The Liberty County courthouse.

The Jolt: The first African-American statue on a county courthouse lawn?

We talked this morning with an excited state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, who said Liberty County, down along the Georgia coast, had just made a bit of history.

“With all the legislation and stuff, it’s become very difficult to deal with Confederate statues, but I’ve always taken just a little different route,” Williams began. “And I was able to get my county commission to unanimously approve erecting a statue to a local hero.”

An African-American hero, to be specific.

In 1953, Ralph Waldo Quarterman established the local NAACP chapter, a risky thing to do at the time. In 1958, Quarterman became the first black candidate to chance a run for a seat on the Liberty County Commission in the 20th century.

He lost, even though the county was majority African-American at the time.

Quarterman began a prominent business career operating a small grocery store. But according to one Atlanta University thesis we were able to find, he was “lured” to Liberia in 1961 to help that country’s government set up and operate five sawmills.

He returned in 1962. Williams told us he met Quarterman as a teenager and spoke at the funeral for his mentor when he died of a heart attack at age 46 in 1964.

Then Williams said something that we can’t verify ourselves, but would be interested if someone else can. The longtime House member said Liberty County would be the first county in the South to erect a statue of an African-American on its courthouse lawn.

“Not a plaque, not a commemorative, but a statue,” Williams said. “I know it has not happened in Georgia.”

The statue will be paid for with private funds, he said. They are in search of an artist. Williams said he has talked to the sculptor who created the statue of Martin Luther King Jr., which was recently erected on the grounds of the state Capitol – but doesn’t think his community can afford him.

***

A board of education out in western Michigan has given us a glimpse of the future. Via the Washington Post:

A $48 million major construction project at Fruitport High School will add curved hallways to reduce a gunman’s range, jutting barriers to provide cover and egress, and meticulously spaced classrooms that can lock on demand and hide students in the corner, out of a killer’s sight.

“If I go to FPH and I want to be an active shooter, I’m going in knowing I have reduced sightlines,” Fruitport Superintendent Bob Szymoniak told The Washington Post about the curved hallways. “It has reduced his ability to do harm.”

***

Supporters of a Georgia version of a “red flag” law don’t need to look far for a compelling case for the new restrictions after the Texas and Ohio mass shootings. 

Tommy Burns, who was paralyzed last February after police say he was shot multiple times by his son, told 11 Alive that the “red flag” protections could have prevented the violence if he had the chance to make the case why his mentally ill son shouldn’t have a gun. 

“I was pondering, 'how can I keep him from obtaining this gun?' because he’s going to hurt someone," Burns told the TV station. 

The son, King Aaron Burns, has pleaded not guilty to charges of shooting his father and his sister. He was denied bond and is being held at the Fulton County Jail. 

State Rep. Matthew Wilson of Brookhaven has introduced a “red flag” bill, which would allow family members to petition a court to take weapons from a relative deemed to be dangerous. But his measure has not moved, and state Republicans have given little indication they will back the effort. President Donald Trump initially endorsed “red flag” legislation after the massacres in El Paso and Dayton, but has since backed away.

***

Federal campaign finance regulators on Thursday gave up on a request from former Georgia congressman Tom Price to allow him to use nearly $2 million in leftover campaign funds to start a health care and budget-focused think tank. 

The former Trump health chief and his lawyer, ex-White House counsel Stefan Passantino, have been seeking approval from the Federal Election Commission for several months.

The politically-divided FEC struggled with whether to grant Price approval at a “tense” hearing last month, and the commission said yesterday it was ultimately “unable to render an opinion by the required four affirmative votes and concluded its consideration of the request.” 

The Election Law Blog, run by University of California, Irvine law Professor Richard Hasen, says Price now has some options available to him: 

Price can now go ahead and try to do this anyway, but he cannot claim he relied upon a green light from the FEC. (Many more aggressive political folks use FEC deadlock as a green light.)

If Price goes ahead, there could be an FEC complaint and lawsuits. But those will take a long time to resolve and Price might treat it as the cost of doing business.

***

President Donald Trump’s campaign stepped up its efforts to appeal to women on Thursday with a series of nationwide events to train a corps of female backers. 

That included an event at the Cobb GOP featuring Kayleigh McEnany, who addressed a standing room only crowd packed into the Marietta building. 

It’s part of a string of rallies aimed at shoring up his shaky standing with women in places like Cobb, where GOP defections have helped Democrats win the county the last two election cycles. 

***

A federal judge handed Gov. Brian Kemp's administration a victory yesterday when it sided with Georgia and nine other states that had challenged an Obama-era clean water policy loathed by farmers and agriculture groups. The ruling doesn't change the situation on the ground, since the so-called Waters of the United States rule is already blocked in Georgia, but Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr cheered the decision. The latter called the 2015 policy “a clear example of federal overreach.” 

As we wrote in December, when Trump sought to roll back the regulation from Washington: 

Obama’s 2015 rule maintains that rivers used for drinking, recreation and fishing can only be clean if pollution from creeks and other bodies of water feeding into them — including ditches, wetlands and “ephemeral” streams that are created by rainfalls — is regulated. It cites authority from the Clean Water Act, which states it’s illegal to pollute waterways without a permit.

***

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue just became a target for animal rights groups. The Washington Post tells the story of an Iowa raccoon ranch, where 300 of the creatures were being raised as pets and for research.

For two days in the summer of 2017, the temperature inside a metal barn where they were kept hovered above 96 degrees, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector discovered. On the third day, the thermometer hit 100.

A USDA team confiscated 10 raccoons and made plans to come back for the others. Then, according to the Post, this happened:

But after an appeal from an industry group to a Trump White House adviser, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and senior USDA officials intervened, according to five former employees. The inspectors and veterinarians were blocked from taking the remaining raccoons and ordered to return those they had seized.

In the months that followed, the Iowa incident was described by USDA officials at internal meetings as an example of the new philosophy of animal welfare protection under the Trump administration and Perdue. Leaders of the agency’s Animal Care division told inspectors to treat those regulated by the agency — breeders, zoos, circuses, horse shows and research labs — more as partners than as potential offenders.

They have been told to emphasize education, not enforcement.

***

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that a Democratic National Committee panel voted Thursday to recommend the revocation of the credentials of Alabama Democratic Party chair Nancy Worley and vice-chair Randy Kelley. From the newspaper:

The decision by the DNC's Credentials Committee followed a hearing in which Alabama Democratic Party chair Nancy Worley — who was present for the hearing — and party leaders were all but accused of dragging their feet on orders to update state party bylaws and hold new leadership elections.

***

Former Georgia congressman John Barrow has released a lengthy list of middle Georgia supporters backing his campaign for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court. It’s a nonpartisan race, and so includes both Republicans and Democrats. Have a look:

-- Jimmy Andrews, Mayor of Sandersville

-- Nadine Bailey, Conyers Attorney

-- John Bell, Augusta Attorney

-- Phil Best, Mayor of Dublin

-- Debbie Buckner, State Representative

-- Helen Butler, Exec. Dir., Coalition for the People's Agenda

-- Chuck Byrd, Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Columbus 

-- Terry Coleman, Former Speaker, Georgia House of Representatives

-- David Cooke, District Attorney, Macon Judicial Circuit

-- Dean Couch, Former Sheriff of Glascock Co.

-- Horace Daniel, Chair, Washington Co. Commission

-- Hardie Davis, Mayor of Augusta-Richmond Co.

-- Rev. Dr. Sam Davis, Beulah Grove Baptist Church, Augusta

-- David J. Davis, Sheriff of Bibb Co.

-- Pam Dickerson, State Representative

-- Taylor Drake, Newnan Attorney

-- Edward Dubose, Former President, Ga. NAACP

-- Matthew Duncan, Augusta Attorney

-- Peter Durham, Newnan Attorney

-- Rev. Dr. Diane Evans, Jefferson Co.

-- William Evans, Mayor of Sparta

-- Rev. Dr. Johnny H. Flakes III, 4th Street Missionary Baptist Church, Columbus

-- Randy Frails, Augusta Attorney

-- Gloria Frazier, State Representative

-- Rev. Dr. Gregory M. Fuller, Macedonia Church of Augusta

-- John Graham, Chair, Warren Co. Commission

-- Lowell and Gloria Greenbaum, Augusta

-- Floyd Griffin, Former State Senator, Milledgeville

-- Lester Hadden, Former Mayor of Wrens

-- Henry Wayne Howard, State Representative

-- Sistie Hudson, Chair, Hancock Co. Commission

-- Gary Hutchins, Sheriff of Jefferson Co.

-- Mack Jackson, State Representative

-- George James, Former Mayor of Grovetown, Columbia Co.

-- Phil Johnson, Covington Attorney

-- Harold Jones, State Senator

-- Steven Kendrick, Richmond Co. Tax Commissioner

-- Rusty Kidd, Former State Representative, Baldwin Co.

-- Nathan Lee, Newnan Attorney

-- Bill Massee, Sheriff of Baldwin Co.

-- Michael Moore, Former U.S. Attorney, Atlanta

-- Mickey Moses, Jefferson Co. Attorney

-- Rev. Corey J. Neal, Greater Peace Baptist Church, Columbus

-- Sheila Nelson, State Representative

-- -- Sam Nicholson, Augusta Attorney

-- Natalie Paine, District Attorney, Augusta Judicial Circuit

-- Mary Parham-Copelan, Mayor of Milledgeville

-- DuBose Porter, Publisher, Former House Minority Leader

-- J. B. Powell, Former State Senator

-- Tomlyn Primus, Sheriff of Hancock Co.

-- Brian Prince, State Representative

-- Robert Reichert, Mayor of Macon-Bibb Co.

-- Albert Reichert, Jr., Macon Attorney

-- Marc Richards, Sheriff of Taliaferro Co.

-- Richard Roundtree, Sheriff of Richmond Co.

-- Dennis Sanders, Former Dist. Attorney, Toombs Judicial Circuit

-- Rabbi Larry Schlesinger, Commissioner, Macon-Bibb Co.

-- Lynn Sheffield, Sheriff of Dodge Co.

-- John Sheftal, Columbus Attorney

-- Allen Smith, Washington Co. Attorney

-- Thomas Smith (1960-2019), Sheriff of Washington Co.

-- Rev. Nathaniel D. Snead, Jr., Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Sparta

-- Donna Tompkins, Sheriff of Muskogee Co.

-- Bob Trammell, State Representative, Minority Leader

-- Tommy Vance, Carrollton Attorney

-- Virgil Watkins, Commissioner, Macon-Bibb Co.

-- Alfonzo Williams, Sheriff of Burke Co.

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