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 / October 16,2020

UMass drops first game of the season 41-0 to Georgia Southern

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The Massachusetts football team lost its first game of the season, falling 41-0 to Georgia Southern. UMass (0-1) was unable to put together much success on either side of the ball, allowing the Eagles (3-1, 1-1 Sun Belt) to run away with the game early on.
“Obviously the results not what we wanted,” coach Walt Bell said. “But just for us to get to this point, I’m really proud of our kids, proud of our administration for giving us an opportunity to play football.”
The Minutemen defense forced a third-and-short on its first series of the game but were unable to stop the Eagles triple-option on third down. After moving the chains, Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts found receiver Malik Murray wide open for a 47-yard touchdown on a play-action pass.
Werts found success time and time again, throwing for 128 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Minutemen defense struggled with mishaps in pass coverage, allowing Eagles receivers plenty of open space on all three Werts passing touchdowns. By halftime, Werts’ four touchdowns allowed the Eagles to grow a plentiful 28-0 lead.
“There’s a speed aspect to it, you don’t catch up to until a drive or two into the game,” Bell said of the defensive performance. “You do everything you can to help survive it. We didn’t help the defense very much offensively, which kind of made matters worse knowing those guys were out there for a while.”
Redshirt senior Mike Fallon got the starting nod at quarterback for the Minutemen, providing most of their first half offensive production. Fallon looked comfortable at the helm, completing four of his seven first half passes for 27 yards. Heading into the half, Fallon also led UMass in rushing yards with 31.

Patrick Swanson / October 16,2020

Georgia battery plant project awaits verdict

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A supplier with one of the biggest industrial projects now underway in the U.S. auto industry — a $2.6 billion electric vehicle battery plant in north Georgia — expects a ruling from federal trade officials next week that could shut down construction.
The legal question could create dire complications for two closely watched vehicle programs: Ford Motor Co.’s planned F-150 electric pickup and Volkswagen’s upcoming global family of EVs.
The nub of the situation is whether the Georgia battery supplier, SK Innovation of South Korea, is using stolen intellectual property for the batteries it plans to make — a claim SK denies.
SK, a global producer of electronics, petrochemicals, energy and batteries, has been embroiled since last year in litigation with Korean competitor LG Chem, which claims SK’s batteries use proprietary LG Chem technology, obtained when SK hired away about 100 LG Chem employees.
The feud is now in the hands of the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is due to issue a final ruling Oct. 26.
SK officials have stated that the plant, under construction and preparing to begin hiring employees in Commerce, Ga., about 70 miles northeast of Atlanta, will go forward regardless of the ruling.
Sources familiar with SK’s situation say the company has a limited number of options if LG Chem’s allegations are upheld.

Patrick Swanson / October 02,2020

Georgia Fans Weren’t Allowed to Tailgate on Campus So They Tailgated Off Campus

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There’s a saying that water finds a way, and it’s not an especially big surprise that this axiom would apply to the SEC and tailgating. Tonight, Georgia is hosting Auburn for what is turning into sort of a blowout but on paper was the marquee college football game of the day in America. Ticketholders are permitted to set up a table at their cars, but grills, tents, and TVs are banned.
That’s on campus. Off campus, big parties persisted. Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
Those same limitations clearly were not in force elsewhere around town as there were plenty tents, televisions and grills going outside the perimeter that encompasses the UGA campus. And despite several electronic signs posted at the edges of downtown Athens warning visitors that “masks are required by law,” very few of appeared to be complying. Then again, most of them appeared to have food or drink in their hands.
There was a major party going on underneath a big tent on the front lawn of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on Pulaski Street at the western edge of downtown. Meanwhile, up the steep hill that is Clayton Street, the Classic City was hopping pretty much like it would be most every home-game Saturday in a non-pandemic year. Sidewalks, restaurants and bars were busy and crowded. A long line snaked down the sidewalk outside Bourbon Street Bar on Broad Street, with no evidence of social-distancing and very few patrons wearing masks. There were similar scenes at Creature Comforts and Magnolias, with lots of young adults packed together, drinking and reveling in the clear, warm weather.
The full AJC story has some photos and some more context about where the parties were, and who was throwing them.
 

Patrick Swanson / October 02,2020

Game Ball: Georgia WR Kearis Jackson ignites 27-6 win over Auburn

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ATHENS — Georgia receiver Kearis Jackson said two weeks ago that this “would be a Georgia offense that nobody has ever seen before.”
What the 6-foot, 200-pounder from Fort Valley, Ga., didn’t tell us was that he would play a lead role in it.
Jackson hauled in a career-high 9 catches for 147 yards, helping to get the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs on track early and often in their 27-6 win over No. 7 Auburn on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.
“He deserved that game more than anybody,” Coach Kirby Smart said. “He made plays, and he did a great job with that.”
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett looked for Jackson on third-down throws on each of the first two scoring drives in the first quarter, and Jackson came through each time.
Jackson produced again in the fourth quarter, bailing UGA out on a third-and-21.
• Third-and-10 at AU 32, Bennett hit Jackson for 17 yards. Five plays later UGA opened the game’s scoring with a touchdown.
• Third-and-2 at AU 20, Bennett found Jackson for a 16-yard gain. Four plays later, UGA padded its lead with a field goal.
• Third-and-21 at UGA 23, Bennett completed a pass to Jackson for 22 yards.
Jackson, a state shot put champion at Peach County High School as well as a sprinter, was just getting warmed up.
Jackson hauled in a 49-yard rainbow pass from Bennett in the second quarter that, had it been on a line, would have gone for a touchdown.
Special teams is another area where Jackson contributes, though Auburn did a nice job keeping him bottled up in that area. Jackson had two punt returns for 6 yards.
“We want to be explosive and put points on the board every time we touch the ball,” Jackson said entering into the season-opening game.

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.