Patrick Swanson / October 25,2021

HBS Welcomes Three Attorneys in Georgia


BRUNSWICK, COLUMBUS and TIFTON, GA – October 27, 2021 – Hall Booth Smith, P.C. (HBS) is excited to welcome three attorneys in the state of Georgia: J. Keith Pollette, Rebekah Maddox Ditto and Roger C. Grantham, Jr.
Keith Pollette joins as Of Counsel in Brunswick where he focuses his practice on business litigation, construction, transportation and real estate matters. He also protects the rights of clients in general liability, governmental liability and premises liability matters. In addition, he is a licensed Mediator and Arbitrator and has assisted dozens of clients in resolving disputes outside of court.
Prior to joining HBS, Keith served as General Counsel for a parent company which owned auto dealerships, operated an insurance agency, and ran a petroleum supply company and convenience store operation which included franchised fast food restaurants. He also served as a title insurance agent for two nationally recognized title insurance companies. As a former city attorney, assistant county attorney, municipal court judge and county solicitor, Keith has handled numerous governmental liability matters for government officials and government entities. Keith earned a J.D. from Samford University Cumberland School of Law, and he completed a B.A. at the University of Georgia and an A.S. at Middle Georgia College.
Rebekah Maddox Ditto joins as an Associate in our office in Tifton where she specializes in governmental liability and general liability matters. She protects the rights of clients in a wide range of complex liability litigation. Rebekah also assists with the firm’s representation as County Attorney for Ben Hill, Berrien, Coffee, Tift and Ware Counties.

Patrick Swanson / October 06,2021

Georgia Public Policy Foundation Friday Facts: October 8, 2021

Georgia Public Policy Foundation Friday Facts: October 8, 2021

 October 8, 2021It’s Friday!
Memory Lane
A public service that made its debut in 1996 thanks to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was the innovative Report Card on Georgia’s public schools, highlighted here in a 1996 article in the Macon Telegraph. One of the Foundation’s most popular publications, the Report Card, which ranked schools and education spending, was eagerly awaited by real estate agents across the state as they worked with families on home purchases. The Foundation ceased publication after the state Department of Education began publicizing the data. This year, the Foundation celebrated 30 years of Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives.
Quotes of note
“If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“The Constitution was a product of learned men observing the failures of other experiments in governance. Out of their contemplations of generations of political philosophers, they disaggregated authority across, and among, states and the national government. They protected the minority from the risk of mob rule and laid the groundwork for the ultimate dissolution of the greatest blight on the continent, slavery.” – Ronny Just

Patrick Swanson / September 18,2021

Exclusive – Burt Jones: Georgia Election Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough; It’s ‘of Utmost Importance that We Do More’


Jones, who is running for lieutenant governor next year, said that while he believes Georgia’s SB 202, also known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021, does improve some aspects of the voting process, issues such as those he sees involving ballot counting machines and drop boxes still need to be addressed.
“I think it is of utmost importance that we do more than what we’ve already done as far as … 202 is concerned to try to let the people know, our constituents know, that we are listening to them and we are hearing them,” Jones said.

Patrick Swanson / April 08,2021

Georgia site is fourth in US to pause Johnson & Johnson vaccine


A coronavirus vaccine site in Georgia became the fourth US location this week to pause its administration of the Johnson & Johnson jab after concerns over possible adverse reactions, a report said.
Eight people experienced lightheadedness after getting the shot Wednesday at the Cumming Fairgrounds, though health officials believe that could have simply been caused by the hot weather, WSB-TV reported.
“It was a fainting issue,” Dave Palmer, North Georgia Health District spokesperson, told the outlet.
“We don’t think it’s anything to do with the vaccine. It’s probably more environmental factors,” Palmer said.
Adverse reactions were incurred by less than 2% of the 435 people who received the vaccine at the site, the report said.
“That facility is hard to cool, and we do have fans there, but it was a warmer day,” Palmer told the station. “I think the heat may have had some bearing on it. We’re not sure.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was also halted in the past week at sites in Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa.

Patrick Swanson / April 04,2021

Georgia Lawmakers Kick Out Coke


Republican state lawmakers in Georgia want Coca-cola to remove all of its products from all congressional offices following the company slamming the state’s new election reforms.
On Saturday, Republican State House Reps. Victor Anderson, Clint Crowe, Matt Barton, Jason Ridley, Lauren McDonald III, Stan Gunter, Dewayne Hill, and Marcus Wiedower all signed a letter denouncing Coca-Cola for taking part in an “out of control cancel culture.”
“Upon the passage of the ‘Election Integrity Act of 2021,’ your company has made the conscious decision to perpetuate a national dialogue which seeks to intentionally mislead the citizens of Georgia and deepen a divide in our great State,” The group of lawmakers wrote. “We have the responsibility to all of Georgia to not engage in those misguided intentions nor continue to support corporations who choose to. SB 202 expands early voting opportunities, provides a pathway to ensure shorter voting lines, secures the use of drop boxes which otherwise would be illegal, as well as several other provisions allowing all Georgians greater access to fast, secure, and transparent elections.”
“Given Coke’s decision to cave to pressure from an out of control cancel culture, we respectfully request all Coca-Cola Company products be removed from our office suite immediately,” they continued. “Should Coke choose to read the bill, share its true intentions and accept their role in the dissemination of mistruths, we would welcome a conversation to rebuild a working relationship.”

Patrick Swanson / March 27,2021

The problem with the Asian hate crime narrative in Georgia spa killings


Something seems really off about this Asian hate crime narrative being pushed regarding the Georgia spa killings. The facts don’t support the narrative.

Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators said the accused shooter was addicted to sex and saw the spas as a temptation in need of elimination. Atlanta police said the man was a customer at two of the spas he attacked. Someone told CNN the guy had been kicked out of his parents’ home the day before the killing spree for looking at pornography for hours. A former roommate told The New York Times the suspect had a serious porn issue, sought treatment for sex addiction, and asked those he lived with to keep him accountable including asking one to take his computer along with installing porn-blocking software on his Internet browser.

Yet, this hate crime narrative refuses to die, like some sort of kaiju.

“[I]t is clear evidence that this is a hate crime, but what we are concerned about is whether local law enforcement will indeed prosecute this as a hate crime,” California Congresswoman Judy Chu told NBC’s Meet the Press this morning before Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus members visit Georgia with emphasis mine. “That’s why we are calling upon the Department of Justice to ensure that there are the res necessary to provide the evidence to declare it a hate crime. And that includes interviewing witnesses in their own languages, looking at the media to see whether they are, for instance, reading the evidence in the Korean media, which apparently has some statements of that sort, and whether they are looking at the shooter’s social media and history.”

Patrick Swanson / March 26,2021

Black voters showed they matter in Georgia. Here’s how activists are trying to keep it that way


Black voters showed they matter in Georgia. Here’s how activists are trying to keep it that way


On an unseasonably muggy February afternoon, a tour bus emblazoned with “We acquired energy” snaked by Warner Robins. Wrapped within the pan-African colours of pink, black and inexperienced, it was an exuberant ode to Black political clout.

Residents, virtually all of them Black, greeted the Black Voters Matter coach like an outdated good friend because it blared its horn, main a caravan previous low-slung bungalows and pink brick ranch homes. Males, girls and youngsters broke from their Sunday socializing to wave, run alongside it and lift clenched fists of Black energy.

The bus had been by these leafy streets earlier than, within the frenetic run-up to the 2020 presidential and Senate races in Georgia. Its presence right here made nationwide, even worldwide information.

Weeks later it was again, not on a victory lap for Democratic wins in these nationwide races however to gin up curiosity in a far sleepier marketing campaign: a particular election for a Metropolis Council seat on this small city 100 miles south of Atlanta.

The competition could seem low-stakes. However for the organizers who flipped Georgia blue, that’s precisely the purpose.

Patrick Swanson / March 24,2021

Hurricane Outbreak Alabama, Georgia; At least 5 dead | Alabama news


By Kevin McGill, associated Press

Tornado Tornado Sirens and Howling Winds Roar in Parts of Western Georgia There was a severe thunderstorm in the southern states early Friday, which included Alabama Where at least five people died, which are scattered in houses, scattered trees and uprooted businesses.

Meteorologists said a large, dangerous tornado swept through Metro Atlanta’s Couta County around midnight Friday, sparking a tornado emergency for Newnan City and surrounding communities. Several reported trees and power lines were downed.

Newnan police asked residents to “take to the streets” in a Facebook post, stating that emergency officials were surveying the area. Newton Utilities said the storm overcame their phone and Internet services, but they were “fully aware of the down line, gas leaks and numerous inaccessible roads.”

Couta County said its public schools would remain closed on Friday due to extensive damage.

Newnan Mayor Keith Brady said no fatal incidents were immediately reported.

Officials said the storm followed a series of bursts in Alabama on Thursday, which an official said traveled about 100 miles (160 kilometers) across the state.

In eastern Alabama, Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said a twister killed five people who cut a diagonal route across the county, mostly striking rural areas – something that likely outnumbered those who died. Prevents this from happening.

At an evening briefing, Wade said, “Our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers go out to the families, and we’re going to do our best to love them.”

John D. Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said a “super sale” of storms led to several twisters.

Patrick Swanson / February 28,2021

Republicans in Georgia House pass new restrictions in backward step for voting rights


They say that no good deed goes unpunished.
So it’s not surprising that the citizens of Georgia, having had unprecedented access to the ballot box in the last election due to the expansion of mail-in votings options set up deal with the dangers of the COVID pandemic (and resulting in a record turnout), are now being penalized for delivering a massive defeat to the party that controls their state government.
Of course, that state government — currently controlled across the board by GOP officials — was elected under much more stringent voting regulations that previously had purged voter roles and restricted polling places to intentionally suppress voting by minorities, as many critics of Georgia’s Republican politicians have alleged.
Now those GOP lawmakers are facing a future where they will lose the levers of power due to the newly emboldened Democratic-leaning voters who turned the state blue in both the presidential and U.S. senatorial races.
And, rather than change their policies and adjust their platforms to appeal to a wider range of the state’s voters, Georgia Republicans have decided that the easiest way to keep their jobs is to change the rules for elections to make it harder for those who don’t share their political views to vote.

Patrick Swanson / February 26,2021

4 children and 2 adults were rescued from a sinking boat off the Georgia coast


Two adults and four children were rescued Friday by the US Coast Guard off the Georgia coast after their boat struck an object and started sinking.

The 17-foot boat was near the entrance to the St. Marys River on the Florida-Georgia border when it hit something and started taking on water, the Nassau County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

The US Coast Guard cutter Sea Dragon was returning from offshore and launched a small boat crew to rescue the six people from the boat, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

A marine unit from the sheriff’s office used a pump to remove the water from the boat before towing it to the Amelia Island boat ramp in Florida.

The marine unit then returned to the Sea Dragon to pick up the six people and ferried the group to the town of St. Marys in Georgia, the sheriff’s office said.

No injuries were reported.

The Georgia Department of Natural Res is investigating the boat accident, according to the sheriff’s office.

“In the Florida/southeast Georgia area, we remind boaters that during this time of year, the possibility of hypothermia still exists,” said Boatswain’s Mate Kristian Sova, the Sea Dragon’s commanding officer. “If you can, remain with your boat and try to remain together as a group, this greatly increases the likelihood of first responders finding you if you’re ever in the need of assistance; this was a very fortunate outcome, special thanks to those involved in this rescue.”


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