The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 2, 2023

Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, Georgia is waiving all adoption fees for January 2023.

Myles is a 3-4 year old, 90-pound male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Er Marley is a young male Boxer mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Delmar is a 68-pound young male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA. I kind of wonder if he doesn’t have some Pointer in his background.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 2, 2023

On December 31, 1695, a British law taxing windows went into effect, causing many property owners to brick-up some windows to avoid paying the tax. This may be the first recorded instance of the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in response to a tax increase. See also: Revolution, American.

On January 1, 1751, the law prohibiting slavery in Georgia was repealed after an act passed by the Georgia Trustees the previous year.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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

The Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park closed on December 31, 1895.

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.

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

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

On December 31, 1999, the Panama Canal was turned over to Panama pursuant to the Torrijos-Carter Treaties signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters in Fannin and Gilmer Counties and parts of Dawson County go to the polls tomorrow, January 3, 2023, to elect a new State Representative to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Speaker David Ralston. From a Dawson News article published in December:

The qualified candidates are:

  • Johnny Chastain
  • Justin Heitman
  • Brian K. Pritchard
  • Sheree Ralston
  • Richie Stone

Sheree Ralston, the widow of the state representative, has qualified for the seat. She lives in the Blue Ridge area and is the Fannin County Development Authority’s Executive Director.

Brian K. Pritchard of Cherry Log in Gilmer County has qualified. Pritchard works as a conservative radio talk show host and is CEO of media company FetchYourNews.

He currently faces accusations of voter fraud by the State Elections Board for which he has not been charged.

Banker Johnny Chastain, who also serves on the Fannin County Development Authority, is running for the District 7 seat.

U.S. Navy veteran and Gilmer County airport manager Justin Heitman has qualified, as has Gilmer County filmmaker Richie Stone.

A runoff, if needed, will be held on Jan. 31, 2023, according to a Georgia Secretary of State’s office press release.

State Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) announced he will not serve in the coming Session, and instead accepted a job as Chief Medical Officer for the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Commissioner Caylee Noggle at the Department of Community Health (DCH) announced that Dr. Dean Burke will become the agency’s Chief Medical Officer for the Medical Assistance Plans. In this role, Dr. Burke will lead the department’s efforts related to health performance and quality reporting within the Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids® populations.

Most recently, Dr. Burke served as the Chief Medical Officer for Memorial Hospital and Manor in Bainbridge, Ga. In addition, he has served as a state Senator for Senate district 11, representing Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller and Seminole counties along with portions of Mitchell and Thomas counties. During his service, he has served as Chairman of the Insurance and Labor Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee and Ethics Committee, an Ex-Officio of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, the Secretary of Appropriations, and was a member of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee and the Rules Committee. He also served as the Chairman of the Community Health sub-committee.

Dr. Burke graduated summa cum laude from Georgia Southwestern University and went on to graduate from the Medical College of Georgia. He received his specialty training in obstetrics and gynecology at Mercer University School of Medicine and practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 27 years. In addition, Dr. Burke has also served as the Chairman of the Stratus Healthcare Governing Board and is an advocate for improving healthcare outcomes in Georgia.

“Dr. Burke will bring a wealth of experience to this role, both from his time as a healthcare provider and as respected policymaker. We are grateful that he will continue to dedicate his skills to public service in this new role as we continue to focus on improving healthcare outcomes for Georgians,” said Commissioner Noggle.

From the Moultrie Observer:

[Governor Brian] Kemp said the resignation will take effect Dec. 31.

“With a long and accomplished medical career in rural Georgia, as well as extensive policy experience as chairman of the Community Health Sub-Committee and vice chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, Senator Burke will bring a wealth of knowledge to the role of chief medical officer,” Kemp said. “I’m thankful for his willingness to serve in this new capacity for the benefit of all Georgians, including those in our rural communities.”

A special election for Burke’s seat will take place Jan. 31, 2023, the governor said.

Burke, a Bainbridge physician, has represented District 11 since 2013, when he filled the unexpired term of Sen. John Bulloch. The district includes all of Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller and Seminole counties as well as portions of Mitchell and Thomas counties.

He said Thursday that the Department of Community Health approached him about the position after Kemp won re-election in November. Burke had run unopposed for his Senate seat in that same election.

“I’ve been managing their budget on the Senate side since I’ve been up there,” he said.

Burke said his focus as a senator has been on rural healthcare.

“My passion’s obviously been health care,” he said, noting his medical background. “I feel like I can make a difference there.”

Among the accomplishments of his service in the Senate were the creation of the Maternal Mortality Commission, formed in 2014 to determine why the state has extraordinarily high numbers of women dying in pregnancy, childbirth or soon afterwards and to come up with responses to address that problem; the creation of the Office of Health Strategy and Coordination, under the Office of the Governor, to study health care problems in Georgia; and creation of a database to help the state understand exactly what it’s paying for with health services.

State Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) who won reelection last month will resign his House seat to seek election to the Senate seat vacated by Dr. Burke. From the Moultrie Observer:

“I have been honored to serve as state representative for Georgia’s State House District 172,” Watson said. “During my tenure in the House of Representatives we have accomplished many great things for the people of Georgia and for rural Georgia in particular. Senator Dean Burke and previous Senator John Bullock are close friends and colleagues of mine and have done an incredible job of representing the 11th District for many years. I am looking forward to continuing their work in the Georgia State Senate.”

Born and raised in southwest Georgia, Watson is a lifelong conservative who is raising his family on the same farm that his grandfather started, according to a press release from Watson’s office. He is an advocate for agriculture, Georgia’s largest industry.

“We have made great strides for Georgia including tax credits benefitting rural hospitals, working to maintain ad valorem tax exemptions for family farms and land owners, delivering election reform and, probably closest to my heart, the unprecedented state funded relief we were able to provide to our farmers and devastated communities after Hurricane Michael,” Watson said. “I have worked hand-in-hand with the Georgia Senate and am prepared to hit the ground running in February. Southwest Georgia deserves to retain this respected seat at the table in Atlanta and I know I can be effective in this role.”

Since 2007, Watson has served as managing partner of Chill C Farms in Moultrie. He is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Georgia, a 2011 graduate of Leadership Colquitt, and a 2009 graduate of the Georgia Agri-Leaders Forum. He serves on the Colquitt County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, is a member of the Colquitt County Cattlemen’s Association and the Colquitt County Young Farmers. He is also vice president of Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, member & past president of the UGA Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity Alumni Board, and a member of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. He has received numerous honors and awards including Georgia Trend’s “Movers and Shakers in Agribusiness” in 2010 and Georgia Chamber of Commerce freshman legislator of the year award in 2014.

Sam and his wife Emily have four girls — teenagers Lily and Lucy as well as 3-year-old twins Riley Moore and Maddie Ruth. The Watsons are members of Moultrie First Baptist Church where they are active in the children’s ministry and Sam Watson serves as a Deacon. The Watson family lives in southern Colquitt County on the family farm between Moultrie and Coolidge.

Colquitt County Administrator Charles “Chas” Cannon in turn announced he will run for the State House seat vacated by Rep. Watson, according to the Moultrie Observer.

Colquitt County Administrator Charles “Chas” Cannon qualified Wednesday to seek Watson’s District 172 seat.

Senate District 11 includes all of Colquitt County as well as all or part of Cook, Seminole, Decatur, Grady, Thomas and Brooks counties. House District 172 includes all of Colquitt County and part of Cook and Thomas counties.

Qualifying continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, Suite 802, Floyd West Tower, in Atlanta. The qualifying fee is $400.

While both Watson and Cannon are running as Republicans, each race could feature candidates from any party running against one another. There will not be a primary and general election the way it would be done in a normal election cycle.

“Effective leadership in government matters, and it is our responsibility to elect another qualified leader to fill Rep. Sam Watson’s seat,” Cannon said. “From growing up and working on the family farm, participating in multiple combat missions overseas, and serving for nearly a decade in local government administration, I believe I can be a strong advocate for the people of Thomas, Cook, and Colquitt counties. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve them in Atlanta.”

Cannon serves as Colquitt County administrator, the chief executive officer of the county government. He is also actively serving as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve with duty in Washington, DC in the Legislative Affairs Division.

From the most recent story in the Moultrie Observer:

Both House District 172 and Senate District 11 will be filled by a special election to be held Jan. 31.

Watson, a Republican, qualified for the Senate seat on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Mary Weaver-Anderson, a Democrat, qualified, and on Friday, John H. Monds, a Libertarian, did so, the Secretary of State’s website said. Both of them are from Cairo.

Under election rules, all three candidates will face off in the special election. There is no party primary and general election as there would be in a normal election cycle.

Weaver-Anderson identifies herself as a small business owner and educator on the Secretary of State’s site, but she has not provided The Moultrie Observer with a biography as other candidates have. The Observer’s sister newspaper, The Thomasville Times-Enterprise, has scheduled an interview with her for next week.

The Libertarian Party of Georgia, however, announced Monds’ candidacy with a press release Friday afternoon.

Monds made history in the 2008 Georgia Public Service Commissioner race when he became the first Libertarian candidate to receive over 1 million votes in Georgia, the release said. He made history again in 2010 when he became the first African-American candidate to appear on the general election ballot for governor in Georgia.

“Most recently, in 2020, Monds sought the Libertarian nomination for president, where the story of his family’s fight for freedom resonated with delegates at state conventions across the nation,” the Libertarian Party’s press release said. Libertarians nominated Jo Jorgensen instead, and she received about 1.2% of the votes across the nation.

The Secretary of State‘s Qualified Candidates page shows that only Charles “Chas” Cannon qualified for the State House District 172 seat.

Newly-elected and newly-arrested Daniel Rampey has resigned his District 119 seat in the Georgia General Assembly after being arrested and indicted last month, according to WSB-TV.

Rampey, 67, was arrested last month after investigators said he stole prescription narcotics at the retirement complex he manages.

Republican leaders were pressuring Rampey to step aside before new legislators are sworn in on Jan. 9 because the special election to fill the seat would only be for Republicans since Rampey didn’t have a Democratic opponent in November’s election.

Rampey’s withdrawal “will ensure his constituents have a voice in this session of the General Assembly after the special election is held,” said House Speaker Jan Jones and incoming House Speaker Jon Burns in a joint statement to the newspaper.

Rampey was charged in Barrow County with six counts of obtaining drugs by misrepresentation or theft, six counts of exploiting an elder or disabled adult, five counts of burglary and one count of drug possession.

Rampey and his family own a chain of personal care homes in northeast Georgia. Authorities said they began investigating him after missing prescription narcotics were reported.

From the AJC:

Danny Rampey’s decision not to take office triggers a Jan. 31 special election to fill his Winder-based House seat in northeast Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp signed an order Saturday setting up the new vote in the GOP-leaning district.

Rampey, a former chair of the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce, had been set to take office in January after steamrolling a Republican opponent in the GOP primary and running unopposed in the November election. He was to succeed retiring state Rep. Terry England.

He was charged on Dec. 16 with burglary, exploiting an elderly person, obtaining a controlled substance by theft and possessing a controlled substance.

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order #, setting a Special Election for January 31, 2023 to fill the HD 119 seat never actually filled by Mr. Rampey. From Fox5Atlanta:

Two weeks after the arrest of newly-elected Georgia House of Representatives member-elect Danny Rampey, Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order to have his seat filled.

Rampey was taken into custody on Dec. 16 by Barrow County deputies.

According to Kemp’s executive order, which was signed on Dec. 31, there will be a special election held Tuesday, Jan. 31 to fill the seat.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 21, 2022

Buster is a small male Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark Rescue in Columbus, GA.

Stuffing is a young female Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark Rescue in Columbus, GA.

Hayden is a young female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Animal Ark Rescue in Columbus, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 21, 2022

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 surprise attack on Hessian soldiers at Trenton, New Jersey.

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

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

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. 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.

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

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.

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.

On December 22, 1864, General William T. Sherman wired to President Abraham Lincoln from Savannah, Georgia,

His Excellency President LINCOLN:

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.

W.T. Sherman,
Major General.

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.

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

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.

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 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.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Karlton Howard was elected yesterday to State House District 129 in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 20, 2022

Trudy is a 48-pound, 2-year old female Flat-Coated Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Taz is a 44-pound, 1.5-year old male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Foxy is a 23-pound, 1-year old female Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Howey is a 68-pound, 5-year old male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 20, 2022

On December 20, 1864, Confederate forces in Savannah retreated ahead of Sherman’s army, crossing over into South Carolina, four years to the day after South Carolina’s secession.

The United States invaded Panama on December 20, 1989.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is Special Election Day in House District 129, according to the Augusta Chronicle.Continue Reading..


Official (Adoptable) Georgia Dogs for December 19, 2022

Gunner is an adult male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Hallie is an adult female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.

Banjo is an adult male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Hall County Animal Shelter in Gainesville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 19, 2022


George Washington’s Continental Army entered winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1777.

During 1777, Patriot forces under General Washington suffered major defeats against the British at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown; Philadelphia, the capital of the United States, fell into British hands. The particularly severe winter of 1777-1778 proved to be a great trial for the American army, and of the 11,000 soldiers stationed at Valley Forge, hundreds died from disease. However, the suffering troops were held together by loyalty to the Patriot cause and to General Washington, who stayed with his men.

When Washington’s army marched out of Valley Forge on June 19, 1778, the men were better disciplined and stronger in spirit than when they had entered.

In her youth, Mrs. GaPundit continually reminded her parents that the area in which she grew up, literally down the street from Valley Forge National Historic Park, was well known for causing frostbite.

On December 19, 1860, the Georgia General Assembly adopted Resolution 14, which read in part,

Resolved 4th. That, should any or all of the Southern States determine in the present emergency to withdraw from the Union and resume their sovereignty, it is the sense of this General Assembly that such seceding States should form a confederacy under a republican form of government; and to that end they should adopt the Constitution of the United States, so altered and amended as to suit the new state of affairs.

On December 19, 1868, Congress opened hearings into barriers African-Americans faced to voting in Georgia, which included threats, violence, and death.

On December 19, 1998, the United States House of Representatives voted to approve two of four Articles of Impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

Article I was approved 228-206. Voting in favor were 223 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 200 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article II was defeated 229-205. Voting in favor were 200 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 200 Democrats, 28 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article III was approved 221-212. Voting in favor were 216 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Voting against were 199 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and one Independent.

Article IV was defeated 285-148. Voting in favor were 147 Republicans and one Democrat. Voting against were 203 Democrats, 81 Republicans, and one Independent.

On all four impeachment articles, Georgia’s congressional delegation voted exclusively along party lines. Republican congressmen Jack Kingston (1st district), Mac Collins (3rd district), Newt Gingrich (6th district), Bob Barr (7th district), Saxby Chambliss (8th district), Nathan Deal (9th district), Charlie Norwood (10th district), and John Linder (11th district) voted in favor of all four articles. Democratic congressmen Sanford Bishop (2nd district) and John Lewis (5th district) and congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (4th district) voted against all four articles.

Former United States Senator Johnny Isakson died on December 19, 2021.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Tuesday is Special Election Day in State House District 129, according to WRDW in Augusta.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 16, 2022

Noelle is an adult female Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Cedartown Polk County Humane Society in Cedartown, GA.

Comet is a medium-sized young adult male Doberman Pinscher mix who is available for adoption from the Cedartown Polk County Humane Society in Cedartown, GA.

Teddy is a young male Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from the Cedartown Polk County Humane Society in Cedartown, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 16, 2022

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


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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Some local election officials are joining the call to eliminate General Election Runoffs, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County’s Board of Elections discussed the issue on Tuesday with Elections and Registration Director Chris Channell.
Runoff elections can be costly, Channell told The News on Wednesday. The local elections office has yet to determine the exact cost of the runoff earlier this month, but he estimated it at around $52,000.

“The current system is hard on the poll workers, it’s costly, it’s hard on the voters because you have the shortened time to get in and vote,” Channell said. “If you extend it any further to give more weeks to vote, then you’ve got the issue of the federal laws reopening the registration roll (for federal elections).”

“You’re also getting further into the Christmas season, when people will be more tuned out of politics and less likely to turn out,” Channell said.

Channell provided the board with some alternatives on Tuesday. He sees the mostly likely options to be ranked-choice voting or plurality voting. Under a plurality system, the candidate with the most votes wins without having to meet the 50%-plus-one threshold.

Under a ranked-choice system, voters assign a rank to each candidate on the ballot, Channell told the board. The winner is the one with the most first-choice votes. If no one wins a simple majority, the lowest vote-getter is eliminated. Anyone who listed that candidate as their first choice now has their vote assigned to their second choice and the votes are recalculated. This continues until one candidate has a 50%-plus-one vote.

A third option — by far the least popular for local officials — is extending the time between a general election and a runoff.

Raffensperger called on the legislature to pick up the issue during the 2023 session, which begins in January.

Some legislators are not sold on the need for such drastic reform.

A ranked-choice system is likely the best alternative to Georgia’s runoff elections, but state Rep. Buddy DeLoach, R-Townsend, says adopting it would have far greater consequences than simply eliminating one election.

“There’s a lot more to ranked-choice than you see on the surface. Once established parties realize that, they may not be in favor of it,” DeLoach said.

“You aren’t just changing the runoff, you’re changing the whole dynamics of the runoff system in the state,” DeLoach said. “If you’re a Libertarian, you would be delighted with ranked-choice because it lets people vote for your candidate, which means the Libertarians are going to get a lot more votes.”

It’s either that or nothing for DeLoach, senior member of Glynn County’s state delegation. He was intimately involved in writing the election reforms the legislature passed in 2021. He’s got a solid grasp on the issue and fails to see a better alternative.

“The suggestion that we add more time to the runoff is a nonstarter to me,” DeLoach said. “Four weeks is plenty of time. Every single person who really wants to vote has numerous opportunities. That shorter early voting cycle doesn’t keep anyone from voting.”

A plurality system gets an outright “no” from him. DeLoach said there’s too much incentive to play political games — like one party propping up candidates on the other side to split the vote.

Rep.-elect Rick Townsend and Sen.-elect Mike Hodges, both St. Simons Island Republicans who will take office in January, want more time to study the issue. Right now, Hodges has few complaints about the current runoff structure. Townsend, on the other hand, has given some thought to alternatives.

“I’m learning more about the ranked process,” Townsend said. “We talked about it at the bi-annual (training for legislators in Athens), the different options. They had a lengthy discussion there.”

That may be the election procedures article of the year.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

“Georgia is one of the only states in the country with a general election runoff,” Raffensperger said. “We’re also one of the only states that always seems to have a runoff. I’m calling on the General Assembly to visit the topic of the general election runoff and consider reforms.”

Georgia lawmakers convene in January for the 2023 legislative session where they can address the proposal, which comes after highly a contentious Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

“No one wants to be dealing with politics in the middle of their family holiday,” Raffensperger said. “It’s even tougher on the counties who had a difficult time completing all of their deadlines, an election audit and executing a runoff in a four-week time period.”

Governor Brian Kemp said he will ban TikTok from state-owned phones and other devices, according to 13WMAZ.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday he would ban the app on all state-owned phones and other devices. He’s one of about a dozen governors all banning the app on state-owned devices. Dallas State Senator Jason Anavitarte says he’d support banning it in Georgia entirely.

“They collect your time zone, your advertising ID, which can be reversed to track exactly who you are,” explained Mercer cybersecurity professor Johnathan Yerby.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald:

All executive agencies and branches should immediately ban the use of TikTok as well as two other social messaging platforms, WeChat and Telegram, on any government-owned devices, the memo says.

“In recent days, information has come to light exposing the depth of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) involvement with TikTok and the resulting threat that TikTok poses to government cybersecurity,” Kemp’s memo states.

The social media platform can track and store personal information that could be turned over to the Chinese government, presenting a threat to Georgia’s security, the memo adds.

The University of Georgia (@universityofga) and Georgia Tech’s admissions office (@GTAdmission) both have official TikTok channels that remained up on the platform as of Thursday afternoon.

“They would fall under this directive and any use of these platforms would be prohibited on any state-issued devices they have,” confirmed Andrew Isenhour, a Kemp spokesperson.

The new Georgia rule also prohibits the use of messaging platform WeChat, which is owned by Tencent Holdings, another Chinese company, and Telegram, which was founded in Russia but is now headquartered in Dubai.

Kemp’s move comes just over a week after state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, said he will introduce legislation to ban TikTok in Georgia, though the bill had not yet been prefiled with the Senate as of Thursday afternoon.

A growing number of Republican-led states have implemented measures similar to the new Georgia rule. These include Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Maryland, Utah, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Many federal agencies, including the departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security have also banned the use of TikTok on government-owned devices.

State Representative-Elect Daniel E. Rampey was arrested on burlgary charges, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Daniel E. Rampey, 67, of Statham was arrested at Magnolia Estates of Winder Assisted Living Center, where his political website shows he has managed its operation for the past 38 years.

Rampey, a Republican, was scheduled to take office on Jan. 9, 2023. In the Republican Primary, he defeated Marcus Ray by receiving nearly 83% of the vote.

“We had a couple of instances of him on video taking the items and today we had one as well. We actually filmed him going into the residence and taking the items,” Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith said.

The stolen drugs involved prescription narcotics, Smith said.

Currently, Rampey is charged with the distribution or possession of a controlled substance, burglary, and exploitation of a disabled adult. He remains in the Barrow County Detention Center without bond, but Smith said a bond hearing is possible on Friday in front of a Magistrate’s Court judge.

Jessica Diane Higginbotham of Elbert County was indicted for allegedly threatening the local Democratic party office in Athens, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Macon reported Thursday that 35-year-old Jessica Diane Higginbotham, also known as Jessica Harriod, was indicted on one count of communicating a bomb threat and one count of making a false statement.

Athens-Clarke police arrested Higginbotham on Dec. 4 and she has remained in jail since that day without bond.

The warrants charge she made the threat on Dec. 3 and that she lied to federal agents the next day about her knowledge of an e-mail address and her use of the TextNow communication application on her personal cellphone.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will suspend lane closures during the holidays, according to WTVM in Columbus.

The suspensions will take effect during the Christmas weekend, beginning on Thursday, Dec. 22, at 5 a.m. until Monday, Dec. 26, at 5 a.m. Additionally, the suspension will continue for New Year’s weekend, taking effect on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 5 a.m. until Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, at 5 a.m.

Even though construction-related lane closures will be suspended, GDOT wants to remind travelers to exercise caution while driving. Crews may still be working near the highways, and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures to remain in place.

Savannah City Council advanced another gambit in their LOST negotiations with municipalities, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In a move to expedite the renewal of Chatham County’s Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), the Savannah City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday authorizing a revenue distribution breakdown of the billion-dollar sales tax.

In the proposal, municipalities are offering the county an initial share of 24% of LOST proceeds, then incrementally increasing to 31%, the county’s desired share, by 2027.

A previous ask that the county also provide a $300,000 stipend to fund Tybee Island’s beach renourishment projects was not included in the proposal.

The current LOST revenue sharing agreement expires at year’s end and must be renewed every 10 years. The proceeds from the 1% sales tax on goods and services sold in Chatham County is divided among the county government and those of Chatham’s eight municipalities, including Savannah.

If the local jurisdictions are not able to reach a consensus on the tax distribution by Dec. 30, the county will lose the ability to collect millions in annual LOST funds, very likely leading to significant hikes in property taxes for property owners throughout the county.

Projected LOST proceeds over the next 10 years total about $1.6 billion. If not collected, “it will be a $1.6 billion dollar debt to our taxpayers across all eight municipalities and across Chatham County,” said Savannah City Manager Jay Melder.

Renewing the Local Option Sales Tax after Jan. 1 would require a voter referendum.

From WSAV:

“Do the just thing. Do the fair thing,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said during the council meeting on Thursday. “Do the right thing for all of Chatham County citizens.”

“We understood the needs the County is facing with regard to countywide services and this offer exemplifies the willingness of the municipalities to be good partners while allowing time for municipalities to adjust to a significant change in LOST distribution,” Johnson said in a written statement.

“We began LOST negotiations six months ago 430 total percentage points away from one another and today we stand only 7 percentage points apart,” said City Manager Joseph A. Melder. “Time is running out and we must reach an agreement as soon as possible.”

Floyd County Commissioners elected a Chair and Vice Chair, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Floyd County Commission has elected Allison Watters as its chair for 2023, and elected Commissioner Larry Maxey to serve as vice chair.

“Our focus for 2023 will be maintaining our general fund balance and be prepared for a possible economic downturn with inflation on the rise,” Watters said. “It’s important to save for a rainy day.”

Watters was elected to her first four-year term to the county commission in 2016, and was reelected in 2019. She’ll take over the gavel from Commission Chair Wright Bagby on Jan. 1.

Maxey was first elected to the County Commission in 2012, to the seat vacated by state Rep. Eddie Lumsden when he first ran for the House District 11 seat.

The Bulloch County Courthouse clock may be repaired soon after spending most of the year under wraps, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Bulloch County Courthouse clock has been stopped for most of 2022, its western face replaced by sheets of plywood since storm damage that occurred April 5, the same evening a powerful tornado caused much more severe damage in Pembroke, where homes were destroyed, one person died and the Bryan County Courthouse lost a large portion of its roof.

Bulloch was not hit by the tornado, but wind from the storm system blew out the west-facing dial of the big clock, which has dials in all four cardinal directions. The county had an insurance adjuster or appraiser look at it in April, and arrangements have since been made for repairs, which may or may not happen before the end of the year.

Lula City Council member Gene Bramlett was accused of inappropriate comments, according to the Gainesville Times.

A Lula city employee said Councilman Gene Bramlett uttered an inappropriate comment about her rear end while he was at City Hall, according to an outside investigation.

Bramlett has also faced scrutiny over alleged unwanted physical contact with the female employee, whose name was omitted from the investigation based on the nature of the complaint.

In accordance with Lula’s policy on sexual harassment complaints, City Attorney Joey Homan again requested the services of independent investigator Michael Rundles, of Southern Professional Investigations, to investigate the complaint.

Bramlett has denied accusations that he made the remark, which he’s called a “misunderstanding.”