On the Friday, July 7 edition of Georgia Today: A new Georgia study on maternal mortality finds that most pregnancy-related deaths were preventable; A state audit looks at solitary confinement across facilities in Georgia's Department of Juvenile Justice; And the city of Macon celebrates its 200th birthday with a new anthem.

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, June 7. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, the state audit finds inconsistencies in youth solitary confinement practices at state juvenile justice facilities. A new study on maternal mortality finds that most pregnancy related deaths were preventable. And the city of Macon celebrates its 200th birthday with a new anthem. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.


Story 1:

Peter Biello: Four residents of unincorporated DeKalb County, are suing the city of Atlanta for the right to collect signatures for a referendum petition. The residents live near the site of the planned Public Safety Training Center, which they oppose. The referendum would ask voters to repeal the city's authorization of the project. Because they don't live inside the city of Atlanta, those residents are not eligible to collect signatures. The plaintiffs argue this violates the First Amendment right to petition the government. Opponents of the Public Safety Training Center now have less than two months to collect more than 70,000 signatures to get the question on the November ballot, citing pending litigation. A spokesperson for Mayor Andre Dickens declined to comment.


Story 2:

Peter Biello: A new state audit describes glaring inconsistencies and why, how and for how long youth are subjected to solitary confinement across facilities and Georgia's Department of Juvenile Justice. GPB's Grant Blankenship has more.

Grant Blankenship: The Department of Juvenile Justice has no limit to how long an incarcerated child deemed dangerous can be kept in isolation. Meanwhile, in the highest security DJJ facilities, the average duration of solitary confinement increased by almost fourfold between 2018 and 2022 to about 13 days. That's according to the report compiled by Georgia's Department of Audits and Accounts. A handful of times, children stayed in solitary for over a month. In one facility, every child was isolated on the weekend when staffing was short. The director there was fired. Topping auditor recommendations is a limit on the duration of isolation, which experts warn can result in mental health issues ranging from depression to psychosis. The Department of Juvenile Justice says they will apply the findings to a new strategic plan. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.


Story 3:

Peter Biello: Parts of the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta will remain closed going into a second weekend following a water treatment plant malfunction in Roswell. The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper said this afternoon that samples taken this week show dramatic improvement in water quality, but it's still not safe to open the river tomorrow. An investigation by plant contractors and staff found that biological processes used to treat wastewater at the plant were out of balance, causing a release of E. coli bacteria.


Story 4:

Peter Biello: The University of Georgia has sold the largest undeveloped parcel of land on South Georgia's Lake Blackshear. The 2,500 acre property's $18 million sale will fund the university's School of Forestry and Natural Resources. The site has been used for timber and hunting since businessman Charles Wheatley donated it to UGA in 1989.

Story 5:

Peter Biello: A committee looking into maternal mortality finds that almost 90% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. GPB's Sofi Gratas reports the committee reviewed more than 100 maternal deaths from 2018 to 2020.

Sofi Gratis: While cardiac complications were the leading cause of death among Black mothers, whose maternal mortality rates are already twice as high, it was mental health crises for white mothers. That's just one disparity highlighted by the report. But what nearly all pregnancy related deaths had in common is they happened up to one year postpartum. Professor at Georgia Southern University, Heidi Altman, runs the Georgia Moms Project. She says she's found most moms feel overwhelmed and unprepared after pregnancy.

Heidi Altman: There are just many, many opportunities for people to have disconnects around this. And I'm not sure what the solution is, except to have more providers and have more, you know, education of providers about who their patients might be.

Sofi Gratis: The state will use recommendations from the committee to inform future decisions on maternal health care. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas.


Story 6:

Peter Biello: A group of Georgia housing advocates is working to establish more legal protections for tenants facing eviction. GPB's Amanda Andrews explains they'll start with a town hall this Saturday.

Amanda Andrews: The event is called Rent Control Now. The Housing Justice League is co-hosting it with community leaders from Albany, Columbus, Savannah and Valdosta. Tenants will share housing issues they're seeing in their communities and solutions to fight displacement, League executive director Allison Johnson says their goal is to create a tenant's Bill of Rights advocating for rent control.

Allison Johnson: Georgia must repeal the ban that it has on rent control. So many of our families have been pushed out of the city because of — neighborhoods have been gentrified, development has happened and rents have just soared.

Amanda Andrews: A bill to remove Georgia's long ban on rent control stalled in the state's last legislative session, but could return in 2024. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.


Story 7:

Peter Biello: College Football Hall of Famer and former North Carolina State and Furman coach Dick Sheridan died yesterday. He died at a medical center in Myrtle Beach. No cause of death was given. Sheridan was from Augusta, Ga. He began his college coaching tenure at Furman in 1978 and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2020. Dick Sheridan was 81 years old.

President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn.

Founders of The Carter Center, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter pictured in 1979.

Credit: Jimmy Carter Library

Story 8:

Peter Biello: Today is July 7. Put another way, it's the seventh day of the seventh month of the year. And today, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are marking their 77th wedding anniversary with a quiet Friday at their home in Plains, Ga. The two were married in 1946 and Plains at ages 21 and 18, and they hold the record for the longest-married first couple. Both Carters credit their long marriage to open communication and their shared Christian faith. In February, the Carter Center announced that Jimmy Carter, who was 98, was moving into hospice care. And in May, the center said that Rosalynn Carter, who is 95, has dementia.


Story 9:

Peter Biello: This year is the city of Macon's 200th birthday. As part of the yearlong celebration, community leaders decided they needed a bicentennial anthem packed full of city history. Little did they know local musician CMD Styles had already written one years ago. GPB's Eliza Moore brings us this audio postcard.

MUSIC: CMD Styles - "I Love My City": Hey, what's going on, man? It's your boy CMD. I need everybody to put they walkin' shoes on, man. We gon' stroll around my city. Macon, Georgia. Y'all ready?

CMD Styles: Hey, I am Carl M. Dudley Jr, better known as CMD Styles. Music to me is just life. It gives me energy, like being on the stage. I'm the type of person, I just like to do research. So when I was doing the Macon song, I knew about a few of the things, just from elementary school field trips and people talking about this or that. Most of the things in the song that people may not be aware of, like that line where I say "Let Blue Moon go along and throw out the first pitch," you know. "Blue Moon" Odom was a baseball player from Macon who won the World Series. 

When city leaders in Macon decided they needed a special song to celebrate the city's bicentennial year, they looked to Carl Dudley, Jr., aka CMD Styles, and a song he'd written years ago.

When city leaders in Macon decided they needed a special song to celebrate the city's bicentennial year, they looked to Carl Dudley Jr., aka CMD Styles, and a song he'd written years ago.

Credit: Eliza Moore / GPB News

I think they had a contest or something downtown, and I wrote it and recorded it, but I didn't get back in town in time enough to, I guess, submit it to the committee. And after that I just decided to release it on my own and used it to try to instill — instill some pride in Macon.

I threw some of my old music out there, and I think the bicentennial committee just happened to come across the song and they said they thought that it fit, you know, the narrative and asked me to re — re-record it; basically update it a little bit. It's a good song, I think. I think it represents Macon well. And I was honored.

Unfortunately, to a certain extent, we're still hanging on to Otis Redding and Little Richard and Allman Brothers when there's so much more talent here, so much more great artists, great bands. Hopefully we can rekindle some of that flame.

Macon is homegrown. It's where I learned everything, and that's what taught me everything I know. When you leave Macon, have — you know, stick your chest out a little bit. You know, I think if we learn to love ourselves and love our city and love one another, Macon will be a better place.


Story 10:

Peter Biello: In sports, the Atlanta Braves are in Florida for a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning tonight. The Braves and the Rays have the first- and second-best records in baseball, respectively. Charlie Morton is scheduled to get the start for the Braves tonight. The Braves have had a stellar first half of the season, powered by a productive offense and perhaps most notably a pitching staff with two of its strongest starters on the injured list. Max Fried has been on the injured list since May, but he will be on rehab with AAA Gwinnett on Sunday in their game against Omaha. He will likely make three or four rehab starts before possibly being activated near the end of July. Kyle Wright has also been out of commission with a right shoulder strain and is still a couple of months away from rejoining the rotation. In soccer, Atlanta United today announced that Edwin Mosquera has been officially added to the first team roster after receiving his international transfer certificate and will be eligible for selection this Saturday against CF Montreal. The Colombian spent the first half of the season on loan to another team. Mosquera joined Atlanta United about a year ago. Last season the winger played in a dozen matches and had two assists in just 302 minutes of play. And in basketball, the Atlanta Dream face the Chicago Sky on the road tonight.

And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit GPB.org/news. And remember to hit subscribe on this podcast, because we will be back with you on Monday, and subscribing to this podcast is the best way to stay on top of the news with Georgia Today. If you've got feedback or a story idea, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. Have a great weekend and we'll see you on Monday.


For more on these stories and more go to GPB.org/news.

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