Blog Topic: Breaking News

  • In the Loop: Kelly Girtz Is Finally Officially Running for Mayor, Almost

    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.”


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

    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).


  • In the Loop: Doug McKillip and Houston Gaines Are Running for State House


    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."


  • In the Loop: Athens Lawyer Announces Mayoral Candidacy


    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.


  • In the Loop: Athens Protesters, Congressional Candidates Rail Against Republican Health Care Plan

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    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.


  • In the Loop: Athens Rep. Jody Hice Wants to Carry a Gun Everywhere

    Jody Hice rifle.png

    Photo Credit: screencap via YouTube

    "I said, don't touch my truck."

    If U.S. Rep. Jody Hice ever does hold a town-hall meeting in Athens, you might want to think twice about asking him any pointed questions.

    Or, you might find Hice has something of his own to point—a gun.

    On Wednesday, Hice announced that, in the wake of the shooting at the annual congressional baseball game last week, he's introduced the Congressional Personal Safety Act, which would allow congressmen to carry a firearm anywhere in the country, except the U.S. Capitol. (Some of those hearings can get a little testy, I guess.)


  • In the Loop: Daily Groceries Won't Move Into Larger 100 Prince Space After All


    Photo Credit: Smith Planning Group

    Daily Groceries Co-op had plans to move into the ground-floor retail space at the 100 Prince development slated for the former St. Joseph Catholic Church property.

    Cobbham co-op Daily Groceries has abandoned plans to move into a much larger 14,000 square-foot space in the upcoming 100 Prince mixed-use development and become a full-service grocery store, its board of directors recently informed owner/members.

    According to an email sent out over the weekend:


  • In the Loop: The Accused Cedar Shoals Rapists Can't Seem to Stay Out of Trouble

    cop car.jpg

    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.


  • In the Loop: 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."


  • In the Loop: Yes, UGA Tailgaters Can Carry Guns on Campus

    CD Campus Carry 5_3 JLJ web.jpg

    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Campus-carry protesters at The Arch in May.

    University of Georgia President Jere Morehead forwarded a memo from University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley to faculty, staff and students today laying out how the USG's Office of Legal Affairs interprets the new campus carry law. 

    The law allows concealed-carry permit holders to carry handguns on public college and university campuses, with some exceptions: athletic events, dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, faculty and staff offices, classrooms where high-school students attend class, daycares and rooms where disciplinary hearings are held.

    But the law was written in such a way that it left much ambiguity about where, exactly, on campus guns are allowed, and when. Wrigley and university system lawyers attempted to offer some clarity.

    Journalism professor Barry Hollander was kind enough to post the full email, but here are some highlights.


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