Sunday Solutions — May 14, 2023
It’s been a crazy week, and we’ve got plenty of proof for you in a mix of dishes for your Mother’s Day brunch conversation. Here’s a warning: You may want to cover her eyes for a few of these.
Congressman lists Camden land for sale
When U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter paid $2.05 million for 471 acres of land in Camden County in 2018, he said he didn’t list it in his Congressional financial disclosures because he said it wasn’t an investment but a personal hunting and fishing retreat. Carter did not place the land in a conservation easement, a common method of restricting development rights in exchange for a tax break. The land, zoned residential, sits 10 miles down the same road as the site of recently defunct Spaceport Camden. In recent weeks, the land has been listed for sale at $4.25 million. In 2020, Carter, one of the wealthiest member of Congress, sued Camden County over the tax bill for the land and the county agreed to freeze the assessment until 2022, when it was $3,568. Tax assessments for this year aren’t yet finished but it’s likely to be significantly higher, reports The Current’s Mary Landers.
From Common Core to ‘Georgia-grown’
Last week, the Georgia Board of Education erased the last pieces of federal Common Core standards from state schools when it enacted a new set of “Georgia-grown” standards for English/language arts instruction. Common Core was adopted in the early 2000s as a way to keep achievement goals and standards consistent as students moved from one state to another. Many opposed it because it was driven and incentivized from the federal level. In reality, the core’s standards were common, but the curricula and materials remained in control of the state and school districts that chose to adopt it.
‘…just delete them’
A couple weeks ago, we posted a story that the Georgia Professional Standards Commission was opening a public comment period for changes to educator training. They planned to remove or substitute all references to diversity and other keywords considered distracting according to a board member who said the changes were requested by the University System of Georgia. The list of those words include “equity” and “inclusiveness.” The board, which generally handles state teacher certification, met last week and gave citizens a quick window into how “public comment” might be considered for its work. The public meeting recording opened with members complaining about the larger than usual number of public comments they received. The conversation was documented by Ross Williams at Georgia Recorder Granted, the meeting had not officially started but the open recording from the public meeting had. Later in their monthly meeting they voted to remove the word “diversity” from materials despite the “outpouring” one member said must be caused by a “misconception.” More word changes will be decided at the June 8 meeting. Public comment for those proposals is open through May 23. No matter how you feel about the changes, most people who take the time to engage in their government send comment because they care and assume someone in the public service will read and consider it. While there are not specific addresses readily found for each GaPSC member on the board site or one for public comment, there is one email listed for contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org
A budget item for moms
We know it’s Mother’s Day but this has to be noted, again: Georgia has one of the worst maternal mortality rates among U.S. states and countries in the developed world. More than 750 Georgia babies died before their first birthday in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ensuing pandemic made things worse. The state’s newly signed $32.4 billion budget contains $1.7 million for a 3-year pilot program for pregnant and postpartum women in 13 counties. A story from GPB News details the plan to address a large problem for a state working to attract more workers and industry.
Considerable: From the week
- Covid’s still here but federal emergency is over: If you’re curious about what’s next, the amazing data nerds at the Covid-19 Data Dispatch have put together a comprehensive look at what happens now with tracking, treatments and reporting. Some treatments like Paxlovid are now harder to access since the emergency has lifted but most testing and vaccines will remain free as long as federal supplies last. Make no mistake: Covid hasn’t left us, but we all know more about what it can and can’t do and what we can and can’t do.
- A new commissioner, a special election: Chatham County Commissioner Larry “Gator” Rivers was laid to rest on Wednesday. On Friday, the commission voted unanimously to nominate Jean Rivers, the late commissioner’s wife to hold the District 2 seat until the September special election. Qualifying for the special election will start July 17 and close on July 20.
- “Corridor of death:” A new review of Georgia’s trauma care system finds systemic failures and shows how the I-75 corridor south of Macon earned a sad nickname from emergency providers because of the severe lack of trauma services along the route. GPB’s Sofi Gratas takes a detailed look at the problems that affect wide swaths of South Georgia.
- In case you missed it: Chatham County’s jail has reopened to all people charged with misdemeanors in recent days. Sheriff John Wilcher resumed the pre-Covid policy in spite of support from the county prosecutor and others who want to reduce unnecessary incarceration. The Current’s Jake Shore gives the background for the closure and the renewed focus on jailing for lower level charges.
Your second cup: A how-to for fighting health insurance claim denials
Nope, this isn’t a gut-wrenching story about someone’s desperately needed treatment denied by an insurer — we all know at least one of those from our personal networks. Instead, it’s a primer to help you figure out what’s going on behind the scenes for your claim. You may not need it now, but you might want to bookmark it for later. Forewarned is forearmed, and we can credit ProPublica for this incredibly useful guide to help us get our claim file and figure out what’s next.
One more (big) thing: Thanks to you, interns are coming
With the support of 72 generous donors, we raised $22,655 for our Summer Intern Fundraising Campaign, surpassing our goal of $20,000. Thank you to everyone who supported The Current with a donation.
These funds will be used to hire five journalism interns this summer. We look forward to sharing their work with you. Credible information and journalism are a key pillars of a healthy democracy, and you’ve helped to ensure a more just and equitable future built on trustworthy facts.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
Buddy Carter is selling property near defunct spaceport site
With the Spaceport Camden project aborted, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is selling nearby property he claimed to have purchased only for recreational, not investment, purposes.
In public comment period, commissioners who voted to delete ‘diversity’ from lessons filtered out public
Commission chair said the changes came at the request of the University System of Georgia and are intended to remove words that “have taken on multiple and unintended meanings” but not change the care teachers show for their students.
Health insurance claim denied? See what insurers said behind the scenes.
Federal regulations require most health insurance plans to give people an opportunity to review documents related to their claim for free. So if your insurer talks to your doctor, if a nurse takes notes, or if two people speak about it on the phone, all of those records should be available to you.
End of public health emergency won’t affect COVID vaccines, testing for now
The biggest impact the ending of the public health emergency will have is in data collection. As of Thursday, national reporting of COVID-19 deaths will cease, which will make it impossible to track deaths in Georgia,
Trauma care in Georgia is strained, and a rural review points to systemic failures
Latest findings describe a system with few guidelines for getting patients, often with life-threatening injuries, to the best equipped hospitals.
Georgia budget funds pilot program aimed at improving infant, maternal mortality rate
Georgia’s new budget provides $1.7 million to the state health department for a pilot program that brings healthcare to the homes of some expectant mothers and very young children.
Chatham sheriff resumes jailing for misdemeanor crimes in return to pre-Covid policy
Chatham County jail reverses Covid policy where low-level misdemeanor offenders were turned away, now jailing for misdemeanor crimes.
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