The blog.

16
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 16, 2019

Wendy Darling Old Dog

Wendy Darling is a senior female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Old Dog Home in Conyers, GA.

Wendy Darling is a quiet, sweet, gentle Lab Mix who was picked up as a stray in terrible condition. When we rescued her, she was not even able to walk at all, as her hind legs had atrophied, and she had no muscle to help her stand. Through a combination of good food, physical therapy, and lots of patience, Wendy is not only able to walk now, but even gets a slow trot going sometimes!

Wendy is still weak in her back half and sometimes needs help being able to stand up from the ground. She is mostly housetrained and will use a doggie door, but sometimes she starts pacing and forgets that she needs to go, and may have an accident inside.

She is completely nondestructive and does not enjoy being crated or contained. She is tolerant and gentle with all other dogs in the house, and she absolutely adores being petted and loved on. She never barks or makes any kind of fuss. When she came to us, she had a severe pressure sore on one leg, and even after having it cleaned, medicated, and bandaged every single day for weeks, she has never so much as growled. She is just a wonderful, sweet dog down to her core.

Bruce Wayne Old Dog

Bruce Wayne is a senior male Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from Old Dog Home in Conyers, GA.

Hello all, Bruce Wayne here. Despite my dark namesake, I am your pretty typical Yellow Lab… Happy go lucky, easy going, and blind as a bat. Badum tss! Unfortunately, like the true Dark Knight, I’ve lost my family and am looking for that special sidekick to help me get back out into the world again.

I really enjoy being out in the sun, going for strolls around the yard, tackling my dinner with gusto, and goofing off with my friends. I love listening to music too, and if you play some Pandora on your phone, I’ll follow you around and dance with you. I may be an older fella, but I ain’t dead yet! I am good with dogs of all genders, sizes, and ages, but I have not been cat tested yet – that can be done if my new sidekick is going to be of the feline persuasion!

Being blind doesn’t stop me either. I don’t mind car rides, like meeting new people, and am happy to go exploring with you, as long as you take it slow and help me not bump into every little thing around me. Heck, even when I do, I pick myself up and keep going! Nothing gets me down, and my tail never stops wagging. I am even housebroken – I don’t need my eyes to know the difference between grass and your new carpet!

Bella Old dog

Bella is a 16-year old female Dachshund who is available for adoption from Old Dog Home in Conyers, GA.

Bella is an incredibly old Dachshund Mix who was found abandoned in a shopping center parking lot, turning round and round, lost and confused. She is believed to be at least 16 years old. She is about 20lbs, but very underweight.

Bella is a true hospice case – the list of issues she has goes on and on. She is heartworm positive. She has a 6/6 heart murmur. She was full of intestinal parasites. She’s dehydrated. Her spine is fusing with arthritis. Her rib cartilage is mineralizing, and she has odd nodules on her ribs. Her ear flaps are destroyed from fly bites. She’s suffered some sort of head injury, and her pupils are messed up. She wobbles when she walks. She’s either got early stage dementia, or the aftermath of the head injury. She is a HOT MESS.

But she eats her food and drinks her water happily every day. She wanders all around the big yard and goes on adventures to follow the barn cats. She sees some, and she hears some. When I walk up to her, she wags and wags and wags her tail. She rests her head on my hand, her bat ears fly back, and she just lays there with me. She is a good girl, and we’re committed to keeping her as comfortable as we can for whatever time she has left.

Bella is available for a hospice foster. She would prefer to be an only dog, but she will tolerate other dogs around as long as they leave her alone and stay out of her face. We are committed to paying for her medical needs for the rest of her life. We are not going to treat her heartworm, as she’s too old and sick at this point to survive the treatment. Pain relief and good food and lots of love are the treatment plan for our special girl.

The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter will offer free pet adoptions on Saturday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The shelter, which is located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville, is joining shelters across the nation to offer free pet adoptions as part of the 5th annual Clear the Shelters initiative.

Sponsored by NBC and Telemundo as part of National Adopt a Pet Day, the Gwinnett event will also include fun activities for families, including a DJ, face-painting, shaved ice, popcorn and giveaways for pets.

“This is our second year being part of the Clear the Shelters effort,” said Alan Davis, Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division director. “Like many shelters across the nation, we are nearing capacity with a heavy summer intake. We are waiving all fees with the hope of finding homes for the many great pets currently in our care.”

All pets adopted at Gwinnett Animal Welfare have been vaccinated, neutered, microchipped and are ready to go to their new home. Dogs that have tested heartworm positive will be treated before going to their new families.

16
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 16, 2019

On August 18, 1591,the English settlement at Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks of what is now North Carolina was found deserted.

On August 18, 1795, President George Washington signed a treaty with Great Britain called the Jay Treaty, after Supreme Court Justice John Jay who negotiated it. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison led opposition to the treaty.

On August 18, 1862, Confederate Major General of Cavalry J.E.B. Stuart was nearly captured, losing his distinctive hat and cloak and written copies of Lee’s orders near Verdiersville, Virginia.

Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation creating the State Board of Health on August 17, 1903.

Georgia Tech was designated the State School of Technology on August 17, 1908 by joint resolution of the State Senate and State House.

In a quaint bit of Georgia history, on August 17, 1908, Governor Hoke Smith signed legislation prohibiting corporate donations to political campaigns. Cute!

The Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution urging the creation of a federal Health Department on August 18, 1908.

The State Highway Department was created on August 16, 1916 to comply with federal funding requirements, when Georgia Governor Nathaniel Harris signed legislation by the General Assembly.

On August 18, 1916, the Cherokee Rose was designated the official state flower of Georgia by a joint resolution of the State House and Senate.

The practice of tipping service employees was outlawed by legislation signed on August 18, 1918.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation creating the State Department of Banking on August 16, 1919.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation regulating the practice of architecture and licensing practitioners on August 18, 1919.

The Georgia Board of Public Welfare was also created on August 18, 1919 when Gov. Dorsey signed legislation establishing that body and a companion bill that created the Community Service Commission.

Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation changing the method of execution in Georgia from hanging to the electric chair on August 16, 1924.

On August 18, 1924 Gov. Clifford Walker signed legislation that would allow a referendum on a Constitutional Amendment to allow Atlanta, Savannah, or Macon to consolidate their respective municipal governments with their county governments. Macon-Bibb County merged in 2014 after voters passed a referendum in July 2012.

The Beatles played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on August 18, 1965. AtlantaTimeMachine.com has a couple images from the night.

On August 16, 1974, The Ramones played their first public show at CBGB in New York.

Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977.

On August 18, 1991, hardline Commies in the Soviet Union arrested Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev as part of a coup against Gorbachev’s reforms.

On August 17, 1998, President Bill Clinton testified as the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The testimony came after a four-year investigation into Clinton and his wife Hillary’s alleged involvement in several scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment, potentially illegal real-estate deals and suspected “cronyism” involved in the firing of White House travel-agency personnel. The independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, then uncovered an affair between Clinton and a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. When questioned about the affair, Clinton denied it, which led Starr to charge the president with perjury and obstruction of justice, which in turn prompted his testimony on August 17.

On August 18, 2015, Jeb Bush visited The Varsity in Atlanta. Here’s the funniest line from the CBS46 story:

Recently, Bush put a series of “Jeb No Filter” videos on YouTube and some say it’s a way to bring up his popularity.

“We’re going to work hard to earn the support of Georgians in the March 1 primary. It’s the second largest state in the primary, it’s our neighbor to our north, we’re going to be working hard,” Bush said.

While the instinct behind “Jeb No Filter” may have been good, it would take Donald Trump to show what No Filter really means.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton) spoke in support of the Greater Valdosta United Way, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Scott, representative for Georgia’s eighth congressional district, said he supports organizations helping people in the community.

“United Way, through their brother and sister organizations, do a lot to provide services to those who need it,” Scott said. “We’re basically here to give them credit for what they do and a big thank you.”

Scott said his main goal right now is getting the federal appropriations bill approved, which will ensure United Way receives crucial grants to keep the organization functioning.

His office helps organizations and agencies on a local level apply for and get these grants.

Scott said grants are important, but what’s more important is local donations from residents, because many of the grants are matching grants, which require the nonprofit to meet them half way.

Whitfield County and its municipalities continue to discuss a potential Special Purpost Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for voter approval in 2020, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

[Whitfield County Commission Chair Lynn] Laughter has spoken in favor of a SPLOST being placed on the May 2020 general primary ballot, arguing that waiting until the November presidential election ballot would cost the county roughly $6 million in revenue.

County Attorney Robert Smalley told the committee members their work would have to be finalized by the middle of November of this year for the proposal to appear on the May 2020 ballot. That tight window worried some on the committee who wondered if they would have the time to listen to and receive ideas from other citizens.

“We want to get as many ideas from citizens who want to be involved in the process, and I wonder if we have the time to do that,” said Michael E. Kelley II, the alternate from the county.

The committee members voted to set a “target goal” of being finished with their work in November but they will revisit that if they believe the process is being too rushed or they can’t complete their work by November.

Savannah Alderman Julian Miller wants the city to consider gun control legislation, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Miller asked city staff to craft a resolution to send to both state and federal elected officials urging them to take a number of steps to stop the violence.

“We really need background checks, to limit magazine rounds, and to ban assault weapons,” Miller said. “Also gun show vendors should have to follow the same rules (to sell guns) as licensed firearms sellers do.”

One step [Alderman Van] Johnson wants to see is prohibiting guns in festival zones.

“When you have liquor and guns in a festival zone, to me that’s just dangerous.”

City staff will work on a resolution to present at the next meeting. The resolution will also include a request for a red flag law. A red flag law permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.\

The Albany City Commission declined to place a Sunday sales referendum on the November ballot, according to the Albany Herald.

A measure to allow Sunday sales at package stores in Albany failed with a tie vote at Tuesday’s Albany City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Roger Marietta, who was joined by Commissioners B.J. Fletcher and Jon Howard in opposition, said he just didn’t feel right about approving the measure, which would have put the question of allowing Sunday sales on the November election ballot. Commissioners Matt Fuller and Bob Langstaff and Mayor Dorothy Hubbard supported the measure.

The commission did approve a measure to put another alcohol-related measure on the ballot for the fall – allowing restaurants and hotels that meet requirements to begin selling alcoholic beverages at 11 a.m. instead of 12:30 p.m. on Sundays.

“I just felt like it was unnecessary,” Marietta said. “The brunch, I could see. It made sense to me. The package store sales, it just didn’t make sense to me.”

Marietta said part of his reason was religious.

“I don’t think it’s strictly a religious thing; I think Sunday is a day of rest,” he said. “I thought it was best just to leave it alone.”

The Albany Herald reports that former Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams will continue lying about the 2018 election working to enfranchise voters.

Abrams will formally launch Fair Fight 2020 during an event at 2 p.m. Saturday in Gwinnett County.

Fair Fight 2020 will build on what the Georgia operation has done and learned since it was formed in the wake of the November election and filed a lawsuit claiming the some state residents, in particular the poor and minorities, were denied the right to vote.

Fair Fight 2020 will build voter protection operations in 20 states and support and fund voter protection programs in 17 battleground states. Among those 17 states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

“As I’ve said many times, I can’t predict empirically what the outcome would have been” if all votes were counted, Abrams told The Albany Herald during a telephone interview on Thursday. “We do know that more than 40,000 people reported issues. There were thousands and thousands of requests for aid. We had to file multiple lawsuits during the last weeks of the race to fight voter suppression.”

“Every model of voter suppression is (used) in Georgia,” Abrams said.

The Macon Telegraph considers whether the heartbeat bill will stop the local film industry.

It’s almost two-thirds of the way through 2019, but Macon has already seen more film cameras and crews on its streets than it has in recent years.

In 2017, there was only one major studio production filming in town. The same for 2018. But 2019 has been different. HBO and Netflix are some of the companies that worked on projects here.

What effect would the law have on filming in Macon?

“At this point, I’m not certain I have enough information to have a really good opinion,” Buzza said. “Everybody that I have been speaking to has sort of said, ‘We are just kind of waiting to see what happens,’” he said. “It would be difficult to have a specific opinion. I’m going to follow what I am hearing from people in the industry.”

If the abortion law goes into effect, Macon’s approach to attracting productions likely wouldn’t change.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency reimbursed Glynn County more than $6 million for work in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, according to The Brunswick News.

“Response to a hurricane, response to any disaster, is monumental,” said Charlie Dawson, deputy director for disaster recovery with GEMA, after a check presentation Thursday. “The hardest part, though, is the recovery.”

Dawson brought two big checks along. The first one, which was for about $1.2 million, reimbursed the county for the costs of emergency protective measures, overtime pay for law enforcement officers and public works employees, emergency center operation costs and more.

The second check, which was for about $5,251,000, reimbursed the county for other overtime costs, equipment costs and contracts.

During Hurricane Irma, all 159 counties in Georgia were declared to be in a state of emergency. GEMA is still working to reimburse counties for work done during the storm.

Glynn County submitted its request for reimbursement in March 2018. To request the money, county officials needed to keep track of and organize a great deal of data and paperwork.

Glynn County Commissioners adopted a property tax millage rate for FY 2020, according to The Brunswick News.

Taxes won’t change for most, but the county’s proposed lower base maintenance and operations tax means residents of the city of Brunswick and Jekyll Island will see a dip in their 2019 property taxes.

The county Police Department and Fire Department Emergency Medical Services Division will now be funded by their own separate taxes.

The county’s maintenance and operations tax will drop to compensate for the two new taxes, meaning residents of Brunswick and Jekyll Island will gain the benefit of a lower M&O tax. Anyone outside those two tax districts will see no change in their property tax rate.

Because the new maintenance and operations millage the county proposed is lower this year than last, it was not required to hold town halls or advertise the new millage.

The commission approved the new millage 6-0. It also approved Glynn County Schools’ 2019 millage rate.

The Glynn County Board of Education voted earlier in the day to maintain its millage rate of 16.157. The school board has kept the same millage rate since 2014. However, because the school board did not adopt the rollback rate this year, state law required it to advertise a tax increase and hold three public hearings before adopting its millage rate.

Commission Chairman Mike Browning said he didn’t know exactly why the county commission had to approve the school board’s millage but suspected it was because the county is the one that has to collect the taxes.

Department of Unintended Consequences

So far, the biggest unintended consequence of the 2019 Session of the Georgia General Assembly is the movements among local prosecutors to temporarily halt prosecutions for some marijuana possession charges. From GPB News:

In May, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s Hemp Farming Act. The legislation legalized the growth and sale of hemp. Federally, hemp contains 0.3 percent of THC or lower. The amount of THC present is what contributes to feeling high.

Since the legislation was signed on May 10, it has led to confusion about prosecuting marijuana cases. Law enforcement can test for the presence of THC but aren’t able to test for the amount. That means they wouldn’t be able to tell if a substance was illegal marijuana or legalized hemp. And so far, a number of jurisdictions have decided to not pursue marijuana cases.

From the (UGA) Red & Black:

Athens-Clarke County Police Department officers will not arrest people for suspected marijuana possession until the department receives updated drug testing equipment, according to an ACCPD press release.

The decision comes “in light of unanticipated consequences” caused by the newly-implemented Georgia Hemp Farming Act, which legalized hemp production in the state when it was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in May.

Hemp looks identical to marijuana and contains .3% or less of THC, which is the main psychoactive compound that gives marijuana its high. According to the release, current drug tests used by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation only confirm the presence of THC in marijuana. ACCPD expects to have testing equipment with the ability to test THC potency in early September.

“The ACCPD is working closely with the GBI, our District Attorney, and the ACC Solicitor General to monitor this situation, as well as to identify and implement solutions,” said ACCPD Chief of Police Cleveland Spruill.

From the AJC:

“Although possession of marijuana remains illegal, the DeKalb County Police Department will temporarily stop issuing citations or arresting anyone for possession of only misdemeanor amounts of marijuana,” the statement said.

The announcement came a day after DeKalb’s solicitor-general said she would dismiss cases involving a single count of misdemeanor marijuana possession. Both the police department and the solicitor-general’s office said they will continue to pursue cases involving additional charges beyond marijuana.

“Marijuana charges are often submitted in conjunction with other charges, thus it is necessary to continue to review each case,” Solicitor-general Donna Coleman-Stribling said. “However, at this time, we will not proceed with any single-count marijuana cases occurring after the passage of this new law.”

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

A new law that made cannabis or hemp plant farming legal in Georgia caused Gwinnett County Public Schools to make a change to its Student Conduct and Behavior Code.

The Georgia Hemp Farming Act, signed into law May 10, has altered how local law enforcement and judicial systems prosecute misdemeanor marijuana cases, but the possession of the substance is still a violation of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Student Conduct and Behavior Code. The wording of Rule 7 in the code now specifically identifies “cannabis” as a forbidden substance, where it previously addressed “marijuana” in a section titled “Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco.”

“This change is necessary in order for us to ensure our Student Code of Conduct is as clear as possible for students and parents,” associate superintendent Steve Flynt said in a statement.

While students will not face criminal charges for possession of cannabis, they will face disciplinary action if found in possession of the substance on school grounds, at bus stops, on a school bus, or at school or district activities, functions and events.

The issue stems from the lack of available testing that determines the amount of THC that makes a substance hemp or marijuana.

School Resource Officers have been instructed to temporarily stop charging students with misdemeanor marijuana charges.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Rome and Floyd County police at this point will continue to prosecute minor marijuana offenses after a law signed on May 10 has made it more difficult for police officers to distinguish between legal hemp and the drug.

Both Floyd County Police Chief Mark Wallace and Rome Police Department Assistant Chief Debbie Burnett said they haven’t had a discussion at this point with the Floyd County District Attorney’s office and will continue filing charges as appropriate until advised to do otherwise.

From NewsChannel9:

The District Attorney for Murray and Whitfield counties tells NewsChannel 9 some misdemeanor marijuana cases are being postponed until prosecutors can find a new test to distinguish between marijuana and hemp. This comes after a new law went into effect in Georgia making hemp legal.

DA Bert Poston says the GBI Crime lab is very close to creating a test that can distinguish between marijuana and hemp based on THC percentage.

He says, “We are waiting for more information from the lab. Pending cases not resolved by negotiated pleas will be postponed until we have the means to properly test the suspected marijuana.” Poston says this only applies to charges filed on and after May 10th.

From the Gainesville Times:

Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard said she expects no changes in how local law enforcement handles misdemeanor drug cases and how her office will prosecute them following the enactment of the Georgia Hemp Farming Act.

“There is not an issue as far as testing procedure pre-date of the hemp statute. We are still going to be continuing to prosecute cases … My understanding from my law enforcement agencies is they will still be investigating and making the same decisions they were making before,” Woodard said.

“The reason misdemeanor is an issue is the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) does not test misdemeanor cases for local law enforcement … There are hundreds of thousands, so they made an administrative decision. And as our forensic body, they establish the testing procedures for everything. They would only test and verify felony levels for sheer numbers,” Woodard said.

Hemp has .3% or less of THC, the main psychoactive element, whereas marijuana has 5% or higher.

“No one’s going to be toting around hemp in a plastic bag in their pocket. Nobody is going to have a pipe full of hemp. … From our end, it’s business as usual except for this delay due to testing updates,” Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad Lt. Don Scalia said.

“If it smells like marijuana and it’s psychoactive, then it’s not hemp. … It doesn’t have the THC, the psychoactive. You would have to smoke more hemp than the human body can consume in 24 hours to get anything approaching a buzz,” Woodard said.

15
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 15, 2019

Rosa PPGA

Rosa is a female Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Planned PEThood of Georgia in Duluth, GA.

Rosa is a just like a mini boxer! She has the boxer wiggle butt but is barely 40lbs. She is a very affectionate and calm dog. She loves snuggling with her people and will follow you like a shadow around the house. She is crate trained and working on her other skills.

Hudson PPGA

Hudson is a young male Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Planned PEThood of Georgia in Duluth, GA.

Hudson is wonderful with children, cats and other dogs. He is typical playful puppy, but knows basic commands and is doing well with learning manners. He would make a great companion for another dog, or be wonderful on his own. He is a well adjusted and easy going. He is crate trained and house broken.

Dory PPGA

Dory is a senior female Boxer and Hound mix who is available for adoption from Planned PEThood of Georgia in Duluth, GA.

Dory is as close to a perfect companion as you can get. It is hard to believe this girl was found as a stray in a rural county. She actually jumped into a police officer’s car at a gas station looking for help.

Dory is a 60-lbs of mush! This gal was obviously loved and cared for by someone for many years. She is house broken, knows sit, down, and shake. She is wonderful on car rides, and responds very well to commands. In addition to being well-trained, Dory is great with everyone she meets. She currently lives in a home with a 3-year-old, 2 cats and 3 other dogs (small and large). She does swimmingly with all of them!

Often Dory visits Planned PEThood’s clinic and lays at receptionist’s feet as the answer calls. Dory enjoys meeting new people and gives a full body wag to greet you. She will settle into anyone’s home quickly, and you will think she has been there all her life.

 

15
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 15, 2019

On August 15, 1903, Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation requiring that Georgia schools teach elementary agriculture and civics. Two days later, on August 17, 1903, the General Assembly condemned the practice of whipping female inmates.

The Panama Canal opened on August 15, 1914.

Georgia Governor Thomas Hardwick signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Forestry on August 15, 1921.

On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock Festival began in upstate New York.

Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppolla was released on August 15, 1979.

Paul Anderson, known for years as the “Strongest Man in the World” for his weightlifting feats, died on August 15, 1994 in Vidalia, Georgia. Anderson was born in 1932 in Toccoa, Georgia. He won an Olympic gold medal in the sport of weightlifting in 1956.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp ordered twice-yearly cybersecurity training for Georgia state employees, according to WSB-TV.

“Clearly, state agencies are being targeted,” Kemp said. “We’ve got to be more aggressive in defending against that.”

The directive comes after three critical state agencies got hit by ransomware attacks within the last six weeks.

“It is frustrating, but you also have to be realistic. It’s gonna happen. It happens everywhere. We might as well own it and be as prepared as we can and train our people so we can cut down on the number of instances,” Kemp said.

Kemp’s order also beefs up of the “state government systems security review board,” created by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015.

The order requires state workers to complete at least one form of cybersecurity training within the next three months. Those who don’t will face disciplinary action.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg issued a 153-page order requiring Georgia to end use of its current voting system after 2019 and use hand-marked paper ballots next year if the new state system isn’t ready, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

the plaintiffs had asked Totenberg to order the state to immediately stop using the current system, which it plans to use for special and municipal elections this year. They also said they feared that the timeline for the implementation of the new machines is too tight, which could result in the old machines being used for 2020 elections.

Totenberg’s order made it clear that she shares that fear: She said that if the new system is not ready by March, the state cannot default to the old machines.

Lawyers for state election officials and for Fulton County, the state’s most populous county that includes most of Atlanta, argued it would be too costly, burdensome and chaotic to use an interim system for elections this fall and then switch to the new permanent system next year.

Savannah-Chatham County public schools will purchase iPads and MacBook Airs for students with some Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST) proceeds, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades at Mercer Middle School will receive iPads and keyboard cases and students in 10th through 12th grades at Groves High School will receive MacBook Airs. Teachers at both schools will receive MacBook Airs, said David Feliciano, chief data & accountability officer, who presented the information to the school board.

Students will be allowed to take the devices home, and the district’s internet policy allows the school system to monitor the students’ use of the devices at home as well as at school, Feliciano confirmed to a reporter after the meeting. Most of the monitoring involves filtering for inappropriate content, he said.

ESPLOST funds will cover the cost of the computing devices at Mercer and Groves, while many of the other schools in the district with one-to-one initiatives have received grants, PTA funds, or corporate or community funds to purchase the devices, Superintendent Ann Levett said. The way schools have obtained the devices has varied, she said. “Some of it was case by case,” she said. “Now we’re seeing that need more and more.”

“We’ve tended to do it on our own,” in terms of finding the funds to purchase the devices. “The wonderful thing is we can use ESPLOST funds, so we are.”

Democratic State Senator Zahra Karinshak has thrown her hat in the ring for the 7th Congressional District, according to the AJC.

The first-term lawmaker, who flipped a Republican-held district last year, instantly becomes one of the better-known contenders in the crowded race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, a Republican who barely clung to his seat in 2018 after a razor-thin vote.

Karinshak told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she’ll emphasize her military background, her stint as a federal prosecutor and her legislative experience as she appeals to voters in a district that spans parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.

“The time is now,” said Karinshak. “We cannot wait to fix Washington. There is so much partisanship and bickering that we need true leadership. I’m going to hold Washington accountable.”

In 2018, she flipped a Duluth-based seat held by Republican David Shafer, who was running for lieutenant governor and later was elected as head of the Georgia GOP. It was one of a sweep of suburban legislative seats that Democrats captured in the midterm election.

14
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 14, 2019

Donky Pup

Donkey is a young male Bloodhound & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence Inc. in Pembroke, GA.

Cricket

Cricket is a young female Basset Hound & Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence Inc. in Pembroke, GA.

Cricket is a super fun girl. She walks great on a leash. She is wonderful with other dogs. She absolutely loves people especially children. She has a lab head and basset body.

Fry Pickle

Fry (male) and Pickle (female) are a young Great Dane & Labrador Retriever mix puppies who are available for adoption from Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence Inc. in Pembroke, GA.

14
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 14, 2019

On August 14, 1784, Russians invaded settled Alaska, founding the first permanent Russian settlement at Three Saints Bay.

Dentist, gambler, and gunfighter Doc Holliday was born on August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia.

On August 14, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln hosted a group of African-American men at the White House to discuss emancipation of American slaves outside the United States as colonists.

The Second Battle of Dalton was joined on August 14, 1864.

The County Unit System of elections was created on August 14, 1917 when Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation by the General Assembly.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. The road to perdition is paved with good intentions.

On August 14, 1945, the Japanese surrender to the Allies was made public in Japan.

In the afternoon of August 14, Japanese radio announced that an Imperial Proclamation was soon to be made, accepting the terms of unconditional surrender drawn up at the Potsdam Conference. That proclamation had already been recorded by the emperor.

A Special Session called by Governor Zell Miller to address legislative redistricting convened on August 14, 1995, after the United States Supreme Court threw out Georgia’s Congressional redistricting map.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting has opened in the Special Election for House District 71, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The real news today from my perspective is that Democrat Stacey Abrams has been in the national media so much that the Washington Post no longer feels a need to explain who she is in headlines.

“Stacey Abrams chooses building a national voter protection program over running for president in 2020”

It isn’t until the fourth paragraph that the WaPo explains who this savior of voters is:

The initiative, called Fair Fight 2020, takes its name from the organization that the Georgia Democrat founded last year after narrowly losing her bid to become the nation’s first black female governor.

Likewise, The New Yorker leads with the headline “Stacey Abrams’s Fight for a Fair Vote” and doesn’t explain who she is until the third graph.

The nation got a preview of the battle for the future of electoral politics last year, in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. The Republican candidate was declared the winner by a margin of less than two percentage points: fifty-five thousand votes out of nearly four million cast—a record-breaking total for a midterm election in the state. Many Georgians, though, still use the terms “won” and “lost” advisedly, not only because the Democrat never technically conceded but also because of the highly irregular nature of the contest. The Republican, Brian Kemp, was Georgia’s secretary of state, and in that role he presided over an election marred by charges of voter suppression; the Democrat, Stacey Abrams, has become the nation’s most prominent critic of that practice.

Although she has only recently come to wide attention, Abrams, a forty-five-year-old tax attorney, romance novelist, and former state representative, has been working on electoral reform—particularly on voter registration—in Georgia for some fifteen years. In that regard, some Georgians view her campaign as a success; she won more votes than any Democrat has ever won for statewide office. Georgia is representative of the nation’s demographic changes.

Five Democratic candidates for President will speak at the Young Leaders Conference in Atlanta this week, according to the AJC.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro are slated to speak at the Young Leaders Conference on Friday afternoon at the Georgia International Convention Center.

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will be interviewed onstage a day later beginning at 11:30 a.m., according to Black Church PAC, which is co-hosting the event.

Black Church PAC said two of its co-founders, Rev. Leah Daughtry of Washington, D.C., and Pastor Michael McBride of Berkeley, Calif., will seek to “gauge the candidates’ plans for engaging and communicating with Black churchgoers, ensuring diversity among campaign staff, consultants and vendors and the campaigns’ efforts to engage Black voters around gun violence, mass incarceration, immigration and other key issues.”

Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston set legislative hearings to discuss the budget after Gov. Kemp ordered agencies to begin planning for budget cuts, according to the AJC.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, on Tuesday announced that his chamber’s Appropriations Committee will hold rare fall hearings on the state budget ahead of the 2020 legislative session.

He did so about a week after Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration sent a memo to state agencies telling them to offer 4% cuts to their budgets this year and 6% in fiscal 2021, which begins July 1. Kemp wants to cut the budget to give him the money he needs to meet his top priorities, including more teacher pay raises.

“Looking for cuts in an already lean state budget will not be an easy task and will require some difficult decisions regarding service delivery and personnel levels in each state agency,” Ralston said.

“Adjusted for inflation, Georgians still pay less per capita to operate state government than they did before the recession hit in 2007,” Ralston said. “What’s more, we’ve invested in rewarding teachers and law enforcement officers, fully funding public education and improving our transportation and mobility infrastructure while also cutting the state’s income tax rate.”

United States Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Tjoflat will take senior status on the 11th Circuit, giving President Trump another judicial appointment, according to the AJC.

The 11th Circuit sets precedents in the tri-state circuit on some of the contentious issues of the day, such as abortion, immigration, the death penalty, gay rights and voting rights.

The court is considered one of the nation’s most conservative when deciding cases on discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Its precedents have made it extremely difficult for plaintiffs to prevail in hostile work environment claims, so much so that most of the accusations get dismissed before they go to trial.

A third party tester validated Georgia’s new voting machines, according to the AJC.

The testing by Pro V&V evaluated the voting equipment’s functionality. It didn’t grade the security of the $107 million voting system by Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems.

Starting with the presidential primary on March 24, all Georgia voters will use touchscreens attached to printers that produce paper ballots. Voters will then be able to review their ballots before inserting them into optical scanners for tabulation. Ballots will be stored for audits and recounts.

The certification allows the voting system to be used in elections. Up to six counties will test the system during local elections this November.

The certification test evaluated touchscreens, election databases, ballots, voter registration iPads and other equipment.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued his certification that the Dominion system is reliable and accurate on Friday after receiving the Pro V&V test results.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler will host a series of employer summits across the state, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

A new partnership between Gov. Brian Kemp and state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler will be highlighted on Wednesday, Aug. 28, when the commissioner hosts an employer summit in Dalton.

The meeting is one in a series of 12 being held throughout the state called Employers in the Know. The meetings offer the commissioner a chance to meet with employers around the state to share the department’s work and hear back from employers on how they can better be served.

“These summits are always a learning experience for the department and me,” said Butler. “We are able to inform businesses directly about programs and regulations that may impact their companies. But more importantly, I get to hear directly about what we can do to help make the state even more attractive as a place to locate and grow a business.”

This year there’s a new addition with participation by leadership of the governor’s Georgians First Commission. That group will join in at all 12 stops to engage the audience in a similar conversation.

“The Georgians First Commission looks forward to partnering with Commissioner Butler in this event,” said Scott Hilton, GFC executive director. “Together we will make Georgia the number one state for small business, and an even better place to live, work and operate a business.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) announced that cranes imported from China for use at the Port of Savannah will be exempt from U.S. Tariffs, according to a press release.

The United States Trade Representative today announced the Chinese imports which will include an additional tariff of 10 percent. Carter worked with the Georgia Ports Authority to ensure the cranes were exempted from these tariffs, including contacting United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. If the cranes were included, it could have added millions of dollars to the purchase of the new cranes.

“The Port of Savannah is the third largest and fastest growing port in the United States,” said Carter. “These new cranes are critical to ensure the port is able to keep up with the continued growth.”

“Unfortunately, the tariffs posed a threat to the purchase of the new cranes. That’s why I worked with the Georgia Ports Authority to ensure the cranes were exempted from the additional tariffs announced today.”

“While I applaud President Trump for putting America first and working to correct the unfair trade practices against the United States, adding tariffs to the purchase of these cranes would be detrimental to the port, therefore detrimental to the jobs and economy in our area and the entire nation.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation finished installation of 24 new bridges replacing failing structures, according to the AJC.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap denied racial discrimination in firing an employee at her previous job, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Cobb County will decline to prosecute most cases of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, citing a conflict with a new state hemp-farming law, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Cobb County police and court staff are suspending their prosecution of people for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, until a way around a new state law can be found.

[Cobb County Police Chief Tim] Cox cited Georgia’s new hemp law, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on May 10, allowing the legal possession of industrial hemp for farming, making it difficult for police officers to distinguish between the legal material and the Schedule I drug.

“As a result, effective immediately, any misdemeanor amounts of marijuana that an officer encounters will be confiscated and sent to the evidence unit to be destroyed. A criminal charge will not be made until a solution can be found to this dilemma,” Cox’s letter states.

Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes told the MDJ her office will also not be moving forward with prosecutions in misdemeanor marijuana cases, “as we wait for a legislative or testing fix,” following discussions with state prosecutors, representatives from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement partners.

“We are handling cases different from Gwinnett County,” he said. “Cases in the system prior to the governor’s signing of the bill will go on as normal. Cases in the pipeline since the signing of the bill will be reviewed on a case by case basis.”

In a lawsuit seeking to invalidate developer impact fees in Bryan County, the judge denied a request to halt collection of the fees, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The fees apply to all new residential and certain new non-residential construction in unincorporated south Bryan County and are collected from developers who submit building plans and apply for building permits.The money is due at the same time as the building permit fee and the home builder can pay the fee or pass the cost on to the home buyer.

On new homes, the fee would be $3,100 and the fee for commercial projects varies depending on the project. Funds raised via the impact fee are to be used to help pay for transportation related projects in south Bryan County.

The suit, which was filed by the home builders association in February, alleged that the DIFO was unconstitutionally discriminatory and transgressed the parameters of the state statute. It also claimed that the IDO created unconstitutional exclusive zoning.

The Gainesville Times examines how international trade disputes are affecting local businesses.

“Foreign companies that are already here, that want to make expanded investment in the U.S., everything is on hold,” Barnett said. “… They’re already here, they’re supporting the economy, but they’re not going to make a half billion or billion dollar investment until they know what’s going to happen with the trade relations.”

But panelists at Tuesday’s Economic and Political Forecast event, including State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, Northeast Georgia Health System CEO Carol Burrell, and Brett Fowler, partner at Turner, Wood & Smith Insurance, were still confident in the future of the area’s economy and Hall County’s ability to attract and keep businesses.

President Donald Trump’s trade office said Tuesday it would delay until Dec. 15 the 10% tariffs on some Chinese imports, including goods like cellphones, laptops, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors, shoes and clothing.

The administration is also removing other items from the tariff list entirely, based on what it called “health, safety, national security and other factors.” Officials still plan to go ahead with 10% tariffs on about $300 billion in Chinese imports. Most of the new tariffs will begin Sept. 1.

The AJC looked at how Georgia farmers are doing in the midst of trade disputes.

Already depressed cotton prices sagged another 15% last week with the news out of China. That left prices well below many farmers’ break-even point, with harvest just weeks away for some Georgia farmers.

“That ain’t good,” said Clay Pirkle, a cotton grower in Ashburn.

He briefly wrestled with whether to keep irrigating his cotton, as he normally would, to maximize quality and yield of his potentially money-losing harvest.

“It is going to have a negative impact on the bottom line because I’ve lost a consumer of a quarter of my output,” he said.

Pecan farmers, already smacked with a nearly 50% tariff by China, fret about that, too, and wonder if China, traditionally their biggest customer, might drop them for good, even beyond the current trade war. Georgia is the nation’s largest pecan producer.

While many Georgians may not be aware of it, China has had a powerful influence on the state’s agriculture industry and rural communities, said Hudson, the pecan farmer in Ocilla and a retired University of Georgia professor.

That includes his home county of Irwin. He estimated that, counting multiplier effects, China has spurred hundreds of millions of dollars of spending in his area.

Chinese buyers purchased about 90% of what he sold two years ago. In 2018, that was down to zero. He said he was seeing signs of making some headway earlier this year before the trade battle heated up again.

Some Snellville property owners will be getting revised tax bills after the county has corrected a glitch in calculating the stormwater fees, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Former Bibb County School Superintendent Romain Dallemand, currently in federal prison, was ordered to pay the school system more than $47 million dollars, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Whitfield County Commission appointed members to a citizens oversight committee for a future Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Chatham County Board of Elections approved plans for new voting precincts in Pooler, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Board of Elections Supervisor Russell Bridges said the current plan is to implement the new precincts before the March 24, 2020, presidential primary.

Bridges said Godley Station School has committed to serving as a polling place for the new 8-16 precinct but is not yet confirmed.

Bridges said Shepherd Living was confirmed as the polling location for the new 7-16 precinct.

Another change is coming countywide for the March 24 presidential primary: a new voting system.

The board of elections will receive the training equipment this month, and the state will provide directions and training, Bridges said.

“We’re just as in the dark as the voters are today as to how this is going to work, but between now and March 24, 2020, we’ve got to become experts,” Bridges said.

The Glynn County Board of Elections will relocate some polling places, according to The Brunswick News.

The Burroughs-Molette polling place was moved to Zion Baptist Church during the school’s reconstruction. That polling place may return to Burroughs-Molette, but Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell said the board should consider moving it to the Roosevelt Harris Senior Center.

Schools across the country are heightening security to protect students, Channell explained, and officials with Glynn County Schools have asked the board to move polling places out of school buildings whenever it can.

The board voted unanimously to move the polling place into the senior center if the city agrees, and back to Burroughs-Molette if it doesn’t.

At its next meeting, the board will consider moving a polling place from Glynn County Fire Station No. 2 to St. William Catholic Church on Frederica Road.

The polling place had been moved to Glynn County Fire Station No. 2 from St. William during renovations to the church. Now that renovations are complete, he said the polling place should move back.

The Lowndes County Board of Education lowered the property tax millage rate, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

At a board of education meeting Monday evening, the board approved reducing the millage rate from 16.541 in 2018 to 16.384 this year.

“That will put us over the last three years as over a half a mill lower than we were then,” said Ken Overman, assistant superintendent. “We’re excited to be able to do that. We’re good where we are with budgeting, so let’s give back to the taxpayers.”

The millage rate was 16.911 in 2016.

Overman said that translates to paying almost $14 less in property taxes than last year if a residence is valued at $200,000.

13
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 13, 2019

Betsy Landry

Betsy is a female Chihuahua & Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA.

Browine Coco

Brownie is a male pit bull terrier mix who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA.

Landry Coco

Landry is an adult male German Shepherd Dog mix who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA.

Johnny Cash Coco

Johnny Cash is a young male Pit Bull Terrier mix (looks like a Lab to me) who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA.

13
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 13, 2019

President Jimmy Carter was nominated for reelection as President by the Democratic National Convention in New York City on August 13, 1980.

President Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act on August 13, 1981.

The ERTA included a 25 percent reduction in marginal tax rates for individuals, phased in over three years, and indexed for inflation from that point on. The marginal tax rate, or the tax rate on the last dollar earned, was considered more important to economic activity than the average tax rate (total tax paid as a percentage of income earned), as it affected income earned through “extra” activities such as education, entrepreneurship or investment. Reducing marginal tax rates, the theory went, would help the economy grow faster through such extra efforts by individuals and businesses. The 1981 act, combined with another major tax reform act in 1986, cut marginal tax rates on high-income taxpayers from 70 percent to around 30 percent, and would be the defining economic legacy of Reagan’s presidency.

Reagan’s tax cuts were designed to put maximum emphasis on encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship and creating incentives for the development of venture capital and greater investment in human capital through training and education. The cuts particularly benefited “idea” industries such as software or financial services; fittingly, Reagan’s first term saw the advent of the information revolution, including IBM’s introduction of its first personal computer (PC) and the rise or launch of such tech companies as Intel, Microsoft, Dell, Sun Microsystems, Compaq and Cisco Systems.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released on August 13, 1982.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp named University of Georgia Professor Jeffrey Dorfman as the State Fiscal Economist, according to 11Alive.

“Given Jeffrey Dorfman’s extensive background and expertise in economics, I am confident that he is the right choice to serve as the State Fiscal Economist,” Kemp said in a release. “Over the years, Jeffrey has earned a stellar reputation in his field, mentored countless students to ensure their academic success, and provided critical insight to leaders in the private and public sectors.”

The State Fiscal Economist is responsible for developing forecasts based on the state’s tax revenue, working closely with bond rating agencies on revenue and economic trends and managing the development of overall fiscal impact estimates tied to tax-related legislative proposals.

“I am excited to serve in this new role, and I look forward to providing the State of Georgia and Governor Kemp’s administration the most accurate and timely economic input that I can,” Dorfman said.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

In his role as an advisor to Gwinnett County commissioners, Dorfman has been a fixture at at the commission’s annual strategic planning sessions each spring. During those sessions, Dorfman has given commissioners and other county leaders an economic forecast presentation on trends and issues the county needs to look out for.

The Port of Savannah hit new monthly records for July, according to the Savannah Morning News.

July was a record month for intermodal cargo at the Port of Savannah, achieving 10.5% growth during the month, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

“We’re moving containers from ship to outgoing rail in less than 24 hours at the Port of Savannah,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “That world-class service is why we’re capturing more business to inland destinations and converting more cargo from truck to rail.”

The port handled 47,255 rail lifts last month, an increase of 4,511 containers compared to 2018, which held the previous record for July. Over the past three years, the port has grown its rail volume by 35.4%, completing more than 507,000 intermodal lifts in the fiscal year that ended in June.

Savannah’s intermodal success also contributed to its busiest July ever for overall container trade, with 387,024 twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 8,257 TEUs or 2.2% compared to the same month last year.

“Part of our cargo growth is certainly related to the strong state and national economies, but GPA is also growing its profile among U.S. East Coast ports,” Lynch said.

Vogue brings us the latest hagiography of Stacey Abrams, asking if she can save American democracy.

Abrams’s run for governor in 2018 ended in a loss of just 54,723 votes—a stunning, public blow. And yet she emerged from it as a kind of bellwether Democrat, a vision of her party’s future. She tripled Latino, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander voter turnout and doubled youth participation in her state. She inspired 1.2 million black Democrats in Georgia to vote for her (more than the total number of Democratic gubernatorial voters in 2014). And she gained the highest percentage of the state’s white Democratic voters in a generation. All of this despite widespread reports of voter suppression and a Republican opponent, Brian Kemp—Georgia’s then secretary of state—who oversaw the purging of about 670,000 registered voters in 2017 alone. Some 53,000 voter registrations were still pending a month ahead of the election.

Abrams refused to concede at first. “I sat shiva for 10 days,” she tells me. “Then I started plotting.” Many thought her next move would be a run for the Senate (there was the idea that Joe Biden was courting her as a vice presidential pick, rumors she has dismissed). But Abrams says her attention shifted to something more vitally important: saving American democracy itself.

The story Abrams wants to tell about Georgia is about how the state is no longer a foregone political conclusion. It, and the rest of the Deep South, is changing, she argues. Whites now make up just over half of the population in Georgia and are expected to be the minority by the end of the next decade. Abrams has worked to reach rural communities of color, and to register folks who have never been part of the political process. In 2013, as a member of the state legislature, she created a voter-registration nonprofit called the New Georgia Project, which completed 86,000 new voter applications.

[I]f she does decide to run, she says, her policy priorities will remain the same: expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum wage, enacting criminal justice reform, ensuring reproductive rights. Abrams is no Democratic Socialist and is content to talk about her values within a traditional capitalist framework. Her values were made in Georgia, she says. “I think we spend a lot of time figuring out which shade of blue we are on the spectrum, and it depends on where you live, it depends on what’s possible, it depends on how evolved your economy is,” she tells me. “I’m fighting for getting a state minimum wage above $5.15 an hour. There has to be a recognition that, on the spectrum, progress looks different because of where you are. But that doesn’t mean you don’t dream of more.”

From the AJC:

Stacey Abrams is set to announce an expansion of her voting rights group on Tuesday, with plans to help train staffers in 20 states this year who will seek to combat voter suppression in the 2020 elections.

The Georgia Democrat is expected to unveil the plans during a speech to a labor union in Las Vegas, then follow it up with an event this weekend at a Gwinnett County elementary school where technical issues triggered hours-long lines in November.

The new initiative increases the likelihood that she will prepare for a rematch in 2022 against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp rather than run for president, an idea she hasn’t publicly ruled out.

For Abrams, who has made it no secret she plans to again run for higher office, the new Fair Fight program settles a question that has followed her: What will she do next year to remain politically relevant during a crowded presidential race?

Her Fair Fight group raised nearly $4 million during the first six months of the year, a high figure for a Democrat not in elected office.

The Fair Fight 2020 initiative will target Georgia and other competitive states, along with three conservative-leaning states with gubernatorial elections this year: Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. The effort is expected to cost at least $4 million.

The group’s Georgia launch event is set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Snellville’s Annistown Elementary School, where malfunctioning voting machines last year led to lengthy lines that Abrams cited as an example of voter suppression.

12
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 12, 2019

Brownie Dalton

Brownie is an 8-month old Basset Hound & Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Bear Dalton

Bear is an 8-month old male Basset Hound & German Shepherd Dog mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Mac Dalton

Mac is a year-old, fifteen-pound male Dachshund & Beagle mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

12
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 12, 2019

On August 12, 1492 by the current calendar, Christopher Columbus set sail from the port of Palos de la Frontera in southern Spain with the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Other accounts date his arrival at the Canary Islands off the coast of northwestern Africa on August 12, 1492.

Juan Ponce de Leon invaded Puerto Rico on August 12, 1508 and declared himself Governor.

On August 12, 1864, Confederate General John B. Hood prohibited Confederate soldiers from seizing civilian property.

The Second Battle of Dalton was joined on August 14, 1864.

The first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line on August 12, 1904.

On August 12, 1908, Ford’s first “Model T” rolled off a Detroit, Michigan, factory floor. Within six years, the car, company and man were propelled to unprecedented success, thanks to the new Highland Park plant’s first-of-its-kind assembly line, which created the intricate product quickly and in large numbers.

“If it hadn’t been for Henry Ford’s drive to create a mass market for cars, America wouldn’t have a middle class today,” wrote [Lee] Iacocca.

Increased travel spurred appeals for better and more roads, the development of suburbs, the oil industry’s rise and a boom in gas stations, strip malls and motels.

But the assembly line itself had the biggest impact on American society, Hyde contended, in making possible the swift, mass production of everything from computers to “fast food.”

On August 12, 1910, Georgia Governor Joseph M. Brown signed legislation prohibiting the carrying of a pistol or revolver without a license.

East Germany began building the Berlin Wall on August 12, 1961.

[T]he government of East Germany, on the night of August 12, 1961, began to seal off all points of entrance into West Berlin from East Berlin by stringing barbed wire and posting sentries. In the days and weeks to come, construction of a concrete block wall began, complete with sentry towers and minefields around it. The Berlin Wall succeeded in completely sealing off the two sections of Berlin.

Three churches in Albany, Georgia first allowed African-Americans to attend their services on August 12, 1962.

On August 12, 1968, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham played together for the first time.

The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, made its first flight in the earth’s atmosphere on August 12, 1977

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A fifteen-year old was arrested in Forsyth County for allegedly using an e-scooter in a carjacking, according to the AJC.

The male teenager is accused of using an electric scooter to ambush a man and steal his rental car just before 9:45 p.m. Monday, Atlanta police said in a news release. He was arrested in Forsyth County on unrelated charges.

Police have obtained warrants charging the teen with aggravated assault and hijacking a motor vehicle. The suspect is being charged as a juvenile, and AJC.com only identified minors being charged as adults.

The victim initially told police that two young men riding e-scooters attacked him and stole his vehicle at the Chevron gas station at 180 Ponce De Leon Avenue. Officer TaSheena Brown told AJC.com that investigators found the second young man didn’t participate in the carjacking and rode away on the e-scooter, so he isn’t expected to be charged.

Under Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s new nighttime scooter ban, which went into effect Friday, the suspect and other young man would have been violating the 9 p.m. curfew for e-scooters and electric bikes. Those modes of transportation are banned between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Governor Brian Kemp participated in the ribbon cutting for a new medical school in Southwest Georgia, according to a press release from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Close to 700 people who have a stake in the opening of PCOM South Georgia came to a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 6, 2019, at the newly constructed 75,000 square foot facility to witness Georgia Governor Brian Kemp lend his support to the first four year medical school to locate in the Southwest Georgia region.

Speaking from “the region that literally feeds, clothes and provides not only for our state, but for our nation and the rest of the world,” Governor Kemp said, “I’m proud to say that the state saw how training world class doctors in Moultrie could be a real game changer for our region and we have supported this effort. But it was you all that got the ball started and we’re honored to be a part of it.”

Kemp said, “I know that this facility will be at the forefront of improving the quality of life for hard-working Georgians here in South and Southwest Georgia.”

He thanked the leadership of PCOM for their commitment – “their financial commitment and their human capital commitment that they have made, a commitment to our state to continue to make us a great place to do business and equip the next generation of medical professionals.”

He added, “What’s so exciting about this class and this facility is we have a better opportunity for our local kids to get educated here and to stay here where they were raised and give something back not only to their local community, but to our state.”

“Together I know we can continue to work hard every day to expand opportunities in health care for those who need it the most,” Kemp said.

“I’m proud to be here today. I’m proud of what you’ve accomplished and I will be proud to see these fine folks graduate in just a few years and what they will do for our future in our state.”

The one hour event concluded with a presentation of a key to the city by Moultrie Mayor William McIntosh and Colquitt County Administrator Charles Cannon IV. McIntosh said, “This key is symbolic of this community, along with the entire region, extending and embracing welcome and best wishes to the administration, faculty, students and staff of PCOM South Georgia.

Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) pushed his colleagues to increase the use of biomass for electric generation, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

At Shaw’s urging, the all-Republican panel unanimously agreed last month to push the state’s largest electric utility to add 50 megawatts of biomass to its long-range energy plan.

Shaw, who hails from Lakeland and represents South Georgia on the commission, pitched his proposal as a way to create jobs in rural Georgia and lessen the economic hit to the state’s prized forestry industry. The October 2018 storm set the industry back about $762.7 million in losses.

“We’ve seen the devastation that occurred to not only those rural communities but to that forestry industry and those landowners in those areas who will never be able to recover what they’ve lost,” Shaw said.

Georgia Power now purchases more than 335 megawatts of energy from 15 biomass producers, with most of the fuel coming from the forest, according to the utility.

Whitfield County Commissioners may place the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the November 2020 ballot instead of earlier in the year, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners were originally looking to place a SPLOST referendum on the May 2020 general primary ballot, but they now say they may place it on the November 2020 presidential election ballot.

Savannah leads the United States in the export of shark fins, according to the Savannah Morning News.

For the last five years the port of Savannah has been the U.S. leader in the export of fresh shark fins, a legal but controversial trade item essential for shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy.

Last year, more than 18,000 pounds of shark fins, valued at about $808,000 was exported from Savannah. All of it was shipped to Hong Kong. (While Savannah led in the value of shark fins exported, a larger amount of fins, at nearly 37,000 pounds, was shipped out of Galveston, Texas.)

“Savannah is the No. 1 exporter of shark fins in the United States,” said Cathy Liss, president of the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute. “Georgia plays an unfortunate role in the lucrative, billion-dollar shark fin trade. As long as we continue to provide a marketplace for shark fin products, the United States, including Georgia, will undoubtedly contribute to the destruction of shark populations.”

Finning is banned in U.S. waters but it’s still legal to buy and sell shark fins here. To end American involvement in the trade of shark fins, the U.S. Congress introduced the bipartisan Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which would ban all trade of shark fins in the U.S.

Two Georgia lawmakers, both Democrats, were among the bill’s original backers when it was introduced on January: U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. and U.S. Rep. Henry C. Johnson. Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott added his name later as did Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall.

More recently, so did U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican whose district includes every coastal county in Georgia.

“Rep. Carter has officially signed on as a co-sponsor,” wrote Carter’s spokeswoman Mary Carpenter in an email.

Chatham County Commissioners directed the Board of Elections to consider adding polling places for 2020 elections, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The vote at the regular commission meeting on Friday directs the BOE to investigate the need within Chatham County, including the cities of Pooler and Savannah.

The issue of additional polling places for voting came up in large part due to long wait times in Pooler during the 2018 mid-term elections. Some voters waited over four hours to cast their ballots.

Voter registrations surged 267% in 2018 with a total of 188,315 registered, an increase of 51,251 registrations compared to the last mid-term elections in 2014.

Early voting included 32,361 voting in person, compared to 17,697 in the 2014 mid-term for an increase of 83%.

The board of elections has already been looking at adding two polling locations in Pooler. The issue was tabled by the Pooler city council over concerns that included making sure future population growth is considered when adding any locations.

The Bulloch County Board of Education heard from proponents and opponents of senior tax relief, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A school property tax exemption for senior citizens wasn’t on the agenda as such, but the Bulloch County Board of Education heard from people on both sides of the issue for nearly an hour during “public participation” Thursday night.

Of the 19 people who spoke on the topic, more than twice as many spoke against the exemption request – or at least in opposition to an age-only exemption qualification – as spoke for it. However, seniors seeking the exemption, after an organizational meeting that drew more than 75 people on July 29, had said they were selecting three or four people to speak for them at Thursday’s meeting.

The pro-exemption group was requesting “100 percent relief from the Bulloch County property school tax levy at age 65, without income limitations,” [Carolyn Akins] explained. On behalf of the group, she asked the board to make a decision as soon as possible so the request could be sent to the Georgia General Assembly in January.

If approved by the Bulloch County BOE and the state Legislature, the request would eventually come back as a referendum for Bulloch County voter approval.

The Glynn County Board of Elections discussed planning for new voting machines, according to The Brunswick News.

Now that the Glynn County Board of Elections knows which voting machines it will be using in the 2020 presidential primary, the group can begin to plan its public education campaign.

Along with a requirement that all voting machines include a paper ballot component, the law also required local boards of elections to give the public more advance notice before moving or closing polling locations, lengthened the time it takes for an inactive voter to fall off the rolls and slackened the “exact match” voter verification rules.

Following the bill’s passage, local elections officials began laying the groundwork for a public information campaign to educate voters on how to use the machines in advance of the May primary.

Members of the voter advocacy group Women’s Voices of Glynn attended the board’s July meeting, requesting the board extend early voting to at least one Sunday.

Opening the early voting polls for an extra day would cost a good bit of money, the board found, but shifting the hours on a day the polls are already open so they open and close later in the evening is a possibility.

Suicides are rising in Georgia prisons, according to the Macon Telegraph.

As the U.S. grapples with rising suicide rates, few places bear the brunt of that mental health crisis more than state prisons. Few correctional systems have struggled as much as Georgia’s, which has experienced a rate spike so large that it now ranks among the nation’s highest.

A three-month investigation by The Telegraph further highlights the state’s struggles. Between 2014 and 2016, state records show that 20 state prisoners had taken their own lives. In the nearly three years since, 46 prison deaths were deemed suicides. Georgia’s prison suicide rate — at 35 suicides per 100,000 — is nearly double the national average.

The Telegraph also found nearly half of state prison suicides since 2014 have occurred at six facilities south of Macon, even though those correctional facilities can hold only a fifth of Georgia’s overall prison population.

In the past three years, Valdosta State Prison accounted for nearly 20% of all suicides despite having space to hold less than 3% of the state’s prison population.

America’s state prisons saw fewer suicides between 1980 and 2010. But in recent years, as correctional facilities found themselves on the front lines of America’s opioid and mental health epidemics, that progress was erased.

Between 2013 and 2014 alone, U.S. state prison suicide rates rose by nearly a third. And Southern states including Georgia, Alabama and Texas saw even larger increases in their rates.

Georgia correctional officials believe one in five people incarcerated in state prisons have a documented mental health need.

Georgia State Senate Bill 15 is receiving renewed attention in the wake of several mass shootings, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Senate Bill 150 passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee this year but stalled when gun rights lobbyists spoke against it. Since then, more than 100 Georgia residents have been killed by intimate partners.

SB 150 would prohibit those guilty of family violence from buying, owning or possessing firearms. It would also apply to people named in temporary protective orders after a hearing where the accused can offer a defense.

A federal law prohibits those convicted of domestic violence from owning weapons, but there’s no enforcement, said Georgia state Sen. Harold Jones, D-Augusta. It was one of the reasons why he supports SB 150.

“I don’t think anybody is against it,” Jones said of the bill, which he believes can pass next year. “Sometimes it just takes time for bills to get some legs,” he said.

Rome City Council will hold a ban-a-thon tonight, considering bans on a variety of menaces, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Rome City Commission is taking aim at panhandling and homeless camps with two ordinances slated to be unveiled Monday night.

First readings are also scheduled for proposed limits on fireworks and four-wheelers at the meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Broad St. Commissioners start their pre-meeting caucus at 5 p.m. and both sessions are public.

The first ordinance would ban “urban camping” – defined as “the use of an area for living-accommodation purposes” such as sleeping, cooking or storing personal effects – on all public property without a permit.

A number of Georgia cities besides Atlanta have enacted similar ordinances in recent months. Ringgold did so in December and LaFayette followed suit in March.

Two new candidates announced they are running for Gwinnett County Commission Chair in 2020, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The open race to be the next Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners chairman gained two more candidates this week when Norcross resident Desmond Nembhard and Peachtree Corners resident Brooke Siskin announced they were entering the race.

Siskin announced her candidacy in an email to reporters on Monday while Nembhard teased a bid for the office on his Facebook page Wednesday and posted a link to his campaign website, www.electdesmond.com, on the social media page Friday. Both candidates are Democrats who have previously sought public office in Gwinnett.

At least a half-dozen Democrats have now said they will run for the commission chairman’s seat next year. The seat became an open race after Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, a Republican, announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election next year.

Gwinnett County solicitor Brian Whiteside will not prosecute for marijuana possession, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Solicitor General Brian Whiteside has pledged to not prosecute any misdemeanor marijuana cases — and he said uncertainty created by Georgia’s new hemp farming law is to blame.

The reason? Now that the new Georgia Hemp Farming Act is in place, it’s hard to determine whether the chemical composition of a suspicious item makes it legal or illegal.

“We met with the (county and municipal police) chiefs (Friday) and, basically, I told them I’m not prosecuting people for marijuana because it can’t be proven,” Whiteside said. “It’s up to each individual police department as to what they do, but we just can’t prove what is marijuana and what is hemp.”

At the heart of the issue facing Gwinnett’s criminal justice system is how to determine something’s THC concentration level. The level of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, present is the key factor distinguishing hemp from marijuana.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture lists the threshold THC concentration level separating hemp from marijuana is 0.3%. Anything less than that is classified as hemp.

Whiteside said Gwinnett officials are facing a testing issue: If they find something that could be hemp or marijuana, they don’t have the tools to tell what the THC level is.

Whiteside said he believes the solution in Georgia is to do away with misdemeanor marijuana violations and allow small scale cannabis sales — albeit with a tax to generate funds to support schools or law enforcement in the state.

“I don’t think we should prosecute misdemeanor marijuana,” Whiteside said. “I think we should tax it and use the revenue for pre-K, two-year colleges, four-year colleges and law enforcement pensions.”

The Gainesville Times looks at the genesis of the opioid crisis.

Between 2006 and 2012, Hall County received more than 47 million prescription pain pills, enough for 38 per person per year, according to a database published in July by The Washington Post and made available to the public.

In that same time frame, more than 76 billion opioid pills were distributed through pharmacies in the United States and more than 2.2 billion pills were distributed in Georgia

The data comes from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, which The Post gained access to as the result of a court order.

In the late 1990s, about one-third of the U.S. population, or 100 million people, was affected by chronic pain. The medical field started to be more attentive to patient pain, making it the fifth vital sign. In response, drug companies and the federal government pushed for expanded use of opioid painkillers.

But physicians started to prescribe opioids — particularly oxycodone and hydrocodone — for less serious reasons, Mize said, such as broken wrists, pulling wisdom teeth or high school sports injuries.

“They got focused on pain management and overprescribing hardcore medications recklessly,” Mize said.

In 2016, life expectancy decreased for Americans for the second straight year. Experts blamed the opioid epidemic. The increase in opioid use coincided with a rise in addiction and drug overdose-related deaths.

D.A. King‘s role in a debate about immigration is being defended, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

King, who founded the Dustin Inman Society in 2005, became the subject of local political attacks after the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office invited him to speak about the benefits of the jail’s 287(g) immigration program at a July 31 community meeting hosted by District 4 Commissioner Marlene Fosque.

While the meeting was intended as a forum to share information and differing perspectives about 287(g), the discussion turned into “unfair and unwarranted name-calling and misleading innuendo,” Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway wrote in a letter to the Daily Post.

King, who was the subject of that name-calling, has continued to come under attack in recent days — on Tuesday, Fosque accused him of “spewing hatred and bigotry and racism” — for his work related to the Dustin Inman Society, an organization named after 16-year-old Dustin Inman, who was killed in a car crash by a man who was in the country illegally. King describes the organization as “pro-enforcement on immigration.”

King said his intent at last week’s meeting was to talk about 287(g), and “lend (his) experienced knowledge on how to respond to the far-left race-baiting anti-enforcement lobby that is funded by corporate-America.”

“It should be noted that after being instructed to stick with the topic of 287(g), it was a campaigning (District 99 State Rep.) Brenda Lopez Romero who felt the need to present false ad hominem, personal attacks on me because she has no rational argument for not using every available tool to reduce crime in Gwinnett, including 287(g),” King told the Daily Post. “The goal (of) the illegal alien lobby, which includes the cowardly groups that dropped out and the three anti-enforcement substitute panelists, was never to argue on 287(g) — it was to marginalize anyone who supports the program.”

Georgia State House Republican leaders aim to raise and spend $10 million dollars on defending GOP seats next year, according to the AJC.

The GOP Majority Outreach – known as GOPMojo – has a goal of spending $10 million on roughly 30 of the state’s most competitive House seats to help Republicans defend a narrowing 105-75 advantage in the chamber.

The program also aims to boost base turnout by registering 200,000 new Republican voters ahead of next year’s election, helped by advice from GOP strategist Karl Rove. The group’s organizers say it’s the first time a voter registration project of this scale has been attempted by Republicans in Georgia.

“The effort will point out the clear choice Georgians have between moving forward in the right direction with strong leadership or making the sharp leftward lurch today’s Democratic Party represents,” said House Speaker David Ralston.

In 2020, Democrats are targeting the 16 seats where a Republican won with less than 58% of the vote last year.

The stakes are high. The party that controls the House in 2020 will have great influence in redrawing district lines the following year, and will help set the agenda on Georgia’s most divisive and pivotal political issues.