The blog.

18
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 18, 2019

Shelly Clover Run Rescue

Shelly is a female Springer Spaniel mix who is available for adoption from Clover Run Rescue in Jefferson, GA.

Shelly is friendly and well behaved.

Sebastian Clover Run Rescue

Sebastian is a male Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from Clover Run Rescue in Jefferson, GA.

Sebastian is a very sweet little man, and he is 2 years old. He was born at our rescue. He lived in a house with other dogs and one cat, but his previous owner was unable to continue to care for him.

Chloe Clover Run Rescue

Chloe is a female Pekingese mix who is available for adoption from Clover Run Rescue in Jefferson, GA.

Chloe was abandoned and it is hard to believe someone would do this to such a sweet girl. She is about 3 yrs old and weighs 17 lbs.
18
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 18, 2019

The British ship Mayflower landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18, 1620.

MayflowerHarbor

Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who founded Methodism, and one of the great hymn-writers, was born on December 18, 1707. Wesley accompanied James Oglethorpe to Georgia in 1736.

The first national day of thanksgiving was observed on December 18, 1777 commemorating the American victory over the British at Saratoga the previous month.

Congress wrote, “It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn THANKSGIVING and PRAISE; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor”.

On December 18, 1834, Governor William Lumpkin signed legislation chartering the Georgia Methodists Conference Manual Labor School at Oxford, Georgia, which would later become Emory College in 1836 and Emory University in 1915.

On December 18, 1865, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward issued a statement verifying the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the United States.

The office of Superintendent of Public Education and Georgia Schools was created on December 18, 1866 when Gov. Charles Jenkins signed legislation passed by the General Assembly; on December 18, 1894, Gov. William Atkinson approved a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment to make the State School Commissioner elected statewide.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters was eulogized after his death in Pensacola, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Roughly 400 people, including dozens of uniformed service members, gathered at a Savannah church to remember 21-year-old Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters of neighboring Richmond Hill. His casket, draped with an American flag, stood at the front of a stage adorned with Christmas trees.

Walters was among three sailors killed Dec. 6 when the gunman opened fire at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Federal authorities said the gunman also wounded eight other people in the rampage before a sheriff’s deputy killed him.

The slain sailor’s father, Shane Walters, has said his son had recently arrived in Florida after completing boot camp and was standing watch at the entrance of a classroom building where the attack occurred.

Mourners in the front row at Walters’ funeral in the large sanctuary at Compassion Christian Church included Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who ordered flags lowered to half-staff at all statewide buildings to honor the sailor.

The Navy posthumously awarded all three slain sailors the gold wings badge they had been training to earn.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger‘s office completed the purge of more than 300k inactive voters, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A federal judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order on the Secretary of State’s plans to purge the thousands of voters.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said Monday court will reconvene Thursday to further examine the issue, but he will not stop voters on the list from being purged as planned.

Bryan Tyson, secretary of state’s counsel, said that there is a misconception when using the word “purge” that records of inactive voters will be wiped, which is not true. The voters are changed in status in the system.

Tyson said that federally mandated voter maintenance is only allowed every odd year and not within a 90-day period before the presidential primary. The clean-up needs to take place before Christmas Day or maintenance will not happen until 2021.

Jones decided the purge could continue, and if he ruled against the voters being removed on Thursday, the Secretary of State’s office would need to reverse the process.

Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections will host one of the new voting machines for voters to learn about, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

“The new voting system is easy to use, provides opportunities for voters to review their votes on a screen and on paper before casting their ballot, and also provides our office with multiple ways to review election results if necessary,” Charlotte Sosebee, Athens-Clarke County director of Elections and Voter Registration, said in a news release.

Voters will use a touch screen to mark ballots, then print out a paper ballot they can scan into an optical reader after reviewing it. Elections officials will keep the paper ballots for possible use in recounts or audits.

One unit is at the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections office at 155 E. Washington St. Voters can test out that unit through early February during the office’s normal hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Congressman Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) spoke about impeachment during the House Rules Committee meeting, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

 “We’re talking today about reversing America’s last election. Candidly, I have every bit as much concern about the time that we will reverse the next election or the election after that,” Woodall said during the committee’s debate. “It is not more divided in this Congress today than it was in 1998 when folks found a process on which they could work together.”

“As much as we cared about the presidency then, we cared more about the Constitution later. We found a way to move forward in a bipartisan way then, and moving forward in a partisan way today is going to have serious repercussions. I truly believe America will judge us harshly because of the process that has come forward.”

The Rules Committee decided to have six hours of debate split between Republicans and Democrats, as well as one hour of additional debate on a procedural vote about the rule governing the debate.

Woodall did vote to instead set the debate length at 12 hours, but it was defeated in a 9-4 party line vote.

“The most severe constitutional remedy in existence has been weaponized as just another way to attack the president of the party that isn’t yours,” [Congressman Doug] Collins said in his opening statement to the Rules Committee. “To attack this president, Democrats are willing to tear down every inch of this and every other institution necessary.”

United States Senator-designee Kelly Loeffler pledged to fight impeachment of President Trump, according to the AJC.

“I’m an outsider to Washington. I’m not even sure where my office is going to be. But I can tell you with certainty my first vote is an easy one,” Loeffler said Tuesday on the eve of a House vote that is set to result in Trump’s impeachment.

“This impeachment sham is an attack on what was a free and fair election, and I will stand strongly against impeachment and vote no,” she said. “This is something that’s been going on for years, and it’s time to end it and get back to work for Georgians.”

Early next month, Loeffler will be sworn into office and thrown into a debate about whether Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his top 2020 rivals.

“I know impeachment will take up a lot of news coverage, but it doesn’t affect everyday lives,” Loeffler said. “We need to get past the impeachment sham and see what we can do to help Georgians.”

Loeffler also discussed her basketball team’s opposition to religious liberty legislation, according to the AJC.

“I bought the Atlanta Dream because I love basketball. I wanted to do something for the city of Atlanta, for the Southeast, for sports. I did not buy the team for political purposes or political statements,” she said. “I believe that people of faith should be free to make statements without fear of persecution.”

Pressed on whether that meant she supported the legislation, she indicated that she did.

“I think people of faith should be protected,” she said. “And we should all be able to act according to our religious beliefs.”

She added: “And we should treat all people with love and respect.”

Former Governor Nathan Deal has spoken to Loeffler, according to the AJC.

“She understands that she’s going to have to work hard, she’s going to have to introduce herself to a lot of people, and that’s hard work. I think from what she told me she’s willing to undertake that. That’s what it’s going to take for anybody who tries to run for anything these days, especially statewide.”

Asked if he felt confident in her ability, he elaborated:

“I feel pretty positive about her. She’s a very smart lady and has a lot of experience in the business world and of course has been involved on the sidelines at least in the political arena, so she’s not a novice, by any stretch of the imagination. Just because people may not know her name in a widespread fashion does not mean she’s a total newcomer. She’s not.”

Glynn County Commissioners took a round of cuts to the project list for a proposed 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (“SPLOST”), according to The Brunswick News.

Commissioners unanimously favored implementing a five-year SPLOST this time around, which could collect as much as $110 million accounting for fluctuations in the economy, according to county manager Alan Ours. Because of widespread predictions of an imminent economic downturn, he recommending keeping the projects list under $100 million.

The commission felt they would be safe setting a cap on the list at $105 million. Proceeds would be split between the county, city of Brunswick, Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and Jekyll Island Authority.

Commissioners unanimously favored implementing a five-year SPLOST this time around, which could collect as much as $110 million accounting for fluctuations in the economy, according to county manager Alan Ours. Because of widespread predictions of an imminent economic downturn, he recommending keeping the projects list under $100 million.

The commission felt they would be safe setting a cap on the list at $105 million. Proceeds would be split between the county, city of Brunswick, Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission and Jekyll Island Authority.

The Muscogee County Board of Education unanimously adopted a project list totaling $189 million for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (“ESPLOST”), according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus voters will be asked next year to renew a tax that would pay for 22 projects totaling an estimated $189 million, including the consolidation of two schools into a new building, the construction of a postponed sports complex and the replacement of a public library.

During its monthly meeting Monday night, the Muscogee County School Board unanimously approved Superintendent David Lewis’ recommendation for the final list of proposed projects.

The projects would be funded by the 1% Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax if Columbus voters renew it. That referendum will be on the March 24 ballot, along with the presidential primary.

Gainesville City Council adopted new regulations on hotels, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gainesville hotels have some new regulations after the City Council approved a set of code amendments Tuesday, including restrictions on lengths of stays and record-keeping requirements.

Hotels are allowed to provide lodging in a room for up to 15 days, while guests at extended-stay hotels can stay for up to 30 days. Any hotel that has fixed cooking appliances or a kitchen in at least 5% of the rooms would be designated as extended-stay.

Gainesville also adopted new rules for vape shops and hookah lounges, according to the Gainesville Times.

New businesses of these types will not be allowed to open in the city’s midtown overlay zone, an approximately 350-acre area bordered by E.E. Butler Parkway, Jesse Jewell Parkway, Queen City Parkway and the railroad. Retail sales of alternative nicotine products will also not be allowed in that area. Existing businesses will be grandfathered in as “legal, non-conforming uses.”

The businesses would need approval from the council to open in an area zoned light or heavy industrial. They could not be located within 500 feet of a similar business or within 1,000 feet of a school or day care, library, church, community or recreation center, liquor store, sexually oriented business, tattoo parlor, pawn shop, bar or nightclub, card room, check cashing business, park or residential zoning district.

The rules also prohibit anyone under the age of 18 to be in the businesses or work there. It is illegal to sell the products to anyone under 18.

Chatham Area Transit will roll out an app-based ticket system, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Daniel Hofman resigned as City Manager for Guyton, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Clarke County Board of Education voted to name Xernona Thomas as interim superintendent, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The First Right Whale Calf of the birthing season has been spotted off Sapelo Island, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Researchers with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium spotted the first right whale calf of the season off the coast of Sapelo Island Monday.

Both the “girthy” mom and her days-old baby appeared healthy.

“It’s a little peanut, a little 2,000-pound peanut,” said Barb Zoodsma, right whale biologist with NOAA Fisheries.

This is the first calf for the mom, who was born in 2005 and is known by her number in the New England Aquarium Right Whale catalog as #3560, wrote Clearwater Marine Aquarium spokeswoman Kelsy Long in an email. Unlike some right whales, she has no nickname.

“[The mother whale] is everything you’d hope to see in a right whale,” Zoodsma said. “She jet black. She’s very girthy, which is good if you’re a North Atlantic right whale. The bottom line is she herself looked very healthy.”

The calf sighting comes in the middle of the month Gov. Brian Kemp proclaimed as Georgia’s North Atlantic Right Whale Month. Including the calf, eight right whales have been spotted in the Southeast so far this calving season.

17
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 17, 2019

Jackson County 42686

42542686 is a 21-month old female Hound or Pointer mix who is available for adoption from the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Jefferson, GA.

Jackson County 45167

43045167 is a 2-year old female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Jefferson, GA.

Jackson County 21466

43121466 is a 3-month old male Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Jefferson, GA.

Jackson County 45450

43145450 is a male mixed breed who is available for adoption from the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Jefferson, GA.

17
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 17, 2019

France formally recognized the United States as an independent nation on December 17, 1777.

General Ulysses S. Grant expelled all Jews from his military district, which covered parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky on December 17, 1862. President Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order.

President William McKinley visited Savannah, Georgia on December 17, 1898. While there, McKinley attended church at Wesley Monumental Methodist Church and visited Georgia Agricultural and Medical College (now Savannah State University) and the Seventh Army.

On December 17, 1902, legislation changed Georgia’s state flag changed to include the coat of arms on the blue band.

Flag_of_the_State_of_Georgia_(1902-1906).svg copy

On December 17, 1944, Major General Henry C. Pratt ordered the end of the imprisonment of American citizens of Japanese descent in prison camps.

WTBS began broadcasting under new call letters on December 17, 1976 and uplinked its programming to satellite to become “America’s Super Station.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Judge Steve Jones allowed Georgia to purge its voter rolls starting last night, according to the Associated Press, via the Athens Banner Herald.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in October released a list of over 313,000 voters whose registrations were at risk of being canceled, about 4% of the state’s total registered voters. Notices were mailed in November giving those voters 30 days to respond in order to keep their registration valid. A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said last week that the purge was set to begin Monday evening.

Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, had filed an emergency request Monday morning asking the court to halt the purge of some people.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones initially set a hearing on Fair Fight’s request for Thursday and said the purge should be placed on hold until then, but he later decided to hold a hearing Monday afternoon at the state’s request.

Lawyer Bryan Tyson, representing the secretary of state, told the judge that the window for voter maintenance is narrow because it cannot be done within 90 days before an election, which is why it’s generally done in off years. If it’s not completed by later this month — 90 days before the presidential primaries on March 24 — it can’t be done until 2021 because next year has no 90-day periods without elections, he said.

From the AJC:

While all states are required by federal law to routinely update their voter lists, Georgia’s laws are stricter than most.

Georgia is one of nine states with a law known as “use it or lose it,” which allows registrations to be canceled after voters fail to participate in elections for several years.

“Proper list maintenance is not only required by long-standing laws but is also important in maintaining the integrity and smooth functioning of elections,” Raffensperger said. “Georgia has registered nearly a half-million voters since the last election, clear proof that we are doing things to make it easy for people to vote.”

In his ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said he could still order election officials to quickly reinstate canceled voters long before their registrations would be needed in an election. Jones will reconsider the issue during a court hearing Thursday.

“It appears that any voter registration cancellations can be undone at a later date,” Jones wrote in his order. “The court’s ruling is based largely on defense counsel’s statement (at today’s hearing) that any voter registration that is canceled today can be restored within 24 to 48 hours.”

The cancellation list doesn’t show racial disparities, with the number of black and white voters roughly matching their proportion of the state’s registered voters, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The State will buy more new voting machines for counties than originally planned, according to GPB News.

Nearly half of Georgia’s 159 counties are getting more voting machines than allotted in the original request for proposals, according to the latest numbers from the secretary of state’s office.

Georgia has purchased 33,100 Dominion ballot-marking devices as part of the largest single implementation of a new voting system in U.S. history, with 31,826 of them slated to be delivered to counties ahead of the March 24 presidential preference primary.

Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer and project manager with the secretary of state’s office, said that each county will receive either the number of machines requested in the RFP or one machine for every 225 active registered voters in the county, whichever is larger.

That ranges from 10 machines sent to Taliaferro, Quitman and Webster counties to more than 3,300 in Fulton. No county will have fewer BMDs than they had direct-recording electronic machines in the 2018 election.

Greg Dozier willl move from Chief Financial Officer in the Kemp Administration to Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, according to the AJC.

Greg Dozier, the state’s chief financial officer, will be the commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia’s 22 schools. The current commissioner, Matt Arthur, will lead the state’s Professional Standards Commission.

“We are incredibly excited to have Greg Dozier lead TCSG,” the system’s board chair, Anne Kaiser, said in a statement Monday. “As a long-time public servant, he has the right background and mindset to implement the Governor’s mission and follow TCSG’s ultimate objective: putting students first.”

The system has about 141,000 students and a current annual budget of nearly $375 million. State leaders have focused on the TCSG educating and training students to meet workforce demands in growing Georgia industries, such as health care and film, offering free tuition to study in some of these fields.

Kemp wrote several tweets late Monday praising Dozier as a “dear friend, trusted ally and strong leader” and saying Arthur has the “ideal skills” to lead the commission.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered the city to restrict information related to convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to the AJC.

The administrative order requires city officials — specifically the chief operating officer, city attorney, solicitor and chief judge of the Municipal Court — to establish a standard process by which people can apply to have those court records made off-limits to everyone except law enforcement by Feb. 1.

The order also impacts criminal records of people convicted of disorderly conduct under a city ordinance that was repealed by Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2007. That ordinance allowed police to arrest people for merely being “in a place where illegal drugs or narcotics are sold or possessed.”

A spokesman for the mayor said it is unclear how many people the new restrictions would impact, but said the administrative order has been in the works for months. It follows other criminal justice action by the administration: Bottoms is working to close the city’s detention center, and has eliminated cash bail for detainees.

“The fact remains that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the lingering stigma of victimless, minor offenses — even long after the accused have paid their debts,” Bottoms said in a prepared statement. “This outmoded practice deprives our communities and workforce of brilliant and promising minds, all because of an unfair justice system that can and will be course-corrected.”

Protestors outside the Mayor’s office sought more affordable housing development in Atlanta, according to the AJC.

Protesters gathered on Monday to criticize the city’s use of eminent domain to seize properties in Peoplestown for public use, as well as high eviction rates.

“The big issue here is Atlanta’s very toxic approach to development,” said Tim Franzen, who sits on the board of the Housing Justice League, an organization that works to preserve affordable housing and prevent gentrification. “We continue to have these big developer deals shoved down our throats.”

While Bottoms never spoke to the protesters, late in the day, Bottoms’ office issued a statement to the group saying, “The Mayor and senior members of her Administration have met with affected families on numerous occasions to work towards a viable solution to address their concerns.”

Earlier this year, Bottoms rolled out a comprehensive affordable housing plan that included the redevelopment of vacant and blighted properties, developer incentives, and the creation of a housing innovation lab. Bottoms has pledged to leverage $1 billion toward housing affordability to create and preserve 20,000 units of affordable housing in Atlanta by 2026.

The first criminal trial under Georgia’s Open Records Act started this week, according to the AJC.

Jenna Garland, a former press secretary to ex-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and the first person ever charged criminally with violating Georgia’s public records law, will finally have her day in court.

Trial is scheduled to start Monday in a case that’s gained national attention from open government advocates, but that carries relatively light punishment for Garland if she’s convicted. Prosecutors allege Garland committed a misdemeanor by ordering a subordinate in early 2017 to delay production of water billing records requested by Channel 2 Action News for the addresses of Reed and other city elected officials.

Garland, through her attorney, has adamantly denied any wrongdoing. She faces potential fines of up to $3,500 if convicted on both counts, but jail time is unlikely.

The Federal Aviation Administration has delayed its process to approve a spaceport in coastal Georgia, according to The Brunswick News.

The environmental impact statement scheduled for release Monday has been delayed indefinitely, according to officials from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The decision that could determine whether the site meets all the environmental requirements to launch rockets was put on hold at the request of Camden County officials. The county has submitted additional application materials that are under review.

The environmental assessment is more than a year overdue from the original date announced by the FAA.

Six months ago, the FAA announced it had all the information needed to make a decision, which is why Weinkle said he doesn’t understand the latest announcement to delay the decision indefinitely.

The Carter Center is criticizing Governor Kemp’s federal healthcare waiver applications, according to GPB News.

Kemp wants to expand Medicaid to people making less than $12,000 a year, but Georgians would only be eligible if they are working, attending school or involved in job training.

Some organizations are pushing back, including the Carter Center.

Eve Byrd with the Carter Center said the waivers’ proposed requirements are a step backward for the state, which already ranks poorly for many health-related issues including maternal care.

To require people with mental health conditions to work in order to receive health care — when they’re at the poverty level already — is really quite absurd, Byrd said, adding that no one expects to get sick be it with cancer or depression.

The Georgia Department of Community Health board is expected to vote on the governor’s proposal this week, after additional comments are processed and summarized for the board.

Augusta area governments have finalized the project list for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Transportation, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With a few final tweaks– including moving a $13 million rail spur ahead — area officials Monday completed their project lists for the next 10-year Transportation Investment Act sales tax, which is set to go on the March 24 ballot.

The Regional Transportation Roundtable representing the 13-county CSRA Region approved the changes in Thomson, and the lists now go to county board of elections offices to place on the March Presidential Preference Primary ballot.

Tammy Shepherd, president and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, said all the region’s chambers of commerce together have formed a committee that hired consultant Scott Macgregor to manage a campaign to ensure the tax passes.

“We will be doing fundraising through the committee and also developing the brand and the campaign itself and then executing the campaign,” she said.

Muscogee County School District has finalized the project list for a 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus voters will be asked next year to renew a tax that would pay for 22 projects totaling an estimated $189 million, including the consolidation of two schools into a new building, the construction of a postponed sports complex and the replacement of a public library.

During its monthly meeting Monday night, the Muscogee County School Board unanimously approved Superintendent David Lewis’ recommendation for the final list of proposed projects.

The projects would be funded by the 1% Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax if Columbus voters renew it. That referendum will be on the March 24 ballot, along with the presidential primary.

State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) will not run for Congress, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Majority Whip and state Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, said in a brief statement that he doesn’t intend to seek the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Graves when he retires at the end of the term in 2020.

“Representing the 16th District is one of the greatest honors of my life. I am humbled and honored by the outpouring of support coming from across our nation, leaders in Washington, and most importantly our local community encouraging me to run for our district’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Kelley said in a written statement. “However, at this time, Amy and I feel the best way to serve our community, state, and nation is by continuing to represent the 16th District in the State House.”

The Valdosta Daily Times looks at some prefiled legislation in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia, prefiled legislation that would allow women receiving abortion services to opt out of receiving information on their unborn child.

In 2005, the Georgia legislature passed the Women’s Right to Know Act which required women receiving abortions to be fully informed of medical risks and methods of abortion, possible psychological affects, risks of continuing with the pregnancy and information on the fetus such as the estimated age at the time an abortion is preformed.

Kendrick’s bill would waive the requirement for the women to know information about the fetus.

Kendrick said that the legislation is a direct response to a controversial heartbeat bill passed by the legislature last session that makes abortion illegal once a doctor can detect a fetus’ heartbeat.

Rep. Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta, has been leading the conversation on the state’s maternal mortality rates. Thomas prefiled legislation called the Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act that aims to reduce the possibility of implicit racial bias when women receive perinatal care.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis is asking the city commission to move forward on a parking plan for downtown, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Abbey Winters, wife of Chattooga County sole Commissioner Jason Winters, has been charged with assaulting a reporter with a beverage, according to the AJC.

Dalton City Council approved a $32.3 million dollar budget for FY 2020, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Three Rome County Commissioners participated in their last meeting, according to the Rome News Tribune.

16
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 16, 2019

The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville is looking for short term foster families for the holidays, according to AccessWDUN.

“[The goal] is to get adult animals – dogs and cats – out of the shelter for a short period of time, whether it be an overnight or up to a week,” said [Executive Director Julie] Edwards. “And the intent is to hopefully, give them some time out of the shelter so they can sort of decompress, de-stress, and also see how they are in a home so we can get valuable information to give to potential adopters.”

But, sometimes those potential adopters are right in front of those pets. “We’ve had a couple of these that have been ‘foster fails’ and have actually wound up with the foster family adopting the animal they took home for a sleepover.”

Edwards said having the home environment experience is incredibly important. She said sometimes, they’ll have animals that are in the shelter for about a year, and compared it to the human work week and the weekend. “Those couple of days off really can help recharge and help relieve your stress so that you can be back in a more stressful situation and be able to face that and do well.”

Anyone interested in fostering a dog or cat short term can do so as part of the challenge through January 10. Email Kathleen Garrand or visit the Humane Society’s website for information on how to become a foster.

Zazu HSNEGA

Zazu is a young female Boston Terrier and Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA.

Fiesta PotatoHSNEGA

Fiesta Potato is a young female Hound and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA.

Maddie HSNEGA

Maddie is a female Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville, GA.

16
Dec

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

On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty, led by Patriot Sam Adams, boarded three British ships in Boston harbor and threw tea worth $700,000 to $1 million in today’s money into the water in what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party

Governor George Towns signed legislation on December 16, 1847 to build a State School for the Deaf and Dumb. The institution now known as the Georgia School for the Deaf was begun with a log cabin, $5000 from the legislature and four students and is still in operation in Cave Spring, Georgia.

On December 16, 1897, Gov. William Atkinson signed legislation recognizing June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, as a state holiday.

On December 16, 1944, a German counterattack in the Ardennes region of Belgium created a “bulge” in Allied lines with particularly difficult fighting near the town of Bastogne. During the Battle of the Bulge, 89,000 Americans were wounded and 19,000 killed in the bloodiest battle fought by the U.S. in World War II. National Geographic has an interesting article published for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle.

President Jimmy Carter announced on December 16, 1976, that he would name Andrew Young, then serving as Congressman from Georgia’s Fifth District, as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Quick, someone alert Governor Stacey Abrams! Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office is moving forward with a legally-mandated purge of inactive voters, according to the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in October released a list of over 313,000 voters whose registrations were at risk of being cancelled, about 4% of the state’s total registered voters. Those voters were mailed notices in November and had 30 days to respond in order to keep their registration intact.

Walter Jones, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said the purge would take place overnight Monday into Tuesday. He said the exact number and names of voters removed wouldn’t be known until then and that more information would be made available after.

Voter purges in Georgia became a hot-button issue during last year’s race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who won the race. Kemp served as secretary of state before being elected governor and oversaw some of the most aggressive voter purges in the country during his tenure. Over 1.4 million voter registrations were canceled in Georgia between 2012 and 2018.

“Accurate voter lists limit confusion and delays at polling places on Election Day, and make sure voters get the correct ballot,” Chris Harvey, elections director for the secretary of state’s office, has said previously. “Accurate registration lists also allow county election offices to plan for polling place equipment and staffing needs. Accurate voter lists reduce the opportunities for mistakes or fraud.”

In an alternate universe, Georgia’s other Governor, Brian Kemp proclaimed this December as North Atlantic Right Whale Awareness Month, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The North Atlantic right whale, a highly endangered species that spends the winter months in Georgia’s warm offshore waters, has been Georgia’s state marine mammal since 1985 after Delta pilots volunteering their time and private planes helped discover whales giving birth off the coast.

As the proclamation notes, “the right whale migrates from its feeding grounds in the North Atlantic to Georgia and North Florida coastlines to give birth to calves, meaning that Georgia’s ocean territory serves as a critical nursery habitat for vulnerable young and mother whales.”

Savannah resident Paulita Bennett-Martin, the Georgia campaign organizer for Oceana, acted as a required in-state sponsor for the proclamation, along with the Georgia Conservancy and several other local residents.

“It’s so important that North Atlantic right whales are getting recognition across the state. We commend Gov. Kemp’s proclamation, because it reminds us of how serious their struggle to survive is and how much work must be done to save them,” Bennett-Martin wrote in an email. “A lot of people are working across disciplines to see to a safe future for Georgia’s official state marine mammal, and recognizing this in the start to their calving season off our coast is a great thing — a real welcome home for the whales.”

Former Governor Nathan Deal will teach at University of North Georgia beginning in the next semester, according to AccessWDUN.

Former Gov. Nathan Deal will be teaching a political course at the University of North Georgia during the spring semester, which begins early next year.

Nathan Deal spoke several times to UNG classes this fall and as a Regents professor will teach a special topics course, “Politics in the Peach State,” in spring 2020.

“The excellent part of this course will be the opportunity to not only learn about Georgia politics from the former governor’s perspective but to hear from other important figures in Georgia state politics,” said Dlynn Williams, department head of Political Science and International Affairs at UNG. “This experience will greatly enhance the networking possibilities for UNG political science students.”

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our students not only to learn from the experiences former Gov. Deal can share from his long, successful career, but also to interact with him in a smaller classroom setting where they can ask questions and explore topics in-depth with him,” said Dr. Chaudron Gille, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UNG.

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene has withdrawn from the campaign for the Sixth Congressional District and switched to running for the Fourteenth District, which is being vacated by Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger).

State Rep. Colton Moore (R-Trenton) is considering a campaign for the Fourteenth Congressional District, according to a Press Release.

Representative Colton Moore from Georgia District 1 announced that he is considering a run for the United States House of Representatives. Rep. Moore would be running for Georgia’s 14th Congressional House seat which is currently filled by Congressman Tom Graves. This comes from Rep. Moore as Congressman Graves recently announced he would not be seeking re-election.

“As a citizen of Northwest Georgia for 25 years, it has been a privilege to work in Atlanta for Dade and Walker Counties. Each day, we continue to execute our vision of a strong, open-minded voice for every person in District 1, no matter the issue. I believe our next Member of Congress must be able to deliver this same boldness and I felt the time was right to explore this great honor,” said Rep. Colton Moore.

In 2018, Rep. Moore soundly defeated six-year incumbent, former Representative John Defenbaugh from Lookout Mountain, Georgia. According to the Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensburger, Rep. Colton Moore won 54% of the vote with just 10% of Defenbaugh’s campaign budget.

Outside of politics Rep. Moore is an expert auctioneer. He regularly travels to Europe, Japan, the Philippines and across the United States to deliver his chant for farmers, heavy-equipment dealers and charities. He was the Georgia Auctioneer Champion in 2016 and was a finalist at the International Auctioneer Championship in 2016 and 2017.

“If our community believes this is the right next step, it would be my job to find a fearless Representative to continue moving District 1 forward. Someone like Dr. David Bosshart of Walker County, I believe, could do very well for us in this position. Only then would it be possible to take part in the incredible honor of expanding our freedoms and economic progress in Washington with one of the greatest visionaries our country has even seen, President Donald Trump,” Moore concluded.

The Rome News Tribune writes about local legislators’ involvement with study committees ahead of the next legislative session.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, chairs the Senate Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

They’re looking at loosening restrictions on PAs and APRNs — such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives — with an eye to expanding access to medical care. The committee meeting, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday in the State Capitol, will be livestreamed through the Senate website.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, is finishing his third year on the House Rural Development Council, an ongoing initiative to increase opportunities in the less-populated areas of the state.

The Cherokee County Board of Education opposes legislation that creates vouchers for parents of students eligible to attend public schools, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News.

The board voted unanimously to adopt the Georgia Education Coalition’s 2020 legislative priorities, which are closely aligned with the board’s own priorities and include opposition to any state legislation that takes money away from local school districts in the form of vouchers or tax credits to pay for private school tuition and other educational programs.

School Board Chairwoman Kyla Cromer spoke against voucher bills, referencing the Georgia Educational Scholarship Act sponsored by state Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock). House Bill 301 and Senate Bill 173 would use state general fund money allocated for local school districts to establish “education scholarship accounts” for parents to pay for expenses including private school and college tuition, textbooks and online courses. The bill was introduced in the House last February and has not come to a vote there; in the Senate, the bill failed to get majority votes in March.

Cantrell said in an email to the Tribune that the bill is designed to give parents options when their child isn’t succeeding in the public school assigned to them.

“The purpose of the bill is to provide educational choice for that small percentage of students who are not performing well in the public schools they are districted for. One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to education. The Act would allow parents some flexibility in using their tax dollars for an educational program that could be more strategically designed for the specific needs of their child,” he said.

The Bulloch County Board of Education will not propose property tax relief for seniors, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Board of Education is not sending forward any proposal for a 2020 referendum to create a local school-funding property tax exemption for senior citizens.

Back in July, a group of about 80 people, most of them age 60 and up, met with state Rep. Jan Tankersley, R-Brooklet, who told them an exemption request would need to come from the local school board in time to be acted on by the Georgia General Assembly in its January-March session if it was to be returned to local voters in a referendum next year. Spokespersons for the seniors group then spoke to the school board in August, but so did a number of citizens opposed to creating such an exemption. The board had its own discussion in September.

“At this point, I am not going to recommend an additional exemption, a seniors’ tax exemption,” [Bulloch County Superintendent of Schools Charles] Wilson said. “That’s from me as the superintendent, based on what I have and the information I’ve received back. I’d respect it if, as a board, you wanted to make a recommendation otherwise, but at this point I do not believe it is appropriate that the superintendent make a recommendation.”

The Macon Telegraph reports that more than 100 local businesses could lose their liquor licenses after a change to the local alcohol ordinance.

More than 100 Macon businesses are in jeopardy of losing their alcohol licenses as of Jan. 1 unless the law is changed.

The Macon-Bibb County Commission amended the alcohol code last year and set the license expiration date as Dec. 31 to align with the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Applicants can apply as early as Sept. 1, but as of Dec. 6, only 270 of the approximate 400 establishments which sell alcohol in containers or by the drink have applied for renewal, said Bibb County Commissioner Virgil Watkins. That means about a third of the county’s businesses might not be able to serve or sell after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

The 2018 change in the code also eliminated the grace period of up to 90 days that would allow businesses to continue to sell alcohol before the license is pulled.

Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly has resigned ahead of a recall election, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District voted for a license plate reader system, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The board of directors for the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District announced a multi-year partnership with Flock Safety this past week to install a “large number” of automatic license plate reading cameras in 2020 with the option to add more.

“We exist for our businesses to flourish,” CID Board Chairman Leo Wiener said. “And that’s possible thanks to partnerships with the Gwinnett County Police Department and investment in crime-fighting technology like Flock Safety.”

Flock Safety is an Atlanta-based company that was started by Georgia Tech graduates in 2017. Its automatic license plate reading — or ALPR — camera system is the only one built specifically for neighborhoods, businesses and law enforcement, according to the CID.

13
Dec

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

On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court organized three regiments of militia to guard against attacks by the Pequot Indians. That day is recognized as the birth of the National Guard.

Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, the first in Georgia, was organized on December 10, 1735. Upon his return to the colony, James Oglethorpe would join the group.

Patriots captured liberated Virginia on December 9, 1775 as militias from Virginia and North Carolina defeated the redcoats at Great Bridge.

On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.

John Jay was elected President of the Continental Congress on December 10, 1778.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.

On December 15, 1791, Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights, giving the first ten Amendments a three-quarter majority required to become law.

President George Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. Here’s an article about the nation’s mourning for our first President.

The Congress, in session at the capital of Philadelphia when Washington’s death was announced, immediately adjourned. The House of Representatives assembled the next day and resolved to shroud the Speaker’s chair in black and have members wear black during the remainder of the session. On December 23, John Marshall speaking for the joint committee of both houses, presented five points that became the foundation for the United States’ first “state” funeral. Resolutions structured mourning events around public commemorations that fostered unity and a sense of national identity among grieving Americans.

Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.

Emory College was incorporated on December 10, 1836, as Governor William Schley signed legislation chartering the school.

Governor Charles McDonald signed legislation on December 11, 1841 to prevent a person from having his or her testimony excluded in court because of the individual’s religious beliefs.

The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.

On December 10, 1850, a special convention met in Milledgeville to determine the state’s reaction to the Compromise of 1850, a series of five bills passed in Congress attempting to deal with issues between slave states and free states.

The [Georgia] platform established Georgia’s conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.

This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union.

Echols County, Georgia was created by the Georgia General Assembly on December 13, 1858.

On December 15, 1859, Georgia Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation outlawing public execution of criminals. The previous day he signed legislation prohibiting slave owners from freeing their slaves on the owner’s death.

On December 9, 1867, a Constitutional Convention to draft a new state document convened in Atlanta. Among the 166 to 169 delegates elected to the Constitutional Convention were 33 or 37 African-American members – accounts vary.

The Atlanta City Council appointed the first Board of Education on December 10, 1869.

On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.

A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.

The Spanish-American War was ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

President William McKinley addressed the Georgia General Assembly on December 14, 1898.

McKinley_at_Atlanta2

McKinley Atlanta SM

Guglielmo Marconi completed the first transatlantic radio transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland on December 12, 1901.

On December 14, 1939, a parade was held through downtown Atlanta with stars from Gone With the Wind and the Junior League held a ball that night. The next day, December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind held its world premiere at Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta.

On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.

Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, was born on December 12, 1943.

On December 11, 1960, a civil rights demonstration including 8000 African-American citizens was held in Atlanta as part of the movement to boycott stores that remained segregated.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway, becoming the youngest recipient of the award.

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jimmy Carter announced he would run for President of the United States on December 12, 1974.

Former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall died on December 13, 1992. Arnall served in the State House, as Speaker, Attorney General, and in 1942 at the age of 35, was elected Governor.

Arnall also led the fight to outlaw the poll tax and the white primary, and is noted for making Georgia the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote. He is further remembered for his role in obtaining a new state constitution for Georgia in 1945.

The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee released a report on December 15, 1998 that recommended impeachment against President Bill Clinton and introduced H.Res. 611.

The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore on December 12, 2000, stopping manual recounts of contested ballots in Florida.

Al Gore conceded the presidential election to George W. Bush on December 13, 2000.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2002.

On December 15, 2016, Republican Tim Echols was sworn in by Gov. Nathan Deal to a second term on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for Fulton County due to flooding at Grady.  Click here to read the Executive Order.

The AJC reports this morning that Grady will start accepting some emergency patients today after having gone on diversion because of the flooding.

Grady will admit trauma, stroke and burn patients starting at 7 a.m., hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson said in a statement.

Emergency patients have been diverted to other hospitals since a 2-foot water pipe burst Saturday afternoon, flooding several floors of the building.

“By phasing off diversion and opening our doors to trauma, stroke and burn patients, Grady will again be able to provide the critical services other hospitals and the community rely on Grady for,” Simpson said. “We hope to relieve some of the burden experienced by other metro Atlanta hospitals during our current facility crisis.”

Grady advertises itself as the busiest trauma center on the East Coast, and the influx of emergency patients to other hospitals has put a strain on the resources of such facilities as Emory and Piedmont.

Emory Healthcare said Tuesday that its Midtown location went into diversion mode because of the high volume of patients from Grady.

Governor Kemp also issued a Writ of Election ordering a January 28, 2020 Special Election for House District 171, which was vacated by the death of State Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla). From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the special election will be held on Jan. 28 for the district. If needed, a runoff will be held on Feb. 25. House District 171 includes parts of Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties.

To qualify for the special election, candidates must pay a $400 fee to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office in Atlanta. Qualifying is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 17 and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 18.

Dec. 30 is the last day to register to vote in the special election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Gov. Kemp will be deposed by Stacey Abrams-backed Fair Fight Action over the 2018 elections, according to 11Alive.

Gov. Brian Kemp will face questioning under oath by lawyers linked to his 2018 Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams. A federal judge issued the ruling as part of a lawsuit filed by a voting rights group.

The lawsuit claimed Kemp, as Secretary of State, violated the constitution by purging the names of inactive voters, making them ineligible to vote.

The court quotes Kemp in 2014 saying “you know the Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that they can win these elections in November. But we’ve got to do the exact same thing.”

The ruling allows Fair Fight’s attorneys to question Kemp about what he meant by saying that, and whether he intended to suppress minority voters as the suit alleges.

Former Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Evans will run to return to the State House, this time in a different district than she previously represented. From Facebook:

Stacey Evans State House

From the AJC:

Democrat Stacey Evans will run for an open seat in the Georgia Legislature a year after she waged an unsuccessful campaign for governor, saying the Republican push for anti-abortion restrictions helped convince her to return to elected politics.

Evans told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she’ll seek the seat held by retiring state Rep. Pat Gardner, a heavily Democratic-district in Atlanta. Evans moved from Smyrna to Atlanta shortly after Stacey Abrams defeated her in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

“I have been watching what’s going on in the state and around the country and I have too much experience to sit on the sidelines during this critical time,” said Evans, an attorney. “And the heartbeat bill was the No. 1 factor. That was the worst thing that’s happened under the Gold Dome since I left.”

She has no known primary opponent for the seat held since 2001 by Gardner, who told supporters last week that “after the 2018 campaign and especially after the contentious 2019 session, I knew it was time to move on to new endeavors.”

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene might switch her Congressional campaign to the 14th Congressional District, according to the AJC:

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene appears on the verge of dropping out of the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District – and competing instead for the soon-to-be-vacated seat two districts over.

The political newcomer told grassroots activists at a GOP breakfast over the weekend that her “phone started ringing off the hook” after U.S. Rep. Tom Graves abruptly announced last week that he wouldn’t stand for another term.

“Then I started getting phone calls from the most conservative members in the House Freedom Caucus. Debbie Meadows – Mark Meadows’ wife — Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs,” she said, invoking members of that conservative group.

Greene, an executive with a construction company who lives in north Fulton, was a longshot contender to challenge Democrat Lucy McBath in the 6th District, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb counties.

From the Rome News Tribune:

Local Republicans are not ready to jump on the bandwagon just yet.

“We think Ms. Greene is a good candidate. We just prefer someone from Floyd County, or at least the 14th District,” said Luke Martin, who chairs the Floyd County Republican Party.

Martin said Monday he’s talked to several other party chairs in the counties that make up the heavily Republican district and they’ve expressed the same reservations.

“We like her as a candidate. We just like her in the district where she lives,” Martin said.

Democrat Sara Tindall Ghazal will run for House District 45, currently held by Republican Matt Dollar, according to the AJC.

The head of the state Democratic Party’s voter protection initiative is seeking elected office for the first time, running for a Marietta-based Georgia House seat long held by a Republican lawmaker.

Sara Tindall Ghazal said Thursday she’ll put voting rights at the center of her campaign against state Rep. Matt Dollar, arguing that “we need to fix our elections so we can fix our government.”

But she’ll also emphasize support for new school funding, a call to expand Medicaid and opposition to a stalled push by Dollar to create a city of East Cobb, which she casts as an unpopular effort plugged by local developers.

The state Democratic party was the only in the nation to hire a full-time “voter protection” director when it hired Ghazal in 2018. She was deeply involved in the party’s voting rights initiatives last year, including litigation challenging then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s policies.

Henry County Commissioner Johnny Wilson announced he will run for reelection in 2020, according to MovingHenryForward.org.

Commissioner Wilson was first elected in 2016 after retiring as a Henry County firefighter. Johnny described first deciding to run when some of his colleagues from the fire department knocked on his front door encouraging him to do so.

The commissioner’s platform in 2016 included improving public safety, addressing what he calls priority spending, and relieving traffic congestion through roadway improvements. If re-elected, he looks to continue many of the same initiatives.

Commissioner Wilson spoke about the class and compensation study, raising salaries of county employees to remain competitive with surrounding communities, and equipment investments. “We have bought in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen million dollars in equipment,” said Johnny, “a couple months back, we purchased seventy police cars.”

Wilson continued, “we have done this without raising the millage rate. The millage rate remains 12.733.” Henry County was recently named one of six counties in the state with a AAA bond rating, a testament to the county’s stability and healthy financial position.

Columbus area businessman Bob Wright still wants to build a $200 million dollar casino, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Bob Wright told a state committee he still intends to develop an “upscale destination resort” along the Chattahoochee River in south Columbus.

In 2016, Wright told the Ledger-Enquirer he wanted to bring a $200 million resort casino to the city should gambling be legalized. Legislation that would have started that process did not make it through the Georgia General Assembly in 2017, and efforts to revive the bill are likely to continue into 2020.

His announcement came as the Georgia House Special Committee on Economic Growth held a public hearing Wednesday at the City Services Center on Macon Road as part of a statewide listening tour to gather input from constituents.

Wright said he wants to bring the casino to south Columbus because it is an area that “needs a lot of help” in terms of housing and jobs.

“It really needs an economic catalyst to really turn that part of our city around,” Wright said. “We think the economic impact of a destination resort will have a tremendous effect on Columbus and our city as well as contribute to the HOPE Scholarship and other needs…”

The Center Square writes more about the Georgia House Special Committee on Economic Growth hearings.

The members of the Special Committee on Economic Growth have been deliberating over the financial benefits if gambling is legalized in Georgia.

About 21 states have taken legislative action since the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 lifted a federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada. The 11-member committee was created in the 2019 legislative session to offer recommendations during the next session, which starts in January 2020.

A constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters before any plans could be initiated.

Some residents want to make sure that their communities would not be left out of the economic benefits. Those opposed to gambling called the plans “immoral.” Other residents fear gentrification.

From WABE:

The promise of increased revenue has led state lawmakers to consider again making gambling legal in the state of Georgia.

Casino owners and even Atlanta’s pro sports teams are among those in support. Gaming that includes resort casinos, horse tracks and sports betting could, by some studies, bring in billions of dollars in revenue for the state.

Mike Griffin is with Georgia Baptist Mission Board. He says supporters of gambling are using “smoke and mirrors” to make it more palatable.

“We’ve got to call it, you know, some kind of rural development economic plan, we’ve got to call it ‘destination resort,’” Griffin said, referring to casinos that have hotels and entertainment venues connected to them.

The State House Health & Human Services Committee heard information about vaping, according to the Center Square.

After a string of vaping-related deaths and illnesses, the Trump Administration announced a plan in September to ban flavored vaping products because of their appeal to teenagers. The White House later rolled back the proposal after health officials determined most of the deaths were caused by tainted vapes with THC obtained on the black market.

But Georgia lawmakers have considered implementing a statewide ban.

Many presenters in Wednesday’s meeting said that tougher vaping regulations could reverse the positive impacts of the alternative to cigarette smoking.

At least 48 vaping-related or e-cigarette deaths have been reported in the U.S. this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s December report. Three of those deaths occurred in Georgia. In addition, 16 percent of vaping-related illnesses nationwide have been found in patients between 13 and 17 years old.

A State House Study Committee is looking at statewide preemption of local building requirements, according to the Georgia Recorder.

The workforce housing committee’s final report essentially revives a controversial bill that earlier this year pitted many cities and county governments against home builders, realtors and the construction industry.

The committee approved a report Thursday that says developers are more likely to build homes that attract people who might be priced out of most houses in that area if local governments prohibit the use of lower cost materials.

At play is whether a local government can regulate everything from a home’s exterior color, the amount of square footage, the amount of vinyl siding, or whether a home can be built on a concrete slab.

While this year’s legislation had bipartisan support, it also drew strong opposition from legislators. Opponents are again expected to try to fend off House Bill 302, which remains alive for the 2020 legislative session.

Jim Cleveland resigned his seat on Hoschton City Council while facing a recall election, according to the AJC.

Embattled Hoschton City Councilman Jim Cleveland resigned Tuesday, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he‘d rather leave office on his own terms than face voters in a recall election next month.

“I’m not going to give them the pleasure of saying they recalled Mr. Cleveland,” he said in an exclusive interview.

Cleveland repeated his racial beliefs as one resident recorded the exchange on her phone.

“I’m not racist, but I do not believe in interracial marriage,” he said.

Oil removal from the capsized M/V Golden Ray has been finished, according to The Brunswick News.

Two and half months and some 320,000 gallons later, officials on Thursday expressed confidence that they have removed every drop possible of oil and gas pollutants from the shipwrecked Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound.

After pumping all oil from the tanks, workers went inside the tanks and steam-cleaned the interiors. Residual fuel from this process was collected and removed as well. The process addressed 26 tanks, containing heavy bunker oil, marine diesel gas and marine gas oil.

Two tanks, one containing heavy bunker oil and another containing diesel fuel, could not be completely cleaned because they lay under water on the ship’s submerged port side, said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Matt Waller. Workers used skimmers to remove the fuel that floated atop the water in those tanks, he said.

Unified Command is still working to complete plans to build an environmental protection barrier around the ship, in preparation of cutting it into pieces for removal. Those plans will be made public as soon as they are finalized, Unified Command said. Thursday marked the 96th day the gargantuan ship has sat half-submerged in the sound, just south of the federal shipping channel that serves the Port of Brunswick.

Right whales have been spotted off the coast of Georgia again this year, according to The Brunswick News.

[R]esearchers saw Naevus off Georgia. She’s nearly 30 years old, first spotted as a calf back up north in Cape Cod Bay in May 1990. She’s also been photographed with her own calves at least four times — once in December 2004, then in January 2011 and December 2013 and again with that same third calf in June 2014.

Her last sighting in the southern calving waters was in the 2013-14 season, as she arrived off Georgia around Dec. 17, 2013, and last seen off Florida on Feb. 16, 2014. The whales’ arrivals come during a critical series of years for the species.

Researchers found three of the whales spotted recently — Arpeggio, Harmony and Slalom — off South Carolina, so they could be nearby at any time.

Arpeggio is 22 years old, first seen off Georgia in February 1997. Harmony is 18, seen first around Florida in January 2001, and Slalom is the oldest right whale spotted so far, as she’s 37 years old and first recorded as a calf in the Bay of Fundy in August 1982.

6
Dec

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 6, 2019

Bones Paws Angel

Bones is a young male Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Paws Angels in Ranger, GA.

Baily Paws Angel

Baily is a young female Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from Paws Angels in Ranger, GA.

Nadine Paws Angel

Nadine is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from Paws Angels in Ranger, GA.

6
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 6, 2019

On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.

On December 6, 1847, Dr. William White spoke to a group of Atlanta residents about a proposal to move the state capital to Atlanta and was met with cheers.

President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863.

First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders.

Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the Amendment outlawing slavery.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

On December 8, 1899, Georgia Governor Allen Candler signed legislation to levy a tax on all dogs older than four months.

On December 6, 1932, the legislation repealing Prohibition was introduced by Senator John Blaine of Wisconsin. It was ratified on December 5, 1933. Georgia never took action on the Amendment.

Saturday is the 78th anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,

U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”

U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”

U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”

In 2017, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joseph L. George, a Georgian, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V device for valor for his actions aboard USS Vestal at Pearl Harbor.

George, a second class petty officer at the time, saved the lives of several sailors from the battleship USS Arizona. He survived the war and retired from the Navy in 1955 but passed away in 1996.

The Bronze Star Medal will be presented by Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, to George’s daughter, Joe Ann Taylor, today during a 4:30 p.m. (Hawaii-Aleutian time) ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

“The presentation of the medals is not only appropriate but simply the right thing to do,” Spencer said in a release sent out by the Navy. “One of my highest priorities is to honor the service and sacrifice of our sailors, Marines, civilians, and family members. It is clear that Lt. (Aloysious H.) Schmitt and Chief George are heroes whose service and sacrifice will stand as an example for current and future service members.”

In addition to George’s Bronze Star, the secretary also awarded the Silver Star Medal to Lt. j.g. Schmitt for action at Pearl Harbor while serving on the battleship USS Oklahoma.

The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. Montana Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin, the first female elected to the United States House of Representatives, cast the sole dissenting vote.

On December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel in downtown Atlanta, previously considered fireproof, burned in the worst hotel fire to date.

Gregg Allman was born December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The first time I ever saw Kelly Loeffler, now known as Governor Brian Kemp’s appointee to the United States Senate, was December 17, 2012 in the Georgia State Capitol, where Republican Presidential Electors gathered to formally cast Georgia’s electoral votes for Mitt Romney for President.

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I remember her, because she was the only Presidential Elector I didn’t know personally or at least recognize. Several weeks later, I met her and her husband, who introduced himself as “Jeff” at an event hosted by the Fulton County Republican Party. Here are a couple of other photos from that day.

Electors Badges 2012

For a political nerd, seeing people I know, duly elected as members of the Electoral College and casting their vote for the Republican candidate, just like we learned about in civics was an experience I’ll never forget.

Electors Desk 2012

For those who are criticizing Kelly Loeffler for not having been involved in the GOP or for having supported Mitt Romney for President, take another look at that slate of electors. I think that all factions of the Georgia GOP were represented, including the Tea Party movement, and I’m not aware of any of them having been disappointed to be casting their votes for Mitt Romney.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) yesterday announced he will not run for reelection, according to Politico.

Rep. Tom Graves announced Thursday he will not seek reelection in 2020, joining the growing ranks of House Republicans heading for the exits in the current election cycle.

Citing “a new season in life,” Graves said he will join his family members “in their new and unique journeys” as his wife nears retirement and his three children enter adulthood.

The 49-year-old Georgian will have served in Congress for more than a decade once he finishes his current term and becomes the 21st House Republican to announce intentions to depart this Congress, in contrast to nine House Democrats.

Graves was considered as a pick for filling the Senate seat Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is vacating midterm this month. While Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp formally chose businesswoman Kelly Loeffler this week for that post, Graves could be a contender for the Senate seat in the years to come.

While President Donald Trump handily won Graves’ district in 2016, the congressman snubbed the now-president as Trump aspired to become the Republican Party’s nominee.

“I have trouble seeing how he lines up with the great tradition of Lincoln and Reagan, and I’m concerned that many of his statements run afoul of the Constitution, my values and my beliefs,” Graves said in a letter to his supporters during the Georgia Republican presidential primary in 2016. “Then there’s a simpler test: would I be comfortable if my three children acted like Trump? Certainly not.”

From the Dalton Daily Citizen News:

The 14th Congressional District “is a very conservative district, and we want to keep it that way, (so) we’ll be looking for those conservative qualities” in a successor for Graves, [Whitfield County Republican Party Chair Diane] Putnam said. She expects several candidates to come forward, but she already has one name in mind, and he’ll be the keynote speaker at the Whitfield County GOP’s Christmas dinner meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Dalton Convention Center.

Allen Poole, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, is a former state trooper, and he was the Haralson County Commission chairman and chief executive officer in Haralson County, Putnam said. “He’s come up through the party ranks the right way.”

Those interested in hearing Poole speak can RSVP to Tuesday’s event by contacting Putnam at (706) 217-5929, she said. ““We want the grassroots people to get out and be excited, because (2020) is going to be a very busy campaign year, and we need to get started.”

Indeed, “getting started early is important,” [Dalton State College Political Science senior lecturer David] Veve said, which is why he believes potential successors for Graves will begin to emerge as soon as next month.

Chuck Payne, who represents the 54th District in the state Senate and resides in Dalton, “is well-liked in the community,” Chickamauga’s Jeff Mullis, who represents the 53rd District in the state Senate, “is well-connected in north Georgia and has a pretty impressive resume,” and “a lot of people in the community speak highly of” Carpenter, Veve said. “I think the Republican primary will be the real race.”

Republican strategist Chip Lake also announced he’s leaving government service to spend more time on the golf course return to the private sector. From the AJC:

Veteran Republican strategist Chip Lake abruptly announced Wednesday he was leaving his post as Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s top adviser to return to the private sector.

The details of his departure are murky, but his announcement caught many at the statehouse off guard. Several senators were under the impression that he agreed to stay on through the next legislative session.

[Lt. Gov. Geoff] Duncan called Lake a “once in a generation political mind” and thanked him for counsel that helped him win an underdog campaign for Georgia’s No. 2 job.

“As his work of establishing a strong organizational foundation in the office concludes, I have no doubt he will continue to be enormously successful in the private sector and wish him and his family all the best,” he said.

In a statement, Lake said it was the “honor of a lifetime” to serve as Duncan’s chief of staff, but he didn’t respond to requests for more comment.

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Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 5, 2019

Giselle Monticello

Giselle is a young female Chihuahua and Dachshund mix (Chiweenie) puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Canine Adoption Project in Monticello, GA.

Henry Monticello

Henry is a young male Jack Russell Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Canine Adoption Project in Monticello, GA.

Jethro Monticello

Jethro is a young male Bluetick Coonhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Canine Adoption Project in Monticello, GA.

Willie Monticello

Willie is a young male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Canine Adoption Project in Monticello, GA.