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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 15, 2016

Georgia and American History

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

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

President Jimmy Carter announced on December 15, 1978 that U.S. diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China would begin on January 1, 1979.

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal took steps yesterday to make Naloxone, which is used to treat opioid overdoses, available over-the-counter in Georgia.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 14, 2016


Claus is a male Chihuahua puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.


Joy is a female Chihuahua puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.


Merry is a female Chihuahua puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.


Noel is a female Chihuahua puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 14, 2016

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

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

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

McKinley_at_Atlanta2 McKinley Atlanta SM

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Republican Chuck Payne led the field in the Senate District 54 Special Election yesterday.

Conda Lowery Goodson (R) 8.44% 419
Chuck Payne (R) 36.10% 1792
Debby Peppers 27.42% 1361
Shell Underwood (R) 10.80% 536
William Vinyard (R) 17.24% 856

Republican Payne and Democrat Debby Peppers will meet in a runoff election January 10, 2017, the day after the Georgia General Assembly convenes.

From Payne’s campaign manager, Justin Tomczak,

“Chuck Payne heads into the runoff in strong position v. a life-long Democrat, having bested her in all four counties in the District. Chuck has served his community for decades and supported conservative candidates at all levels. Meanwhile, his opponent was donating to Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, and voting for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton for President. NW Georgia has little in common with those liberal politicians” said Payne’s political adviser Justin Tomczak.

“Chuck’s volunteered for every Republican candidate I’ve supported and so I volunteered to run his race” added Tomczak.

Democrat Debby Peppers spoke to the Times Free Press,

“We’re in a good position,” Peppers said. “We’ll just see what happens. I didn’t want to drag [the race] out over Christmas, but it is what it is. My base is pretty loyal and pretty proactive. And I expect them to come back out again.”

Peppers was the only candidate to run as an Independent in this election, with the four other candidates all registering as Republicans. During a candidate forum Nov. 30, when the four other candidates said they wanted to increase sales tax and decrease property taxes, Peppers criticized the plan. She argued that would disproportionately affect poor people.

She is also the only candidate who does not outright oppose abortion in most cases. She said banning the procedure in Georgia would lead to a challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court, costing taxpayers money.

This is in an area that is strongly conservative, where about 78 percent of voters supported Donald Trump in the presidential race last month.

Payne entered Tuesday’s race as the most deeply connected Republican. He has been a member of the local party since the early 1990s and twice served as its chairman. Most recently, he stepped down from the post to volunteer for the presidential campaign of Dr. Ben Carson.

Payne defeated Peppers in all four counties Tuesday. And with three other Republicans dropping out, he has a good shot of picking up extra support over the next month.

Houston County voters will go to the polls on March 21, 2017 to vote on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 13, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters in Northwest Georgia’s Senate District 54 go to the polls today to elect a new State Senator to succeed former Senator Charlie Bethel.

Polls for the special election are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. as five candidates try to replace Charlie Bethel, a six-year veteran whom Gov. Nathan Deal appointed to the state’s court of appeals last month. The position covers Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Pickens and Gordon counties.

In Georgia, the seat holder has to earn more than 50 percent of the vote to win. And with a crowded list of contenders today, there’s a chance the two most popular candidates will have to face each other in a runoff on Jan. 10, a day after the Senate session begins.

The candidates for the seat are:

* Conda Lowery Goodson, an active community volunteer

* Chuck Payne, a retired juvenile court probation officer

* Debby Peppers, an attorney and former county commissioner

* Shell Underwood, an insurance counselor and former teacher

* William Vinyard, a contractor

The race is nonpartisan, but four of the candidates signed up as Republicans. Peppers registered as an Independent candidate. She and Payne were the two most politically active candidates prior to this week’s race.

Payne, a member of the local Republican Party since 1991, was the group’s chairman from 1998-2005 and again from 2013-15. He stepped down the second time to volunteer for Ben Carson’s presidential campaign.

Peppers is the most liberal candidate in a staunchly conservative region. During a candidate forum, she was the only one who argued against cutting property taxes while boosting sales tax, telling the audience the maneuver would disproportionately tax the poor. She also said she would not support legislation banning abortion in Georgia, arguing it would lead to a costly lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The candidates appeared together in a public forum on Monday.

Goodson noted that people may be familiar with her from her previous run for Senate District 54, when she unsuccessfully challenged then-incumbent Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, in the GOP primary earlier this year.

“I’ve been studying Georgia laws, and I’ve talked to tens of thousands of people. I’ve talked to hundreds of small business owners to find out what’s hurting them and what I can do to help them,” she said.

Payne said that although he was worked on numerous campaigns for others, this is the first time he has run for office.

“I’ve spent all of my adult life serving my country and my community, first in the Army and then for the Department of Juvenile Justice,” said Payne, who recently retired after 30 years with the department as a juvenile probation officer.
[Republican William] Vinyard said he is “a Christian, a conservative and a constitutionalist.”

“I’m a Marine Corps combat veteran. I’ve fought for my country, and I’ll fight for you,” he said.

Burrell Ellis is back at the helm of DeKalb County’s government after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned his convictions for official corruption.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 13, 2016


Cadaba is a pit bull terrier mix female who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Spend one minute with Cadaba and you are sure to fall in love. This happy, silly two year old is ready to brighten your life more and more every day. She gets along with other dogs and may not mind sharing her home with a canine companion. She is two years old and weighs about 45 pounds.


Wyclef is a 6-year old male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Wyclef doesn’t want to spend another month in the shelter – help him find his forever or foster home for the holidays! He is a peppy guy who dreams of making all your wishes come true. He can’t wait to have a family to call his own. He gets along great with other dogs and is ready to go home today!


Agatha (female, right) and Einstein (male, right) are eight-year old best friends who are available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services.

What’s better than spending the holidays with an old friend or two? Agatha & Einstein would love to relax by the fireplace during your holiday festivities! This old couple is looking for a place to call home. Can you help them find their foster or forever?

This old couple is pretty much inseparable. They are the best of friends and do everything together. They love going out for slow walks and napping cuddled up on their orthopedic bed. Agatha moves a little slower than Einstein, but still gets around fine. They would absolutely love a home where they can stay together. They promise they won’t be much trouble. Meet Agatha and Einstein at LifeLine’s Dekalb Animal Services!


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 12, 2016


Trevor is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.


Kenny is a young male Labrador Retriever & English Bulldog Mix who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.


Angel is a female German Shepherd Dog who is available for adoption from Macon Bibb County Animal Welfare in Macon, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 12, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A Macon Telegraph headline sounds like the beginning of a country song: He says he made her breakfast, then she set his house on fire.

[Aaron] Whitfield said he made her something to eat. “She was tired and hungry,” he said. Then he told her he was going to clean his room.

“And she got mad,” he said, “because I asked her to leave.”

She refused, so Whitfield put her out. Then a brick sailed through a window at the back door.

“I heard glass break,” Whitfield said. “Then she said, ‘I’m gonna set this mother (expletive) on fire!’ And next thing I know, the back porch was on fire. … I don’t know how.”

“I mean, I just gave her breakfast,” he said. “I mean, why you want to do that?”

Governor Nathan Deal released a statement on the shootings in Americus, Georgia.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

On behalf of all Georgians, Sandra and I grieve with the family, friends and Americus Police Department over the loss of Nicholas Ryan Smarr, who was killed yesterday in the line of duty. We ask for God’s grace and sustenance for the family of Jody Smith, the Georgia Southwestern State University police officer who remains in critical condition. Our hearts are with Americus and Georgia Southwestern State University. On behalf of the state of Georgia, I pledge the full support of state resources to this heartbroken community as it begins to heal and as we work to ensure that justice is served.

Gov. Deal also presided over the swearing-in of three new Justices of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

“It’s a rare opportunity for a governor to swear in three new Georgia Supreme Court justices,” Deal said. “This is an historic day.”

All three will take their new jobs in January. The governor made a point of starting with Thompson’s successor, currently Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs. That means Boggs will have seniority—by a few minutes—over the other two: Court of Appeals Judge Nels Peterson and Solicitor General Britt Grant, in that order. The sequence of Wednesday’s ceremony will be important years from now, when it’s time for one of the three to take the lead as chief justice. And it will be a factor in much of what they do in the meantime, right down to the order in which they enter the courtroom and take their seats for oral arguments.

“Things have not always worked out as I’ve planned, but I trust they’ve always worked out as God has planned,” Boggs said. He quoted Proverbs 3: 5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Next up, Peterson quoted more Scripture. Micah 6:8. “What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Grant also promised to honor the rule of law with humility and fairness. And she set another goal: “clarity and coherence.” The governor has said he puts a high value on clear legal writing, and complimented all three of his choices on their skills in this area.

Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young is the latest Georgian to make a trip to New York to meet with Trump Transition Team officials.

Bob Young was at Trump tower [December 8, 2016] for a meeting with members of the President-Elect’s transition staff.

Young was also appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Regional Director of Housing and Urban Development in Atlanta.

Young also worked on the “Get Out The Vote” effort for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin.

Donald Trump’s election as President probably killed the Georgia effort to adopt a national popular vote scheme for Presidential elections.

Only a few months ago, the state Legislature had before it two bills that, on paper, were among the most popular of the 2016 session. Each measure, Republican-driven in both the House and Senate, would have pledged Georgia’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes.

Had that pledge been in effect six weeks ago, Georgia electors on Monday, Dec. 19, would be voting for Clinton, who leads Trump by 2.5 million in the popular vote. It’s the biggest winning margin by a losing presidential candidate in U.S. history.

But both House Bill 929 and Senate Bill 376 hit mysterious, invisible walls as last winter edged toward spring. The former received approval from a House committee and then disappeared. According to its primary sponsor, S.B. 376 had the signatures of 50 senators – in a chamber with only 56 members. The bill never even got a hearing.

“I suspended my support of the bill in an effort to better understand the issue,” said David Shafer, R-Duluth, who as Senate president pro tem is the chamber’s ranking member. “We have received new data and I no longer support the bill.”

Trump administration interest in preserving nuclear power plants may provide a boost for Georgia.

President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers are looking at ways in which the U.S. government could help nuclear power generators being forced out of the electricity market by cheaper natural gas and renewable resources.

In a document obtained by Bloomberg, Trump’s transition team asked the Energy Department how it can help keep nuclear reactors “operating as part of the nation’s infrastructure” and what it could do to prevent the shutdown of plants. Advisers also asked the agency whether there were statutory restrictions in resuming work on Yucca Mountain, a proposed federal depository for nuclear waste in Nevada that was abandoned by the Obama administration.

The list of questions to the Energy Department offers one of the clearest indications yet of Trump’s potential plans for aiding America’s battered nuclear power generators.

Trump has voiced his support for nuclear power in the past. In a television interview with Fox News in 2011, he said he was “very strongly in favor of nuclear energy,” while stressing the need for safeguards at plants.

The Department of Homeland Security says an employee doing checks against the Georgia Secretary of State’s professional licensing database may be responsible for reports of an attempted break-in.

An employee in the department who worked far removed from cybersecurity operations visited the Georgia secretary of state’s website for his work, an official told The Associated Press. The employee’s system was configured in a way that caused Georgia’s outside security vendor to misinterpret the visit as a scan of its systems. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to publicly discuss preliminary findings.

The computer address Georgia provided to U.S. officials traced back an internet gateway that funnels traffic for thousands of computers across the 22-agency department. By Friday afternoon, they had followed the trail back to a specific computer.

The employee told investigators that he was checking the state website to determine whether an individual had a certain type of professional license issued by the state. Due to the way the employee’s computer was configured, it appeared his computer was scanning the state system, which can be interpreted as a prelude to a hacking attempt, the official said.

Georgia legislators are unlikely to expand Medicaid eligibility until details are known about the Trump administration’s plans to address Medicaid funding and ObamaCare.

“That discussion probably effectively came to an end election night,” said Republican House Speaker David Ralston.

President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal Obamacare.

“I’m not saying that there aren’t some things that we can do during the period of time of replacement,” Ralston said, “but I think we’re all looking forward to see what the broad outlines of the replacement are going to look like.”

Ralston said he “recognizes” there are “too many uninsured Georgians,” but he said until Congress says how exactly they’ll replace Obamacare, lawmakers here will just have to wait.

Ralston expects the Legislature will try to bolster Georgia’s struggling rural hospitals, and he said he’s concerned the state doesn’t have enough primary care physicians.

Conda Goodson, candidate for Senate District 54 in tomorrow’s Special Election, told the Dalton Daily Citizen she was unaware of alleged campaign finance violations.

On Thursday, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, also known as the state ethics commission, voted 4-0 that there were reasonable grounds to believe Conda Goodson violated state campaign finance laws.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” [Goodson] said Friday afternoon. “The lady I have been talking to told me something different. I guess I will have to call them Monday to find out what’s going on.”

An ethics complaint was filed against Goodson in March by attorney Daniel Laird III for failure to file a personal financial disclosure form. At the time, Goodson said a mix-up on her electronic user name caused her to misfile several key reports with the state ethics commission and she did not realize there was a problem until Laird filed his complaint.

Other candidates in the special election are former Whitfield County Republican Party chairman Chuck Payne, former Whitfield County Board of Commissioners member Debby Peppers, financial representative Shell Underwood and contractor Billy Vinyard.

The 54th District includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

Outgoing State Rep. Earnest Smith will pay an $8000 fine over misreporting of campaign donations.

Dalton City Council is considering whether to make budget cuts or raise taxes.

As expenditures continue to outpace revenue, the city has continued to dip into its reserve fund, and the plan discussed during Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Finance Committee for 2017 would be to have a $3.6 million cushion taken from the reserve and an increase in the millage rate by .287 mills.

The city would have $16.4 million remaining in its reserve fund. The millage rate is currently 2.506 mills. The increase would be $25.83 on a $100,000 home.

“That takes us back to a 2010 or 2011 rate and doesn’t make us cut services,” Councilman Tate O’Gwin said. “Once you cut services, property values will fall and our tax digest will fall, and then you have to raise taxes even more. It is just a spiral. We will have a higher level of taxation, but we will also have a higher level of services.”

Effingham County Commissioners are also having problems with tightening finances.

The Chatham County jail purchases goods or services from companies associated with three local legislators.

Cobb County Commissioners will consider adding $10 million to the county’s share of funding for a ramp at Akers Mill to reversible toll lanes on I-75.

Incoming Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce cancelled a planned inaugural gala.

Gwinnett County Transportation Director Alan Chapman will be among the witnesses before the Georgia Senate Regional Transit Solutions Study Committee, which meets from 2 to 4 PM today in Room 450 of the State Capitol.

The Senate created the study committee during this year’s legislative session with the goal of looking at traffic congestion and whether it could be reduced at least somewhat by a regionwide transit system. It is also intended to look at new models for regional transit governance and funding.

Cobb County Transit Division General Manager Vida Covington is also expected to appear before the committee during the meeting, according to the agenda.

Kevin Harris, former Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party has been promoted to Deputy Executive Director of the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA).

Prior to coming on board with GVRA, Kevin served as the Georgia Political Director for a U.S. presidential campaign, as Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party and as the Political Director for Governor Nathan Deal’s first gubernatorial campaign. He also spent 17 years teaching at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, GA.

Executive Director Sean T. Casey praised Kevin’s devotion to the mission saying, “Kevin is without a doubt the best person to help me lead this organization towards an even further expansion of services, with the goal of helping any Georgian who wants to work and build a career. I’m confident that in the coming years we’ll demonstrate to the state and to the country as a whole that we are an example of how workforce development can flourish within any demographic or population.”

The Georgia Department of Veterans Services will seek authorization to accept contributions, according to

Georgia lawmakers will be asked next year to allow the Department of Veterans Service to accept contributions and private donations, with the money going toward care of people living in the state’s two nursing homes for war veterans.
The proposal, which would allow the department to establish a nonprofit organization as a means to accept the donations, is among three requests it will make of lawmakers when the Georgia Legislature begins work Jan. 9.

Most of the veterans living and receiving care in the homes — located on campuses in Augusta and Milledgeville — are aged and infirm, and many have limited incomes.

The long-sought creation of a female veterans program is another — the department has sought to create the program through budget requests but has not received funding. Now it will ask lawmakers to mandate the program under law.

DeKalb County has reached the status of “functional zero” for homeless veterans. Kudos.

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May said the county housed 378 veterans so far this year through September by finding them permanent housing, distributing federal supportive housing vouchers and connecting veterans to other programs.

The county’s functional zero status was confirmed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

To qualify for the designation, DeKalb showed that the average time it takes to permanently house veterans who were willing to accept housing is less than 90 days and that the community has sufficient housing capacity, along with other benchmarks.

Surterra Holdings, Inc., an Atlanta-based company working on medical cannabis, has raised $15 million in capital, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 9, 2016


Whitney is a young female Hound puppy who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

Whitney is a fun puppy! Whitney came to us as an owner turn in from someone who could no longer keep her. She is extremely playful, friendly and loves everyone. She gets along and plays well with all the animals here and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Whitney does well in a fenced yard for interactive play time but of course prefers to be with people. At approximately 3.5 months old, Whitney weighs 18 pounds. She enjoys toys, walks well on a leash, is crate trained and eager to learn new things. Fully vetted now, Whitney is ready for her new home. She is looking for an inside forever home who understands the time and financial commitment that a puppy (or any animal) takes.


Jenny is a young female Lab and Collie mix who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.


Delilah is a young female Miniature Pinscher & Manchester Terrier Mix who is available for adoption from CARES Cedartown Animal Rescue, Education & Sterilization in Cedartown, GA.

Delilah is a beautiful puppy! She was saved out of a high kill shelter just in time. She is a beautiful dark chocolate with white on her throat. At 6.5 (DOB 2/23/16) months old, she is 17 pounds. This girl is very sweet, super playful and loves everyone. She enjoys playing and is just precious. Delilah walks perfectly on a leash/collar or harness and is completely crate trained. She is well behaved in a safe fenced area and is used to interactive play outdoors but sleeps with her family at night. Delilah is healthy now, fully vetted and ready for her forever home.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson asking why the agency appears to have attempted to break into Georgia’s data systems.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp alleges that a computer with a DHS internet address attempted to breach its systems.

Kemp writes: “On November 15, 2016, an IP address associated with the Department of Homeland Security made an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall. I am writing you to ask whether DHS was aware of this attempt and, if so, why DHS was attempting to breach our firewall.”

November 15 was a full week after the election.

“At no time has my office agreed to or permitted DHS to conduct penetration testing or security scans of our network,” writes Kemp. “Moreover, your department has not contacted my office since this unsuccessful incident to alert us of any security event that would require testing or scanning of our network.”

“Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030, attempting to gain access or exceeding authorized access to protected computer systems is illegal,” he notes.

A representative for DHS said it had received the letter and was investigating.

“DHS takes the trust of our public and private sector partners seriously, and we will respond to Secretary Kemp directly,” said Deputy Press Secretary Scott McConnell.


Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston settled a complaint with the State Bar, accepting a verbal reprimand for inadvertant issues.

The Supreme Court of Georgia also unanimously voted Thursday to accept House Speaker David Ralston’s petition for voluntary discipline. The court ordered that he receive a “Review Panel reprimand” by a panel of the State Bar of Georgia.

Ralston in turn agreed to admit that he inadvertently violated two state bar rules, including loaning money to a client for living expenses.

Ralston’s attorney James Balli issued a statement after the settlement.

“From the first day this matter was reported, we said this was nothing more than an honest mistake made while helping a client’s family pay for medicine and other necessities.”

“As determined by the Special Master and confirmed today by an unanimous Supreme Court, all of the other accusations and speculation were absolutely false.”

“While somewhat biased, I believe anyone who engaged in furthering such rumormongering owes my client an apology.  However, knowing his commitment to public service, I am certain the Speaker will put this matter behind him and continue to focus on moving our state forward.  I do know he is very grateful to his family and friends for their unwavering support throughout this ordeal.”


State legislators will once again clean up after themselves, having to pass new legislation to address problems raised by legislation passed in the previous session.

The Georgia legislator who authored a constitutional amendment to remake the state Judicial Qualifications Commission says that “a mix-up” during drafting of the amendment and “last minute” changes will result in three separate watchdog agencies overseeing judicial discipline between now and July 1, 2017.

The stumbling block is the effective date to abolish then and replace the JQC, which has been overseeing judicial discipline for more than 40 years. Under the amendment passed by voters last month, the current JQC ceases to exist on June 30, 2017. But its replacement, created by underlying legislation passed in the General Assembly, is supposed to start six months earlier, on Jan. 1. Rep. Wendell Willard, a Sandy Springs lawyer who chairs the House Judiciary Committee said the admittedly “tricky” incongruities will be resolved by abolishing the current JQC on Dec. 31; creating a new interim agency with different members and different operating rules on or shortly after Jan. 1, 2017; and then on July 1 abolishing that agency in favor of one shaped by as-yet-unwritten legislation. But he acknowledged that members of the final version of the judicial watchdog agency would likely not secure Senate approval—a requirement of the constitutional amendment approved by the voters earlier this month—until the 2018 legislative session.

Nick Genesi, a spokesman for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, said the attorney general believes Willard’s view “is accurate.”

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said the snafu Willard referenced “sounds like one of those things where the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.”

Bullock said he has seen similar situations before where a law—although not one associated with a constitutional amendment—is passed in the final minutes of the annual four-month session of the General Assembly only to have legislators realize “in the cold light of day … this is not good law” and quietly ask the governor to veto it. “That something slipped through would not be new,” he said. “The real question, I think, is that do the three key players—the Speaker, the lieutenant governor and the governor—get together and say, ‘We’ve got a bit of a problem. How are we going to fix it?’ If they are all on the same page, it probably gets fixed pretty quickly. If somebody wants to play hardball, you’ve got more of a problem.”

Two candidates for Roswell City Council have announced campaigns in the March 21, 2017 Special Election.

Jay Small has said he will run in the March 21, 2017, special election to fill the Post 4 on the Roswell City Council.

That seat has been vacant since November when former Council member Kent Igleheart resigned following his arrest on child sex charges.

Former City Council member Lori Henry previously announced she will run in the special election.

Lori Henry on Tuesday announced her bid to run in the March 21, 2017, special election to fill the Post 4 seat on the council.

Henry, who served on the Council from 2001 to 2009, is seeking to replace Kent Igleheart, who resigned last month following his arrest on child sex charges.

“Roswell has a need for leadership, particularly on the issue of redevelopment of our commercial corridors,” Henry said of why she’s running. “While maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods, we need to diversify our tax base, strengthening both our commercial and business development. The recent announcement of Target’s pending closure in East Roswell, and the departure of the nearby Kohl’s, drives home this point. We need to think outside the box and get ahead, not behind the curve.”

Marietta Board of Education Ward 6 voters will also go to the polls on March 21, 2017 in a special election.

Ward 6 residents Kerry Minervini and Patricia Echols filed for the election Wednesday.

The special election was triggered when school board member Tom Cheater resigned in September and moved out of the ward.

Ward 6 covers the northeast section of Marietta stretching from a section of Cobb Parkway up to the Sandy Plains Exchange at the intersection of Sandy Plains Road and Scufflegrit Road and is the same area that is represented on the Marietta City Council by Michelle Kelly Cooper.

Ward Six voters must be registered by Feb. 20 to vote in the special election.

Gwinnett County Commissioners are asking legislators for changes in how public agencies deal with people who might have mental illnesses.

Officials argue getting that legislation introduced and passed into law would go a long way in helping police intervene in situations where a person may be posing a threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement can’t arrest someone they suspect may be dangerous because of a mental illness issue unless that person has committed a crime.

“This is a situation where our folks in public safety are very concerned that they need to do something, but they can’t because the person isn’t committing a crime,” county Legislative Liaison Susan Lee said. “They’re afraid the next call might be a situation where something has happened and someone is injured or killed.”

The proposal Gwinnett leaders want the legislators to support would let a physician declare someone to be mentally ill and in need of being placed into custody based off the observations of cops, deputies and paramedics.

Gwinnett County Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks is asking legislators to address issues with the Title Ad Valorem Tax collection.

As it stands, the “local target collection amount” prohibits school districts and local municipalities from receiving the minimum amount of TAVT collections required to be “made whole” for lost motor vehicle Ad Valorem Tax collections, school district officials said.

“We think the cap on that, as it grows, we think that probably needs to be raised for not only school districts, but municipalities as well,” Wilbanks said. “Hopefully you’ll give attention to that.”

“This TAVT is going to be a huge battle,” [Senator Renee] Unterman said. “And Gwinnett County has a lot at stake.”

The TAVT was one of several main issues related to education and educating funding that Wilbanks touched on to relay priorities to the lawmakers ahead of next year’s legislative session.

Georgia Gwinnett College President Stas Preczewski addressed a question from a legislator about campus carry legislation.

“It’s a challenge,” Preczewski said. “All the presidents have opposed it. All of the faculty senates have opposed it. All of the student government associations have opposed it. … In terms of actual firearms on campus, everybody still remains, students, faculty, staff, presidents. And I’m a former Army guy.”

Preczewski said he’d prefer the move toward Tasers on campus to allow the personal kind, not the projectile.

“Right now, if you’ve ever seen it, it looks like a real gun,” the president said. “You can’t tell. So a police officer comes on the scene of a student who’s got a gun pointed at another student who’s laying on the ground, that’s a potentially bad situation for a lot of people.”

Floyd County Commissioners met with local legislators ahead of the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

The County Commission and incoming commissioners met Thursday with state Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, to discuss a wide range of issues as the legislative session approaches in January. As expected, most of the issues centered on money.

While Whitfield and Pickens counties are seeing a rise in sales tax returns from the state, every other county in Northwest Georgia has seen a decrease, said Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter.

Commissioners also asked the lawmakers to look at how, and how much, the state reimburses the county for housing offenders.

State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) said he has not been convinced to change his position in opposition to casino gambling in Georgia.

“This is such a large departure from Georgia’s tradition, and the way our state is now,” he said. “I need to see a more robust debate with a lot more details than we’ve had up to now before I could allow this to come up for a vote.”

Kelley’s concerns about the idea for casino gambling revolve around several items, but the most important being that Georgia should keep with its roots and focus more on promoting tourism efforts without the need for the resorts, along with other business interests such as expanding the state’s film industry.

He also sees problems with proponents who are pushing for the gaming industry to come to the state by using a new revenue stream for the HOPE scholarship as reason to allow for the change in the state constitution.

“The argument putting all the money toward the HOPE scholarship hasn’t been a convincing argument for me,” Kelley said. “It’s not a lack of revenue, but a lack of leadership at our colleges and universities to keep their tuition rates down. I’m leery of giving them a whole new bucket of money instead.”

 State Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock) is refunding leftover campaign funds to donors.

From 2012 through 2014, Caldwell raised more than $32,000. He refunded nearly 40 percent of that to donors. (Final 2016 figures have yet to be reported.)

“The reason I do it is to give people the opportunity to decide for themselves and decide what happens with their money,” Caldwell said in a recent interview.

“One cashed his check and one asked it go to charity,” he said. The pair totaled about $10, Caldwell said.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 7, 2016


Sheila is a young female German Shepherd Dog mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

My name is Sheila and I am a sweet German Shepherd mix. I am an adult and pretty calm. I will make a great pet. Please come and get me.


Roscoe is a small adult male Chihuahua & Miniature Pinscher mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Hi! I’m Roscoe! I am a chihuahua minpin mix and I am a sweet boy.I am a little skittish when I first meet you but I really warm up after a bit.


Bird is a young female Hound mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

My name is Bird because a lot of people say I look like a birddog. All I know is that I am a sweet and energetic boy who loves people and other dogs. I am also a bit of an escape artist so I would need to be a house dog or in a good fence. But I really need a home. Please come and take a look at me at the shelter.