The blog.

23
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 23, 2017

On August 23, 1784, four counties is western North Carolina declared themselves the State of Franklin, setting up its own Constitution and treaties with local Indian tribes. In 1788, they rejoined North Carolina but would eventually become part of a new state, Tennessee.

The Kimball Opera House, serving as the Georgia State Capitol, was sold to the state on August 23, 1870.

On August 23, 1961, four African-American citizens attempted to play tennis at Bitsy Grant Tennis Center in Atlanta, which was informally “whites only.” The Tennis Center was hastily closed rather than allow them to play, but it was the first volley leading to the eventual desegregation of Atlanta’s public recreation facilities.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Eight overdoses since Saturday in middle Georgia are being blamed on counterfeit Percocet pills.

Eight overdoses reported in Houston and Bibb counties since Saturday are suspected to be related to poisonous tablets being sold on the streets under the guise of a prescription pain killer.

One person overdosed in Macon on Monday after taking some of the round white pills Bibb County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Gonzalez called “fake Percocets.”

Seven others were hospitalized for suspected overdoses in Houston County, and some of them are only breathing with aide from ventilators, Warner Robins Police Department said in a news release Tuesday. The patients range in age from 25 to 60.

The suspicious white pill reportedly being passed around now is thick and glossy, Warner Robins police said. The letters “RP” are embossed on one side of the pills with a“10” above “325” on the other.

Warner Robins Assistant Police Chief John Wagner said the first of the overdoses in Houston County was reported Saturday night. One overdose occurred in Centerville, and the remainder in Warner Robins, he said.

Those who overdosed either came into the Houston Medical Center emergency room, or emergency responders were dispatched to their homes and, in one case, to a place of business, Wagner said.

“We can’t say that there is a for-sure link with that,” Wagner said. “But that is something that we definitely investigate to see if indeed they moved from yellow pill to white pill, the same person or the same supplier. … Or do we have a new person or a new type of pill that’s on the street that we need to be worried about from a totally different source?”

Anyone with any information about the fake prescription pills is urged to call Warner Robins police at 478-302-5380 or call Macon Regional Crimestoppers at 1-877-68-CRIME.

From the Macon Telegraph:

So far, the patients range in age from 25 to 60.

Congressman Jody Hice (R-Monroe) and Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), along with Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, reacted to President Trump’s speech on Afghanistan.Continue Reading..

22
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 22, 2017

MochaTLC

Mocha is a 16-week old female Labrador Retriever and Vizsla mix puppy who is available for adoption from TLC Pet Rescue Stockbridge, GA. Mocha is very snuggly and well-socialized.

TrixieTLC

Trixie is a 16-week old female Labrador Retriever and Vizsla mix puppy who is available for adoption from TLC Pet Rescue Stockbridge, GA. Both of these puppies are playful, energetic, and friendly to children, dogs, and cats.

SarahTLC

Sarah is a female Maltese and Poodle mix who is available for adoption from TLC Pet Rescue Stockbridge, GA.

22
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 22, 2017

The sale of Coca-Cola Company from the Candlers was announced in the Atlanta Constitution on August 22, 1919.

N/S Savannah, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship, visited the Port of Savannah on August 22, 1962. Savannah was named after S.S. Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. N/S Savannah is moored at the Port of Baltimore and designated a national historic landmark.

More than 3000 demonstrators disrupted the Democratic National Convention on August 22, 1968.

In 1972, it was the Republicans’ turn, as demonstrators struck outside the Republican National Convention.

Nolan Ryan recorded his 5000th career strikeout against Rickey Henderson of the Oakland A’s on August 22, 1989.

McNeel Marble Company in Marietta created many of the Confederate stautes under fire.

Two generations ago, [Morgan McNeel's] kin founded the McNeel Marble Co. in Marietta and grew it into one of the nation’s most prolific Confederate monument makers. Often using Georgia granite and Italian marble, they built more than 140 Confederate monuments, of which dozens are in Georgia.

Gould Hagler, a Dunwoody man who wrote the book “Georgia’s Confederate Monuments,” said McNeel made more of the state’s monuments to the Confederacy — 42 — than any other company. And McNeel prospered, eventually opening offices in Birmingham and New York.

Experts agree that demand for Confederate monuments spiked twice: at the turn of the 20th century and about the time of the civil rights movement.

Advertisements from the early 1900s show campaigns to sell monuments to communities for the 50th anniversary of the Civil War.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal nominated Robert “Bo” Hunter III as a judge in Richmond County State Court.

The governor called Hunter with the news Monday afternoon, Hunter said. “I talked with (Chief Judge David D.) Judge Watkins and Judge (Patricia Booker) and they want help as soon as possible,” Hunter said. Solicitor Omeeka Loggins told Hunter she already has a team together for him.

Hunter said he hopes to be able to close out his law practice in a week or so. He said he has asked the governor to swear him in when that is finished.

“I hope to bring good changes working with my colleagues,” Hunter said.

Hunter will complete [Judge Richard] Slaby’s unfinished term. The judgeship is up for election in 2019.

Hunter ran for a State Court judgeship vacated in 2016 when Judge John Flythe chose to run for a Superior Court judgeship. Although Hunter was the top vote-getter in the March election, Kellie McIntyre won the runoff.

First Lady Sandra Deal visited new parents at Piedmont Henry Hospital.

Deal, a mother of four, met with new parents to stress the importance of immunizations, not only for their children, but for themselves and future caregivers. She also passed along information that has been updated since she was a new mother nearly 50 years ago.

“Every mother wants her child to grow up healthy and strong,” Deal said. She said that new research has changed parenting these days.

For example, sleeping babies should be on their backs rather than their bellies. When Deal was a new mother, she said the advice was the opposite.

“Things have completely changed,” Deal said. “A child is a precious gift and parents want to take the very best care of them they can, and we want to help.”

Piedmont Henry Hospital CEO Deborah Armstrong said its a privilege to host Deal at the hospital.

“She’s clearly passionate about getting moms on the right foot,” Armstrong said. “We appreciate her visiting with us.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will visit the National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan on Thursday.

The 18-acre facility is in the International Industrial Park off Ga. Hwy. 34. The training center provides a state-of-the-art learning environment for training detector dogs and their handlers to help safeguard American agriculture by preventing pests and agricultural diseases from entering the United States through airports, international borders, postal facilities and cargo areas.

Perdue, Georgia’s previous governor and a former veterinarian, will tour the facility. During the tour, he will watch a demonstration of how the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service canines and handlers demonstrate how they locate and eradicate invasive or diseased foreign plants that have crossed America’s borders.

South Georgia may have new help at the Capitol, as a new lobbying group forms to focus on non-agriculture issues.

For 25 years [Franklin] Richards has led Second Harvest Food Bank of South Georgia in Valdosta, which gets food to low-income people in a nearly 13,000-mile region that includes 30 counties.

Richards said the focus has mostly been on issues tied to the Farm Bill, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as “food stamps” or SNAP.

But Richards and other leaders of Second Harvest are now planning a separate organization called the Rural America Initiative (RAI) that will primarily focus on advocating for a broad set of rural interests on a state and federal level.

“We’re not in the business of just always feeding hungry people. Our long term goal is to put ourselves out of work,” Richards said. “We cannot do that until we make changes in … everything that affects these rural communities, and that’s what we want to do. We want to be at the table saying, ‘OK, if this is what you’re looking at doing, let us tell you how that’s going to affect rural America.’”

He rattled off a number of sensitive issues for rural areas where RAI might try to influence policy: water, natural resources, healthcare, jobs, broadband and other infrastructure.

DeKalb County is seeing more mosquitoes infected with the West Nile Virus.

The DeKalb Board of Health reported recently that the virus has been seen in five times the number of mosquitoes they normally see it in, according to local media. A map released by the health board shows virus-positive mosquitoes in a number of cities in the area, including Decatur, Chamblee, Pine Lake, Brookhaven, Clarkston, Tucker and Doraville.

“We are concerned,” Juanetta Willis, the arbovirus coordinator, told WAGA-TV. “So we want, not to alert people, but to make people aware that they really need to be taking the precautions. Most people infected with West Nile Virus are infected during August, September and in October. So, even though the kids are back at school, I need you to keep using the repellent and dumping the water.”

A Brookhaven resident was diagnosed with West Nile virus in early July. The results come from a notification from the DeKalb County Board of Health, the city said.

“In an abundance of caution, we are working with the DeKalb County Board of Health and redoubling our efforts to minimize any exposure to the West Nile virus in Brookhaven,” City Manager Christian Sigman said in a news release. “We are comparing our stormwater drainage maps with the Board of Health maps, to ensure every storm drain is treated with a larvicide which is safe for humans, but interrupts the life cycle of mosquitoes. This includes all of our parks and ponds in the City.”

Grayson City Council approved a $1.26 million dollar budget for FY 2018, which includes keeping the millage rate at the same level as last year.

Pooler City Council will consider creating a municipal stormwater utility.

Warner Robins City Council voted to create the position of City Administrator.

The Warner Robins City Council approved a city administrator position Monday, despite a request from the Chamber of Commerce that it be put on the ballot in November.

Councilman Mike Davis cast the lone dissenting vote, with Councilman Clifford Holmes abstaining. Holmes said he was not opposed to an administrator but supported having it on the ballot for voters to decide.“I think this is a major decision where we are trying to change our form of government and I think it ought to be the people’s right to have a say,” Davis said before the vote was taken.

Mayor Randy Toms did not comment. He has previously said he has a plan to turn the city clerk’s job into an administrator’s position by giving the clerk more authority.

April Bragg, president and CEO of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber’s board of directors supports putting the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker qualified for another term.

“We have worked as a team to successfully build the nicest city with the highest standards and best quality of life available in Georgia,” Bodker said Monday.

Johns Creek is also widely touted as the safest city “with the lowest crime rate of any city of its size, anywhere,” he added.

“We enjoy the best schools, an extremely low unemployment rate and growing parks and recreational programs for families,” he continued. “These successes don’t happen by accident. They are the result of mature leadership that also looks out for taxpayers.”

Bodker’s re-election bid won’t be a cakewalk, however. Local businessman Alex Marchetti has indicated he will also run for the office of mayor in the Nov. 7 general municipal elections.

“With one more term, I will be able to complete the mission that we started out to do when we first incorporated our city,” Bodker continued. “I want to work to make sure our traffic relief plans are implemented, new sidewalks are put in and all neighborhoods are repaved. I want to work to keep taxes down, and want to focus on keeping Johns Creek moving forward rather than going backward.”

Milledgeville opened qualifying for municipal offices.

Milledgeville City Council incumbent Alderman Steve Chambers was the first to qualify on opening day, according to Milledgeville City Clerk Bo Danuser.

Chambers, a longtime member of city council, represents District 6.

Another longtime member of city council qualified a few minutes later. Jeanette Walden, who has served on city council for the past 20 years, is seeking re-election to another four-year term as the District 2 representative.

Other candidates who qualified Monday for seats on city council and mayor included: Mary Parham Copelan, a political newcomer, qualified later in the day to seek the office of mayor. Copelan is a retired captain with the Georgia Department of Corrections, and has never held public office.

Marietta City Council member Philip Goldstein will not run for reelection, though his 23-year old son qualified for his seat.

Warner Robins municipal qualifying saw an early stampede of candidates.

Joe Musselwhite, the city’s former public works director and runner-up in the last mayoral election, was the first to qualify Monday. Later in the morning, Mayor Randy Toms qualified to run for re-election to a second term. City Councilman Chuck Shaheen said at the last council meeting he plans to run for mayor, but he did not qualify Monday.

Qualifying continues through Friday.

Jim Taylor, a parks activist who works for Warner Robins Building Supply, qualified to run for Shaheen’s at-large Post 1 seat. Jeffery Walker, a previous unsuccessful council candidate, qualified to run for Shaheen’s seat.

The mayors of Centerville and Perry, as well as council posts in each, are up for re-election. No incumbents in those cities had drawn challengers as of late Monday afternoon, while all of the incumbents qualified.

Matt Evans qualified to run for Dalton Board of Education.

Rome Mayor Jamie Doss qualified for another term, and Commissioner Windy Davis is running for another term.

Lowndes County municipalities continue candidate qualifying.

Positions up for election are:

— Valdosta City Council Districts seats 2, 4 and 6

— Hahira City Council District seats 1, 4 and mayor

— Dasher Post 1, 2 and mayor

— Lake Park two seats at-large

— Remerton City Council three positions open

— Valdosta Board of Education District 5 and 6.

The Gainesville Times reviews municipal posts up for election this year.

Lula City Council member Lamb Griffin was hospitalized after being hit by a car.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery has endorsed Democrat Stacey Abrams in the 2018 election for Governor.

21
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 21, 2017

Mack and Mojo2

Mack and Mojo are seven-year old, 110 pound (each) male Great Pyrenees/Saint Bernard mixes who are in urgent need of foster or forever homes. From Desperate Dogs on Facebook:

Mack and Mojo’s elderly Papa is dying of cancer….he is fading away fast…. and their mama is very sick too. She can no longer care for herself or their beloved dogs any more.

A loving family member, Susan Tanner, is helping her to take care of herself while she prepares for the loss of her beloved husband and has also been tirelessly working to find a new home for these dogs so that Papa can leave his family knowing that everything is taken care of. He is so worried that his wife cannot cope with the dogs, and knows it would break her heart if she had to take them to the shelter as a last resort.

It honestly doesn’t get any more sobering than this, does it?

This is not just about finding the perfect forever home for these dogs, its about giving a dying man his wish to see his family in good hands, his elderly wife with less worries on her shoulders and giving a sweet soul who is trying to carry some of their burden, a helping hand.

If you can help, or know anyone who can, please call Susan Tanner on 404 4526319 as soon as you can.

Susan has reached out to many rescues and so far has had no luck at all, so we are trying to get these dogs a home so that Mama and Papa can rest easy knowing they are safe.

Mack and Mojo1

21
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 21, 2017

James Oglethorpe and the Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Coweta Town, delineating geographic areas open to British settlement, on August 21, 1739.

On August 21, 1831, Nat Turner led the largest slave rebellion in American history; Turner was later hanged in Jerusalem, VA.

The first of the Lincoln-Douglass series of seven debates was held in Ottawa, Illinois, on August 21, 1858, pitting Democrat Stephen Douglass against Republican Abraham for the United States Senate seat held by Douglass. Expansion of slavery in the United States was the topic for the debates.

On August 21, 1907, Georgia Governor Hoke Smith signed legislation to place a Constitutional Amendment designed to disenfranchise African-Americans by requiring passage of a literacy test to vote. A number of exceptions allowed local officials to exempt white voters whom they wished to allow to vote; one exemption was for anyone descended from a U.S. or Confederate wartime veteran – the so-called “grandfather clause.”

On the same day, Gov. Smith also signed legislation prohibiting fishing on Sunday, subject to misdemeanor prosecution.

On August 21, 1935, Benny Goodman and his orchestra began a seven-night stand at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, beginning the Swing Era.

Happy 55th birthday to Hawaii, which became the 50th State on August 21, 1959; they’ve undoubtedly been receiving AARP literature in the mail for ten years.

The 1968 Democratic National Convention began in Chicago on August 21, 1968.

The name of Julian Bond of Georgia, then-27 and too young to serve, was placed in nomination for Vice President during the 1968 DNC.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Heard on NPR this morning:

Heard on NPR: Experience from past eclipses suggests that it has been younger people who are more likely to ignore safety warnings, says Chou.

“It does tend to be young males,” he says. “Teens to early 20s — the ones who don’t think about any protection for a number of different circumstances.”

No kidding?

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols had an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal on Plant Vogtle.

Georgia’s decision to continue building two new nuclear reactors—the only commercial ones now in development in the U.S.—means my state stands alone. Vermont’s Yankee nuclear plant went offline in 2014, and Massachusetts’ Pilgrim Station is scheduled to close in 2019. The company behind two half-finished reactors in South Carolina began publicly considering last month whether to abandon the project.

Georgia has been down this road before. The first two nuclear reactors at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Augusta were completed in 1987 and 1989, in the aftermath of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. What was supposed to be a $1 billion project turned into $8 billion. Still, it was a great deal for ratepayers in the end, delivering low-cost power for decades.

Today, finishing the Vogtle plant’s two new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors is the right call—for their owners, including Southern Co., as well as for Georgia and the U.S. There are four reasons:

Diversifying the energy supply makes sense, because no one knows what the future holds. The U.S. could institute a carbon tax, as President Obama envisioned, or even regulate frackers out of a job. No matter what happens, nuclear reactors will ensure Georgia’s electric rates stay competitive.

They also will keep the U.S. from completely forfeiting its nuclear leadership. As other states have decommissioned reactors without replacing them, the world has begun looking to nations like China and Russia. The World Nuclear Association reports that China is increasing its nuclear generation capacity 70% by 2020-21 and will surpass U.S. output by 2030. The only way for America to continue setting international standards for nuclear safety and security is to invest in reactors and technology.

Don’t forget, too, with all the talk of health care in the news, that nuclear reactors produce isotopes needed for medical imaging and cancer treatment.

Last week a Canadian electric company, Bruce Power, announced a partnership to expand isotope production using its reactors.

Finally, reactor technology gives American naval vessels a distinct advantage. The U.S. has 10 aircraft carriers and dozens of submarines powered by nuclear fuel. These vessels can go years without refueling. But the Navy program relies on a strong commercial nuclear industry to provide steady employment and training and keep the supply chain humming.

While Georgia’s two new reactors are moving forward, I understand the angst surrounding such massive construction projects, as well as the concern over their costs. I know that Yucca Mountain, where the nuclear waste would ultimately be stored, is only now emerging from limbo. And I do value renewables like solar.

But the job of a state utility commission is to plan for the future. Georgia is pressing ahead—despite fears fanned by the 2011 tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, and despite the financial meltdown that put the reactor designer, Westinghouse, in bankruptcy this year. Against great challenges Georgia and Southern Co. persist. With vision, perseverance and God’s help we will make the Vogtle reactors America’s next nuclear energy flagship.

VEEP worthy. The eight-page memo detailing how to drive Congressman Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) has leaked.

Demanding, high-maintenance bosses are notorious on Capitol Hill. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s staff had to walk his dog, poop pick-up and all. Former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison made her male aides carry her purse.

Who knew it could take eight pages of instructions on how to properly escort a member of Congress around his district? Yet there it is, laid out in mind-blowing detail, in a memo obtained by POLITICO that’s sure to make any young, eager-beaver political aide shudder.

Tasks listed in the document, entitled “Instructions on Staffing and Driving — District Version,” include handing Rokita a cup of black coffee upon picking him up at his home, acting as a physical barrier between him and trackers looking to capture embarrassing footage of the congressman, and “avoid[ing] sudden acceleration or braking” while driving.

“The goal is to provide as smooth a ride as possible,” reads the instruction manual, co-authored by a former chief of staff to the congressman and Tim Edson, Rokita’s ex-communications director-turned-campaign spokesman.

Drivers are expected to transport not only Rokita’s toothbrush and toothpaste but also stock and tote around the district a nearly 20-item supply box that Rokita’s staffers call “the football.” The contents include gum, hand sanitizer, business cards, bottled water, napkins and Kleenex, lozenges, a stapler and stapler remover, Post-it notes and Shout wipes, among other items.

Rokita needs a hanger in the car for his jacket. Never allow him to be photographed with a drink in his hand. And never forget, the memo states multiple times in boldface, underlined letters, to remind the 47-year-old to bring the essentials.

“When TER enters the car, check to ensure he has his phone and wallet,” the instructions say, referring to Rokita by his initials.

“When you arrive at the event, get Todd a non-alcoholic drink that he can carry with him as he visits (water, diet soda, and coffee are best),” the manual reads.

Pro-tip: if you work for an elected official who wears reading glasses, always keep an eye on the glasses; when they set them down and start heading in a different direction, grab the glasses.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is receiving an education in diplomacy at the State Department’s “spouse school.”

Last week, Newt Gingrich sat in a classroom surrounded by 11 women and one other man, furiously jotting notes.

In the weeklong intensive, where classes ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with only a short cafeteria lunch break in between, the former House speaker and onetime presidential candidate received a crash course in a new role: invisible spouse.

In a series of back-to-back 75-minute lectures he described as “tiring,” Gingrich and the 12 other spouses of waiting-to-be-confirmed ambassadors were educated on some basic rules of the road. “You always have two fridges,” Gingrich marveled in an interview with POLITICO, “one for personal food, one for entertaining, so you’re not eating out of the taxpayer refrigerator. I didn’t know that.”

The group was instructed on ground rules for entertaining. “If you invite eight or 10 ambassadors over for dinner,” Gingrich said, “there’s protocol for who sits where. A protocol officer who helps you think through everything.”

“I’ll be the person at the front door saying, ‘Hi, I’m Newt Gingrich. The ambassador will be down shortly,’” he laughed. “It’s a great new role. Callista supported me in ’12 when I ran for president; I get to support her now. And I get to join the spouse organization.”

“I sat through a couple of hours on how to do interviews,” Gingrich said. “The first point they make over and over is, you are not the principal. I’m wearing my spouse hat. I’ve got to be very circumspect. We don’t want to confuse people about who speaks for the United States. Callista speaks for the United States. I just speak for Newt Gingrich.”

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners voted by a 5-3 margin to raise property tax rates by about 20 percent.

The millage rate will increase by 3 mils, from 14.652 to 17.652.

Commissioners Larry Schlesinger, Gary Bechtel, Al Tillman, Scotty Shepherd and Virgil Watkins voted for the increase. Commissioners Elaine Lucas, Joe Allen and Mallory Jones voted against it. Commissioner Bert Bivins was absent.

The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $125,000 is approximately $129 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $125,000 is approximately $150.

The extra revenue will be used to pay for recreation staff and raises for the sheriff’s and fire departments.

Muscogee County Jail has become overcrowded again.

The facility, which can accommodate a maximum of 1,065 people, had about 1,077 inmates as of Friday, said Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins.

“I just met with judges and we’re sending information to the DA and the Public Defender and the Chief of Probation about all the people we have in the jail,” the sheriff said Thursday. “We’re trying to get everybody to work toward moving some of these people somehow, somewhere, some way.”

The numbers continue to climb two years after the city implemented a Rapid Resolution initiative to more efficiently move people through the legal system and relieve jail overcrowding.

Earlier this year, the issue of jail expansion surfaced at a meeting concerning the future of the Government Center. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told members of the Mayor’s Commission on the Government Center and Judicial Building that about $33 million of OLOST funds had been slated for jail expansion. However, the expansion was not needed at the time, she said, and she wondered if that money could be used to build a judicial center instead.

On Friday, Tomlinson said the jail numbers have been as high as 1,200 during her tenure, and she doesn’t see the current statistics as an alarming, irreversible trend. She said the jail population tends to go up and down based on a variety of factors, including time of year, judges’ schedules and the pace of state probation cases.

“Certainly, for the vast majority of my awareness, during the prior Sheriff’s administration, there were around 1,100 (to) 1,130 —those are the numbers we’re very used to seeing,” Tomlinson said. “So, it wasn’t until we started Rapid Resolution, and also the criminal justice reform that the state did, that a lot of things began to adjust that.

A survey of butterflies in Coastal Georgia netted strong results.

Around mid-afternoon we are chased by a storm and decide to call it a day. And what a day. We have recorded 439 individual butterflies of 35 different species. An observation of the uncommon Dion Skipper is nominated for sighting of the day. Mike is disappointed that we didn’t document Little Metalmarks, a declining species that has previously been recorded at Harris Neck.

I learned that butterfly surveys are non-invasive and don’t involve netting or collecting your quarry — identification can be determined using close-focusing binoculars. Upon my return home, I dive into my increasingly dog-eared copy of “Butterflies of the East Coast” by Rick Cech and Guy Tudor (Princeton University Press, 2005), with the ardor of a thirsty Palamedes Swallowtail nectaring at a buttonbush blossom.

Founders

Ryan Gravel, whose Georgia Tech thesis led to creation of the Atlanta Belt Line, wants to turn his sights to Buford Highway.

“I love Buford Highway,” said Ryan Gravel in a recent interview in his office on the eighth story of Ponce City Market. “Buford Highway has this amazing spirit, culture and vibrancy, [and it] would be inspiring to see the next chapter of that story.”

Home to more than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses, Buford Highway is a regional attraction in large part because of its ethnic and cultural diversity that many know because of its numerous restaurants.

Korean, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Central American, Somali and Ethiopian goods and services are part of the fabric of Buford Highway’s “International Corridor.” But as metro Atlanta grows by an expected 2.5 million people in the next 20 years, the property values along the road will continue to increase. Gentrification and redevelopment threaten to change the nature of the corridor.

Gravel’s Generator is partnering with another nonprofit, We Love BuHi, founded by Brookhaven resident Marian Liou to preserve and promote Buford Highway’s cultural diversity. The ideas they hope to be generated by Georgia Tech students will be ways to acknowledge the growth of the region while also finding ways to celebrate and preserve the diversity of the people who live and work on Buford Highway.

A major issue facing Buford Highway is affordable housing as people, many of whom are immigrants, are being displaced from inexpensive apartment complexes to make way for luxury housing. Affordable housing along the Atlanta BeltLine is currently a hot and controversial topic. Gravel resigned last year from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership over concerns of not enough emphasis on equity and affordability.

“If our only aspiration for the BeltLine was new housing and jobs and green space, then we succeeded,” he said. But the vision created for the BeltLine included the people already living there and ensuring their success as well — and “the jury is out if we’ve been successful or not” on that, he acknowledged.

Mary Rose Taylor helped found the Emory Brain Health Center after her husband died from Alzheimer’s; now she is a patient at the ALS Clinic there.

She was diagnosed that October [2014] with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. She became a patient at Emory’s Brain Health Center, a place that she had championed. Soon she would lose the ability to walk, to speak, to swallow and, eventually, to breathe. In January, she made the difficult decision to undergo a tracheostomy as her muscles weakened.

But with her mobility reduced to the use of a single finger, her determination to assist the Brain Health Center never flagged. The center is a unique organization that puts under one roof treatment of — and research into — the major neurodegenerative diseases.

“There would not be a Brain Health Center today if Mary had not been a founding partner, a co-conspirator, an inspiration and an instigator,” said Levey. “She came up with the name.”

Back in the 1990s, that personality came to the fore during her long campaign to rescue the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote Atlanta’s most famous book, “Gone with the Wind.”

Burned by arsonists, threatened by the wrecking ball, the Midtown apartment house was a shambles when Taylor arranged financing and lined up allies in 1994. The house museum was fully renovated and ready to open its doors in time for the 1996 Olympics — Atlanta’s big coming out party — when arsonists burned it again.

Taylor dusted herself off and started over. Rebuilt a second time, the house opened to the public a year later. Only one part of the building was truly historic, the ground-floor rooms where Mitchell did her writing, and that’s the part that, miraculously, was unscathed in the multiple fires.

Daren Wang, founding Executive Director of the Decatur Book Festival, has resigned effective at the end of the year.

Wang, whose debut novel, “The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, launches at this year’s festival, has announced his resignation, effective at the end of year.

“With the book coming out at this point, it feels like a natural break for me,” said Wang, 51. “As much as I love the festival and what we’ve accomplished, I’ve become the guy who says, ‘That’s not the way we do things,’ as opposed to the guy who says, ‘Hey, what a great idea Let’s do that.’ And I think that’s not what the festival needs in leadership.”

Festival director Julie Wilson said she’s excited for Wang and hopes to continue fostering what he helped establish.

“He has built this amazing event that this city loves and that has brought attention to the literary community in Atlanta, and we want to continue to build on that,” she said.

Qualifying

Qualifying for Mayor and City Council in most Georgia cities that have odd-year elections will run today through Wednesday, though some differ.

Qualifying for council seats up for election this year in Dallas and Hiram is set to begin Monday, Aug. 21, at each city hall. Dallas will end its qualifying period Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 4:30 p.m. while Hiram will keep its qualifying period open through Friday, Aug. 25, at 4:30 p.m.

Both elections are set for Nov. 7.

Dallas voters will choose members for the Ward 1 and 3 seats and one of two At-Large seats. Incumbents in those seats include Nancy Arnold, Griffin White and Chris Carter.

All three incumbents said they planned to qualify for re-election.

Hiram voters will select members for four-year terms for the Post 3, 4 and 5 council seats. Current council members in those seats include Derrick Battle, Jeff Cole and Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Carter.

Cole and Kathy Carter said they plan to seek re-election this year. Battle did not return an emailed request for comment.

Check with your local government if you’re considering running.

John Creek City Council member Cori Davenport will not run for reelection this year.

With a “heavy heart,” Cori Davenport announced she will not be running for re-election to the Post 3 seat.

Davenport said she has been thinking about this option for some time, and decided it would be best to allow other residents to vie for the votes of citizens.

“My intent four years ago was to serve my community well and to lend my business knowledge, common sense judgment and a no-agenda approach to our city government,” she said. “I have kept that promise to the citizens and to myself.”

John Bradberry, founder of Preserve Johns Creek had previously announced he would run for the seat currently held by Davenport. Vicki Horton also announced for the District 3 seat.

Roswell City Council member Don Horton will run for Mayor.

Post 3 City Councilman Don Horton on Thursday said he will run for the seat held by incumbent Jere Wood, the longtime leader who announced he is not seeking re-election after a court ruling determined he was unqualified to run for the office in 2013.

Horton, who was first elected to the Council in 2015, outlined a list of accomplishments have taken place over the last two years. Some of those positive outcomes have been changing the city’s Unified Development Code to protect established neighborhoods, creating term limits for elected officials and working with the Roswell Downtown Development Authority to redevelop old shopping centers such as the old Southern Skillet property.

Along with Horton, candidates Michael Litten and Sandra Sidhom are also in the running for the seat.

In Milledgeville, Mayor and all six council members are up for election.

Every four years, city elections are held in Milledgeville. It’s also time for candidates interested in seeking a seat on the Georgia Military College Board of Trustees to qualify.

Candidates interested in qualifying for city council or mayor, as well as a seat on the Georgia Military College Board of Trustees, are reminded that qualifying for a position begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday and runs through 4:30 p.m. Friday, according to Milledgeville City Clerk Bo Danuser, who this year also is serving as city qualifying officer

Several incumbent members of city council have indicated they plan to seek re-election, as has the mayor.

Qualifying will be held in the clerk’s office located in City Hall, 119 E. Hancock St.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has a helpful review of city council elections for municipalities within Gwinnett County.

The Savannah Morning News reviews local elections qualifying this week.

The Marietta Daily Journal also highlights local election qualifying.

Today is the first day to qualify to get your name on the ballot for Nov. 7 elections in Acworth, Kennesaw and Marietta. Qualification begins Wednesday in Austell and Powder Springs.

Positions in all of Cobb’s cities except Smyrna will be up for a vote. No county or state offices will be on the ballot.

Thomasville is holding qualifying for City Council and Board of Education seats.

Seats open are:

• District 1, Post 2

• District 2, Post 2

• At-Large

Mayor Greg Hobbs currently serves District 1, Post 2, Council member Max Beverly currently serves District 2, Post 2, and mayor pro tem Don Sims currently serves as the at-large council member.

The second general election is for three seats on the Thomasville City School Board.

Seats open are:

• District 1, one seat

• District 2, two seats

Board member Dr. Hazel Jones currently serves District 1 and board members David Cone and John Everett currently serve in District 2.

Qualifying begins Aug. 21 and lasts until Aug. 25. Qualifying times are from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

Cairo voters will elect the Mayor and two City Council members.

The mayor’s seat and two council member seats are up for election on the Cairo City Council.

District 2 and District 4 seats are up in the election. Council members Ernest Cloud and James Douglas currently serve Districts 2 and 4, respectively. Robert Burns currently serves as the mayor.

All seats are up in the election for Whigham City Council.

The Whigham mayor and council members serve at-large.

The elections’ qualifying period begins Aug. 21 and lasts until Aug. 25, 4:30 p.m.

18
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 18, 2017

Lifeline Clear Shelters

Lifeline Animal Project is waiving all adoption fees tomorrow to “Clear the Shelters.” Lifeline operates the DeKalb County Animal Shelter and Fulton County Animal Shelters.

Sabrina

Sabrina is a baby pit bull female, and she and her sisters, Precious and Storm are available for adoption from the Fulton County Animal Shelter.

Mate

Mate is a male American Foxhound mix who is available for adoption from the Fulton County Animal Shelter.

SugarDeKalbn

Sugar is a sweet female Pit Bull (or Boxer?) mix who is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Shelter.

 

18
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 18, 2017

On August 18, 1591,the English settlement at Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks of what is now North Carolina was found deserted.

On August 20, 1781, General George Washington sent Continental troops from New York toward Yorktown, Virginia to engage British troops under Gen. Cornwallis.

On August 18, 1795, President George Washington signed a treaty with Great Britain called the Jay Treaty, after Supreme Court Justice John Jay who negotiated it. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison led opposition to the treaty.

USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” in battle against the British ship Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia on August 19, 1812. Launched in 1797, Constitution is today the oldest commissioned vessel in the United States Navy. Live oak from St. Simons Island were cut and milled for timber used in the constructions of Constitution. From a 1977 New York Times article:

The Constitution won her way into Americans’ hearts in 1812, when she defeated the British Guerriere off Nova Scotia in an exchange of broadsides. The spirit of the Constitution crew was noted by the Guerriere’s commander, James Dacres, who boarded the Constitution to present his sword in surrender.

”I will not take your sword, Sir,” the captain of the Constitution, Isaac Hull, replied. ”But I will trouble you for your hat.”

In the battle, a sailor — whether British or American is disputed by historians — is said to have cried out, ”Huzzah, her sides are made of iron!” as he watched an English cannonball bounce off the side of the Constitution. It was the birth of her nickname.

Part of the ship’s secret lay in the wood used in the design by Joshua Humphreys. He picked live oak, from St. Simons Island, Ga. The wood has proved so strong and resistant to rot that the original hull is intact, said Anne Grimes Rand, curator of the Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Mass.

On August 18, 1862, Confederate Major General of Cavalry J.E.B. Stuart was nearly captured, losing his distinctive hat and cloak and written copies of Lee’s orders near Verdiersville, Virginia.

On August 20, 1906, Gov. Joseph Terrell signed legislation to build a statue of Georgia founding father James Oglethorpe in Savannah and a bill to build a statue of former Confederate General and Georgia Governor John B. Gordon at the State Capitol.

The Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution urging the creation of a federal Health Department on August 18, 1908.

The Georgia Department of Insurance was created on August 19, 1912 when Governor Joseph Brown signed legislation regulating companies selling policies in the states.

On August 18, 1916, the Cherokee Rose was designated the official state flower of Georgia by a joint resolution of the State House and Senate.

Governor Nathaniel Harris signed the first state law requiring school attendance for children 8-14 years of age on August 19, 1916; on the same day, Harris also signed legislation authorizing women to practice law in Georgia.

The practice of tipping service employees was outlawed by legislation signed on August 18, 1918.

The Georgia Department of Archives and History was created by legislation signed by Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey on August 20, 1918.

Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsey signed legislation regulating the practice of architecture and licensing practitioners on August 18, 1919.

The Georgia Board of Public Welfare was also created on August 18, 1919 when Gov. Dorsey signed legislation establishing that body and a companion bill that created the Community Service Commission.

On August 20, 1920, the American Professional Football Association, which would later be renamed the National Football League, was formed in Akron, Ohio.

“Georgia” was designated the official state song on August 19, 1922 with Gov. Thomas Hardwick’s signature on a joint resolution passed by the General Assembly; in 1979, “Georgia On My Mind,” replaced it.

On August 20, 1923, Georgia Governor Clifford Walker signed legislation requiring state schools teach the United States and Georgia Constitutions and students pass an exam on the documents before being allowed to graduate.

Adolf Hitler became President of Germany on August 19, 1934.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency supported a coup in Iran that restored the Shah of Iran on August 19, 1953.

On August 18, 1924 Gov. Clifford Walker signed legislation that would allow a referendum on a Constitutional Amendment to allow Atlanta, Savannah, or Macon to consolidate their respective municipal governments with their county governments. Macon-Bibb County merged in 2014 after voters passed a referendum in July 2012.

The Beatles played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on August 18, 1965. AtlantaTimeMachine.com has a couple images from the night.

On August 20, 1965, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones was released in the UK.

On August 20, 1974, President Gerald Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President of the United States.

On August 19, 1976, President Gerald R. Ford was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Ford received 1,157 (52.6%) delegates to 1,087 for Ronald Reagan (47.4%). Georgia’s 48 delegates voted for Reagan on the first ballot.

Dr. Betty Siegel became the first female President of a state college or university in Georgia when she was named President of Kennesaw College on August 19, 1981; under her leadership, it became Kennesaw State University in 1996. Siegel served until 2006. Kennesaw State was recently named the 4th best college for food in the nation.

Also on August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

On August 19, 1984, President Ronald Reagan was nominated for reelection by the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas.

On August 18, 1991, hardline Commies in the Soviet Union arrested Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev as part of a coup against Gorbachev’s reforms.

On August 18, 2015, Jeb Bush visited The Varsity in Atlanta. Here’s the funniest line from the CBS46 story:

Recently, Bush put a series of “Jeb No Filter” videos on YouTube and some say it’s a way to bring up his popularity.

“We’re going to work hard to earn the support of Georgians in the March 1 primary. It’s the second largest state in the primary, it’s our neighbor to our north, we’re going to be working hard,” Bush said.

While the instinct behind “Jeb No Filter” may have been good, it would take Donald Trump to show what No Filter really means.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Massachusetts state legislature passed a bill designating the first week of August as an annual “Ice Bucket Challenge Week.”

Governor Charlie Baker’s office says he plans to sign a law that would make the first week of August every year Ice Bucket Challenge Week.

The bill calls for the state’s governor to recognize the efforts of all Ice Bucket Challenge participants, and one of its biggest proponents, Pete Frates, 32.

A former Boston College basketball player, Frates, 32, originally of Beverly, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2012. After a stint in Massachusetts General Hospital earlier this year, Frates’ family shared that he was back home earlier in July.

House Bill 1697 was sponsored by Representative Jerald A. Parisella, a Beverly Democrat, and Senator Joan B. Lovely, a Salem Democrat, along with more than 30 other petitioners.

“Governor Baker was pleased to support Pete Frates and his family by hosting the Ice Bucket Challenge at the State House to raise awareness and resources for those battling ALS and looks forward to signing this bill soon as a fitting tribute,” Baker spokesman Billy Pitman said in a statement.

The Georgia House Rural Development Council met in Dalton on Wednesday to hear from local leaders.

Brian Cooksey, director of operations training and development at Shaw Industries, briefed council members on how in Whitfield County representatives of industry, the local school systems, Dalton State College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College are working together to provide students with the skills that industry needs.

He said that up until a few years ago, Dalton State College was serving as both a technical college and a university.

“They did a really good job. But that’s a tough situation,” he said.

Cooksey said leaders at Dalton State, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and local leaders worked together to allow the college to focus on its core strength as a university and to create programs in areas of demand by the floorcovering industry, such as bachelor of applied science in chemistry.

The next step, Cooksey said, was getting a campus of Georgia Northwestern in Whitfield County. Whitfield County Schools offered space inside the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy and local industry provided equipment.

State Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, who sat in on some of the proceedings, said he was happy to hear how much cooperation is going on.

“We are working together here, and I hope that what we are doing can be expanded on in other places,” he said.

Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, a member of the council, said the presentations they heard in Dalton and in other cities where the council has met should result in new legislation next year.

“We want to see what we can do to make it easier for our citizens to get the education and the skills they need to succeed,” he said. “Education is the key to a better life and the key to a higher income. We want all of Georgia to succeed, not just metro Atlanta.”

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson responded to requests to remove memorials in the city.

[T]he mayor said the city wouldn’t remove the memorial to the Civil War dead on Broadway.

“I investigated it and its history some time ago, before the horrific events in Charlottesville,” she wrote. “I do not advocate its removal for these reasons: It was erected in 1879, not during the pushback from the civil rights movement or in conjunction with Jim Crow. It was erected 14 years after the cessation of war and after Confederate soldiers (other than Jefferson Davis, Robert Lee and the Confederate Secretary of War) had been pardoned by two presidents in an effort of national reunification — to not forget, but to move forward as one nation.”

Tomlinson said the memorial was not erected by the city, county or state, but by family and friends of the dead.

“I am distinguishing between the memorial for the dead and these memorials that glorify and encourage the themes of the war and continue its upraising as a celebration,” she said in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.

Later in a news conference, she said state statute prohibits the removal of public monuments, which might apply to the one on Broadway.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach wants the state to change the name of the Talmadge bridge.

The city is now planning to host a forum to discuss the Confederate monument in Forsyth Park and the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge in the wake of the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend when white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Staff was directed on Thursday by the Savannah City Council to schedule the forum after Mayor Eddie DeLoach spoke about the “acts of violence committed in the name of hate and racism” during the weekend’s tragic events, which included injuries and the death of a 32-year-old woman when a speeding car rammed into anti-racist protesters. Two law enforcement officers died when the helicopter they were using to monitor the event crashed.

“We all must denounce these forms of domestic terrorism and rally around each other in the name of peace and unity,” DeLoach said. “We must not just be on the right side of history, but we must write the right version of history.”

DeLoach went on to propose that the council send a resolution calling for the state legislature to rename the Talmadge Bridge to be a more inclusive name that represents the entire community. Georgia law requires the state must give approval to rename the bridge.

In addition, DeLoach called on city staff to find a way to “expand the story” of the Confederate monument to be inclusive of all Savannahians, regardless of race, creed or color, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Civil War.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced he will work with the National Association of Attorneys General on strengthening laws against elder abuse.

“The abuse, neglect, and exploitation of at-risk and older citizens is a tragic and evolving issue that is plaguing not only Georgia, but our entire country,” Carr said. “When I learned of NAAG President and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s intentions for the working group, I was eager to get our office involved.

“This type of collaborative effort is exactly what we need to create real results, and we look forward to working with our national partners to crack down on this malicious behavior in all its forms.”

Glynn County Commissioners heard from residents on a proposed property tax millage rate increase.

The commission approved a budget in June that relies on the millage increase.

Resident Chuck Cook said the public should more- critically weigh the benefits of the millage rate increase, as the county provides a lot of services that many see as necessary, such as 24-hour public safety services.

Another resident said that she liked living in the Golden Isles when she moved here because she was able to find a job and live comfortably. Now, however, times are tougher and she isn’t sure she’ll be able to swallow the cost of a property tax increase.

This hearing on the millage was the first of three. Another will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 22 in the St. Simons Island Casino and the third will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.

Flowery Branch will hold weekly events to promote voter registration.

Don McKee writes in the MDJ about another voter registration effort.

While the new SEC Primary gained a lot of attention and confirmed Kemp’s creativity, the secretary of state also started up a smaller program relating to voting within Georgia in 2016. It’s the Student Ambassador Program for “encouraging civic engagement and voter registration among young adults.” The pilot program began in January 2016 with just 14 Georgia high schools and 160 students participating.

After the program was started, electronic voter registration among 18-year-olds more than doubled using the state’s online platform and a free “GA SOS” mobile app. “Prior to the program’s pilot year in 2016, only 8,132 young adults registered to vote using the state’s electronic platforms,” Kemp announced this week. “Now, 16,737 young adults — and counting — have electronically registered to vote in Georgia.”

This year, 175 high schools and organizations in 94 Georgia counties will take part in the program, and beginning in September, more than 1,500 sophomores, juniors and seniors will receive training in how to register other young people and “engage with their local officials” — which no doubt will be respectful, aimed at gaining information, in contrast to the anger and yelling of insults at the town hall meeting held by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-GA, and other members of Congress. On that point, civility should be a part of civics lessons — maybe including a crash course for people attending town halls before the meetings start.

Competition is a tried and true key to the Student Ambassador Program. Teams of students compete against those from other schools in statewide and regional events to win points by “hosting voter registration drives and volunteering within their communities.” Last year’s statewide winner was Newnan High School. Surely, one of our outstanding Cobb County schools has what it takes to be a winner.

 

Campaigns & Elections

Jessica Tarlov and Evan Roth Smith write for Fox about how Democrats could start winning elections again.

The problem is simple, but deeply entrenched: the Democratic Party is overcentralized, run from Washington and other power centers where established party elites and career operatives dispense favors, funds, and a party line that fails to reflect the needs, wishes, and priorities of actual Democratic voters.

Democratic elites and big-money donors continue to back bad candidates in winnable races, instead of letting local Democratic leaders build the party from the ground up.

Put another way, Democratic elites support well-connected carpetbaggers like Jon Ossoff, or comically underqualified political novices like Rob Quist, over actual local Democratic elected officials, activists, organizers, business owners, or community leaders.

In June’s special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, Democrats spent a staggering, record-setting $23 million on Jon Ossoff’s losing campaign. Ossoff, who had never run for as much as school board, was a former D.C. congressional staffer who hadn’t lived in the district for over a decade and couldn’t even cast a ballot for himself.

Nonetheless, party elites anointed Ossoff over a slew of truly local candidates, including a former Georgia state senator, a black businesswoman running as a government reformer, an accomplished doctor running on her genuine health care expertise, and a college professor who served in the first Gulf War.

Ossoff lost to an experienced campaigner with a clear local constituency, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.

Now it’s time for another warning that Democrats should heed: run your local talent.

Doraville City Council Member Robert Patrick will seek reelection in District 1.

This year in Doraville, three seats, occupied by Patrick (District 1), Dawn O’Connor (District 2) and Sharon Spangler (District 3) are up for election. The qualifying fee is $252. The election will be held Nov. 7.

Jill Fisher will run for Rome Board of Education.

Jill Fisher, a mother of three Rome city school students who is active in the community while acting as bookkeeper in her husband’s dental practice, announced her intention to run for Rome City Board of Education Thursday.

“I am excited to enter the race to become a Rome City School board member. My husband, Mark, and I have three kids: one at Rome High, one at Rome Middle, and one at East Central Elementary. For the last ten years, I have served RCS in many ways, including two terms as PTO President. I have also served on several advisory committees designed to bridge the school system and parents.

17
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 17, 2017

Bosco

Bosco is a 4-year old, 50-pound male low-rider who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA. He is friendly and social and gets along with cats.

Mocha

Mocha is an eight-month old, 45-pound female puppy who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA.

MooMoo

Moo Moo is a 1-year old, 50-pound female dog who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA. Moo Moo is good with other dogs and children.

CheyenneWalton

Cheyenne is a 4-year old, 55-pound female dog who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA. Cheyenne was turned in by her owner, who had become homeless.

Dobby

Dobby  is a 3-year old, 15-pound male dog who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA.

17
Aug

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

Georgia Governor Joseph Terrell signed legislation creating the State Board of Health on August 17, 1903.

Georgia Tech was designated the State School of Technology on August 17, 1908 by joint resolution of the State Senate and State House.

In a quaint bit of Georgia history, on August 17, 1908, Governor Hoke Smith signed legislation prohibiting corporate donations to political campaigns. Cute!

On August 17, 1998, President Bill Clinton testified as the subject of a grand jury investigation.

The testimony came after a four-year investigation into Clinton and his wife Hillary’s alleged involvement in several scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment, potentially illegal real-estate deals and suspected “cronyism” involved in the firing of White House travel-agency personnel. The independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, then uncovered an affair between Clinton and a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. When questioned about the affair, Clinton denied it, which led Starr to charge the president with perjury and obstruction of justice, which in turn prompted his testimony on August 17.

Neither History Nor Politics

Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Mayo Clinic announced they have identified the basic pathology behind Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

The disease-causing mutation identified is the first of its kind, [Dr. J. Paul] Taylor said. Unlike in other genetic diseases, the mutation does not cripple an enzyme in a biological regulatory pathway. Rather, the mutation produces an abnormal version of a protein involved in a process called phase separation in cells.

There is currently no effective treatment for ALS/FTD. However, the researchers believe their finding offers a promising pathway for developing treatments to restore neurons’ ability to  disassemble the organelles when their cellular purpose has ended.

The TIA1 mutation was discovered when the scientists analyzed the genomes of a family affected with ALS/FTD. Tracing the effect of the mutation on TIA1 structure, the researchers found that it altered the properties of a highly mobile “tail” of the protein. This tail region governs the protein’s ability to aggregate with other TIA1 proteins. Taylor and his colleagues previously identified such unstructured protein regions, called prion-like domains, as the building blocks of cellular assemblies and as hotspots for disease-causing mutations.

In further studies, the researchers found that TIA1 mutations occurred frequently in ALS patients. The scientists also found that people carrying the mutation had the disease.

“This paper provides the first ‘smoking gun,’ showing that the disease-causing mutation changes the phase transition behavior of proteins,”  Taylor said. “And the change in the phase transition behavior changes the biology of the cell.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former Atlanta Mayor and Ambassador Andrew Young said it’s too expensive to fight the civil war again.

Said Young:

“I think it’s too costly to refight the Civil War. We have paid too great a price in trying to bring people together…

“I personally feel that we made a mistake in fighting over the Confederate flag here in Georgia. Or that that was an answer to the problem of the death of nine people – to take down the Confederate flag in South Carolina.”

Specifically, Young was speaking of Gov. Roy Barnes’ decision to pull down the 1956 state flag that prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem. The move was a primary reason he lost his bid for re-election, split the state Democratic party, and ushered in the current season of Republican rule. Said Young:

“It cost us $14.9 billion and 70,000 jobs that would have gone with the Affordable Care Act – which we probably would have had if we hadn’t been fighting over a flag…

“It cost of us the health of our city because we were prepared to build a Northern Arc, 65 miles away from the center of the city of Atlanta – an outer perimeter that would have been up and running now, if we had not been fighting over the flag.

“I am always interested in substance over symbols. If the truth be known, we’ve had as much agony – but also glory, under the United States flag. That flew over segregated America. It flew over slavery….”

The Georgia Conference of the NAACP is calling for the removal of all Confederate memorials on public property.

On Wednesday, state conference President Phyllis Blake issued a statement calling for elected officials to remove all confederate symbols from public property owned by the state and local governments.

“The traitors of the Confederate States of America were soundly defeated over 150 years ago and today we as diverse Georgians must send a message once and for all, that Georgia is the state too busy to hate,” Blake said in a statement. “We call on all mayors within this great state, including (Atlanta) Mayor Kasim Reed, to remove all symbols of the confederacy from city government property.”

Valdosta residents will rally in response to Charlottesville at 11 AM on Saturday at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.

Bill Torpy at the AJC writes about fighting among Georgia Democrats.

When I first saw the video of activists shouting down Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans at the Netroots Nation convention last weekend, I had one thought: Hello, Governor Cagle.

The event was just the latest example of why the Democratic Party seems ready to relegate itself to permanent bridesmaid status, not only here in Georgia but from sea to shining sea. And the Republican front-runner in the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, was no doubt grinning big time.

Lisa Coston, who told me she’s a progressive Dem from Lawrenceville, responded to Abrams’ post, saying: “What the protesters did was to disrupt Rep. Evans’ speech, for no apparent reason but to try and shut her up. There is no need for that, nor an excuse for that behavior.

“This is the explicit problem with the Democratic Party in general, both at the state and national level. Infighting based on race, religion, whatever else. It prevents progressives from being united, and thus we lose and lose and lose.”

However, [Stacey] Abrams’ deputy campaign manager, Marcus Ferrell, used to be CEO of an activist org called MPACT. And his deputy director at MPACT was a woman named Anoa Changa.

Not long after the shout-down, The Washington Post talked with “protester” Anoa Changa. “An interruption is not necessarily promoting one person over another,” Changa told the newspaper.

Allen Fort, Superintendent/Principal of Taliferro County Schools, wrote about the challenges of rural Georgia in a letter that Maureen Downey ran in her AJC blog.

Taliaferro is the smallest county in Georgia with the smallest school system. There are 175 students, Pre-k-12, who attend this tiny school located about half way between Atlanta and Augusta on I-20. It is hard to imagine a county of just 1,700 citizens exists only miles from two cities that have more than six million people, but it does.

Many people will wonder why this school system even exists. Why it doesn’t consolidate? Why it doesn’t just close?

One of the greatest challenges of educating 21st century youth is that, while technology has increased access to information and experiences, students are increasingly disconnected from education. This dilemma is exacerbated in rural communities where jobs are few and opportunities appear limited. Therefore, our teachers and students must have everyday meaningful opportunities to use technology not to surf the internet, but to teach and learn, creating teachable moments and unique instruction.

We understand we may be our own worst enemy as these students graduate and move on to college (all of our last year’s graduates were accepted and are attending four-year, two-year or technical college at this time). Unfortunately, we may never see them back in Taliaferro again.

What is here to bring them back? We have no adequate housing, no viable businesses and no real industry to entice a young college graduate or recently discharged veteran to return to our community as a working citizen. When the local name for the Dollar General is the “Crawfordville Mall,” you understand your limitations.

Federal grants for the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle are caught up in larger budget matters in the U.S. Senate.

Boosters of the estimated $25 billion project, the only one of its kind left in the U.S., think the federal bill could throw an economic lifeline to the companies behind the venture as they decide whether to move ahead with construction or abandon work amid major cost overruns and deep delays.

Under current law, newly constructed nuclear reactors can receive federal tax credits for producing electricity only if they are put in service before 2021. The bill before Congress would lift the deadline.

The extension would help preserve the roughly $800 million in tax credits that Georgia Power, which has a nearly 46 percent share of the project, has been counting on as it builds a pair of new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.

A bill extending the tax credits sailed through the U.S. House nearly unanimously back in June, but it needs the Senate’s approval before it can be sent to President Donald Trump’s desk. And that’s where the bill appears to be stuck, not because of outright opposition but the greater gravitational pull of a broader tax overhaul.

Meanwhile, a 1.4 million-pound steam generator was installed at Vogtle Unit 3.

Georgia Power announced … that a 1.4 million pound steam generator was lowered into the nuclear island of Unit 3 on Tuesday. The nearly 80-foot generator was built in South Korea and shipped to the Port of Savannah and delivered to the site by rail, the company said in a news release. The generators use heat from the nuclear core to convert water into steam for power generation. Each of the two new-generation AP1000 reactors will require two steam generators, all of which are currently on site, the company said.

Southern Nuclear, a division of Georgia Power parent company Southern Co., now has oversight over the expansion after contractor Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in March. Southern Nuclear operates the other two reactors at Vogtle.

Thousands of voting machines may be out of commission due to a lawsuit filed over the 6th Congressional District elections earlier this year.

The suit, filed over the July 4 holiday, demands that Republican Karen Handel’s win in a June 20 runoff be thrown out and the contest redone over concerns some election integrity advocates have about the security and accuracy of Georgia’s election infrastructure.

The machines and related hardware are central to that system, and the three metro counties with areas in the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — have stored the machines used in the special election after plaintiffs sought to preserve electronic records that could have bearing on the suit.

That includes keeping intact memory cards — which might otherwise be wiped clean in preparation for a new election — as well as residual memory on the machines. Voting on the machines is anonymous — the records can’t be used to identify personal information about a specific voter — but they do track and tally how many votes are cast on individual machines or in the election overall.

Advocates who filed the suit said they aren’t trying to derail the state’s elections schedule or any of those counties’ preparations ahead of November. But their request has also resulted in a litigation hold on 1,324 voting machines in Fulton, nearly 1,000 machines in DeKalb and 307 machines in Cobb.

Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge James Hinkle resigned his office after being suspended for comments on Facebook.

Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Hammer Blum said in a statement at about 6:30 p.m. that Judge James A. Hinkle “offered his immediate resignation from his position as a part-time Magistrate.”

“For 14 years, Judge Hinkle has dutifully served this Court. He is a lifelong public servant and former Marine,” Blum said. “However, he has acknowledged that his statements on social media have disrupted the mission of this court, which is to provide justice for all.”

Governor Nathan Deal will return to Gainesville to recognize a new state law allowing direct sales of beer to consumers.

Deal will join local elected officials at the brewery on Atlanta Highway to ring in Georgia’s new law allowing direct sales of beer, from pints to cases, at breweries.

The law was approved in the most recent session of the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Deal. It’s being celebrated as a major step forward for Georgia breweries.

The event runs from noon to 10 p.m. Deal will make an appearance later in the afternoon, according to Datta.

The business owner is calling it a new era for Georgia breweries, heretofore restricted to selling tours of their facilities and offering “samples” of their beer. Almost all of Georgia-made packaged beer is distributed to wholesalers, but that will change come September.

“Just as with the state’s wine industry, craft breweries are becoming travel destinations, and tourists from within and outside (Georgia) are seeking out breweries to enjoy the local flavors and offerings unique to each brewery,” Datta said in his Wednesday announcement.

Thirty Georgia businesses joined the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.

Not quite a year old, the South Carolina-based organization boasts the support of more than 41,000 business and 500,000 commercial fishing families for its efforts to protect the Atlantic Coast from offshore oil/gas exploration and drilling.

Michael Neal, owner of Bull River Cruises, is among the local participants.

“Both the beauty of Coastal Georgia and the nature of Coastal Georgia have more importance that the potential of offshore drilling,” said Neal, whose 19-year-old business employs five people for its educational and historical cruises to places such as Ossabaw Island. “Plus, there are potential impacts if anything goes wrong.”

In April, President Donald Trump revived the prospects for offshore drilling and exploration with an executive order. It calls for a review of the current five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf and directs the administration to fast-track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting for an area stretching from Delaware to Florida.

Along with businesses, local governments along the coast have expressed opposition to both offshore drilling and seismic testing. Among those passing resolutions are Savannah, Tybee, Hinesville and Brunswick. The governors of both North and South Carolina have voiced opposition to drilling off the Atlantic coast.

But state and federal elected officials in Georgia still back drilling.

State Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) appeared at the Gainesville City Council meeting to present a state resolution.

“Whereas the State of Georgia lost one its finest citizens and most dedicated law enforcement officers with the tragic passing of Officer Henry Tilman Davis,” Hawkins began reading.

Hawkins continued, “When his life was tragically cut short in September of 1972 after his patrol car was struck from behind and forced into oncoming traffic while traveling on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville…”

“Be it resolved…that the intersection of Beechwood Boulevard NW and State Route 53/Dawsonville Highway in Hall County is dedicated as the Officer Henry Tilman Davis Memorial Intersection.”

In Gainesville, qualifying for Mayor and two Council seats opens Monday, August 21st.

Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott will hold a Town Hall tonight at 7 PM at the East Cobb Library, located at 4880 Lower Roswell Road in Marietta.

Voters in Athens-Clarke County will decide on November 7, 2017 whether to levy a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST).

With little discussion, Athens-Clarke County commissioners gave final approval to a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax during a special-called meeting Tuesday.

Officials expect to accrue $109.5 million in collections over the course of the sales tax window to fund road-paving projects, an extension of the Firefly Trail, fixes to the Oconee Rivers Greenway and much more.

The TSPLOST list will go to voters as part of a referendum that also would allow county officials to seek a $95 million bond to get started on some of the projects. Proceeds from the tax would be used to repay the bond.

If voters approve the referendum, collections on the sales tax will start April 1.

Healthcare

Northside Hospital and Gwinnett Health System have filed plans to merge, possibly beginning joint operations in 2018.

The hospital systems have filed their proposed merger agreement with the Georgia Attorney General’s office.

Northside has hospitals in Atlanta, Cherokee County and Forsyth County. The Gwinnett Health System has Gwinnett Medical Center campuses in Duluth and Lawrenceville. The hospitals expect to have nearly 21,000 employees and 3,500 physicians once the merger is complete.

The Dougherty County Commission voted 5-2 to oppose the opening of a hospital in neighboring Lee County.

Dougherty County Commission voted Wednesday at a special called meeting to send the state Department of Community Health a notice of opposition to a certificate of need sought by the group that plans to build the Lee hospital.

After Dougherty Attorney Spencer Lee told the board, “You need to act today if you want to be part of this process,” the board voted 5-2 to send a notice of opposition to the Lee CON to the state Department of Community Health.

Commissioners Lamar Hudgins, who said he “could not vote against a fellow county that is so entwined with us,” and John Hayes, who said he’d had a number of county citizens — including physicians — express their support for the proposed hospital, voted against the resolution to oppose the CON.

[Dougherty County Commission Chair Chris] Cohilas made it clear during discussion of the notice of opposition that Dougherty County’s primary reason for taking the action is to protect the interests of citizens and the health care provided by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, which cannot speak out against the CON application because of an agreement the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County reached with the Federal Trade Commission while in the process of purchasing Palmyra Medical Center in Albany. In fact, one of the stipulations included in a letter Lee sent to DCH Commissioner Frank Berry asked that body to allow Phoebe to offer its opposition to the application.

The Times-Georgian in Carrollton looks at the struggles of a local rural hospital and its patients.

Part of the nonprofit Tanner Health System, Higgins General Hospital doesn’t have shareholders — every bit of revenue is reinvested into the facility, financing new equipment, new facilities like the new surgical services center that’s now under construction, and to provide care for people in the community who cannot otherwise afford it.

Each year, Higgins General Hospital alone spends about $10 million on charity and indigent care, ensuring everyone in the community has care when they need it. But like many of their patients, the hospital, too, has to make ends meet.

“It’s unfortunate, but cost is a real barrier to care for a lot of people,” said Bonnie Boles, MD, MBA, administrator of Higgins General Hospital and Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica. “I saw it first-hand when I was in practice, and I see it now in administration. Having regular access to care, especially for people with chronic diseases like COPD or diabetes, is essential for keeping those diseases under control. And when you can’t, you end up needing a much more acute level of care, like a hospitalization. But you’re not better off financially when you leave the hospital, so the cycle just continues.”

But the cost of providing uncompensated care is making things difficult for hospitals, too.

Since the beginning of 2013, six Georgia hospitals have closed, and others — especially those in rural areas — are struggling to keep their doors open. The most recent Georgia Department of Community Health Hospital Financial Survey found that 42 percent of all hospitals in Georgia had negative total margins in 2015, while 68 percent of rural hospitals in the state lost money in the same year.

Much of that strain is coming from uncompensated care — care hospitals provide but for which they receive little or no reimbursement. According to the Georgia Hospital Association, in 2015 the state’s hospitals absorbed more than $1.7 billion in costs for care that was delivered but not paid for.

Senate Bill 258 — the Georgia Rural Hospital Expense Tax Credit program — allows Georgia taxpayers to make contributions to select rural hospitals in Georgia, including Higgins General Hospital in Bremen. Originally providing a 70 percent credit, lawmakers in the General Assembly this year passed Senate Bill 180, extending the credit to 90 percent and making it retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017.

Under the enhanced rural hospital tax credit, by contributing to Higgins General Hospital in exchange for a 90 percent tax credit, Georgia taxpayers can pay substantially all of their Georgia income taxes — up to the maximum amounts allowed.

Higgins General Hospital is among the rural Georgia hospitals that qualify for the credit. Tanner’s leadership has been making the rounds, visiting civic groups and hosting meetings with local tax advisors and accountants to extol the benefits of the program. The health system has also launched a website, tanner.org/taxcredit, with information about how people can donate and benefit from the program.

“We are grateful that our state’s lawmakers have signaled that they understand the importance of our rural hospitals to the communities they serve by supporting this innovative program,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System — and also a certified public accountant. “This is a unique opportunity for residents to keep their tax money local and do something positive for their community.”

Elections

Leo Smith, former Director of Minority Engagement for the Georgia Republican Party, will run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Hunter Hill.

Leo Smith said Thursday he’s running as a “conservative bridge builder with a unique set of skills” to serve the district, which stretches across parts of north Atlanta and Smyrna. He would be the first black Republican in the Georgia Senate in modern times.

The seat is a juicy target for Democrats. Republican Hunter Hill, who is vacating the position to run for governor, only narrowly held it in November. And Hillary Clinton carried the affluent district in November.

Three Democrats are already in the contest. Pediatric dentist Jaha Howard is making a comeback bid after his slim defeat last year. Trial lawyer Jen Jordan has already announced her candidacy.  And political newcomer Nigel Sims has entered the race.

Newt Gingrich endorsed David Shafer for Lieutenant Governor in the 2018 election.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich endorsed Shafer on Tuesday. The veteran Georgia politician and ex-presidential candidate, known for his Contract With America that helped lead to Republicans taking control of the House in 1994, praised Shafer for his conservative credentials.

Shafer led the Georgia Republican Party in the early 1990s and has championed issues such as zero-based budgeting and limiting tax increases.

“David Shafer is an effective, innovative legislator with a solidly conservative record to back up his campaign promises,” Gingrich said. “He has proven time and again that he will fight for us. David Shafer will make an outstanding Lieutenant Governor for Georgia and I am proud to endorse him.”

Gingrich’s endorsement of Shafer is the latest person who, one time or another, had a national profile in Republican politics. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former congressman and ex-presidential candidate Bob Barr have announced their support for the state senator, as has former Rep. John Linder.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) announced that former Coca-Cola Enterprises chief executive John Brock has endorsed his campaign for Lt. Governor.

John Brock … said he wanted to back a candidate for lieutenant governor who “knows what it’s like to sign the front of a check and not just the back of one.”

Brock, who retired as the bottling giant’s chief executive in 2016, said in the statement that he’s endorsing the state legislator because of his entrepreneurial experience. Duncan led several health startups before seeking to succeed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor.

John Bradberry will run for Johns Creek City Council Post Three in November 2017.

Johns Creek small business owner and former United States Marine, John Bradberry, has announced his intention to run for City Council Post 3 in this November’s election.
“Whether it is zoning or road improvement projects, every decision made by the City of Johns Creek should ask “How will this affect our residents’ quality of life?”  said Bradberry.

Bradberry’s campaign slogan is “Preserve Johns Creek…Protect Our Quality of Life!”  Bradberry said, “This is more than just a slogan to me.  Our community is at a critical juncture.  It is vital that we return to our original vision for Johns Creek.  We are a high-end residential community with great schools, low crime, and a high quality of life.  As long as we continue to be the best at that, then there will always be high-demand for our ‘product’.   It sets us apart and makes us unique.  We love it and call it home.”

The highlights of Bradberry’s platform are:
* Restore trust in local government
* Focus on traffic relief for OUR residents
* Stop high density development, billboards and widenings that create cut-through highways
* Term limits for locally elected officials

“These issues are critical to my family and the future of Johns Creek.  I’ll be an independent voice for the residents.”

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms has launched his reelection campaign.

Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms officially began his re-election campaign Wednesday by saying he had kept his lone campaign promise, which was to bring more calm to city government.

Although he admitted before his announcement that the last City Council meeting wasn’t a good example, Toms said overall he has kept that promise.

“I believe the environment has calmed down and I believe this calmness has facilitated a resurgence in growth in the area,” he said.

Monday is also the day that qualifying for the Nov. 7 election begins. Joe Musselwhite, the city’s former public works director who lost to Toms in the 2013 election, has said he is making another try as mayor. Councilman Chuck Shaheen said during the debate on the city administrator that he plans to run for mayor, but he declined to confirm that afterward and has not officially announced.

Toms was a city firefighter for 27 years and won the mayor’s seat in a 6-way race.

16
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 16, 2017

AdeleFHS

Adele is a young female Jack Russell Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from the Fayette Humane Society in Fayetteville, GA.

BabeFHS

Babe is a young male Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from the Fayette Humane Society in Fayetteville, GA.

AnnaFHS

Anna is a female Border Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Fayette Humane Society in Fayetteville, GA.

ElsaFHS

Elsa is a female Border Collie mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Fayette Humane Society in Fayetteville, GA.