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20
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 20, 2020

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A previously deported man was arrested for allegedly possessing $3 million dollars worth of meth in Hall County, according to the Gainesville Times.

One of the men previously accused in a $3 million methamphetamine bust was previously deported from the U.S., according to court documents.

The Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad and the Department of Homeland Security partnered in the investigation that led to the two men and 67 pounds of the drug, which has an estimated street value of $3 million.

According to the indictment, Bustis-Padilla was previously deported and removed from the country and had not “obtained the express consent” from government officials to reapply for admission into the country.

Both men are also being held at the Hall County Jail for the Department of Homeland Security to review their immigration status.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey recommends flu shots for all Georgians, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

“Now more than ever, influenza vaccination is critical not only to protect people from getting sick, but to reduce the burden on our healthcare system already caring for COVID-19 patients,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent illness from flu completely, it can help reduce the severity and risk of serious complications — and keep people out of the hospital during this COVID-19 pandemic.”

Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

Every individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine, not just for their own protection, but to protect others around them who may be more vulnerable to the flu and its complications.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting an annual flu shot by the end of October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body.

 

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that votes cast for a dead candidate do not count, in an issue that arose from a local election, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

In a two-man race, [Jesse] Houle lost to incumbent Jerry NeSmith in nonpartisan elections in June.

NeSmith, 71, easily won the election with 1,866 votes to 1,405 for Houle. NeSmith died just days before the election, however, and under Georgia law, votes for NeSmith were declared void, leaving Houle the winner of the seat.

The law places only “minimal burdens” on the right to vote, according to the Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Charlie Bethel and released Monday.

Voiding a deceased candidate’s votes “is a reasonable and non-discriminatory exercise of the state’s power to regulate elections in furtherance of these goals,” according to the Supreme Court decision. The issue is one for the state legislature, the high court noted.

Ordering a new election “is one of several options that the General Assembly could have selected in determining how to resolve this unfortunate and, thankfully, rare scenario,” Bethel wrote. “That policy did not target the appellants or other voters on the basis of any political affiliation or viewpoint, membership in a protected class, or other impermissible basis.”

 

United States Senator David Perdue (R-Glynn County) campaigned in Statesboro, according to the Statesboro Herald.

In 2014, Perdue ran for the then-open Senate seat after four decades in business, including tenures as CEO of Reebok and Dollar General. He and his cousin, former Georgia governor and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, were riding in the senator’s “Original Outsider” campaign bus Saturday morning when they stopped at Anderson’s General Store and spoke briefly to a crowd of about 100 people.

But he had called the Statesboro Herald for an interview earlier in the week.

“Well, first of all, I was an outsider to this whole process and I got involved because I believed that we needed to change the direction of the country,” Perdue said in the Oct. 14 interview. “Under President Obama we had eight years of the worst economic output in U.S. history, and I could see that coming, so I got involved because of the debt crisis and the global security crisis.”

Perdue credits the tax reform plan President Donald Trump signed into law in 2017 and other measures taken by Republican lawmakers for leading to a boom.

“We have the greatest economic turnaround going in U.S. history,” Perdue said. “We created seven and a half million new jobs and allowed six and a half million people to pull themselves out of poverty. I was an architect of what we worked on there: regulation, energy, taxes and Dodd-Frank.”

By “Dodd-Frank” he means the 2018 rolling back of banking regulations that had been established under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in July 2010.

“I went to Washington and I’ve done exactly what I said I would do and that is to fight for the people of Georgia,” Perdue said. “We’ve got the Port of Savannah deepened down there in your area. I fought like crazy and got that funded, and President Trump broke through the regulations that were holding it up and we will now finish that port next year. That is so huge for our state.”

Senator Perdue also campaigned in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“I created tens of thousands of jobs in my work environment,” said Perdue, whose business career also included stints as a vice president at Sara Lee Corp. and Hagar Clothing. “Then, [after joining the Senate], we created 7½ million new jobs before COVID.

“After 60 years of failure of the Democrat Party’s Great Society, in 3½ years, 2.5 million people pulled themselves out of poverty.”

Perdue said Trump’s decision to shut down the U.S. economy during the pandemic’s early days took a lot of courage.

“He shut down travel from infected areas and quarantining people coming back into the country,” Perdue said. “He started a task force to work on PPP (personal protective equipment) and testing.”

Perdue said it wasn’t easy for him – as a fiscal hawk – to step up and vote for $2.9 trillion in federal relief for businesses and workers affected by COVID-19, including the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“We saved 1.5 million jobs in Georgia because of the PPP,” he said. “Our community banks did a tremendous job getting this money to the businesses.”

“I did vote against the Affordable Care Act a number of times,” Perdue said. “But I also voted to protect pre-existing conditions a number of times. … This is a total misrepresentation by the Democrat side.”

 

Access WDUN looks at the candidates in State House District 31, currently held by Republican State Rep. Tommy Benton (Jefferson) and HD 29, held by Republican Rep. Matt Dubnik.

Voter turnout continues to rise, according to The Brunswick News.

After the first week of early voting in 2016, a comparatively small 699,768 ballots were cast. In-person votes accounted for 603,711 and 96,057 were mailed.

By percent, the difference amounts to a 156 percent increase overall. Far and away the biggest difference is between mail-in ballots which, according to the secretary of state’s office, increased by 653 percent from 2016 to 2020.

The Glynn Board of Elections reported similarly drastic increases in mail-in voting, prompting Elections and Registration Supervisor Christina Redden to declare the Golden Isles was already breaking records before the first week of early voting had concluded.

In Glynn County, 2,000 people voted in person Monday, pushing local numbers past 10,000 total. This is the county’s largest turnout in a day for early voting.

Columbus area voters may be able to get a ride to the polls, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

 

 

Augusta City Commissioners may consider raising their own pay, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Despite looming budget shortfalls and a reduction in CARES Act funding, some city leaders want to increase commissioners’ salaries as much as three-fold, to $40,000. Others question any new spending in light of the pandemic.

Commissioner Bill Fennoy, who made the request in an addendum to the Tuesday meeting agenda, said increasing commissioner salaries would attract candidates who can’t afford to leave their full-time jobs for the hectic part-time role of commissioner.

“It would allow people that have not retired from a full-time job to be able to run for office and support their families at the same time,” Fennoy said.

The Consolidation Act set annual commissioner salaries at $12,000, the mayor pro tem’s at $20,000 and the mayor’s at $65,000, although all make substantially more because of state cost-of-living adjustments, training supplements, free gas and other perks.

The salaries range from newest member Bobby Williams at $15,006 up to Mayor Pro Tem Sean Frantom with $26,522. Most commissioners take home around $17,000 plus up to 125 gallons of gas per month. The commission voted last year to replace the gas cards with a $500 monthly travel stipend to be effective in January.

Valdosta City Schools will return to in-person instruction beginning November 3d, and parents have a deadline, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Parents of students in grades kindergarten through eighth who wish to return their children to the traditional, face-to-face model will need to email their child’s school between Monday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 23.

Peachtree Corners City Council member Phil Sadd will hold an online forum Wednesday, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Sadd will host a virtual town hall meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Gwinnett County commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash is expected to join the councilman for at least part of the online meeting with residents as she talks about the referendum, which is appearing on the Nov. 3 ballot.

“It is important that voters are provided with information about this referendum so they can make an informed decision,” Sadd said. “I have invited Gwinnett County Chairwoman Charlotte Nash to join me during the Town Hall to provide an overview of the referendum.

Warner Robins City Council member Daron Lee resigned his seat, according to WMAZ.

“I have indeed prayed and meditated on this decision in order to weigh the pros and cons leading to what is best for my well-being,” wrote Lee.

He told WMAZ that the reason for his resignation was family health issues. He said he felt he couldn’t divide his time between the city and his family to take care of them.

A special election will need to be held to fill the vacant seat. The city will release more information on the election when the city finalizes them, but it’s expected to be in March 2021.

19
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 19, 2020

Jojo One Love Animal Rescue

Jojo is a male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from One Love Animal Rescue, Inc in Savannah, GA.

JoJo is a dachshund mix, senior, neutered male. This fella was treated for heartworms, current on vaccines and microchipped. JoJo loves to go on walks and car ride. He does well with other small dogs with the proper introduction. He lives with cats in his foster home as well. Older children please as this older fella can’t quite keep up the the busy bodies.

Sunny Grace One Love Animal Rescue

Sunny Grace is a female Golden Retriever mix who is available for adoption from One Love Animal Rescue, Inc in Savannah, GA.

Meet Sunny Grace! She was all smiles today as she made her way into our foster family. She does well with other dogs, house trained and we already know she is a loyal companion. Sunny Grace craves loves and affection even though she is still and less confident when meeting new people. She requires lots of patience when meeting new people (both men and women). She would do best with older children since quick hands can be very scary for our sweet girl. If you want a bone loving, and champion nap taker, apply to meet Sunny Grace today!

Drifter One Love Animal Rescue

Drifter is a female Coonhound (or Bloodhound?) mix who is available for adoption from One Love Animal Rescue, Inc in Savannah, GA.

Meet Drifter, the gorgeous hound! One of 29 dogs found living outside on a chain in the country. Drifter miraculously survived a past gunshot wound to the head, and is all healed from her corrective surgeries. She is thriving being an indoor dog, and is ready to find her forever family that will love her and make her feel safe. Drifter walks great on a leash, and is crate and house trained. She loves other dogs, car rides, and trips to the dog park to play.

Elly One Love Animal Rescue

Elly is a female Retriever mix who is available for adoption from One Love Animal Rescue, Inc in Savannah, GA.

Elly is a very sweet and gentle girl. She likes to chew on bones and play with the king. Cuddling with people and belly rubs are her favorites. She is currently working on her manners and so far, she can follow the commands of sit and stay. She does have anxiety when she is around other dogs and we are working on that with her. Back for the time being she prefers to be the only animal. She is very curious and likes to explore around the house. She is house broken and enjoys short walks.

19
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 19, 2020

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781,  ending the American Revolution.

On October 19, 1790, Lyman Hall, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, died in Burke County, GA. Hall was elected Governor of Georgia in 1783, holding the position for one year, and was an early advocate for the chartering of the University of Georgia.

On October 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. The House passed the King holiday bill, sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), by a vote of 338-90 in August. President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation on November 3, 1983.

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at the beginning of what would eventually become Fort Benning.

100 years ago, Camp Benning raised its flag on Oct. 19, 1918, almost two weeks after the first Army troops arrived on Macon Road where the Columbus Public Library and other public buildings stand. The only evidence from the MidTown site that housed 300 tents is a nearby monument in the neighborhood at South Dixon Drive and Mimosa Street.

That small camp led to a bigger location 8 miles down the road and redesignated Fort Benning on Feb. 18, 1922. The Maneuver Center of Excellence is home of the Infantry and Armor schools as the sixth largest military installation in the United States.

“Columbus has been a good neighbor to us and wanted us here,” said Scott Daubert, director of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. “They wanted us here. They courted the government.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Here are today’s General Election stats, drawn from the Absentee voter file released daily by the Secretary of State’s office:

Total votes cast:       1,577,434

Mail-in votes cast:          745,140

Electronic votes cast:          5,611

In-person votes cast:     826,683

President Trump visited Macon on Friday. From the Ledger-Enquirer:Continue Reading..

16
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 16, 2020

Kiera Dogs Rock Rescue

Kiera is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Dogs Rock Inc. in Franklin, GA.

Lena Dogs Rock Rescue

Lena is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Dogs Rock Inc. in Franklin, GA.

Lena is a sweet energetic pup that loves everyone.

Keshia Dogs Rock Rescue

Keshia is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Dogs Rock Inc. in Franklin, GA.

Bubba Dogs Rock Rescue

Bubba is a male American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from Dogs Rock Inc. in Franklin, GA.

Bubba is a great guy who loves his stuffies and any other living being. He is amazing with children of all sizes, all other dogs and cats. He has a slight limp from where he was “mugged” and will use that limp to distract you if he gets in any trouble. He is very affectionate and loves to cuddle.

16
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 16, 2020

The Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania from Maryland was established on October 18, 1767.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human chattel. This period, which historians consider the era of “The New Republic,” drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On October 18, 1867, the United States took over Alaska from Russia and ran up Old Glory there for the first time.

Separated from the far eastern edge of the Russian empire by only the narrow Bering Strait, the Russians had been the first Europeans to significantly explore and develop Alaska.

Seeing the giant Alaska territory as a chance to cheaply expand the size of the nation, William H. Seward, President Andrew Johnson‘s secretary of state, moved to arrange the purchase of Alaska. Agreeing to pay a mere $7 million for some 591,000 square miles of land-a territory twice the size of Texas and equal to nearly a fifth of the continental United States-Seward secured the purchase of Alaska at the ridiculously low rate of less than 2¢ an acre.

On October 18, 1870, Rockdale and McDuffie Counties were created when Georgia Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Here are today’s General Election stats, drawn from the Absentee voter file released daily by the Secretary of State’s office:

Total votes cast:       1,197,031

Mail-in votes cast:          646,371

Electronic:                            5,115

In-person votes cast:     545,545

A billboard near the site of President Trump’s campaign appearance in Macon today dubs the political rally a “Trump COVID Superspreader event,” according to the Macon Telegraph.Continue Reading..

15
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 15, 2020

Bellefleur Renegade Paws Rescue

Bellefleur is a young female Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Renegade Paws Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Honeydew Renegade Paws Rescue

Honeydew is a female Terrier and Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from Renegade Paws Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Priscilla Renegade Paws Rescue

Priscilla is a young female Labrador and Boxer mix puppy – one of a litter of nine – who is available for adoption from Renegade Paws Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Due to the current size of the pups, we believe dad was a larger dog, possibly a lab mix, and it is likey the pups will be over 50lbs when full grown. If you’re a lover of big dogs, these pups are sure to steal your heart!

15
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Here are today’s General Election stats, drawn from the Absentee voter file released daily by the Secretary of State’s office:

Total votes cast:          972,177

Mail-in votes cast:          585,593

Electronic:                            4,688

In-person votes cast:     381,896

Governor Brian Kemp will make a special announcement about Healthcare at a press conference today, according to the AJC.

The notice said little about the subject of the announcement. But Kemp is to be joined at the Georgia Capitol by officials who have been instrumental in forming his “waiver” proposals to reshape health insurance in Georgia.

Kemp’s proposals, if approved by the Trump administration, could affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Georgians. They’re called “waivers” because states may ask the federal government to waive parts of U.S. health care law, in order to tailor new programs to their own needs.

You can watch the Press Conference at 3 PM on Governor Kemp’s Facebook Page.

Governor Kemp announced yesterday that $1.5 billion dollars in federal CARES Act funding will be directed to the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to offset borrowing by the Fund during the pandemic. From the Press Release:

By year’s end, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) estimates that the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will have borrowed a total of $1.5 billion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Georgia’s labor force.

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to nearly every business – large and small – and upended the lives of millions of Georgians,” said Governor Kemp. “Through no fault of their own, thousands of people became unemployed overnight, businesses were shut down, and countless families suffered. Today’s announcement will save Georgia employers millions of dollars in state and federal unemployment taxes, prevent significant layoffs, and save the state millions of dollars in interest payments.”

“By directing these Coronavirus Relief Funds to the Trust Fund, we will ensure we’re prepared to meet the needs of struggling Georgians in the months to come and support businesses across the Peach State who are putting people back to work and serving their local communities.”

By allocating up to $1.5 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds for this purpose, Georgia will save the average Georgia employer approximately $350 per year for each employed worker.

With benefit payments projected to outpace tax revenue, Georgia will have to continue to borrow federal funds to pay benefits. After the Great Recession of 2008-2009, it took three years until tax revenue outpaced benefit payments on an annual basis. By 2023, without raising employers’ tax rates for unemployment insurance and without a capital injection, the GDOL estimates the state could borrow another $1 billion to pay benefits. With a substantial loan balance for three years, Georgia employers would also lose Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax credits, resulting in a cost of $85 million per year, compounded annually. By 2025, FUTA tax credit losses would have cost Georgia employers $500 million. Although economic forecasters predict that tax revenue will outpace benefit payments by this time, the difference would not be enough to repay the debt.

“Without the transfer of funds, the state will have to increase unemployment tax rates for employers between 300% and 400% to make headway on paying off the loan,” said Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “This reallocation of federal funds will allow more employers across the state to focus on the growth and success of their businesses without having the additional pressure of a rising unemployment tax.”

“As the top state for business for a seventh straight year, the allocation of these CARES Act dollars to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund highlights our state’s commitment to protecting Georgia jobs and saving businesses thousands of dollars per employee,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “Governor Kemp has continued to prioritize both people’s health and their paychecks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and today’s action will only strengthen our state’s incredible economic momentum in the months and years to come.”

Governor Kemp is also committing up to an additional $400 million of the Coronavirus Relief Funds for the state share of matching funds for FEMA grants, Georgia National Guard expenses, continued hospital staffing augmentation, and state COVID-19 response expenses.

Governor Kemp has previously announced $113 million of CARES Act funds to Georgia nursing homes, $105 million in GEERS funds to support student connectivity and education, and $371 million in direct support to local governments for COVID-19 related expenses.

From WTOC:

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson claimed in a Facebook post that the funds allocated to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund should have been available to local governments.

Mayor Johnson states, “We were notified moments ago that Governor Kemp has made a decision to use ALL of the remaining funding committed to local governments to repay the Georgia Unemployment Trust Fund to avoid having to raise the unemployment tax.”

“As a result of this decision, there will be NO Round 2 or Round 3 funding for local governments, which the City of Savannah has used to assist families and businesses affected by COVID.”

From the AJC:

State officials estimate that committing the money to paying off loans to the unemployment fund will save the average Georgia employer about $350 a year per worker.

If all $1.5 billion is used, it will eat up the biggest chunk of the money the state had left over from the federal CARES Act. The state spent over $1 billion in the first few months of the pandemic, mostly on providing health care and acquiring medical equipment.

With benefit payments outpacing unemployment tax revenue paid by employers, the state has had to borrow money from the federal government to pay benefits.

After the Great Recession, it took until about 2014 for the state to repay such loans, brought on by a surge in benefits as hundreds of thousands of Georgians lost their jobs.

Nathan Humphrey, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, applauded Kemp’s move.

“2020 has been a challenging year for Georgia’s small-business owners and employees,” he said. “Today’s announcement means people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own because of the pandemic will have the support they need until they can return to work, and it relieves the financial pressure on the General Assembly to raise taxes on small businesses in order to support the Georgia Unemployment Trust Fund.”

Governor Kemp announced his appointment of Cheveda McCamy to a vacancy in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit’s Superior Court, serving Newton and Walton counties.

Early voting delays are being blamed on the computer system that checks in voters, according to the AJC.

Voting slowed to a crawl across Georgia this week in large part because of check-in computers that couldn’t handle the load of record turnout at early voting locations.

The problem created a bottleneck as voters reached the front of the line, when poll workers had to deal with sluggish laptops to verify each voter. Some early voting sites reported checking in just 10 voters per hour at each computer.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger initially attributed the lines to high turnout, which is part of the reason for delays. But it became clear from interviews with poll workers, election officials and voters this week that technical difficulties contributed to severe waits.

Later in the day, his office said the state’s elections software vendor, New Orleans-based Civix, had increased bandwidth, resulting in immediate improvements reported by many counties. Wait times fell from over three hours to about one hour Wednesday afternoon at several early voting sites in metro Atlanta.

From GPB News:

Georgia elections officials say they have fixed a capacity issue with the state’s voter registration database that has slowed the check-in process and contributed to longer lines this week.

More than 10% of Georgia’s 7.4 million registered voters have already cast their ballot two days in to the early voting period, including half a million absentee-by-mail ballots returned.

At a Wednesday press conference, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the eNet system, the state voter registration database used to check people in for early voting, is being accessed by more users than ever, bogging down the process and playing a contributing role in longer lines.

Another contributing factor to longer lines: More voters continue to line up well in advance of polls opening, creating hourslong waits from the start. With a limited number of machines at each location because of space constraints and social distancing, even as the check-in capacity issue is resolved there is a maximum throughput of voters per hour that can use the ballot-marking device system.

State officials strongly encourage the million or so Georgians who have requested and received but not yet returned an absentee ballot to do so, and said they are asking counties to provide more machines and locations throughout the rest of the early voting period that ends Oct. 30.

The Associated Press writes about why some African-American voters may prefer in-person voting.

The willingness of many Black voters to queue up instead of coming back another day is a measure of their determination and their skepticism about the system. Those in Georgia acknowledged they could have voted by mail or returned to a polling place at a different time; but with no expectation of voting becoming easier in the weeks to come, they saw waiting as a necessary step to ensure their votes get counted.

But in Georgia, which is viewed as more of a contested state than in the past, elections have drawn heightened attention in recent years.

Long lines caused in part by equipment problems marred the state’s June primary, and concerns about voter disenfranchisement have resulted in a flood of election-related lawsuits seeking quick-fixes before the November election as well as broader, long-term changes to the voting system, but officials have defended Georgia’s system.

Many Georgia voters said they decided to vote near the beginning of early voting rather than wait until closer to Election Day since long lines seem a given this year. Voting has been heavy in both Democratic-leaning precincts and Republican strongholds.

“I just don’t really trust the system, to say the least,” [voter Stephanie Loftin] said. “I feel that me standing in line and actually making sure my ballot it is in makes me feel better, makes me rest better at night.”

Still unsure why she was dropped from voting rolls two years ago, [voter Crystal] Clark decided to vote early in person after the mail-in ballot she requested in early September never arrived. Clark, who sells real estate, said she’s more protective than ever of her right to vote, and going to the precinct was worth the risk and trouble.

“I guess it’s insurance that my vote is going to count,” she said.

From the Ledger-Enquirer:

By day’s end, 1,338 Columbus residents had voted in person at Columbus City Services Center off Macon Road, the first of five early voting polls that will open here before the Nov. 3 General Election. On the first day of advance voting in the last presidential election in 2016, 1,748 ballots were cast, according to Ledger-Enquirer reports.

Voters wanting to get it over with started lining up outside the poll at 6 a.m. Monday, said Jeanette James of the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registration.

She said the long lines were comparable to the last day of early voting, in a presidential election year, not the first day.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen it on the first day of early voting,” she said.

She said that from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., voters who are disabled or age 75 or older can move to the front of the line, where a Muscogee sheriff’s deputy stood at the door. Periodically poll workers were walking the line looking for those voters, to inform them they could move to the front, she said.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

“To sum it up, Georgia voters are excited and setting records every hour,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a press conference Wednesday. “And this is all during the pandemic, lest we forget.

The state hit record turnout even with 49 counties closed for the Columbus Day holiday Monday — beating by a landslide the previous record of 90,000 voters casting ballots on the first day of early voting in 2016.

By Wednesday, 742,893 voters — nearly 10% of the states total 7.6 million voters — have already cast their ballots, according to the Secretary of State. On the second day of early voting, 111,000 voters took to the polls.

Raffensperger pleaded with the 1.6 million Georgians who have requested absentee ballots to cast them instead of showing up in person. He reminded voters that coronavirus is still a risk factor at crowded polling sites.

“We would really be grateful if all 1.6 million of those ballots actually came in and people then didn’t show to vote in person,” he said. “Because that also takes the pressure off the polling location. … That really would help the counties all the way around.”

In Cherokee County, more than 21,000 voters have cast their ballots, according to the Cherokee Tribune Ledger News.

A total of 2,814 people turned out to cast in-person ballots on the first day of early voting in Cherokee County on Monday, election officials said. About 500 fewer people voted in person on Tuesday. The total for the two days was 5,113.

However, as of end of day Tuesday, 16,359 local voters had cast absentee ballots. So far a total of 42,623 absentee ballots had been issued.

Statewide more than 241,706 people — a record number — piled into polling places across the state to kick off early voting Monday and Tuesday, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office. More than 500,000 absentee ballots have already been cast.

Voter turnout in Georgia is expected to top 5 million with a presidential contest and double the usual number of U.S. Senate seats. Perdue’s seat was up for election this year, while Loeffler was appointed to her seat this year after Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned for health reasons. The open race to fill the final two years of Isakson’s term drew more than 20 candidates.

From the Macon Telegraph:

More than 1,000 people went to the polls Monday for the first day of early voting in Bibb County.

“At this turnout rate, we’ll be done voting in two weeks,” said Mike Kaplan, chair of the Bibb County Board of Elections.

Bibb County had 1,756 people vote Monday, with 872 of those ballots cast at the Board of Elections office. On the first day of early voting for the runoff election in August, 471 people voted, and 331 voters cast their ballots on the first day of early voting for the June primary and general elections.

Other than the long lines, the only complications in Bibb County happened at the Elaine H. Lucas Senior Center where they had trouble with the electronic poll pads, Kaplan said.

The City of Pooler reversed an earlier decision and will now allow an absentee ballot drop box at city hall, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Presumptive Member of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene has endorsed Senator Kelly Loeffler’s reelection, according to a press release from the Loeffler campaign.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, future Congresswoman for the 14th Congressional District, endorsed Kelly Loeffler in the race for her United States Senate seat.

“I decided to run for Congress to Save America and Stop Socialism. As a political outsider, successful business woman, wife and mom of three, I am fed up with business as usual in the Swamp,” said Greene. “The radical Democrat party is the party of Antifa/BLM riots, abortion up until birth, gun control, and Socialism. If they get their way in November, our economy will be wrecked, our jobs will be lost, and our country will be plunged into a Socialist hellhole. Georgia refuses to let that happen!”

“Over the last ten months, Kelly Loeffler has proven she is a conservative fighter by introducing and voting for legislation to end Antifa/BLM violence, Back the Blue, fighting for the unborn, protecting our Second Amendment, keeping biological men out of women’s sports, and holding China accountable. As the most conservative Senator in Washington, she has sponsored legislation and fought for the key issues I care about and will be fighting for as the first Congresswoman for Northwest Georgia. That’s why I’m excited to endorse my friend Kelly Loeffler for U.S. Senate, and will be voting for her in the November 3rd election!”

“I’m proud to be endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene in my race for U.S. Senate,” said Senator Loeffler. “Like Marjorie, I’m a political outsider and conservative businesswoman—not a career politician. As the most conservative U.S. Senator with a 100 percent Trump voting record, I’ve fought to protect innocent life, our God-given 2nd Amendment rights, our borders and our religious liberties. And just like Marjorie, I’ve taken on the radical Left, cancel culture, and Fake News media—and won. Our campaign has tremendous momentum, and I look forward to continuing to shake up the status quo in Washington and delivering results for hardworking Georgians.”

The Gainesville Times spoke to Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) about his long career in political office.

In the final stretch before a U.S. Senate special election on Nov. 3, the four-term congressman reflected on his time in the U.S. House representing the 9th District, which spans Northeast Georgia.

“Becoming a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee probably changed the trajectory of my service in Washington, D.C., in many ways, especially having to lead the fight against the impeachment, against the investigations and against the attacks of the Democrats on our way of life,” he said.

In comparing his state and federal tenures, he said, “In the states, there’s a lot you can get done. There are very few times a bill comes forward that is purely partisan. … Once you get to Washington, D.C., everything tends to be purely partisan. The person who has experience at the state level benefits greatly when they get to Washington. They understand the process of voting and how you build coalitions.”

The Chatham County Board of Elections will hear a challenge to the qualifications of County Commission candidate Tony Riley on October 27, according to WTOC.

The board chairman stated during Monday’s meeting that Tony Riley, a candidate for 2nd District Chatham County Commissioner, has a felony conviction on his record for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

In a 3 to 2 vote, the Board of Elections decided to hold a hearing on Riley’s qualifications.

Monday night, the Chatham County Board of Elections chairman told us if Riley was released from prison in 2011 like documents Smith provided say, he could be disqualified. But Riley will have a chance to defend himself in the hearing conducted by the election’s superintendent.

“This is an opportunity for him to present information that we would not know. Because he’s going to have documents that maybe we’re not privy to, and this is a hearing,” Smith said.

From the Savannah Morning News:

If Riley loses his hearing, he could appeal to Superior Court, but if his candidacy is eventually disqualified, all votes cast for him in the District 2 race will not be counted, Mahoney said. Riley’s Republican opponent, Larry “Gator” Rivers, would then win the election essentially unopposed.

On Wednesday afternoon, a challenge to Rivers’ candidacy was submitted to the Board of Elections by Clinton Edminster — one of Riley’s two Democratic primary opponents, both of whom have expressed interest in reviving their bids if Riley is disqualified. Edminster asserted that Rivers also has a criminal record that may be grounds for disqualification.

“Mr. Rivers has a history of running into the law as well,” Edminster said, adding that he believes the Board of Elections is duty-bound to investigate the Republican candidate’s background. “It’s the due diligence the board should do.”

According to court records provided by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Rivers was arrested in October of 2015 on charges of possession of a controlled substance (Xanax), possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and possession of a drug-related object for use. However, according to Mahoney, those charges were all dropped and no Board of Elections action will follow unless evidence of a disqualifying felony conviction is provided.

Reached by telephone on Wednesday evening, Rivers acknowledged the 2015 charges but said that “this whole thing was a set-up.” Rivers said Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap “expunged” all charges arising from his 2015 arrest.

“They didn’t have any evidence that I had those things,” Rivers said. “They wanted me to plead, and they didn’t have any evidence. … Meg Heap took a look at it, and she expunged it.”

The Gwinnett Daily Post profiles the candidates for County Commission Chair.

Republican candidate David Post and Democratic candidate Nicole Love Hendrickson are running for the chairman’s seat, which is open this year because current Chairwoman Charlotte Nash opted to retire at the end of the year. The candidates faced off Wednesday during a debate co-hosted by the Atlanta Press Club and WABE 90.1 FM.

Both candidates pitched themselves as the right fit for the job to lead the county as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the county’s economy.

The debate touched on some topics that have arisen, not just in Gwinnett but also nationally, in recent years, such as policing and affordable housing, but also on more recent issues such as long lines for early voting and a new economic development tax showing up on property tax bills.

 

Columbia County public schools are increasing in-person instruction, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Columbia County Board of Education voted Tuesday to follow two recommendations from Superintendent Sandra Carraway — to allow all middle school students to return to classrooms, and to re-introduce Friday as an in-classroom day for high school students, depending on their academic performance.

Under the approved plans, sixth-graders wishing to return to in-person school can do so beginning Oct. 19. Seventh-graders can return Oct. 26, and eighth-graders Nov. 2. Middle school students who prefer to learn from home can choose to stay at home.

For high schools, students with C-grade averages or below will be required to attend in-person classes each Friday, starting Oct. 23. Students with A and B averages can choose either to attend each Friday or to continue Friday classes under the current hybrid schedule.

Bulloch County public schools suspended a change to COVID-19 policies after a letter from Georgia Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Kathleen Toomey, according to the Statesboro Herald.

During its scheduled regular session last week, the board unanimously approved a motion from District 4 board member April Newkirk to “reconsider the Department of Public Health guidelines, and if a student is exposed to a COVID-19 positive person, if the student that is exposed is wearing a mask, and it has been documented, they do not have to follow those guidelines of quarantining for 14 days.”

In her letter addressed to board Chairman Mike Sparks, however, Toomey stated, “This action is out of compliance with guidance issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health, as well as the legal requirements within the DPS’s Administrative Order issued on July 28, 2020.”

Additionally, Toomey advised Sparks in the letter, “Furthermore, I would like to remind you that failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor offense pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 31-5-8. Any person who refuses to isolate or quarantine as required by this Order may be subject to further action as may be necessary.”

14
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 14, 2020

Luna Humane Society Houston County

Luna is a young female Black Mouth Cur mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA.

Luke Humane Society Houston County

Luke is a 5-year old male Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA.

Maya Humane Society Houston County

Maya is a 12-year old senior female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA. Maya is loving and playful.

14
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 14, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

A.A. Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh on October 14, 1926. E. H. Shepard illustrated the Pooh books.

Pooh_Shepard1928

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

On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming Georgia’s first native-born winner. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a story on how King’s Nobel Prize effected Atlanta.

The honor wasn’t just a watershed for King and the civil rights movement but also for Atlanta. It set off a series of events that some say fundamentally changed the city’s business, religious and racial cultures by bringing blacks and whites together for the first time to share a meal in public.

That simple act, holding a multi-racial banquet in the new Nobel laureate’s honor, tested the will and even the nerves of those determined to make Atlanta a more just and inclusive place.

“It was a defining moment in the history of the city, and it should go down in the city’s documented memory,” said Janice R. Blumberg, the widow of Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, who was instrumental in organizing the event.

King’s three surviving children are due in court in December to determine if the 23-karat gold medal — along with a Bible their father once owned — should be sold at auction. Brothers Martin Luther King III and Dexter King, representing the King Estate, plan to sell the items. Sister Bernice King has opposed the sale.

Mayor Allen and J. Paul Austin, chairman of Coca-Cola, gathered the business elite at the Piedmont Driving Club. Allen warned then he would be taking notes on who did not attend the dinner. But Austin delivered the crushing blow.

According to Young’s written account, Austin said: “It is embarrassing for Coca-Cola to be located in a city that refuses to honor its Nobel Prize winner. We are an international business. The Coca-Cola Company does not need Atlanta. You all have to decide whether Atlanta needs the Coca-Cola Company.”

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Here are today’s General Election stats, drawn from the Absentee voter file released daily by the Secretary of State’s office:

Total votes cast:               786,413

Mail-in votes cast:          537,323

Electronic:                            4,213

In-person votes cast:     244,877

Absentee votes in this year’s primary elections were more Republican than Democratic, according to Riley Bunch and Kaye LaFond writing for the Valdosta Daily Times.

[D]ata shows both Florida and Georgia Republicans voted by mail at a higher rate than Democrats. But the negative rhetoric about mail-in — or absentee ballot — voting hasn’t gone without impact.

Enrijeta Shino, assistant professor of political science at the University of North Florida, said that prior to 2020, Republicans already tended to vote by mail at higher rates, but Democrats are gaining ground in their use of the method.

Shino’s research has indicated that neither party benefits more from expanded use of mail-on ballots. Younger voters are also starting to slowly take up the practice whereas before, mail-in ballots were more likely to be utilized by “old, educated and strong partisans.”

In both Georgia and Florida, counties with a higher rate of residents 65 year or older as well as counties with a higher median household income showed greater rates of mail-in voting use, a CNHI data analysis showed.

“The way we look at it is we have a targeted group of voters that we need to get out and vote — they’re low propensity voters or they’re new voters and our goal is to get out, engage with them, talk to them about the voting process, and let them choose the medium, and then it’s sure they actually go and do it,” [Trump Victory regional director Brian Barrett] told CNHI. “So yes, as absentee has grown exponentially, we give every voter that we talk to the opportunity to cast absentee.”

Trump door knockers carry absentee ballot applications with them as they peruse through Georgia’s suburban neighborhoods. Mailers sent throughout the campaign by the Georgia Republican Party encouraged voters to vote absentee for Trump.

Politico writes that President Trump’s campaign aims to harvest higher numbers of votes from rural Georgia this year.Continue Reading..

13
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 13, 2020

Daisy Humane Society of Houston County

Daisy is a young female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA.

Iris Humane Society of Houston County

Iris is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA.

Ernest Humane Society of Houston County

Ernest is a young male Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA.