Only three Athens-Clarke County commissioners graded higher than a C on a report card issued by the progressive political group Athens for Everyone earlier this month.
A4E’s grades were based on commissioners’ votes and public statements on the issues of transit expansion, fare-free buses, an anti-discrimination ordinance, Complete Streets, marijuana decriminalization, affordable housing, living wages, early learning and a plastic-bag ban or fee. "Champions" received extra credit for taking a leadership role on certain issues.
The worst commissioner, from A4E’s perspective, was District 7 representative Diane Bell, who received an F. Mayoral candidate Harry Sims received a D- despite opposing A4E on every issue the group tracked. So did Mayor Nancy Denson, who received an F. District 1 Commissioner Sharyn Dickerson also received a D-.
Creature Comforts is finally releasing its fourth year-round offering, Reclaimed Rye, in cans this Saturday.
The amber ale—named for the reclaimed wood that local carpenters Oneta Woodworks used to make the brewery's long tables and benches—is aged with French oak spirals and is 5.5% ABV. It joins IPA Tropicalia, pilsner Bibo and berliner weisse Athena as year-round canned offerings.
"We have wanted Reclaimed Rye in cans for three years," CEO Chris Herron said in a news release. "It is a favorite beer around the brewery and in the market, but capacity restraints have kept it as a draft-only offering."
However, with Creature Comforts set to open a second brewery in Southern Mill off Chase Street this spring, capacity is no longer an issue.
Houston Gaines—the young Republican who lost a state House of Representatives special election to Democrat Deborah Gonzalez last year—announced this morning that he will try for the District 117 seat again in November.
“This district wants and deserves conservative leadership at the state Capitol—and that’s not what it’s getting now,” Gaines said in a news release. "I’m going to provide our district a conservative alternative to the out-of-touch representation we have today.
“I have lived in this district my entire life and had the privilege of graduating from the university in my hometown. My family’s roots run deep here. Just as my grandfather [Joseph Gaines] served this community as a judge, I want to work on behalf of my neighbors in this district to bring high-paying jobs to this region, invest in education to bolster our workforce and prepare students for the careers of tomorrow and protect the high quality of life we enjoy here."
Since taking office, Gonzalez has not shied away from staking out liberal positions on issues like health care and immigration. She co-sponsored a bill to expand Medicaid in Georgia and criticized Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards for holding undocumented jail inmates for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport.
Today's Athens-Clarke County Commission work session will be moved to City Hall so that it can be recorded and video posted online for the first time.
ACC has broadcast the commission's agenda-setting and voting meetings since 2002, but for years local activists have complained that work sessions—more informal meetings where important decisions are often made—have not been recorded or broadcast, meaning citizens have to physically attend what can often be three- or four-hour meetings to learn about the issues discussed.
Unlike the commission chamber at City Hall, the Dougherty Street auditorium where work sessions are held does not have cameras, which had been county officials' justification for not recording or broadcasting them in the past.
The Mayor and Commission decided at a recent retreat to try moving the work sessions to City Hall—a move some had resisted in the past because they thought the formal setting would stifle what is often a freewheeling discussion.
Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file
Chalis Montgomery's campaign called on opponent Richard Dien Winfield today to denounce what it called "escalating and violent rhetoric" against Montgomery.
Both Winfield and Montgomery are running in the Democratic primary to take on District 10 Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro).
Irami Osei-Frimpong, a Winfield supporter who is featured in some of his campaign materials, posted on Facebook Sunday that he would "kill their [white liberals'] Democrat."
The Montgomery campaign took this to be a threat and called on Winfield to denounce it.
“The national sickness of violent political speech—particularly against women—has unfortunately reached our city,” Montgomery spokeswoman Kimberly Davis said in a news release. “This issue is one that transcends this particular election and is reflective of where we are in terms of public discourse in this country. It’s about how we treat all women.”
In a statement provided to Flagpole, Winfield said that he asked Osei-Frimpong to change the language of the post—which he did—and that he would not tolerate inflammatory speech.
Harry Sims will officially resign his Athens-Clarke County Commission seat next Tuesday to run for mayor, he announced at last Tuesday’s commission meeting.
Because Sims has almost three years left in his term, state law requires him to resign before he qualifies to run for mayor the first week in March. Commissioner Kelly Girtz, who’s also running for mayor, is not required to resign his term will expire at the end of 2018—the same time he’d be sworn in as mayor if he wins—although he is not allowed to run for re-election and for mayor at the same time.
Sims said he decided to resign now so that “this seat will not be vacant any longer than it has to be... and to save the taxpayers money.” The timing will allow a special election to be held for his seat on May 22, the same day as the mayor’s race and other commission races.
Photo Credit: Chris Scredon
State Rep. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) has endorsed Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz in the race for mayor of Athens.
“Deborah has spent her career working toward a fair, supportive environment, particularly for women and creative professionals, and with that background, we are fortunate to have her representation in the General Assembly,” Girtz said in a news release. “She shares a commitment to ensuring that all people are provided with real opportunity, and I'm grateful for her endorsement in my run for Mayor of Athens-Clarke County. I'm looking forward to continuing our collaborative efforts for the good of Athens and the region.”
Athens lawyer Bill Overend announced today that he's running for the Athens-Clarke County Commission District 7 seat, representing part of Five Points and Macon Highway.
Overend—a former Flagpole staffer who ran for ACC Solicitor General in 2006 and has served as chairman of the ACC Democratic Committee and on the Athens Downtown Development Authority board—said that he believes the local government doesn't do enough to anticipate challenges or act to solve them, rather than endlessly studying the issue.
The full text of his announcement is below:
Photo Credit: House Photo Office
Newly elected state Reps. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) and Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville) issued a joint statement today condemning Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edward's policy of detaining inmates so they can be deported.
It came to light in December that the sheriff's office had quietly changed its policy in July and begun, at Immigration and Custom Enforcement's request, detaining inmates that ICE says are undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours past the point when they'd otherwise be released so ICE can pick them up and deport them.
The policy change met with harsh criticism from progressive and immigrants' rights groups, to which Wallace and Gonzalez have added their voices:
Photo Credit: Athens-Clarke County Police Department
Public schools in Clarke and Oconee counties will be closed again Thursday, as any snow that melted and did not evaporate today will refreeze overnight, making roads treacherous.
Both the Georgia Department of Transportation and Athens-Clarke County government said crews have been working day and night to clear the roads, but warned people to stay home.
The ACC Police Department said officers had worked 84 wrecks today as of 3:45 p.m.
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office posted a similar, if more humorous, warning on Facebook:
Both the Clarke and Oconee county school districts announced Tuesday night that schools will be closed Wednesday in anticipation of possible snow early this morning. The University of Georgia delayed opening before calling off classes entirely.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for central Georgia (including Athens) until 10 a.m. Wednesday. There is a 70 percent chance of precipitation, with a predicted low of 23 degrees. One to two inches of snow is possible.
"Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the morning commute on Wednesday," the advisory says.
Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in 83 counties, including Clarke. Non-essential state employees are not expected to report to work on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: courtesy of Akademia Brewing Co.
Akademia Brewing Co.'s beers will soon be available at on draft at other restaurants, as well as bars and package stores, in Athens and Atlanta after the local brewpub partnered with Georgia distribution company Modern Hops.
The first local locations where Akademia's beer will be sold are Catch-22 Gastropub, Blue Sky Bar and the growler shops at both Five Points Bottle Shop locations. By the end of the year, Akademia hopes to branch out throughout Athens and Oconee County, metro Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah, Akademia owner Matt Casey said a news release.
Win or lose, Athens-Clarke County police want you to know there will be no riots in the streets of Athens tonight after Georgia plays in the college football national championship game.
The department called a news conference earlier this afternoon to discuss plans for public safety downtown. The game is in Atlanta, but local police expect a crowd along the lines of a typical UGA home game—potentially tens of thousands of people, according to Sgt. Epifiano Rodriguez.
It's true: Everyone's favorite homophobic-yet-delicious fast-food chicken chain is coming to downtown Athens.
Rumors that Chick-Fil-A would move into the prime space at the corner of Broad Street and College Avenue most recently occupied by burger chain Five Guys have been confirmed by documents filed with the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department.
The building is in the downtown historic district, and Chick-Fil-A has applied for permission to make changes to the facade:
A lot more is riding on Monday's college football championship than school pride.
As is often the case for politicians thirsty to show their love for the home team during key games, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Athens Mayor Nancy Denson have placed a friendly wager on the outcome of the Georgia–Alabama game.
Photo Credit: courtesy of Creature Comforts
One of Creature Comforts' most popular seasonals, Koko Buni, is back in cans and on draft as of Tuesday.
The well-balanced milk porter (6.5% ABV) brewed with toasted coconut, Ecuadorian cocoa nibs from Condor Chocolates and an Ethiopian coffee blend from 1000 Faces can be, like many of Creature Comforts' special releases, notoriously hard to find, so snatch some up if you see any.
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
While most Athens residents would prefer to talk about repealing campus carry, an influential gun-rights group will be lobbying state legislators to expand the law next year.
Buried in AJC political reporter Jim Galloway's Sunday column are these words from John Monroe, vice president of GeorgiaCarry.org:
Longtime Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services administrator Kent Kilpatrick has been named the department's new director.
Kilpatrick has been the interim director since Pam Reidy left in June 2016. ACC Manager Blaine Williams announced late Friday that he made the title permanent.
A University of Georgia bus driver was arrested last week after leaving his handgun in a residence hall restroom, according to UGA police.
Brett Michael Davis, 30, stopped at Brumby Hall to use the men's room on the morning of Dec. 6, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. He took his gun out of his holster and placed it on the railing of a handicapped stall, then left without the gun.
Fifteen minutes later, he returned for the loaded weapon, but an administrator at the dorm had already seen it and called police, who were on the scene when he returned.
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