Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Michael Thurmond: Stone Mountain Needs Context

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Jim Bowen

    DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond weighed in on the Stone Mountain controversy in an interview the AJC published today.

    He wouldn't endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' call to sandblast Confederate figures Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson off the mountain, but he did call for additional context regarding the "Lost Cause" mythology surrounding the 1915 carving, as well as black representation on the board that runs the park.

  • Upcoming Charlottesville Solidarity Events in Athens

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Baynard Woods

    White supremacist and neo-Nazi protestors in Charlottesville, VA

    Local progressive groups have scheduled two events—one this evening and one tomorrow—related to the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, VA last weekend.

    A candelight vigil from 5:30–7 p.m. today at the Arch is billed as both in solidary with Charlottesville and a call to action to defend undocumented immigrants and oppose the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

    Wednesday at 6 p.m., the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement will host a "community conversation" about Charlottesville—including, specifically, whether Athens' Confederate memorial on Broad Street should remain standing.

  • Georgia Republicans Can't Seem to Bring Themselves to Condemn White Supremacists

    Blog: In the Loop

    Jody Hice web.jpeg

    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    "Six of one, half dozen of the other..."

    President Donald Trump has been roundly criticized for his milquetoast statement on the riot in Charlottesville, VA yesterday—during which white supremacist thugs killed a counterprotesterand injured dozens more, and two police officers died in a helicopter crash—blaming the violence on "many sides" rather than a particular group of bigots who happen to be his core supporters.

    But he's not the only one who refuses to identify the people who committed the violence or their ideology. Several Republican Georgia congressmen have skirted the issue themselves, condemning violence and hatred in general terms while acting like they're things that just sort of ... happen, instead of things that people do.

    Call them the alt-right, white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis. Call them whatever you want. But call them out.

    Here's Sen. David Perdue, one of Trump's staunchest supporters:

  • Mark Martin Announces Commission District 2 Candidacy

    Blog: In the Loop

    Mark Martin web.jpg

    Photo Credit: courtesy of Mark Martin

    Teacher Mark Martin will announce he's running for Commissioner Harry Sims' District 2 seat at 10 a.m. Saturday at City Hall.

    Martin, a Cedar Shoals High School graduate and an eighth-grade math teacher at Hilsman Middle School, is the first to say he's running for the soon-to-be vacant seat.

    Sims is stepping down next year to run for mayor after 26 years on the commission.

  • Protestors Raise a Ruckus at Doug Collins Town Hall

    Blog: In the Loop

    Doug Collins web.jpg

    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville)

    Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins—who represents a sliver of North Athens—held a town hall meeting in his hometown of Gainesville yesterday, and although the district is one of the most conservative in the country, Democratic protesters were out in force.

    The Gainesville Times was there:

  • Morris Publishing Will Sell the Athens Banner-Herald

    Blog: In the Loop

    news building.jpg

    Photo Credit: Blake Aued/file

    The News Building, a tiny portion of which is home to the Athens Banner-Herald.

    Augusta-based Morris Publishing Group has reached an agreement to sell the Athens Banner-Herald to GateHouse Media, the company announced this morning.

    The sale also includes Morris' two other Georgia newspapers, the flagship Augusta Chronicle and the Savannah Morning News, as well as the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville and seven other papers.

    GateHouse owns more than 500 small papers, mainly in the Midwest.

    Morris did not disclose the terms of the sale, which is expected to close in October.

  • A UGA Professor Wanted to Let Students Grade Themselves

    Blog: In the Loop


    Rick Watson.

    A conservative website's post about a University of Georgia professor who planned to allow students to choose their own grades went viral over the past couple of days.

    Campus Reform wrote Monday about business professor Rick Watson's "stress reduction policy," which would have allowed students who felt "unduly stressed" about their grade email Watson with a suggested grade, "and it will be so changed."

    The policy was included in the syllabi for two of Watson's fall courses.

    Watson is the Terry College of Business's J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy and a regents professor, a position awarded to Georgia universities' most highly distinguished faculty members.

  • The Alleged 40 Watt Burglar Has Died

    Blog: In the Loop

    The man who was charged with burglarizing the 40 Watt Club last week died on Thursday, according to an obituary in the Athens Banner-Herald.

    Michael Wilson Simpson, 35, died at his home in Athens, says the obituary, which does not give a cause of death.

    Athens-Clarke County police confirmed he is the same man who was arrested last week in connection with the burglary at the 40 Watt.

    Simpson, a musician and sound technician who formerly worked at the 40 Watt, stole dozens of microphones, amplifiers and other music equipment worth approximately $20,000 while the famed music venue was closed the morning  of July 28, according to police.

  • Commission Approves T-SPLOST List, Milledge Circle Historic District Study, Chase Street Reboot

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    The future Firefly Trail.

    The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved a $109.5 million list of transportation projects on Tuesday, unchanged from a work session last month.

    That means completion of the Firefly Trail will be fully funded at $16.8 million, allowing it to be completed all the way to Winterville if voters approve a 1 percent sales tax for transportation in November.

    T-SPLOST would also fund road repaving, extending the North Oconee River Greenway, new sidewalks and bike lanes, hybrid buses and bus stops, transit service up Highway 29, replacing an aging Tallassee Road bridge, and a roundabout at Milledge Avenue and Whitehall Road.

    The commission also:

  • Update: Police Recover Stolen Equipment, Make Arrest in 40 Watt Break-In

    Blog: In the Loop

    40 watt kevin schlot .jpg

    Photo Credit: Kevin Schlot/Flickr

    Dozens of pieces of music equipment were stolen from the 40 Watt Club during a break-in this morning, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

    The burglary happened sometime between the legendary downtown music venue's closing at 2:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., police said. Owner Barrie Buck reported it to police earlier today.

    Officers noted damage around the the rear door and called in a forensic unit to collect evidence, said Sgt. Epifiano Rodriguez, ACCPD's public information officer.

  • Russell Edwards Is Running for Commission District 7

    Blog: In the Loop

    Russell Edwards web.jpeg

    Flagpole reported a couple of weeks ago that activist and business owner Russell Edwards was considering a run for mayor.

    As it turns out, Edwards is passing on that race, but he will seek the Commission District 7 seat currently held by Diane Bell.

    In a statement released this afternoon, Edwards said:

  • Chase Street Road Diet Will Be Reversed—for Now

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    Removing a lane from Chase Street has caused traffic to back up at the Loop.

    Athens-Clarke County officials said Wednesday they will restripe part of Chase Street between the Loop and Newton Bridge Road, returning it to four lanes.

    But that may not be the last change to the street, according to ACC Transportation and Public Works Director Drew Raessler. A consultant hired to update the county's bike and pedestrian master plan will produce a Complete Streets study of the corridor in November.

    "We can't simply go back and say 'that's it,' in my opinion," Raessler said.

  • Police Identify Men Involved in Fatal Downtown Stabbing

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Kelly Hart/file

    The 909 Broad apartment building.

    Police identified this morning the two men who were involved in a fatal stabbing at a downtown apartment building Friday.

    Robert E. Bryan, 21, stabbed his roommate, Wesley Ford, 24, during a dispute about Bryan moving out of their apartment at 909 Broad, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

  • Kelly Girtz Is Finally Officially Running for Mayor, Almost

    Blog: In the Loop

    Girtz medicaid protest.jpg

    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Commissioner Kelly Girtz speaks at a rally to expand Medicaid in 2015.

    Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz has already told Flagpole, the Banner-Herald and WXAG 1470 AM, among others, that he plans to run for mayor in 2018, but he hasn't done much, you know, actual campaigning. That will change soon.

    Girtz announced a campaign kickoff event this morning, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9 from 10 a.m.–noon at the Lyndon House Arts Center. 

    "We can build a strong foundation that will support Athenians of every walk of life, one that will set the stage for great lives for generations ahead,” Girtz said in a news release. “A safer, healthier, more prosperous Athens is awaiting, and I can't wait to work with you to build it.”

  • Kemp Hits Back at Abrams' Voter Suppression Jab

    Blog: In the Loop


    Secretary of State Brian Kemp's feud with House Minority Leader and Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams continued this week after Abrams accused Kemp of voter suppression at an Athens campaign rally.

    For Kemp, "voter suppression is a way of life," Abrams said Saturday, criticizing Georgia's aging electronic voting machines and photo-ID requirement.

    Monday, Kemp released a statement in response to the AJC's summary of Flagpole article:

  • Democratic Candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams Talks Saving HOPE, Voter Suppression at Athens Rally

    Blog: In the Loop

    Stacey Abrams web RH.jpeg

    Photo Credit: Richard Hamm

    House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams smiles during a speech at Pulaski Heights BBQ on Saturday.

    In 2011, when Republicans voted to cut the HOPE Scholarship that, until then, had provided free college tuition to every Georgia high-school student with a B average, they had help from an unlikely place: Stacey Abrams, the highest-ranking Democrat in the state House.

    Abrams made an agreement with Gov. Nathan Deal that, if he removed a provision tying HOPE to test scores and included low-interest loans for students who would no longer have their full tuition covered by HOPE, she’d back the bill. The move split her caucus, and could come back to bite her as she runs for governor. One of those who criticized her actions was state Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna), who’s now her opponent in the May 2018 primary.

    “The argument that we should let the HOPE Scholarship die so we could use it as a political tool four years later is absurd, because students don’t have the luxury of a do-over, especially four-year-olds who’d lose access to pre-K,” said Abrams (D-Atlanta).

  • Doug McKillip and Houston Gaines Are Running for State House

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Houston Gaines.

    Two familiar faces in local politics will vie for an Athens seat in the state House of Representatives.

    Houston Gaines—the grandson of the late Judge Joseph Gaines, Mayor Nancy Denson's campaign manager in 2014 and last year's UGA Student Government Association president—announced his candidacy this morning for the District 117 seat. Flagpole profiled him three years ago.

    Gaines said in a news release that he is running as a "new, conservative voice."

  • Athens Lawyer Announces Mayoral Candidacy

    Blog: In the Loop


    Samuel Thomas web.jpeg

    Samuel Thomas.

    Another candidate has stepped forward to run for Athens-Clarke County mayor: Samuel Thomas, a lawyer and Athens native. Thomas is a political newcomer, although he comes from a political family—his grandfather ran for mayor in the 1970s, and his father ran for mayor of nearby Crawford.

    Thomas grew up on the Eastside and in Oglethorpe County, left to attend law school at the University of Alabama, then returned to open a family law practice in 2012.

  • Rep. Jody Hice Draws Another Potential Challenger

    Blog: In the Loop

    Jody Hice web.jpeg

    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    The Rev. Dr. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Social Circle).

    At least three Democrats have already said they're running (or are considering running) against ultra-conservative 10th District Rep. Jody Hice, who was unopposed in the 2016 election.

    Now, a Republican has announced he's stepping up to run against Hice in the primary.

    Joe Hunt, vice president of franchising at the Athens-based chicken-finger chain Zaxby's, told followers on the social media site LinkedIn that he will seek the 10th District seat, according to politics blog Georgia Pol. Hunt said he will run as a centrist (zentrist?) and on a shoestring budget.

  • Athens Protesters, Congressional Candidates Rail Against Republican Health Care Plan

    Blog: In the Loop

    Health care rally 6_26.jpg

    Photo Credit: Austin Steele

    A protest against Senate Republicans' health care bill drew more than 100 people to the Arch Monday evening, as well as two potential challengers to U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.

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