The blog.

17
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 17, 2017

Andie

Andie is a young female Boxer mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA. This shelter has a full litter of Boxer mix puppies for adoption.

Jake

Jake is an adult male Hound who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA. If you’d like to start your own Hound pack this shelter has at least three available for adoption.

Magnolia

Magnolia is a female Pointer mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

17
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 17, 2017

Five thousand British and Hessian troops surrendered to patriot militia on October 17, 1777, ending the Second Battle of Saratoga, and leading to France recognizing American independence and sending military aid.

An editorial published pseudononymously by Alexander Hamilton on October 17, 1796, accused Thomas Jefferson, then a Presidential candidate, of having an affair with a slave.

Happy birthday to the Texas Rangers, created on October 17, 1835.

In the midst of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed a semi-official force of armed men who would defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana’s soldiers and hostile Indians; the Texas Rangers filled this role. But after winning their revolutionary war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Rangers, both to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier.

Paul Anderson, known as the “World’s Strongest Man,” was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17, 1932. From his New York Times obituary:

As the unknown substitute for the injured American champion at the first Soviet-American dual athletic competition, in Moscow in 1955, the 5-foot-9-inch Anderson was scorned by his hosts.

The scorn turned to snickers when Anderson called for a weight of 402.4 pounds, more than 20 pounds above the world record. The snickers stopped when the 340-pound Anderson lifted the weight. By the time he set another record, in the clean and jerk, he was being hailed by Soviet fans.

The stunning achievement at the height of the Cold War made Anderson an instant American hero, and it was largely an anticlimax when he set three more world records at the world championships in Munich, Germany, later that year.

Although virtually conceded the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Anderson was stricken with a severe inner-ear infection.

Competing at 304 pounds and with a 103-degree fever, he fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt he asked God for a little extra help and got it.

“It wasn’t making a bargain,” he said later, “I needed help.”

Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa is a private park supported by a 501(c)(3) organization.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Fulton County will extend voting by one hour on November 7.

The Fulton County Superior Court has granted a petition filed by the county to extend Election Day voting by one hour at its polls. The petition was filed by the Fulton County Attorney’s Office on behalf of the county’s Board of Registration and Elections.

The petition allows the county to match the voting time frame provided to the city of Atlanta for its municipal elections, meaning all county polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron said the office requested to change the hours of operations in an effort to have all polls open and close on a consistent basis.

New voting machines being demoed in Conyers made it through the first day of early voting.

More than a dozen voters have used new paper-ballot voting machines in Conyers with no reported problems, the first step of a new pilot program to test the machines in Georgia.

“It’s fair to say we’re excited to get the ball rolling and partner with a good elections office and give voters a preview of what the future of voting may look like,” said Chris Harvey, Georgia’s elections director.

The National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia dedicated a memorial to the Global War on Terrorism.

Gen. John Abizaid, a retired four-star general who was the longest serving commander of the U.S. Central Command and directed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a driving force behind the planning and fundraising for the $2 million memorial.

“How fitting that this living memorial is dedicated here at Fort Benning and in the city of Columbus, where for so many years so many of these soldiers have ventured forth to fight our nation’s wars,” Abizaid said. “Some of us have seen the carnage of war and understand how devastating the cost can be. Yet all of us understand that our freedoms are not free and the courage, commitment and dedication are necessary to secure the common good.”

Abizaid asked a profound question Monday during his keynote address at the dedication, which was attended by about 3,000 people, many of them uniformed Fort Benning soldiers.

“What would our country be without such men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation?” the general asked. “All of us can answer in different ways, for we are citizens of a nation that admires diversity of thought, thrives on individual freedoms, that seeks many answers for even the most simple of problems. Yet all of us must admit, except for those who fight for such rights, none of us could expect to enjoy them.”

The detail in the memorial, which is in a plaza on the side of the National Infantry Museum, is what struck many on Monday. It incorporates a piece of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

The Georgia Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by two Cartersville doctors to the state’s Certificate of Need program.

The high court held that the Certificate of Need (CON) law serves a legitimate state interest in ensuring that health care services are distributed reasonably and economically. It also said the law does not violate the Georgia Constitution’s “Anti-Competitive Contracts Clause.”

The court upheld rulings by a Fulton County judge who first refused to dismiss the case on the administrative appeals grounds, then several months later tossed it, ruling that the law is not unconstitutional.

As detailed in court filings and Melton’s order, the case began in 2014, when Drs. Hugo Ribot Jr. and Malcolm Barfield wanted to add a second operating room to their business, which does business as Georgia Advanced Surgery Center for Women in Cartersville.

Georgia’s CON law, first passed in 1979, requires hospitals and certain other medical providers to obtain the clearance before opening a new facility, expanding or adding certain medical equipment.

The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief, asking that the CON law be declared unconstitutional, arguing that it restrained competition and limited patient choice.

But the center’s claims that the CON law violates the due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions and the state’s Anti-Competitive Contracts clause “are without merit,” Melton wrote.

From the AJC:

“Georgia’s certificate of need laws play a critical role in ensuring access to quality care, including emergency services, for all Georgians by providing for a statewide distribution of hospitals and other medical facilities,” said Monty Veazey, the president and CEO of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

Disclosure: I work on communications issues for the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

A Georgia Senate Study Committee met in Augusta yesterday to discuss how to increase the number of health care providers in Georgia.

With a lack of health care providers in Georgia, the state could increase access by turning out more advanced practice nurses and using them in more innovative ways, a Georgia Senate Study Committee heard Monday. But the state’s physician association is still strongly opposed to nurses doing more, a resistance that may finally be overcome in the next legislative session, a key state senator said.

The Senate Study Committee on Barriers to Georgians’ Access to Adequate Healthcare held a session at Augusta University to hear about the role of advanced practice nurses in the state in meeting many of those gaps of care and where more could be done.

Medical Association of Georgia opposes expanding their scope of practice and one member said it is for the good of the patients, particularly the rural patients he sees.

“These patients are very complex,” said Dr. Scott Bohlke of Brooklet, Ga., a past president of the group. “We want the best care for these patients and I think a team approach (with the nurse practitioner) is the best way to do it.”

But Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, chair of the study committee and chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, was not buying it.

“If you want to provide care to more people, why don’t you allow the people who are taught and educated to practice at their highest level?” she said. “If you have more people practicing medicine, then it allows more access to care. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.”

The College of Nursing also has a proposal, in concert with Medical College of Georgia, to take highly trained nurse practitioners and train them alongside Emergency Medicine residents and also provide training in telemedicine. Those nurse practitioners could then staff rural Emergency Departments with the ability to consult by telemedicine with colleagues in Emergency Medicine when needed, said Dr. Beth NeSmith, chair of the Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing.

The project is looking for $260,000 to fund a pilot program but projects it could save a hospital $500,000, NeSmith said. She is hoping the legislature will take a look at it.

“That’s a great suggestion,” Unterman said.

“Rural hospitals in Georgia really struggle to provide urgent and emergent care to the citizens they serve,” NeSmith said.

Sixteen thousand Northwest Georgia residents buy their health insurance through the federal exchange.

More than 3,500 Floyd County residents buy their insurance through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Another 12,800 are enrolled in the six surrounding Northwest Georgia counties of Chattooga, Polk, Bartow, Gordon, Catoosa and Walker.

President Donald Trump announced last week that he would stop making key subsidy payments to insurers — although the full effect on the 2018 ACA coverage that starts Nov. 1 remains unclear.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgen’s office has approved rate hikes of more than 50 percent for three of the state’s four insurers, in anticipation of losing the CSR payments, Georgia Health News is reporting. Kaiser Foundation Health sought a 30-percent increase but officials there are now weighing their options.

Southern Company sold several local natural gas companies in New Jersey for $1.7 billion.

A surveyor has been ordered to testify in a border dispute between Macon-Bibb County and Monroe County.

Sprint will provide wireless internet to 500 students in Richmond County public schools.

The school system is among 118 school districts to receive devices from Sprint to assist high school students in need of internet access in their homes. Fort the next five years, students who lack access will receive a free tablet device and wireless service as part of 1Million.

Sprint created the initiative to help close the homework gap by providing 1 million free devices and wireless service to high school students. Richmond County was selected as one of three school systems statewide and is expected to receive up to 600 devices.

“All high schools in the county were submitted on the basis of need,” said James Lunsford, the district’s director of information and technology . “So if they don’t have internet at home or a computer at home Sprint will accommodate (the need).”

The Augusta Commission is working on a 2018 budget that includes raises for some law enforcement officers.

Several commissioners reported they heard a radio promotion several times over the last few days in which a spokesman describes the heavy workload and low salaries endured by sheriff’s deputies, followed by a demand that Jackson include the raises in the budget.

Commissioner Marion Williams said the radio spot admonishes “the administrator” to “do the right thing” by including the raises.

[Sheriff Richard] Roundtree pitched two plans for increasing his staff’s pay in August. One cost $2.8 million, gives all certified and sworn deputies 10 percent raises and increases a starting deputy’s salary from $34,629 to $40,292. A second option costs $2.7 million and gives most certified personnel eight percent raises, with a starting salary of $39,500.

The City of Valdosta held its second annual Affordable Housing Summit and Town Hall.

Charlie Daniels Band will play the Macon Auditorium on March 22, 2018.

Candidates for Dalton City Council and Board of Education discussed diversity issues at a candidate forum.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics now make up 47.9 percent of the city’s population and blacks 8 percent of the population. And several questions at the forum — hosted by the Concerned Citizens of Dalton, the Coalition of Latino Leaders, the Dalton-Whitfield NAACP and the Woman’s Community Club — focused on how candidates in the Nov. 7 races for the board of education and City Council would help the city deal with this diversity.

Savannah City Alderman Van Johnson proposed reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

On Monday, Alderman Van Johnson announced his intention to reduce the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It is his intention, Johnson said, to present an ordinance within 45 days to the Savannah City Council to eliminate jail time and and reduce the maximum fine from $1,000 to $150 for those caught with less than one ounce of marijuana in the city limits. He proposed that 20 percent of the fines collected be earmarked to offset the cost of drug treatment for those who seek it.

The proposal does not minimize the fact that marijuana is still illegal in Georgia and does not decriminalize it, which is not allowed under the state law, Johnson said.

“It’s still illegal and will remain illegal,” he said. “The question is how it is handled locally.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he is open to discussing the proposal with Johnson and the rest of the council, but that his support for the change would depend on the recommendation of local law enforcement officials such as the police chief, sheriff and district attorney.

“I do trust their judgment,” DeLoach said.

16
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 16, 2017

Kisses

Kisses is a young female Dachshund & Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from PAWS Atlanta in Decatur, GA.

Hashbrowns

Hashbrowns is a young male Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from PAWS Atlanta in Decatur, GA.

Rezendes

Rezendes is a male Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from PAWS Atlanta in Decatur, GA.

16
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 16, 2017

The Pennsylvania Gazette published a criticism against the British Tea Act on October 16, 1773.

The Tea Act of 1773 was a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny. In response, the “Philadelphia Resolutions” called the British tax upon America unfair and said that it introduced “arbitrary government and slavery” upon the American citizens. The resolutions urged all Americans to oppose the British tax and stated that anyone who transported, sold or consumed the taxed tea would be considered “an enemy to his country.”

On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for Congress, spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and called the practice of slavery “immoral.”

Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans in Illinois and attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He denounced members of the Democratic Party for backing a law that “assumes there can be moral right in the enslaving of one man by another.” He believed that the law went against the founding American principle that “all men are created equal.”

On October 16, 1918, visitors to the Southeastern Fair at the Lakewood Fairgrounds were required by the Georgia State Board of Health to don face masks in order to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

Maynard Jackson was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 16, 1973. Jackson was the first African-Amercian Mayor of Atlanta; he served eight years, and was elected for a third, non-consecutive term in 1990.

On October 16, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned in Youngstown, Ohio.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the opening of early voting in some municipalities in Georgia. Click here to find early voting information for your county.

Conyers voters will cast their ballots on new machines that create a paper trail.Continue Reading..

13
Oct

Official (Adoptable) Georgia Dogs for October 13, 2017

KateCFAS

Kate is a young female Labrador Retriever and Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

ChipCFAS

Chip is a young male Dachshund & Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

RiffCFAS

Riff is a young male Beagle & Coonhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

13
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 13, 2017

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

On October 14, 1735, John and Charles Wesley sailed with James Oglethorpe from Gravesend, England, for Georgiaand John Wesley wrote the first entry in his journal that would eventually cover 55 years. On that date, John Wesley wrote,

Our end in leaving our native country, was not to avoid want, (God having given us plenty of temporal blessings,) nor to gain the dung or dross of riches or honour; but singly this, to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God.

The First Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Colonial Rights in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1774.

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capitol, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

On October 13, 1870, Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Education.

On October 13, 1885, Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation authorizing the creation of a state school of technology as a branch of the University of Georgia; the school would open in Atlanta in October 1888, and in 1948 was renamed the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Then-former President Theodore Roosevelt was shot before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912.

Roosevelt, who suffered only a flesh wound from the attack, went on to deliver his scheduled speech with the bullet still in his body. After a few words, the former “Rough Rider” pulled the torn and bloodstained manuscript from his breast pocket and declared, “You see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose.” He spoke for nearly an hour and then was rushed to the hospital.

On October 13, 1918, the ban on public gatherings in Atlanta to prevent spread of the Spanish flu, was extended an additional week.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution took effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

The War Department renamed Wellston Air Depot to Warner Robins Air Force Depot to honor Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins on October 14, 1942.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming Georgia’s first native-born winner.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

On December 13, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter received a post-debate bump against President Gerald Ford, with polls showing Carter at 50%-40% over the incumbent, up from 47%-45% before the debate.

On October 14, 1980, Republican candidate for President Ronald Reagan announced he would name a woman to the Supreme Court if elected.

To achieve those ends, we need the best people possible at the highest levels of Government regardless of sex, race or religion. I am also acutely aware, however, that within the guidelines of excellence, appointments can carry enormous symbolic significance. This permits us to guide by example, to show how deep our commitment is and to give meaning to what we profess.

One way I intend to live up to that commitment is to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court. I am announcing today that one of the first Supreme Court vacancies in my administration will be filled by the most qualified woman I can find, one who meets the high standards I will demand for all my appointments.

It is time for a woman to sit among our highest jurists. I will also seek out women to appoint to other Federal courts in an effort to bring about a better balance on the Federal bench.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990.

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

On October 15, 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to Georgia to support Gov. Nathan Deal’s reelection.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has ordered flags on state properties to be flown at half-staff today in honor of United States Army Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright of Lyons, Georgia, who lost his life in the service of our country on October 4, 2017.

Gov. Deal said in Savannah that the federal government should step up with more funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

“We need the federal government to step up and do their share of what it takes to deepen our harbor,” Deal told about 1,400 people as he introduced the Georgia Ports Authority’s chief executive to give his annual “State of the Ports” speech. Deal said the state wants “more money from the federal government to go ahead and allow us to complete this project in a timely fashion.”

Deal’s renewed plea for federal dollars — he made similar statements when President Barack Obama was in office — comes after a year of explosive growth at the Port of Savannah, the nation’s fourth-busiest seaport for metal containers used to ship retail goods from consumer electronics to frozen chickens.

Trump’s request of $50 million for the Savannah project is about 17 percent more than Obama secured in his last budget. But [Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff] Lynch said he fears delays starting in 2019 if the project doesn’t see a substantial funding increase.

“We’re going to need $80 to $100 million (annually) or we’re going to start having shortfalls,” Lynch said.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue criticized allowing able-bodied people to receive food stamps.

Speaking at the WSJ Global Food Forum on Tuesday, Mr. Perdue said that relying on food stamps has become a “lifestyle” for some able-bodied adults.

“We want the people who need the help to get it,” said Mr. Perdue, adding that the benefit shouldn’t be “the whole enchilada” of a family’s food security.

He suggested that enrollment in the program would fall if individuals who are able to work are restricted from using it.

State Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) has resigned from his job at the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce to start a new job as executive director of the North Fulton Community Improvement District.

Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones is accused of bullying by a political opponent.

Grovetown Mayor Gary Jones is standing behind a politically charged Facebook post he called “exposure” of two candidates running for city council, prompting one to say she felt bullied by him.

The post, which has since been removed from Jones’ Facebook page, accuses incumbent Vickie Cook and candidate Deborah Fisher of “teaming up,” to unseat the historical swing vote on the council, Sylvia Martin, who is also seeking re-election. There are two open seats on the four-member council.

Fisher expressed disappointment and surprise at the comment in an email Thursday and said she has never been bullied, but felt she was now. Fisher said she has no connection with Cook and has only met Jones at a city council meeting and at Tuesday’s candidate forum.

Candidates for Braselton Town Council Post 4 agree that public safety should be a focus.

“There’s not a lot of patrol at night,” said Robert Clark. “And we’ve had a lot of issues with theft of trucks … and a lot of kids have been vandalizing.”

“I’m definitely for more cops and (a bigger) budget for the police station. If we can tax some of these bigger companies coming in, it’ll really help out and maybe we can spend that (extra revenue) toward patrols and safety.”

Hardy Johnson said that “when you have growth, crimes rates naturally increase, and we want to create an environment in Braselton where you can live, work and play.”

“It’s important to support the police department. They need adequate training, adequate equipment (and) adequate staffing levels.”

The Macon Telegraph writes about early voting in Middle Georgia municipal elections.

Early voting begins Monday in several Middle Georgia cities holding elections.

It will run Monday through Friday until Nov. 3 at each location. The election is Nov. 7.

In Warner Robins, which has contested races for mayor and two council seats on the ballot, early voting will be at City Hall at 700 Watson Blvd. in the pre-council meeting room, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Early voting also begins Monday for Thomas County voters.

In Thomas County, folks in Boston, Barwick, Coolidge, Meigs, Ochlocknee, Pavo, and Thomasville all have an important decision to make, who will be the next leaders in their community.

Folks in Boston, Barwick, Coolidge, and Meigs are voting for council members and mayor.

Ochlocknee, Pavo, and Thomasville residents are voting for several new council members.

Ringgold voters may begin casting early ballots for City Council on Monday

The Rome News-Tribune profiles candidates for the Rome Board of Education.

The Valdosta Board of Education is considering a solar proposal.

The three possible solar-array locations presented were at Pinevale Elementary, the Transportation Center and at the new Valdosta High School. However, Dr. Todd Cason, superintendent, said the location at the new high school was most likely not an option but the other two locations would be considered.

Radiance Solar’s proposed 840-kilowatt solar array at Pinevale would provide VCS $16,800 each year during the 25-year lease. Connell said the STEM students at Pinevale could benefit academically from the solar array.

“I think it would be a wonderful learning opportunity for the children of the school to see solar working right there at their school,” Connell said.

The 2.4-megawatt solar array recommendation at the Transportation Center would provide VCS with $50,000 each year during the 25-year lease, Connell said.

12
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 12, 2017

ForrestORHS

Forrest is a young male Beagle mix puppy who is available for adoption from Oconee Regional Humane Society in Greensboro, GA.

NoahORHS

Noah is a young male Beagle mix puppy who is available for adoption from Oconee Regional Humane Society in Greensboro, GA.

Debra

Debra is a young female Hound and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Circle of Friends Animal Society Inc. in Greensboro, GA.

12
Oct

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

Former Confederate President Alexander Stephens was released from federal prison on October 12, 1865 and returned to Georgia.

1929 UGA vs Yale Tix

The first game in Sanford Stadium was played on October 12, 1929, with the University of Georgia Bulldogs beating the Yale Bulldogs. Here is ten minutes of the game.

1929_Georgia_vs_Yale

On October 12, 1958, The Temple was bombed after a phone call to WSB warned that Black churches and Jewish temples would be blown up.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal issued an Executive Order naming a commission to review charges against Snellville Mayor Tom Witts and yesterday suspended Witts from office.

Gov. Deal lauded Gwinnett County’s water management programs.Continue Reading..

11
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 11, 2017

Bud

Bud is a small 4-5 pound male dog about 2 years old, who is available for adoption via a private placement in Henry County. Bud’s owner has gone into assisted living and can no longer care for him, so Bud’s staying with a family member until he can find a new home. Reply to this email if you’re interested and I can facilitate a referral.

Twilia

Twilia is a 4-month old female Hound and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Praying For Paws Inc in McDonough, GA.

LucySP

Lucy is a young female Basset Hound and Black Mouth Curt puppy who is available for adoption from Street Paws, Inc. in McDonough, GA.

Hi, I’m Lucy! They tell me I’m an adorable little Bassett hound puppy with the looks of a beautiful Black Mouth Cur. I like to play with the kids in my foster home and cuddling on the couch is wonderful too. My very favorite is belly rubs! I know we don’t speak the same language, but I do my very best to let you know I need to go potty. My foster mom says she is so proud of me for having no accidents in my kennel at night. I have these adorable little feet and short legs that don’t move very fast but I do my very best to keep up while walking on a leash. I enjoy the company of everyone that I meet so I’m super excited to meet my forever family. I just know that my family is going to be extra special and give me lots of belly rubs. Could that be you?

Cindy Wiemann, Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division assistant manager received an award for her work.

The assistant manager of the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division recently received the Southeastern Animal Control Association’s highest honor.

Cindy Wiemann has been awarded the President’s Award from the group, which strives to improve the skills, knowledge, abilities and image of animal care and control work in the southeast.

“I’m really humbled by this award,” she said. “It means a lot coming from my peers. They know what we do and what we go through. They’re your toughest critics.”

But Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement Manager Curt Harrell said he wasn’t surprised his assistant manager had won regional recognition.

“I have wise council. She’s my go-to person,” he said. “She’s very knowledgeable about shelter management and intake.”

11
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 11, 2017

Casimir Pulaski, a Polish aristocrat who fought with the colonists in the American Revolution, died in Savannah on October 11, 1779.

Former Georgia Governor and President of the United States Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, 2002.

Bobby Cox managed his last game in Game Four of the NLDS on October 11, 2010.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the water dispute between Georgia and Florida.

In an order issued Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments in the long-running “tri-state water wars” case involving Florida and Georgia — a case that has already run up astronomical legal bills for both states.

The high court did not say when it would hear oral arguments, except to say they would be scheduled “in due course.” The court’s current term began last week and will extend through next June or July.

The tri-state water wars, involving not just Florida and Georgia but also Alabama, have been going on since 1990. All three states lay claim to the water flowing through the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint River Basin. Georgia needs it for the thirsty residents of growing Atlanta. Alabama needs it for the power plants built along the river. And Florida needs it to keep its famed Apalachicola oyster industry going.

Suits between two states go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the court did agree to hear it in 2014. But the justices sent the two sides to a special master to hear the case and make a recommendation. In February, after five weeks of testimony and more than three years of proceedings, the special master ruled for Georgia.

Florida, which has spent nearly $100 million on the case, objected to the special master’s ruling, and so it will at last face Georgia, which has spent $30 million, in front of the the black-robed justices sometime in the next eight months.

From the Daily Report:

Georgia’s outside counsel for the trial before the special master was Kirkland & Ellis in Washington. The winning team included Craig Primis, K. Winn Allen and Devora Allon. This piece of the war alone covered two years of discovery, 100 depositions, testimony from 30 experts and a five-week trial in Maine.

Kirkland & Ellis referred questions to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

Carr said by email Tuesday: “We look forward to vigorously defending Georgia’s interests in the next step of this process.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “We are pleased the Supreme Court granted oral argument and look forward to presenting our arguments in court.”

Whatever the high court does with this case may not conclude the dispute between the neighboring states. Lancaster’s report noted that big farm operations in the rural southern end of the Georgia have been allowed to drastically increase irrigation with no effectively enforced limits.

State Senator Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) visited Columbus to campaign for Governor.

Hunter Hill, a former Ranger at Fort Benning, returned to Columbus Tuesday to share ideas in his run for governor with the Muscogee County Republican Party.

More than 50 party supporters gathered at the Double Tree Hotel to meet the veteran who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming a businessman. Hill is among a field of five Republicans in the race, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, businessman Clay Tippins and State Sen. Michael Williams.

Hill said his campaign focuses on eliminating the income tax and supporting public safety, transportation and education. “We are going to double our investments in transportation in our first term without raising taxes,” he said.

Hill said he believes the core elements of government such as public safety, transportation and education have been underfunded over the last 30 years by weak politicians.

Hill referred to Columbus as his second home after living in the Reese Road area while serving at Fort Benning.

State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Cobb) took the progressive path running for Governor in speaking to Hall County Democrats.

Former State Rep. Vance Dean said he will run for the seat currently held by Rep. John Pezold, who is not running for reelection.

Longtime Harris County Republican legislator and former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation Vance Smith announced over the weekend his intention to run for his former House of Representatives seat.

Smith, 65, said he will run in the Republican primary next May for the seat being vacated by Rep. John Pezold.

“I just got it in my blood,” Smith said Monday, confirming his candidacy and what his wife, Michele, had posted on Facebook on Saturday. “We have been looking at it since March, and Michele and I made the decision on Saturday morning. We have talked to a lot of people in Muscogee, Troup and Harris counties about this.”

Smith spent 17 years in the General Assembly before leaving to become the department head of one of the state’s most powerful agencies. He was elected in 1993 to a House district that is different from the one that exists today. When he went into the House, the district included all of Harris County. District 133 now includes about 85 percent of the county, excluding the southeast corner. The district also includes part of northeast Muscogee County and the southern portion of Troup County.

Smith, who had been chairman of the House Transportation Committee, was hired as commissioner of the DOT in June 2009. He resigned from that job in September 2011.

State Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer has been endorsed for Lieutenant Governor by former U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

“David Shafer is the rare politician who talks like a conservative and then actually votes like one,” Santorum said. “He has a phenomenal conservative record in the Georgia State Senate. He wrote Georgia’s zero based budgeting law and successfully amended the State Constitution to cap the income tax.

“David believes in the fundamental dignity of every human life. He understands the importance and dignity of work. He believes the purpose of government is to protect our God given rights. That is why Patriot Voices is joining me in this endorsement.”

Santorum joins a list of Shafer supporters that includes New Gingrich, who was one of Santorum’s opponents in the 2012 presidential race; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who ran for president last year, and former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, who was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 2008.

Other high profile endorsements include Bernie Marcus, former Congressman John Linder, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and state Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Gwinnett County Republican Paula Hastings will kickoff her campaign for State House District 102 next week.

Forsyth County Commissioners are considering changing the time of some meetings to allow more convenient public participation.

The board voted to move forward with public hearings to amend the Unified Development Code, but it wants the meetings to be scheduled for times that allow for full public participation. The board recommended the time frame from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. County staff will bring revisions, including possibly adding a clause regarding audio/video recording of the meeting, but that will be later determined by the board.

Chairman Todd Levent said he recently went to a meeting that started at 5 p.m. which caused some issues for people trying to attend after work.

“Applicants in the past have been considerate so this hasn’t come up,” Levent said.

Grantville City Council member Mark King is suing Mayor Doug Jewell over campaign signs he says were removed.

The suit was filed last week in the Magistrate Court of Coweta County. King is asking for $104.08, which includes the cost of two signs for $8.08,  $1 for punitive damages,  plus $95 for court costs, according to court documents.

King said a total of six signs were moved, but only four were recovered.

The signs were removed on Sept. 29, according to Jewell, because the signs were not in compliance with city code of ordinances, which says that signs should be at least 10 feet away from the right-of-way line of any street or highway to which it orients.

The councilman said the suit isn’t about him, but about getting the mayor to do the right thing.

“He overstepped his boundaries,” King said. “The right-of-way setback is determined street by street. I used a tape measure from to make sure signs were at least 10 feet away from the street.”

The Federal Railroad Administration has chosen a proposed high-speed rail route from Chattanooga to Atlanta.

“This project will benefit both Atlanta and Chattanooga with more efficient transportation, while also providing rail access to the rural communities in the region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, in a statement. “This has been a long time in the making and represents a response to numerous transportation needs along the I-75 corridor.”

The [High-Speed Ground Transportation] HSGT project would run approximately 120 miles along Interstate 75 and provide what FRA terms “a competitive and more reliable transportation choice for people traveling between Atlanta and Chattanooga.”

The corridor includes eight rail stations and is estimated to take 88 minutes of travel time from the first to last station. The route would begin on the east side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) at the proposed HJAIA/Southern Crescent Station and end at a proposed downtown Chattanooga station.

Valdosta City Council continues moving forward with a proposed curfew for juveniles.

Macon-Bibb County voters will weigh-in on a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in November.

Macon-Bibb County voters could decide the fate of a new sales tax that would lead to a millage rate rollback and property tax freeze.

The County Commission is scheduled to vote next week on whether to investigate the possibility of an additional 1-cent sales tax — one of several hurdles that must be cleared before the tax is implemented.

Before the referendum could be added to November 2018 Bibb County ballot, it must first receive approval from the County Commission and state legislators.

The proposal comes after the millage rate went up 3-mills this year. The amount of revenue taken in from the local option sales tax would determine the extent of the property tax rollback.

“This is a vehicle for property tax relief, I think more consistent cash flow and addressing some of the concerns of our property owners,” Bechtel said. “But we need to go into this with our eyes open.”

Early voting begins Monday, October 16th, in at least one municipality.

Early voting for this year’s General Municipal Election will begin this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. at the Gordon County Board of Elections & Voter Registration Office, located at 215 North Wall Street in Calhoun.

The election involves several posts up for grabs in the City of Calhoun, City of Fairmount, City of Plainville and Town of Resaca.

An important Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) vote is also on the ballot. This SPLOST is not new; if passed it will simply be a continuation of the SPLOST currently in place.

Healthcare

Suicide rates are rising in rural areas, according to Georgia Health News.

Dr. W. Vaughn McCall of the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University said Monday that there’s a growing disparity in the economic status of rural vs. urban residents.

“There’s a lack of access to mental health services of all kinds”’ in rural areas, added McCall, an expert on suicide and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at MCG.

“While we’ve seen many causes of death come down in recent years, suicide rates have increased more than 20 percent from 2001 to 2015. And this is especially concerning in rural areas,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said in a statement. “We need proven prevention efforts to help stop these deaths and the terrible pain and loss they cause.”

[Y]outh suicides in Georgia appear to show troubling trends. In May, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that up to that point, 18 children reportedly took their own lives this year. By June, the AJC reported, 20 youths had taken their lives.

The numbers show a potentially record year for youth suicides in the state.

Bonnie Moore, an advocate at the Floyd County Suicide Prevention Coalition, said northwest Georgia has a high suicide rate  compared with other areas of the state.

“A lot of it has to do with untreated mental health issues,’’ Moore said. “In rural areas, it’s harder to get services.”

Dougherty County commissioned a study of a proposed new hospital in neighboring Lee County.

The Atlanta-area law firm that prepared a report on the impact of a proposed Lee County hospital on Dougherty County, Albany-based Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and health care delivery in Southwest Georgia said the planned medical center would significantly and adversely impact the region’s health care.

The Dougherty County Commission authorized the impact study in August.

In a 46-page report summarized for the Dougherty County Commission Monday by County Attorney Spencer Lee, the BakerHostetler law firm said, “LCMC’s (Lee County Medical Center) project will cannibalize the insured patients already served by existing hospitals and needed to support their provision of care to the financially needy.”

The report also suggested that the certificate of need application submitted for the Lee hospital indicates a desire not to serve less affluent patients, such as those covered by Medicaid.

“LCMC will provide only non-tertiary services, which it defines as excluding basic obstetrical care,” the report reads. “Notably, though LCMC could have sought to provide basic obstetrical care, it did not, likely because such patients are largely covered by Medicaid.”

Dougherty Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas noted what he called a significant finding of the study related to health care costs.

“I found it significant that the study indicates the proposed Lee County hospital will actually charge higher rates, not cut costs as so many have claimed,” Cohilas said. “And I also think it’s important that, lost in all the sabre-rattling associated with this matter, is the fact that Lee County is not applying to build a hospital. A group is applying to build a hospital in Lee County.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has accepted the proposal for the acquisition of Savannah’s Memorial University Medical Center by the for-profit HCA.

The action follows completion of due diligence by the Nashville, Tenn.-based health care provider to acquire Memorial and will now require a 90-day period for the attorney general’s office to approve the sale, valued at $710 million when Memorial, a non-profit, signed a letter of intent in April.

The transaction would need to meet certain regulatory requirements and receive a favorable approval from the Attorney General’s office before it can be completed. Once completed, the hospital and its outpatient clinics and facilities will become full members of HCA’s South Atlantic Division.

The attorney general’s office will schedule a public meeting in Savannah within the 90-day period.

The Stephens County Hospital Authority named a new CEO for Stephens County Hospital after Lynne Fogerty resigned.

“Hospital leadership and the hospital authority are working in tandem to aggressively pursue financial turnaround initiatives, including improving clinical documentation and collections, service quality and increasing efficiencies in providing care,” said Hospital Authority Chairman Mark Wilkinson.

Wilkinson said the hospital has been confronted with declining market share and decreasing inpatient, surgery and emergency department volumes over the past several years.

Stephens County Hospital lost more than $4 million in fiscal year 2016 and $5 million in fiscal year 2017.