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Blog Topic: Government

  • In the Loop: VIDEO: Trash Pickup, SPLOST 2020 and Plans for Lexington Road and Atlanta Highway

    For awhile now, Chris Dowd, under the moniker Athens Politics Nerd, has been making videos recapping Athens-Clarke County Commission meetings and delving into policy topics like ambulance service, clean energy and affordable housing.

    We're pleased to announce that Dowd is now partnering with Flagpole. We'll be posting his videos on our website—they're also available on YouTube and the Athens Politics nerd site—and Dowd will be contributing some city government coverage to the paper, as well.

    The latest installment of Athens Politics Nerd covers SPLOST 2020, proposals to overhaul trash pickup in the formerly unincorporated parts of Athens, and two studies that recommend major transportation improvements for Lexington Road and Atlanta Highway.

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  • In the Loop: GOP Official Tells Oconee Republicans That Democratic Women 'Forgot to Reproduce'

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    Photo Credit: Sarah Bell

    Brant Frost V.

    A Georgia Republican Party official told Oconee County Republicans that the GOP will continue to win elections because Democratic women "forgot to reproduce," and "Christian and conservative women" are having more children.

    Brant Frost V, the party's second vice-chair, claimed at an Oconee GOP meeting last month that Republicans have a 35 percent "fertility advantage" over Democrats.

    According to Lee Becker at Oconee County Observations:

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  • In the Loop: Update: ACLU Says Prayer Vigil at Athens School Raises 'Serious Concerns'

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    New Gaines Elementary School principal Luther McDaniel's invitation to a now-canceled prayer event at the school this weekend raises "serious Constitutional concerns" because government resources can't be used to promote religion, and it could make non-Christian students unwelcome, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. 

    “In his personal capacity off school property, Dr. Luther McDaniel is, of course, free to invite Christians to pray for his school, and people of all faiths are free to pray for his school,” Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement provided to Flagpole. “There are other ways to invite the community to show their heartfelt good wishes for a successful school year for all of the students, teachers and staff in the school without promoting one kind of religion.”

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  • In the Loop: School Board Seeks Applicants for District 4

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    Former District 4 BOE member Jared Bybee.

    The Clarke County Board of Education is now accepting applications for the vacant District 4 position on the board.

    The remaining eight members of the school board will select someone to replace former president Jared Bybee at their Aug. 8 meeting. Bybee resigned in May.

    The board chose District 7 representative LaKeisha Gantt to replace Bybee in his role as president last month, but the District 4 seat remains vacant.

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  • In the Loop: Portrait Unveiled of Miriam Moore, First Black Woman Elected to Local Office

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    A portrait of former Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Miriam Moore hangs in the community room of the East Athens Development Corp., a nonprofit she helped start, in a former elementary school that's now named after her.

    Community leaders unveiled the portrait at a ceremony Saturday attended by about 100 people who knew or were influenced by Moore. Known as Mimi, Moore fought to bring social services and quality affordable housing to East Athens before, during and after her four years on the Athens City Council and ACC Commission. She was the first African-American woman elected to both bodies in 1988 and 1990, respectively.

    Along with the late Jessie Barnett and Evelyn Neely, Moore helped revitalize Triangle Plaza and create the Classic Center, EADC, Athens Neighborhood Health Center and East Athens Park. The Miriam Moore Community Service Center on McKinley Drive was named for her in 1999. She died in 2006 at the age of 80.

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  • In the Loop: Means Addresses Chase Street Principal's Resignation

     

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    Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means.

    Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means was “surprised” and “disappointed” that Chase Street Elementary Principal Andrea Neher resigned earlier this month, he said in an email to parents and staff last week. 

    Neher abruptly left her job June 14, saying that, although Chase is one of the highest-performing schools in the district, Means had told her she had “more than fallen short in meeting his expectations.” Just days later, she became principal of Winder Elementary in Barrow County. 

    Here is the full letter:

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  • In the Loop: Home Goods Company Bringing 500 Jobs to Athens

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    A rendering of the General Time development by architects McMillan Pazdan Smith.

    Wayfair, an online furniture and home goods retailer, will open an operations center in Athens that will employ more than 500 people.

    The center will occupy about 45,000 square feet out of 250,000 in General Time, a planned mixed-use development at a former clock factory off Newton Bridge Road near the Loop. The Boston-based company plans to invest $7.7 million in the facility, described in documents as a call center, over the next five years.

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  • In the Loop: LGBT Lobbyist Praises Gaines' Syringe Bill

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Shannon Clawson.

    Shannon Clawson, lobbyist for Georgia Equality, told Oconee County Democrats recently that her group had a mixed record during the 2019 Georgia legislative session.

    Clawson pointed to passage of a number of bills that she said served the interests of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities of the state.

    She included among the successes passage of a bill sponsored by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) making it possible for “syringe services” programs to distribute syringes or needles without civil or criminal liability.

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  • In the Loop: Mayor Girtz Names New Athens-Clarke County Attorney

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    Judd Drake, not to be confused with Judge Dredd.

    Mayor Kelly Girtz has named Macon-Bibb County Attorney Judd Drake the sole finalist to replace Bill Berryman, who is retiring, as Athens-Clarke County attorney.

    Drake has served as the attorney for Macon-Bibb County since it unified in 2014. He also served as Macon's senior assistant city attorney and interim city attorney, and interim manager for Macon-Bibb.

    Prior to moving to Macon in 2011, the Metter native had a practice in his hometown for 11 years, focusing on local government, education and real estate law. During that time, he also served as the attorney for Candler County and the Candler County Board of Education, and as chief magistrate judge and state court judge in Candler County.

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  • In the Loop: CCSD Budget Funds Police and Counselors; Cuts Grants for Schools

     

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    Superintendent Demond Means.

    The Clarke County School District’s proposed 2020 budget includes funding for an assistant police chief and new positions focused on student behavior—partially funded by cuts to grants that individual schools can spend however they please.

    Thanks to rising property values and increased state funding, the $164 million budget is $14 million bigger than the current fiscal year, but much of that money will be eaten up by health care and pension expenses. Still, the budget does include about a dozen new positions:

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