July 26, 2022

A makeshift memorial to Saudi Arai Lee, Savannah, July 23, 2022

Politics joins crime, policing discourse

Following the fifth shooting this year involving a Savannah police officer and revelations of what appears to be some questionable vetting of allegations that the officer had inappropriately used force in his previous job as a prison guard, Mayor Van Johnson said he’s sticking with the process, Craig Nelson and Jake Shore report.

“My position is that we wait for an objective third party to establish what the facts are. If the officer’s use of deadly force was right, we’re going to support that officer. If it was wrong, we’re going to we’re going to insist that the officer is prosecuted as the law dictates,” said Johnson.

Johnson’s rivals and critics are poised, however, to capitalize on problems with crime, policing and economic justice in Savannah in an effort to ensure he is only a one-term mayor.

“This city is being led by a mayor who would rather major in minor things, use the media to sensationalize council disagreements and focus on his own self gain, as opposed to galvanizing members of council to effectively tackle crime,” City Council alderwoman — and declared mayoral candidate —Kesha Gibson-Carter said.

Pro-abortion rights march, Savannah, July 10, 2022

‘Settled law’

Two days after voting against legislation that would write same-sex marriage into federal law, Coastal Georgia’s Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter last week voted no on legislation that would “protect a person’s ability to access contraceptives and to engage in contraception,” according to a summary of the bill. The legislation passed the House 228-195 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Neither Rep. Carter’s Twitter account nor his office’s website explained his vote. He had described the same-sex marriage legislation as superfluous —in his words, “settled law”— and we’re guessing that the same rationale applies here, though as we pointed out, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doesn’t believe such matters are “settled law,” at all.

Rep. Carter, a former pharmacist, has condemned what he views as the federal government’s intrusion on the right of pharmacists to refuse to sell medicines that could be used to induce an abortion. On July 15, he voted against on the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, which would bar the government from, among other things, limiting “a provider’s ability to prescribe certain drugs, offer abortion services via telemedicine, or immediately provide abortion services when the provider determines a delay risks the patient’s health.”

Danieldefense.com home page

Under the gun

Marty Daniel, CEO of Daniel Defense in Black Creek, is scheduled to testify Wednesday in Washington before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The panel is examining “the role of the firearms industry in America’s gun violence epidemic,” according to a news release.  

Daniel Defense sold the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who used it to kill 19 students and two teachers and wound 17 others at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Earlier this month, the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Daniel Defense is violating the law by “marketing assault weapons to the civilian market with violent and militaristic imagery” and “appealing particularly to the thrill-seeking and impulsive tendencies of susceptible teens and young men who are attracted to violence and military fantasies.” In a letter to the head of the agency’s consumer protection bureau, the group urges the FTC to “investigate and take strong regulatory action with respect to the marketing practices of Daniel Defense.”

Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp at a news conference, Dec. 8, 2021

Kemp appointments

As the November election approaches, Gov. Brian Kemp isn’t missing an opportunity to use the power of his office to remind voters of his reach and reward allies. He recently announced 93 appointments to the various boards, authorities, and councils that make up the state government.

The appointees from Coastal Georgia include Ruel Joyner, the owner and chief operating officer of 24e Design company in Savannah, to the Jekyll Island-State Park Authority, and James Harley Langdale of Valdosta to the State Board of Registration for Foresters.

Reappointed to their positions were William D. McKnight, Philip Wilheit, Jr., and Joel O. Wooten (Georgia Ports Authority); Bert Brantley, Martin Miller, and Pritpal Singh (Savannah-Georgia Convention Center Authority); and Joy Burch-Meeks, L.C. “Buster” Evans and Robert W. Krueger (Jekyll Island-State Park Authority).

Braves-Cardinals, at Truist Park, July 2022

Great American Pastime

In defending his recent “no” vote on legislation to protect same-sex marriage, Rep. Carter condemned Democrats for focusing on “these kinds of social issues” instead of inflation, food and gas prices, drugs, crime, and immigration.

Over the years, he’s been no slouch on the social issues front, though.

Recent example: Carter and U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk have called on Major League Baseball to make amends for moving the 2021 all-star game from Atlanta to Denver. In a letter to baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, the two Georgia congressmen said MLB allowed itself to be “bullied” by a “liberal mob” and “caved to cancel culture” in shifting the site of the annual event to protest Georgia’s Election Integrity Act.

The move, the letter says, was “predicated on the lie” that the act “was a racist law designed to suppress voter turnout.” The writers ask Manfred, among other things, when the All-Star Game will return to Atlanta and what measures MLB has undertaken to “depoliticize” baseball.

From @buddycarter on Twitter


We wonder: On Friday, Rep. Carter tweeted out an undated photo of him shaking hands with former President Donald Trump over the caption: “Just found this in my photos on my phone. Today is a great day to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain!” We’re not sure what prompted the gesture, but perhaps it was because Carter felt the former president needed a boost, a day after the House committee investigating Jan. 6 painted an unflattering portrait of the former president’s inaction during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

More to come: Chatham County Manager Lee Smith has been suspended with pay, according to 6th District County Commissioner Aaron “Adot” Whitely. No reason was given, the report by WTOC says. Smith has been the county manager since May 2014. The Savannah Morning News notes that Smith is the county’s second highest-paid employee, with an annual salary of $235,100.

Ground games: With the stakes so high in this fall’s election and in 2024, both major political parties are upping their ground game, with Republicans playing catch-up. Georgia Victory, an alliance between the Republican National Committee and the Georgia GOP, says that as of mid-July, its forces have knocked on 1 million doors in the state. In the 2018, state Republicans barely hit that milestone by the November election.

Close to home, Democrats on Saturday opened a field office just off Savannah’s Ogeechee Road to aid local and state Democratic candidates in getting out the vote. On hand were First District Congressional candidate Wade Herring, Georgia House District 163 candidate Anne Allen Westbrook, Georgia House District 164 candidate Marcus Thompson, Rep. Carl Gilliard (House-162), and Rep. Edna Jackson (House-165).  

On the radio

Be sure to check out Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Political Rewind” Tuesday (today, for most of you). The Current’s Editor in chief Margaret Coker will be one of the guests for the show that airs live at 9 a.m. and again, recorded, at 2 p.m. on WSAVH 91.1 FM or streaming on gpb.org.

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This information compiled by and reported by The Current's staff. We use this credit line when information requires aggregation, compilation or organization from various staff and/or official sources.