Blog Topic: Breaking News

  • In the Loop: UGA Prof Richard Dien Winfield Launches Senate Campaign

    Richard Winfield web.jpg

    University of Georgia philosophy professor Richard Dien Winfield is running for U.S. Senate, he announced today.

    Winfield, a Democrat, is seeking to fill out the remainder of former Sen. Johnny Isakson's term, which runs through 2022. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to the seat in December, after Isakson resigned for health reasons. A special election will be held this November.

    He supports a federal job guarantee, paid family leave and vacation time, the Green New Deal, free child and elder care, the right to unionize and "Medicare for all" single-payer health insurance. His website includes more information about his platform.


  • In the Loop: BOE Picks Antwon Stephens as New Member



    Photo Credit: photo via Twitter

    A 23-year-old political consultant will serve out the year as the District 2 representative on the Clarke County Board of Education, other board members decided Thursday. A majority of the BOE selected Antwon Stephens from among five applicants to replace Frances Berry, who resigned in December. 

    In a speech to the school board at its Jan. 16 meeting, Stephens said he is concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline. He called Vernon Payne—who held the East Athens seat for decades before illness forced him to resign—a mentor. “I’m tried, I’m tested, and I’m ready to serve,” he said.

    Stephens is perhaps best known as a potential candidate for Athens-Clarke County mayor in 2018, although in the end he opted not to run because of health problems. He also made headlines in 2013, when he ran for chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia as a 17-year-old and faced charges of not paying speakers at a tea party conference he organized. Despite not being old enough to serve in Congress, he has been running as a Democrat against U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).


  • In the Loop: Wallace Announces Bid to Retake House Seat


    Watkinsville Democrat Jonathan Wallace will try to retake the seat he lost in 2018 to Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville).

    Wallace won the GOP-held District 119 seat in a 2017 special election, defeating three Republicans, including Wiedower, with 57% of the vote. He was helped by a sales tax referendum that drove turnout in heavily Democratic Clarke County, but with higher turnout in heavily Republican Oconee County the following year, Wiedower beat Wallace 53–47.


  • In the Loop: Mokah Johnson Officially Announces State House Run


    Local educator and civil rights activist Mokah Jasmine Johnson will formally kick off her campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives later this month.

    Johnson has been exploring a run against Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) since August. She will make it official at a City Hall rally Jan. 18.

    “Over the past few months, I have listened to the people of our district and worked to understand the issues that are most important to working families,” Johnson said in a news release. “I believe it’s time we bring bold progress and fearless leadership to the State House from District 117.”


  • In the Loop: John Knox Won't Run for Re-Election to BOE


    Clarke County Board of Education member John Knox won't run for re-election this year, he recently announced.

    The UGA geography professor posted a message on his Facebook page Dec. 21 stating that his growing academic duties do not allow him enough time to devote to serving on the school board.


  • In the Loop: Accreditation Agency Will Conduct 'Special Review' of CCSD


    Photo Credit: Whitley Carpenter/file

    Former superintendent Demond Means.

    School accreditation agency Cognia will conduct a "special review" of the Clarke County School District in response to complaints that board members attempted to micromanage and undermine the authority of former superintendent Demond Means.

    Cognia—formerly known as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and AdvancED before recently merging with another education nonprofit—informed CCSD of the special review in a letter dated Dec. 16.

    Unknown parties filed complaints with Cognia in August, and Means wrote a letter to the company in September inviting it to investigate the allegations. SInce then, more unknown parties have come forward with similar complaints, according to Chief Certification Officer Annette Bohling.

    Among Means' allegations:


  • In the Loop: Both Athens Congressmen Vote Against Impeachment


    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville)

    It should come as no surprise, given that both are Republicans, but Athens congressmen Jody Hice and Doug Collins voted Wednesday night against impeaching President Donald Trump, although they were defeated by a Democratic majority, so the GOP-controlled Senate will now quickly dispense of the charges hold a trial on whether Trump should be removed from office.


  • In the Loop: BOE Names Xernona Thomas Interim Superintendent


    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Xernona Thomas.

    The Clarke County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to name Xernona Thomas as interim superintendent.

    Thomas had served as former superintendent Demond Means' chief of staff until last week, when the board placed Means on administrative leave, ending his controversial two-and-a-half year tenure.

    Thomas is a Clarke Central High School and University of Georgia graduate who holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, a master's in social work and a doctorate in education, and has 27 years of experience as a social worker and school administrator in Clarke and Oconee counties.


  • In the Loop: BOE Puts Superintendent Demond Means on Leave

    Means web.jpg

    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    Superintendent Demond Means

    The Clarke County Board of Education voted 5-3 Monday to place Superintendent Demond Means on leave and name his chief of staff, Xernona Thomas, the chief executive until an interim superintendent is found.

    The vote ended Means' tumultuous two-and-a-half year tenure, although a number of details still remain to be worked out, including any severance package. Means' contract runs through the 2021-2022 school year, so he is owed more than $500,000 if he's fired without cause.

    Greg Davis, Kara Dyckman, Patricia Yager, Tawana Mattox and John Knox voted in favor of the motion, made by Yager, while Charles Worthy, Linda Davis and LaKeisha Gantt voted against it. District 2 representative Frances Berry resigned last month, leaving that seat vacant.


  • Culture Briefs: Avid Bookshop Is Closing Its Prince Location


    Photo Credit: Blake Aued/file

    Avid Bookshop owner Janet Geddis at the Prince Avenue location in 2014.

    Sad news for Cobbham residents: Avid Bookshop is closing its Prince Avenue location at the end of the year, owner Janet Geddis announced in her monthly newsletter to customers.

    Geddis reassured readers that Avid is not in danger of going out of business, and the newer Five Points location will remain open. But sales declining and a recession looming, she wrote that she made the difficult decision to downsize out of an abundance of caution.

    She chose to keep the Five Points store over Prince because it's larger, with an office and storage in back, and because of challenges negotiating a long-term lease for the Prince space.


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