Reporter’s Notebook: Councilmember Norwood’s private election monitoring finds no issues


Let’s take a look at this week in Georgia History

On Jan. 14, 1940, Julian Bond was born. Bond was a leader throughout the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. In 1960, he helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and organized voter drives. 

He was elected to the Georgia House in 1965, but the body refused to seat him due to his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. His district elected him three times, and the Supreme Court eventually ruled the ban unconstitutional. He served 20 years in the state legislature and has been elected into office more times than any other Black Georgian. 

On to other news from the week:

Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood ahead of Thursday

Mary Norwood (right) with former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Councilmember Norwood’s private election monitoring finds no issues

District 8 Atlanta City Councilmember Mary Norwood said that a private company she hired to monitor last fall’s municipal elections found no significant problems.

Norwood said the monitors found nothing “that I could say, ‘Aha!’ I think the fact that we were monitoring, I think the fact that there were a lot of eyes and ears on the election in general, probably made a big difference.”

Norwood, who ran unopposed for the Buckhead-area council seat, spent campaign money on the monitoring. “I don’t think it was money that was wasted,” she said.

She identified the monitoring company as Custos LLC, which appears to be operated by a man who alleged voting irregularities in the 2020 elections. 

Norwood’s involvement in allegations of voting fraud helped to make her a last-minute issue in the mayoral race last fall. The campaign of eventual winner Andre Dickens tried to tie Felicia Moore to Norwood and conservative politics in general.

Norwood lost the 2009 and 2017 mayoral races in extremely close results. Norwood was one of hundreds of people who filed affidavits for one of the Trump campaign’s conspiracy-fueled “Kraken” lawsuits attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. Her affidavit related to the 2017 mayoral election, where she claimed various irregularities and where many of her local supporters have long alleged some form of fraud. Norwood has said she filed the affidavit only out of good-government sentiment, not particular political support for Trump.

— John Ruch

(From L to R) Shirley Franklin, Lori Geary, Tharon Johnson and Brian Tolleson.

A team of four — including former Mayor Shirley Franklin — jumpstart media buying firm

Four Atlanta’s political and communication experts have teamed up to create Authenticity Partners, a nonpartisan, minority-owned media buying firm. 

The founding partners include Former Mayor Shirley Franklin, Emmy Award-winning political reporter Lori Geary, political strategist Tharon Johnson and advertisement pro Brian Tolleson.  

Authenticity Partners will offer a comprehensive media strategy to conduct campaigns in political, corporate and government sectors. The team will help clients identify their audience and aid in creating and publishing media on all platforms.

“We’re launching in Georgia because we have rapidly become one of the most diverse media markets in the country, and diversity demands authenticity at every level,” Franklin wrote in a press release. “Georgia is the new epicenter of politics, business, entertainment, sports, education and healthcare. It’s the right time and the right place for reaching people in meaningful ways to drive change.”

“All eyes are on Georgia right now, and we are looking at the most competitive election year this state has seen in decades up and down the ballot,” added Johnson, who recently served as a senior advisor to the Biden for President campaign. “This is a team that you can trust to get things done because we’ve spent the last two decades winning.”

Click here to learn more about Authenticity Partners. 

Hannah E. Jones

SCAD’s new School of Business Innovation will offer 15 new degrees. (Photo by Kelly Jordan. Taken at a SCAD Open Studio Night.)

SCAD debuts its School of Business Innovation 

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has launched its new School of Business Innovation, offering 15 undergraduate and graduate degrees for its Savannah and Atlanta locations.

Beginning this year, the new programs will be available online and at the Atlanta and Savannah campuses. 

The business school’s programs include creative business leadership, advertising and branding, luxury brand management, business of beauty and fragrance, design management, service design and social strategy and management.

“Business has changed during the pandemic, but business schools have not,” Paula Wallace, SCAD President and Founder, said in a video.

“At SCAD, we listen to and collaborate with top industry leaders to develop our programs,” Meloney Moore, associate dean of School of Business Innovation, added. “Our courses are founded on employer needs designed to create professionals ready to meet the demands of the industry.”

Hannah E. Jones

The new quarter. (Credit: United States Mint via Twitter)

Maya Angelou becomes first African American woman on U.S. quarter

On Monday, the U.S. Mint began circulating a new quarter featuring author, poet and social activist Maya Angelou. She is the first Black woman to appear on a coin. 

“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country — what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society,” Secretary Janet Yellen of the Department of Treasury said in a statement. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”

Angelou was no stranger to the public eye. The “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” writer read her “On the Pulse of Morning” poem at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1992. 

The Mint’s American Women Quarters program asked the public to submit names of deceased women that they viewed as American icons. Others that are scheduled to be recognized are astronaut Sally Ride, who was the first American woman in space; Asian American actress Anna May Wong; Cherokee Nation leader Wilma Mankiller and suffrage activist and politician Nina Otero-Warren. The remaining quarters will be rolling out through 2025. 

— Allison Joyner

Cityhood opposition leader named to State Election Board

A leader of the opposition to the Buckhead cityhood has been appointed to the State Election Board

Edward Lindsey served as a state representative for the Buckhead area from 2005 to 2014 and is now a partner with the prominent legal and lobbying firm Dentons. He also serves as co-chair and lobbyist for the Committee for a United Atlanta, a group opposing Buckhead cityhood.

Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) named Lindsey to the election board on Jan. 7. Lindsey replaces Rebecca Sullivan, who became commissioner of the Georgia Department of Administrative Services.

The board regulates state and local elections and reviews complaints about them. The board has played a prominent role in the fallout of former President Donald Trump’s loss of Georgia in the 2020 election, including his conspiracy theories alleging fraud and the state Republican Party’s controversial voting reforms.

Wearing his cityhood opposition hat, Lindsey spoke at a Jan. 12 meeting of Atlanta’s state House and Senate delegations about a voting-rights argument that any secession referendum should be citywide and include a supermajority. Local lawmakers already were taking his advice and filed a House bill to that effect. 

— John Ruch

Minority landowners will continue to receive assistance to farm their land from a federal program. (Photo by David Pendered)

Minority farmers, USDA renew aid agreement

Minority farmers will continue to receive help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to manage forestry and food-growing operations through an agreement signed Tuesday in East Point.

The USDA and Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund agreed to collaborate on efforts to help minority landowners in five areas: forest management, food production, conservation, wood energy and climate mitigation, according to a USDA statement.

The cooperative was formed five decades ago and works on issues affecting minority farmers. One such initiative is the one to help heirs who don’t have clear title to their ancestors’ property resolve ownership issues.

“Our goal is to make an intentional impact so that underserved landowners, especially African American landowners, have access to resources to manage the forest and other natural resources on their land to enhance family wealth and stabilize ownership through increasing income and land asset value,” Cornelius Blanding, the cooperative’s executive director, said in a statement.

— David Pendered

Wellstar, Piedmont health system continue battle for market share

The high-stakes battle between two major healthcare networks is cited in a credit rating action issued Tuesday.

Wellstar Health System has secured an investment-grade credit rating on a planned $300 million bond issue. The money is to be used to retire debt and help pay for a new patient tower in Marietta, according to the rating action issued Tuesday by Moody’s Investors Service. The debt is to be sold by hospital authorities in Cobb and Paulding counties.

Piedmont Healthcare presents a major challenge to Wellstar. Piedmont’s territory now covers 85 percent of Georgians and continues to expand, Moody’s reported in an Aug. 16 rating action on $1 billion of Piedmont’s planned bond sale to fund growth. Although Piedmont was not named in Tuesday’s rating action on Wellstar, analysts made plain their concerns about Wellstar’s posture. For now, the credit outlook is stable.

“Wellstar will contend with a highly consolidated market, highlighted by a key competitor’s recent acquisition of multiple facilities, ongoing losses at its two acquired downtown hospital campuses, and high reliance on key legacy facilities,” analysts wrote.

— David Pendered

Agnes Scott, Morehouse School of Medicine announce partnership in early commitment and pre-medical linkage programs

A new partnership between Agnes Scott College and the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) will create an Early Commitment Program (ECP) and a Pre-Medical Linkage Program. 

The schools said in a joint statement that the ECP will be for Agnes Scott’s third-year undergraduate students who aspire to attend MSM after graduation. The Linkage Program is for post-baccalaureate and graduate students who also have an interest in attending MSM immediately after finishing at Agnes Scott. 

“The Early Commitment and Pre-Medical Linkage programs are another way that Agnes Scott is demonstrating our innovative approach to driving professional success for Scotties and helping them pursue career goals in a variety of industries,” said Leocadia Zak, president of Agnes Scott College. 

“When students that have traditionally not been steered into medicine and science, such as women, have opportunities to learn more about the possibilities of such careers, we see a stronger and more diverse clinical workforce,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and CEO of Morehouse School of Medicine. “Our institutions are partnering to cultivate the next generation of doctors who are ready to have an impact in underserved communities in Georgia and around the world.”

The program will launch during the Spring 2022 semester with interviews for selected Agnes Scott juniors and post-baccalaureate students.

— Allison Joyner

Nicole Lawson of United Way of Greater Atlanta (L) and Cobb Community Foundation’s Shari Martin (R) deliver the $5,000 grant to Maureen Myrie with local nonprofit, The STEAM Generation. (Photo courtesy of CCF)

Cobb County nonprofits receive grants for year-long financial training

Five Cobb County nonprofits have each been awarded $5,000 grants from the Cobb Community Foundation (CCF) and United Way of Greater Atlanta. The recipients are part of the joint Network for Good Jumpstart program, which helps hyperlocal nonprofits better serve their communities.

The grants will fund a year-long training program focused on financial sustainability, which will allow the nonprofits’ to grow their programs.

The recipients include Loving Arms Cancer Outreach, Revved Up Kids, The STEAM Generation, VISIONful Communities and BUY–Cobb

“It has been shown that even great programs operating outside of these neighborhoods are not as effective because transportation is a barrier to participation,” Catherine Gankofskie, CCF’s Grant and Scholarship Manager, said in a press release. “Strengthening these nonprofits to serve their clients better inside the neighborhood is going to make a difference in their success.”

The initial investment was made by CCF, and United Way has announced an additional $30,000 to the effort, but more information has yet to be released.

Hannah E. Jones

The CDC Foundation welcomes a new board member

Laura Lane has been chosen to serve a five-year term on the CDC Foundation’s board. In the new role, she will help guide the Foundation in providing support to the CDC and the larger public health community.

By day, Lane is the chief corporate affairs officer at UPS, where she joined the team back in 2011. 

“Laura’s background and experiences will benefit the CDC Foundation as our nation and world work to rebuild the public health community as we strive to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” Judy Monroe, president and chief executive officer of the CDC Foundation, said in a press release. “Laura is passionate and purposeful, and these are qualities that will help lead us through a critically important time in public health.”

Hannah E. Jones

Buckhead’s new APD Precinct

On Thursday, Jan. 13Buckhead’s new Atlanta Police Department Precinct – located in the One Buckhead Plaza—Cousins Properties’ office tower – officially opened its doors.

APD has signed a lease with Cousins Properties for a “nominal fee,” according to a press release from the city. The Buckhead Coalition and Buckhead Community Improvement District are contributing $150,000 to build out the space, and APD will equip the precinct with a goal date to staff the precinct with 12 officers by this summer.

Many city leaders joined together to debut the new precinct, including Mayor Andre Dickens, Chief Rodney Bryant, Councilmembers Michael Julian Bond and Mary Norwood, and Jim Durrett of the Buckhead Community Improvement District. 

Click through the photo gallery to see opening day and Buckhead’s new precinct. Photos by Kelly Jordan.

 

Additional details on the East point Job Fair. (Credit: East Point City)

East Point host job fair to hire city employees 

On Friday, the City of East Point is looking to hire their future employees at their local job fair at the Jefferson Park Recreation Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Onsite interviews for certified and non-certified police officers, firefighters, equipment operators, customer resource specialists and more are available pending background checks. 

Benefits including competitive salaries, pension, paid time off, sick and annual leave and more are added with job offers. 

For more information visit East Point’s official website

— Allison Joyner

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights 

Visit the Center on Saturday, Jan. 15, for a day full of programs, including family-friendly spoken word performances, artist talks and storytimes. Click here to check out the schedule

If you’d rather celebrate at home, consider checking out the digital exhibition called We Share the Dream: King’s Beloved Community. The exhibit includes photos and quotes of MLK and other influential Civil Rights leaders. Click here to enter the exhibit.

 



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