Georgia Today: Election Fraud Trial update; CDC braces for shutdown; Midtown Tower
LISTEN: On the Tuesday, Sept. 26 edition of Georgia Today: A judge orders the identities of the jurors in the 2020 Georgia election interference trial to be kept secret; the CDC is bracing for a possible government shutdown; and the tallest building in more than three decades will soon be a part Atlanta skyline.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Tuesday, Sept. 26. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, a judge orders the identities of the jurors in the 2020 Georgia election interference trial be kept secret. The CDC is bracing for a possible government shutdown. And the tallest building in more than three decades will soon be a part of the Atlanta skyline. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: The judge overseeing Georgia's 2020 election interference trial in Fulton County is ordering the identities of trial jurors be kept secret. GPB's Stephen Fowler has more.
Stephen Fowler: The order from Judge Scott McCarthy enacts strict rules against disclosing details about the jury that will hear the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and 18 others who tried to overturn Georgia's 2020 presidential election results. That includes a ban on videotaping, photographing or recording the jurors, plus revealing any identifying information like name, address or other attributes. The only exception will be audio of any announcement of the jury's verdict or questions for the judge. Information about the jurors that handed up the indictments against Trump and others last month was published online and led to harassment and threats, the DA's office says. The first trial of lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, is slated to begin at the end of October. For GPB News, I'm Stephen Fowler.
Peter Biello: U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is joining a growing number of Democratic senators calling on New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez to resign. Menendez is the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was indicted last week on charges of using his position to aid the authoritarian government of Egypt and also to pressure federal prosecutors to drop a case against a friend. Warnock says Menendez is free to make his case in court, but should step aside for the good of public trust in government.
Peter Biello: Vice President Kamala Harris paid a visit to Atlanta today. She spoke at a moderated panel discussion this afternoon at Morehouse College. The event was aimed at energizing young adults around issues including climate change and abortion rights.
VP Kamala Harris: The top 10 states with maternal mortality, almost every one of them also has an abortion ban. So the hypocrisy again abounds because these people who are pushing these ban dare to tell us, well, "this is for the sake of women and their children." Well, then why have you been silent on maternal mortality.
Peter Biello: Harris also is scheduled to give remarks at a reception for her and President Joe Biden's reelection campaign.
Peter Biello: Officials at Georgia food banks are worried about a possible government shutdown. GPB's Grant Blankenship reports, if Congress fails to pass needed spending bills by the end of the week, a lot more people could become food insecure.
Grant Blankenship: About a quarter million Georgia residents are enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, food aid program, which USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says would quickly be stressed by a shutdown. Dana Craft leads the Food Bank Coalition feeding Georgia. She says here, WIC could weather a short shutdown. She's worried about federal employees deemed essential and living paycheck to paycheck, like the Transportation Safety Administration employees at a food distribution during the last shutdown.
Dana Craft: They were still paying for child care. They were still spending gas to come to work, but they weren't getting a paycheck. And there just aren't a lot of households that can absorb that for any period of time.
Grant Blankenship: Craft also says Georgia food banks are already at their limit, with 25% higher demand than before the COVID pandemic. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship.
Peter Biello: Atlanta-based UPS says it plans to hire more than 100,000 workers to help handle the holiday rush this year. That number is on par with the shipping giant's seasonal hiring over the past three years. Despite a bump in pay included in a tentative five-year contract with the Teamsters union last month, UPS officials say it still could be difficult to find workers, given the tight job market. Seasonal package drivers will get a minimum hourly pay of $23, while package handlers will get $21.
Peter Biello: The Metro Atlanta Chamber kicked off a monthlong series of events today to showcase the region's innovation ecosystem. InnovATL is the chamber's new unified brand for a number of technology startup, higher education and entrepreneur events, including the former Innovation Week. The chamber's chief innovation and marketing officer, Alex Gonzalez, says the events cover a wide variety of industries, with national leaders in metro Atlanta.
Alex Gonzalez: AI as an example: AI is a topic that several of our event organizers are doing, including Georgia Tech. And that's really a topic, whether you're in logistics or whether you're in fintech, applies to you. And so innovation really embraces all industries.
Peter Biello: Events include one of the nation's largest venture capital conferences, the Atlanta Startup Awards and the Atlanta Design Festival.
Peter Biello: Construction began recently on what's poised to become Georgia's tallest new building in 30 years. GPB's Orlando Montoya reports on the economics behind the 60-story addition coming to Atlanta skyline.
Orlando Montoya: Office vacancy rates remain stubbornly high as employers nationwide struggle with getting workers to give up working from home. The answer, at least from the developer of the new tower in Midtown Atlanta, New York-based Rockefeller Group is what Tom Davenport of Colliers International calls unparalleled amenities like the area's largest outdoor deck.
Tom Davenport: There's a clear trend to trading up to better quality assets so that they can offer the best environment to their employees, especially as an inducement come into the office.
Orlando Montoya: Also, only nine of its floors will be devoted to office space. More than 40 floors will be residential. That will make it, when finished in 2025, the state's tallest residential tower. For GPB News, I'm Orlando Montoya.
Peter Biello: Tomorrow is HIV Awareness Day. In the early '80s, when the virus first emerged, there were few options for treating it, and thousands died of its late-stage illness aids. Now doctors have treatments that can help those with HIV live healthy lives. GPB's Ellen Eldrirdge reports.
Ellen Eldridge: Georgia is one of the top states in the country for new HIV infections, and 1 in 8 people who has the disease does not know it. So experts say communities need more testing, early intervention and treatment. Dr. Laura Cheever is with the HIV/AIDS Bureau of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
Dr. Laura Cheever: There are a lot of great prevention strategies, including prep — pre-exposure prophylaxis — which means someone at risk for HIV can take either one pill once a day or get an injection either once a month or once every two months to prevent getting HIV. So we have what we need today to end this epidemic.
Ellen Eldridge: She says the Southeast accounts for about half of all the new HIV cases in the U.S. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.
Peter Biello: Georgia public school students SAT scores outperformed the nation's average for the sixth year in a row. The state's public school class of 2023 recorded a mean score of 1045. That's 42 points above the national average. However, those scores are lower than the previous years for both Georgia and the nation and a lower percentage of the state's public school Class of 2023 took the SATs at 50%.
Peter Biello: In sports, the Braves host the Chicago Cubs tonight for the first of a three-game series. Bryce Elder will get the start for the Braves. Tomorrow, the Braves expect to welcome their 3 millionth fan into Truist Park this season. It's the second time the Braves have reached this mark at Truist Park during the regular season and the seventh time in franchise history. The record for the highest regular season attendance was in 1993, with nearly 3.9 million fans.
Peter Biello: And that is it for today's edition of Georgia Today. We do appreciate you tuning in. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, read more at GPB.org/news. And if you haven't subscribed to this podcast yet, we highly recommend you do it now. Take a couple of minutes and we will pop up automatically tomorrow in your podcast feed. As always, if you've got feedback, we would love to hear from you. We take story ideas as well. The email address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.
For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news.
Read the latest updates on the Georgia indictments here.