In the Loop

  • GOP State Rep: Athens Democrats Are 'Fired Up'

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    Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville).

    Athens native Brian Kemp, seeking the Republican Party nomination in the 2018 gubernatorial election, told a gathering of Oconee County Republicans late last month that his experience as a small business owner sets him apart in the campaign.

    “I have been a conservative, small business owner for over 30 years,” Kemp, who currently is secretary of state, said. He said he is seeking the governor's office to “take that small-business owner’s mentality and be the next CEO of the state.”

    Kemp said he wants to reform state government, strengthen rural Georgia, do tax and regulatory reform and provide health care for those in Georgia who are here legally.


  • Check Out the Bishop Park Master Plan

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    Bishop Park is one of Athens’ most popular recreational areas, but it hasn’t had a facelift in more than 40 years. “We’re surrounded by all-1974 infrastructure, and it’s bad. It needs repair,” Park Services Administrator Mel Cochran-Davis said at an open house for the Bishop Park master plan last week.

    Location-wise, not much would change in the master plan, except the basketball courts would be moved from the center of the park to the far northern edge, making way for a stormwater pond. (Water drains there naturally, so Leisure Services couldn’t find anywhere else to put it, interim director Kent Kilpatrick said.) But many existing facilities would be replaced in phases with new, better and larger ones.

    “This is our polished version—taking what’s working about Bishop Park, what people said they want, and making it better,” Cochran-Davis said.


  • The Accused Cedar Shoals Rapists Can't Seem to Stay Out of Trouble

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    The cases of three teenagers accused in the alleged rape of a Cedar Shoals High School studentin January 2016 appeared this week on the trial calendar of Superior Court Chief Judge David Sweat, marking a continuing chapter in a scandal that roiled the Clarke County School District.

    Xavier Marquise Clarke and Markel Dereek Brannon, both 19, and Jaivious Malik Collins, 18, were charged with rape, criminal attempt to commit a felony, false imprisonment, child molestation and conspiracy in the alleged incident, which took place in a Cedar Shoals High stairwell and was captured by a security camera system. Collins and Brannon were also charged with influencing a witness and tampering with evidence, according to court documents, as the former Cedar students were accused of asking the victim to recant her allegations against them. 

    In the year and a half since the alleged incident, the three have be in and out of the Clarke County jail. The court has modified special conditions of their bond, only to see them return to jail after violating those court orders. At present, Brannon and Clarke now sit in jail, while Collins had the conditions of his bond reinforced following a traffic charge of driving 108 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone on Apr. 21.


  • Podcast: Exorcising the White House and the State of the Counterculture

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    On this week’s episode, co-hosts Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, joined by producer Imani Spence, talk about the Fugs, exorcising the White House and the state of the counterculture.

    Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and engineered by Imani Spence for The Center for Emerging Media. Theme music by Ruby Fulton and the Rhymes with Orchestra.


  • Marching for Truth Before Comey Testifies


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    Gretchen Spieler, 53, a protestor at San Francisco's March for Truth on June 3.

    Ten members of St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band gathered at the trolley turnaround at the corner of Market and Powell St in San Francisco last Saturday. The New Orleans second-line brass band usually just “marries ‘em and buries ‘em,” as one band member told me, but today the band volunteered to lead a Market Street procession of protesters gathered for the the San Francisco March for Truth.  

    The Celestial Band, wearing their uniform of red polo shirts with the band name on the back and black pants, warmed up with a version of “When the Saints Come Marching In.”

    But it wasn’t New Orleans that was on the mind of many in the crowd. It was Russia.

    Across the country, there were marches for truth scheduled to take place in 150 cities. The stated objective of the march was to call for “urgent investigations into Russian Interference in the US election and ties to Donald Trump, his administration and his associates,” according to the #MarchForTruth national organizing website.


  • Podcast: Hannah Arendt in the Age of Trump, Part 2

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    In the second part of a two-week conversation, cohost Baynard Woods talks with scholar and writer Kathleen B. Jones about the relevance of political theorist Hannah Arendt in the age of Trump.

    Jones is a professor emerita at San Diego State University and the author of numerous books, stories and essays, including "The Power of Ordinary People Facing Totalitarianism," in The Conversation. She directs a National Endowment for the Humanities program for public school teachers on the work of Arendt.

    Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and engineered by Mark Gunnery for The Center for Emerging Media. Theme music by Ruby Fulton and the Rhymes with Orchestra.


  • Clarke School Board Member Ovita Thornton Will Run for ACC Commission

    Clarke County Board of Education member Ovita Thornton will run for Athens-Clarke County Commission in District 9, she announced today.

    Thornton is serving her fourth term on the BOE representing District 9, which does not exactly correspond to Commission District 9, but covers much of the same territory in northern Clarke County. She has lived on Fowler Drive for 34 years.

    She is also executive director of the Georgia Clients Council, a nonprofit whose mission is "empowering low income people through education and training to create positive changes in their lives and in their communities."


  • New Progressive Group Emerges in Oconee County

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    Andrea Wellnitz met hundreds of sympathetic people in Oconee County when she shared concerns about President Trump's election emboldening discrimination against her adopted children from China.

    An empathetic response by the North Oconee Rotary Club to a member’s statement of concern about possible discrimination against her Chinese-born, adopted daughters after the November election has had an unexpected outcome.

    A group calling itself Oconee Progressives and claiming nearly 300 members has emerged.

    The group is political but not necessarily partisan, according to four women who have been instrumental in its formation.

    The goal is community building, the women say, and they’ve organized luncheon meetings and picnics for their families so people can get together and share their concerns.

    Also planned is a workshop to help children learn how to deal with bullying and another workshop to teach participants how to write more effectively letters to advocate for their causes.

    The story of the formation of Oconee Progressives is a complex and surprising one that begins with Andrea Wellnitz, 47, an artist and social worker who works with veterans who are at risk for being homeless.

    Wellnitz lives in the far west of the county near Statham.

    Wellnitz first shared her concerns about the implications of the elections on her two daughters, adopted from China, with the Rotary.

    Then she shared the positive response of the Rotary with her friends on Facebook.

    That second sharing led to the emergence of Oconee Progressives.


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