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Marietta Daily Journal Podcast

Activist sues to block "Home Rule" map

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A long-awaited legal challenge to Cobb County’s bid to keep Commissioner Jerica Richardson in office arrived Tuesday in the form of a lawsuit from east Cobb activist Larry Savage.

The suit, filed in Cobb Superior Court, alleges the county’s purported use of “home rule” powers to draw its own commission district lines is flatly illegal and should be tossed out.

The lawsuit is the first move to challenge the county since its Democratic commissioners voted in October to replace a Republican-backed district map — one which was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp and draws Richardson out of her seat mid-term — with one drafted by state Representative Erick Allen, a Democrat from Smyrna. Allen’s map, which was never voted on by the legislature, would keep Richardson within her District 2. Both maps are set to take effect January 1. If the GOP map stands, both sides agree, Richardson would immediately become ineligible for office.

Richardson and the county have maintained Allen’s map is law until a judge says otherwise. But Republicans argue the county is legally out of its depth and that the General Assembly is the only body which can draw commission districts.

Indeed, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office sent a letter to the county last week saying the home rule effort was “very likely an unauthorized exercise of authority.” Savage’s lawsuit hews closely to arguments made by state Representative  Ed Setzler, a Republican from Acworth, a co-sponsor of the GOP map. Citing a letter from Stuart Morelli, an attorney for the legislature, calling the county’s action unconstitutional, Setzler asked the county Board of Elections earlier this month to affirm the state legislature’s map as the law of the land. The suit names the Board of Elections and Elections Director Janine Eveler as defendants. Daniel White, the board’s attorney, said he had no comment on the lawsuit. He told the MDJ last week the board was unlikely to take a side on the issue.

Star players come and star players go. It’s the nature of business in Major League Baseball, or any sport, for that matter.

That doesn’t make the departures any easier for fans, who have invested time, energy and money into their heroes on the diamond.

This rings especially true for Cobb County’s native son, Dansby Swanson, the all-star shortstop for the Atlanta Braves who became a free agent after the 2022 season.

Swanson, a Kennesaw native and Marietta High School graduate, finalized a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Chicago Cubs this week, bringing an end to his seven-year tenure with the Braves. For some, like Braves fanatic Sam Matthews, the retired senior pastor of Marietta First United Methodist Church, Swanson’s departure brings back sour memories of other stars leaving Atlanta. He said he grieved when his childhood hero, Eddie Matthews, was traded to Houston back on New Year’s Eve of 1966.  He had hoped the hearts would win out in the case of Swanson. Perhaps the Braves would offer him more money than they had planned to, and Swanson, who had a breakout year in 2022, would consider taking less than other teams were willing to offer. Swanson’s signing with the Cubs brings to mind another high-profile free agent departure from the Braves: Freddie Freeman, who, after 12 seasons in Atlanta, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in March 2022.

At The Battery Atlanta on Thursday, the MDJ spoke to Atlanta residents Michael and Amber Vestal on Swanson’s decision to pack his bags for the Windy City.

Amber Vestal, originally from Marietta and a Lassiter High graduate, will miss Swanson’s flashy plays on defense. Michael Vestal will miss Swanson’s “cohesive influence” and reputation as a great teammate. However, neither of them think Swanson is a generational shortstop. In fact, the Vestals said they were more disappointed about losing Freeman last year than Swanson.

At the Battery on Thursday, Sara Wilton and her mother, Christy Wilton, of Johns Creek, offered their take, lamenting that the departure of Freeman and Swanson means the Braves lacked what they call “clubhouse guys.” As partial season ticket holders for the past few years — the Wiltons catch most Friday games — they grew fond of the shortstop.

Christy Wilton praised Swanson for being dynamic as a gifted infielder who also delivered time and again offensively. Sara Wilton noted that the Braves All-Star second baseman, Ozzie Albies, will be back this season. Plus, she and her mother Christy noted, third baseman Austin Riley and reigning National League Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II are signed to long-term deals — and the future is strong, even without the hometown hero.

Shannon Reed never considered welding as a career.

An inmate at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, she thought her criminal record destined her to a life of minimum-wage work while trying to support her four children. But the Realign ReStart welding program changed that by providing her with the knowledge and skills to become a welder.

Upon her release from detention, Reed will put her new skills to use at Weiler Forestry, a forestry product manufacturer.

Reed is one example of an inmate in the ReAlign ReStart program. WorkSource Cobb held a ceremony for graduates of the welding and GED programs Tuesday at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, where 11 inmates graduated from the welding program and one graduated from the GED program. The ReAlign ReStart program is an initiative for inmates in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center to receive education and training, and begin a new career after their release.

Eighty percent of inmates do not have a high school diploma or a GED diploma, said Sonya Grant, president and CEO of Cobb Works. The program helps provide education and skills for future employment in hopes of lowering recidivism rates and providing inmates and their families a better future, said Grant.

Grant started the ReAlighn ReStart program in the Cobb jail in 2017. Technical colleges cannot keep up with the high demand for welders. The ReAlign ReStart program is helping fill these positions. In the 100-hour program, instructor Scott Edison meets with the inmates five days a week at a mobile welding station in the jail. There, they learn basic welding skills in hopes of earning an American Welding Society certificate.

In the midst of the holiday season, gas prices locally and nationwide are at their lowest level in months, with the Georgia average finally dropping below $3 per gallon.

Cobb gas prices have dropped a full 37 cents since November 21, a few days before Thanksgiving, according to AAA. Since then, the statewide average is down 41 cents and the national average is down 56 cents.

Gas prices in Georgia hit a record high in mid-June, reaching an average of $4.49 per gallon, but have steadily declined since then.

AAA attributed the slide in prices to reduced crude oil costs, which are about $50 per barrel lower than they were in the spring.

Among the nine gas stations the MDJ tracks in Cobb, none posted prices higher than $3 per gallon as of Tuesday, according to data from GasBuddy.

Atlanta, Savannah, and southeast Georgia’s Fort Stewart are the state’s most expensive gas markets, AAA said, while the Catoosa-Dade-Walker county area, Albany, and Warner Robins are the cheapest.

But some of the relief Georgians have been getting as of late is set to dry up, as Gov. Brian Kemp’s final suspension of the state gas tax is set to expire January 10. The 29.1-cent tax has been suspended since March, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine spiked oil prices worldwide.

The East Cobb Quilters’ Guild, celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, is proud of its long history of community service.

Its members freely give their time and energy to create quilts, placemats and pillowcases for donation to area charities. Often gathering in small groups to sew, members also benefit from the friendships that develop and deepen while these projects are created. In 2022, the Guild donated a total of 1,362 items to local organizations: 348 quilts for Cobb County DFCS, for children who have been taken into foster care; 552 pillowcases for Ryan’s Case for Smiles, for children in hospitals in the Atlanta area and around the state of Georgia and 462 placemats for Cobb County Meals on Wheels, for older adults and disabled individuals who receive home meal delivery. For more info, please visit E C Q G dot Com.

#CobbCounty #Georgia #LocalNews     






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