COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Three Candidates Apply for Clarke County School Board Seat

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Former Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Harry Sims.

    Former Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Harry Sims is among three applicants for the District 2 seat on the Clarke County Board of Education vacated by Vernon Payne.

    East Broad Street resident Mary P. Bagby and Mulberry Street resident Frances Berry are the other two applicants for the open seat. Berry, a photographer, is a former president of the Federation of Neighborhoods and managed Commissioner Patrick Davenport’s campaign in 2018.

  • R.E.M. Tells Congress and Media to 'Ghost' Trump

    Blog: Homedrone

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    When you're sure you've had enough/ of this president, well hang on.

    R.E.M. continued its long-running feud with Donald Trump over the weekend, firing back at the president after he tweeted a video featuring one of its songs to his 58 million Twitter followers.

    The video, originally posted by pro-Trump meme account @CarpeDonktum, consists of a series of images of Democrats looking sad at Trump's State of the Union Address, set to the 1993 R.E.M. hit "Everybody Hurts." The video was taken down for copyright violation, but Trump later posted the same video, this time set to Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American."

    "World Leader PRETEND!!!" the band said in a statement referencing another one of its songs. "Congress, Media—ghost this faker!!! Love, R.E.M."

  • In the Future, Athens' Climate Will Feel Like Florida's

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Ebyabe/Wikimedia Commons

    Welcome to Athens circa 2080.

    Children growing up in Athens today won't have to move to Florida when they retire. Florida is coming to us.

    A study recently published in Nature Communications by researchers from the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University modeled how the climate will change in 540 North American cities by 2080, then found cities where the current climate matches the model. For the average city, the climate 60 years from now will be like the climate is today more than 500 miles to the southwest. For those who don't want to wade through the entire study, Earther interviewed co-author Matthew Fitzpatrick.

    If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Athens' climate will most closely resemble that of Leesburg, FL's. Located near Tampa and Orlando, summers in Leesburg are now 2.4 degrees warmer and 78 percent wetter than in Athens.

  • Mayor Kelly Girtz Signs Clean Energy Pledge

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Photo Credit: 100% Athens

    Mayor Kelly Girtz has signed on to the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy Initiative, the first step toward committing Athens-Clarke County to 100 percent clean and sustainable energy by 2035 in an effort to fight climate change.

    Girtz joined about 100 other mayors when he signed the pledge last Monday, Feb. 4. The next step, he said, is for the Athens-Clarke County Commission to approve a proclamation officially setting the goal, then to discuss ways to meet it.

  • College Avenue Parking Deck Expected to Reopen Wednesday After Fire

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: ACC Fire Department

    A car caught fire at the College Avenue parking deck this morning, but damage was minor and the deck is expected to reopen on Wednesday.

    Athens-Clarke County firefighters responded to reports of smoke billowing from the deck at about 10 a.m. The smoke came from a car accident—a driver hit a wall on the fourth level, according to Battalion Chief Jeff Reno.

    "It's still under investigation, but we think that's what happened," he said.

  • UGA Names Four Finalists for Provost

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Rahul Shrivastav.

    A University of Georgia search committee has announced four finalists for the position of senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, the No. 2 position at UGA.

    The finalists are Jack Hu, vice president for research at the University of Michigan; Beate Schmittmann, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University; Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction at UGA; and Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of California, Davis.

    Shrivastav will give a public presentation Tuesday, Schmittman on Thursday, Hu on Monday, Feb. 11 and Spiller on Wednesday, Feb. 13. All four are from 9:30–10:30 a.m. at the Chapel.

  • UGA Union Defends TA Against Racism Charges

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Irami Osei-Frimpong

    The UGA chapter of the United Campus Workers of Georgia is gathering signatures online and in person in defense of Irami Osei-Frimpong, a PhD student and teaching assistant in philosophy who was targeted by a right-wing publication for online comments he made about race.

    Last fall, Osei-Frimpong wrote on Facebook that "some White people may have to die for Black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance freedom."

    A recent graduate confronted Osei-Frimpong at a Young Democrats meeting and wrote about the TA's social media musings for the conservative organization Campus Reform, sparking widespread accusations of racism and advocating violence, although Osei-Frimpong has clarified multiple times that he was referring to the historical fact that white people have died in the past fighting for and against white supremacy.

  • Piedmont Athens Regional CEO Charles Peck Is Resigning

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Charles Peck.

    Piedmont Athens Regional CEO Charles Peck is stepping down this spring, Piedmont Healthcare announced last week.

    Peck will return Mar. 1 to Navigant Consulting, where he previously served as managing director. But he will stay on as Piedmont Athens Regional’s interim CEO until May 31.

  • Kemp Settles Lawsuit, and Athens Legislators Receive Committee Assignments

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Gov. Brian Kemp.

    Just before taking office, Gov. Brian Kemp quietly settled a lawsuit filed against him by a Kentucky company he’d invested in, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week.

    A consent order signed by a Gwinnett County judge Jan. 8 doesn’t disclose terms of the settlement.

    The lawsuit was an issue in last year’s gubernatorial race. Businessman Rick Phillips claimed in the lawsuit that Kemp never repaid a $500,000 loan Phillips gave Kemp to invest in Hart AgStrong, a Georgia-based seed company that ran into financial trouble after expanding into Kentucky. At one point, the company owed farmers there $2 million. AJC reports indicate that Kemp invested a total of $750,000 and guaranteed another $10 million in loans. He resigned from the company’s board in 2017 and began to sell off his stake, and now owns about 8 percent of AgStrong.  

  • That 'UGA TA Hates White People' Story Is Way Overblown

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Photo Credit: The University of Georgia

    Irami Osei-Frimpong.

    Here’s some breaking news.

    Wait for it.

    It’s crazy.

    You won’t believe this.

    An Athens PhD student has some controversial political views. And he posts them on social media.

    Irami Osei-Frimpong, a University of Georgia teaching assistant in philosophy, is well-known in Athens political circles. He hosts a YouTube show and posts his thoughts on race and class on Facebook multiple times a day.

    Some months ago, Osei-Frimpong said that “some white people may have to die for black communities to be whole in this struggle to advance freedom.”

  • Former Athens Immigrants Rights Activist May Be Deported

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Eduardo Samaniego (center) at a 2014 protest outside UGA President Jere Morehead's office.

    An immigrants' rights activist who was denied entry to UGA based on his immigration status is in danger of being deported after spending nearly three weeks in solitary confinement at a South Georgia detention center.

    Eduardo Samaniego, originally from Mexico, was the student body president at North Cobb High School and graduated with honors in 2013. UGA recruited him, but late in the process, he learned he couldn't enroll because he didn't have the documentation required by University System Board of Regents policy. 

    Instead, Samaniego studied at Freedom University, where professors teach classes to undocumented students who are barred from attending Georgia's competitive public universities. He also worked to reverse the policy that kept him out of UGA.

  • Vernon Payne Resigns from Clarke County BOE

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Clarke County School District

    Payne.

    Vernon Payne has stepped down from the Clarke County school board for health reasons after 40 years of service.

    Payne submitted his resignation to Superintendent Demond Means and Gov. Nathan Deal in a letter dated Dec. 28, but it was not made public until last Friday.

    Payne has not attended a meeting since March, according to meeting minutes. The school district had no procedure to replace him unless he resigned, causing some concern among his District 2 constituents that they would go unrepresented until his term expires at the end of 2020. 

  • Athens-Clarke County Names New Police Chief

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Athens-Clarke County

    Cleveland Spruill.

    Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams has appointed a North Carolina police chief to take over the ACC police department effective Feb. 4.

    Cleveland Lee Spruill Sr. has been the police chief in Huntersville, NC, since May 2014. The Huntersville police department has 102 sworn officers, 111 total employees and a $12.8 million annual budget.

    Although Huntersville, population 60,000, is half the size of Athens, Spruill has experience running a larger department. Prior to becoming the police chief in Huntersville, Spruill was the executive chief deputy in Alexandria, VA, which had 320 sworn officers, 105 civilian employees, a $57 million budget and served a population of 150,000.

    Williams said in a news release that Spruill stood out among many qualified applicants as the best person to uphold ACC's philosophy of community-oriented policing and serve as an ambassador to the community.

  • Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz's Favorite Local Shows

    Blog: Homedrone

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    Photo Credit: Todd Kulesza/Wikimedia Commons

    Vic Chesnutt.

    When he’s not commissioning, you can often catch newly inaugurated Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz at a concert. As part of a recent Q&A, we asked hizzoner to talk about a few of his favorite local bands and shows.

  • Mayor Kelly Girtz, New Commissioners Will Be Sworn in Today

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Girtz.

    Athens-Clarke County's new Politburo Mayor and Commission will be sworn during a 5:30 p.m. ceremony today at City Hall.

    After winning a three-way race in May, Commissioner Kelly Girtz will officially take over for Mayor Nancy Denson, who was limited to two terms. Look for a Q&A with Girtz in Wednesday's edition of Flagpole.

    Taking Girtz's District 9 seat will be longtime school board member and community organizer Ovita Thornton. Other new commissioners include:

  • PETA Wants Georgia to Get Rid of Uga

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: John Kelley/UGA Athletics

    Uga X.

    This is about as likely to happen as Kirby Smart leaving to coach Georgia Tech, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking the University of Georgia to stop using a real-life English bulldog as its mascot.

    After Uga X's encounter with Bevo, the Texas longhorn, at Tuesday's Sugar Bowl, PETA sent letters to both schools asking them to stop using live animals as mascots.

    "It's indefensible to subject animals to the stress of being packed up, carted from state to state, and paraded in front of a stadium full of screaming fans," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement. "It's no surprise that a skittish steer would react to a perceived threat by charging, and PETA is calling on the University of Texas and the University of Georgia to learn from this dangerous incident, retire their live-animal mascots, and stick to the talented costumed mascots who can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team."

  • What Do You Want to See in Athens' Police Chief?

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens-Clarke County is accepting public input on what residents want to see from a new ACCPD chief.

    "As we consider Police Chief candidates throughout our search process," Williams said in a news release, "it is important to me that any member of the community has an opportunity to express their thoughts as to what are important characteristics, qualities, and priorities of the next Police Chief that we should consider during our reviews."

    Residents can fill out an online form, pick up a print form at the manager's office in Room 301 of City Hall or at the police station on Lexington Road, or leave a verbal comment by calling 706-224-3202.

  • 9d's Bar Will Be Closed This Weekend After Reaching Agreement on Discrimination Complaint

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued/file

    Kendrick Bullock (left) and his brother, Broderick Flanigan, discuss a discrimination complaint they filed against 9d's Bar at a May 2017 news conference,

    The East Clayton Street bar 9d's will be closed today and Saturday while its alcohol license is suspended after agreeing to a consent order with the Athens-Clarke County attorney's office on an April 2017 discrimination complaint.

    Kendrick Bullock alleged that 9d's denied him entry for a dress-code violation in April 2017 in spite of the bar not having a dress code publicly posted as required by a local anti-discrimination ordinance passed in 2016 in response to numerous complaints that student bars downtown were unfairly using dress codes to keep out black customers.

    In addition to closing for two days, 9d's agreed to go on probation for 12 months, pay a $350 fine and:  

  • Creature Comforts Releases New Beers, and Terrapin Breaks Ground on Warehouse

    Blog: Grub Notes

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    Photo Credit: courtesy of Creature Comforts

    Koki Buni's label was designed by Athens artist David Hale.

    Koko Buni is back, and new version of Creature Comforts' Tritonia gose will hit the streets next week.

    Koko Buni, Creature Comforts' winter seasonal, is a milk porter brewed with Ethiopean coffee beans from 1000 Faces, coconut and cocoa nibs from Athens' Condor Chocolates and Illinois-based Ethereal Confections. The coffee beans themselves are also available as 1000 Faces' Koko Buni Blend. It's available on draft and in cans in Athens and Atlanta.

    Creature Comforts will also release a version of Tritonia—based on the Berliner weisse Athena—with lemon and pineapple on Friday, Dec. 21. A previous version featured cucumber and lime.

  • UGA Shuts Down Dorm Room Grilled Cheese Mogul After Red & Black Article

    Blog: In the Loop

    When student newspaper The Red & Black published "Is the grill hot? Inside a UGA freshman's grilled cheese empire" on Dec. 6, my first thought, like many people, was, "How long will it take the university to shut this down?"

    The answer was five hours.

    After all, 18-year-old Charlie Williams—who delivered $3 grilled cheese sandwiches and other tasty snacks to fellow residents of Oglethorpe House, aka O-House—was clearly operating an illegal business. I didn't go to UGA, but I'm pretty sure we weren't allowed to have hot plates at Ole Miss, and I'm very sure the health department would say that running what basically amounts to a Papa John's (minus the tomato sauce, garlic butter and racism) out of your home is not kosher.

    Sure enough, the follow-up came Saturday: "Too hot to handle: UGA housing shuts down grilled cheese business."

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