In the Loop

  • UGA Holds Memorial for Baldwin Hall Remains

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones

    Federal Judge Steve Jones, an Athens native and UGA graduate, speaks at the memorial service for dozens of people whose remains were moved from the Baldwin Hall construction site to Oconee Hill Cemetery.

    The University of Georgia held a memorial service today for 105 people whose gravesites were found during construction on a Baldwin Hall expansion project and moved to nearby Oconee Hill Cemetery.

    "From the moment the first remains were discovered in November of 2015, the university's guiding principle has been to treat these individuals with dignity and respect, and it is in that spirit that today's ceremony was developed," UGA President Jere Morehead said.

    Most of the 30 remains that could be tested were of African ancestry—presumably slaves, given that the Jackson Street or Old Athens Cemetery where they were found closed in 1956—and some members of Athens' African-American community have been critical of the way UGA has handled the situation.


  • Podcast: What the Heck Is Steve Bannon Thinking?

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    In this week's episode, hosts Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner take a step back to try to figure out just what the hell White House advisor Steve Bannon means by "the deconstruction of the administrative state."

    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.


  • AJC: Athenian Brian Kemp Is Running for Governor

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    This may be the worst-kept secret in Georgia politics, but the AJC reported today, citing an anonymous source, that Secretary of State Brian Kemp will run for governor in 2018.

    Rumors have swirled that Kemp, who also served a term representing Athens in the state Senate, was gearing up for a run for governor almost since he was elected secretary of state back in 2006.


  • Oconee Subdivisions Sue for Access to Sewer

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    The Parkside entrance off of Hog Mountain Road.

    The owners of the long-dormant Westland and Parkside subdivisions have filed suit again Oconee County, seeking to block the decision by the Board of Commissioners to refund sewer capacity fees for the massive master plan developments.

    In three separate lawsuits filed in Oconee County Superior Court, the owners contend, among other things, that the Board of Commissioners violated state zoning laws when it voted on Jan. 31 to refund sewer capacity fees paid by the developers of Westland and Parkside as well as by two other residential project developers.


  • Podcast: The Trump Administration's Divisive Nationalist Vision

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    Emily Bazelon, staff writer at the New York Times Magazine, joins us to discuss her latest piece called "Department of Justification," which discussed the long shared vision of Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Jeff Sessions. Then, we discuss the International Women's Strike with Kate D. Griffiths, who is on the strike's U.S. National Organizing Committee. She co-authored an article for The Nation called "Striking on International Women’s Day Is Not a Privilege."


  • Luxury Student Apartment Developer Opts Out of Downtown Tax



    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    The Mark.

    Athens-Clarke County Commissioners criticized the developers of The Mark—the massive luxury student apartment complex under construction on Oconee Street—for being the only major development downtown to opt out of enlarged downtown boundaries the commission approved Tuesday.

    The area covered by the Athens Downtown Development Authority was set in 1977, but since the downtown area has greatly expanded. The ADDA is seeking to expand its boundaries north of Dougherty Street and along Prince Avenue, North Avenue and Oconee Street.

    The authority gave property owners the option of opting out of the district. Despite paying an additional one mill in property taxes ($1 per $2,500 of property value), only a handful elected not to be a part of the ADDA.

    "Unfortunately, there were a couple of folks who elected not to be part of the boundaries, a couple of them I think rationally so—very small scale residential properties, one very small scale commercial property… but there’s one large property that’s not include, The Mark,” Commissioner Kelly Girtz said. “That’s a disappointment to me, and I certainly hope folks will recognize there are benefits of being in the ADDA district down the road.”


  • Rep. Jody Hice Speaks to Rotarians, but No Plans for a Town Hall

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    Photo Credit: Rebecca McCarthy

    Rep. Jody Hice (R-Monroe) at the downtown Holiday Inn for a private luncheon Monday.

    Republican U.S. Representative Jody Hice was in Athens on Monday. Unless you were eating fried chicken, vegetables and salad in the Holiday Inn with the genial Classic City Rotary Club, you probably didn’t see him. And you’re not going to—at least not in a town hall meeting.

    Open to the public, a town hall meeting is what many congressmen traditionally hold in their districts during a recess in Washington to find out the concerns of their many constituents. Hice may have a “coffee with the congressman” in other parts of the district with a small number of invited guests, or he may meet with Athens Republicans, but that’s about it in Athens-Clarke County.

    Rotary club meetings are open only to members and guests of members. Outside the Holiday Inn and at the Arch on Monday, a few people gathered to protest Hice’s reluctance to hold a town meeting in Athens. The signs read, “Am I scary?” and “Be brave host Athens town hall” and “Where is Jody Hice.” With Donald Trump receiving 28 percent of the vote in our community, a public reception for a Republican representative would likely yield more questions that what Hice fielded from the Rotary Club.

    There were a few questions at the Monday meeting—one member asked about Do Not Call and another asked about Fair Tax. Hice said he’s working on tax reform, which includes cutting corporate taxes, reducing tax forms to the size of a postage stamp and making the IRS a service-oriented agency. He said there’s no constitutional authority for the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Department of Education to exist, and he wants the country to return to a “constitutional form of government.” He also said “some of these agencies have budgets the size of small countries’.”


  • Oconee Zoning Decisions Will Affect Athens Residents

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    The proposed convenience store and college campus are located near the point where Oconee, Athens-Clarke and Oglethorpe counties meet.

    Oconee County commissioners on Tuesday night will be asked to decide whether to allow a convenience store, a ministry college campus and an expansion of a community-scale church, all on land zoned for agriculture.

    Two of the rezones are in the only part of Oconee County east of the Oconee River—a triangle of land assigned to the county when it was split off from Clarke County in 1875.

    The commission’s decision on the convenience store will have impact on Athens-Clarke County residents, who live across Bob Godfrey Road from the proposed old-fashioned general store.


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