoring the constitutional amendment.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are split on the timing of a sales tax for transportation.

Two weeks before they’re scheduled to vote on a process leading to a Nov. 7, 2017, referendum on a 1 percent local sales tax hike for transportation projects, Athens-Clarke County commissioners are asking about moving the referendum to May 2018.

Moving the referendum forward by six months would mean it would coincide with a number of local nonpartisan elections that could increase voter interest in going to the polls, Commissioner Mike Hamby noted at Tuesday’s commission agenda-setting meeting, where commissioners decided on items they’ll consider at their Oct. 4 voting meeting.

Locally, the May 2018 nonpartisan election will include a mayoral race and could also include as many as five commission races. According to information presented to commissioners Tuesday, the only local races set for Nov. 7 of next year are a couple of city council seats in Winterville, with no countywide races on the slate.

House District 104, held by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) is under scrutiny after district lines were shifted by the General Assembly.

The Georgia General Assembly approved new boundaries for 17 of the 180 House districts, including several in metro Atlanta. But one in particular has drawn interest: Critics say lawmakers took a highly competitive Gwinnett County district and made it easier for incumbent Republican Rep. Joyce Chandler of Grayson to get re-elected.

While partisan gerrymandering is almost as old as the United States, removing hundreds of minorities from District 105 and placing them in adjacent District 104 is a violation of the Voting Rights Act, they argue. They say the move intentionally spreads out minorities so they can’t join together to elect a candidate they think represents their interests.

Prominent Atlanta voting rights attorney Emmett Bondurant agreed it’s worth taking a look to see if a violation has occurred. “I would need to see the demographics of the district before and after (redistricting),” he said. “But if the precincts moved were overwhelmingly minority precincts, the likelihood of a (voting rights) violation is very high.”

[State Rep. Randy] Nix, chairman of the House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee, said lawmakers requested the changes.

“We had done no redistricting since 2011 and numerous members had asked for minor changes,” Nix said. “We announced to all members of the House that we would consider changes during the 2015 session. The requirement was that it not make significant statistical changes and that all members involved in the changes had to agree.”
Chandler said she doesn’t recall requesting a change to her district. “I was not privy to the reason behind that,” she said.

Gainesville retains the lowest unemployment rate in Georgia, decreasing to 4.4% for August.

The Taylor County Board of Education fired its Superintendent.

“Last night the board voted 3 to 2 to terminate the contract of the Superintendent, Dr. Gary Gibson. In another motion, the board voted 3 to 2 to appoint a former Superintendent, Mr. Norman Carter, as interim Superintendent.”

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