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

On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.

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

Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.

Governor Charles McDonald signed legislation on December 11, 1841 to prevent a person from having his or her testimony excluded in court because of the individual’s religious beliefs.

The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.

On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.

A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.

On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.

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

On December 11, 1960, a civil rights demonstration including 8000 African-American citizens was held in Atlanta as part of the movement to boycott stores that remained segregated.

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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

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

Fulton County is expected to certify its results in the Atlanta Mayoral runoff election today.

Rey Martinez will be sworn-in as the first Hispanic mayor of Loganville on January 11, 2018 at 6 PM.

Cobb County Commission Chair Mike Boyce will present a revised list of nonprofit funding levels after a previous version was voted down by commissioners.

Boyce had proposed that future grants given to nonprofits meet at least one of four priorities — homelessness, economic stability and poverty, ex-offender re-entry/workforce development, and health and wellness. Only Commissioner Bob Weatherford supported the chairman’s measure, with commissioners JoAnn Birrell, Lisa Cupid and Bob Ott voting against.

The original priority list, according to Birrell, excluded programs such as Marietta YELLS, which targets the vulnerable youth population in the Franklin Gateway area, and the Marietta Police Athletic League, which uses sports as a basis for positive interactions between children and law enforcement, though both organizations were awarded county grants as part of the funding approved by the commission.

Boyce will now ask the commissioners to consider a modified priority list that replaces economic stability and poverty with family stability/poverty, with youth programs falling under that category.

Triana Arnold James of Smyrna, current holder of the Mrs. Georgia title, will run for Lieutenant Governor as a Democrat in 2018.

James said she grew up in Smyrna and Marietta, attended Morris Brown College and later served in the U.S. Army as a computer programmer and later in legal support working for the JAG Corps. James and her husband, Alaric, have raised 12 children between them. James is also a small business owner and runs the Susan Jolley Awareness Program, a foundation to bring awareness to the prevention of cervical cancer and HPV.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 8, 2017


Baxter is a 4-year old male “jumbo” Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.


Esther is an adult female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA. Esther is good with children, not so much with other dogs.


Clementine is an adult female pibble mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Clementine is one of the most adorable dogs ever and a favorite at her shelter! Why, do you ask? SHE IS AMAZING. 1) she LOVES to play catch with tennis balls. If you don’t to play, that’s okay with her, because she can do it ALL by herself! She throws the ball and goes to get it. It might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. 2) She LOVES water. When she is around one of the kiddie pools, she flops in the pool and rolls around and then jump out and rolls around in the sand and grass and repeats this process until she is satisfied. 3) She’s ALWAYS in a cuddly mood and when she wants you to pet her, she leans against you and relaxes her body while you pet her. Sometimes, when she’s really relaxed, she just totally falls over. 4) She thinks she’s a lap dog. Again, she’s always cuddly. So when you sit, Clementine sits with…on…you. Come meet this sweet girl! A shelter is NOT a place for a personality like this.



Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 8, 2017

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.

President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863.

First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders.

Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.

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.

On December 8, 1899, Georgia Governor Allen Candler signed legislation to levy a tax on all dogs older than four months.

The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941. Montana Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin, the first female elected to the United States House of Representatives, cast the sole dissenting vote.

Gregg Allman was born December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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.

John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City on December 8, 1980.

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

From the Ledger-Enquirer on the role played by Georgia Congressman Carl Vinson in building the U.S. Navy before the attack at Pearl Harbor.

For nearly a decade before Pearl Harbor, Vinson had schemed and politicked in brilliant fashion to ensure that America was building a two-ocean navy larger than all the major navies of the world combined.

Vinson had assumed in the mid-1930s that fascist Japan and Germany posed existential threats to the United States. For America to survive, he saw that America would need mastery of the seas to transport its armies across the Pacific and Atlantic.

From 1934 to 1940, Vinson pushed through Congress four major naval appropriations bills. The result was that the U.S. Pacific Fleet which Japan thought it had almost destroyed in December 1941 was already slated to be replaced by a far larger and updated armada.

A little more than seven months after Pearl Harbor, the USS Essex — the finest carrier in the world — was launched. Essex was the first of 24 such state-of-the-art fleet carriers of its class to be built during the war.

Vinson’s various prewar naval construction bills also ensured the launching of hundreds of modern battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines. As bombs fell at Pearl Harbor, ships of the new American fleet were soon to be deployed, under construction or already authorized.

Vinson’s foresight would save thousands of American lives in the Atlantic and Pacific. American naval power quickly allowed the U.S. to fight a two-front war against Japan, Germany and Italy.

Vinson, a rural Georgian, was an unlikely advocate of global naval supremacy.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal announced that November’s state revenue was up 7.3 percent over November 2016.

Georgia’s net tax collections for November totaled $1.84 billion, for an increase of nearly $124.7 million, or 7.3 percent, compared to last year when net tax collections totaled $1.72 billion. Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled almost $9.04 billion, for an increase of $238.6 million, or 2.7 percent, over November 2016, when net tax revenues totaled roughly $8.8 billion, five months into the fiscal year.

State Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) appears to have a lead in the race for President Pro Tem of the Georgia Senate, according to the AJC Political Insider.

Supporters of the Gainesville Republican said he has the 19 votes needed to succeed David Shafer of Duluth. A Senate Republican caucus vote next week pits Miller against Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert of Athens.

Shafer, a Republican from Duluth, is running for lieutenant governor in 2018.

“Butch has really put in the work in this caucus election. I’ve looked Butch in eye and told him that he has my vote,” [Senate Rules Committee Chair Jeff] Mullis said. “A lot of other senators have done the same, and I think that’s enough to give him the majority he needs.”

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said she, too, is confident Miller has the 19 votes he needs. “I think a majority of the caucus is with him because he’s effective, competent and efficient – everything we want in a leader and what voters wish Washington could be,” she said.

Qualifying for two state legislative districtsSenate District 17 and House District 111 – ends at 1 PM today. Qualified candidates so far include:

SD 17
Brian Strickland – R
Ed Toney – R
Nelva Lee – R
Phyllis Hatcher – D

HD 111
El-Madhi Holly – D
Geoffrey Cauble – R
Larry K. Morey – R

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood will run for State House District 48 against incumbent Republican Betty Price.

Jere Wood on Wednesday announced that he will run for the State House District 48 seat held by Rep. Betty Price, a legislator he’s criticized for having a hand in trying to remove him from office.

Wood made the announcement at a gathering for hundreds of friends held at his home, and used the opportunity to thank his supporters who’ve stood by his side during his 20-year tenure in office.

“They have been my most productive years and the great joy of my life,” he said in prepared comments shared with Patch, adding his goal when he was elected mayor in 1997 at the age of 49 was to make the city the “best place to live” in the Peach State.

A bid to run for the House District 48 seat, Wood said, will allow him to continue efforts to make Roswell a better place to live. He also said he feels more qualified to help the city today than when he was first elected.

“House District 48 and the city of Roswell need a new face at the capital,” he added. “They need a representative who knows Roswell, who listens to Roswell and who can work well with other to get things done for Roswell. I am the best person for that job.”

As a political nerd, I collect weird election results. In Austell City Council Ward 1, a runoff was held this week after the only two candidates in November tied at 76 votes each. In the runoff, Marlin Lamar built on his November results and garnered 88 votes, while Ikaika Anderson lost significant support, earning 49 votes, roughly two-thirds of her November total.

So, Marlin Lamar won the runoff with the exact same number of votes he had in November, while his opponent, Ikaika Anderson shed two votes.

In Ocilla last month, voters approved a referendum to stop adding fluoride to the municipal water supply by 68.76% of votes cast.

From The Ocilla Star via the Fluoride Action Network:

The decision affects only artificial fluoride in the city water, which also adds things like mercury, arsenic and lead to the mix, according to McMahan. Since fluoridation is state-mandated in Georgia, 10% of registered city voters who voted in last election were needed to sign a petition to put “Stop Fluoridation” on the ballot.

Ocilla Mayor Seale states that enacting the decision should not be a difficult task.

“We just have to file the proper paperwork with the state and they will either amend our current certificate or issue a new one, eliminating the added artificial fluoride from our water,” he explained.

House Speaker David Ralston spoke about the upcoming 2018 Session of the Georgia General Assembly.

On whether allegations of sexual harassment at the Capitol will surface this year

I’m not making predictions about that. I certainly hope not. You know, it’s not a perfect environment. I don’t know any environment that is perfect, but you know we have, in our General Assembly employee handbook, spelled out a zero-tolerance for sexual harassment policy.

On the consequences for sexual harassment in the General Assembly

The consequences would be internal sanctions by supervisors or, in the case of members, having their conduct reviewed by the appropriate committees. And in fact, about a week and a half ago, I appointed a joint subcommittee of the Legislative Services Committee to see if there’s improvements we can make. I think that it’s incumbent upon us to always look for ways that we can do things even better.

On whether lawmakers should reconsider the state law that bars moving or concealing Confederate monuments

If we are a state, then we share the same history. The history of Georgia is the same whether you live in Blue Ridge or whether you live in Bainbridge or whether you live in Decatur. And so to allow that history to be controlled depending on the jurisdiction you’re in strikes me as being divisive in and of itself. So, I think we have to be very careful as we go forward. You know there’s much about our history as a state that is dark. We share that with other states. But we also are growing, and we have made a lot of progress. And so I would hate to see us become so fixated on looking back that we lose our focus on looking forward as a state.

On whether state lawmakers will consider ‘religious liberty’ legislation 

My view now is let’s move forward. This is a big, diverse state, and I frankly don’t plan to spend a lot of time on that issue as we go into this next session.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp spoke about religious liberty legislation.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp told the Roswell Rotary Club Nov. 30 that if he is elected governor, he would sign a “religious freedom and restoration bill” similar to the ones Gov. Nathan Deal has twice vetoed if came before him.

Kemp said he would support a bill that guaranteed Georgians religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution.

“I don’t know what other provisions that may have been in [the bills Deal vetoed]. But I would support a bill that is in line with federal law,” Kemp said. “It would be simply codifying what is already in the Constitution.”

Savannah City Council voted to move forward with a fee to cover the costs of providing fire services.

After hearing opposition from a number of speakers during a public hearing, the council also held the first reading of a charter amendment to implement a fee charged to all properties for fire service. The rate would amount to a fee of $240 for single-family homes, rather than $370 as initially proposed. In addition, the property tax rate would be reduced by 1 mill so that the financial impact on the average household would amount to about $194, according to city officials. A hardship account will also provide $400,000 to assist low-income property owners who have difficulty affording the fire fee, as part of the proposal.

The budget and fire fee are expected to be adopted at the next meeting on Dec. 21.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach lost support during a budget workshop Thursday morning for including $2.2 million in next year’s budget for the center he touted as an anti-poverty initiative.

Alderman Brian Foster said he could not fund a program he knew little about, joining aldermen Van Johnson, Estella Shabazz and Tony Thomas in raising concerns about the proposed center.

“I cannot in good conscious vote to spend $2.2 million on a program that doesn’t exist,” Foster said.

Daron Lee won a runoff election for Warner Robins City Council Post 1.

Gwinnett County held a meeting with their legislative delegation and everyone wanted to talk about transit.

The transit issue has grown up to become a key topic in state government, with committees being created to study the topic. Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston appointed Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash to serve on the House’s committee that looked into the issue earlier this year.

Transportation funding in general is one of the major issues county leaders want the Gwinnett legislative delegation to take on during the 2018 state legislative session, with a request to extend the length on T-SPLOSTs. Those special taxes are currently capped at five years in length.

“I’m asking for 30 years,” Nash told the legislators. “I think ACCG is asking for 20 years. Two reasons for that is if you’re going to get federal dollars, then you’ve got to have 20 years of shared revenues, and if you’re going to do transit projects, you’ve got to be able to do bonds and the time frame for bonding is typically 25 to 30 years for these types of projects so you need to be sure of a revenue stream for that.”



Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 7, 2017


Loki is a male senior Pomeranian who is available for adoption from Best Friends–Atlanta in Atlanta, GA.

Loki is a silly, sweet little guy who is on a mission to find the perfect lap! He loves snuggling with his doggie roommates, playing with toys and of course CUDDLES! If Loki sounds like the perfect pint sized addition to your family come by and meet him today!

Loki is 7 years old and weighs 7 pounds.

Denali Danas

Denali is a female Great Pyrenees mix puppy who is available for adoption from DanasDogHouse in Smyrna, GA.

6 months/45 lbs, expected to be 80-90 pounds when she’s fully-grown. Very sweet and loving. She is deaf, but it doesn’t seem to bother her or affect her life, but she’ll need a different way of training.

Pearl Priceless

Pearl is a female Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from Priceless Pets Atlanta in Atlanta, GA.

Pearl is a little gem. She is about 3 months old and weighs 3.5 pounds at this time. She will probably reach about 9 pounds when she is full grown. Pearl is a hoot to watch. She plays fearlessly with her soft toys, runs, poses and prances. Pearl lives in a foster home with other dogs and enjoys playing with them in the fenced yard. as well as indoors when the weather is not so nice.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 7, 2017

On December 7, 1801, Georgia’s United States Senator Abraham Baldwin was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.

On December 6, 1847, Dr. William White spoke to a group of Atlanta residents about a proposal to move the state capital to Atlanta and was met with cheers.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the Amendment outlawing slavery.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884.

Today is the 76th anniversary of the Japanese bombing attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

GeorgiaInfo has the reactions of Georgia leaders to the Pearl Harbor attack,

U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.”

U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.”

U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.”

Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joseph L. George was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V device for valor for his actions aboard USS Vestal at Pearl Harbor.

George, a second class petty officer at the time, saved the lives of several sailors from the battleship USS Arizona. He survived the war and retired from the Navy in 1955 but passed away in 1996.

The Bronze Star Medal will be presented by Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, to George’s daughter, Joe Ann Taylor, today during a 4:30 p.m. (Hawaii-Aleutian time) ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

“The presentation of the medals is not only appropriate but simply the right thing to do,” Spencer said in a release sent out by the Navy. “One of my highest priorities is to honor the service and sacrifice of our sailors, Marines, civilians, and family members. It is clear that Lt. (Aloysious H.) Schmitt and Chief George are heroes whose service and sacrifice will stand as an example for current and future service members.”

In addition to George’s Bronze Star, the secretary also awarded the Silver Star Medal to Lt. j.g. Schmitt for action at Pearl Harbor while serving on the battleship USS Oklahoma.

The Augusta Chronicle profiles the last known Pearl Harbor veteran in the area.

[Alvin] Mays, an Army veteran, had been assigned to the 21st infantry, 24th Division, at Schofield Barracks when the attack occurred. He reflected Monday on the Japanese fighter planes that flew overhead, spraying those below with bullets, following the bombing of the U.S. naval base, located near Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I just had walked out of the mess hall that morning and heard all the bombing and everything sounding off at a distance,” Mays said . “Just minutes after that we began to see the planes flying over. They came in striking the 21st infantry at treetop level and lucky for us we did not have any casualties that morning.”

Mays, who served as a mechanic, was assigned to the base after enlisting in 1941. He was 18. Following the Pearl Harbor attack, Mays deployed to Australia, then to the Philippines where he fought on the front lines before being ordered back to the States.

“When I got to Hawaii, I didn’t take any basic training,” he said. “That was very unusual, but they were just motorizing their infantry at that time. I went straight into the motor pool and that’s where I stayed until MacArthur signed the treaty.”

On December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel in downtown Atlanta, previously considered fireproof, burned in the worst hotel fire to date.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 Greg Bluestein of the AJC has the best 140-character explanation of Atlanta politics and the racial polarization that drove the Atlanta Mayor’s runoff election.

Bluestein ATLMayor

Democrat Jen Jordan won the special runoff election for State Senate District 6, completing the Democratic flip of the seat formerly held by Republican Hunter Hill.

A Democratic victory in Georgia’s state Senate election on Tuesday put an end to the Republican’s two-thirds supermajority.

Democrat Jen Jordan beat out fellow Democrat Jaha Howard in a runoff election for Georgia’s 6th state Senate district Tuesday night, according to the Cobb County Courier.

Jordan will take the seat vacated in August by Republican Hunter Hill, who left the chamber to mount a bid for Georgia governor.

None of the five GOP candidates to run in the initial election made it to the runoff election.

Republicans still hold a significant majority in the state Senate, though with Jordan’s victory on Tuesday they no longer hold the supermajority in the chamber that they once did.

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

The fact that the top two vote-getters in this year’s November primary were Democrats came as a shock to many, but Cobb Democratic Party chair Michael Owens said it is a sign of things to come.

“We’re seeing a change in tides,” Owens said. “We’re seeing the Democratic Party increasingly starting to truly rebound and starting to become influential, the wills of the people starting to be influential about Democratic ideas and principles. Those candidates that are talking about those issues, it’s clear that voters are responding and are listening to the message.”

Speaking before the results came in, Jordan said she had been helped by a primary field with more Republican candidates, splitting the vote. The primary included five Republicans and three Democrats.

“I think some folks were taken by surprise by Trump’s victory,” she said. “Maybe that was a lesson learned. If we want this democracy to work, we have to work at it, and we have to participate in it. And we have to support candidates that we like and we think can do a good job for us. People really are wanting to be more involved and participate more in elections across the board.”

“(District 6 is) a competitive district,” [Kennesaw State University political scientist Kerwin] Swint said. “I do think this fits into the trend of it being a Democrat winning streak. … I think Democrats should celebrate.”

The real test will come next year when Jordan faces election again, this time as an incumbent. Swint said she may end up serving for more than just the remainder of Hill’s term.

“I think a Democrat, that being a competitive district, stands a reasonable chance,” he said. “It will depend in part on her and her service and her record. … In the whole metro area, both parties can’t take anything for granted. It’s really going to require a lot of attention to the precinct level.”

Democrat Nikema Williams won the special runoff election for State Senate District 39, which was vacated by Vincent Fort.

Sarah Riggs Amico announced she will run as a Democrat for Lieutenant Governor in 2018.

Sarah Riggs Amico joins three Republicans in the race to succeed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle: Senate Pro Tem David Shafer, state Sen. Rick Jeffares and former state Rep. Geoff Duncan.

Amico is executive chairman at Jack Cooper Holdings Corp., a trucking and logistics firm run by her father, Michael Riggs. Trained at Harvard’s business school, she’s previously worked at talent and literary agencies in New York and Hollywood.

Her campaign roll-out included a video focusing on her executive leadership at Jack Cooper, replete with folks music and images of tractor trailers hauling cars on highways. Her family bought the company during the Great Recession in 2008 and grew it from 120 employees to more than 3,000.

“We literally had suppliers betting on whether or not we would make it through the summer. There were a lot of executives who thought this would be a great time to cut back on healthcare benefits we pay for,” she said. “We went the other direction and said we’re going to pay for all of it.”

Her campaign platform includes vows to work across party lines with Republicans, expand access to rural healthcare and a pledge to pursue more apprenticeships and vocational educational programs.

Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Natalie Paine kicked off her campaign to retain the seat to which Governor Nathan Deal appointed her.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Paine in March to fill the district attorney’s position and replace now Richmond County Superior Court Judge Ashley Wright.

“As district attorney, I have worked tirelessly to protect citizens, families, and businesses from violence and crime,” Paine said in a news release. “I am committed to the people of the Augusta Judicial Circuit and refuse to back down from prosecuting those who want to hurt our children, take advantage of the elderly, or create fear in our communities and neighborhoods.”

“Serving as district attorney is an honor and a privilege. I humbly ask for your vote with the promise to always fight hard and do the right thing – even when no one is looking. Together, we will ensure a safe and promising future for our families and loved ones.”

As district attorney of the Augusta Judicial Circuit, Paine serves as the top prosecutor in Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.

Lori Henry was elected Mayor of Roswell and will succeed Mayor Jere Wood.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, Henry, the incumbent Post 4 City Council member, defeated fellow challenger Lee Jenkins in the Dec. 5 runoff with 55 percent, or 6,551 votes. Jenkins received 45 percent, or 5,390 votes.

Residents will also greet two new faces on the Roswell City Council. These same results show Matt Judy defeating fellow challenger Karen Parrish for the Post 6 seat and [Sean Groer] edging out Mike Nyden for the special election to fill the Post 3 seat.

Judy received 60 percent, or 6,660 votes, to Parrish’s 40 percent, or 4,452 votes. Groer won with 54 percent, or 5,768 votes, to Nyden’s 46 percent, or 4,910 votes.

Peachtree Corners City Council member Jeanne Aulbach was reelected with a 15-vote margin.

John Bradberry was elected to the Johns Creek City Council Post 3 seat vacated by Cori Davenport.

According to unofficial results posted by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Bradberry received 58 percent, or 2,151 votes, compared to Horton’s 42 percent, or 1,573 votes.

Bradberry will succeed Davenport, who chose not to run for re-election. The office of mayor and the Post 1 and Post 3 seats on the City Council were decided in the Nov. 7 general municipal election. Lenny Zaprowski was re-elected to the Post 1 seat while Stephanie Endres won another four-year term for the Post 5 seat, respectively.

Mayor Mike Bodker initially faced challenger Alex Marchetti for re-election, but the challenger opted to drop out of the race, leaving Bodker unopposed for another four-year term.

Chad Crane beat incumbent Chuck Welch for Cumming City Council Post 1.

Maryline Blackburn won the runoff election for Smyrna Council Ward 3.

Cheryl Anderson won the runoff election for Marietta City Council.

The Polk County Board of Elections will recount votes in the runoff election for Board of Education District 6.

Interim school board member and candidate Judy Wiggins requested a recount of the ballots in the Tuesday run-off vote that came down to a 191-190 victory for Chris Culver. That will take place Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Board of Elections office in the County Administration offices at 144 West Ave., Cedartown.

“More than anything else, hearing from supporters and my campaign group, I felt that with it being just one vote it bears looking at one more time,” Wiggins said.

She added that “I just want to be sure.”

Governor Nathan Deal spoke to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon.

“Our tourism is also one of those areas you have benefited (from) greatly,” Deal said. “We have had tourism expand in our state. … The more we can get the message out to the world that Georgia is a great place to visit … and that there is more to Georgia than just ‘Georgia on My Mind,’ we want you to come have it on your eyesight.”

In 2015, Lowndes County brought in $282.4 million in direct tourist spending and generated $11.8 million in state tax revenue and $8.7 million in local tax revenue, Deal said.

Deal spoke about the expansion of the film industry in the state and how he wants to develop a workforce of stage, sound and light engineers so the film companies can pull from Georgia’s workforce.

“We don’t just want them bringing people in to do that,” Deal said. “We want Georgians to have those skills so that when they decide to shoot a film in our state they can find the right people right here and trained with the skill set to get those jobs.”

Deal talked about how he has helped tackle issues with formerly incarcerated residents and residents looking for jobs that require technical skills.

The final message Deal left Valdosta was that economic success must continuously be earned.

“We’re number one in the nation in meaningful criminal justice reform,” he said. “We’re number one in the nation as a place in which to do business. We’re number one in the nation and in the world in terms of film production.”

‘We are number one in a lot areas. We’ve got to keep pushing because the world is always changing and we need to be sure we stay ahead of those changes.”

Public schools entering the state’s “Turnaround School District” have been selected.

The 11 schools picked by the state’s first Chief Turnaround Office, Eric Thomas, are mostly in south Georgia. All are south of Atlanta; they are in Bibb, Clay, Dooly, Dougherty and Randolph counties.

Thomas said all these districts agreed to be part of the program, which was established this year by The First Priority Act. The new state law came in reaction to voter rejection last year of a constitutional amendment that would have created a statewide “opportunity” school district with authority to seize “chronically failing” schools.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle spoke about transit at the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce.

Georgia must be willing to build the infrastructure of tomorrow, and while that includes updating existing roads and bridges, it also includes transit, Cagle said.

“It doesn’t mean MARTA or transit has to be placed or forced on anyone, but we certainly have to recognize that it is a piece of the puzzle going forward,” he said.

In addition to its effects on reducing congestion, proximity to public transit has become a priority for companies when they are looking to relocate, Cagle said, such as the recent announcement from Amazon that it is looking to build its second headquarters.

“I think all of you know a little bit about this Amazon issue, and every single major headquarter deal that we are getting, all of them are requiring to be located on a transit line,” Cagle said. “They understand what that future is going to look like, and so we have to plan for the infrastructure of tomorrow, both in terms of roads and bridges, but also transit as well.”

Does that mean MARTA rail will extend into Cobb County?

“I am not going to force MARTA on Cobb County. I want to be very clear. That is a decision by which Cobb County needs to make,” Cagle said. “But I do think it is my role to set up a system by which we determine where the needs are today, but also in the future. And if it makes sense to Cobb, then they have an opportunity to do that. And the other thing is MARTA fundamentally, the governance structure within MARTA, I think people are fearful of that. They’re fearful of that in Cobb. They’re fearful of that in Gwinnett as well. So there is an opportunity for Cobb County to have their own transit system to where they would then have an intergovernmental agreement with an entity like MARTA or there could be an option by which MARTA is the governance structure’s changed tremendously.”

Savannah-Chatham School Board members heard from Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach made an appearance at Wednesday’s Savannah-Chatham School Board meeting to explain his vision to help the city’s children.

The mayor’s appearance followed reports that plans for the city and the school system to fund an education center for low-income preschoolers was a surprise for board members.

The Savannah City Council added $2.22 million to the 2018 city budget last week for the $7.2 million education center.

DeLoach had said that the city/school partnership had been in development for more than a year with the support of Superintendent Ann Levett, and her predecessor, Thomas Lockamy.

School board President Jolene Byrne said she had never heard of the plan until the city’s budget meeting.

Georgia Power and the other Vogtle co-owners will receive billions from Toshiba as payments on Plant Vogtle overages.

Georgia Power and its partners in the new reactors will receive the remaining $3.2 billion it is owed from Toshiba by Dec. 15 instead of monthly payments scheduled to go through the end of 2020. The companies had already received $455 million in payments.

Georgia Power’s share of the new payments would be $1.47 billion. The agreement to make the remainder of payments is still subject to approval by Toshiba’s board and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We are pleased to have reached this constructive agreement with Toshiba regarding the parent guarantees for the Vogtle project and every dollar will be used to benefit our customers,” said Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers. “We remain committed to making the right decisions for our state’s energy future and continue to believe that completing both Vogtle units represents the best economic choice for customers and preserves the benefits of carbon-free, baseload generation for Georgia electric customers.”

The Public Service Commission is currently reviewing the request and receiving testimony about the project and hearings will resume next Monday with testimony from the public. A decision on whether to proceed is scheduled for Feb. 6.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 5, 2017

Augusta Animal Services will partner with Fix Georgia Pets to spay and neuter some local dogs.

The department launched a fundraising effort with Fix Georgia Pets, a statewide nonprofit in Atlanta, to neuter and boost spay efforts for pit bulls and other “bully” breeds in Richmond County.

According to Sharon Broady, the director of Augusta Animal Services, these sort of dogs have become “extremely popular” in the Augusta area.

“Along with this popularity comes overpopulation and rejection, and the dogs often end up on the streets or at our shelter,” she said in a news release. “In addition, if the dog is not spayed or neutered, it can produce unwanted puppies that enter our facility, as well.”

Crystal Eskola, assistant director for Augusta Animal Services, said funds will be used to help fix pets in the community and limit overpopulation at shelters.

“Not pets that are already at the shelter but pets that somebody might want to keep if it was fixed,” she said. “We’ve got so many animals coming in through our front door, so they wanted to work with us on the intake diversion method which would reduce the population so we don’t have as many coming into the shelter.”

As part of its fundraising efforts Fix Georgia Pets, whose mission is “to end overpopulation and stop senseless euthanasia in the state,” will match contributions dollar-for-dollar, up to a maximum of $10,000 and potential impact of $20,000.

Donations can be made one of four ways:

  • •By donating via credit card, debit card or personal check online here.
  • •By making a check payable to Fix Georgia Pets, and mailing it to 4164 Mack Lane, Augusta, GA 30904
  • •By purchasing a $5 raffle ticket at Wild Birds Unlimited at 3830 Washington Road, or Art on Broad at 1028 Broad Street in Augusta.
  • •By visiting and donating $50 or more to receive a wrapped, pet-themed Christmas ornament in a gift-wrapped box that can be given as a holiday gift.

Percy Augusta

Percy is a 16-month old male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.

Oliver Augusta

Oliver is a 15-month old male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.

Oliver is a happy go lucky, extremely energetic teenager. HE LOVES TO EXERCISE and would require a fenced in yard. Oliver loves to play and play. He enjoys running the fence line with the dogs next door. Oliver enjoys playing in the kiddie pool in the play yard and with the water coming out of the hose when the pool is being filled. He is a lot of fun. Again, he is very energetic!!!!


Duke is a 5-year old male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 5, 2017

On December 5, 1887, Georgia voters approved a new State Constitution and voted to keep the state capital in Atlanta instead of moving it back to Milledgeville.

On December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending prohibition. Earlier that day, Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified the Amendment.

On December 5, 2000, the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou was released.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is runoff election day for the City of Atlanta Mayor’s race and a number of municipal runoff elections, as well as state legislative runoffs.

The most interesting story today involves $310,000 paid by the Keisha Lance Bottoms for Atlanta Mayor campaign to the Georgia Democratic Party. I learned about it on Twitter.


Here’s a link to the two pages from Lance Bottoms’s disclosures showing the payments. You can look up the original document in its entirety here.

There are two reasons to do that. One is if you can get the party to do things you’re not willing to have your name attached to. The second reason is that state party organizations can send direct mail at the nonprofit rate, dramatically reducing the cost of mail.

Democrats Bee Nguyen and Sachin Varghese face off today in a special runoff election for State House District 89.

Both candidates in a runoff for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives were often told by their immigrant parents to keep their heads down and stay out of trouble.

But no matter who wins Tuesday, they’ll make waves by becoming either Georgia’s first Vietnamese-American or Indian-American state representative.

Bee Nguyen, the founder of an education nonprofit, faces Sachin Varghese, an attorney, in the runoff for an eastern Atlanta district formerly held by Stacey Abrams, who is now running for governor.

Nguyen and Varghese, both Democrats, led a field of four Democratic candidates in the Nov. 7 special election for House District 89, a majority-black district that includes Cedar Grove, Druid Hills, East Atlanta, Edgewood, Gresham Park and Kirkwood.

The candidates, both 36 years old, say their upbringing influenced their priorities: public education, equal rights and health care access.

Lee Jenkins and Lori Henry meet in the runoff election for Mayor of Roswell.

Polk County Board of Education District 6 will elect a new school board member in today’s runoff election.

Only voters who live within the District 6 boundary are being asked to come back to the polls at the Rockmart precinct in the Nathan Dean Community Center at 60 Goodyear St. are being asked to come back to the polls one last time this year to decide between Judy Wiggins and Chris Culver.

Two Special Elections have been scheduled for January 9, 2018.

Two special elections will be held Jan. 9 to fill the seats in the Georgia General Assembly left vacant by former Sen. Rick Jeffares and former Rep. Brian Strickland.

Jeffares, R-McDonough, resigned to compete in a crowded field for Georgia lieutenant governor to replace Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor. Besides Jeffares, other Republican candidates for lieutenant governor include Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, and state Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming.

Strickland, R-McDonough, is running to replace Jeffares in the state Senate. Gov. Nathan Deal called for the elections Monday.

Senate District 17 seat covers parts of Henry, Newton and Rockdale counties. House District 111 is in Henry County. The field of candidates will be set by the end of this week. Candidates can file to run for office from Wednesday to Friday.

Former Attorney General Sam Olens spoke about sex trafficking and drug abuse.

“We as a community, and I’m principally talking to men now, need to ensure a culture of respect, because you and I both know that a lot of times when you’re watching those commercials on TV during a football game, and that lady is not dressed fully, you’re smiling at your teenage son and sending the opposite advice, the opposite counsel. If you don’t think there’s a correlation between dating violence, dating rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault — it is all part of the same continuum, and we as men need to educate our sons about respecting women,” Olens said, which drew loud applause from the audience.

Olens said the sex trafficking trade has become a form of “modern-day slavery” for children, often between the ages of 12 to 14 who may have experienced prior sexual abuse, face mental health problems or addiction, and/or who may have run away from home. Signs of sex trafficking, he said, may include habitual truancy, unexplained physical trauma, branding on one’s body and traveling with an unrelated older person.

According to Olens, more than 64,000 Americans died last year from opioid overdoses, making it the leading cause of death of Americans under age 50. Of those deaths, more than 1,400 were from Georgia.

Locally, the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office’s 2016 report says the county saw last year 141 drug- and alcohol-related deaths. More than half of those deaths, 73, involved heroin or fentanyl, a substance similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent.

The impact of sex trafficking is evident in the eight to 10 cases currently pending in the county, Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he believes the two topics Olens presented were crucial for chamber members to hear, and he hopes the local business community will partner with law enforcement and local nonprofits who focus on those issues in order to make the Cobb community safer.

“I think he did a good job of highlighting to an audience that perhaps, through no fault of their own, they just are not aware of some of the issues that law enforcement and part of our community is dealing with on a daily basis,” Reynolds said. “We have a high number of overdose deaths here in Cobb based on opioid and heroin addiction, so these business people need to know about it … and they need to hear the fact that there is human trafficking occurring in the metro area, and Cobb is not exempt.”

Some Gwinnett County residents are asking commissioners to keep Sunday early voting.

The proposed $1.67 billion 2018 county budget includes money for one six-hour day of Sunday voting during the November general election, as well as expanding advance voting hours. It’s a move the county’s Board of Elections requested earlier this year, along with additional staff to help with bilingual voter assistance requirements.

Residents got to weigh in on the budget during a public hearing Monday at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. The Sunday voting proposal attracted the most attention from speakers such as Donna McLeod, who said the additional day would benefit voters who cannot get to the polls on weekdays or on the two Saturday voting days.

“It is important, if you really, truly believe in representative democracy … that you understand the importance of making sure voting and voter access is a priority for you,” McLeod said. “It shouldn’t have to be where we have to come here and ask you for that. That should be automatically done.”

Atlanta City Council voted to annex Emory University and the CDC, the largest influx of land into the city limits in decades.

The Atlanta City Council voted 13-0 to approve annexing the 744 acres along the city’s eastern edge. The incorporation of the prestigious research university into the state’s capital city is the most significant annexation since Buckhead was added in 1952.

It’s a move that brings an additional 6,400 residents into the city and could allow MARTA to run a new streetcar line to the campus. The Clifton Corridor project would use Atlanta transportation sales tax money to build the line from Lindbergh Center station.

The annexed areas, which also include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Villa International, will remain in DeKalb County but become a part of the city on Jan. 1, according to the ordinance approved Monday by the City Council.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that the Savannah harbor expansion is in its final phase.

The project, which first began in 2015, will deepen the harbor from its current 42 feet to 47 feet, will allow large ships that are now coming through the Panama Canal. The latest phase will complete the deepening from Fort Pulaski to nearly 20 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, according to Spencer Davis, project manager.

Because the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will cause salt water to intrude into coastal freshwater spawning grounds for the endangered shortnose sturgeon and other fish, the Corps must provide mitigation for that habitat loss. Work to deepen the inner harbor in Savannah can’t start until the mitigation issue is resolved, according to Augusta engineer Tom Robertson.

The Water Infrastructure Im­prove­ments for the Nation Act, passed in 2016, authorizes a rock weir and fish passage, while deauthorizing the Lock and Dam.

Several local leaders, including the mayors of Augusta and North Augusta, oppose that plan and want to see the Lock and Dam rehabilitated. They took their case to Washington in July and got a pledge from U.S. Rep. Allen to take the lead in drafting legislative language that would authorize money for repairs.

For locals, it’s all about “maintaining the pool,” from which both cities and nearby industries draw water, Robertson said. A working Lock and Dam has gates that can be opened and closed. A rock weir can’t be manipulated.

The Warner Robins City Council voted to adopt an ordinance restricting pan-handling.

City officials said it was done especially to combat “aggressive” panhandling that causes a person to feel threatened.

“Mayor and Council find that there has been an increase in aggressive solicitation in the City, which threatens the security, privacy, and freedom of movement of both residents and visitors,” the ordinance states.

The definition of aggressive panhandling includes using obscene or abusive language, touching someone without consent, or behaving in a manner that would “cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm.”

It restricts panhandling on any bank property with an ATM, or within 20 feet of a free standing ATM. It also forbids panhandling in public parking lots at night or on busy roads, specifically naming Watson Boulevard, Russell Parkway, Houston Lake Road, Ga. 96 and Moody Road.

State Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) pre-filed legislation to address property tax assessments in Fulton County.

“It is my absolute intention to pass this legislation during the next legislation session,” said Sen. Albers.

“Work was done in advance to ensure everyone is on the same page and that each piece of legislation moves efficiently through the legislative process. We must do all we can to protect our citizens and make sure they are not dealt the same card twice like the tax fiasco they experienced earlier this year,” said Albers.

According to the Senator, “it is imperative that we pass this legislation, give the citizens an opportunity to vote and show those who elect us that we can fix what is broken by providing solutions quickly and efficiently.”

Each piece of legislation would change property tax assessments for the cities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park and Roswell as well as the Fulton County School District.

The legislation would limit the tax increase residents see each year by creating a three percent cap on property tax assessment increases. This proposed legislation also addresses property tax exemptions and includes referendum language, which would leave the implementation of the laws to a vote by the citizens of each respective city and the Fulton County School District.

Nuclear Options

Georgia Public Service Commission staff say that completing two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle will be too expensive unless shareholders contribute.

In a strongly worded document filed with the PSC last Friday, the PSC staff said Georgia Power’s now $12.2 billion projected costs for its 45.7 percent share of the project are too much for customers to bear. The commission must take steps to ensure that the reactors — now the only ones in the nation that are under construction — make economic sense to finish, or they should cancel the project, staff said.

“Assuming the project is completed, ratepayers would incur significantly higher revenue requirements and a reduced economic benefit while the company’s profits would increase,” wrote PSC staff consultants Phil Hayet and Lane Kollen, and Tom Newsome, the PSC staff’s utilities finance director.

Georgia Power has routinely argued that the delays and cost increases at Vogtle are not the company’s fault. Indeed, Vogtle’s schedule changes stem mostly from increased federal safety standards and a series of contractor problems.

“The company’s failure to manage the project in a reasonable manner resulted in repeated schedule delays and increases in actual and projected costs,” [staff] wrote, later adding, “It is unreasonable for ratepayers to have to bear increased costs as a result of the units not being constructed efficiently.”

Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said the electric company is reviewing the testimony and will discuss any areas of disagreement during upcoming hearings.

“We remain confident that the unified recommendation to move forward with construction represents the best choice for customers while preserving the benefits of a new carbon-free energy source for our state,” Hawkins said in a statement. “We also understand that this is a complex and difficult decision and it is ultimately the decision of the Georgia PSC on whether or not we will move forward with the Vogtle project.”

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Completion of the project is no longer economic given the additional costs and schedule delays,” the analysts said in written testimony to commissioners.

They recommended that a reasonable Total Project Cost be set at $8.3 billion, $3.9 million less than what Georgia Power estimates for project completion.

The experts opposed Georgia Power and partner company requests to shift the projects financial risks resulting from contractor’s failures to customers as some costs “incurred by the company were not reasonable to allocate to customers.” Instead, they said Georgia Power and it’s shareholders should shoulder the risk.

The company has not provided justification in its requests to apportion ratepayers 100% of its forecasted costs, the analysts said.

Georgia Power through spokesperson John Kraft argued the company shared in the “financial risk of the Vogtle project,” citing “severe consequences for delays in place under an agreement with the Georgia PSC.”

Mississippi Power, also a Southern Company subsidiary, reached a settlement with the Mississippi Public Service Commission staff over construction of an advanced coal plant.

• Over the summer, Mississippi Power asked for $250 million more than the PSC was willing to approve in a settlement agreement, leading to a series of negotiations that appears to have concluded. Regulators must still approve the settlement.

• In a statement, Mississippi Power said the settlement removes risk to customers for the costs of the gasifier and related assets, ensures there will be no rate increases and continues operation of Kemper as a natural gas facility. The company said it is expecting a final order to be issued in January.

If approved, Mississippi Power officials say the company will be making changes to how it operates as it adjusts to a significant loss of revenue.

“If this stipulation is approved, we expect significant changes to our business,” said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson. “As we adjust to this considerable loss of revenue, our top priority will be to maintain safe and reliable service to our customers.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 4, 2017

Ella Columbia

Ella is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Columbia County Animal Services in Appling, GA. She is good with other dogs, cats, and children.

Coco SouthernSouls

Coco is a two-year old female Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Southern Souls Rescue in Harlem, GA. Coco and Max are a bonded pair and would prefer to find a home together.


Max is a two-year old male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Southern Souls Rescue in Harlem, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 4, 2017

On December 4, 1783, General George Washington told his officers he would resign his commission and return to his life at Mount Vernon.

The Battle of Waynesboro, Georgia was fought between Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry and Kilpatrick’s federal troops on December 4, 1864.

Governor William Northen signed legislation placing on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to increase the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from 3 to 5 on December 4, 1893.

On December 4, 1932, a 12-foot tall statue of Tom Watson, former state legislator, Congressman, and United States Senator from Georgia, was placed on the State Capitol Grounds.

On December 4, 1945, the United States Senate voted to approve full U.S. participation in the United Nations. Georgia’s Senators voted in favor.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Tomorrow, voters head to the polls for the last time this year.

In [State Senate] District 6, which includes portions of Cobb and Fulton Counties, the next state senator will have a D next to his or her name.

Attorney Jen Jordan and dentist Jaha Howard, both Democrats, were the two survivors from a list of 8 candidates.

In Marietta’s Ward 1, attorney Cheryl Richardson and retired consultant Jay Davis are facing off for the City Council seat.

In Smyrna, two residents are competing for the Ward 3 seat. Recording artist Maryline Blackburn and business owner Travis Lindley are both hoping to replace state Rep. Terri Anulewicz, who gave up her council seat to run unopposed for her new position.

The first race for Austell’s Ward 1 City Council seat resulted in a 76-76 tie between two candidates.

Marlin Lamar, engineering superintendent at Hilton Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, and Ikaika Anderson, manager at Exquisite Catering, are both hoping the scales will tip in their favor this time around.

City of Atlanta voters will choose between Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms for the next Mayor.

Keisha Lance Bottoms faces Mary Norwood. The two city councilwomen advanced to the runoff after Bottoms finished first and Norwood finished second in the Nov. 7 general election.

Aside from returning to a female mayor, Atlanta voters could usher in another change if Norwood wins. If that happens, it will be the first time in the past 44 years that Atlanta is led by a white mayor.

In Senate District 39, voters are deciding between Atlanta Democrats Nikema Williams and Linda Pritchett. They’re competing for the seat left open by Democrat Vincent Fort, who stepped down to run for Atlanta mayor.

In House District 60, metro Atlanta Democrats Kim Schofield and De’Andre Pickett are vying for a vacant seat that includes parts of Fulton and Clayton counties. Democratic Rep. Keisha Waites had resigned from that seat in September to run for chairman of the Fulton County Commission.

In DeKalb County, two Democrats are in a runoff for the House District 89 seat left vacant by state Rep. Stacey Abrams, an Atlanta Democrat who is leaving the legislature to run for governor. Voters in that race are deciding between Bee Nguyen and Sachin Varghese.

Democratic United States Senators Kamala Harris (CA) and Cory Booker (NJ) campaigned with Keisha Lance Bottoms yesterday.

At Bottoms’ campaign headquarters on Sunday morning, Booker implored Democratic voters to “keep the fire going” in the final days of the race.

“This is a Democrat, someone who is not afraid to talk about her values, and talk about the issues that are important now,” Booker, a New Jersey senator, said in an interview. “She’ll stand up to the president when necessary. She’s not going to soft-step, or soft-pedal, anything.”

State Senator Rick Jeffares (R-Stockbridge) will resign his seat as he runs for Lieutenant Governor.

He said in an emailed statement that his campaign “has taken off more quickly than I expected.” He said he wants to spread his message and exchange ideas and can’t imagine being able to do that while still representing his district properly.

Online state records show that two other Republicans — Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer and former state House member Geoff Duncan — are also vying to replace Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor.

Gainesville-area foster care advocates discussed changes to improve the state system.

“My thought is always, what can we change on a local level to send ripples and perhaps a tidal wave” through the current foster care model, said Lindsay Burton, chief judge of the Hall County juvenile court.

On Thursday, Burton was joined by representatives from local churches and nonprofits, state government, foster care placing agencies and foster parents themselves at the East Hall Community Center for an hourslong meeting to address what can be done to improve the existing framework.

Burton and Brian Anderson, CEO of the nonprofit Supporting Adoption & Foster Families Together, asked pointed questions of Division of Family and Children Services and private child placing agencies who contract with DFCS to place children in foster homes.

When children are removed from their home, DFCS workers will look first to Hall’s 26 DFCS foster homes. If no DFCS homes are available, caseworkers begin calling private agencies and may place children outside of Hall County if they feel that’s the best available home, DFCS workers at the meeting said.

Musician Zac Brown has invested in a Dahlonega distillery.

His name will appear on the distillery, renamed the Z. Brown Distillery, and its products through Brown’s Southern Ground brand.

The rebranded business set out to open this fall. There’s still no specific date set, but the end of fall is coming soon. Odem said to keep an eye on the business’ socialmedia accounts to stay in the loop.
Brown’s investment allowed Odem to ramp up production at the distillery and add a 750-gallon copper still to the existing 500-gallon system.

Since May, more than a dozen employees have been making 10 gallons of bourbon, brandy, whiskey and gin a week.

The bourbon is made with antique white dent corn that’s hand-milled at the distillery, Odem said.

“People that are in the know about bourbons would know that we’re in the family with Maker’s Mark, Pappy’s, (W.L.) Weller’s,” he said.

Some Murray County residents will have new voting precincts in 2018.

Several polling places — not all — will be changed to a new location starting with the special election of March 20, 2018. New polling locations will affect voters in the precincts of Spring Place, Town, McDonald (Eton) and Carters-Doolittle (Ramhurst). These polling changes will be permanent.

All voters in the four precincts being moved will receive a new precinct card in the mail prior to the March special election. This card is simply to remind voters where to go on Election Day. It cannot be used for ID at the polls.

Republican Kelli Gambrill announced she will run for the County Commission seat currently held by Bob Weatherford.

Keli Gambrill has announced she’ll run for the District 1 commissioner post currently held by Bob Weatherford. Gambrill says she’s completed the paperwork to have her name on the Republican ballot for the May 22 primary election. This is her first run for public office.

Gambrill, 48, and husband, Bob, have a son, Robert. She has worked as a consultant since moving to Georgia in 2003. The Gambrills live in Alexander Farms subdivision. An equine enthusiast, she owns a horse and often rides in and judges equestrian competitions.

She believes the No. 1 issue facing Cobb County is the budget and doesn’t agree with the county’s current approach. “I don’t think we should be proud of going from a $21 million deficit to anywhere from a $31 million to a $55 million deficit, especially when our tax base is increasing.”

Former State Senator and GAGOP Chair Chuck Clay has endorsed Travis Lindley in the runoff election for Smyrna City Council.

Cherokee County Board of Equalization members are under investigation by a local grand jury.

The investigation comes after five people on the 12-member board, which handles appeals from property assessments issued by the Cherokee County Board of Tax Assessors, filed a class action lawsuit against the county, demanding they release the complaint made against them.

An interim grand jury presentment was filed Nov. 14 announcing the investigation into board members Bill Dewrell, Donald Sams, J.E. White, Charles D. Heard, Jr. and Patricia Tanner.

The members have also been removed from hearing appeals to the board until the complaint is resolved, according to Clerk of Superior Court of Cherokee County Patty Baker.

District Attorney Shannon Wallace said the grand jury will announce their findings in their presentments which are returned in open court and filed with the clerk at the end of their term.

A copy of the presentments will be sent to the legal organ of the county, the Cherokee Tribune, and the present grand jury’s term expires in the first half of January, she said.

Infant mortality rates in Georgia appear to be declining after several years of increases.

Georgia’s infant mortality rate has risen over the last few years while the national rate has flattened or declined, Department of Public Health statistics show.

In 2010, 6.3 Georgia babies for every 1,000 live births died within their first year of life. By 2015, that number had increased to 7.8.

But Lara Jacobson, director of Health Promotion at the state Department of Public Health, said Friday that preliminary data for 2016 show a decrease in the infant mortality numbers for Georgia.

Georgia was ranked 43rd among states in a recent infant mortality rating from United Health Foundation.

State data show that counties in the southern half of Georgia have higher infant mortality. And there’s a racial disparity as well, with babies born to black women having much greater mortality risk than those with white mothers.

Rural counties have higher infant mortality numbers, Jacobson said.

A  factor in that disparity may involve longer distances to birthing hospitals, which can increase chances for preterm birth. Only 46 of Georgia’s 159 counties have labor and delivery units, with about 75 hospitals in the state routinely delivering babies, according to the Georgia OB/GYN Society.

Gainesville appears to be a hotbed of bass-fishing and its associated economic impact.

“In September and October we had five tournaments (bass fishing) that we were involved with, that we assisted with, provided maybe some meeting space and I brought them some snacks and waters,” [Gainesville’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau manager Regina Dyer] explained.

“From those tournaments the economic impact was $1.13-million,” Dyer explained surprising everyone in the room who was not an avid fisherman.

Click here to see a spectacular photograph of a Bald Eagle taken near Rome.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for December 1, 2017

Students at Valdosta State University are petting puppies as part of De Stress Fest during finals.

Stephanie Motley with Canine Companions for Independence brought Yeats, her 9-week old puppy, for students to cuddle and pet. She said this was the third or fourth dog she has brought to the event through the years. Of course, Yeats was a first-time attendee.

“He has a long way to go,” Motley said of the pup that is still in training.

Not only were there therapy dogs and puppies, but food, coloring, DIY stress balls, Lego activities and more were available at the De-Stress Fest.


Margaret is a female Beagle mix who is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA. She does well with other dogs.


Coot is a young male American Bulldog mix puppy who is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

Coot is such a ham! He loves loves kids, cats, small dogs, big dogs, and anyone who will pay him attention. He is learning his manners and potty training is in progress!


Spidey is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Big Fluffy Dog Rescue in Valdosta, GA.

Spidey is an active and happy 16-week old, 30 pound Lab mix male heathen puppy. He is a Hurricane Harvey survivor and he is looking for a home. He has already mastered some commands and is crate trained. He is good with kids of all ages, kitties, and all dogs. Spidey is a loving and playful puppy and would love to come home with you today.