Georgia Today: Abortion ban remains; New guilty plea in election fraud trial; Firehouse closures
On the Tuesday, Oct. 24 edition of Georgia Today: The Georgia Supreme Court allows the state's abortion ban to stay in place; another guilty plea in the 20-20 election interference racketeering case; and the city of Atlanta is forced to shut down several fire houses due to equipment and firefighter shortages.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Tuesday, Oct. 24. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, the Georgia Supreme Court allows the state's abortion ban to stay in place. Another guilty plea in the 2020 election interference racketeering case. And the city of Atlanta is forced to shut down several firehouses due to equipment and firefighter shortages. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: The Georgia Supreme Court will allow the state's six-week abortion ban to stand. GPB's Sarah Kallis has more on the ruling from the court today.
Sarah Kallis: The court reversed an earlier decision by a lower court judge to block the law. Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney alleged it was void because abortions and pregnancies up to 20 weeks were legal in every state in 2019, when the law was passed. The Georgia Supreme Court sided with the state, saying the Legislature was allowed to write new laws challenging current ones. Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreiss said the decision still leaves some questions unanswered.
Anthony Michael Kreiss: What was not answered by either the district — the superior court trial judge, Judge McBurney, or the Georgia Supreme Court was whether there's a fundamental right to abortion access under the Georgia Constitution.
Sarah Kallis: Abortion after six weeks of pregnancy remains illegal in Georgia, with few exceptions. For GPB News, I'm Sarah Kallis.
Peter Biello: Attorney Jenna Ellis today became the fourth defendant to enter a guilty plea in Georgia's 2020 election interference racketeering case. GPB's Stephen Fowler has more.
Stephen Fowler: Ellis was once part of Donald Trump's, quote, "elite Strikeforce team" litigating efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Now she's agreed to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings, which comes with five years' probation, a $5,000 fine, community service and more. In a tearful statement to the judge, Ellis apologized for her actions, which included pushing false claims about Georgia's vote count and election systems at a state Senate hearing in 2020.
Jenna Ellis: If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges.
Stephen Fowler: Ellis is the fourth defendant to take a plea deal, joining attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell and bail bondsman Scott Hall in avoiding jail time but lengthy trial or harsher penalties under the racketeering case. For GPB News, I'm Stephen Fowler.
Peter Biello: Coca-Cola is raising its full-year revenue forecast after a stronger than expected third quarter. The Atlanta beverage giant said its net revenue grew 8% to nearly $12 billion. That topped the $11.4 billion Wall Street forecast. That's according to analysts polled by FactSet.
Peter Biello: The city of Atlanta is temporarily closing three of its three fire stations because of truck breakdowns and a shortage of firefighters. Atlanta Fire Rescue Chief Roderick Smith told a city council committee that the department had 17 fire trucks out of service yesterday. Eleven vehicles were on order but delayed because of manufacturing backlogs. He also says the number of emergency calls has doubled compared to last year. Council members are considering a request to spend more than $16 million to buy a dozen more fire engines and other vehicles, but they might not arrive for another three years.
Peter Biello: Two Northwest Georgia health providers are combining. Atrium Health Floyd said yesterday that it has acquired Northwest Georgia Medical Clinic. Atrium Health Floyd operates three hospitals and employs about 3,500 employees in the region. Northwest Georgia Medical Center provides obstetrical, gynecological and family medical services in Rome.
Peter Biello: Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has appointed the city's first-ever labor commissioner. John Flanagan will lead the city's Department of Labor and Employment Services. The department was created last year to expand employment resources and fair labor practices and to oversee job training programs in Atlanta. Flanagan comes from Florida, where he most recently served as president and CEO of Career Source Tampa Bay.
Peter Biello: As the Atlanta metro area grows, leaders of its popular BeltLine Trail are looking for ways to reduce the city's reliance on cars. BeltLine and city leaders met this morning for an update on the 22-mile, pedestrian- and bike-friendly path around the city. Leaders say more than 85% will be under construction or completed by the end of next year. BeltLine CEO Clyde Higgs says the path is meant to give people options to reach schools, hospitals and restaurants.
Clyde Higgs: Whatever it is that really contributes to — to your life, we want to create these whole communities where you don't have to necessarily get in a personal vehicle.
Peter Biello: Plans for the BeltLine include some light rail on the East Side trail, which critics say could change the character of the path. The entire path circling the city is scheduled to be completed by 2030.
Peter Biello: Macon's downtown Bibb Theatre opened in the 1930s, but has been shuttered for decades. Now it's getting some action. The facade of the historic theater will play host to an outdoor classic film series this fall that kicked off this weekend with an inaugural lighting of the theater's billboard. While the future of the building remains unknown, Macon residents hold fond memories of its past. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more in this audio postcard.
Theatre worker: Popcorn's ready for people. If you want some popcorn!
Emily Hopkins: This is a film series where we're screening classic movies that would have been made during the time that the Bibb Theater was open: about 1938 to 1964. My name is Emily Hopkins and I am the vice president of external affairs at Newtown Macon. So we're kicking it off with Rear Window, which is a Hitchcock thriller, just in time for spooky season.
Scott Mitchell: Good evening, everybody, and welcome to Classics of the Bibb. I'm Scott Mitchell. I am on the Main Street Board and also serve as the treasurer this year. Emily and I had worked on another grant for downtown. We were standing right there and we looked up at the Bibb and said, We can probably project movies onto that building if we can figure out how to do it. And so we wrote a grsnt.
Emily Hopkins: We jumped at the opportunity to save downtown Macon's last remaining historic theater. But it's been at least 40 years since it was opened to the public and operating here.
Candy Brewer: It's Candy. Candy Brewer. On Saturday, you come down down to the theater and we just always did. But there were about five downtown theaters, but Bibb was one of the newer ones. And it was always one of the best. I can't remember the films. I don't remember exactly. It seems like it had the red chairs — you, chairs. And like I said, it was one of the newer ones, so it was always real nice. But I was hoping they could have a theater here and show classics inside.
Jimmy Stewant in Rear Window: Just how would you start to cut up a human body?
Grace Kelly in Rear Window: Jeff I'll be honest with you. You're beginning to scare me.
Ken McEwan: People don't realize what they're missing. You know, I mean, you see your friends, you see, you know, it's just fun. This is what the old theaters used to be like. Ken McEwan.
Matty Fisher: Matty Fisher.
Ken McEwan: You know, it's nice to have the videos on TV and everything, but this is fun.
Matty Fisher: Why don't they reopen this theater?
Ken McEwan: They need to bring it back.
Emily Hopkins: We've been working for the past several years to stabilize the building. We had to rebuild the floor. The building itself was in pretty bad shape. Right now, it's kind of an empty shell. So there aren't the theater seats in it anymore. It's kind of just an open ramp. So it really is kind of a blank slate for anybody who has an idea.
Scott Mitchell: So I want y'all to look at your neighbors and I want you to say hey, yall!, I need you to do that. We're here to build the community in Macon. With that being said, we are now going to light the Bibb Theatre for the first time in 40 years.
Peter Biello: You just heard from Emily Hopkins with Newtown Macon, local business owner Scott Mitchell and other Macon residents at a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, the first at the city's Bibb Theatre in 40 years.
Peter Biello: And finally, a homeowner is mulling her next step after a company mistakenly demolished her home in Southwest Atlanta. Susan Hodgson says she found a pile of rubble where her longtime family property used to be when she returned from vacation last month. Hodgson says she's in shock and furious. The company, You Call It We Haul it, told WAGA-TV that it's investigating and working on a resolution.
Peter Biello: And that's it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit our website, GPB.org/news. And if you haven't yet subscribed to this podcast, take a moment and do it now. That'll keep us current in your podcast feed. And if you've got feedback or a story idea we should know about end us a note by email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thank you very much for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.
For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news.
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