The blog.

10
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 10, 2018

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 10, 1774, a group calling itself the “Sons of Liberty” met at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah, the first move in Georgia toward what would become the Revolutionary War. The Sons of Liberty adopted eight resolutions, among those one that reads,

Resolved, nemine contradicente, That we apprehend the Parliament of Great Britain hath not, nor ever had, any right to tax his Majesty’s American subjects; for it is evident beyond contradiction, the constitution admits of no taxation without representation; that they are coeval and inseparable; and every demand for the support of government should be by requisition made to the several houses of representatives.

Resolved, nemine contradicente, That we concur with our sister colonies in every constitutional measure to obtain redress of American grievances, and will by every lawful means in our power, maintain those inestimable blessings for which we are indebted to God and the Constitution of our country–a Constitution founded upon reason and justice, and the indelible rights of mankind.

The first copy in Georgia of the Declaration of Independence was read publicly in Savannah on August 10, 1776.

On August 10, 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

Missouri was admitted as the 24th State, and the first entirely west of the Mississippi River, on August 10, 1821.

On August 11, 1862, Confederate General Braxton Bragg declared martial law in Atlanta.

On August 10, 1864, the bombardment of Atlanta by Union force continued, with Sherman writing, “Let us destroy Atlanta and make it a desolation.”

Sherman-and-Cannon Atlanta

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

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.

The first Georgia state Motor Fuel Tax was enacted on August 10, 1921, when Governor Thomas Hardwick signed legislation imposing a one-cent per gallon tax.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the summer commencement address at the University of Georgia on August 11, 1938. Later that day, Roosevelt endorsed Lawrence Camp over incumbent Governor Walter F. George, saying George had not been sufficiently supportive of the New Deal.

Japan accepted unconditional surrender on August 10, 1945, one day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

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.

The Atlanta Braves signed legendary Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige on August 11, 1968.

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.

Red Dawn, the first movie rated PG-13 was released on August 10, 1984.

Wolverines!

On August 11, 1984, Ronald Reagan jokingly announced that he had “signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever…we begin bombing in five minutes,” without knowing he was speaking into a live microphone.

The Gainesville Times looks at how railroads affected Gainesville’s development over the years.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia in Macon yesterday, according to the Macon Telegraph.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions lauded law enforcement officers, chided their critics and announced a $3.4 billion federal grant for local victims assistance programs Thursday during a stop in Macon.

The money comes from the Office for Victims of Crime that collects federal criminal fines, fees and special assessments and contains no tax dollars, according to a Justice Department news release.

More than $100 million will be coming to Georgia, Sessions said.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills listened intently. He has been a vocal critic of Georgia criminal justice reforms that have reduced sentences.

Sills said he was impressed by Sessions’ remarks.

“That same attitude needs to be in Atlanta with the state offenders here that we’re dealing with,” Sills said. “We need help on the local level.”

Governor Nathan Deal, meanwhile, spoke to President Trump about Georgia’s criminal justice reform, according to the AJC.

Gov. Nathan Deal touted his criminal justice initiatives Thursday with President Donald Trump and a group of mostly Republican leaders, highlighting a decrease in incarceration rates and new education programs for inmates.

“We’ve been very successful and pleased to share any information we can,” said Deal, who talked of a 10 percent decrease in violent crime and 20 percent overall decrease since he took office in 2011.

Trump’s meeting aimed to boost the pressure on Congress to adopt legislation that would provide $50 million in funding for drug treatment and job retraining programs. The White House invited officials it said represent states that adopted changes mirroring the president’s policies.

Democratic Congressional candidate Steven Foster is caught on video after his DUI arrest. Part 1 from the Dalton Daily Citizen and Part 2.

In nearly two hours of video and related audio recordings documenting Steven Lamar Foster’s arrest, the trip to Hamilton Medical Center for blood tests and his booking into the Whitfield County jail, Foster at times speaks to the officers in Spanish, blames Gulf War Syndrome on the use of uranium in weapons in the First Gulf War and tells the story of putting a Central American man’s head on a spike.

“I hope you got s—loads of audio because I want a copy of it on a FOIA,” Foster said to the officers. “You know what that is? That’s a Freedom of Information Act.”

“Eleven years I served this county,” Foster said. “I hate this county. I prayed to God that he would curse it. And guess what? He did. Man, I saw it hit and cursed, and I saw people laid off right and left — white people. I hate this county …”

Foster then calls the officers “Barneys” in apparent reference to Deputy Barney Fife of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

“It’s all right, they can’t help it,” he said. “They’re not going to arrest no Hispanics. They are not going to arrest somebody that is a damn Arab. They are not going to do that because guess what … (officer slams door).”

During the ride to the hospital, Foster also expounds on immigration and the country “letting … 10,000 run around,” berates the officers for a lack of military service and challenges them to “go one or two rounds.”

Former Democratic Congressional Candidate Kelly Lynn Collins has been indicted in South Carolina for the alleged murder of her campaign treasurer, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Kellie Lynn Collins, 30, surrendered to authorities in McDuffie County on Tuesday and was charged with murder and grand larceny. The victim was identified as Curt Cain, 41, and found at his residence on the 3000 block of Old Powderhouse Road on Tuesday after his employer requested a well-being check.

Collins was a Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District seat in 2018, but withdrew from the race for personal reasons and wasn’t on the ballot. According to a file from the Federal Election Commission, Cain was Collins’ treasurer.

Her former campaign manager, Clayborn Thigpen, said that Cain and Collins were living together in Aiken, but he hadn’t talked to them in five months. Thigpen said he was shocked about the murder and arrest because he knew them really well.

Georgia’s Statewide Opioid Task Force met in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The meeting was the last in a series of three for the Statewide Opioid Task Force, and focused on how Georgia has responded to the national crisis. The task force began in October of last year and focuses on strengthening communication between experts and professionals passionate about the issue, such as pharmacies, doctors and law enforcement, to create public policy and positive outcomes.

“Four Georgians are dying every day as a result of opioid overdoses, so we have created a statewide task force that’s a little bit different than other task forces in that we are just trying to bring experts together to build the infrastructure of communication between experts,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said.

“One, what are we doing to address the crisis, two, how can we work together to leverage the resources we have in the state to address the crisis, and three, if there are gaps how do we fill the gaps,” Carr said.

“Unfortunately this is an issue and a crisis that oftentimes begins with a prescription drug and then turns to illicit street drugs like heroin,” Carr said. “It’s a crisis that cannot, must not, and should not fall on any one group’s shoulders – it’s too big.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) also discussed opiates, in a meeting with the Golden Isles Employer Committee, according to The Brunswick News.

“We’ve got to address the situation, and we have been addressing it in my subcommittee,” Carter said.

He noted that members of Congress took a significant number of bills that passed his subcommittee and consolidated them in a larger piece of legislation.

“That bill is H.R. 6, and hopefully the Senate will take care of that before we get back after Labor Day,” Carter said. “If they’ll take care of it, then we can go to conference and get it on the president’s desk and get it signed into law.”

The bill, which passed the House 396-14 on June 22, makes a number of changes to state Medicare programs, “alters Medicare requirements to address opioid use” and deals with other opioid-related issues, according to the congressional website.

“(Addicts) need to be healed and we need to help them on that way, to their way of being healed,” Carter said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”

A Gwinnett County Public Schools bond issue on the November ballot may be affected by the question of grass versus artificial turf, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The issue to be decided by that referendum, scheduled to be on the ballot Nov. 6, is whether the district should issue General Obligations Bonds worth as much as $350 million to pay for certain projects, including whether to install artificial turf on schools’ athletic fields.

Gwinnett has long been one of the few holdouts among metro Atlanta school systems in making a transition to some sort of artificial turf over the last decade or so.

Gwinnett County athletics director Jon Weyher declined comment when contacted earlier this week, except to say that there are many issues related to artificial turf, including financial and safety impacts, and logistics should the referendum pass and that he is in discussions with school board officials and individual school administrators.

While there have been no published studies yet looking at short- and long-term financial impacts of installing turf in Gwinnett, a report in the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger-News when the Cherokee decision came down in March indicated that the Cherokee school board projected a savings of $1.8 million over 10 years, mainly from decreased maintenance costs.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners appear to have reached consensus on the property tax millage rate, according to the Macon Telegraph.

After being unable to agree on a property tax rate for months, the commission voted 5-4 in favor of a 3-mill tax increase at a special called meeting Thursday. It will now vote on finalizing a 20.483 millage rate at 3 p.m. Aug. 16 in the Macon-Bibb County Government Center.

Also, commissioners have to decide how that extra $12 million in revenue would be split up among various agencies such as museums, the transit authority, libraries, Macon-Bibb recreation, parks and beautification departments, and Bowden Golf Course.

Without funding, the Washington Memorial Library will shut down Aug. 16. The Macon Transit Authority only has enough money to keep it running through August. And the jobs of more than 100 county employees hang in the balance.

Commissioner Bert Bivins said commissioners have to be willing to change their minds and support an increase that is for the betterment of the community.

Hall County rolled out a new strategic plan, according to AccessWDUN.

Hall County Administrator Jock Connell said the county wanted to put a strategic plan together to prepare for the growth and development its experienced over the last several years.

“The discussion started last summer,” Connell said. “That growth is going to continue and it’s really important that we determine what are our strategic objectives and frame those in such a way that they help the county to move forward, you know, not just in the short run but more importantly in the long run.”

Connell said because the document is not legally binding or required by the state or federal government, the commission will not have to vote to adopt it.

Polk Medical Center has benefited from tax credits for donors to rural hospitals, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The credit is designed to connect donors and hospitals by making a large percentage of the donations given to a list of hospitals statewide who need financial assistance for a variety of programs they’d otherwise couldn’t afford themselves. The credit in past years hasn’t been fully spent and at least one local legislator wanted to help.

State Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, said to members of the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority that the state house and senate put into place an amendment to increase the percentage of tax credits someone can then apply toward their state income or business tax.

“It’s something that we’ve tried to get right over the past couple of years. It started at 80 percent, and we moved it up to 90 percent. This year I carried the standalone bill that made it a true dollar-for-dollar match that would make it the silver bullet to get it right.”

This year’s fund allowed for $60 million statewide for more than 40 hospitals, with Polk Medical Center included on that list from years past with the program and earning $550,000 in donations for its percentage allowed.

The hospital could have taken in up to $4 million in donations.

“Our goal is to try to be able to meet the full amount next year,” Floyd Healthcare vice president Matt Gorman said.

Moody’s ratings agency has downgraded Georgia Power’s debt, according to the AJC.

The credit rating agency lowered the utility’s credit rating from A3 to Baa1, which according to the agency’s rating definitions signifies the company’s shift from low credit risk to moderate credit risk.

Early Wednesday, Georgia Power announced a $1.1 billion increase in the cost to complete construction at the twin nuclear units being built in Burke county. The company said the increase, announced eight months after the Georgia Public Service Commission certified $7.3 billion as the cost to complete construction, would be self-financed.

“Although the additional costs will be covered through new equity issuances at the Southern parent, the latest revised cost estimate risks damaging the ongoing support from regulators, given it occurred so soon after they vetted and approved an earlier estimate,” said Jeff Cassella, senior credit officer at Moody’s Investor Service.

Red Snapper season for recreational fishermen will open this weekend, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The recreational fishery will open for two consecutive three-day weekends: Aug. 10 to 12, and Aug. 17 to 19, with a one fish per person per day bag limit and no minimum size limit.

“That’s a very long-lived species,” said Kathy Knowlton, of Fisheries Management & Programmatic Support at the Georgia DNR. “The last few stock assessments showed it’s overfished. We have to be careful about the number, size, and age of those fished.”

During this special recreational season, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Fisheries Service will have personnel stationed along the coast to gather information from fishermen as they return from their fishing trips. The same will happen along the coasts of the Carolinas and the east coast of Florida with their respective state agencies. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council manages the fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore in these states.

Columbus 2025 is seeking ways to make the Georgia city more competitive for new jobs, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

“The message from business and industry in the greater Columbus region has been heard loud and clear. Continued economic growth and expansion is highly dependent on a talented, educated workforce pipeline,” Jacki Lowe, a retired Georgia Power executive, said in a statement from Columbus 2025. She is chair of one of the group’s focus areas called, “Talented, Educated People.”

Columbus 2025 said it is bringing together 50-plus business, education and workforce organizations to launch what it’s calling a “Talent Coalition” to come up with a strategy for “creating a road map for talent development, retention, attraction and growth.”

“The time is now for Greater Columbus to talk strategically about its current and future talent pipeline,” Avalanche executive Chris Engle said in a statement.

The effort comes with the Columbus metro area now having a labor force of just over 127,000, with its total job count at 122,500, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. The current unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, the figure for June, which is higher than 4.4 percent in May. The July number will be released later this month.

Warner Robins issued a boil water advisory after a water main break, according to the Macon Telegraph.

10
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 10, 2018

Noah AAAR

Noah is a 9-month old male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Noah is house broken and uses a doggie door. He gets along with other dogs and is kid friendly. He LOVES the pool!

Stephanie AAAR

Stephanie is a 6-month old female Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Stephanie is crate trained, house trained, knows sit command, takes treats gently, is a shy and quiet girl. She loves being with her person or her dog friends. Stephanie has been going through a transformation. She was owner surrendered to a high kill shelter with hair issues. She has since been treated and looks like a brand new pup! To complete this sweet girls new start at life she needs someone to adopt her and shower her with love.

Thor AAAR

Thor is an adult male Pointer mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Thor is a male around 5 years old. He is very smart and treat motivated. He’s a fast learner, walks well on a leash and is dog friendly. Thor would do best in a home where his adopter has owned a large dog before and who is willing to spend quality time with him.

9
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 9, 2018

Thumper CPR

Thumper is a young male Chocolate Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Thumper is a Chocolate Lab puppy with a great attitude!! He loves to play fetch with his shelter mates! He is willing to please and would be a great addition to any home!!

Waffles CPR

Waffles is an adult male Yellow Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

My name is Waffles and I love cheesin’ for the camera! When people stop by my kennel, I’m sure to give them the ole razzle dazzle with a cheeky grin and feverish tail wag. I am high energy and working on my leash training. I am super affectionate and love to play. I just want to be your new best friend!!

Isle CPR

Isle is a young male English Coonhound who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Isle is super sweet, he loves a good cuddle. Isle gets along with other dogs.

9
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 9, 2018

Herman E. Talmadge was born on August 9, 1913, son of Eugene Talmadge, who later served as Governor. Herman Talmadge himself served as Governor and United States Senator from Georgia.

On August 9, 1988, President Ronald Reagan announced his nomination of Dr. Lauro Cavazos as Secretary of Education, succeeding William Bennett. Cavazos was the first Hispanic to serve in a Presidential Cabinet position. Interestingly, he was born on the King Ranch.

On August 9, 1990, voters in the City of Athens and Clarke County chose to unify the two governments into Athens-Clarke County government.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed former Gwinnett County Republican Party Chair Rachel Little and Loganville Mayor Rey Martinez to the Immigration Enforcement Review Board.

Gov. Deal also issued a press release on Plant Vogtle:

“I applaud the leadership of Paul Bowers in ensuring this critical infrastructure and economic development project continues,” said Deal. “Georgia Power has pledged that any new price increases with this change in budget will be covered by the company, and not consumers, and I applaud its continued adherence to that commitment. This is the only ongoing nuclear energy construction project in the country, and the first to earn a permit in more than three decades. I support the efforts of Georgia Power in ensuring our citizens have a long-term, sustainable energy source while creating thousands of jobs. I look forward to completion of Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4 and its continued impact on our economy and infrastructure.”

Georgia Power announced that the company will cover some additional costs in the Plant Vogtle project, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia Power officials announced Wednesday the company – not customers – will pay $700 million in additional capital cost increases for Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear plants. Customers, may, however, be on the hook for the $400 million balance of the revised project increase of $1.1 billion.

The revised costs follow a change in project management from Westinghouse to Southern Nuclear. Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in 2017. The total cost is now estimated at $8.4 billion.

Georgia Power officials said in a press release that a $400 million contingency cost “may be presented to the Georgia PSC for evaluation as and when appropriate in the future.”

First Lady Sandra Deal met with new mothers in Dalton, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Deal visited Hamilton Health Care System’s Turner Maternal & Infant Care Center on Tuesday, meeting with new mothers and staff. She talked about the importance of immunizations and safe sleeping for babies.

Deal spoke with Harris and Yudelaisys Pina Linares, who gave birth on Monday to son Dylan.

“I’ve been giving out immunization cards and visiting moms in the hospital for several years,” Deal said. “It’s hard to grow a baby for nine months, then have something happen.”

Deal said that’s why she talks to parents about the importance of taking care of their babies.

“I want moms to know once the baby comes how to take care of it,” she said. “We talk about immunizations, keeping the baby healthy and having regular baby visits so the doctor can see the baby and monitor their weight.”

Democrat Steven Foster, who is running for Congress against Rep. Tom Graves, is in the Whifield County jail after being convicted of DUI, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Foster was arrested for DUI, a misdemeanor, by the Dalton Police Department on Sept. 23, 2017. Sentencing before Judge Cindy Morris is set for Tuesday.

The clerk of court’s office said Foster was found guilty by a jury after 15 minutes of deliberation. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Baxter was the prosecutor and Richard Murray was Foster’s attorney. Murray did not immediately return a phone message left for him late Wednesday afternoon.

The Richmond County Board of Education is looking at accessibility of polling places, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said voters had raised concerns about four polling places after recent elections: the Augusta Aquatics Center, the Wallace Branch Library, Christenberry Fieldhouse and Crawford Avenue Baptist Church.

The elections board selects polling places based on location, accessibility, parking and available space, Bailey said. Poll workers are trained to provide assistive tools, and equipment such as doorbell buzzers is installed when needed to improve access, she said. Disabled voters also can go to the front of the line until 4:30 p.m., Bailey said.

Augusta’s Americans with Disabilities Act officer, Carole Burrowbridge, said a city study of polling place accessibility looked at whether polling places met ADA requirements – which do not apply to churches – or that pedestrian routes to the facilities exist. Some 35 city voting precincts vote at church sites.

Democrat Charlie Bailey campaigned for Attorney General in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Charlie Bailey is calling for law enforcement pay hikes and a statewide network to fight organized crime and gangs in his bid to be Georgia’s next attorney general.

Campaigning in Augusta on Wednesday, Bailey, 35, said he’ll be the first prosecutor to serve as the state’s attorney general in modern history and plans to go after the forces that keep hardworking Georgians down.

“They come in the form of organized crime and gangs,” he said. “They come in the form of special interests that exploit them, payday lenders and predatory debt collectors. They come in the form of fat-cat politicians that care more about their seat in government and protecting their special interest friends than they do about protecting the people.”

Bailey, a Democrat and native of Harris County, worked in the law firm of former Gov. Roy Barnes for four years after law school at the University of Georgia, then spent most of the past four years prosecuting organized crime and gangs for Fulton County District Attorney, he said.

Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash said a November 2018 transit referendum is no longer possible, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

At the heart of the tug-of-war over whether the referendum can be moved from its scheduled March 19 date to the Nov. 6 general election is the question of what state law allows. Democratic legislators in Gwinnett’s legislative delegation asserted county commissioners could move it as late as the beginning of October.

Nash said, however, that county attorneys have told commissioners that state law regarding publishing public notices for special elections must also be taken into account.

“(County attorneys) advised that, based on the special elections law, action by both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Elections to call the referendum and the publishing of a notice of the call in the newspaper had to be done at least 90 days in advance of the election date,” Nash said. “Thus, it is not possible now to call a referendum for November 2018.”

Washington Memorial Library in Macon will close August 16 due to commissioners’ failure to set a millage rate, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Middle Georgia Regional Library System posted on social media Wednesday that Washington Memorial, the main branch of the library system, will close Aug. 16 because of the lack of county funding. Three other Macon libraries have been closed since late July.

And reduction of force notices likely will be sent out by early next week to employees who work in the recreation and parks and beautification departments and at Bowden Golf Course, according to Chris Floore, assistant to the county manager for public affairs.

Commissioners will resume millage rate talks at noon Thursday as questions remain how some services could be impacted.

Brunswick City Commissioners are expected to maintain the same property tax millage rate for FY 2019, according to The Brunswick News.

City commissioners are set to vote on whether to adopt a millage rate of 13.219 mills, which is the same rate as last year.

If passed, taxpayers will only see an increase in property taxes if their property has been re-assessed at a higher value than last year.

Floyd County Public Schools may consider more school consolidations as enrollment declines, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“The need is clear,” said Superintendent Jeff Wilson, while addressing the school personnel in attendance. The school system needs fewer facilities, he said, because sustaining 19 schools is not feasible under a predicted enrollment drop of more than a 1,000 students over the coming years. And the decision comes down to keeping that many schools and cutting staff, or merging schools to keep staff aboard and teaching to lower class sizes, he said.

“We’re going to have to be very creative,” said Wilson, during his first board meeting of the school year, adding that teachers and administrators are the most important piece of a school system, not the configuration of schools.

The school system is down 144 students at the start of this school year as compared to early last school year, Wilson said. But what has dropped even more is the FTE — full-time equivalent — count, which incorporates student enrollment and the services needed by students to formulate QBE — quality basic education — funding from the state.

Overall enrollment is around 9,000, a total decline of 2,500 students from when it was at 11,500 students years ago. This enrollment decline represents millions less in funding that the school system receives, with an average of $8,000 in funding for each student.

Skidaway Island voters might not vote on incorporation this year as a legislative typo may require correction, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Skidaway Island residents may be getting an extra year to decide whether they want to form their own city, due to a typo in the enabling legislation that could exempt homeowners from property taxes.

Skidaway’s state lawmakers, Rep. Jesse Petrea and Sen. Ben Watson, have requested that the Chatham County Board of Elections postpone the referendum that was to be placed on this November’s ballot after the incorporation steering committee discovered the error in the proposed charter.

“We didn’t put in the exempted amount,” Watson said Wednesday. “That’s what it is.”

The lawmakers said the Georgia Office of Legislative Counsel confirmed that the legislature’s attorney made the error when drafting the bill and recommended the delay so that the bill can be corrected during the next legislative session.

Petrea and Watson requested that the referendum be postponed to an eligible election date in 2019, which Petrea said would likely be during the general election that fall.

8
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 8, 2018

Kangaroo BARC

Kangaroo is a young male American Bulldog & Weimaraner mix puppy who is available for adoption from BARC Brantley Animal Rescue Coalition in Nahunta, GA.

Kangaroo and his siblings were all born in the woods after mom was abandoned right before giving birth around June 15th. A nice lady found them and took them all in and called rescue to help. We believe they are American Bulldog mixed with Weimeraner. They are all beautiful and do well with other dogs and the young child who lives with them and keeps them occupied daily. Needless to say, they will make excellent family pets. They do need a fenced yard to play. Rescue has provided up to date vaccines, microchipping, and will pay for each to be spayed or neutered.

Raccoon BARC

Raccoon is a young male American Bulldog & Weimaraner mix puppy who is available for adoption from BARC Brantley Animal Rescue Coalition in Nahunta, GA.

Diamond Jewels BARC

Diamond Jewels is a young female American Bulldog & Weimaraner mix puppy who is available for adoption from BARC Brantley Animal Rescue Coalition in Nahunta, GA.

8
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 8, 2018

The first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence arrived in Savannah on August 8, 1776 and was read publicly for the first time on August 10, 1776.

On August 8, 1863, General Robert E. Lee offered his resignation in a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, following the Battle of Gettysburg.

On August 8, 1925, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation outlawing the brazen act of dancing publicly on Sunday.

On August 8, 1929, Georgia Governor Lamartine Hardman signed legislation placing on the ballot for Fulton and Campbell County voters a merger of the two.

The old Campbell County Courthouse still stands in Fairburn, Georgia.

Campbell County Courthouse Fairburn GA 3

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were nominated for President and Vice President by the Republican National Convention on August 8, 1968.

On August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned, effective at noon the next day.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg is considering whether paper ballots might be feasible for November’s elections in Georgia, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..

7
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 7, 2018

Teddy Barnesville

Teddy is a medium-sized male Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Saving Georgia Dogs Rescue in Barnesville, GA.

Teddy Good Hope

Teddy is a male adult Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from SOS Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc in Good Hope, GA.

Teddy is a 6-year-old Silver Labrador. He is an active boy who loves to swim, play fetch, frisbee and dock dive.
He is great with other dogs, and has lived with cats. He is housebroken, crate trained and has his Canine Good Citizen certification.

He would love a home where he can continue to swim and get plenty of exercise and then lounge on the couch with his family.

Teddy DeKalb

Teddy is a male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Dekalb County Animal Services in Chamblee, GA.

7
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2018

General George Washington created the Purple Heart on August 7, 1782. Click here for an interesting history of the award.

On August 7, 1790, a delegation of Creeks met with the United States Secretary of War and signed the Treaty of New York, ceding all land between the Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers to Georgia.

Theodore Roosevelt, who served as President from 1901 to 1909, was nominated for President by the Progressive Party, also called the Bull Moose Party, on August 7, 1912.

On August 7, 1942, Marine forces landed at Guadalcanal.

Voters ratified a new version of the State Constitution on August 7, 1945. Among the new features was the establishment of the State Board of Corrections to ensure humane conditions.

The board was directed to be more humane in its treatment of prisoners and abolished whippings, leg irons, and chains. Until 1945, prisoners in Georgia could expect to have heavy steel shackles put on by a blacksmith upon arrival. They were then taken out to work under severe conditions.

The caravan bearing 43 ounces of Dahlonega gold to be used in covering the Georgia State Capitol dome reached the Capitol and delivered it to Governor Marvin Griffin on August 7, 1958.

On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which would be used as the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced that state revenues grew 3.5 percent over the prior year, according to a press release:

Gov. Nathan Deal [] announced that Georgia’s net tax collections for July, the first month of FY 2019, totaled nearly $1.78 billion, for an increase of $59.4 million, or 3.5 percent, compared to last year when net tax collections totaled almost $1.72 billion. July’s gross tax revenue receipts totaled $2.41 billion, for an increase of $136 million, or 6 percent, over July 2017.

The changes within the following tax categories contributed to the overall net tax revenue increase in July:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for July totaled $897.1 million, for an increase of $35.6 million, or 4.1 percent, compared to last year when Individual Income Tax collections totaled $861.5 million.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax combine for the net increase:

  • Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $29.6 million, or 34.4 percent.
  • Individual Withholding payments were up $53.7 million, or 6 percent.
  • All other Individual Tax categories, including Estimated Tax payments, were up a combined $11.5 million.

Sales and Use Tax: Gross Sales and Use Tax collections increased by $66.2 million, or 6.9 percent, over last year. Net Sales and Use Tax increased by nearly $15.1 million, or 3 percent, compared to July 2017, when net sales tax totaled almost $508.8 million. The adjusted distribution of sales tax to local governments totaled $493.6 million, for an increase of $48.9 million, or 11 percent, over last year. Finally, sales tax refunds increased by roughly $2.2 million, or 56.2 percent, compared to July 2017.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for July totaled roughly $31.9 million, for an increase of $12.5 million, or 64.7 percent, compared to last year when net Corporate Tax revenues totaled nearly $19.4 million.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the net increase:

  • Corporate Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $1.6 million, or 9.4 percent.
  • Corporate Income Tax Estimated Return payments were up $12.6 million, or 48.5 percent.
  • All other Corporate Tax payments were up roughly $1.5 million, or 14.7 percent.

Motor Fuel Taxes: Motor Fuel Tax collections during the month increased by $7.7 million, or 5.3 percent, compared to last year when Motor Fuel Tax collections totaled nearly $146 million.

Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees: Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees for the month decreased by $5.1 million, or -15.2 percent, compared to last year when Motor Vehicle Tag & Title Fees totaled $33.6 million. Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) collections totaled almost $72.6 million, for a decrease of $8.9 million, or -10.9 percent, over last year.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is encouraging fishermen to participate in a Red Snapper tracking program, according to the Brunswick News.

To assist in better data collection, DNR advised different ways anglers can help develop “current information on the age, size and growth of red snapper in the population.”

One way is to discard red snapper carcasses in freezer chests along the coast. To draw in participants, DNR is offering a $50 Academy Sports gift card that will be awarded at random to two people. Also, folks can document their red snapper fishing trips through the smartphone app MyFishCount, or go to MyFishCount.com, and fill out a survey.

Along with these methods, state Coastal Resources Division staff will be on hand at boat ramps to interview people on their catch. For people who are releasing red snapper back into the water, CRD partnered with Yamaha and FishSmart to provide free descending devices that rapidly reintroduce the fish back to the depth they were caught, in an attempt to improve survival.

“Anglers have an opportunity to be citizen scientists by providing red snapper data,” Carolyn Belcher, CRD chief of Marine Fisheries, said in a statement. “During the last mini-season, with the help of anglers, CRD biologists examined 122 carcasses ranging in age from 1-to-19 years, with approximately 95 percent younger than 14. Data collected during 2018 will be combined with that from other South Atlantic states for future population assessments.”

Toll lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties could be delayed after a wall collapsed along a new section, according to the AJC.

The recent collapse of a wall along an unfinished stretch of I-75 has prompted more extensive repairs and could delay the opening of 30 miles of toll lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties, documents exclusively obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show.

An engineer’s report shows design and installation problems likely led to the collapse of the wall along the lanes near Windy Hill Road in June. But the problem may not be limited to the section that collapsed, and workers must now fix other walls along the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes.

Floyd County Commissioners are considering measures to combat additction and mental illness among resident, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

“The Stepping Up program is certainly something we are very interested in,” Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said. “We will be discussing passing a resolution at our next board meeting.”

The national Stepping Up initiative — developed under the banner of the U.S. Department of Justice and the American Psychiatric Foundation — offers a toolkit of strategies and other assistance in dealing with the pervasive effects of mental illness and addictive behaviors.

Bonnie Moore, president of NAMI Rome, introduced the idea to the board, and commissioners learned more about it during the mental health summit hosted by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia last week in Macon.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is hosting an opioid strategic plan summit on Aug. 21 in Forsyth to unveil a draft statewide plan of attack that’s been in the works for more than a year.

Buford City Council rolled back the property tax millage rate, but not enough to avoid higher revenues, according to the Gainesville Times.

Since 2013, the rate has steadily dropped from 13 mills, with the Buford Board of Commissioners set to vote on a tax rate of 12.75 mills at its 7 p.m. meeting Monday, Aug. 6, at Buford City Hall, 2300 Buford Highway.

But to keep the city revenue neutral, the rate would have to be 12.436 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 of assessed values.

That means some residents — basically those whose property values are rising — would pay more in taxes. Those with flat or declining values would pay the same or less in taxes.

Because the city mostly in Gwinnett but partially in South Hall isn’t proposing a “rollback rate,” it must by state law hold three public hearings. One hearing was held July 16 and the final two are set for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at City Hall.

Lawrenceville City Council adopted a 10-month, $152 million dollar budget that will sync with the state fiscal year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The budget was approved based on a recommendation from the city’s staff, which put the budget together with input from Lawrenceville’s Financial Citizen’s Review Committee. The budget is designed to carry the city financially from September through next June, as the city moves to a July to June financial calendar.

“We are grateful to the staff, the Financial Citizen’s Review Committee and the public for their input during this process,” Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson said in a statement. “The decision to switch to a new fiscal year will support better alignment and financial planning with our partners at the County and State levels.

Clarkesville City Council members voted to hire an outside firm to run some municipal operations, according to AccessWDUN.

“They will be the operations, maintenance and management of public works, sanitation, water treatment plant, water distribution, the wastewater treatment plant, and the wastewater collection system,” City Manager Barbara Kesler told AccessWDUN. “So basically, everything public works was doing, which includes streets, sanitation, and all of our enterprise funds activities with the water and wastewater treatment.”

The Rome Redevelopment Agency is supporting a proposed Tax Allocation District, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Rome Redevelopment Agency voted to recommend a Mount Berry Mall Tax Allocation District financial package to both city and county commissioners. The Hull Property Group is asking for $1.15 million in financial assistance over 15 years.

If the city and county approve, the mall owners would get a portion of the additional taxes that are generated by improvements to the mall.

“We are not losing any taxes, we are just foregoing any increases for a period of time,” explained Rome City Manager Sammy Rich.

As it is, the mall has been steadily losing tax value over the years and by locking in at the current $4.88 million valuation, the city and county would at least be guaranteed of a steady level of taxes from the mall for the next 15 years.

Chatham Area Transit will seek state funding assistance, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham Area Transit officials say the time is right to advocate for additional resources for transit outside of metro Atlanta.

CAT plans to put forward proposals in the 2019 legislative session to amend newly adopted state law so that areas outside of Atlanta have a better shot of keeping their systems “healthy, viable and able to interconnect,” said Mike Vaquer, a lobbyist working on behalf of CAT on the state and local levels.

“What we are in is a multi-year cycle of focus on transit statewide,” Vaquer said during a telephone interview with CAT officials this week. This funding effort, he said, kicked off in 2016 with a $100 million grant program that yielded some $12 million for CAT to purchase new vehicles.

In 2017, the Georgia General Assembly created a study committee to examine transit funding, and this year, using some of the recommendations from that committee, passed Georgia House Bill 930 — legislation that set aside funding for expansion of public transit in the Atlanta area, and provided for counties in the state to pair up to call for a vote on a new sales tax for transit expenses.

CAT expects to propose changes to House Bill 930 in the coming year, Vaquer said, including one that would allow individual counties to hold a referendum on the Transit SPLOST, and others that could enhance the state’s role in funding Georgia transit.

Lobbyist Mike Vaquer also brought forward a proposal to revisit Statesboro’s alcohol ordinance, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Since January, first the appointed Alcohol Advisory Board and later the elected council have looked at proposals to allow young adults ages 18-20 into bars. Some of the proposals would also eliminate Statesboro’s process of having the police determine whether a place is a restaurant or a bar and instead adopt the state’s minimum definition of a bar as a place that gets 75 percent or more of its revenue from serving alcoholic beverages.

When a draft of [Council member Phil] Boyum’s proposal was given a first reading during a special July 25 council meeting, Mike Vaquer of The Vaquer Firm LLC in Savannah spoke, saying he represented the Georgia Restaurant Association. Franklin Dismuke, owner of Eagle Creek Brewing Company, the brewpub in downtown Statesboro, was with Vaquer and had invited him.

“We … would like to ask that you hold on adopting this and give the restaurant community some time to work with your staff and the legal department to fine-tune some of this language,” Vaquer said. “We certainly understand that your goal is to try to control access for 18- to 21-year-olds in establishments that sell adult beverages. That is a commendable goal.”

Boyum asked Vaquer to help get a revised proposal ready for a second reading by the Aug. 7 meeting. Statesboro officials have been trying to put the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance amendments behind them before Georgia Southern University starts fall semester, Boyum said.

Dougherty County Commissioners voted to finalize a 3-mill property tax rate hike, according to the Albany Herald.

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Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 6, 2018

Ash Ferris

Ash Ferris is a male Pit Bull Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Douglas County Animal Shelter in Douglasville, GA.

Cameron Atlanta Humane

Cameron is a male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society in Atlanta, GA.

Sloane Carrollton

Sloane is an adult female Husky mix who is available for adoption from Hickory Level Hound Rescue in Carrollton, GA.

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Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 6, 2018

On August 6, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia began debating the first draft of the Constitution of the United States.

On August 6, 1958 the wagon train carrying gold from Dahlonega to gild the State Capitol dome reached Atlanta, where city officials were not prepared to receive them.

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in attendance and was given one of the pens Johnson used to sign the Act. Here is an auction for one of the pens used in the VRA signing.

John Hughes, director of every meaningful teen angst movie of the 1980s (except Say Anything and Better Off Dead) died on August 6, 2009.

Molly Ringwald wrote in The New Yorker about working as a young woman with John Hughes.

On August 5, 2015, the Jeb Bush presidential campaign announced endorsements by Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal spoke about his tenure as Governor with Carlton Fletcher of The Albany Herald.Continue Reading..