The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Dogs for October 31, 2018

Anabel Gwinnett

Anabel is a 3-year old female Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett Count Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Murphy Gwinnett

Murphy is a 17-month old male Malinois and Kelpie mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett Count Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Phinneas Gwinnett

Phinneas is a 2-year old male Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett Count Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 31, 2018

King Henry VII of England was crowned on October 30, 1485.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

King Charles I of England granted a charter for a new colony called Carolana that included much of present-day Georgia, along with the current states of North and South Carolina, on October 30, 1629.

Stephen Douglas of Illinois campaigned in Atlanta for President of the United States on October 30, 1860. Douglas had defeated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senate in 1858, giving rise to the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

The United States Congress admitted Nevada as the 36th state on October 31, 1864. Kind of fitting, in a way.

On October 30, 1871, Republican Benjamin Conley became acting Governor of Georgia after Republican Governor Rufus Bullock resigned; Conley served as President of the state Senate before taking office as Governor.

Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

On October 30, 1938, a science fiction drama called War of the Worlds was broadcast nationwide in the form of a series of simulated radio broadcasts.

The carving on Mount Rushmore was completed on October 31, 1941.

Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 30, 1945, becoming the first African-American professional baseball player in the major leagues.

On October 30, 1970, a fastball from Nolan Ryan was timed at 100.9 miles per hour, putting him in the record books. On the same day, Jim Morrison of the Doors was sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrision died before the case was heard on appeal.

President Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail to help his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her race for United States Senate from New York on October 31, 2000. On October 31, 2014, Bill Clinton came to Atlanta to campaign for Michelle Nunn for United States Senate.

The historic Zero Mile Post from Atlanta has been relocated to the Atlanta History Center, according to the AJC.

Zero Mile Post — an 800 pound piece of marble that measures 7 feet 5 inches — was installed in the 1850s to mark the southern terminus of the Western & Atlantic Railroad. For more than 20 years, it has been housed in a locked building under the Central Avenue viaduct. The building is scheduled to be demolished later this year to accommodate the rebuilding of the Central Avenue and Courtland Street bridges, a project approved by voters in 2015.

On Monday, the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead announced that Zero Mile Post, will be open for public viewing on Nov. 17 as part of the new exhibition, “Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta.

“We are excited and honored to be able to steward this artifact and have people see it, understand it and have it interpreted. It is a great honor for the Atlanta History Center,” said Atlanta History Center President and CEO, Sheffield Hale.

The artifact remains under the ownership of the Georgia Building Authority, which has agreed to a five-year renewable license with the Atlanta History Center.

“We gave Atlanta History Center a license and a license can be revoked at any time,” said Steve Stancil, State Property Officer serving as executive director. “Georgia Building Authority still owns it. The place it was at is in peril because of the rebuilding of the Central Avenue bridge.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

NO RUNOFF football MEME 4-01

Early Voting – Morning FixContinue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 29, 2018

Breanne AAAR

Breanne is a young female Labrador Retriever & Pit Bull Terrier mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.


Zero is a female Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Bullet AAAR

Bullet is a young male Treeing Walker Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Bullet is a 1 year old male. He is so full of life and personality! He is unmatched when it comes to making you laugh at how excited he is to see you. This goofy fella jumps with all four paws high in the air and gives a wiggle. He is the total package, complete with a perfectly shaped heart on his side. He would love nothing more than to have a loving family with a fenced in yard to call his own.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 29, 2018

Sir Walter Raleigh, founder of the first permanent English settlement in America, was beheaded on October 29, 1618 for conspiring against King James I.

Georgia’s first Royal Governor, John Reynolds, arrived at Savannah on October 29, 1754.

John Hancock resigned as President of the Continental Congress on October 29, 1777.

The New York Stock Exchange crashed on October 29, 1929, beginning the spiral to the Great Depression.

The first ballpoint pen went on sale at Gimbel’s Department Store on October 29, 1945.

Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia on October 29, 1971.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Morning Fix:

Total Early Ballots cast: 1,199,697


The Augusta Chronicle writes about early voting in Augusta.

Hundreds of Richmond County voters took time out of their Sunday to make their voice heard ahead of this week’s midterm elections.

“Sunday voting is very well received,” [Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn] Bailey said. “The last midterm election we had about 500 people come to vote on Sunday, and the last presidential election we had about 750 Sunday voters.”

The Board of Elections said 767 people cast their ballot Sunday.

Sunday voting was available to Richmond County voters at the municipal building from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but was not available in Columbia County.

From the Chronicle on Saturday voting:

According to numbers supplied by Bailey, 2,898 people voted in Richmond County, pushing the total since advance voting began on Oct. 15 to 10,583. Nancy L. Gay, the executive director for the Columbia County Board of Elections, said 2,538 voted, increasing its total to 17,260.

President Donald J. Trump is widely expected to visit Georgia on Sunday, November 4th for a Macon-area rally in support of Brian Kemp’s gubernatorial bid. From the Macon Telegraph:

President Donald Trump is expected in Macon Sunday to urge Georgia voters to get Republican Brian Kemp victoriously over the finish line in a tight governor’s race with Democrat Stacey Abrams.

A week after Georgia’s first Sunday voting, Trump will host a rally in Macon, according to multiple sources.

The president reportedly will be traveling to eight states this week in the final push for Republican candidates in this midterm election where the balance of power in the U.S. House could shift to Democrat control.


Alexi McCammond got her hands on fresh details — dates and specific locations — of the Trump political team’s schedule ahead of the midterms. The locations and dates we cite here, the big picture details of which were first reported by Bloomberg, are based on internal White House planning and could change:

  • Oct. 31: Fort Myers, Florida
  • Nov. 1: Columbia, Missouri
  • Nov. 2: Huntington, West Virginia and an undisclosed location in Indiana
  • Nov. 3: Bozeman, Montana and an undisclosed location in Florida
  • Nov. 4: Macon, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Nov. 5: Fort Wayne, Indiana and Cape Girardeau, Missouri
  • Another rally, on a date we haven’t established: an undisclosed location in Ohio

Why this matters: In his final blitz,Trump is going to Trump country within Trump states. Not a single competitive House seat lies within these locations.

  • Trump won many of the counties by at least 20 points. He won all of the congressional districts by at least 20, and in one case (Cape Girardeau, MO) he won by more than 50.
  • The most striking exception is Macon, Georgia, which sits within Bibb County, which Hillary Clinton won by 20 points. But Trump won Macon’s congressional district by almost 30 points.

Vice President Mike Pence will appear with Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp this Thursday in Dalton, Grovetown, and Savannah. Here are links for free tickets.

Dalton Tickets
Grovetown Tickets
Savannah Tickets

The Dalton Daily Citizen writes about Vice President Pence’s visit to Dalton.

Pence and the Republican Party gubernatorial candidate, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, will appear at the convention center Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The two also have rallies scheduled for Savannah and the Augusta area that day.

Pence held a rally in Dalton during the presidential campaign in August 2016, when he was Donald Trump’s running mate.

“I understand Pence’s people thought the Dalton rally (in 2016) did very well, so I’m not surprised he’s coming back,” said 14th Congressional District Republican Party Chairman Ed Painter.

Two years ago, Pence’s rally was held in the ballroom of the convention center. This year, it will be held in a much larger arena, according to Whitfield County Republican Party Chairman Dianne Putnam.

“Two years ago, we had a capacity crowd of about 700, and security told us there were about 1,500 people who wanted to get in who couldn’t,” she said. “We are thinking this time we will have 2,000 to 2,500 people.”

Gavin Thompson, chairman of the Young Republicans of Northwest Georgia, says the rally will give a final boost to the Kemp campaign and other Republican candidates in the final days before the election.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum here locally. I think Republicans have been turning out, but this will give another push,” he said.

Jill Nolin writes about the contest for rural votes in the gubernatorial race.

Brian Kemp, a cowboy-boot-wearing Athens businessman, has traveled the state shaking hands with rural conservatives he is urging to show up in force.

“But we know right here in Hawkinsville, we are in the home of a lot of great farmers and a lot of great ag producers and many other hard-working Georgians,” he said. “And I have great appreciation for that because I’m one of you.

“And for my opponent to say that people shouldn’t have to go into agriculture and hospitality is wrong,” he said.

House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from rural north Georgia who backs Kemp, said the comment was one of the most jarring he’s heard in what has become a bitterly fought race.

“That comment was so offensive on so many levels and shows a complete disconnect from what Georgians are thinking and what they’re proud of,” Ralston said in an interview Tuesday.

Kemp said he favors expanding a different program that offers a 100 percent tax credit for donors who give money to rural hospitals. He said he would form an economic development strike team whose daily focus would be to work with rural areas thirsty for jobs. To him, strengthening local tax bases is a step toward aiding the state’s fragile rural hospitals.

They have both pledged to renew a push under the Gold Dome to bring high-speed internet to areas that lack it.

Coweta County Democrats rallied for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Floyd County Democrats rallied for early voting on Sunday, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Former President Jimmy Carter says Brian Kemp should resign as Secretary of State, according to AccessWDUN.

The Gainesville Times looks at younger voters in the 2018 midterm elections.

Turnout for early voting in Hall County has been more than double what it was in the 2014 midterms, and young voters in Northeast Georgia are attributing that to increased political awareness, regardless of political party.

“There are always going to be people who are going to vote based on party lines, but I think most of the people I’ve interacted with at least are considering voting for candidates from parties they haven’t voted for in years or ever,” said Kyle Leineweber, president of Brenau University College Democrats.

Arturo Adame, president of Hall County Young Democrats, said he sees Republicans shifting further to the right, and Democrats are departing from tradition, too.

“Moderation isn’t going to win,” Adame said. “It’s going to be a real change that is going to affect things more drastically.”

Brooke Thigpen, chair of Brenau College Republicans, said Brenau students have collaborated to keep political conversations on campus civil. Brenau’s College Republicans worked with College Democrats and the county’s elections office to host an event to educate students about voting.

“On Brenau’s campus specifically, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the amount of students who are interested and engaged in the political process on all levels of government,” Thigpen said in an email. “… Ensuring young voters are informed of the political process is crucial to making sure young people have a voice.”

Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post writes about issues in the Governor’s race.

Abrams told the Daily Post in August that her school security plans include changing rules on education special purpose local option sales taxes so funds that have traditionally been limited to capital costs can also be used for school district operations such as school resource officers and other safety intervention specialists.

She also said there should be more investment in strategies designed to curb bad behavior from students and addressing mental health issues among students.

“I’m a very strong believer in gun safety regulations that improve the welfare of our entire community,” Abrams said. “That means background checks, waiting periods (and) having the opportunity to remove weapons from those who have been convicted of domestic violence.”

On other issues, Kemp told the Daily Post earlier this month that his approach to school safety includes funding $30,000 grants to all schools to cover security improvement costs and also funding one counselor position for every high school in Georgia so they can address mental health or substance issues that might prompt a shooting.

Although Kemp has heavily touted his support of second amendment rights on the campaign trail, he said he would leave the issue of arming teachers to individual districts to decide.

“It’s a local control issue,” he said. “I know we have some systems that are going that route. I certainly support the ability for them to do that, but for school systems that do not want to do that, I support them as well.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) contributed to legislation on the opioid crisis, according to The Brunswick News.

President Donald Trump signed into law Wednesday comprehensive legislation meant to put controls on the prescription opioid industry, deter opioid abuse and address treatment and recovery. The bill — H.R. 6, the Support for Patients and Communities Act, includes language from three bills introduced by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1.

“While working with members on both sides of the aisle to create these solution to combat this crisis, I learned from constituents, colleagues and others that everyone and every community has been impacted by this epidemic in some way,” Carter said in a statement. “For me, as a pharmacist for more than 30 years, I saw addiction end careers and ruin lives and families.

“This is what has driven me to work so hard on this legislation to address prescription drug abuse while ensuring those who truly need the medications maintain access to it. It is great news this package is now law, and I am committed to continuing this strong bipartisan work to end this crisis once and for all.”

Carter’s contributions to H.R. 6 included specifications that the Department of Health and Human Services conduct a study on abuse deterrent formulations (ADFs) for chronic pain patients in Medicare — ADFs make it harder to modify medication for abuse.

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at a special election for Muscogee County Superior Court Clerk.

Since [incumbent Clerk Ann] Hardman’s unexpected death, Shasta Thomas Glover has been the clerk, sworn in after serving as Hardman’s chief deputy.

She faces a challenge from Danielle Forte, a prosecutor with the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit.

The Ledger Enquirer asked each candidate to cite three priorities, should she win this special election that voters must go to the end of their ballots to find, after proposed constitutional amendments and other state referenda.

Clay County will be home to an $89 million dollar solar farm, according to the Albany Herald.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 26, 2018

Dolly Smithgall

Dolly is a young female Bloodhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Charles Smithgall Humane Society and Adoption Center in Sautee-Nacoochee, GA.

Dolly is a beautiful black and tan bloodhound mix puppy. She is seven weeks old and will be ready for adoption at eight weeks. Dolly and her four litter mates were surrendered to Animal Control on October 2, 2018 because their owner could not keep them.

Dolly has a beautiful face and the coolest of widow’s peak that outlines her eyes so perfectly. She is too cute to be believed and oh so sweet. If you are looking for a terrific family dog or forever companion, get your application in soon as Dolly is bound to garner a lot of interest.

Waylon Smithgall

Waylon is a young male Bloodhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Charles Smithgall Humane Society and Adoption Center in Sautee-Nacoochee, GA.

Named after one of the coolest of country singers, Waylon does his namesake proud. He’s as cool as cool gets. Waylon is a handsome black and tan bloodhound mix puppy. He is seven weeks old and will be ready for adoption at eight weeks.

Waylon has a super expressive face marked by his tiny brown eyebrows which he uses to get a great deal of attention. He is too cute to be believed and oh so sweet. If you are looking for a terrific family dog or forever companion, get your application in soon as Waylon is bound to garner a lot of interest.

Niko Smithgall

Niko is a young male Bloodhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Charles Smithgall Humane Society and Adoption Center in Sautee-Nacoochee, GA.

Unlike his four other siblings, Niko doesn’t sport the traditional black and tan markings, he’s more of a solid soft tan color, making him uniquely Niko. We love his coloring and we love him! Niko is seven weeks old and will be ready for adoption at eight weeks. With his darker brown muzzle and soulful eyes, Niko is too cute to be believed and oh so sweet.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 26, 2018

Christopher Columbus “discovered” Cuba on October 28, 1492.

Colonists in Georgia signed a letter allowing the beginning of the slave trade in Georgia on October 26, 1749.

Georgia Sons of Liberty protested against the British Stamp Act on October 26, 1765.

On October 27, 1775, King George III addressed Parliament, raising concerns about an American rebellion.

The First of the Federalist Papers, an essay by Alexander Hamilton published under the pseudonym Publius, was published on October 27, 1787.

The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of San Lorenzo, also called Pinckney’s Treaty on October 27, 1795, setting the 31st parallel as the border between Georgia and Florida.

The nation’s first Gold Rush started after Benjamin Parks discovered gold in what is now Lumpkin County, Georgia on October 27, 1828.

Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858.

The Battle of Wauhatchie, one of a handful of night battles in the Civil War, began along the Georgia-Tennessee border on October 28, 1863.

A state Constitutional Convention at Milledgeville, Georgia repealed the state’s Ordinance of Secession on October 26, 1865.

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886; the first ticker tape parade followed.

President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act, which implemented the Eighteenth Amendment prohibition on alcohol, on October 27, 1919; the House overrode his veto that same day and the United States Senate overrode the veto on October 28, 1919.

Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922.

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

The Cuban Missile Crisis ended on October 28, 1962 as Kruschev agreed to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba if the United States would respect Cuban sovereignty.

Ronald Reagan delivered the “A Time for Choosing” speech on October 27, 1964.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down—[up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

Gladys Knight and the Pips reached #1 with “Midnight Train to Georgia” on October 27, 1973.

Jimmy Carter campaigned in New York on October 27, 1976.

Democratic President Jimmy Carter debated Republican Ronald Reagan in Cleveland, Ohio on October 28, 1980.


Andrew Young was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 27, 1981.

The Atlanta Braves beat the Cleveland Indians 1-0 to win the World Series on October 28, 1995.

Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy accepted the last Ford Taurus built in Hapeville, Georgia on October 27, 2006.

President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Mike Pence will appear with Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp next Thursday in Dalton, Grovetown, and Savannah. Here are links for free tickets.

Dalton Tickets
Grovetown Tickets
Savannah Tickets

U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May issued an injunction preventing local election officials from discarding mail-in ballots with mis-matched signatures, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The injunction is in response to two lawsuits that have been filed against Kemp and Gwinnett County elections officials challenging the rejection of hundreds of absentee ballots for mismatched signatures and other reasons.

“This injunction applies to all absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots rejected solely on the basis of signature mismatches submitted in this current election,” May said in the order. “This injunction does not apply to voters who have already cast an in-person vote.”

The judge’s order stipulates that any absentee ballots that raise questions because of mismatched signatures is to be treated as a provisional ballot and the voters should be given an opportunity to prove their identity in person or through an attorney.

It also lays out a process for appealing the rejection although it won’t change the date when local elections officials must certify the results of the general election.

Gwinnett County, for example, won’t have to recertify its results to account for absentee ballot rejections that are still being appealed — unless the county of those ballots could swing the outcome of a race.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp asked a federal judge for a stay of her order to appeal the Temorary Restraining Order governing treatment of absentee ballots with mismatched signatures, according to the Daily Report.

The motion, filed by Senior Assistant Attorney General Christina Correia with the office of state Attorney General Chris Carr, sought the stay until she can appeal U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May’s orders granting and implementing the TRO.

Correia sought the stay to allow a review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, contending an appeal “will ensure at least a measure of careful deliberation before upending the state’s election processes in the middle of a general election.”

In announcing an intended appeal, Correia said Martin’s restraining order added “brand new, untested processes ad hoc to long-established election procedures at the eleventh hour.” Correia also contended it “will introduce uncertainty and confusion under extreme time pressure at best” and “risks undermining the integrity of the state’s election process.”

Correia also argued that receiving an absentee ballot and being able to vote by absentee ballot “together amount at most to a privilege and a convenience” rather than a fundamental right to vote.

Glynn County early voting has exceeded all early votes for recent midterm elections, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County residents voting early in the 2018 general election have already exceeded the last three midterm elections with 10,276 casting ballots since the early voting polls opened on Oct. 15.

During the 2014 general midterm elections, 7,239 cast their ballots during early voting. Prior midterm elections in 2010 saw 6,661 votes cast, up from around 3,011 in the 2006 midterms.

Last week, the board of elections saw more than 1,000 people a day, 5,728 total, at its early voting locations in Brunswick and on St. Simons Island. On Thursday, 1,020 people cast their ballots.

State House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) raised funds for fellow house members in Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

“My No. 1 priority each session is passing a balanced budget that addresses our need in Georgia — and obviously we’re going to deal with part of this during the special session, and that’s some financial relief for the hurricane damage in Southwest Georgia,” Ralston said. “I suspect that will probably carry over, and we’ll be dealing with some issues relating to the hurricane, even next session.

“The other thing I think will be a priority for me will be our rural development initiatives that we’ve had in the House — high-speed broadband, for example. I think that’s a very, very important thing that we need to here in the state, to revitalize rural Georgia. So, we’ll tackle that.”

He said there will certainly be other issues that demand the House’s attention next year, but he typically does not like to go into a session with a heavy agenda for what to address, and looks to support Kemp’s plans in the eventuality the GOP nominee wins in November.

State Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) would like to see greater transparency in how funds received by hospitals under the Rural Hospital Tax Credit are spent, according to Andy Miller of Georgia Health News.

how hospitals are spending that money this year has not been officially tracked, the state says. And right now, there apparently isn’t publicly available information on how much in donations that each eligible hospital has received so far in 2018.

An influential state lawmaker said Tuesday that the law needs tweaking to increase transparency.

“There are things that need to be cleaned up,’’ said Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

“Hospitals are thrilled to death’’ about the tax credit program, England said.

Legislators “are going to put things in place to see how these dollars are being spent’’ to increase transparency, said England, who’s also co-chair of the House Rural Development Council. “We want to be specific on allowable spending.”

“This is taxpayer money that would otherwise go into the General Fund,’’ England told Georgia Health News. “Every one of these hospitals want to do the right thing. I want to identify how the money is spent.”

Republican Bulloch County District 2B Commissioner Walter Gibson faces Democratic challenger Adrienne Dobbs, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The City of Savannah is considering a 10 PM shutoff time for tours, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Columbus City Council moved forward with getting courtrooms in the government center back in working order, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

“I think everyone from the judges to the staff to the citizens engaged on this issue are relieved that council took the decisive action to move forward in getting the courtrooms back up and running, getting basic, life-saving issues addressed for those that must work in the Government Center and starting the planning process for either a completely rebuilt or a wholly new judicial and government building,” [Mayor Teresa Tomlinson] said.

The measure council approved will not only accept the nearly $1.1 million in insurance settlement funds from Travelers to start the repairs on the damaged floors, but it will also allow the city to borrow $7 million in bonds issued by the Columbus Building Authority. The city will use $2.5 million of that to address safety issues in the government center, many of them surrounding fire safety.

The city will use $1 million of the borrowed money toward toward planning, engineering and assessment for the new building to potentially replace the 47-year-old Government Center, which houses city administration, multiple city departments and the courts.

The city will then use $3 million in borrowed money to upgrade the softball complex at South Commons. This will include work to the stadium and surrounding fields. The Columbus Sports Council made the pitch for these improvements in August, while telling council it had a chance to host an international softball tournament that will be televised by ESPN.

The Georgia Ports Authority wants to double capacity at the Port of Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

The Port of Brunswick had a gangbuster fiscal year 2018, handling a total of 630,000 cars, trucks and tractors, state officials said Thursday at the annual State of the Port address on Jekyll Island.

“The Port of Brunswick achieved a solid performance across all cargo categories over the last fiscal year,” said Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, or GPA. “As GPA adds new terminal space, we will expand our service area in the Southeast and beyond.”

Next year, the port’s Colonel’s Island terminal will add 60 acres of usable dockside space. Most of that land will be used for roll-on, roll-off, or “Ro/Ro,” freight, like cars and heavy machinery. This expansion will increase storage by 8,250 vehicle spaces. Currently, Brunswick’s port has a capacity of 800,000 units, and in the coming years, GPA plans to nearly double that to 1.5 million units and use an additional 400 acres, Lynch said.

To help meet that demand, the port authority will be doubling rail capacity with a new dockside expansion. This will give the port the ability to build trains up to 10,000 feet long, which are capable of traveling longer distance to meet markets west of the Mississippi River. Already, the Port of Brunswick is sending vehicles as far away as California, Lynch noted.

Rome City Council chose a firm to construct a new dog park, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Hall County Commission unanimously passed a ban on unsupervised dog tethering, according to the Gainesville Times.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 25, 2018

Chester Swainsboro

Chester is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Emanuel County Humane Society in Swainsboro, GA. Chester is dog friendly and very playful.

Libby Swainsboro

Libby is a young female Labrador Retriever & German Shepherd Dog mix who is available for adoption from the Emanuel County Humane Society in Swainsboro, GA. Libby was brought in with her mother Gabby. Libby is a bit skittish but is starting to come around.

Sparks Metter

Sparks is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Metter Animal Shelter in Metter, GA. Sparks loves playing at the shelter. She is alot of fun and ready to go home with a loving family. She is a sweet lab/pit mix. She is approximately a year old.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 25, 2018

On October 25, 1774, the First Continental Congress addressed a petition to King George III raising concerns about the Coercive Acts passed by Parliament and asserting its loyalty to the monarch.

The wooden keel of USS Monitor was laid at Continental Iron Works at Greenpoint, New York on October 25, 1861.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Libertarian candidate for Governor Ted Metz hopes to throw the November elections into a runoff, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The lesser-known third-party candidate in the closely watched Georgia gubernatorial race says he wants your “protest” vote.

“This is going to be a runoff anyway,” Ted Metz, who is running as a Libertarian, said during the first televised debate. “If you’re tired of the two-party system and the two-party tyranny of the oligarchs running the planet, then a vote for me is a protest vote to show them that you are sick and tired of the same ol’ stuff.”

But if Metz cobbles together enough votes to deny Abrams and Kemp the votes needed for a majority, the race to name Georgia’s next governor could run into December. Four people have also qualified as write-in candidates in the race.

He said lower voter turnout — which he attributed to disinterested independent voters — is a bigger issue than voter suppression, which has become a major election issue in the homestretch of the race.

A federal court has issued an injunction governing how rejected absentee ballots must be handled, according to the Associated Press, via the Augusta Chronicle.

U.S. District Judge Leigh May ordered the secretary of state’s office to instruct county election officials to stop the practice for the November midterm elections. She outlined a procedure to allow voters to resolve alleged signature discrepancies.

Two lawsuits filed earlier this month allege that election officials are improperly rejecting absentee ballots and applications in violation of their constitutional rights.

If the voter’s signature on the absentee ballot envelope or absentee ballot application doesn’t match the signature on the voter registration card, state law says it should be rejected. An absentee ballot can also be rejected if the voter signs in the wrong place or incorrectly fills out spaces designated for address and year of birth on the envelope.

The law doesn’t allow voters to contest the allegation of a mismatched signature or to confirm their identity before rejection. The law says voters are to be notified “promptly” of any rejection, but no time frame is provided. The lawsuits say that could result in voters being notified too late to fix the problem, jeopardizing their right to vote.

May’s order says that if there’s a perceived signature mismatch on an absentee ballot, election officials must mark it as provisional. They must then send the voter a pre-rejection notice and allow the voter an opportunity to confirm his or her identity and have the vote counted no later than three days after the election, the order says.

For an absentee ballot application with an apparent signature mismatch, election officials must send the voter a provisional ballot along with information explaining how the provisional ballot process works, the order says.

 A Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly next month is likely to include the issue of sales tax on jet fuel, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Deal will outline the limits of the session in the coming weeks, but lawmakers are expected to take up an unrelated proposal to suspend the state jet fuel tax – an issue that garnered controversy earlier this year after Delta Air Lines ended a discount for National Rifle Association members.

Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, told a group of lawmakers Tuesday the tax exemption will likely come up during the special session because state law dictates it.

Deal issued an executive order in July temporarily suspending the tax, which he’s authorized to do “until the meeting of the next General Assembly but no longer,” according to state code. That leaves it to lawmakers to decide whether to continue giving airlines the tax break.

[Georgia Department of Agriculture inspector general Gary] Kelley briefed the House Rural Development Council on the losses Tuesday: up to $600 million in losses to the cotton crop, $480 million in losses to vegetables and a $560 million hit to the pecan industry. The timber farmers are looking at as much as a $1 billion loss.

Rep. Sam Watson, R-Moultrie, is a vegetable farmer who lost much of his crop. He said the destruction to farmland will have a ripple effect in rural communities because of the businesses – such as hardware stores, fertilizer salesmen, tire dealers and others – who feed off farmers.

“These are the only businesses in rural Georgia,” Watson said. “If farmers don’t get paid, (the other businesses are) not going to get paid. And of course that’s sales tax revenue that the counties don’t get.

From the Newnan Times-Herald:

During the special session, the budget amendment will go through the same process that any bill goes through – it will be “dropped” and “first read” and then after a second reading will be assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.

That committee will hold a hearing, possibly make changes, approve the bill and send it to the Rules Committee, and then to the House floor for a vote. After the House approves it, things move to the Senate for a committee hearing and floor vote. Some rules could be suspended during the special session to make things move a bit faster, Smith said.

House members got an email Tuesday from Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. In it, Ralston said that “while we will work as expeditiously as possible, legislative procedures will require several days,” Smith said, and Ralston tells House members to prepare to be at the capitol through at least Friday, Nov. 16, and to “bear in mind additional days may be required.”

Between now and the opening of the special session, various state agencies and the governor’s office will be compiling data on the damage and the need, and a prepared budget amendment should be ready to introduce on the first day of the special session, Smith said.

That article by Sarah Fay Butler is one of the best I’ve read on how the Special Session will work.

Republican State School Superintendent Richard Woods says Georgia’s education system has improved dramatically, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

As Georgia has become a top state in the nation to do business, Georgia Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods told a Republican women’s group Wednesday the state’s second-most improved sector is education.

Woods, a former high school history teacher who lives in Tifton, is facing Democratic challenger Otha Thorton, a former national PTA leader and retired Army officer, for a second term. Thornton did not return a request for comment.

Woods said due to the hard work of local systems and the state Department of Education, Georgia’s graduation rate is at an all-time high, with a 90 percent graduation rate “doable” in a few years. The state’s SAT and ACT test scores are out-performing the nation, and its high school graduates often also leave with college degrees, he said.

Repeating a theme heard often from Republican candidates in the Nov. 6 election, Woods said it was critical to elect Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp as governor to keep the state’s success rolling, including to replace the Common Core standards the state education board, which is appointed by the governor, adopted in 2010.

Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he will not recuse himself if his election against Democrat Stacey Abrams goes to a recount, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Republican Brian Kemp says he will not recuse himself as Georgia’s chief elections officer even if his gubernatorial race with Democrat Stacey Abrams goes to a recount.

“We’ve got a very competent elections team to oversee that (recount) process,” Kemp said, and in a nod to the microscope now on the state, added: “I’m certain that there would be a lot of people watching that.”

He was, however, asked repeatedly by Abrams and the moderators about voting-related issues, and maintained that he could do the job fairly despite his obvious interest in the election’s outcome.

“There are 7 million people that have correctly filled the form out,” Kemp said, referencing the state’s registration total, “and (Abrams is) blaming me for a few that couldn’t do that or they simply don’t exist.”

“She’s lying about my record,” he said, “to hide her extreme agenda.”

Democratic Bulloch County District 1B incumbent Commissioner Anthony Simmons faces a challenge from Republican W. Scott Brannen, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The Statesboro Herald has published a five-part video series of the debate between Republican Congressman Rick Allen and Democratic Challenger Francys Johnson.

Democrat Francys Johnson told the Augusta Chronicle that the economic recovery is skipping rural Georgia.

Raised on a Screven County farm between Sylvania and Hiltonia, Ga., Statesboro attorney Francys Johnson stressed that rural Georgia’s needs aren’t being met by the Republican agenda in a Wednesday interview with The Augusta Chronicle’s editorial board.

Johnson, a Democrat challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Augusta to represent the 12th Congressional District, softened his tone but continued the barrage of attacks against Allen he launched at a Tuesday forum in Statesboro.

“Many of them feel that they don’t have a voice in Washington right now to represent rural America. They think their voice is not being heard because too much of what goes on is good for some, but not good for very many,” Johnson said.

“They know that even though the president says things are as good as they’ve ever been, walk down the main street of Millen or Swainsboro or even Statesboro, you’ll see otherwise,” he said.

It shows in the closing of rural hospitals, which Johnson said can be addressed by expanding Medicaid as a majority of states have done.

“Fifty years ago you could have a baby in Millen, Sylvania, Waynesboro – none of those places you can have a baby now,” he said.

The result is Georgia’s rank at the bottom nationwide in infant mortality. Twelve of 19 counties in the district are so poor, every child gets free lunch at public school, he said.

Republican Congressman Buddy Carter (Pooler) met his Democratic opponent in a forum, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Savannah Branch of the NAACP hosted the first meeting of the two candidates last week. Wednesday’s forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia.

The forum was split into two hours worth of timed question-and-answer segments, allowing the candidates to expand on topics of concern for the position they hope to win in November.

Carter said he was in favor of changing the status of marijuana from a schedule 1 drug to a schedule 2 drug to allow research on the medicinal benefits of the plant, but was “absolutely opposed to recreational marijuana,” calling it a “gateway drug.”

Ring said she was in favor of medical marijuana, and said medical marijuana would cut down on the abuse of opioids.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission is seeking the suspension of Mack Crawford from his seat on the Superior Court for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, according to the AJC.

Judge Mack Crawford should be relieved of his duties, with pay, while an ethics complaint against him is pending, the Judicial Qualifications Commission said. In July, the JQC accused Crawford of the theft of more than $15,000 from the Pike County court’s registry.

Crawford’s continued service on the bench “would undermine public confidence in the judiciary,” the commission said in a motion filed Tuesday before the state Supreme Court. It noted the code of judicial conduct requires judges to uphold the integrity of the court system and “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.”

In a prior interview, Crawford, 64, strongly denied doing anything improper. “I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong,” he said.

Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority is rolling out smart cards and a mobile app to make transit use easier, according to the Macon Telegraph. The downside is that you’re still in Macon.

Savannah Fire Chief Charles Middleton will retire at the end of this year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Glynn County Commission Finance Committee will consider hiring an engineering firm for beach restoration outside the normal procurement process, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2016 Oversight Committee met to hear updates on projects financed under the 2016 tax measure, according to The Brunswick News.

Candidates for Mayor of Grantville met in a public forum, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 24, 2018

Belluga Savannah

Belluga is a 7-month old, 40-pound female Basset Hound puppy who is available for adoption from Save-A-Life in Savannah, GA.

She is tri-colored with long silky ears. She was surrendered by an owner who was physically unable to care for her. She is young, and strong. She is spayed, up to date on her vaccinations, house broken, and trained to sleep in a crate. She does well with the other larger dogs but is too much for the smaller ones. She is sweet and loving and enjoys a good snuggle. Bella is looking for an inside home who understands the needs of the bassett.

Dolly Savannah

Dolly is a 3-month old, 8-pound female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Save-A-Life in Savannah, GA.

Dolly is now fat and healthy, although she is smaller than normal. She is trained to sleep in a crate and is good all night. She is quiet and gentle, loves to play with the smaller dogs, but is intimidated by the larger ones. She likes to snuggle and will follow your every step resting between your feet. Dolly is looking for an inside home with someone who will love her for life.

Whiskey Savannah

Whiskey is a year-old, 37-pound female Greyhound and Basenji mix who is available for adoption from Save-A-Life in Savannah, GA.

Whiskey loves to run and play tag. When she realizes no one is chasing her because she is too fast, she goes back to look for them and tries to get them to chase her again. She would make a perfect companion for a runner.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 24, 2018

On October 24, 1733, the Georgia trustees ordered a ship to Rotterdam to pick up a group of Lutherans expelled from Salzburg, Austria, and then send the Salzburgers to Georgia.

On October 24, 1775, Lord John Murray Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia, ordered the British fleet to attack Norfolk, VA.

On October 24, 1790, the Rev. John Wesley wrote the last entry in his journal, which he began keeping on October 14, 1735.

The first American “Unknown Soldier” was chosen on October 24, 1921 in Chalons-sur-Marne, France.

Bearing the inscription “An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War,” the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

The Charter of the United Nations took effect on October 24, 1945.

On October 24, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged the United States’ support for the South Vietnam government led by President Ngo Dinh Diem.

On October 24, 1976, Newsweek released a poll showing Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter leading President Gerald Ford in 24 states, with a combined 308 electoral voters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Morning Fix

Total early ballots cast: 747,986

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that he will call a special legislative session after the November elections.

Gov. Nathan Deal today notified House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle that he plans to call for a special legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly. The special session is set to convene on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

“Georgia was severely impacted by Hurricane Michael and many communities across our state sustained heavy financial losses,” said Deal. “In response, I will ask the General Assembly to take immediate action and lead the way in spurring rapid economic recovery for southwest Georgia communities. Our state budget also needs to be amended to ensure that we adequately cover our obligations. I hope to work quickly with the General Assembly in the coming days to provide support to the Georgia communities that need it most.”

The regular session of the 2018 General Assembly adjourned sine die on March 29, 2018. Article V, Section II, Paragraph VII of the Constitution of the State of Georgia grants the governor the power to convene a special session of the General Assembly.

Totally unconfirmed and wildly speculative rumors have suggested that Amazon incentives may also be part of the special session.

From the AJC:

Deal made the special session announcement two weeks before heated midterm elections in which his successor — either Republican Brian Kemp or Democrat Stacey Abrams — will be chosen. The special session will begin a week after the election and is expected to last at least five days.

Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, said the state tab for the cleanup will be in the neighborhood of $100 million, including about $70 million just for debris removal. The state will pay part of local government costs, including overtime for staffers who worked long hours during and after the storm.

“It’s a pretty severe financial impact, and we want members to vote on it,” Riley said. “We just don’t have the money in their (agency) budgets to cover these costs.”

Deal has squirreled away $2.5 billion in state reserves, but Riley said that money will be left for the next governor. Instead, Riley said, the state will use excess tax money that has come in so far this year, in the same way the General Assembly typically approves a midyear budget in the spring to cover new costs during the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The session is being called, he said, because the midyear budget typically isn’t approved until February or March, “and bills need to be paid now” to cover personnel overtime, contractors and other storm-related costs. The state will have a better estimate of the cost by the time the session begins, he added.

“We owe it to the citizens and local governments impacted by Hurricane Michael to continue supporting their recovery efforts,” he said in a statement. “As such, we will need to amend our FY 2019 budget to fund the work ahead.” [said House Speaker David Ralston].

Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said: “The majority caucus and I support this session and believe it is vital in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Agriculture is a major player in our state’s economy, and right now our farmers need our assistance more than ever.”

The governor has also promised a special session if Amazon names Georgia as a finalist for its second headquarters. Riley said the state’s pursuit of the tech giant’s $5 billion campus did not factor into the decision and will not be a part of the legislative agenda.

Gov. Deal spoke in Dalton about having represented the area in elected office for 25 years, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Deal noted that when he came into office in January 2011 the state was still feeling the impact of the Great Recession.

“Many businesses had closed,” he said. “The state had cut spending tremendously.”

He noted that the state had spent down its “rainy day” fund to just $160 million, enough to cover only two days of spending. He said that as he leaves office that reserve fund has been built up to more than $2.5 billion.

During Deal’s term in office, the state added 750,000 new non-government jobs and the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.8 percent from 10.6 percent.

Deal also touted the Appalachian Regional Port, which opened this summer in northern Murray County and links by rail to the Port of Savannah.

Carpet and Rug Institute President Joe Yarbrough announced that organization will be endowing a scholarship in Deal’s name at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

“He has been a great governor,” Yarbrough said. “I believe history will regard him as one of our state’s greatest governors. I personally feel he has been our state’s greatest governor.”

Overdose deaths are leveling-off at the national level, said US HHS Secretary Alex Azar, according to the Statesboro Herald.

“We are so far from the end of the epidemic, but we are perhaps, at the end of the beginning,” Azar said at a health care event sponsored by the Milken Institute think tank.

Confronting the opioid epidemic has been the rare issue uniting Republicans and Democrats in a politically divided nation. A bill providing major funding for treatment was passed under former President Barack Obama. More money followed earlier this year under President Donald Trump. And tomorrow Trump is expected to sign bipartisan legislation passed this month that increases access to treatment, among other steps.

More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses last year, according to preliminary numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer— a 10 percent increase from 2016. Health and Human Services — the department Azar heads — is playing a central role in the government’s response.

The Georgia Department of Insurance estimates that insured losses from Hurricane Michael could exceed $250 million dollars, according to Insurance Journal.

Pecan farmers are beginning to tally their losses from Hurricane Michael, according to the Albany Herald.

Georgia’s pecan industry was forever changed by Hurricane Michael, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Pecan Specialist Lenny Wells.

In Dougherty, Lee and Mitchell counties, which produce 30 percent of Georgia’s pecan crop, Wells estimates that 30-40 percent of the pecan trees were destroyed.

“Pretty much every orchard in the state has had damage of some kind,” Wells said. “We’re seeing limbs down, trees down, trees split. Under all of that are good nuts that have blown out of the trees.”

Overall, Wells said he believes Georgia lost half of this year’s pecan crop — a $100 million loss from this year’s crop plus $260 million in lost trees.

Republican Brian Kemp and his Democratic opponent met in a televised debate last night, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The two major-party candidates for Georgia governor split early on the question of in-state college tuition rates for young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children and who have temporary protection from deportation.

“I’ve been running my whole campaign on putting Georgians first,” said Kemp, adding that “free” tuition for such students is the wrong position.

Abrams said she supports in-state tuition rates for such students, and Georgia has to take every chance to improve its economy and fill in-demand jobs.

Politicos across the country are watching as Democrats are making a coordinated charge on the highest offices in Georgia, which have been held by Republicans for more than a decade. GOP candidates themselves have responded by coordinating their campaigning with each other more than in recent years.

But if several years’ worth of state Legislature elections are any indicator, the state’s not as reliably red as it once was. As Republicans watch their margins decline in former strongholds like Cobb and Gwinnett counties, that makes turnout among the base as important a strategy for Republicans as for Democrats.

From AccessWDUN:

Disputes over voting access took center stage at the debate, highlighting Abrams’ historic bid to become the first black female governor in American history and the long-simmering politics of race in the Deep South. Kemp, who is white, continued to fend off charges that he’s using his position as Georgia secretary of state to make it harder for minority voters to cast ballots.

Abrams said Kemp’s record as secretary of state “causes great concern” and pointed to the release of voter data under Kemp’s watch and the state’s “exact match’” voter registration system, which has left tens of thousands of voter registrations “pending” due to inconsistencies.

Kemp said accusations that he was suppressing the vote were “totally untrue.’”

“I’ve staked the integrity of my whole career on the duty that I have as secretary of state. I have always fulfilled and followed the laws of our state and I’ll continue to do that,” Kemp said.

Kemp said his record included making it “easy to vote and hard to cheat” in Georgia.

He fired back, citing a recent video clip in which Abrams seems to say that “undocumented” immigrants were part of her coalition.

“Why are you encouraging people to break the law to vote for you?” Kemp asked.

Democrat Stacey Abrams spoke about her burning of the Georgia flag at the State Capitol in 1992, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Abrams’ role in that flag-burning protest resurfaced in The New York Times on Monday, the eve of her first debate against Republican Brian Kemp. The paper cited a June 1992 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article; a caption for the accompanying photo identifies Abrams as a woman standing with her arms crossed, watching three other protesters burn the flag.

Abrams’ spokeswoman Abigail Collazo said Abrams was involved in a “permitted, peaceful protest against the Confederate emblem in the flag” while a student at Spelman College in Atlanta in 1992.

“During Abrams’ college years, Georgia was at a crossroads, struggling with how to overcome racially divisive issues, including symbols of the Confederacy, the sharpest of which was the inclusion of the Confederate emblem in the Georgia state flag,” Collazo said.

Abrams is seeking to become the first black female governor of any state. Kemp, who also is overseeing the election as Georgia’s secretary of state, has portrayed her as “too extreme for Georgia.” He’s said the race is a battle for the very “soul” of the state.

After the white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Abrams advocated for the removal of a massive cliff-side carving on Stone Mountain near Atlanta, the largest Confederate monument anywhere. Protesters who consider such monuments to be symbols of Southern heritage have since targeted her at campaign stops across Georgia.

A federal judge is considering allegations of too many rejected absentee ballots, according to the Gainesville Times.

Two separate lawsuits allege election officials are improperly rejecting absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications without first giving voters an opportunity to dispute a finding of a mismatched signature. One of the lawsuits also challenges the rejection of absentee ballots because of what it calls technical errors, like writing the current year in a space designated for the voter’s birth year or signing on the wrong line.

State and county officials say they’re handling the ballots and applications the same way they have for at least two decades and the lawsuits were sparked by news coverage of rejections in Gwinnett County.

U.S. District Judge Leigh May heard arguments from both sides Tuesday and said she will likely focus on the signature mismatch issue in an order issued in the coming days.

In addition to suing Kemp, both lawsuits also singled out Gwinnett County, saying that information provided by Kemp’s office showed that the populous, majority-minority county accounts for a disproportionate number of the rejections.

Cristina Correia, a lawyer for the state, said some counties have not entered their data into the secretary of state’s system. Attorney Bruce Brown, who filed one of the lawsuits, seized on that information, saying the problem may be much bigger than it seems if some of the counties that showed no rejections actually hadn’t reported their numbers.

Republican Congressman Rick Allen (R-Augusta) met his Democratic challenger in a public forum yesterday, according to the Augusta Chronicle. You can watch the debate as it was livecast on Facebook.

State Representative Jeff Jones (R-St. Simons Island) is working on legislation to open oyster cultivation on the Georgia Coast, according to The Brunswick News.

“As this whole thing has begun to evolve, we’ve had contacts from a number of the … distributors throughout the state who are anxious to see us deliver quality, farm-raised oysters to the restaurant industry on a 12-month a year basis,” Jones said. “But, we’re going to need to bring the spat in from out of state. Quite frankly, there is not enough oyster hatchery facility or capacity currently in the state to be able to service what we believe will be a very good and strong industry.”

Jones said the state Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division is going to need to hire at least three new staffers to kick off the oyster cultivation process, but he said there is money already set aside that can be used for these jobs.

“So, we’ve got legislation in process, got the full support of (DNR), we’ve got funding lined up, and we have market demand that’s already been expressed by folks such as Inland Seafood, a big seafood distributor out of Atlanta,” Jones said. “All the elements of this are coming together in an incredibly smooth fashion. And so for me, I more or less stumbled into this because of all the work done by the various folks involved in the industry.

“Actually, it was a reporter from The Brunswick News that contacted me three or four months ago — whenever that was — doing an article about why oysters haven’t taken off in the state of Georgia. And that piqued my interest enough that I jumped into that process, and again, we brought it to where we are today.”

The Valdosta Daily Times spoke to some locals about the midterm elections.

Much of the population growth in Whitfield County, Georgia, has been fueled by an influx of Hispanic workers.

The county’s population has almost doubled during the past 48 years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county had an estimated population of 104,658 in 2017, up from 55,108 in 1970.

Dalton, Georgia, the largest city and county seat of Whitfield County, has seen its population grow almost as fast.

The Hispanic workers, many of them immigrants, are employed by floor-covering mills. The Hispanic population rose from the low single digits to an estimated 49 percent of the 2017 population of Dalton and 35.5 percent of the county population.

Bibb County Superior Court Chief Judge Edgar W. Ennis Jr. dismissed a lawsuit seeking to change a rezoning that would allow an abortion clinic, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Northeastern Judicial Circuit Victim-Witness Assistance Program hosted a program in Gainesville with members of the Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles, according to the Gainesville Times.

Victims were allowed to meet with and make statements to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles at the event at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville.

Victim impact statements are part of the record considered by parole board members when deciding an offender’s potential parole.

It was the first time the event was held in Hall County. It’s been held 30 times around the state since 2006.

Two members of the board, David Herring and James Mills, are from Hall County. All five members were in attendance Tuesday.

The board met with more than 135 crime victims and added information to 79 case files.

“It is the goal of the parole board to leave no victim in the dark, but to include the victims in every consideration where a victim wants to be considered,” said board chairman Terry Barnard.

Rome citizens will see higher bills for garbage pickup, according to the Rome News-Tribune.