COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog Topic: Government

  • In the Loop: A4E Gives Low Marks to Most Commissioners

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    Only three Athens-Clarke County commissioners graded higher than a C on a report card issued by the progressive political group Athens for Everyone earlier this month.

    A4E’s grades were based on commissioners’ votes and public statements on the issues of transit expansion, fare-free buses, an anti-discrimination ordinance, Complete Streets, marijuana decriminalization, affordable housing, living wages, early learning and a plastic-bag ban or fee. "Champions" received extra credit for taking a leadership role on certain issues.

    The worst commissioner, from A4E’s perspective, was District 7 representative Diane Bell, who received an F. Mayoral candidate Harry Sims received a D- despite opposing A4E on every issue the group tracked. So did Mayor Nancy Denson, who received an F. District 1 Commissioner Sharyn Dickerson also received a D-.

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  • In the Loop: ACC Will Start Posting Videos of Commission Work Sessions

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    Today's Athens-Clarke County Commission work session will be moved to City Hall so that it can be recorded and video posted online for the first time.

    ACC has broadcast the commission's agenda-setting and voting meetings since 2002, but for years local activists have complained that work sessions—more informal meetings where important decisions are often made—have not been recorded or broadcast, meaning citizens have to physically attend what can often be three- or four-hour meetings to learn about the issues discussed.

    Unlike the commission chamber at City Hall, the Dougherty Street auditorium where work sessions are held does not have cameras, which had been county officials' justification for not recording or broadcasting them in the past.

    The Mayor and Commission decided at a recent retreat to try moving the work sessions to City Hall—a move some had resisted in the past because they thought the formal setting would stifle what is often a freewheeling discussion.

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  • In the Loop: Commissioner Sims Will Resign; Business Owners Ask to Delay Downtown Project

     

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    Commissioner Harry Sims.

    Harry Sims will officially resign his Athens-Clarke County Commission seat next Tuesday to run for mayor, he announced at last Tuesday’s commission meeting.

    Because Sims has almost three years left in his term, state law requires him to resign before he qualifies to run for mayor the first week in March. Commissioner Kelly Girtz, who’s also running for mayor, is not required to resign his term will expire at the end of 2018—the same time he’d be sworn in as mayor if he wins—although he is not allowed to run for re-election and for mayor at the same time.

    Sims said he decided to resign now so that “this seat will not be vacant any longer than it has to be... and to save the taxpayers money.” The timing will allow a special election to be held for his seat on May 22, the same day as the mayor’s race and other commission races.

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  • In the Loop: Oconee County Could Vote on T-SPLOST Next Year

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Oconee County Commission Chairman John Daniell.

    Oconee County probably will consider whether to pursue a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax after it completes an ongoing transportation study and might ask voters to approve such a tax next year, Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell said Tuesday night.

    Daniell made his comment in response to a question posed at the first quarterly Board of Commissioners town hall meeting for 2018, held at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park.

    Jeanne Barsanti of 1170 Oliver Bridge Road, in the south of the county, asked “what your feelings as commissioners are” about doing a local Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, now that Clarke County has passed its own T-SPLOST.

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  • In the Loop: Athens State Reps, Local Churches Condemn Sheriff's Policy of Detaining Undocumented Immigrants

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    Photo Credit: House Photo Office

    Gonzalez (center) and Wallace (right) at their swearing-in ceremony in November.

    Newly elected state Reps. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) and Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville) issued a joint statement today condemning Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edward's policy of detaining inmates so they can be deported.

    It came to light in December that the sheriff's office had quietly changed its policy in July and begun, at Immigration and Custom Enforcement's request, detaining inmates that ICE says are undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours past the point when they'd otherwise be released so ICE can pick them up and deport them.

    The policy change met with harsh criticism from progressive and immigrants' rights groups, to which Wallace and Gonzalez have added their voices:

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  • In the Loop: Clarke and Oconee Schools, UGA Are Closed Wednesday

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    Everybody stay warm.

    Both the Clarke and Oconee county school districts announced Tuesday night that schools will be closed Wednesday in anticipation of possible snow early this morning. The University of Georgia delayed opening before calling off classes entirely.

    The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for central Georgia (including Athens) until 10 a.m. Wednesday. There is a 70 percent chance of precipitation, with a predicted low of 23 degrees. One to two inches of snow is possible.

    "Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the morning commute on Wednesday," the advisory says.

    Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in 83 counties, including Clarke. Non-essential state employees are not expected to report to work on Wednesday.

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  • In the Loop: Athens Immigrants Respond to Trump's 'Shithole Countries' Comment

     

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    Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

    Speaking of shitholes...

    Early Thursday afternoon, it seemed as if the Senate was steamrolling into a victory bipartisan effort to end the uncertainty for DACA recipients—immigrants brought to the U.S. as children by undocumented parents who were protected from deportation under the Obama Administration. A team lead by Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) seemed to have settle on an agreement to prevent the deportation of almost 700,000 DREAMers that the bill covers.

    However, later that same afternoon, when President Trump was brief on the details of the plan by senators, he was frustrated with the idea of allowing the legal immigration of residents from Africa, Haiti and El Salvador, questioning, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” adding, “We should be taking more people from Norway.”

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  • Grub Notes: Chick-Fil-A Is Opening in Downtown Athens

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    Hallowed be thy sandwich.

    It's true: Everyone's favorite homophobic-yet-delicious fast-food chicken chain is coming to downtown Athens.

    Rumors that Chick-Fil-A would move into the prime space at the corner of Broad Street and College Avenue most recently occupied by burger chain Five Guys have been confirmed by documents filed with the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department.

    The building is in the downtown historic district, and Chick-Fil-A has applied for permission to make changes to the facade:

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  • Culture Briefs: Beer's on the Line in the National Championship Game

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    A lot more is riding on Monday's college football championship than school pride.

    As is often the case for politicians thirsty to show their love for the home team during key games, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Athens Mayor Nancy Denson have placed a friendly wager on the outcome of the Georgia–Alabama game.

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  • In the Loop: Gun Group Will Push to Expand Campus Carry in 2018

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    A campus carry protest Mar. 21 on the UGA campus.

    While most Athens residents would prefer to talk about repealing campus carry, an influential gun-rights group will be lobbying state legislators to expand the law next year.

    Buried in AJC political reporter Jim Galloway's Sunday column are these words from John Monroe, vice president of GeorgiaCarry.org:

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