The blog.

5
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Election for January 5, 2021

Georgia and American History

On January 5, 1734, the Trustees of Georgia ordered the return of 42 Jewish settlers who had come in 1733, primarily from Portugal, without the knowledge or approval of the Trustees. The Brits who sponsored the Jewish settlers refused and Georgia is home to one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the United States.

On January 5, 1781, traitor Benedict Arnold and 1600 British troops captured Richmond, Virginia.

On January 5, 1978, the British band the Sex Pistols started their American tour at the Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta, GA.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump rallied the faithful in Dalton last night, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.Continue Reading..

4
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 4, 2021

Magic Dolly Goodpuppy Society

Magic is a young female Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Dolly Goodpuppy Society Inc in Barnesville, GA.

Magic gets along great with other dogs and really likes her toys. She has been practicing her leash walking skills. Magic would probably love a home with another dog because she enjoys play so much.

Tostada Dolly Goodpuppy Society

Tostada is a young male Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Dolly Goodpuppy Society Inc in Barnesville, GA.

Perky, playful and absolutely the most precious little pup imaginable. He plays well with other pups and adores his toys. He keeps us laughing with his silly antics.

Willow Dolly Goodpuppy Society

Willow is a young female Beagle and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Dolly Goodpuppy Society Inc in Barnesville, GA.

Willow loves playing with her siblings and would enjoy a basket full of toys. Playful and sweet Willow would be a great companion dog. She is learning to leash walk and she practices napping too.

4
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 4, 2021

On January 1, 1751, the law prohibiting slavery in Georgia was repealed after an act passed by the Georgia Trustees the previous year.

On January 2, 1766, some Sons of Liberty marched on the Royal Governor’s Mansion in Savannah to “discuss” the Stamp Act, which required the use of stamped paper for all printing as a means of taxing the colonies. They were met by a pistol-toting Governor Wright.

On January 3, 1766, after passage of the “stamp act,” the Royal Stamp Master arrived at Tybee Island and was taken to the Governor’s Mansion. On that day, Georgia became the first and only colony in which the stamp tax was actually collected.

Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution on January 2, 1788.

Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts became the first United States Senator to be censured by the body on January 2, 1811.

Delaware, technically at the time a slave state, rejected a proposal to secede from the United States on January 3, 1861.

The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln went into effect in eleven Southern states on January 1, 1863, though parts of Virginia and Louisiana were exempt.

Utah was admitted as the 45th state on January 4, 1896.

On January 4, 1965, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson delivered the State of the Union and outlined his plan for a “Great Society.”

“He requested ‘doubling the war against poverty this year’ and called for new emphasis on area redevelopment, further efforts at retraining unskilled workers, an improvement in the unemployment compensation system and an extension of the minimum wage floor to two million workers now unprotected by it. … He called for new, improved or bigger programs in attacking physical and mental disease, urban blight, water and air pollution, and crime and delinquency.”

The Great Society legislation included “War on Poverty” programs, many created under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which established jobs and youth volunteer programs as well as Head Start, which provided pre-school education for poor children. Johnson’s social welfare legislation also consisted of the formation of Medicare and Medicaid, which offered health care services for citizens over 65 and low-income citizens, respectively. In addition, the Great Society included the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act of 1968.

On January 3, 1973, Andrew Young was sworn in as the first African-American Congressman from Georgia since 1871.

The sarcophagus containing the mummy of King Tatankhamen was discovered on January 3, 1925.

On January 4, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon refused to turn over tapes recorded in the Oval Office to the Senate Watergate Committee.

On January 3, 1990, Panamanian General Manuel Antonio Noriega surrendered to American forces in Panama.

Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House on January 4, 1995, the third Georgian to wield the gavel. This marked the first time in more than forty years that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives.

On January 4, 1999, in DeKalb County, State Court Judge Al Wong became the first Asian-American judge in Georgia and the Southeast.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump will rally the faithful today in Dalton, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Democrats’ campaigns announced Wednesday that Biden would campaign Monday in Atlanta with Ossoff and Warnock. Trump already had announced plans to rally Monday evening, just hours before polls open, with the Republican senators in the north Georgia town of Dalton. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, meanwhile, will come to Savannah on Sunday.

Rather than dropping dramatically, early voting for the runoff is only about 20% lower than the early turnout at the same point before the general election, though missed days over Christmas make a direct comparison difficult. Experts who track early voting data say the high turnout, particularly among African American voters, and the continued engagement of younger voters is a good sign for the Democrats.

“These are the numbers that the Democrats need in order to be able to win the election,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks vote counts for the U.S. Elections Project. “It doesn’t mean that they are going to win. It’s just the numbers they would want to see if they are going to win.”

While early voting trends so far seem to favor Democrats, Republicans typically have higher Election Day turnout and they could also make gains in the final days of early in-person or absentee voting, McDonald said. There are also wildcard factors like the weather — though the current Election Day forecast is mild and dry across the state.

Vice President Mike Pence will campaign in Milner today.

Mike Pence Georgia Rally 01042021

Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will campaign at a Columbus fly-in today, according to an email from the Muscogee County Republican Party.Continue Reading..

30
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 30, 2020

Rolly Animal Ark Columbus GA

Rolly
is a young male Labrador Retriever and Catahoula Leopard Dog mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus GA.

Pepper Animal Ark Columbus GA

Pepper is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus GA.

Matt Animal Ark Columbus GA

Matt is a young male Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus GA.

Essy Alabama

Essy is a young female Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the East Alabama Humane Society in Phenix City, AL. I know she’s an Alabama dog, but she reminds me of Roxy, who I rescued on Christmas Eve 2000.

30
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 30, 2020

James Edward Oglethorpe was born in London, England, on December 22, 1696. He was elected to Parliament, where he worked on prison reform and had the idea of a new colony where “worthy poor” Brits could be sent. In 1732, Oglethorpe was granted a charter to create a colony of Georgia in the new world.

On December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy.

On December 25, 1776, Continental forces under General George Washington began crossing the Delaware River and the next day launched a suprise attack on Hessian soldiers at Trenton, New Jersey.

800px-Emanuel_Leutze-_Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_-_Google_Art_Project

On December 23, 1783, George Washington resigned as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony premiered on December 22, 1808 in Vienna, Austria.

https://youtu.be/6QL74tErkjg

The War of 1812 ended on December 24, 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, Belgium by British and American representatives.

A belated Happy Birthday to Columbus, Georgia, founded on December 24, 1827 when Gov. John Forsyth signed legislation incorporating the new town.

Governor George Gilmer signed legislation that prohibited teaching slaves or free African-Americans to read or write on December 22, 1829.

Governor George Gilmer signed legislation appropriating $20,000 to build the Georgia State Insane Asylum in Milledgeville on December 23, 1837.

Georgia Governor George Towns signed a constitutional amendment that removed the requirement that governors own at least 500 acres real estate and other property valued at least $4000 on December 30, 1847. At the time, an amendment to the state constitution had to be passed twice by the General Assembly in subsequent sessions, but did not require voter approval.

Martha Bulloch and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. were married at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia on December 22, 1853. Their son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. would later be elected President of the United States.

The Gadsden Purchase, establishing the southern border of the United States with Mexico, was signed on December 30, 1853.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia on December 28, 1856 and moved to Augusta, Georgia with his family a few years later. Wilson would later practice law in Atlanta, marry Ellen Axson of Rome, Georgia, and serve as President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Recently, Princeton University removed Wilson’s name from campus.

The USS Monitor, the first federal ironclad steamship, sank on December 30, 1862 off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

On December 25, 1868, President Andrew Johnson issued an unconditional pardon of all Confederates.

The Kimball Opera House in Atlanta, a former location of the State Capitol, caught fire on December 27, 1894 and was destroyed.

On December 29, 1896, Georgia Governor William Y. Atkinson signed legislation creating the state Schoolbook Commission.

The American Political Science Association was formed on December 30, 1903, and has been misunderstood ever since.

President Calvin Coolidge lit the first National Christmas Tree on the White House grounds on December 24, 1923.

On December 26, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watched a private viewing of Gone With the Wind at the White House.

U.S.S. Atlanta was commissioned on December 24, 1941 at the New York Navy Yard as the lead ship of a new class of Light Cruisers. USS Atlanta (CL-51) was sponsored by Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind.

https://youtu.be/M3lOaaSvYnU

Margaret_Mitchell_1941_on_USS_Atlanta_(CL-51)

Eugene Talmadge, who was elected four times as Governor of Georgia, in 1932, 1934, 1940, and 1946, died on December 21, 1946, leading to the Three Governors Controversy.

The first live recording of Led Zeppelin was made at Gonzaga University on December 30, 1968.

https://youtu.be/RlNhD0oS5pk

Lockheed received the contract to produce 50 C-5B cargo aircraft for the federal government on December 30, 1982.

The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site was created in Plains, Georgia on December 23, 1987.

Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the USSR on December 25, 1991, signalling the end of the Godless Communist regime.

The NAACP Effingham branch will commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation on Friday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order, the Emancipation Proclamation, which said that as of Jan. 1, 1863, “all slaves in the rebellious states shall be henceforth and forever free.”

It was not until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by three-fourths of the states on Dec. 18, 1865, that the abolition of slavery actually took place.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the last day of in-person early voting for Fulton County, according to the AJC.

Early voting locations in Fulton will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and will not reopen. On election day next Tuesday, voters must go to their assigned precincts to cast a ballot.

Voters have until Thursday in DeKalb and Cobb Counties.

President Donald Trump will lead a rally in Dalton on Monday, January 4, 2021, according to the Rome News Tribune.

President Donald Trump’s appearance in Dalton next Monday will mark the first time a sitting president will have visited Dalton since President George H.W. Bush toured a Shaw Industries facility and held a rally at the airport while campaigning for reelection in August 1992.

Trump carried Whitfield County in November with 69.7% of the vote even while losing the state with 49.25% of the vote to Democrat Joe Biden’s 49.51% of the vote.

Trump is hosting a rally for Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in next Tuesday’s general election runoff, and Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who faces Democrat the Rev. Raphael Warnock in another runoff. The event, set for the Dalton Municipal Airport at 7 p.m., is open to the public.

Other speakers expected are Loeffler, Perdue, Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr., a Republican member of the state’s Public Service Commission who is also involved in a runoff, and other Republicans.

“Northwest Georgia and Whitfield County is a strong Republican area,” [Republican State Rep. Kasey] Carpenter said. “But we need to make sure that all those voters come out to vote in the runoff. We want to have a huge turnout to balance out areas where Republicans aren’t as strong.”

While this will be Trump’s first visit to Dalton as president, he is no stranger to the city. He was married to actress, model and Cohutta native Marla Maples from 1993 to 1999, and during their courtship and marriage he reportedly visited Dalton and Whitfield County several times.

Perhaps the most well-known time that Trump came to Whitfield County was in October 1991, when he accompanied Maples when she returned to Northwest Whitfield High School to crown that year’s Homecoming queen.

Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will campaign in Georgia as well, according to the AJC.

Biden is set to campaign in Atlanta on Monday – the day before the Jan. 5 runoffs – for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. That’s the same day that President Donald Trump plans to hold a final rally for Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Dalton.

And Harris will travel to Savannah on Sunday for a campaign stop with the two Democratic contenders, seeking to energize supporters in a coastal area where early voting turnout has lagged.

Voter turnout is lagging in Hall County early voting, according to the Gainesville Times.

Paige Thompson, Hall County elections coordinator, said that 21,438 ballots had been cast at the four polling locations as of Wednesday, Dec. 23.

In comparison, some 25,092 ballots were cast between Oct. 12 and Oct. 20, the first seven days of early voting in the general election, Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said.

Paige Thompson, Hall County elections coordinator, also said that 20,742 absentee ballots had been issued as of Wednesday. The total number of ballots that have been returned and accepted is 11,784, she said.

A comparison of those numbers to ones during the same period in the general election weren’t available Wednesday.

From the AJC:

So far, more than 2.3 million people have voted [statewide], according to an analysis of data from the secretary of state’s office.

After a Christmas break, the number of early votes has resumed a pace close to the presidential election. In the November election about 5 million Georgians voted. Here’s how the early votes break down.

Most voters are voting in-person, but mail voting remains popular. About 797,000 people have cast mail ballots, which is 34% of the early vote. About 450,000 requested mail ballots have not been returned.

About 55% of early voters are white and 32% are Black, which is a slightly higher proportion of Black voters than the overall pool of all registered voters.

Females make up 55% of early voters compared to 44% for males.

Voters 65 and older make up 34% of all early votes, a number that has been steadily dropping as more votes have rolled in.

No fraudulent ballots were identified in an audit of 15,000 absentee ballots in Cobb County, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The audit by GBI law enforcement officers found Cobb County Elections Department had a 99.99% accuracy rate in performing signature verifications.

“Three strikes against the voter fraud claims and they’re out,” Raffensperger said in a statement.

“We conducted a statewide hand recount that reaffirmed the initial tally, and a machine recount at the request of the Trump campaign that also reaffirmed the original tally. This audit disproves the only credible allegations the Trump campaign had against the strength of Georgia’s signature match processes,” he added.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton ordered a suspension of jury trials due to rising COVID-19 statistics, according to the Gainesville Times.

Citing the “rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases,” Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton issued an order Wednesday, Dec. 23, prohibiting all jury trials, which is anticipated to continue until at least February.

Hall County court administrator Jason Stephenson said all January trials will be canceled, though the first two Superior Court trial weeks had already been canceled due to local hospitalizations and advice from District 2 Public Health.

Hall County Chief Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin signed a similar order Wednesday, saying the notice will be published online and in the courthouse.

Melton’s order also reminds courts that in-person proceedings “must be conducted in full compliance with public health guidance.” It is the ninth extension of the original order March 14, which has closed down courts for months, prolonged jury trials and caused backlogs for judges and attorneys.

The new extension runs until 11:59 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8.

United States District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. dismissed the latest lawsuit attempting to overturn the 2020 Georgia General Election, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A federal judge on Monday morning dismissed Atlanta lawyer Lin Wood’s attempt to stop Georgia’s ongoing U.S. Senate runoff elections.

Wood later on Monday filed notice he would take the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In this case, filed on Dec. 18 in federal court in Atlanta, Wood contended the procedures that Georgia election officials are using to conduct absentee balloting in the runoff elections violate Georgia’s election laws. Wood also said the Dominion Voting Systems Corp. electronic voting machines that Georgia uses are part of an effort to commit election fraud. And he said the situation is violating his constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. said Wood has no standing to sue and his claims were insufficient for the case to proceed. Batten was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.

“The fact that the process for voting by absentee ballot is different from voting in-person does not establish an injury in fact,” he said. “Courts have sanctioned the use of distinct voting processes for absentee and in-person ballots, acknowledging that ‘[a]bsentee voting is a fundamentally different process from in-person voting, and is governed by procedures entirely distinct,’” Batten said, citing a prior case.

United States District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, sister of former Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams, issued a restraining order to prevent election officials to require voters with an address outside Georgia to vote provisional ballots, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The order from U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner lasts eight days, remaining in effect through Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoffs for the U.S. Senate and state Public Service Commission. It follows a lawsuit filed by a nonprofit advocacy group on behalf of a Columbus man working for the U.S. Navy in California, who was among more than 4,000 voters whose residency was challenged by local Republican Alton Russell.

Russell’s challenge was based on a U.S. Postal Service list called the “National Change of Address” or NCOA, which showed those voters had out of state addresses, though they still were registered in Muscogee County. The list is used periodically to clear people from voter registration lists after they’ve moved away , but it also includes people temporarily living elsewhere for work, college or military service.

After meeting privately with its attorneys Tuesday, the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registration voted to file a motion asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay on Gardner’s restraining order, so that the challenge can continue.

“Here, the challenge to thousands of voters less than a month prior to the runoff elections — after in-person voting had begun in the state — appears to be the type of ‘systematic’ removal prohibited by the [National Voter Registration Act],” the judge wrote, adding Russell’s challenge “does not include the type of individualized information that the Muscogee board would have needed to undertake the individualized inquiry required by the NVRA.”

The judge also found the board’s actions likely violate the First and 14th Amendments by placing an undue burden on the right to vote and risking disenfranchising eligible voters, and that those actions could cause the degree of immediate and irreparable injury that a restraining order is meant to prevent.

From the Augusta Chronicle and Athens Banner Herald:

Appointed by President Obama, Gardner is the sister of Stacey Abrams’, whose organizations filed multiple legal challenges surrounding the 2018 gubernatorial election, which she narrowly lost to Gov. Brian Kemp, and led voter participation drives this year that likely helped Joe Biden win Georgia.

[Georgia Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger contended Tuesday that Majority Forward was funded by Fair Fight through the Senate Majority PAC, a Democrat-led committee.

“That a judge would rule on a case brought by a group heavily funded by her sister is very concerning,” he said.

He said Georgia law permits voter eligibility challenges and that Gardner undermined the “rule of law” by issuing the injunction.

The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission filed allegations against Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Christian Coomer, according to the AJC.

Georgia’s judicial watchdog agency on Monday filed ethics charges against state Court of Appeals Judge Christian Coomer, alleging he violated the code of judicial conduct and campaign finance and lending laws.

It is believed to be the first time a sitting appellate judge has faced formal ethics charges from the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Coomer, who once served as state House majority whip, was appointed to the Appeals Court by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018.

In a statement, Dennis Cathey and Doug Chalmers, lawyers representing Coomer, said the judge “strongly denies” the allegations. “The allegations misstate the facts and the law, and they significantly overstep the JQC’s jurisdiction.”

The charges now go before the JQC’s hearing panel, chaired by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney. If the panel finds violations, it can recommend possible discipline to the state Supreme Court, which has the final say.

Previously, the state ethics commission filed separate charges against Coomer, alleging he improperly transferred almost $22,000 from his former state House campaign account to his law firm and personal banking accounts. Under state law, elected officials can only use campaign contributions to run in elections and maintain their office, not for personal expenses unrelated to campaign matters.

When those charges were filed in October, Chalmers, Coomer’s lawyer, said the complaint got “both the facts and the law wrong.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to rule on the application for a Camden Spaceport, according to The Brunswick News.

Camden County launched a bid to establish a spaceport in January 2014, saying the project could create 2,500 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $200 million.

Nearly seven years have passed since county officials announced those plans. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to make a decision on a license to operate a spaceport in March, with no further public comment accepted.

Camden County officials have spent more than $9 million on the project and are optimistic it will get FAA approval.

In Bulloch County, women took the reins of both prosecutors’ offices, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Officials, family and friends gathered in front of the south-facing steps of the Bulloch County Courthouse at 1 p.m. Monday for the swearing-in of Daphne Jarriel Totten as the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit’s new district attorney and Catherine Sumner Findley as the county’s new solicitor-general.

Both acknowledged that they are apparently the first women elected as the chief prosecutors for these particular jurisdictions. Both were until recently assistant district attorneys for the circuit under the direction of now-retired District Attorney Richard A. Mallard.

As district attorney, Totten leads an office that also employs 10 assistant district attorneys, four full-time investigators and other personnel, for a total staff of 27 people. The elected district attorney and appointed assistants prosecute cases involving felony charges in the Superior Courts of Bulloch, Effingham, Jenkins and Screven counties.

Findley won the office [of Solicitor General] by first taking the lead in what was originally a three-person race, over Assistant Solicitor Mark A. Lanier, at that time the only solicitor remaining, and another assistant district attorney, Ben Edwards, in the June 9 Republican primary. Findley then won 53.5% of the votes to Lanier’s 46.5% in an Aug. 11 runoff.

Democrat Jared Williams, incoming District Attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit said the office will narrow its focus on prosecutions, according ot the Augusta Chronicle.

The incoming district attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit intends to follow through on his campaign promises to narrow the focus of prosecutions in the three-county circuit of Burke, Columbia and Richmond.

Jared Williams says he believes the focus should be squarely on violent crime and major drug trafficking cases. He intends to form specialized teams “to combat the crimes that scare us the most.”

Williams captured the top prosecutor’s job with 50.51% of the vote over incumbent Natalie Paine, who led the office for more than three years. His term will begin Jan. 4.

Williams has pledged to use pre-trial diversion, which would withhold prosecution of felony cases with the goal of dismissing charges to help young people get on track without the burden of felony convictions.

By forming prosecuting teams to focus on violent crimes, Williams believes cases can be streamlined and adjudicated sooner.

“I’m tired of people being shot in the street. The focus needs to be on the crimes that keep you up at night,” Williams said.

Criminal records expungement under legislation passed this year becomes available Friday, according to the Albany Herald.

A new law that increases the number of criminal records that can be sealed takes effect Friday. The law, the result of Senate Bill 288, allows certain misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies to qualify for expungement.

More than 4 million Georgia residents had a criminal record in 2016, according to the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO). Georgia is joining 41 other states that have eased record-sealing restrictions.

“It is vital that we continue to reform Georgia’s criminal justice system so that reformation and reintegration is the goal, and not just punishment,” said Corey Burres, GCO’s vice president of communications. “With SB 288, we are making real efforts to help past offenders access opportunities that may not be available to them due to their criminal record.”

The new law allows Georgians to petition the court to have some misdemeanor convictions restricted and sealed four years after completing their sentence if they have no new convictions and pending charges. Sex crimes, family violence and DUI offenses do not qualify for expungement.

Those who have been pardoned for nonviolent felony offenses can apply for expungement, under the law. It also would grant liability protection for employers who hire former felons.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB 288 into law after full bipartisan support from the General Assembly.

In Glynn County, Democrats rallied for the Ossoff-Warnock ticket, according to The Brunswick News.

In lieu of cheers, two dozen or so cars at the Glynn County Democratic Party’s drive-in political rally sent up car horn honks instead.

Democrats from far and wide gathered — either in cars or at a respectable distance from one another — in the parking lot of Lanier Plaza on Tuesday as the sun set to hear from current and former party figures in the community.

“I look out and all I see are these masks. I’m so sorry we’ve got to wear these things, but we know what we must do,” said Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey, one of the evening’s speakers. “But we also know there are smiles behind them because we are turning Georgia blue.”

Former U.S. Sen. Wyche Fowler, D-Ga., earned some cheers and honks himself as he urged Democrats to get their friends and families to vote for Democrats in the three runoff races, even if they have to drive them to the polls themselves.

“I can’t imagine them looking people in the eye and saying ‘I voted against your economic interest and your family interest,’” Fowler said.

“I’d never vote for somebody who lived in a gated community and would not receive his neighbors and find out what their concerns are,” Fowler said.

Democrat Nicole Love Hendrickson took the oath of office as Chair of the Gwinnett County Commission, according to AccessWDUN.

She is the first African American to hold the position, according to a Gwinnett County press release.

Hendrickson’s ceremony, as well as the two last week for District 1 Commissioner Kirkland Carden and District 3 Commissioner Jasper Watkins III, was done with COVID-19 precautions in place.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

“I ran to create change, but I would be remiss if I did not reflect on the historical significance of today’s swearing in,” Hendrickson said. “Just 55 years ago, a Black woman could not even vote. Being the first Black Democratic woman to hold this seat is not a responsibility I take lightly. I realize I stand on the shoulders of giants and that my victory represents another step forward in advancing the vision of a country where all people have access to opportunities to succeed.

“Today the proverbial glass ceiling has been shattered again, and for that, I am proud.”

Hendrickson was the last of three swearing in ceremonies for new members of the county commission — all African-American — who will be taking office as 2021 begins. She is also the first Democrat to serve as the leader of the county commission in 36 years.

Before the ceremony, outgoing commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash praised Hendrickson and the background that she has coming into the job.

“The one thing I know about Nicole is that she loves Gwinnett,” Nash said. “She has a big heart for the community and I think that’s a great start … While she has a foundation and knows some things about the county organization, I think she recognizes that she has a lot to learn, and I think that’s a great attribute for an elected official to have. You know, I have 43 years working in local government and I still learn something almost on a daily basis. It’s just such a big area and so broad.”

Augusta Commissioner Francine Scott took the oath of office to represent Super District 9, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

She replaces Commissioner Marion Williams, who concludes his second set of two consecutive terms representing the super district, which spans commission districts 1, 2, 4 and 5. Because of term limits, Williams can’t run again until a later election.

Scott joins new District 1 Commissioner Jordan Johnson and District 3 Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight, each of whom also won August runoffs. McKnight was sworn in last week, and Johnson takes his oath Wednesday.

Dalton Municipal Court has postponed all proceedings scheduled for the January 6 and 13 sessions, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Statesboro City Council will likely consider a revised Food Truck ordinance, according to the Statesboro Herald.

City of Cornelia computer systems were affected by a ransomware attack, according to AccessWDUN.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute spotted the fourth baby Right Whale calf of the season, according to the Savannah Morning News.

While flying their surveys for north Atlantic right whales, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute team spotted a 27-year-old female right whale nicknamed Nauset and her new calf.

Right whales are highly endangered with an estimated 366 individuals remaining. Their only known calving grounds are the waters off Georgia and the east coast of Florida.

Nauset’s calf, her fourth, is also the fourth live baby right whale recorded so far this calving season, which typically extends into the spring. Another newborn right whale calf was found dead in North Carolina. Biologists believe it died during or shortly after birth.

In short, deaths are up and calving is down.

“I’m still optimistic,” [DNR senior biologist Clay] George said. “In the 2000s, we saw how quickly the population can grow if mortality is managed and females have lots of calves. If we can slow ships down in the right places, and remove heavy fishing rope from their habitat, the whales would have a fighting chance.”

23
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 23, 2020

16107 Hound Murray County GA Animal Shelter

16107 is a young male Redbone Coonhound who is available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter-Control Unit in Chatsworth, GA.

16115 Labrador Murray County GA Animal Shelter

16115 is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter-Control Unit in Chatsworth, GA.

16114 Great Pyrenees Murray County GA Animal Shelter

16114
is an adult male Great Pyrenees mix who is available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter-Control Unit in Chatsworth, GA.

23
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 23, 2020

Wesleyan College in Macon was chartered on December 23, 1836, becoming the first college chartered specifically to grant degrees to women.

On December 22, 1864, General Sherman wrote to President Lincoln,

“I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”

On December 23, 1864, the Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution specifying that the Senate chamber should be lit by electricity for the next Session. That is the last time the legislature sought enlightenment before passing laws.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

https://youtu.be/wn_Gtg2ZTFI

My favorite non-bourbon liquor, Richland Rum, was recognized by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, according to The Brunswick News.

Richland Rum has been named a recipient of the 2020 GLOBE Award in the international trade division.

It’s the fourth consecutive year the company has earned the annual award that highlights companies that entered new international markets during the previous year. Richland Rum was among 17 companies to hear the recognition from the Georgia Dept. of Economic Development.

“Success in global markets takes commitment and hard work” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “Our Georgia made products and services are making a mark around the world. We’re proud to celebrate these companies for their contributions to a thriving Georgia economy through exports.”

“We are very excited to receive this award as it signifies our commitment to reaching a diverse audience around the world,” [Stephen Oakey, the company’s director of marketing/public relations] said. “Richland Rum is the spirit of Georgia, but it is also a global spirit, and one that is meant to be shared.”

Company proprietors Karin and Erik Vonk said the ability to reach more international markets requires time, labor and effort.

“It is remarkable to think that sugarcane grown in Richland, Ga., can become a world class rum that is enjoyed by people in countries thousands of miles away,” they said. “Our commitment to making a high quality, artisan rum with both domestic and international appeal is as consistent as the hearty growth of our sugarcane, and we are thrilled to have been recognized by the GDEcD with a 2020 GLOBE Award.”

More than 1.6 million votes have been cast in the January 5, 2021 Runoff Elections for United States Senate and Georgia Public Service Commission, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The wave of early voting in the Georgia runoff mirrors high turnout ahead of the general election in November. About 1.9 million Georgians had cast ballots at this point in early voting for the presidential election, according to state election officials.

President Trump is said to be considering active opposition to Governor Brian Kemp moving forward, according to The Daily Beast.

“It’s a fait accompli,” said one veteran Trump political adviser.

According to two people who’ve discussed Kemp with the president this month, Trump has largely focused on how Kemp would be “nothing” without him or his endorsement in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. The president has also mentioned that he’s looking forward to fundraising and campaigning against Kemp in Georgia, in the likelihood that a GOP primary challenger emerges.

One of the sources said that Trump had privately compared his desire to see Kemp’s political future ruined to how he wanted to see the political implosion of his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, during an attempted comeback this year in Alabama.

“It is not wise because if you haven’t learned anything from the Senate race this year, you could at least say that having two strong candidates has nearly cost us the seat,” said former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA). “ So I think that Georgia no longer has the luxury of having a divided Republican primary and then going on to win in November.”

In a column outlining his vision of the future of the Trump movement last week, campaign advisor Steve Cortes explicitly called for knocking out Kemp in the 2022 cycle.

“[S]erious candidates must also be equipped to challenge the many squish Republicans who failed our movement in recent weeks,” he wrote, “such as Governor Kemp of Georgia…”

President Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, dropped by the signature verification audit in Cobb County, according to WSB radio.

Mark Meadows, President Trump’s Chief of Staff, arrived at the Marietta site Tuesday afternoon, where the audit is focused on the county’s November absentee ballot envelopes. During the unannounced visit, Meadows only stayed for roughly 20 minutes, and did not speak to Channel 2 Action News nor the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The outlets were the only two onsite to speak with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about the process.

The limited signature audit takes teams of GBI agents and state election investigators to examine the absentee envelope signatures, which were separated from the actual ballot when they were processed. That ensures a secret ballot, a right that’s cemented in the state constitution. Signatures are matched twice during the ballot count process.

The signatures are compared to public state records, including driving services forms.

“We’re looking for similarities,” said Special Agent in charge Bahan Rich, describing the signature probe. “We’re looking for consistency. Consistency in shapes of letter. We’re looking for slants, if you will, in shapes of letters.”

The audit is the first of its kind in Georgia. At the advice of UGA experts, it works similar to polling, using a 10 percent sample. That means 15,000 envelope signatures are under a review that includes comparing the signatures to state records.

“In this process you can have up to five different individuals looking at the envelopes,” Rich explained. “Those that are designated that still need even more review, then we’ll physically go down to the (office), and look at documents in possession of the Cobb County’s election office, and go from there regarding the particular envelope.”

Allegations against Democrat Raphael Warnock are to the point where the AJC is on the verge of believing the alleged victim, or at least taking her story seriously. From the AJC:

Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock’s ex-wife told Atlanta police officers that her husband was a “great actor” after he denied her claims that he ran over her foot with his car, according to body cam footage of the March 2020 incident that aired late Tuesday on Fox News.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in March that Warnock wasn’t charged with a crime and an officer said in a police report that medical officials didn’t find visible signs of injury in the foot. The Democrat disputed Ouleye Warnock’s allegations, telling the AJC on March 7 that “it didn’t happen.”

Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Ouleye were amid divorce negotiations when the incident occurred and finalized their split about two months later. Ouleye Warnock has declined to be interviewed about the incident and court records indicate the divorce case has been sealed.

In the body cam footage, Ouleye Warnock told the officer that she’s been “very quiet about the way that he is for the sake of my kids and his reputation” surrounding his U.S. Senate bid.

“I’ve tried to keep the way that he acts under wraps for a long time and today he crossed the line,” she said. “So that is what is going on here. And he’s a great actor. He is phenomenal at putting on a really good show.”

“Domestic abuse is a very serious issue, and this new body cam footage is certainly difficult to watch,” Loeffler said. “Georgians deserve answers to these very serious allegations, and his ex-wife’s voice deserves to be heard.”

Independent Keith Higgins was sworn in as District Attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District, which serves Appling, Camden, Glynn, Jeff Davis, and Wayne Counties, according to The Brunswick News.

His first official day as the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the five-county judicial circuit is Jan. 4. The office and its team of attorneys and investigators is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases, advising law enforcement and determining which cases should go to court.

The independent candidate defeated incumbent DA Jackie Johnson in the November election, securing 52.8 percent of the votes in a hotly contested race. Higgins acquired 8,500 signatures, more than double the amount needed, in order to run as an independent for the post.

“I want to thank all the people who worked tirelessly to get me on the ballot and get me elected,” Higgins said. “I want you to know that I still need your help, along with the help of everyone else in this circuit.”

The Georgia Supreme Court will extend the judicial state of emergency, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The state has decided the recent spike in coronavirus infection rates makes it too dangerous to resume trials in January, when such restrictions were to be eased. Muscogee County, part of the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, had hoped to resume operations on Jan. 4, summoning a pool of jurors for criminal trials.

Now those plans will have to be postponed: Jane Hansen, public information officer for the Supreme Court of Georgia, said the chief justice met with the state’s Judicial Council on Tuesday, and decided further to extend a “judicial emergency” declaration suspending jury trials until February.

It will be the 10th time since March that the emergency has been extended.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D) and other local elected Democrats want more federal funds for the city, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, along with 10 other Georgia elected leaders from across the state, have asked Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler to fight for more COVID-19 relief for local governments.

In a letter sent to Sens. Perdue and Loeffler this week, the officials said the proposed COVID-19 relief package, which is currently awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature, fails to provide vital funds for essential workers in local governments.

With the city’s revenue stemming from four major sources — property taxes, sales tax revenue, hotel/motel tax and franchise fees — Johnson said city and county governments are where the rubber meets the road and he was disappointed that they were left out.

The letter, which was also signed by Jordan Johnson, commissioner-elect of Augusta-Richmond County; Austin Wagner, councilman, City of Smyrna; Nicole Love Hendrickson, commission chair-elect, Gwinnett County; and Jasper Watkins, III, commissioner-elect, Gwinnett County, said any relief packaged passed without local and municipal aid is incomplete and inadequate.

The Chatham County Board of Elections has changed the location of a polling place for the January 5, 2021 Runoff Elections, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham Board of Elections has announced a change to the polling place for Precinct 7-11 in Pooler on Tuesday, just two weeks ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff election.

Voters at this precinct previously cast ballots at First Seventh Day Adventist Church. The poll will be now located at the Marriott Courtyard banquet hall, 419 Pooler Parkway.

The Glynn County Board of Elections rejected a challenge to 262 voters’ qualifications, according to The Brunswick News.

Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, based his challenge on the voters’ residency. He brought to the board’s attention data produced by Mark Davis, Derek Somerville and a Texas-based organization called True the Vote, he explained.

The residences listed on voter registration records were compared to the U.S. Postal Service’s national change of address database, Jones said. After making a “sincere” effort to filter out military service members and students, he said as many as 262 voters registered in Glynn County have filed change of address forms in other locations, many out of state.

Board members entered a closed session to discuss potential litigation, emerging roughly 45 minutes later to rule that Jones’ evidence did not constitute probable cause to launch an investigation into the 262 voters’ registration information.

Board member Keith Rustin and Chair Patty Gibson did not believe his evidence was convincing enough to undertake the task in the middle of a runoff election. Even if they wanted to, Gibson said the board was bound by a federal law which prevents them from altering voter rolls within 90 days of an election.

The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections rejected a similar challenge, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The original document that targeted 16,024 voters was amended Dec. 18 by local GOP Chairman Gordon Rhoden to challenge 4,943 Clarke voters’ eligibility in the runoff. Rhoden alleged these voters had moved their residency outside the county.

At the advice of Judd Drake, the attorney representing the elections board, a motion to reject the challenge carried without opposition at a Monday meeting, although board member Patricia Till, a Republican Party appointee, abstained.

However, the action by Rhoden appeared to violate voter protections set forth by the National Voting Registration Act, according to Drake.

The Richmond County Board of Elections will hear a challenge to voters’ qualifications, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Jeremy Coghlan says he has a thumb drive with the list of registered voters whose names also appear on the National Change of Address registry with an address outside of Augusta.

The former WBEK owner filed the complaint with Richmond County Board of Elections, which has called a meeting today to discuss it. The 1 p.m. session will be conducted via Zoom and livestreamed.

At least one Georgia county – Muscogee – found probable cause in a similar challenge. The county will go about contacting more than 4,000 voters, whose provisional ballot won’t be counted until they prove their residency, Elections Director Nancy Boren told WTVM.

It’s not clear if Coghlan’s list includes ballots already cast, but the state maintains lists of everyone who votes early. Poll workers check voter IDs at advance voting sites.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday his office mailed 8,000 warning letters to registered voters who requested an absentee runoff ballot but also moved their mailing address out of the state.

The Lowndes County Board of Elections meets today to address challenges to voters, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Lowndes County Board of Election announced it will convene at 1 p.m., Dec. 23 on a telephone conference call to discuss what it called “the sufficiency of a challenge.”

The call is open to the public as required by Georgia open government and elections laws.

To participate in the call, those interested can dial in at (229) 671-3400 and enter meeting code 990 543 082 to be admitted.

The Whitfield County Courthouse is being gutted and the interior build-out redone, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Sandwiched between the U.S. Senate runoffs in January and the city election in November, with full funding provided by the four-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) that voters approved in June, Whitfield County plans to start and finish all the work inside that part of the courthouse built in 1961.

That original building is a three-story, 48,000-square-foot concrete framed structure, Benson said, “meaning it’s got concrete columns and concrete beams set in place with concrete floor decks and a concrete roof deck” that all serve as the structural part of the building. “None of the interior walls carry any load,” he said, “so we can totally demolish or remove all of the interior walls without affecting any structural integrity of the building.”

Suwanee Municipal Court was named Program of the Year by the Georgia Municipal Court Clerks Council for their COVID-19 response, according to AccessWDUN.

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Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 21, 2020

Jail Dogs is a cooperative program involving the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and jail, and the Society of Humane Friends, according to AccessWDUN.

A group of dogs of various breeds and sizes are participating in a weekly training exercise at the Gwinnett County Detention Center. They follow basic commands like “sit” and “speak” and occasionally pull on the leash held by their handler, who is also an inmate at the jail.

The dogs are a part of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Operation Second Chance, also known as the Jail Dogs program, which rescues dogs from local animal shelters and pairs them with jail inmates. The dogs live with their inmate handlers inside of their jail cells and participate in weekly training exercises with them.

Operation Second Chance began in 2010 when Sheriff Butch Conway learned of the staggering amount of animals being euthanized in Gwinnett County. His concern prompted him to contact the Society of Humane Friends of Georgia and its founder Dennis Kronenfeld, which led to a partnership and the creation of the Jail Dogs program. Volkodav said that Conway chose to work with the Society of Humane Friends of Georgia to make the Jail Dogs program more community-oriented.

The inmates themselves volunteer to participate in the program, but have to undergo a screening process because some charges can prevent them from joining the unit. Volkodav said that the inmates in the program are usually non-violent offenders and none of them face animal cruelty charges.

One inmate was so inspired by his time with the Jail Dog unit that he published a book about his experience- while still in jail. Shane Hawkins told his mother what to write as they would talk on the telephone, then she compiled all of the information together and sent it to the publisher. The book From Trouble to Train is available on Amazon.

Volkodav ended by stating that the program is a legacy for Sheriff Butch Conway, who will retire at the end of this year.

“Sheriff Butch Conway is known for being an animal advocate and Operation Second Chance, this Jail Dog program, is a wonderful legacy that he leaves behind as he moves into the retirement phase of his life,” said Volkodav. “It’s a great fingerprint that he’s left in our community by providing this program.”

She said that she expects for the program to continue even after Conway leaves his position.

“I would expect it would continue indefinitely, I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to rescue these unwanted dogs and cats,” said Volkodav.

Jail Dog Timber

Timber is a 2-3 year old, 26-pound male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Jail Dogs in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Timber came from a local shelter after being surrendered by his family when they could no longer care for him. He is a unique looking guy with his brindle coloring and ears that flop one way and then another. Timber is house trained and picking up very quickly on his basic obedience skills. He enjoys spending time with all the puppies in the unit, but not a big fan of the larger high energy dogs.

Jail Dog Roxy

Roxy is an 8-year old, 86-pound female Lab mix who is available for adoption from Jail Dogs in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Need a beautiful blonde in your life?

That’s me, Roxy! I love stuffed animal toys, long walks, playing tug, and being loved on. I can sit, stay, come, and lay down. I’m pretty strong, so I’d do best in a house without small kids. My handler says I wake him up every day with the sweetest Roxy smile. She’s wonderful with humans, but is not always comfortable with other dogs, so she’d do best as an only dog.

Jail Dog Bud

Bud is a 7-year old, 68-pound “bully breed” dog who is available for adoption from Jail Dogs in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Bud loves people but would be best as an only dog. He loves playing with sticks and chewing on bones. Bud would do well with a large backyard. He loves to howl when he hears sirens and noises outside. He can be energetic. He gets along with some dogs, (females better than males) but can be very dominate. He loves to play with a ball and is very treat motivated. He is a quick study and knows basic commands such as sit, down, relax, stay, come and shake.

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Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 21, 2020

On December 21, 1829, Georgia Governor George Gilmer signed legislation outlawing the teaching of African-Americans to read or write. One year later to the day, he signed legislation claiming for the state all territory occupied by the Cherokee tribe.

On December 21, 1835, Oglethorpe University was incorporated near Macon, later moving to Atlanta.

On December 21, 1863, the Confederate government selected a site in Sumter County for construction of Camp Sumter, which would be better known by the name Andersonville Prison.

General William Tecumseh Sherman received the surrender of Savannah, Georgia on December 21, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Trump Tweet January 4

President Donald Trump will rally Republican voters right before the Runoff Elections. From the AJC:Continue Reading..

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Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 18, 2020

Mandy Georgia Animal Rescue Defence Pembroke

Mandy is a young female Beagle or Hound mix who is available for adoption from Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence Inc. in Pembroke, GA.

Dougie Georgia Animal Rescue Defence Pembroke

Dougie is a young male Retriever or Hound mix who is available for adoption from Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence Inc. in Pembroke, GA.

Jingle Georgia Animal Rescue Defence Pembroke

Jingle is a young female Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence Inc. in Pembroke, GA.