The blog.

26
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 26, 2019

Slinky Dog Mostly Mutts

Slinky Dog is a young male Shepherd and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Mostly Mutts in Kennesaw, GA.

Hi there! I’m one adorable pup who is full of energy as well as a sweet love bug! Thankfully I was rescued from animal control at just 5 weeks old along with my siblings. Now we’re all ready to start on a new adventure with our furever families!

Stacey Mostly Mutts

Stacey is a young female Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Mostly Mutts in Kennesaw, GA.

I’m one of the ‘Fast Times’ puppies and I just can’t wait to find my furever family to grow up with! I was rescued from animal control and am so happy to be with Mostly Mutts so they can find a great family for me!

Alice Mostly Mutts

Alice is a female Hound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Mostly Mutts in Kennesaw, GA.

26
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 26, 2019

On July 26, 1775, the United States Postal Service was created by the Second Continental Congress, may God have mercy on their souls. Benjamin Franklin served as the first Postmaster.

On July 28, 1868, United States Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution had been ratified and was now part of the Constitution. The first section of the 14th Amendment often forms the basis for litigation and reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Georgia initially rejected the 14th Amendment in 1866, later ratifying it on July 21, 1868 as a condition for readmission.

On July 27, 1974, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved the first impeachment article against President Richard M. Nixon.

The first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century, it charge[d] President Nixon with unlawful activities that formed a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in and to cover up other unlawful activities.

The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House.

The majority included three conservative Southern Democrats and three conservative Republicans.

On July 28, 1978, Animal House was released, instantly becoming one of the greatest films of all time. In case you’ve never seen the film, there is a tiny little bit of adult language in the following clip.

On July 28, 1994, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating “The General” locomotive, which was stolen in 1862 during the Great Locomotive Chase. Today, The General may be viewed at The Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

A bomb exploded at a free concert in Centennial Park in Atlanta on July 27, 1996.

Police were warned of the bombing in advance, but the bomb exploded before the anonymous caller said it would, leading authorities to suspect that the law enforcement officers who descended on the park were indirectly targeted.

Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the concert, was charged with the crime. However, evidence against him was dubious at best, and in October he was fully cleared of all responsibility in the bombing.

Former Georgia Governor Zell Miller took the oath of office as United States Senator on July 27, 2000. Miller would go on to win a special election for the remainder of the term in November 2000.

On July 27, 2014, former Braves manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with former White Sox player Frank Thomas, who was born in Columbus, Georgia.

On July 26, 2015, former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first pitcher inducted who had undergone Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

Smoltz won the 1996 Cy Young award and reached the playoffs 14 times with Atlanta. The Braves won five pennants and the 1995 World Series with Smoltz on the roster. He’s the first pitcher to win more than 200 games and save at least 150 games. He’s also the first player inducted with Tommy John surgery on his resume.

Smoltz understood his debt to John.

“I’m a miracle. I’m a medical miracle,” Smoltz said. “I never took one day for granted.”

Smoltz also heaped praise on former manager Bobby Cox and teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who were inducted a year ago, and delivered a message to parents of the players of tomorrow as the number of Tommy John surgeries continues to escalate.

“Understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 or 15 years old,” Smoltz said to warm applause. “Baseball is not a year-round sport. They’re competing too hard, too early. That’s why we’re having these problems.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp swore in Tyrone Oliver as the new Commissioner for the Department of Juvenile Justice, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp swore in Tyrone Oliver July 25 following Oliver’s approval by the Board of Juvenile Justice. Offenders 21 and younger are served by the DJJ.

“Police Chief Tyrone Oliver has long been a pillar of the Newton County community, both as a career law enforcement official and a strong leader in numerous organizations,” Kemp said. “As commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, I know that Tyrone will lead with integrity to ensure that Georgians in his care have the right tools to succeed and improve their lives for the better.”

Oliver replaces Niles, a longtime Hall County law enforcement official, who was removed as commissioner after admitting in court proceedings that he gave misleading statements about his education.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg heard arguments in the case seeking to force hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia, according to the Gainesville Times.

Lawyers for election integrity activists grilled Georgia election officials about cybersecurity measures taken to protect the state’s elections infrastructure, seeking Thursday to convince a judge to order an immediate halt to the state’s use of outdated voting machines.

But the plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to order the state to immediately stop using the current system, which it plans to use for special and municipal elections this year and which the plaintiffs fear would be used in 2020 if a new system isn’t implemented in time.

The plaintiffs in this case — the Coalition for Good Governance and individual voters — asked Totenberg last August to force Georgia to use hand-marked paper ballots for the November election. While Totenberg expressed grave concerns about vulnerabilities in the state’s voting system and scolded state officials for being slow to respond to evidence of those problems, she said a switch to paper ballots so close to that election would be too chaotic.

Lawyers for state election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, argued in court filings that concrete steps have been taken to address the concerns, including arranging for the purchase of new voting technology and adding security measures to existing systems.

They also argued that paper ballots have vulnerabilities and that putting an intermediate system in place while the state is moving to a new voting system would be “an impossible burden” on state and local election officials.

From the AJC:

A packed courtroom listened as U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg considered a request that she immediately put the state’s 17-year-old voting machines out of service for this fall’s local elections, which include votes for the Atlanta school board, the Fulton County Commission and city councils across the state.

Totenberg didn’t signal how she would rule, but she said last fall that Georgia’s direct-recording electronic voting machines create a “concrete risk,” and election officials “had buried their heads in the sand” about vulnerabilities. At the time, she declined to disqualify the state’s voting machines just weeks before November’s high-turnout election for governor.

Those potential vulnerabilities have been addressed, said Merritt Beaver, the chief information officer for the Secretary of State’s Office. The full list of risks hasn’t been released.

“I feel confident in Georgia’s elections system,” said Michael Barnes, the director of the state’s Center for Elections Systems, which creates ballots and distributes them.

Totenberg could rule anytime after the two-day hearing concludes Friday.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture released proposed rules for hemp production, according to The Albany Herald.

This year Georgia, like Florida, joined other states in the production of hemp plants that are used in making CBD products, as well as other products. Earlier this month the Georgia Department of Agriculture released a proposed set of rules related to growing, storing, transporting and processing the plant.

The 2018 U.S Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, where it was listed with marijuana as a Schedule I substance said to have a high risk of abuse and no federally accepted medical use. The law allows the production of hemp containing up to .3 percent THC, the main ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high.”

CDB oils are regulated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Under the proposed Georgia rules, which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, growers must keep records of sampling of plants for THC content exceeding the limit and pesticide use.

The rules also allow for state inspection and destruction of plants violating the requirements concerning THC content and improper use of pesticides.

Those who grow, transport and process hemp must be licensed. Processors would be subject to rules involving records and destruction of hemp products deemed in violation of regulations.

The state Agriculture Department is accepting written comments on the proposed rules through Aug. 12. For additional information, visit [the Ag Dept website].

From the AJC:

To grow hemp in Georgia, farmers will have to pay an annual fee, submit to inspections and keep accurate harvest records.

But crops can’t be planted until the state finalizes rules over the hemp program.

Under the rules, an annual hemp grower license would cost $50 per acre, up to a $5,000 maximum. A hemp processor permit would cost $25,000 up-front and $10,000 every year after.

All licensees would have to undergo inspection and sampling of their hemp crops. It any hemp sample exceeds the 0.3% THC limit, the entire crop will be destroyed.

Coweta County Solicitor General Sandy Wisenbaker was named 2019 “Solicitor General of the Year” by the Georgia Association of Solicitors-General, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

District Attorney Herb Cranford Jr. said Wisenbaker has distinguished herself as one of the most highly regarded solicitors in the State of Georgia.

“From the perspective of the District Attorney’s Office, it is great to have a solicitor with whom we can work closely and find mutually beneficial solutions to issues,” Cranford said. “Sandy represents the people of Coweta County well and we are lucky to have her in this important role.”

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia (PAC) is the overarching judicial branch government agency supporting Georgia prosecutors and their staff, which includes 49 District Attorney Offices (primarily Felony cases) and 65 Solicitor-General Offices (only Misdemeanor cases).

The Hall County Commission adopted an ordinance governing deployment of new wireless equipment, according to the Gainesville Times.

Under the rules, any new, modified or replaced pole on a right of way zoned residential cannot be more than 50 feet tall. In areas that are not zoned residential, poles must be 50 feet or shorter, or within 10 feet in height of the highest pole within a 500-foot radius, whichever is higher.

The ordinance is a response to Senate Bill 66, a state law that encourages companies to put small cell technology on existing poles. The technology will help deploy broadband access to rural areas and allow for more areas to get 5G technology.

Democrat Derrick Wilson, who is running for Gwinnett County Commission District 3 in 2020, denies a claim that he is a few fries short of a happy meal, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County Commission candidate Derrick Wilson has pushed back against comments a spokesman for Commissioner Tommy Hunter made comparing the candidate to a McDonald’s Happy Meal earlier this week.

In response to the letter, Hunter’s spokesman, Seth Weathers, told the Daily Post in a statement that Wilson “seems to be a few fries short of a Happy Meal.”

“It just appears to me that the people of District 3 need a change,” Wilson said. “I have learned that you are reflective of the company you keep. Mr. Weathers making the comment that I am ‘a few fries short of a happy meal’ provides further insight to the type of person Mr. Hunter is.”

Paulette Chavers announced she will run for Statesboro City Council District 2, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Council District 2 is poised to have an election contest this fall, with Paulette Chavers campaigning for the seat held by incumbent council member Sam Lee Jones, who plans to seek re-election.

Also up for election are the District 3 and District 5 seats, held by incumbent council members Jeff Yawn and Derek Duke, who also plan to run but have no challengers known to the Statesboro Herald at this point. Candidacies for the Nov. 5 nonpartisan city election, which involves only those three districts, won’t become official until qualifying week, Aug. 19-23, when candidates file paperwork and pay the $227 fee at City Hall.

Whitfield County municipalities are nominating members of a committee to reommend projects for an upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The city councils of Cohutta and Tunnel Hill could decide in the next couple of weeks who will represent them on the advisory committee that will make recommendations for the projects that could be funded from a future Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Each city will have just one representative on the committee.

The city of Varnell will also have one representative on the committee. The mayor and council of Varnell appointed Paul Wilson to the committee Wednesday night. The other applicants from Varnell were Dan Peeples and Jan Pourquoi. They also applied for the committee from Whitfield County Board of Commissioners District 3 and could be selected for the committee by Commissioner Roger Crossen.

Each of the five county commissioners will appoint two people to the committee from their district. Commission Chairman Lynn Laughter is elected county-wide. The Dalton City Council as a whole will appoint three members. Each of those two bodies will appoint an alternate.

The committee members will advise the elected officials on which projects should be funded by a SPLOST that is expected to be put before county voters in either the May 2020 general primary or the November 2020 general election. The county commissioners will have the final say on what is placed on the ballot.

Qualifying for Lilburn City Council and Mayoral elections has been set, according to the AJC.

Candidates interested in running for one of Lilburn’s open elected official positions may qualify for the Nov. 5 municipal general election 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19 through Aug. 21 in the city clerk’s office at City Hall, 340 Main St. The qualifying fee for mayor is $150, and for council member is $105.

All voting to elect the mayor and two city council members takes place at Lilburn City Hall, regardless of county polling places.

Advanced (absentee in-person) voting begins 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Oct. 14 through Nov. 1. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. If there is a need for a runoff election, the date of this election will be Dec. 3.

Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold have also set qualifying dates for November’s elections, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Qualifying as a candidate is Aug. 19-23. Early voting begins Oct. 14. Final election day is Nov. 5. Run-off election, if necessary, is Dec.3.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division lifted a consent order affecting the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission, according to The Brunswick News.

The Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division placed the utility under a consent order in 2014, when a sewer pump station on St. Simons Island dumped around 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the catch basin and retention pond at Gascoigne Condos.

In the consent order, the JWSC agreed to pay the state $10,000, submit corrective action and inflow and infiltration reduction plans and to monitor the site of the spill for one year. As conditions of the order, the utility had to minimize or eliminate sewer overflow and routinely assess the condition of the sewer system.

“We have met all the conditions of the order, and it has been satisfied,” [Interim Executive Director Andrew] Burroughs said.

The Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division performed necropsies on some pilot whales that beached themselves at St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

 

25
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 25, 2019

Leo Dahlonega

Leo is a male Yorkshire Terrier and Standard Poodle mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society in Dahlonega, GA.

Ellie Mae Dahlonega

Ellie Mae is a female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society in Dahlonega, GA.

Snowball Dahlonega

Snowball is a female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society in Dahlonega, GA.

25
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 25, 2019

On July 25, 1972, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

On July 25, 1974, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of United States v. Nixon that executive privilege did not allow the White House to refuse to turn over audio recordings that had been subpoenaed by a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg will hear arguments on a case seeking to force Georgia to use hand-marked paper ballots, according to the Associated Press via AccessWDUN.

A lawsuit filed by election integrity activists argues that the paperless touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are unsecure, vulnerable to hacking and can’t be audited. It seeks statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots.

A law passed this year and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp provides specifications for a new system, which state officials said will be in place for the 2020 presidential election.

But the plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to order the state to immediately stop using the current system, which it plans to use for special and municipal elections this year and which the plaintiffs fear would be used in 2020 if a new system isn’t implemented in time. Totenberg has scheduled a hearing Thursday on those requests.

Lawyers for state election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, argue concrete steps have been taken to address the concerns, including arranging for the purchase of new voting technology statewide and adding security measures to existing systems.

They also argue that paper ballots have vulnerabilities and that putting an intermediate system in place while the state is moving to a new voting system “places an impossible burden on both state and local election officials and may result in voter frustration and disaffection from the voting process.”

Operation Southern Shield yielded thousands of traffic tickets in Georgia, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, this year’s operation from July 15-21 yielded 3,258 speeding citations, 326 suspected DUIs and 689 seat belt citations by the Georgia State Patrol, Motor Carrier Compliance Division and Capitol Police. Last year, the same agencies gave out 2,514 speeding citations, 172 suspected DUIs and 752 seat belt violations.

This year, Georgia DPS agencies gave out 7,595 citations statewide, compared to 6,334 citations last year.

The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation will open an Ellijay office, according to the AJC.

The Ellijay branch of the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, announced Wednesday, will serve as a government resource for industry-specific assistance, community planning and other efforts to support rural economies.

The satellite office will extend the work of the first Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, which opened in Tifton in August with a $1.7 million annual budget.

“This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians — regardless of zip code,” said House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge whose district includes Ellijay.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce held a Rural Prosperity North Georgia Forum at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, according to the Gainesville Times.

Cultivating prosperity in North Georgia rural communities, compared to the state’s larger cities, requires a completely different approach, Republican State Sen. Steve Gooch and State Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper believe.

Gooch encourages rural towns to have a relationship with the Georgia Economic Development Association and state agencies to get on developers’ radars.

“I believe the state needs to reach out more in rural areas and do a better job with that,” Gooch said. “We’ve got to work more in partnerships to help advertise and market these rural areas.”

Jasperse, who serves as the chairman of the Georgia House Education Committee, said community members need to put pressure on education leaders to meet workforce needs.

This could entail bringing in more digital learning opportunities and mobile laboratories, which offer science education resources to communities.

Through examining health care in Georgia, Gooch said he doesn’t see anyone addressing the core problem.

“The cost of health care is an issue,” he said. “Access would be more available if people could afford it.”

“Rural hospitals are in trouble and they’re going to continue to suffer,” Gooch said. “But, if we can get some of our universities and some of our agencies involved and try to partner with some of those community hospitals, we may be able to save them.”

Columbus City Council voted to move toward a 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to fund a new government center, among other items, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Council voted unanimously Tuesday night, with District 2 Councilor Glenn Davis absent, to approve a resolution that means the city will work toward getting a list of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects on the ballot for voters on Nov. 3, 2020.

Estimating from current collection rates, that 1% tax could generate a maximum of $350,000,000 over 10 years, according to City Manager Isaiah Hugley.

The current sales tax in Columbus is 8%.

The Muscogee County School District currently has an ESPLOST that expires June 30, 2020. The school board has not decided whether it will ask voters to renew the tax.

The city would borrow money to build the new buildings by issuing bonds, and use the SPLOST income to pay the debt off.

Chatham County released a list of projects for a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County commissioners have released what should be their final project list for a proposed 1-cent sales tax referendum. The list also includes how much of the anticipated revenues will be shared with the county’s municipalities.

If approved by voters this November, the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax would be the seventh SPLOST referendum approved starting in 1985.

Chatham County commissioners are expected to vote on the list and any intergovernmental agreements with municipalities at their regular meeting on Friday. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m.

The county estimates the six-year collection for SPLOST VII to generate $400 million in revenue.

Savannah City Council voted to adopt the full rollback rate for the property tax millage rate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Property taxpayers in Savannah will most likely get a break from city taxes in 2019 and 2020.

The city will set the millage rate on Aug. 1 following the first and second reading of the proposal.

The rate will apply to the second installment of property tax bills that will be due in November and the first installment of property tax bills in 2020.

Aldermen and the mayor reached a consensus at a workshop on July 18 to use the rollback millage rate of 12.86 mills, instead of the rate used for 2019 of 13.20.

Chattahoochee Valley Libraries will no longer issue fines for overdue books, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Chattahoochee Valley Libraries will be the first public library system in Georgia to stop fining its borrowers for overdue items when the new policy goes into effect next month.

And on the effective date, Aug. 15, all overdue fines will be cleared from patron accounts, although customers still must pay to replace items not returned after 42 days (six weeks).

The motivation for this change, CVL director Alan Harkness said, is based on the library’s mission to make its collection as accessible as possible to as many folks in the Columbus area as possible — so they use it as often as possible.

“This is a trend nationally,” he said, “and what library systems have found is that … (overdue fines) disproportionately impact children and community members that have the least financial resources. Overdue fines don’t encourage people to bring books back

Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias is accused of a raft of misdeeds related to a summer camp, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Willa Hilton, the former Jamestown director, accused Sias of firing her from her camp job Monday because she reported an alleged July 19 incident of child abuse to the Division of Children and Family Services.

Her response to being fired, obtained by The Chronicle, included the allegations of theft, child cruelty and others, such as reports Sias watched porn and drank alcohol at the center, kept a loaded gun at all times and inflated an air mattress there and asked her for sex.

A retired Army command sergeant major, Sias dismissed all the claims Tuesday as an effort by an ex-lover to embarrass him and threatened legal action against Hilton. He did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert vetoed $1000 dollar bonuses for employees, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Reichert sent a letter to commissioners Thursday informing them of the veto, which would cost $2.3 million.

“I am vetoing this ordinance because I believe our employees deserve to be paid well for the jobs they are currently doing, and spending this money now hampers our ability to give them raises that will benefit them for years, not just once,” said Reichert wrote in the letter.

He urged moving forward with a full pay-scale study.

Overturning the veto would require the support of six of the nine commissioners.

Commissioner Joe Allen, who supports the bonus, said he expects a vote at the next meeting to override the veto, and he believes it will be successful.

The Banks County Board of Education and Banks County Sheriff’s Office created a Heightened Enforcement Response Officer (HERO) Unit to address school security issues, according to AccessWDUN.

“The HERO Unit provides the school system with an instantaneous response by a heavily-armed, highly-trained, proactive protection detail,” says Sheriff Carlton Speed. “Most deputies assigned are longtime law enforcement veterans with a former SWAT or military background. The need for the HERO Unit became an increasingly apparent reality due to the frequency of nationwide school shootings. As with many area schools, our school system, along with the sheriff’s office, has investigated several unsubstantiated threats against our school system after the 2018 Parkland High School incident.”

Asked how the unit got its start, Speed explains it was in response to concerns about how the sheriff’s office could quickly address active threats in the county’s schools efficiently to minimize their impact.

Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss was named Outstanding Chief of the Year by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, according to the Tribune Ledger News.

Moss was selected as the 2019 recipient for his proactive contributions to his department, to the GACP and to the state’s law enforcement community. He was presented with the award Tuesday afternoon during the GACP’s training conference in Savannah.

Cynthia George was elected Chair of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission board, according to the Albany Herald.

 

24
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 24, 2019

Bella Mutt Madness

Bella is a one-year old female Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from Mutt Maddness in Marietta, GA.

Simona Mutt Madness

Simona is a young female American Staffordshire Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Mutt Maddness in Marietta, GA.

Cloudy Mutt Madness

Cloudy is a young male Rottweiler puppy who is available for adoption from Mutt Maddness in Marietta, GA.

24
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 24, 2019

On July 24, 1778, Georgia ratified the Articles of Confederation.

Georgia’s John Walton was present on July 9, 1778, and signed the document then. Georgia’s other two delegates – Edward Telfair and Edward Langworthy – did not sign until July 24, 1778, which is the date most often used for Georgia’s ratification of the Articles.

An interesting sidenote is that John Walton‘s brother, George Walton, signed the Declaration of Independence on Georgia’s behalf.

At 12:51 EDT, we mark the safe return from the moon of Apollo 11.

The number one song in America on July 24, 1982 was “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor, from the Rocky III soundtrack.

On July 24, 2000, former Georgia Governor Zell Miller was appointed to the United States Senate to serve in the seat vacated on the death of Senator Paul Coverdell.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Nearly 40 million opioid pills were delivered to Clarke County from 2007 through 2012, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

That’s about 49 pills per person per year in Athens. Georgia received about 2.3 billion pills in the seven-year period.

A federal judge last week ordered the federal government to release the Drug Enforcement Agency data to two newspapers that had sued for the data. The Washington Post and the parent company of the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail filed suit a year ago to gain access to the information, and last week the Post published a searchable database allowing users to see the numbers for each state and county.

The database shows the number of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills delivered to each state and county during those years. Oxycodone and hydrocodone account for about 75 percent of opioid shipments to pharmacies, the Post reported.

Clarke County’s rate of 49 per person is in the middle range for Georgia, like several other counties in the area, including Madison (48), Jackson (49) and Barrow (49). Two neighboring counties were much lower: Oconee at 19 and Oglethorpe at 21.

The federal information also showed a huge increase nationally in the number of opioid pills prescribed and distributed over the seven years, from 8.4 billion pills in 2006 to 12.6 billion in 2012.

The so-called opioid epidemic resulted in 100,000 deaths during the seven years, the newspaper reported.

Georgia Supreme Court candidates John Barrow and Sara Doyle have combined to raise more than half-a-million dollars, according to the Daily Report.

Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow and Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle are seeking to win the seat that Justice Robert Benham will leave when he retires at the end of 2020. In the first reporting period that ended June 30, Barrow reported $304,100 raised, and Doyle reported $223,470.

A walk through their reports shows Barrow has more big donors and Doyle has more total contributors thus far.

Barrow’s supporters include some big names in Georgia Democratic politics: former Gov. Roy Barnes of Barnes Law Group, former congressman Buddy Darden of Pope McGlamry, former Attorney General Mike Bowers of Balch & Bingham.

Doyle’s supporters include some well-known trial and appellate lawyers in the state: Marietta plaintiffs’ attorney Lance Cooper—who gave $7,000, as did his wife and his law firm—plus Malone Law Office, the firm of Tommy and Adam Malone.

Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation will speak to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, according to a press release.

Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for “Election Integrity: Facts, Fraud and Fiction,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon keynoted by Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky on Tuesday, August 27, at the Georgian Club in Atlanta.

The topic is especially relevant in Georgia, as allegations of impropriety linger over Georgia’s November 2018 elections, and it’s one von Spakovsky is uniquely qualified to tackle.

This event is open to the public but registration is required at Eventbrite. Media who wish to attend must contact Benita Dodd.

President Donald Trump appointed him to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in 2017.

Closer to home, Hans also served as Chairman of the Fulton County Republican Party and on the Fulton County Board of Elections, as well as in the George W. Bush Justice Department.

Abortion advocates are seeking to delay implementation of the state’s heartbeat bill, according to the Associated Press via the Statesboro Herald.

Opponents of a Georgia law that bans most abortions on Tuesday asked a judge to keep it from taking effect while their legal challenge plays out.

The law is set to become enforceable Jan. 1. Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued on behalf of Georgia advocacy groups and abortion providers last month to challenge the measure.

The court filing Tuesday argues that viability, or the likelihood that a fetus can survive outside the womb, doesn’t occur until several months into a pregnancy. That means Georgia’s law directly contradicts the precedent set by the Supreme Court, which “has repeatedly and unequivocally held that a state may not ban abortion at any point prior to viability,” the filing says.

The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta now has a braille flag, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

On Tuesday, a braille U.S. flag was unveiled at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center’s Blind Rehabilitation Center. The rehab center is the second one in the nation to receive such a flag .

“This is a great honor for the VA. We are the first in Georgia to receive a braille flag,” said Herman Jefferson, the assistant chief of the rehab center. “It is quite an honor for Charlie Norwood to have that displayed on one of the walls in the medical center.”

The flag, bronze in color, has the Pledge of Allegiance written on it in braille. It was designed in 2005 by Randolph Cabral, the president of the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, to honor the memory of his father, who was blind. In 2008, a bill was passed to placed a braille flag at Arlington National Cemetery to honor blind members of the armed forces, veterans and other Americans.

Peters said those who are interested in getting a flag should contact the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute. The flag was donated by Disabled American Veterans through the Blinded Veterans Association.

I’ve never heard of such a thing before, and it’s awesome.

The police report is out in the Erica Thomas Publix affair, and the event still remains a “she said, he said.” From the AJC:

A witness to a heated grocery store encounter between state Rep. Erica Thomas and a man she accused of uttering racist comments told authorities she didn’t hear him make those remarks, according to a Cobb County police report.

A Publix employee told a Cobb County officer that she witnessed part of the conversation and heard Thomas “continuously tell Eric Sparkes to ‘Go back where you came from!’” but did not hear Sparkes utter those words to Thomas.

Cobb authorities, meanwhile, said Tuesday they don’t intend to file criminal charges in the case after what the police department said was a “thorough” investigation into the confrontation.

Rick Thompson, a former Executive Director of the Georgia State Ethics Commission has been appointed to the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission by Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, according to the AJC.

Duncan, who paid Thompson’s company — RTA Strategy — to file his campaign disclosures during his race last year, had a spot to fill on the commission after appointing ethics panel member Allen Yee to the State Road and Tollway Authority.

“Open government is an essential element in fostering confidence in a free, democratic society,” Duncan said in a statement. “Rick Thompson’s expertise and decades of experience will be integral to ensuring Georgians can have faith in our government and its leaders.”

The commission oversees compliance with campaign finance laws as well as lobbyist registrations and expenditures.

The Cobb County Commission adopted a FY 2020 budget and property tax millage rate that increase revenues while keeping the rate the same, according to the AJC.

Cobb Commissioners approved a $475 million general fund budget for 2020 in a split vote Tuesday night.

That’s up five percent from last year, an increase attributed to growth in the tax digest as commissioners kept the property tax rate flat.

The budget includes a four percent raise for non-sworn county employees and a seven percent raise for sworn public safety personnel following months of lobbying by advocates of police, fire and sheriff’s deputies.

Democrat Derrick Wilson wants Governor Brian Kemp to remove Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Derrick Wilson’s campaign said he sent the letter to Kemp on Monday. He is asking the governor to, if not remove Hunter so a special election for his seat could be held in November, to at least suspend him from office.

“Hunter must be held accountable for his actions,” Wilson said in the letter. “The frivolous lawsuits against the county and his colleagues, for repercussions to his prior outbursts, are a waste of time and valuable county resources.

“It has also made working relationships more strenuous for both his colleagues and the public.”

Wilson is one of a few Democrats who have announced plans to run for Hunter’s seat in 2020.

Political grandstanding, nothing more.

Floyd County Commissioners adopted the same property tax millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year as for the current year, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County commissioners approved their 2019 tax levy at the same rate as was imposed a year ago. The end result though, is likely to be a slight increase in taxes for most property owners because value of most properties was increased this year.

The county school’s rate was set at 18.25 mills, which is a decline of 0.05 mills. The county government maintenance and operation levy remains at 9.48 mills, the fire protection levy was set at 1.65 mills and the solid waste fund levy was set at 0.656, bringing the total levy to 30.036 mills or $30.03 per thousand dollars of value.

The real property digest was up 6.6%, however several other areas went down, resulting in an across the board increase that averaged out to 2.17%.

Savannah City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement with Chatham County to split proceeds of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The vote approved Mayor Eddie DeLoach’s suggested projects for the special purpose local option sales tax, known as SPLOST.

The SPLOST issue will be on ballots for voters Nov. 5. If approved, collections would begin on Oct. 1, 2020.

The agreement calls for the city of Savannah to receive $156 million of a potential $400 million in revenue from the SPLOST VII collections. That amount includes a separate line item for the Eastside Early Learning Center of $3.125 million. The county has agreed to pay the same amount for the project.

SPLOST is a county tax and the county is the only government that can call for the referendum.

Monday’s council vote followed a tense discussion on July 18 that ended with only an agreement for council to meet again.

Valdosta City Council will consider two requests by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority to accept federal grants, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The City of Hahira will consider voting changes to address an increasing population, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Dalton City Board of Education Chair Rick Fromm will resign his chairmanship and will not run for reelection, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The board seats of Fromm, Tulley Johnson and Pablo Perez are up for election this year. Evans and board member Palmer Griffin were elected in 2017.

I believe Mr. Fromm will retain his seat on the Board of Education through the remaineder of his term, but will not continue as the Chair, which is elected by fellow BOE members.

Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta will announce he is running for reelection for Ward IV, according to the Albany Herald.

Glynn County has issued a water quality warning for beaches on St Simons Island and Jekyll Island, according to The Brunswick News.

The Deputy Director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynn County discussed the Center’s role in law enforcement, according to The Brunswick News.

Fallon explained at a St. Simons Island Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday how the training center has evolved over time to now be under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security.

The center’s mission statement says its role is to prepare “the federal law enforcement community to safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values.”

Fallon said the training center is world renowned with no comparison. At any given time, the center has as many as 3,000 employees and anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 students training.

The good news is Fallon said the center in Brunswick had its best year of federal funding in nearly two decades. The extra funding will be used to build more housing at the center. He predicted the center will continue to have a long presence in Brunswick.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources tranquilized and relocated a bear from Gwinnett County, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Monday, Duluth Police Department officers were called out to “several homes” on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard by River Green Parkway after residents reported a bear, which was likely the same one that was spotted last month, was climbing fences to get food.

Duluth police said in a social media post on Tuesday that the bear returned Monday night to “munch on more apples,” which is when the Georgia Department of Natural Resources was called.

DNR tranquilized the bear then relocated it, police said.

Duluth police previously said residents should not feed bears and should make sure their food, garbage and recycling is secured. They should also remove bird feeders, never leave pet food outdoors and clean stoves and store grills to avoid unwanted bear visits.

23
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 23, 2019

Dalton Albany

Dalton is a male Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

Marshmallow Albany

Marshmallow is a male German Shepherd Dog who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

Tua Albany

Tua is a young male American Bulldog and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Albany Humane Society/Sally Wetherbee Adoption Center in Albany, GA.

23
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 23, 2019

On July 23, 1864, Union and Confederate forces in and around Atlanta gathered the dead and worked to save the wounded. Union artillery began bombarding Atlanta. On July 23, 2014, Republicans did the same in the aftermath of the Primary Runoff Elections the previous day. Democratic artillery advertising would soon fill the air.

Former President Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Park District was established on July 23, 1917 and currently has a set of beautiful parks winding through the city. If you’re going to be in Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention, take some time to tour the city, including the parks.

John Smoltz started his first game as a major league pitcher on July 23, 1988, as the Braves took a win over the New York Mets.

Erratum: yesterday, I misstated the court that handed down the July 22, 1964 Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States decision. The trial court decision was by a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, over which 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Elbert Tuttle presided.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Dawn Alford, who served as Public Policy Director for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, died yesterday. I knew her from the State Capitol, where she worked tirelessly to promote public policy for disabled Georgians. She was especially hard to miss, as she was accompanied everywhere by her faithful service dog, KAB.

Dawn was also a friend to my late wife, whose ALS was related to Dawn’s own condition. I am personally grateful for the example every day that Dawn set for keeping her Christian faith strong and in the forefront of her life despite her challenges. It was poignant to see her face her problems with her faith in Jesus, and it helped me and Stephanie to remain strong. I’ll miss her.

Dawn Alford Canine AssistantsEarlier this week, Dawn posted to her Facebook page a fundraiser for Canine Assistants, a Georgia-based 501c3 that provides assistance dogs to people in need. I hope you’ll consider a donation to this excellent organization, either through Dawn’s Facebook Fundraiser, or directly to the organization.


State Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell) took to Twitter to decry what she referred to as “a white man” who “verbally assaulted” her in Publix.

State Rep Erica Thomas Twitter1

From Fox News:

Thomas herself acknowledged in an interview with local media on Saturday that she did not recall exactly what the man, Eric Sparkes, had said to her.

“He said, ‘go back,’ you know, those types of words,” Thomas said on Saturday. “I don’t wanna say he said ‘go back to your country,’ or ‘go back to where you came from,’ but he was making those types of references, is what I remember.”

“So, you don’t remember exactly what he said?” a reporter pressed.

Thomas answered: “No, no, definitely not. But I know it was ‘go back,’ because I know I told him to ‘go back.’”

When Rep. Thomas held a press conference, the man showed up too.

State Rep Erica Thomas Twitter2

From the AJC:

A confrontation at a grocery store between a black state legislator and a man she accused of demanding that she “go back” to where she came from has led to barbed attacks from partisan leaders, calls for her to resign and threats of litigation.

State Rep. Erica Thomas and her lawyer held a press conference Monday where she maintained that the white man, Eric Sparkes, used hateful language that echoed President Donald Trump’s recent tweets — despite a TV interview where she appeared to backtrack. She also said she had the witnesses to prove it, though one who spoke to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said he didn’t hear Sparkes use that phrase.

Meanwhile, Sparkes accused her Monday of trying to turn his crude remarks — he admitted to calling her an expletive for having too many items in a Publix express lane — into a “national case about race overnight.” He added that he’s exploring a defamation lawsuit against her.

A day later, Thomas’ story came under scrutiny when she arrived at the Publix to speak with television reporters — and Sparkes arrived, too, eager to respond. He said he called her a “selfish little (expletive)” when he noticed she was skirting the express lane’s rules.

“I did say that. That’s all I said after that, and I walked out of Publix,” Sparkes said. “Her words stating on Twitter, and her video, stating I told her she needs to go back where she came from are untrue. I am Cuban.”

I checked the man’s voting record on the Political Data Systems Georgia voter database, and it turns out he’s a constituent of hers. Oops.

Democrat Teresa Tomlinson has endorsed the legalization of recreational marijuana, according to the AJC.

In a first batch of detailed policy positions this morning, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate will endorse the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. From her website:

“It is time we address at the federal level the decriminalization, legalization, and regulation of marijuana as a medicinal and recreational substance.”

Qualifying ended for the Special Election in District 71, according to the Newan Times-Herald.

Candidate qualifying for the Sept. 3 election ended Friday afternoon, and four candidates qualified: Democrat Jill Prouty and Republicans Nina Blackwelder, Marcy Sakrison and Philip Singleton.

The candidate forum, hosted by the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, will be held at the Central Educational Center and will be from 6 to 8 p.m. The forum is free and open to the public, and chamber members can submit questions for the forum to info@newnancowetachamber.org .

The voter registration deadline to be eligible to vote in the election is Aug. 5, and early voting is set to begin Aug. 12, as long as ballots are ready.

The special election is nonpartisan, and all candidates run on one ballot. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff will be held Oct. 1. The winner will be up for re-election in 2020.

Georgia may subsidize high-speed internet access in some rural areas, according to WSB Radio.

Georgia recently finalized a plan to spend the public’s money on subsidies for high-speed internet lines, laying the foundation for broadband expansion in rural areas.

In addition, the government will require internet providers to match state money with their own, a hefty private investment.

Left unsaid in the public comments is that government funding for internet construction doesn’t exist yet. State lawmakers will consider appropriating money for subsidies during next year’s legislative session.

The OneGeorgia Authority, a rural development fund that hands out millions of dollars annually, approved the broadband subsidy rules June 17 after reviewing public comments submitted by internet providers, trade associations and local governments.

House Rules Chairman Jay Powell said government funding is needed because internet service is essential to businesses, schools and hospitals. Without subsidies, internet companies often can’t justify spending money to build internet lines in rural areas with a small numbers of potential customers.

Just as the government invested in electricity, phone and water services, it now must prioritize internet, said Powell, a Republican from Camilla.

“The information highway is no less of a highway than the other highways we’re building throughout Georgia to facilitate rural development,” Powell said. “Internet is as much a necessity in rural Georgia now as all those other services were 100 years ago.”

The Dougherty County Democratic Committee was scheduled to elect new leadership on Monday, according to the Albany Herald.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap (R) was named 2019 District Attorney of the Year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap on Sunday was named Georgia’s 2019 District Attorney of the Year by her peers in the state’s district attorney’s association.

The award was presented during the group’s annual conference at Jekyll Island and was based on nominations by her colleagues and community leaders.

And D. Victor Reynolds, Georgia Bureau of Investigation director, said, Heap “is the epitome of what a prosecutor should be. She is driven by serving justice in each case, not by wins or loses. Meg is ethical, principled and bent on doing what is right. … Meg is blessed with a moral compass which serves her well as the district attorney.”

Heap started out as the volunteer coordinator for the Chatham County Victim Witness Assistance Program in 1986. After law school, she worked as an assistant district attorney in the Blue Ridge Circuit and returned home to the Chatham County D.A.’s office in 1995.

Currently she is urging legislation in the 2020 General Assembly to push parole as a reward for good behavior rather than essentially awarding parole as a virtual right. Heap also serves on the executive board of the National District Attorneys Association. There she will chair the Best Practices Committee seeking innovations for D.A. offices nationwide.

Catherine Smith McKnight is considering running for the Augusta Commission District 3 seat after the death of her father, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

After losing her father, Grady Smith, last year, Catherine Smith McKnight said she is grateful she decided against running a few months earlier for his Super District 10 seat on the Augusta Commission.

“I’m glad now that I did not run for his seat with everything that happened,” she said. “Those would have been some tough shoes to fill if I had won Super District 10.”

Smith was term-limited and McKnight considered trying to succeed him, but she changed her mind en route to the elections office, leaving John Clarke to defeat Lori Myles for the seat. Clarke was sworn in early after Smith died in office Oct. 16.

McKnight said Monday that she’s got her eye on the District 3 commission seat held by Mary Davis, who will complete her second consecutive term next year. McKnight is the only candidate to have filed notice of plans to run in the District 3 election next May. Super District 10 spans districts 3, 7, 8 and 10.

Hall County voters will decide in November whether to levy a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to replace the expiring SPLOST VII, which went into effect after a 2015 referendum, according to the Gainesville Times.

Plans are moving forward for SPLOST VIII, a sales tax that is set to go before voters in November and would be in effect July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2026.

The tax would be used to fund capital projects for Hall County and its municipalities, with the largest percentage of the money going toward road improvements.

Zach Propes, the county’s financial services director, updated the county’s municipalities on SPLOST, the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, at a meeting of Hall County’s Joint Municipal Association Monday evening.

The tax, if approved, is projected to bring in about $217 million.

The county’s municipalities are set to sign an agreement for SPLOST VIII by Aug. 21. The referendum would go to voters on Nov. 5.

A list of America’s most-segregated cities includes both Columbus and Macon. From the Macon Telegraph:

The list is a made up of 25 cities across the country, and Macon came in at No. 11.

The cities were selected based off of the black population, the percentage of blacks living in black neighborhoods, the black poverty rate, the white poverty rate and education.

In Macon, nearly 45% of the population is black, more than 40% of the black population lives in majority-black neighborhoods, 33% of blacks live in poverty and less than 12% of whites live in poverty.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

In Columbus, nearly 41% of the population is black, more than 36% of the black population lives in majority-black neighborhoods, 28% of blacks live in poverty and less than 12% of whites live in poverty.

85% of heads of household in white Columbus neighborhoods own their homes, while 48% of heads of household in black neighborhoods do. This is one of the largest homeownership gaps nationwide, according to 24/7 Wall St.

Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason delivered his State of the City address, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Floyd County Commissioners will transfer constable functions from the Magistrate Court to the Sheriff’s Office, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Chief Magistrate Gene Richardson signed an order earlier this month abolishing his constables effective Sept. 1. Constables serve papers such as warrants, subpoenas and writs, oversee evictions and provide security for the small-claims court.

Richardson is an elected constitutional officer with full control of his court, but the County Commission handles the budget and personnel.

The board is slated to approve the elimination of the three constable positions in the Magistrate Court and create three new deputy positions in the Sheriff’s Office.

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office will work with the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad to address opioid abuse, according to the Tribune Ledger News.

“This partnership is ideal because much of our illegal drug activity travels the Interstate 575 and Georgia 515 corridor and surrounding areas,” Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said Monday. “Through the partnership, we will be able to investigate drug activity more efficiently, as well as augment personnel and resources.”

“Partnering with CMANS is a wonderful opportunity for the Pickens Sheriff’s Office to continue the partnership with Cherokee County,” [Pickens County Sheriff Donnie] Craig said. “We have previously developed partnerships in the multi-agency SWAT team, and we have joined forces in hostage negotiations as well. We are very excited to work closely with their team to expand the available resources necessary to make a difference in the enforcement of drug cases.”

A wildfire on Cumberland Island continues to burn, according to The Brunswick News.

A wildfire burning in the wilderness area of Cumberland Island National Seashore for nearly a month has now consumed more than 440 acres.

The fire was ignited by a lightning strike on June 29. In response, as many as 70 firefighters were assigned to monitor the fire while it burned in the wilderness area. A crew of 10 firefighters and a Type 6 engine are currently on the island.

Wildfires are allowed to burn in wilderness areas on the island, which is why firefighters only plan to engage the flames if they threaten to cross North Cut Road.

Depending on the conditions, fire activity continues to spread. Last week, another 22 acres burned in a day.

The fire is also good for wildlife on the island. Endangered gopher tortoises will be among the first animals to move into the burned area to dig new burrows. The underbrush was too dense to attract many tortoises before the area burned.

22
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 22, 2019

Slater HSSCG

Slater is a year-old, 41-pound who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Slater is a medium size dog at 41 pounds. Big enough to not trip over, and just the right size to snuggle on the couch or romp in the yard with you. Slater is neutered, microchipped, current on core vaccines and has tested negative for heart worms. Who doesn’t love a dog who looks like he is wearing a tuxedo?

Sampson HSSCG

Sampson is a 53-pound year-old male Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Sampson is 53 pounds of get up and go, so he would prefer an active family. Once the weather is cool enough for both of you, you will be a darling duo on walkabout together. Sampson is neutered, microchipped, current on core vaccines and tested negative for heartworms.

Farrah HSSCG

Farrah is a three-year old female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Just like the “real” Farrah, our girl is quite good looking and self confident. Farrah is a 3 year old adult who loves people. When it comes to other dogs though, she would prefer to be an only child.

The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia took in eight dogs from Louisiana who were evacuated before Hurricane Barry, according to The Brunswick News.

“Animal welfare organizations have such a great network that agencies come together from different states to help the animals in times of disaster,” said humane society Executive Director Virginia Schlegel.

Hurricane Barry made landfall on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast last week, on July 13, eventually dissipating over northern Arkansas on July 19.

Just before the storm hit, volunteers with Dixie Adoptables — an animal welfare group that runs the animal shelter for the city of Lucedale, Miss. — picked up as many dogs and cats as it could from the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter in Louisiana. The humane society’s shelter on U.S. Highway 17 was one of their destinations.

Schlegel said she believes all eight are highly adoptable and expects some may want to adopt them more just because they’re evacuees.

“I just encourage everyone to help in these disaster situations, because you don’t know how much it does help. If you could just foster one animal, that would be greatly appreciated,” Schlegel said.

22
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 22, 2019

General William Tecumseh Sherman gained the upper hand in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Estimated casualties were 12,140 (3,641 Union, 8,499 Confederate).

On July 22, 1964, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia released their opinion in the case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States. The court held that the Commerce Clause gave the federal government the ability to order private businesses to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

Notwithstanding such states’ rights–based challenges, the Court in the Heart of Atlanta Motel and McClung cases unanimously held that the sweeping antidiscrimination provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were a proper exercise of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. In effect, the Court reasoned that race discrimination by even very localized businesses, when viewed in the aggregate, had such far-reaching negative effects on the interstate movement of people and products that Congress could remove these impediments to commerce whether or not its true motives centered on a moral condemnation of racism.

Ensuing enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to the dismantling of many of the most overt forms of racial discrimination, which in turn contributed to the emergence of the “New South” and the explosion of economic activity that spread throughout the region in ensuing decades.

On July 22, 1975, the United States House of Representatives voted to restore U.S. Citizenship to General Robert E. Lee posthumously.

Though President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation of amnesty and pardon to the Southern rebels in 1865, it required Lee to apply separately. On Oct. 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Va., he signed the required amnesty oath and filed an application through Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Nonetheless, neither was Lee pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. After receiving it, Secretary of State William Seward gave Lee’s application to a friend as a souvenir. Meanwhile, State Department officials, apparently with Seward’s approval, pigeonholed the oath.

In 1970, an archivist, examining State Department records at the National Archives, found Lee’s lost oath. That discovery helped set in motion a five-year congressional effort to restore citizenship to the general, who had died stateless in 1870.

President Gerald Ford signed the congressional resolution on July 24, 1975, correcting what he said was a 110-year oversight. The signing ceremony took place at Arlington House in Virginia, the former Lee family home. Several Lee descendants, including Robert E. Lee V, his great-great-grandson, attended.

On July 22, 1977, Elvis Costello released his first album, My Aim is True.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The AJC’s Greg Bluestein points to three polls showing statewide Republicans in good shape.

The first, conducted by Morning Consult, showed both Gov. Brian Kemp and Sen. David Perdue – who is seeking another term next year – hovering just above or just below the 50-percent mark. In today’s political climate, that’s tolerably good shape.

Then came a poll of 602 voters from left-leaning Public Policy Polls which showed President Donald Trump slightly underwater: A 45% approval rating and 49% disapproval. No margin of error was provided. In a head-to-head matchup with a generic Democrat, Trump trailed 50-46.

We got even more nuance from an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll that offered a few key findings.

• this poll had Trump’s approval rating at 48%, four percentage points higher than the same surveyors had him a year ago.

• though it didn’t include a question on Perdue, the poll found Kemp earned a 61% approval rating (30% of those voters “strongly” approve), while 37% disapprove.

The NBC News poll found about 60% of Georgia voters oppose “completely” overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, slightly fewer than a similar question in an April AJC poll.

Delta Air Lines will stock Narcan on flights, according to the AJC.

Delta Air Lines plans to stock its on-board emergency medical kits with Narcan, which can reverse the effects of opioid overdose, starting this fall.

Narcan is a brand name of the medication naloxone. The Association of Flight Attendants has called for the Federal Aviation Administration to require airlines to stock naloxone on all commercial flights and to train flight attendants to administer it.

Meanwhile, Emory University has displaced Delta as the largest employer in metro Atlanta, according to a press release by the University.

Emory University is the largest employer in metro Atlanta, according to a new list published today by The Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Emory University President Claire E. Sterk told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that “the size and quality of Emory’s diverse faculty and staff reflects record demand among students from around the world to learn and live in our city, historic growth in research awards, and increasing demand from the community for the highest quality healthcare.”

According to Patsy Conn, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s research director, Emory’s trajectory has been on the upswing. A decade ago, Emory was 5th among all metro employers; the university had been 2nd to Delta since 2013. The publication reports Emory has 31,214 full-time employees in the 20-county metro Atlanta region as of Dec. 21, 2018. Altogether, Emory employs a full-time workforce of 37,716 and directly or indirectly supports nearly 77,400 jobs statewide.

As its workforce has grown, so has Emory’s effectiveness, says Sterk. “Bolstered by the contributions of the more than 44,000 alumni who live in Atlanta, Emory has a profound economic impact upon the region — $11.4 billion in 2018 — as we create thousands of jobs, generate millions in tax revenues, undertake capital investment, and contribute to communities through service, health care, research, and civic engagement.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that proposed mining near the Okefenokee will negatively impact the environment, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The written comments from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were provided to The Associated Press on Friday by the Army Corps of Engineers, which disclosed last week that it is considering a permit request by the mining company Twin Pines Minerals LLC of Birmingham, Alabama.

“We have concerns that the proposed project poses substantial risks for significant affect to the environment,” the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote in a five-page response to the Army Corps dated Feb. 20. “Should impacts occur they may not be able to be reversed, repaired, or mitigated for.”

Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, said Friday the company first met with the Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies last year.

“We really took their questions and comments to heart and tried to incorporate their comments and concerns in our program,” Ingle said.

He added the company has since conducted environmental studies that it believes will “prove that during mining, and after mining, we will be very much environmentally friendly.”

Judge Tadia Whitner has taken the bench as the first African-American on the Gwinnett Superior Court, according to the AJC.

Weeks after Kemp announced he was appointing Whitner to the Gwinnett Superior Court seat vacated by the resignation of Judge Melodie Snell Conner, he swore her in at the State Capitol as her family and friends looked on.

The historical aspect of the event comes from the fact that she will be the first black Superior Court judge in Gwinnett’s 200-year history. For Whitner, however, it was the people who supported her throughout her life that were forefront in her mind rather than the history-making nature of the proceedings.

“Thank you Gov. Kemp for allowing me to continue serving my county and the state of Georgia,” Whitner said after she was sworn in. “I especially want to thank my family, (husband) Brian (and children) Xander and Jade. They are the most supportive people. They believe in me when I don’t even believe in myself.”

The swearing in drew a high profile group of jurists, including U.S. District Court Judge William “Billy” Ray, Georgia Supreme Court justices and judges from the Georgia Court of Appeals. Several current and retired Gwinnett judges also attended the swearing in.

“Tadia (has brought) an invaluable leadership and legal expertise to her work as a prosecutor, private attorney and judge for the municipal and juvenile court,” Kemp told attendees at the swearing in. “It is truly an honor to appoint her to the Gwinnett judicial circuit Superior Court where I am confident the she will govern her courtroom with the utmost integrity and impartiality.”

Gwinnett State Court Judge Carla Brown introduced Whitner at the swearing in. Brown said Whitner is the daughter of an airline pilot and lived in various states while she was growing up, and later graduated from Howard University.

Georgia State Senator Renee Unterman leads the field in fundraising in the Seventh Congressional District, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Recently filed second quarter fundraising figures show Unterman’s campaign reported about $677,494 in revenues for the quarter. That was higher than any another candidate — Republican or Democrat — for the quarter.

Unterman is just ahead of the $654,195 in receipts which the Federal Elections Commission’s wesbite says has been reported by Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux since she officially launched her campaign in January. Bourdeaux reported about $282,657 in receipts during the second quarter reporting period, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Following Unterman in second quarter fundraising, according to FEC records, were Republicans Lynn Homrich (about $500,321) and Richard McCormick (about $314,125). Bourdeaux was fourth, followed by Republicans Benjamin Bullock (about $147,143) and Mark Gonsalves (about $123,103), Democrats Nabilah Islam (about $108,247), Brenda Lopez Romero (about $72,040), John Eaves ($70,179) and Marqus Cole ($24,748) and Republican Lerah Lee ($8,650).

While Unterman leads the field in total dollars raised so far in the race, the FEC website shows there was a $602,840.89 loan listed among the Unterman campaign’s revenues.

Coweta County Commissioners voted to place a T-SPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) on the November ballot, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

If approved by voters, the 1 percent tax would be collected beginning April 1, 2020, and would last five years. The new tax would bring Coweta’s total sales tax rate to 8 percent. Some products –particularly gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel – are not subject to the TSPLOST.

The commissioners also voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the county’s municipalities for the division of the TSPLOST funds.

The tax is expected to raise between $100 and $125 million over five years, and the money will be used for transportation projects through the county and its cities.

The money will be divided among the cities and the county, with the county retaining 66 percent of the total. The city of Newnan will get approximately 27 percent. Senoia will get roughly 3 percent, Grantville will get 2.2 percent, and the smaller cities will get between 0.13 and 0.35 percent.

The agreement also gives the county and cities the ability to issue bonds, to be repaid with TSPLOST proceeds, that can allow projects to be completed more quickly.

Former Hall County Commissioner Jerry Carpenter died Saturday, according to the Gainesville Times.

A store owned by Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas was evicted from their space in the Savannah Mall, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Sheriff’s deputies [] had served an eviction notice for Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas’ business, Stuff Stores, Inc. at the Savannah Mall.

Inside the mall, signs were posted on the store windows about the eviction and notices telling shoppers to not enter.

Thomas has 24 hours to pick up the items from the four spaces he had at the mall, or they will be disposed of, according to a deputy.

Savannah Mall Realty Holding, LLC filed suit against Thomas in November of 2018 regarding his contract and account.

“We did close in January and have been fighting with them for several months,” Thomas said. “At this time we are consulting with attorneys about future remedies.”

Columbus City Council will consider an ordinance to allow e-scooters, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Scooter rental company Lime proposed placing 300 scooters in the Uptown area for a period of 90 days. That way, city officials and the business owners can measure the success of the personal transportation devices.

Council must first approve an ordinance to place a moratorium on the use of shared electric scooters. A first reading will be held at 5:30 p.m. July 23, and a vote could come at the August 13 meeting at 9 a.m.

Creating an ordinance to regulate similar businesses would be the goal for the city, while Lime would be gauging if there is enough interest and usage by the citizens of Columbus to make placing the scooters here permanently a smart business investment.

Chamblee City Council will consider decriminalizing marijuana possession, according to the AJC.

“Take away the criminal aspect. Take away the pipeline of sending people to jail,” said Brian Mock, the Chamblee City Councilman who introduced the ordinance.

The city currently defaults to state law for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, which is classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment can include one year of jail time or a $1,000 fine. An ounce of marijuana can make about 40 joints, according to online resources.

Chamblee’s proposal would treat the offense more like a traffic ticket that is handled in municipal court, with no jail time and a fine of either $75 or $150. Officials are still working out the details of the ordinance and plan to continue discussing it next month.

It would be the ninth local jurisdiction in Georgia with the reduced penalty, following large cities like Atlanta, Savannah and Macon-Bibb County, as well as smaller ones like South Fulton and Forest Park.

Life jackets placed near the Columbus River Walk have been removed, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The donated life jacket stand has been removed from next to the downtown Columbus whitewater, where a 6-year-old boy drowned three weekends ago in the Chattahoochee River after slipping off the rocks.

Uptown Columbus president Ross Horner cited safety as the reason he removed the approximately 20 life jackets Friday morning after consulting with other officials. His nonprofit is the sole member of Whitewater Management LLC, which contracts with Whitewater Express and leases the Waveshaper Island property from the city.

Public safety officials were concerned, Horner said, that people were using the life jackets to swim in the rapids, which is prohibited, and that the life jackets aren’t designed to be used in whitewater.

Horner told the Ledger-Enquirer, “In this instance, we’ve had Ms. Peavey and other individuals who have done something really good to try to prevent something, and this good deed has had unintended consequences. We’ve leaned on the experts, and when the experts have told us that they need to be removed, … we’ve made that decision to ensure that people aren’t going to misuse these life jackets.”

Rome City Council will adopt a property tax rate for FY 2020 that is unchanged, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The 2019 property tax rate is broken down into 17.45 mills for the Rome City Schools system, 1.935 mills for city capital projects and 8.151 mills for the city’s maintenance and operations budget.

The city M&O rate was calculated at 13.254 mills, but the permanent 1-cent local option sales tax produced enough revenue to offset that by 5.103 mills, equal to $5.103 per $1,000 of value.

Property taxes are due by Nov. 15. A late penalty of 7.5% will be assessed on the balance due and another 5% interest fee will be levied after 120 days.

Three Coastal Georgia organizations will receive $439,000 in grants to fight homelessness, according to The Brunswick News.

Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, Inc. was awarded two grants, collectively worth $90,000, for homeless prevention and rapid rehousing.

Gateway Behavioral Health Service was awarded four grants worth more than $129,000 to help support rapid rehousing, street outreach, shelter plus care support services/harm reduction programs.

Safe Harbor Children’s Shelter, Inc. was awarded five grants worth over $220,000 to help support emergency shelter, street outreach, hotel motel voucher, Emergency Solutions Grants support services and Georgia Homeless Management Information System programs.

The grants awarded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs were announced Wednesday by state Sen. William Ligon, R-St. Simons Island.

Three Statesboro City Council members announced they will run for reelection, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Three Statesboro City Council seats are up for election Nov. 5, and the incumbents – District 2 Councilman Sam Lee Jones, District 3 Councilman Jeff Yawn and District 5 Councilman Derek Duke – all plan to seek re-election.

As with other nonpartisan city elections throughout Georgia, candidates must file their paperwork and pay their fees the week of Aug. 19-23. In Statesboro, candidate qualifying will be overseen by City Clerk Sue Starling at City Hall between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. those five days. The qualifying fee, 3 percent of a council member’s salary, is $227.