On the Friday May 24th edition of Georgia Today: A former employee of Fulton County DA Fani Willis testifies before congress about the DA; Workers at the Blue Bird school bus manufacturing facility approve their first union-negotiated labor contract; And the baseball hall of fame unveils a new statue of Braves legend Hank Aaron.

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, May 24th. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, a former employee of Fulton County, DA Fani Willis, testifies before Congress about the DA. Workers at the Blue Bird schoolbus manufacturing facility approved their first union negotiated labor contract. and the Baseball Hall of Fame unveils a new statue of Braves legend Hank Aaron. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.

Story 1:

Peter Biello: A former employee of Fulton County, District Attorney Fani Willis says Willis retaliated against her for reporting misappropriated grant money. The testimony came at a hearing yesterday in a Republican led investigation into the prosecutor leading Georgia's case against former President Donald Trump. GPB's Sarah Kallis reports.

Sarah Kallis: Senators heard from Amanda Timpson, a former employee of the Fulton DA's office who headed up a program to prevent youth gang involvement. She is alleging that Willis overlooked the misuse of grant money and demoted, and eventually fired her when she pointed it out.

Amanda Timpson: I'm here today to fight for my reputation, to fight for the youth of Fulton County, but also for the truth.

Sarah Kallis: The district Attorney's office denies the allegations. Democrats on the committee say that Timpson's allegations were not relevant to the investigation, but has mostly focused on Willis's prosecution of former President Donald Trump. Republicans say hearing abuse of power allegations against Willis are necessary. Wallace had declined to appear before the committee and leaders threatened to subpoena her for GPB news, I'm Sarah Kallis in Atlanta.

Story 2:

Peter Biello: Meanwhile, the sprawling slow-moving case against Trump continues. Yesterday, Willis appeal the ruling that dismissed some of the charges against the former president and other defendants in the case alleging criminal interference in Georgia's 2020 election. The filing didn't detail why she appealed. The ruling in March was a setback for Willis, although it left much of her indictment intact.

A child walks toward a yellow school bus stopped in a residential street.

A child walks toward a yellow school bus stopped in a residential street.

Credit: AP Photo/Mike Stewart

Story 3:

Peter Biello: Workers at the Bluebird school bus manufacturing facility in Fort Valley have approved their first union negotiated labor contract. GPB's Grant Blankenship has more.

Grant Blankenship: Blue Bird manufacturing has enjoyed financial windfalls now that the Middle Georgia factory is one of the leading U.S. builders of electric school busses. It's one reason Blue Bird workers voted to join the United Steelworkers union a year ago. Now, under a new contract backed by workers and the company, there will be ways for workers to share in the good times, with benefits like profit sharing, matching 401 K contributions and a pay scale, getting low paid workers wage parity with more highly paid peers. Delushundra Thomas works in the paint shop and was a contract negotiator.

Delushundra Thomas: This is a huge win for the South. People down here not really organizing. It has other companies looking at where we've achieved to see if they'll be able to do it at their facilities.

Grant Blankenship: The Bluebird contract will be good through May of 2027. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.

Story 4:

Peter Biello: The Biden administration is widening protections for farm workers in the country with temporary visas. About 35,000 workers are employed in Georgia under these visas every year. GPB's Sofi Gratis has more on what the new rule will mean for them.

Sofi Gratis: Georgia farmers rely heavily on the H-2a visa program, but protections for foreign farm workers have been historically lax. The new Department of Labor rule makes some changes. It says employers can't fire workers without a reported justified cause, or restrict visitors like attorneys or health care workers, to worker housing. It also clarifies anti retaliation measures. Soli Mercado Spencer with Georgia Legal Services, says she hopes that helps with the lack of oversight.

Soli Mercado Spencer: There's a lot of skirting of the rules, loopholes and workers not getting paid. But if workers are protected to join in groups and and organized, that might give the workers more power to change things.

Sofi Gratis: These new regulations go into effect on June 28th. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratis.

Story 5:

Peter Biello: A new report underscores the growing footprint of South Korean solar panel manufacturer Q-Cells in northeast Georgia. Business data provider Chmura says in its fourth quarter 2023 employment report that the company is responsible for 3800 direct and 6700 indirect jobs in Bartow and Whitfield counties. It also produced more than $2 billion in potential sales output in those counties. Q-Cells finished building a factory in Dalton in 2023, and is building a factory in Cartersville that's expected to be complete by the end of this year. The company's investment in the expansions is a reported $2.5 billion.

Story 6:

Peter Biello: The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, has unveiled a statue of Atlanta Braves legend Hank Aaron. The Hall of Famer's widow, Billye Aaron, joined baseball luminaries and other guests at the unveiling yesterday. The new statue depicts Aaron holding a bat in his right hand and wearing his Braves uniform. Its location at the museum's entrance ensures it's one of the first thing thousands of visitors each year will see when they arrive there. Aaron was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982 after a 23 year big league career. His career included the breaking of Babe Ruth's home run record at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium 50 years ago.

Outkast's Andre 3000 with his flute
Credit: Kai Regan/Courtesy of the artist

Story 6:

Peter Biello: This weekend is the Atlanta Jazz Festival, billed as one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country. The event brings jazz artists from all over the world to Piedmont Park every Memorial Day weekend. One of the most buzzed about performances this year comes from Andre 3000 from Outkast. He's scheduled to perform from his new flute album, "New Blue Sun", on Monday.

Story 7:

Peter Biello: In sports, the Atlanta Braves face the Pirates in Pittsburgh tonight for the first of a three game series. Ray Kerr will make his first start for the Braves tonight. Kerr has appeared as a reliever a few times this season and has made an impression, earning a 324 ERA over the last six starts. Kerr says after years of playing in the minor leagues, he's still learning how to be a big leaguer.

Ray Kerr: And I just love being out there. Honestly, this is a dream come true, honestly. Every time I step on the field, I always look around, soak in where I'm at, and then I get to work.

Peter Biello: When Kerr gets to work today, he'll be backed by an infield that still does not have Austin Riley at third base, who's still healing from a left side injury. Zach Shaw will be filling in at the hot corner today. The game is scheduled for 6:40.


Peter Biello: 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 subscribe to this podcast. That way we'll pop up in your podcast feed next week. And if you've got feedback, we'd love to hear from you. The email address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. Have a great Memorial Day weekend. We'll see you next week.



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

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