Six cranes load and unload containers Friday, May 12, 2017 at the Port of Savannah from the Cosco Development, the largest container ship to ever call on an East Coast port. The ship called on Savannah May 11-12, 2017. J. Scott Trubey/strubey@ajc.com
Photo: J. Scott Trubey/STAFF/J. Scott Trubey/STAFF
Photo: J. Scott Trubey/STAFF/J. Scott Trubey/STAFF

The Jolt: Trump administration lifts tariff threat to Port of Savannah

You could all but hear the sigh of relief from the state's elected officials after word came down yesterday that the U.S. Trade Representative would exempt a certain class of cranes from its latest batch of Chinese tariffs.

For months, the Trump administration mulled slapping a 25 percent tariff on ship-to-shore cranes, which the Georgia Ports Authoritywarned could take a nearly $18 million bite out of their operations and hamstring the state’s top economic development project in the Savannah harbor. That prompted a quietpressure campaign from the ports authority and members of state’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, cheered yesterday’s news. “While I applaud President Trump for putting America first and working to correct the unfair trade practices against the United States, adding tariffs to the purchase of these cranes would be detrimental to the port -- therefore, detrimental to the jobs and economy in our area and the entire nation,” he said.

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Some clean-up from Tuesday’s annual Georgia Chamber congressional luncheon in Macon:

-- Lauren “Bubba” McDonald let it be known that he’ll seek another six-year term on the PSC in 2020.

-- Some significant bipartisan shout-outs occurred. U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, was one of the most forceful voices pushing federal disaster aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael – at times publicly criticizing Trump administration for its inertia.

Scott publicly thanked U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, as a most important partner in the ultimate passage of the aid. He also had a word or two for Republicans in Congress who made his job harder.

“Do you know that members from Florida voted against disaster relief for their own state? And in Alabama and in South Carolina,” Scott said. “There’s no easier job than getting elected to Congress and simply voting no.”

-- Last week, U.S. Sen. David Perdue held a roundtable with local journalists in which he heaped praise upon U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta. He called Scott “one of the more reasonable guys I work with” and an “American hero.”

On Tuesday, Perdue indicated that the compliment wasn’t a one-off. Said the Republican senator:

“I want to take a second to thank, personally, David Scott. U.S. Rep. David Scott. He has been a long champion for our historically black colleges and universities. David has been a true leader – I’m proud to call him colleague.”

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Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, perhaps the most philosophically oriented contender in the field, will deliver the sermon on Sept. 1 at Hillside International Truth Center in Atlanta.

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Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s visit to Atlanta on Friday will involve more than a speech to the Black Churches PAC to highlight his new rural development plan. Patrick Saunders of Project Q reports that HGTV star Vern Yip and his husband will also host the gay presidential candidate for a fundraiser at their Atlanta home.

Among the other hosts is Kirk Rich, co-chair of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ LGBTQ advisory board. From Saunders’ story: 

Rich said Buttigieg – the mayor of South Bend, Ind. – being gay “is probably the last part of his brilliant qualities.”

“He’s this person running for office who is so bright, has served the country in combat, has a family, has a faith base in his life and can speak so eloquently about it without it always being on the gay platform, but on the platform of being highly intelligent and strategically very smart,” Rich [said].

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Project Q’s Patrick Saunders also has an interesting profile of Khalid Kamau, the gay South Fulton city councilman who is the state’s top elected member of the democratic socialist movement. 

Kamau told Saunders that he worried that being gay would disqualify him from running for office in South Fulton. From the story: 

“It’s overwhelmingly black, which sometimes translates to being more socially conservative.” 

But he said his sexuality was not an issue during the campaign …

“That was one of my biggest concerns about running for office, and it ended up being the smallest concern. So I just really encourage people to run for office and not let their fears stop them from doing that,” he added.

***

We got word that U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, will be speaking at a gun violence vigil at Liberty Plaza later this morning. "She will speak briefly about her faith, her son, and the urgent crisis of gun violence in this country," the media notice reads. "She will then begin reading names of those who have been lost to gun violence." 

McBath, who lost her son in a 2012 shooting, has been at the center of the recent gun control debate on Capitol Hill and has re-upped her push in the aftermath of the recent El Paso and Dayton shootings. 

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Now that state Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker,isn’t standing for another term, a race that just popped on our radar could be the most interesting Democratic primary in the Georgia Legislature next year.

State Rep. Michele Henson, first elected to represent a Stone Mountain-based district in 1990, will face a challenge from Zulma Lopez, an attorney who is married to Dax Lopez, the DeKalb County state judge with Republican connections.

Dax Lopez had been up for a federal judgeship, until opposition bubbled up from those upset with his ties to the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, a nonpartisan advocacy.

Zulma Lopez said in a statement that her campaign will be about “leadership and a community-based perspective.”

***

The city of Atlanta, along with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and others, filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit attempting to challenge the U.S. Census Bureau's policy of including undocumented people in its population counts. 

“It is unconscionable that in 2019 there is still a debate surrounding what defines a ‘person,’ which is why we will continue working to ensure that every resident is counted," said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who launched a year-long campaign in April to mobilize Atlanta residents ahead of the 2020 census.

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