Sunday Solutions — Nov. 5, 2023
First thing: Did you remember to set your clocks back? You’ve got an extra hour to take in the sweet genius mix of art and technology that brought back The Beatles this week for one song, and then you’ve got some time to plan ahead for municipal elections and take in a community’s commitment to early learning for all. Let’s go!
Elections along the coast
If you live in a municipality in Coastal Georgia, you may be prepping to vote on Tuesday. Precincts are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and absentee ballots can be dropped off up until 7 p.m. So far, early voting has been sparse in some areas, but fairly busy in places like Liberty County where four towns are voting. In Chatham County, five cities are voting: Tybee, Savannah, Pooler, Port Wentworth, and Garden City. Bryan County and McIntosh counties have countywide votes on special purpose sales taxes plus votes in Richmond Hill, Pembroke and Darien. Elections were canceled in Woodbine (Camden County) and Gum Branch (Liberty County) when all offices had only one qualifying candidate.
On the record(s)
News organizations get a lot of info for potential story ideas in many ways: freedom of information requests from government entities, press releases, interviews and, sometimes, anonymous files. We weigh each piece for credibility and potential public interest. Earlier this year when we received information on alleged arrest records of several Savannah city office candidates, we decided to look at every candidate’s court files. After all, what happens after the charge matters.
We knew other pieces of information were already floating in the public domain via rumor, coffee chats and social media — without context or fact-checks. We wanted readers and voters to have the most accurate information possible about the people who want to represent us as public servants.
Our resulting stories appear in two parts, published on Wednesday and Thursday. Each candidate with court records that consisted of more than a couple traffic violations was contacted to comment. Most agreed to speak with us — some did not, and others only got back to us after the stories were published. We have included their comments and explanations, providing an in-depth look on the candidates and their experience with cops and courts.
Here’s the first story, council candidates except District 2, and the second, council District 2 plus mayoral candidates. You’ll also see some updates — including our corrections when alerted by candidates to mistakes we made. Our goal is to make sure the stories are accurate and fair and provide context to your choices as you vote.
Court ruling due on PSC districts
It’s been nearly a year since a judge determined that the statewide vote for the Georgia Public Service Commission district representatives wasn’t constitutional, leaving two of the five members serving after their terms have expired. And now, that panel is set to soon decide the share Georgia Power customers will pay for billions in construction overruns for two new units at nuclear Plant Vogtle. Last week, two groups asked the commission to delay its vote, arguing that the long-term rate decision shouldn’t be made while two members remain without a mandate from the voters. Without a court ruling, the legislature awaits specific directions for new districts, leaving members Tim Echols and Fitz Johnson serving without a vote. The Current’s Mary Landers updates the court case, the potential rulings, and the arguments for and against a PSC vote on rate hikes.
And if you’re still thinking Plant Vogtle will bring enough clean energy to serve its customers long into the future, Georgia Power’s recent update to its Integrated Resource Plan dashes that thought. It’s proposing additional power generation through a mix of renewable energy and battery storage and new fossil-fuel gas turbines. It says it will need the new capacity to handle the extraordinary growth in Georgia. Here are details from Capitol Beat.
Last week’s quiz brought a record number of players onto the leaderboard. Did you make it?
Want your chance to be featured in next week’s leaderboard? Leave a first name or nickname on your quiz so we can keep track of your score.
First Place (10/10) – Kiki, Eric, Laurie
Second Place (8/10) – Peaches, SandyB
Third Place (7/10) – BC, EMF, vickig, Ruth Annie, Pat
From the week
- Georgia lawmakers explore threats, wonders of AI technology with eye on regulating ethical use: While The Beatles made new use of AI, not everyone wants to use its power for good. A state bipartisan group is trying to understand whether regulations might make a difference. A federal executive order just set new rules for security and privacy.
- How a law aimed at keeping Georgia rivers open to all fishers may have muddied the water: The law passed last session has proven unenforceable until “navigable waters” is clearly defined, and even that effort turns out to be a puzzle.
- Georgia GOP senators put elections lawyer, Dominion Systems exec on 2024 elections hot seat: Hearing challenges privacy theories and technological certainties about state’s voting systems.
- Tracking Covid variants: HV.1, JN.1 variants are now showing up and an expert on data collection talks about how they are being tracked and what we know — and don’t know. As the weather gets cooler and holiday travels start, look for a spike in new Covid cases. Statewide, cases are increasing.
Your second cup: One town’s commitment
In the spirit of solutions, we offer a story about American Falls, Idaho, where residents embraced a goal to provide universal preschool. The goal picks up where state funding left off — funding for early learning for all families. The town is one of 25 Idaho communities that decided to launch efforts to prove to state lawmakers that funding early childhood education programs would pay dividends for all. It didn’t happen overnight. Six years into the plan, schools in the community have see their kindergarten readiness scores more than double, even during the pandemic. Students have moved on to higher grades where the literacy rates for the early program grads are soaring. Here’s a story from EdSurge on how the program happened and how it’s working.
And a note: We changed email domains a few weeks ago, and some of you have told us that our newsletters are now going into your Spam or Junk email folders — it’s happened to us, too. The best way we know to keep that from happening is to add this address to your contacts lists or your Safe Senders List on Microsoft: firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for your patience!
Court files detail lawsuits, traffic offenses, other charges for Savannah City Council candidates. (Part 1 of 2)
Court files detail lawsuits, traffic offenses, other charges for Savannah mayoral, council District 2 candidates. (Part 2 of 2)
Georgia lawmakers wrestled with this idea Wednesday at a joint hearing of the Senate Science and Technology and Public Safety committees dedicated to discussing future AI legislation.
The head of fisheries for the Georgia DNR told lawmakers to know what DNR calls navigable, look where DNR maintains boat ramps.
state GOP leaders and representatives of voting security organizations took aim at the state using Dominion paper ballots that are verified with a printed paper ballot marked with a voter’s vote. The voter can read and verify their choices before the ballot is scanned and tabulated.
Representatives of the entertainment and sports industries argue the bill would benefit secondary ticket sellers that resell tickets at marked-up prices at the expense of musical artists and sports teams.
Utility describes as Georgia’s “extraordinary” economic growth as catalyst for seeking additional generating capacity less than a year and a half after the state Public Service Commission approved its last Integrated Resource Plan.
Nearly 1,800 children under the care of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services were reported missing between 2018 and 2022, according to data revealed in a bipartisan Senate investigation.
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