Sunday Reads – July 31, 2022
Say good-bye to July. Who would’ve thought we’d still be paying attention to an old election and an older pandemic while skating quickly toward the midterms and another school year. Let’s see what’s new this week.
More ages under one roof
This likely won’t come as a shock to most of you: More young adults are likely to be living in a multigenerational household. For some, it’s easier to say: “My kids just moved back home.” The pandemic wrought a bit of unintended togetherness, and the financial arrangements have proven a bit better for all, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Combined households help everyone deal with debt, health insurance and care costs. It’s also a safer landing spot for those who can’t yet afford a rental in a tough market. Get the breakdown of how it works, who’s moving in, moving out and who might never leave.
AR-15s, Daniel and politics
Last week’s testimony before the U.S. House Oversight Committee brought Marty Daniel, CEO of Daniel Defense, to the spotlight. The Bryan County gunmaker was one of three CEOs invited to the hearing, and one of two who showed up. At the risk of looking like the CEOs from 7 cigarette makers who stood up in 1994 and declared that nicotine was not addictive, Daniel and the CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Company told the committee that their products were not responsible for the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, or the other 375 this year. Daniel said “These murders are local problems that have to be solved locally.” He said guns hadn’t changed in the last century but people have. No one disputed that the firearms, when used as directed, can be fatal — just like cigarettes.
After political posturing from both the committee’s Democrats and Republicans, the hearing spent time on the marketing tactics of the gunmakers, including sales videos and information targeted to young men and their manhood plus easy financing online for the weapons that are priced from $1,900 and up — which is directly on point for the 18-year-old man who bought a Daniel product through the company’s online system and then killed 19 students and 2 teachers in their elementary school. Out of this discussion, the House Friday passed a bill 217-213 to ban some types of assault-style weapons. It will require at least 60 votes to pass the Senate, and that’s not likely to happen.
A new ambassador
Ike the sea turtle got a new home this week at the Tybee Marine Science Center. At age 2, he’s not going to sea just yet since he’ll work from his new 4,500-gallon tank to welcome visitors to the learning center at North Beach and teach about the dangers of marine debris like plastic straws and other trash. Ike’s a Tybee native, rescued from a nest two years ago when he was too weak to climb out. He’ll grow strong there and get ready for his big swim set sometime next year.
Who’s buying the house next door?
Housing shortages are real for people nationwide, but in Georgia it’s tougher than many places. A big reason why: 1 in 3 single-family houses sold in the Georgia last year were being bought by investors — not families. The national number is 1 in 4. Many of these dwellings become rental properties, sending most people into a situation that often eats away at any savings they’d intended to invest in home ownership to grow personal wealth and house their families. In an analysis by Stateline and CoreLogic data, the pandemic-fueled move came as investors were able to offer cash in bidding wars for property. One result is rising rent as landlords see opportunities to force out those paying less rent or just raise the rent on others. Cities and town are looking to protect renters rights, and members of the Georgia Senate tried to protect landlords. Expect this issue to hit the fan early in the next legislature as Georgia cities and counties are working to grow housing and rein in short-term rentals in places where they are perceived as drying up residential areas in favor of non-residents.
Allowing watchers to watch
Many of us are getting new messages after a recent software update for phones to “allow” apps we use to track us via location and /or data. You can choose what you want them to do — and you should. Apps ask so they can target you with more accurate info and advertising. You can say no or yes, depending on what you want the app to do. To consider your answers, read this piece from a digital researcher from the University of California, Irvine. This discussion will assure you that it’s all out there and you only have so many controls in this digital world. Just remember: Government has to get a court order for your info, but no one else does — all they need is your permission. And sometimes, that can be as easy as filling out a social media quiz to determine your spirit animal. And is that something we really need to know? (Your Reads editor is an owl….and no, no one cares.)
Under the heading of In Case You Missed It, here are some headlines from earlier this week.
• Only along our coast: The Current’s interns Nick Sullivan and Jeffery Glover took a predawn excursion by boat, truck and on foot to a quiet, mosquito-filled part of Little St. Simons Island for a rare sight of Hibiscus grandiflorus — tall, spikey plants that bloom only in the wetlands at night. The prehistoric plants were once found throughout Coastal Georgia, but large stands are hard to find.
• Before the shooting: Savannah Police officer Ernest Ferguson had been on the job 16 months before he shot and killed Saudi Lee in Carver Village. Before that, his actions had initiated use-of-force complaints in his previous job as a corrections officer, and he’d already had 3 disciplinary warnings for failing to initiate his body camera since joining the Savannah force. Public Safety Reporter Jake Shore reported on each set of documents. Watch for updates on public safety and criminal justice in Coastal Georgia each Thursday by reading our new entry into the weekly newsletter lineup, Undercurrent.
Your second cup: About the news
A few weeks ago, an investigative reporter wrote a commentary about her growing struggle to watch and read daily news reports. In this highly urgent world, she was just tired, done. Amanda Ripley had joined the 40% of Americans who actively avoid the news. That number, from a Reuters Institute study, is chilling in a world where your informed vote matters more than ever. Today’s offering is in audio and text. Ripley’s commentary is linked above, and here’s the link to a very thoughtful edition of WBUR’s “On Point” from early last week where Ripley is a guest and the discussion asks several questions to ponder: Is this a problem with the content, how we address the content or the audience? Or all of it? What can journalists do better? We’re not avoiding that topic: Pour your second cup and listen to the conversations. Then, send us your suggestions and thoughts on what’s next for all of us.
Daniel Defense CEO says gun industry isn’t responsible for mass shootings
Marty Daniel, the CEO of a Georgia gun manufacturer, testified in front of Congress of Wednesday, as part of an ongoing investigation by lawmakers into what is fueling the country’s high rates of gun violence.
Tybee’s sea turtle gets room to grow
A 2-year-old sea turtle graduated to a new tank, the biggest one ever at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center
Files show Savannah cop disciplined before shooting Carver Village man
A Savannah police officer already under scrutiny for past use-of-force discipline, investigations from his time as a Coastal State Prison guard was also disciplined three times by the Savannah Police Department for not turning on his body camera.
Investors bought 1 in 4 homes sold last year, driving up rents
The issue is especially acute in states like Georgia amid evidence that investors often can outbid other buyers, keeping starter homes out of the hands of would-be owners, especially suburban Black and Hispanic families.
Surveillance is pervasive: Yes, you are being watched, even if no one is looking for you
Databases can correlate location data from smartphones, the growing number of private cameras, license plate readers on police cruisers and toll roads, and facial recognition technology. Officials need a warrant, but private data brokers don’t and can have access to everything from your social media photos to your personal health trackers.
Georgia COVID-19 daily statistics
Today’s cases, change, deaths, hospitalizations, testing, vaccination sites and tracker
Report: Paid leave strengthens economy, boosts employee morale, reduces turnover
Support for paid leave is growing across the country because many households have two parents working and caregiving needs are expanding, according to a new report from the Georgia Coalition for Paid Leave and the state chapter of 9to5, National Association of Working Women.
Political battle looms over crime, policing in Savannah
The street protest following Savannah Police’s 5th officer-involved shooting seemed small, but the repercussions of Saudi Arai Lee’s death last month signal a larger political battle ahead. The recent deadly shooting in Carver Village and questions from it highlight issues for 2023 city elections.
Support non-partisan, solutions-based investigative journalism without bias, fear or favor on issues affecting Savannah and Coastal Georgia.