Georgia Today: Election fraud trial update; Invasive hornets; Gates Foundation honors Jimmy Carter
LISTEN: On the Wednesday, Sept. 20 edition of Georgia Today: Attorneys for three Republicans who falsely claimed to be Georgia's official presidential electors appear in federal court; the second nest from an invasive hornet species is found and destroyed in Savannah; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives its lifetime achievement award to Jimmy Carter.
Orlando Montoya: Hello and welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Wednesday, Sept. 20. I'm Orlando Montoya. On today's episode, attorneys for three Republicans who falsely claim to be Georgia's official presidential electors appear in federal court. The second nest from an invasive hornet species is found and destroyed in Savannah. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives its lifetime achievement award to Jimmy Carter. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Orlando Montoya: Attorneys for three Republicans who falsely claim to be Georgia's official presidential electors appeared in federal court today. GPB's Stephen Fowler reports they want their client's cases to be moved to a federal court instead of a state court in Atlanta.
Stephen Fowler: David Shafer, Shawn Still and Cathy Latham signed their names on documents that improperly claimed they were, quote, "duly elected and qualified" as Georgia's presidential electors at a December 2020 meeting. Their lawyers argued in a court hearing that federal law required them to submit Electoral College documents as a contingency because of a lawsuit filed by Donald Trump challenging Georgia's election results. They claim they were acting as federal officials and as such should have their case heard in federal court. But the Fulton County DA's office called the arguments, quote, "nonsense," pointing out they never were official electors and that even if the election challenge was successful, the outcome would be a new election rather than flipping the state to Trump. Judge Steve Jones said he will rule quickly on the case. For GPB News, I'm Stephen Fowler.
Orlando Montoya: The U.S. Department of Education has recognized eight Georgia schools as Blue Ribbon schools this year. The Georgia schools were among more than 300 receiving the agency's highest award yesterday. Blue Ribbon schools are recognized either for high performance on state and national tests or for closing achievement gaps among student groups. This year's awards include three public elementary schools in Duluth, Snellville and Warner Robins, two public middle schools in Albany and Rocky Face, and three private Catholic schools in Atlanta, Columbus and Roswell.
Orlando Montoya: The state agency that oversees mental health services is partnering with a Macon-based provider to open a health care center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Leaders say it's the first of its kind in the country. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.
Sofi Gratas: Over $7 million from the state is funding the construction of a 16-bed crisis unit in Macon for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities or IDD. The center will be run by Macon's River Edge Behavioral Health. Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Kevin Tanner, says too often people with IDD going through a behavioral health crisis get stuck in emergency rooms without proper care.
Kevin Tanner: That's not the proper place for them. They need to be somewhere they can have the right treatment and the people who understand how to treat them properly. This facility is going to be one-of-a-kind. It's going to be the first of its kind, and I think it's going to become a national model.
Sofi Gratas: Tanner says the center will also offer inpatient and outpatient services and be a temporary stop on a longer road toward permanent housing and care. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas in Macon.
Orlando Montoya: State agriculture officials say a second nest belonging to an invasive hornet species has been found and destroyed near Savannah. As GPB's Benjamin Payne reports, today's announcement comes a month after the discovery of the nation's first known nest of yellow-legged hornets.
Benjamin Payne: Crews located the second nest Friday beneath a bridge on Wilmington Island and dismantled it that same day. Native to Southeast Asia, yellow-legged hornets prey on bees and other pollinators crucial to crops. The hornets from this nest showed no evidence of any new queens being produced, which Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper says is a good sign.
Tyler Harper: The fact that this process has not started happening yet in this particular nest increases our chance of successful and complete eradication.
Benjamin Payne: However, Harper cautioned that the species can't be considered eradicated until three years have gone by without a sighting. Other individual specimens were found on Whitmarsh Island in the town of Thunderbolt. Harper says it's very likely the yellow-legged hornets got to the U.S. through the port of Savannah. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne.
Orlando Montoya: Georgia is getting $1.3 million to acquire land to protect several threatened or endangered species. The grants were among those announced Monday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to 11 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will use the funds to protect red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises and wood storks. State officials have not yet decided where the grant money will be used to acquire land.
Orlando Montoya: Some business owners in Rome are expressing concern about a proposed ordinance aimed at curbing downtown noise. City officials unveiled the ordinance after hearing complaints from downtown residents about noisy cars and music from nightclubs. Justin Shepherd operates River Remedy Brewing a few blocks from the city's main downtown corridor on Broad Street.
Justin Shepherd: I believe there are still a few people living in the downtown area feeling that this should be a quiet local downtown area, the old-timey quiet town. But Rome is growing.
Orlando Montoya: City officials at a public hearing yesterday said the challenge is balancing residential and business concerns to grow a vibrant downtown. Shepherd says officials heard business feedback and could rework or pause the ordinance. Similar disputes have roiled other Georgia cities in recent years, including Athens and Savannah.
Orlando Montoya: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award to former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter. The CEO of the Carter Center, Paige Alexander, accepted the honor on the couple's behalf at a ceremony yesterday in New York City. In its award, the foundation recognized the Carters for their work, leading to the near-eradication of Guinea worm disease, their work for peace and democracy, and their trailblazing leadership.
Orlando Montoya: Georgia's longest-serving sheriff says he won't seek reelection after more than 50 years in office. 91-year-old Sheriff Cullen Talton of Middle Georgia's Houston County told county commissioners yesterday that he intends to step down at the end of his term. Commissioners called him the longest-serving sheriff in the nation. He was first elected in 1972 and is in his 13th term as the county's top law enforcement officer.
Orlando Montoya: And in Georgia sports, the Atlanta Braves lost to the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon, 6-5 in 10 innings. Starting pitcher Bryce Elder kicked off the game with a couple of walks, one of which turned into a run. Elder also gave up two home runs. Manager Brian Snitker says the whole outing was a struggle.
Brian Snitker: You know, it's just one of them days where it's just, you know, we got into the fourth inning and it's like, this thing isn't getting any better.
Orlando Montoya: Atlanta is now 8 and 13 against the Phillies this year. The Braves could face the Phillies in the post-season. The Braves now hit the road for a four-game series starting tomorrow against the Washington Nationals.
And that's all we have for today's edition of Georgia Today. There'll be more tomorrow. And until then, if you'd like to learn more about these stories, visit GPB.org/news. We have many of them in greater detail there. And if you haven't hit subscribe yet on this podcast, please do so right now. That helps you to keep us current in your feed. And as always, send feedback about our podcast to GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. We'd love to hear from you. Peter Biello is at the Braves game today, and so he'll file on that tomorrow. So you can hear it on tomorrow's edition of Georgia Today. Until then, I'm Orlando Montoya, thanking you for being here. Have a good night.
For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news.
Read the latest updates on the Georgia indictments here.