Patrick Swanson / May 24,2020

A Month Into Reopening And Georgia Jobs Have Yet To Return

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Two out of five people in Georgia — 40.3 percent of its workforce — have filed for unemployment since the state reopened its economy on April 30, the first to do so. But people are still staying close to home, making it harder for jobs to come back, according to a report in Politico on Thursday (May 21).

Georgia had more filings by percentage of its workforce than any other state, Politico’s review of data indicated. New jobless claims for loans in Georgia have varied since the state reopened, going up 243,000 two weeks ago and dropping to 177,000 last week. The state had commented that the increases in claims were due to jobs lost in retail, social services and health care.

“It’s nothing significant enough to say, ‘Oh, there’s a huge surge,’ — but certainly nothing to signal there’s any return to economic stability or recovery happening right now,” Alex Camardelle, a senior policy analyst with the nonprofit Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, told Politico.

Aside from being the first state to re-open, Georgia was also one of the last states to close its economy and impose stay-home mandates.

More layoffs are coming down the pike in Georgia as the state makes plans to eliminate over 1,000 jobs — educators, counselors, social services, administrators, clerks —  in a move to cut state budgets by 14 percent, according to an AJC report on Sunday (May 24). Revenue decline brought about by the pandemic was cited as the reason.

Further, some state employees not laid off will see their paychecks slashed.

Among the departments laying off or furloughing employees are the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Patrick Swanson / January 27,2020

How Georgia’s Population Relates To The 2020 Census

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Georgia’s population of 10.6 million people makes it one of the largest states in the country. The state’s population grew by more than 100,000 from 2018 to 2019, according to the latest Census estimates. The state’s growing population relates to politics and the 2020 Census. However, more than 3% of the Georgia residents get payday loans at least once a year.

The Census counts every person living in the United States. The decennial count determines political representation and how federal money is distributed.

After the 2010 Census, Georgia’s population growth led to an increase of one congressional seat.

“An additional congressional seat means an additional vote in the electoral college, which is really important in helping to pick the President of the United States,” said Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science at Emory University.

Gillespie also said having more members of Congress means more voices advocating for Georgia. 

“You want as many Georgians on as many committees as possible so that they are advocating for Georgia interests,” she said.

House committees that Georgia representatives serve on include Transportation and Infrastructure, Armed Services, Judiciary as well as Ways and Means. 

Georgia has 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In comparison, Florida has 27 and Alabama and South Carolina each have 7. California has the most seats, with 53.

Patrick Swanson / September 25,2020

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Patrick Swanson / September 18,2020

Gabriel Throws 4 TD Passes, No. 14 UCF Beats Ga Tech 49-21

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Gabriel Throws 4 TD Passes, No. 14 UCF Beats Ga Tech 49-21

Gabriel Throws 4 TD Passes, No. 14 UCF Beats Ga Tech 49-21
Dillon Gabriel made sure Central Florida didn’t let another game slip away on the road.
The sophomore threw for a career-best 417 yards and four touchdowns, leading the No. 14 Knights to a 49-21 victory over Georgia Tech in their season opener Saturday.
It was a rewarding performance for UCF, coming off the uncertainty of the pandemic-affected summer and a bit of a disappointing season by its standards in 2019. The Knights lost three games — all on the road — by a total of seven points.
After falling behind 28-7, Georgia Tech closed within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. But Gabriel led a dominating performance the rest of the way, finishing 27 of 41 to eclipse his previous career high of 365 yards in a game last season at East Carolina.
“We had so many guys making plays all over the field,” Gabriel said. ”When that happens, you see what we can do.”
UCF bounced back after giving up a long return on the opening kickoff and falling behind less than a minute into the game.
Tre Nixon and Marlon Williams each hauled in a pair of TD passes. Showing off its running back depth, UCF got touchdowns on the ground from Greg McCrae, Otis Anderson and Bentavious Thompson.
Gabriel, a left-hander from Hawaii who claimed the starting job early in his freshman year, is the one who makes the fast-paced offense go.

Patrick Swanson / August 21,2020

Emails Show Cherokee County, Georgia, School District Asked Students to Disinfect Classrooms

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The email from the principal had a lighthearted, friendly tone, but the news she delivered was alarming: Three more students at Creekview High School in Canton, Georgia, had tested positive for the coronavirus—the fourth such letter sent to parents that week. 
That out of the way, she then moved on to what she called a “distraction,” noting that the high school volleyball team would be playing in a tournament the next day. “Come to CVHS to see our lady Grizzlies play at 9:00 10:00 or 12:30,” she wrote. “Go Grizzlies!”
Two days later, after 25 students tested positive and more than a quarter of the student body was placed in quarantine, the entire school was shut down.
In the three weeks since school started in Cherokee County, Georgia, three of the district’s six high schools have temporarily shuttered due to coronavirus outbreaks. As of Friday, 2,000 of the 42,000 students in the district were in quarantine.
But the county—once a heart of the Cherokee Nation, now a bastion of support for Donald Trump—has shown no sign of suspending in-person education or beefing up its policy of encouraging but not requiring face masks.
Many parents and teachers in the district—where one school wanted students to disinfect classrooms—say they are terrified of what will happen if the status quo is allowed to continue. 
“I kind of feel like Cherokee County has been the guinea pig for the state, or the nation,” said Meg Du Plooy, a mother of two Cherokee County students. “Just an experiment to see what happens if we open all the schools and have everyone come back in.”

Patrick Swanson / August 14,2020

Georgia State Patrol trooper charged with murder after shooting a Black man

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A Georgia State Patrol trooper has been arrested and charged with felony murder after fatally shooting a Black man during an attempted traffic stop.

Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, was arrested on Friday in connection with the fatal officer involved shooting in Screven County that occurred on August 7, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a news release.

Thompson attempted to stop Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis, 60, for a traffic-related offense. When he refused to stop, Thompson gave a brief chase before using a “precision Intervention technique,” sending the car to a stop in a ditch, according to the GBI.

Thompson then fired one shot, striking Lewis in the face. He was pronounced dead on the scene. An autopsy is being conducted at the GBI Crime Lab, according to the release.

Thompson will be booked into the Screven County Jail, the GBI release said. He has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault and was terminated from the Department of Public Safety.

CNN has not been able to determine if Thompson has an attorney.

FBI Atlanta public affairs specialist Kevin Rowson told CNN in an emailed statement Saturday that they are in contact with local and state authorities.

“The FBI is aware of the Screven County matter and we have been in contact with local and state authorities. The FBI is always prepared to investigate whenever information comes to light of a potential federal violation,” Rowson said.

Francys Johnson, the attorney representing the Lewis family, issued a statement Friday.

Patrick Swanson / July 29,2020

Jefferson City Schools will be the first in Georgia to reopen Friday. These parents won’t be sending their children

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Amber and Zack Davies know too well how easily children can get coronavirus.

Their 14-year-old son contracted Covid-19 at summer camp, even though both he and the camp took precautions, Zack Davies said.

“It’s scary, because the camp, they’ve done all the precautions that they can,” he said. “And now we’re just about to shuttle all of our kids back to school.”

On Friday, Jefferson City Schools — about an hour northeast of Atlanta — will be the first district in Georgia to “reopen schools for face-to-face instruction.”

“They’re going to open the floodgates wide open,” Amber Davies said.

“And there’s no way to (contact) trace. Once kids go from one class to the next class, to the next class, they cannot do the tracing.”

Across the US, countless parents are riddled with anxiety — for different reasons.

In school districts where classrooms are reopening, children, teachers and staff run the risk of infection.

In districts where students will learn remotely from home, parents worry about how they’ll be able go to work or afford child care.

For the Davies, both their 14-year-old and 8-year-old sons won’t be able to go to school Friday due to the older son’s infection.

“They’re going to have a late start, but they are going to go back once we’re cleared medically,” Amber Davies said.

But both parents are worried about what will happen when their sons return to school.

Amber Davies suffers from lupus disease and is at high risk for severe complications from Covid-19. She’s been trying to quarantine in a different room after her older son’s infection, but her husband is worried about the younger son getting infected at school.

Patrick Swanson / July 17,2020

What happens to John Lewis’ vacant US House seat in Georgia

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As the remembrances poured in Saturday for John Lewis, the 5th Congressional District in Georgia he served for decades is left without a representative in Congress.

In June, Lewis, who ran unopposed for his 17th term in 2018, won the Democratic nomination for his seat by a resounding 87% of the vote over challenger Barrington Martin II.

But his death leaves the Georgia Democratic Party with the task of naming a nominee to face off against Republican Angela Stanton-King, a criminal justice reform advocate and former reality star, in the general election for this overwhelmingly Democratic seat.

Under Georgia law, the state executive committee of the Democratic Party can appoint a replacement nominee, according to Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.

The party will have to inform the Georgia secretary of state’s office whether they intend to appoint a replacement by Monday, and then inform the office who their replacement nominee is shortly thereafter, Fuchs told CNN in a statement.

The Democratic Party of Georgia confirmed Saturday that its executive committee will meet on Monday at noon to consider a nominee.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Congressman John Lewis, and wish very much that we were not in this position today. The Democratic Party of Georgia takes our legal responsibility of naming a nominee to this seat seriously, and we are making every effort to honor Congressman Lewis’ legacy and the people of the Fifth District throughout this process, while working within the applicable legal framework,” said Sachin Varghese, an attorney for the party, in a Saturday night news release.

Patrick Swanson / July 14,2020

Outrage after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp voids local orders requiring face masks

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ATLANTA — Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp is explicitly banning Georgia’s cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places. He voided orders on Wednesday that at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted even though Kemp had earlier said cities and counties had no power to order masks.

An increasing number of other states order residents to wear masks in public, including Alabama, which announced such a ban Wednesday.

The Republican governor has instead been trying to encourage voluntary mask wearing, including telling fans that reduced infections from mask-wearing would make college football season possible.

Kemp’s move is likely to infuriate local officials in communities that had acted, including Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, Rome and the governor’s hometown of Athens-Clarke County. Overall, mask orders by Wednesday were covering 1.4 million of Georgia’s more than 10 million residents.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson was the first local official to defy Kemp and order masks, and had said police would start writing $500 citations to businesses that didn’t enforce the law.

“It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us,” Johnson wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. “Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can.”

Kemp’s new order also bans local governments from requiring masks on public property, which void requirements that some governments have imposed for citizens to wear masks inside city and county buildings.

Patrick Swanson / July 11,2020

Georgia Tech golfer captures Georgia Amateur title – Sports – Savannah Morning News

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JOHNS CREEK — Georgia Tech’s Luke Schniederjans needed an extra hole, but his short birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole at No. 18 was a winner at 99th Georgia Amateur Championship on Sunday at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Schniederjans, of Alpharetta, entered the day three strokes back of the leaders, Johns Creek’s Deven Patel and Suwanee’s Brett Barron, who will be a fifth-year senior at Georgia Southern in 2020-21.
Following an even-par front nine, Schniederjans was one stroke behind Patel. Schniederjans went on to birdie the par-3 12th hole on the Highlands Course to move into a tie for the lead.
He grabbed the lead shortly after and made six straight pars following his birdie on the 12th hole to close out his round at even-par 71 and put a stamp on an even-par 213 total (72-70-71) for the scheduled 54-hole championship.
But there was still a little drama remaining.
Barron (70-69-74), playing one group behind Schniederjans, needed a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to force a playoff. The 2018 Georgia Amateur champion took care of business and drained his 10-foot birdie attempt to send the duo back to the 18th for the playoff.
Schniederjans found the fairway off the tee, while Barron was in a bunker and was forced to layup. Schniederjans took advantage of the opportunity and hit the par-5 in two strokes, leaving himself a long eagle attempt of about 40 feet. His eagle came up just short, but Barron was unable to sink his birdie attempt of about 12 feet, allowing Schniederjans to finish off his birdie putt from within 2 feet, and claim victory.

Patrick Swanson / July 11,2020

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Patrick Swanson / July 05,2020

Citing violent crime in Atlanta, Georgia governor declares state of emergency and calls up National Guard

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday declared a state of emergency and activated as many as 1,000 National Guard members.

Kemp, a Republican, said the executive order follows “weeks of dramatically increased violent crime and property destruction in the City of Atlanta.”

The governor’s statement says more than 30 Georgians were wounded by gunfire over the extended holiday weekend, including five people who died.

One of the five deaths was that of an 8-year-old girl who was shot while riding in a car with her mother and another person. Secoriea Turner was killed Saturday night as the car tried to enter a parking lot that had illegal barricades, police said.

The shooting was near the scene where a now-fired Atlanta police officer fatally shot Rayshard Brooks after he fought with officers and tried to run away with a stolen Taser.

“We’ve had over 75 shootings in the city over the past several weeks,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said when talking about the 8-year-old’s death on Sunday. “You can’t blame that on APD (Atlanta Police Department).”

After the death of George Floyd in late May there were protests in downtown Atlanta, several of which were followed by looting and vandalism.

“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp said in a statement. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”

The governor’s statement says the National Guard will “provide support” at state buildings like the Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion so state police can increase patrols.