Sunday Reads – Feb. 27, 2022
Wasn’t it just Groundhog Day (the day, not the movie)? But yet, here we are on the steps of a new month and a lot of the same stuff seems to keep happening. We’ll update you and share some new things, too.
A new lawsuit for the spaceport
Speaking of Groundhog Day (the movie, not the rodent): On Friday, Camden County continued to keep its county attorney busy as it filed another lawsuit to try to stop a citizen vote on whether to buy land for the Spaceport Camden project. It will need a quick turn because early voting started Saturday.
For those of you who might have missed the latest parts of the constitutional tug of war between residents and their elected officials, here’s the “quick” summary: The county spent $10 million to plan and get permits for a spaceport to launch small rockets and bring high-paying jobs to the coast. A few of the questions are around these points: The launches would be over residential areas and fragile islands, and the land the county wants to buy has been polluted for generations by various manufacturing processes. The rockets that would be allowed haven’t been developed yet and would require a specific permit for each launch. So, 3,500 residents wrestling with the risk factors petitioned under a Georgia constitutional provision for a referendum on the land buy. The county’s Friday lawsuit calls the vote unnecessary and seeks to invalidate the results. In a statement to The Current, County Administrator Steve Howard said the “Board of Commissioners does not want to waste the taxpayers’ money” on an election results that the courts may throw out.
Catch up on environment reporter Mary Landers’ thorough work about why people worry about the toxicity of the site, how the Georgia Constitution gives voters a voice in decisions and the ramifications for other citizens, and what is in the latest legal S-curve.
Got room for a best friend?
Area soldiers, including Savannah’s 165th Airlift Wing and troops from Fort Stewart, are headed to various posts as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the quick ramp up to deployment, some military members have had to leave their best furry friends, as well. They are faced with surrendering their pets to shelters or rehoming them. The Humane Society of Greater Savannah is recruiting foster families for dogs left behind so the deployed service members can return to their best buddies. Here’s the link to volunteer.
Mask on, mask off
Late last week, universal mask requests and mandates began to fade a bit as the Centers for Disease Control updated its guidance on Covid safety risks. New guides are based on three things: community transmission level, hospital admissions and the number of hospital beds used for Covid patients. Coastal Georgia counties remain at a range from low to high transmission levels, so officials recommend you exercise common sense about when you should wear a mask indoors. But outdoors? Enjoy that spring pollen any way you choose.
Some schools, including the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, have moved to make wearing masks optional (except on school buses) as of Tuesday, March 1. Keep up with the guidance and the community transmission rates at this link.
Legislature hits midpoint
The workhorse that is the Georgia Legislature hit the halfway point of its 40-day annual session last week. Monday begins the 21st day, bringing bills ever closer to Crossover Day, usually Day 28 of the session. Measures must pass either the House or Senate by that day to continue on through the remaining session. If the schedule holds, shaky bills need to beware the Ides of March, also known as March 15. Several high-profile bills passed from the Senate to the House in recent days:
- Senate Bill 435: The measure, which passed on a party-line vote, says students in public and private schools will only be permitted to play on teams that match the sex on their birth certificates. Opponents say it’s a dangerous message to students who already feel marginalized and sponsors say it’s to ensure fairness in girls’ sports. This bill did not make it to vote last year but has returned in time for the state election year. From Coastal Georgia, Sen. Sheila McNeill signed on as a co-sponsor.
- Senate Bill 449: The bill gives parents a process to review and challenge classroom materials every nine weeks in state schools, forbid photography or recording of their child and opt children out of sex education classes. Sponsors say it gives parents the right to protect their children. Opponents call the bill an overt political move since each of the provisions is already covered by other state laws.
- Senate Bill 472: This bill is a redistricting plan for the Georgia Public Service Commission, the elected body that impacts your family budget through utility bills. Noteworthy is that the new lines will aid GOP District 2 Commissioner Tim Echols by drawing the Democrat challenger out of his district. It’s just one of the politically heavy moves around local redistricting efforts. While the legislature has battled over metro-Atlanta maps, parts of Chatham County’s new maps are still hanging. For a clear explanation of the muddy scenario, here’s a link from savannahnow.com to explain why county school board elections will use 2010 maps and other races may use newer ones.
Your second cup: Black girls and achievement
Over the past 4 years, Black girls have graduated from high school at a higher rate in Memphis schools than any other demographic group on record, a reversal of traditional academic disparities where Black students often lag behind white peers. ChalkbeatTennessee, a nonprofit nonpartisan news site that focuses on education, brings us the story of how student and parent determination combine for success.
Camden County argues a referendum is not a valid remedy for citizens in this case.
Voters have a rare opportunity to reverse a decision made by county commissioners
Updated Covid masking guides still warn that many people remain at high risk and that a new variant could change the risks again.
If it becomes law, students at public schools and private schools that compete against public schools will only be permitted to play on the team that matches the sex on their birth certificate.
Republicans say bill standardizes the process; Democrats say it duplicates rights already granted.
The Georgia Senate passed a redistricting plan Thursday for state regulators who oversee the cost of electricity and other utilities over objections that the plan is designed to protect a sitting commissioner and that the election system has largely kept Black people from winning a seat.
Graduates and soon-to-be graduates agree that behind the trend is a personal determination to excel in spite of the double burden of racism and sexism that Black girls often face.
The arc of racial history in Brunswick, Georgia, moved toward justice with unanimous conviction of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder as a hate crime.
Support non-partisan, solutions-based investigative journalism without bias, fear or favor on issues affecting Savannah and Coastal Georgia.