Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 3, 2021


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 3, 2021

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England for a voyage to America on September 6, 1620.

The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on September 3, 1776 at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

On September 4, 1682, Edmund Halley first sighted the comet that bears his name.

On September 5, 1774, the Continental Congress convened for the first time at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia; delegates attended from all the colonies except Georgia.

A fleet of 22 French ships arrived off the coast of Savannah on September 3, 1779 to help wrest control of the city from the British.

Scheduled steamship service first began on September 4, 1807, when Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began plying the trade on the Hudson River.

On September 3, 1862, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in Atlanta and within five miles of its border by the Confederate government. Two years later, September 3, 1864, General William T. Sherman would occupy Atlanta.

General William T. Sherman ordered all civilians out of Atlanta on September 4, 1864.

The Georgia General Assembly expelled 25 of 29 African-American members from the State House on September 3, 1868, arguing that Georgia’s constitution did not allow them to hold office.

President William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901. He is buried in Canton, Ohio, not far from the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

Alonzo Herndon founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company on September 6, 1905, one of Georgia’s great success stories.

The first supermarket, a Piggly Wiggly, opened on September 6, 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Vince Dooley was born on September 4, 1932. Happy birthday, coach!

On September 6, 1941, Margaret Mitchell christened the cruiser USS AtlantaAtlanta would later sink after being hit by 50 shells and a torpedo during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Anne Frank, age 15, and seven other Jews who were hiding together in Amsterdam were the last Dutch prisoners transported to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944.

The Heart of Atlanta Motel opened at 255 Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta on September 5, 1956. It included a three-story diving platform reached by spiral stairs and a pool large enough to hold a ski boat. African-Americans were not allowed at the Heart of Atlanta. [Photos © Georgia State University]

heart of atlanta

After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in interstate commerce, the Heart of Atlanta’s owner sued the federal government, asserting that the Act was an overly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The resulting decision by the United States Supreme Court upheld the Act, finding that Congress was within its authority to ban racial discrimination in businesses affecting interstate commerce.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out National Guard troops to prevent the desegregation under court order of Little Rock’s Central High School on September 4, 1957.

The Summerhill Race Riot broke out in Atlanta on September 6, 1966.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Having received the Democratic nomination for President, Jimmy Carter began the General Election with an address from his front porch in Plains, Georgia on September 3, 1976.

On September 6, 2014, USS John Warner (SSN-785), a mighty Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding. Big John calls Naval Station Norfolk its homeport. USS John Warner was commissioned on August 1, 2015 at Norfolk Naval Station.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Brunswick Circuit District Attorney Jacqueline Johnson was indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from her handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case, according to The Brunswick News.

A grand jury is accusing former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson of obstructing a police officer and interfering on behalf of two murder defendants in the racially charged killing of Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020.

The grand jury indictment announced Thursday by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr charges Johnson with one felony count of violation of oath of office and one misdemeanor count of obstruction and hindering a law enforcement officer.

Carr convened a grand jury in June at the Glynn County Courthouse, county sheriff Neal Jump confirmed at the time. Carr would not comment at the time, but media outlets said the grand jury’s proceedings focused on Johnson and her actions in the aftermath of Arbery’s killing.

[T]he grand jury indictment alleges Johnson may have thwarted two Glynn County police officers from acting to make an arrest the day of the shooting. The grand jury alleges Johnson informed Glynn County Police officers Stephanie Oliver and Stephen Lowrey “that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest” the report said. The grand jury said Johnson “did knowingly and willfully hinder … law enforcement officers with the Glynn County Police Department.”

The indictment further accuses Johnson of “showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, thereby failing to discharge her duties as district attorney.”

Additionally, Johnson is accused of funneling the case to Waycross District Attorney George E. Barnhill, and in doing so, “failing to treat Ahmuad Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.” The indictment alleges Johnson “recommended DA Barnhill to the Attorney General’s Office for appointment as the case prosecutor without disclosing that (Johnson) had previously sought the assistance of Barnhill on the case.”

From WTOC:

Violation of oath of public officer is a felony that carries 1-5 years. Obstruction and hindering a law enforcement officer is a misdemeanor that carries up to 12 months.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “While an indictment was returned today, our file is not closed, and we will continue to investigate in order to pursue justice.”

Johnson was widely criticized over her handling of the case and lost her bid for reelection last November.

Governor Brian Kemp announced a new Chief Operating Officer and several new staffers.

Lauren Curry is Chief Operating Officer in the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp. Curry previously served as Director of Government Affairs and Policy for Governor Kemp. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Curry served as Deputy Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Chief of Staff for the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Special Projects Director at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and press aide to Governor Sonny Perdue.
Curry earned a bachelor’s degree in Government and Business Economics from Wofford College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Georgia. She resides in Marietta with her husband and two children.

Kristyn Long is Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Executive Counsel in the Office of the Governor Brian P. Kemp. Prior to joining the Governor’s staff in February 2020, Long worked in private practice, focusing on civil litigation, probate litigation, and estate planning. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. She and her husband, Zeke, reside in Canton.

Governor Kemp sent a letter to top law enforcement officials asking them to watch for issues at state vaccination site, according to 11Alive.

In the letter, Gov. Kemp thanked law enforcement for being on the frontlines during the COVID pandemic.

“My family and I will always appreciate and deeply value the role that you play in protecting Georgians, and we will continue to do all we can to support you,” he wrote. “We are doing all that we can to encourage Georgians to learn about the benefits of getting vaccinated to protect against COVID-19.”

“Unfortunately, there are some who have decided to be hostile, and in more serious cases threatening to officials who are just doing their job and trying to protect the health and well-being of their fellow Georgians,” he wrote. “To the extent that you have deputies or officers available, I would like to ask you please keep an eye on this activity in your community and coordinate with local public health officials if they need additional support on-site.”

Gov. Kemp added, “Making terroristic threats to those that are administering vaccinations for the Georgia Department of Public Health is a crime and prosecutable by the Attorney General and other statewide prosecutors.”

In the letter, Gov. Kemp wrote, “Attorney General Carr assures me that they stand ready to assist if needed.”

Additionally, Gov. Kemp tweeted, “As Georgians, we must support our healthcare heroes.”

Here’s the Democratic response to COVID, according to 11Alive:

“Sometimes you’ve got to force people to do what’s right,” said State Representative Roger Bruce, South Fulton County. “Plain and simple, we have to close the schools, we have to mandate that masks be worn, we have to mandate the vaccinations just like we do for Polio, for Chicken Pox, for Measles.”

Georgia Democrats concluded their “Victory Tour” in Atlanta, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package is expected to include $8.9 billion for Georgia highways over five years, $1.4 billion to improve public transit, $913 million for water and sewer projects, $225 million for bridge repairs and replacements, $135 million for electric-vehicle charging stations, and at least $100 million to expand the deployment of broadband.

“This is why elections matter,” U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, Georgia’s Democratic chairman, said during a news conference in Liberty Plaza across from the state Capitol. “Real people’s lives are being made better.”

“This bill represents the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure in nearly a century without raising taxes on anybody making less than $400,000 a year,” state Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, chairman of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus, added.

Republicans countered that the “Democrats Deliver” statewide tour ignored the state of the U.S. economy, immigration and America’s ugly exit from Afghanistan.

“Georgia Democrats [are] celebrating crushing inflation, rising crime, an out-of-control southern border and the worst foreign policy disaster in decades,” Garrison Douglas, Georgia spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said. “Democrats should focus on ending the multitude of crises they’ve created.”

Real Clear Politics gives a little perspective on how public opinion judges the Biden Administration:

The most important predictor of a party’s performance in a midterm is the president’s job approval rating. So, for example, the years where the president’s party has gained ground in the House during a midterm election have been years where the president has been exceptionally popular.

Thus, the trend in President Biden’s job approval has to be concerning for Democrats:

Let’s look at the implications of this, first through the lens of Senate elections, then through the lens of House elections.

At 46% [job approval rating for Pres. Biden]? Democrats would lose between four and zero seats 95% of the time, with an expected outcome of two seats. They only retain control about 4% of the time. This is obviously an outcome Democrats would like to avoid.

[T]he decline in President Bidens’ job approval from around 52% to 46% is consistent with a loss of an additional 5% of the Democrats’ caucus, or an additional 11 seats.

The model suggests overall that the decline in Biden’s job approval will probably cost Democrats about eight seats.

If the president rebounds, Democrats will have a successful 2022, even if they narrowly lose the House. If he declines much further, however, it could turn into an ugly rout.

Former President Donald Trump sent out endorsements yesterday of Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate and Burt Jones for Lieutenant Governor.

Trump wrote of Walker:

Herschel Walker is a friend, a Patriot, and an outstanding American who is going to be a GREAT United States Senator. He embodies “America First” and the winning spirit of Georgia. Herschel is tough on Crime and Borders, and he will always stand in support of Law Enforcement, Military, and our Vets. He will fight hard for our Second Amendment and Voter Integrity. Herschel Walker will never let you down. He was a great football player and will be an even better U.S. Senator—if that is even possible. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement!

And of Burt Jones:

State Senator Burt Jones is a Conservative warrior running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. No one has fought harder for Election Integrity than Burt, and no state needs it more. A businessman and Patriot, Burt will always stand for America First, and will help bring back Energy Independence, a Strong Border, Low Taxes, Great Education, and Safe Cities. He will also get to the bottom of the Nov. 3 Presidential Election Scam. Burt Jones has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will not let the great people of Georgia down!

More on the federal rental assistance debacle from CNHI News via the Valdosta Daily Times:

Alabama Housing Finance Authority received $263 million in federal emergency rental assistance funds in February to administer the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance program, and an additional $63 million was allocated directly to local jurisdictions, including Jefferson County and the City of Birmingham.

As of July 31, AHFA reported that only $5.75 million, or just over 2% of funds, had been administered to 770 applicants—with the average dispersement amount at $7,450—while 11,507 applications remain in various stages of follow up for missing information from applicants, according to AHFA spokesperson Kristi Gates.

“Throughout the course of the entire process, we review and follow-up with landlords and tenants regarding required documentation, additional needed information, and review to detect possible fraud and to protect against duplicate applications, all as required by Treasury’s strict program rules,” Gates said. “Despite the technical advances to receive this much data, each submission must be manually processed and reviewed at multiple stages before funding can occur, which is occurring as quickly as the process permits.”

“The big snag here is this program. There’s plenty of money. Plenty of people who qualify and fill out the stuff. And I think this is where it affects people with disabilities in some ways. If you don’t have the technology or skills to use a computer or internet access, you’re not going to be able to fill this out,” Corpe said. “We haven’t heard from any single one of our clients getting a response as far as the automated stuff from the system or a phone call from a case worker.”

United States Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Atlanta) heard feedback on the federal child care tax credit, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Under the American Rescue Plan, families will receive tax credits up to $3,000 for each child between the ages of six and 17 and up to $3,600 for children under the age of six. Families will get the full credit if they earn up to $150,000 for a couple, $112,500 for a family with a single parent or $75,000 for other filers, according to the White House.

For eligible households, half of the money comes in the form of direct payments each month through the end of 2021. The other half is claimed when filing a 2021 income tax return. Each monthly payment is up to $300 for each child under age six and up to $250 per month for each child ages six through 17.

In Muscogee County, the legislation affects an estimated 13,800 households and 45,000 children. The average credit amount is $3,300, Warnock’s office said, citing methodology from Co-Equal, a data analytics group that assists Congressional offices.

Warnock told those who participated in the discussion that he would work to make sure the expanded child tax credit becomes permanent.

“We don’t get to pass legislation this transformative for ordinary people often,” he said. “Experts say that this will cut child poverty in half. I don’t think you can cut child poverty in half one year and then go back and double it the following year. That is poor public policy, and it creates uncertainty in the household budgets of people like this.”

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-West Point) will host a job fair, according to WTVM.

The event is set for Wednesday, September 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be held at the Callaway Conference Center at West Georgia Technical College – located at 220 Fort Drive in LaGrange.

More than 45 employers will be in attendance with more than 4,000 open positions – including salary and hourly positions.

“With more than 45 employers from Georgia’s Third District and the surrounding area participating, we’ve got an excellent assortment of businesses lined up for this year’s career fair,” Ferguson said. “I encourage Georgians in the market for a new job or career change to come to this event with resumes in-hand and ready to take on new and exciting challenges. As our state continues its economic recovery, it’s important that Georgia’s first-class workforce make these connections with employers who are ready to hire.”

Glynn County Commissioners adopted a plan for the Georgia Florida game weekend, according to The Brunswick News.

The recommendations by staff are necessary because of the uncertainty about the COVID-19 outbreak filling hospital rooms in the region. And there are no planned attendance restrictions or vaccine requirements to get into the stadium.

Michael Scherneck, president and CEO of Southeast Georgia Health System, said the Golden Isles is in the midst of “the most challenging phase of the COVID pandemic.”

Hospital rooms are filled nearly to capacity despite more inpatient beds. And COVID-19 patients waiting to get checked in have created long emergency room waits at times, he said.

The proposed alcohol ban includes “common source” containers such as milk jugs. Glynn County Police will patrol beaches and check IDs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It will be voted on in an upcoming meeting, but it is likely to be similar to last year’s ban.

Officers will cite and arrest unruly behavior and underage drinkers. Public works, recreation and Keep Golden Isles Beautiful will perform a late Friday afternoon/early Saturday morning cleanup to limit staff exposure to COVID-19.

Montgomery County public schools will go virtual after the Labor Day holiday, according to WTOC.

Montgomery County Schools will transfer to virtual learning Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.

The school district says currently, the number of staff who have tested positive or who are quarantined due to exposure has impacted their ability to continue in-person learning. They said the health and safety of their students and staff is their top priority.

Student will remain in virtual learning through Friday, Sept. 17.

McIntosh County public schools are currently scheduled to resume in-person attendance next week, according to WTOC.

McIntosh County Schools superintendent says face-to-face instruction is the best way to provide students the proper education. That’s why the school system has decided to bring students back into the classrooms next week, with virtual being an option for only qualified students.

“The long term effects of staying home and working virtual is devastating,” said Superintendent Dr. Jim Pulos.

Any family who wants their child to learn virtually must contact their child’s school.

Dr. Jim Pulos says the child will have to meet certain criteria to be approved for virtual learning including if it’s best suited for that individual child.

“If they’re not successful during the pause, the likelihood is that they won’t be successful as we would like to see during the actual virtual experience.”

A Statesboro City Hall vaccine clinic set up to deliver 200 shots only gave 68, roughly 1/3, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Hall’s free, public COVID-19 vaccination clinic resulted in 68 people getting vaccinated Wednesday. But that left at least 132 of the $50 gift cards intended as rewards unclaimed, despite the clinic being extended two additional hours while in progress.

The program had been advertised to last from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., but the doors were actually opened at 8:45 a.m. At that time a few people were already waiting outside, and 18 had been allowed in for vaccination by 8:55 a.m., City Manager Charles Penny said then. But during the next hour, several minutes often passed before another individual arrived to be vaccinated.

When City Council approved the $10,000 expenditure for the two hundred $50 bank-issued gift cards last month, staff members were already hinting at a second vaccination date. So Penny will probably propose a four-hour clinic on a Saturday, and has found the Health Department willing to accommodate this, he said.

The city budgeted the $10,000 as part of $50,000 for vaccine incentives suggested by Penny and his staff. The source is money the city received last fiscal year through its federal reimbursement under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020 for public safety expenses.

Georgia Southern University is offering $50 to students who get vaccinated, according to WTOC.

Students can put $50 in their campus account by getting vaccinated here. If they get vaccinated during this month, they’re in the running for weekly drawings or one grand prize. Campus leaders say they’re willing to do what it takes to get more students covered.

The university announced a campaign to reward students, faculty, and staff who get vaccinated. They can get a $50 credit to their Eagle Express account on their first shot. Once they’re fully vaccinated, they’re entered to four weekly drawings this month for $500 and two grand prizes of $2,500 and $5,000 in campus credits. University leaders say the money comes from federal COVID funding. They believe it’s an investment that could save the university and the community around it.

The City of Valdosta and Lowndes County remain at loggerheads to adopt a service delivery strategy, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Representing the Lowndes County Commission, Valdosta City Council and the City of Hahira, the statement read: “This two-day process included productive discussions amongst elected officials that moved topics further and left officials encouraged that a resolution can be reached.”

Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson said the city-county SDS disagreements have always come down to water and sewer as well as roads as they are a “different animal” in comparison to other topics in the SDS agreement.

Under state law, cities and counties must negotiate a new service delivery agreement every 10 years, spelling out which services the governments will provide and how they will be funded.

The SDS agreements are aimed at reducing duplication of services and double taxation.

Without such an agreement, Lowndes and the cities within it — Valdosta, Hahira, Remerton, Lake Park, Dasher and Naylor — become ineligible for various state monies.

Six prosecutors from the Macon District Attorney’s Office resigned, according to WGXA.

All of the prosecutors previously worked in the Houston Judicial Circuit in 2020.

They made the decision to migrate back to Houston County due to new changes coming to Houston’s Judicial Circuit following the resignation of District Attorney George Hartwig.

“As the District Attorney we must prepare and be ready for change. I was glad that our office had the ability to provide them with an opportunity to serve while there was contentious leadership in the Houston office. We anticipated this migration with a leadership change and wish all those that have served the Macon Judicial Circuit well. The wheels of justice will continue to turn in the Macon Judicial Circuit.” Anita Howard, District Attorney

Glynn County Commissioners will reopen the search for a new County Manager after negotiations with Tax Commissioner Jeff Chapman failed to reach an agreement, according to The Brunswick News.

Warner Robins property owners could see higher property tax bills due to a reassessment, according to 13WMAZ.

City Clerk Mandy Stella says they are not increasing the millage rate, but since most homes in the city gained value, most owners are going to pay more tax.

“If you maintain your millage rate, which is what the city of Warner Robins is proposing to do, homes that have been reassessed and may have an increase in value of their home will notice a slight increase in the amount due for taxes,” said Stella.

Stella says county tax assessors take a fresh look at property values every three years to adjust to changes in the housing market — it’s called a reassessment.

Houston County Chief Appraiser James Moore says they look at how old the house is, how much nearby houses are selling for, and other factors.

“Whether a house has been added onto, or renovated, or there might be a pool or out building added to the property, and those are the kind of things we discover when in the field just reviewing our properties,” said Moore.

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