LISTEN: On the Wednesday, June 12 edition of Georgia Today: We'll tell you how yesterday's mass shooting in Atlanta and the bus hijacking are connected; Macon-Bibb County voters experience technical problems at the ballot box; and a historic Columbus baseball stadium is getting a $50 million renovation — and a new name.

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Wednesday, June 12. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, we'll tell you how yesterday's mass shooting in Atlanta and the bus hijacking are connected. Macon-Bibb County voters experienced technical problems at the ballot box in a historic Columbus baseball stadium is getting a $50 million renovation and a new name. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.

Voting machines
Credit: Stephen Fowler/GPB News

Story 1:

Peter Biello: Problems with ballots that surfaced in Macon-Bibb County's May primary are persisting heading into the runoff election. Early voting is already underway, and the election is next Tuesday. GPB's Grant Blankenship explains.

Grant Blankenship: During the May primary, some Macon voters found their ballots reflected the wrong county commission or state House districts. The problems are ongoing in the June runoffs for those same races. That's drawn the ire of the state NAACP. Tom Gillen is the Bibb County elections supervisor. He blames the lingering issues on Bibb County's response to a recent cyberattack on its computer systems.

Tom Gillen: The attack itself didn't cause us any real problems. It was the defenses against the attack.

Grant Blankenship: Like the Georgia secretary of state's office shutting down that county's access to state voter registration records. Gillen says that access is back, but only on two brand-new, never compromised laptops. Meanwhile, Gillen says if Macon voters see their ballot is wrong, they should request an accurate ballot from election workers before casting their vote. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.


Story 2:

Peter Biello: A man accused of hijacking a commuter bus in downtown Atlanta faces more than two dozen criminal charges, including murder. 39-year-old Joseph Eric Grier was taken into custody yesterday after police got the bus to stop in suburban DeKalb County. He was booked into the Fulton County Jail earlier today. Television news helicopter footage showed the bus striking multiple vehicles yesterday during the chase through three counties. Grier had been interviewed by 11 Alive and Atlanta News First earlier in the day at the scene of a mass shooting at the Peachtree Center food court. Four people were shot there, including the alleged gunman. Grier, who had allegedly been near the shooting, gave long, rambling answers to reporters questions about what he'd seen, adding that he has bipolar disorder that had not been treated for two weeks. The GBI says the mass shooting appears to have started with an altercation between the gunman, identified as Jeremy Malone, and another man. Police initially said the shooting in the bus hijacking were not related. Malone has been taken into custody, according to the GBI.


Story 3:

Peter Biello: An Arizona man is facing federal charges for planning to commit a mass shooting of African Americans and minorities in Atlanta to incite a race war prior to the 2024 presidential election. The U.S. Justice Department announced the indictment against 58-year-old Mark Prieto of Prescott, Arizona, yesterday. Rachel Carol Rivas of the Southern Poverty Law Center says his arrest isn't surprising.

Rachel Carol Rivas: When we have organizing groups and leaders around the country using violent language, dehumanizing others, we will have individual people who will take up that call.

Peter Biello: The indictment says Prieto discussed specific details of the planned attack to undercover agents, and then sold two rifles to one of the agents. He's charged with firearms trafficking and other crimes.


Story 4:

Peter Biello: Waffle House is increasing its pay for U.S. workers after a push from labor advocates. The Atlanta-based chain's CEO says base pay without tips would rise to at least $3 an hour in June, and then gradually rise to at least $5.25 per hour by June of 2026. The Union of Southern Service Workers has held strikes at Waffle House locations for a year, demanding higher pay, better security at restaurants and an end to the company's practice of deducting more than $3 a day from workers' paychecks for meals, whether or not they eat while on the job.

Story 5:

Peter Biello: Georgia agricultural producers are opposing a new rule from the Biden administration that would allow some foreign farm workers to self-organize. The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and a produce farm in Southeast Georgia's Appling County filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor and a Brunswick federal court on Monday. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.

Sofi Gratas: The lawsuit accuses the Department of Labor of overstepping because federal labor laws still ban U.S. agricultural workers from forming unions. But in the new rule, part of a reform of the H-2a visa program, the DOL says it doesn't expect farmers to recognize unions just to respect organizing efforts among temporary foreign farm workers without intimidation. Attorney Braden Boucek with the Southeastern Legal Foundation says the new rule would be devastating to the Georgia farms he's representing.

Braden Boucek: It is cost and also the burden that comes with compliance of the new rule that shouldn't apply to them. Laws need to be created by the elected representatives, not unaccountable bureaucracies.

Sofi Gratas: Over 30,000 foreign farm workers are employed in Georgia every year through the H-2a program. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas.


Story 6:

Peter Biello: The University of West Georgia is getting a new leader. The university said yesterday President Brendan Kelly will step down in the coming months to become president of the Arkansas State University System, with seven institutions across the state. Kelly began his tenure at UWG in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold. During his time there, the university has broken student retention and fundraising records, its athletic program was elevated to NCAA Division I, and the university established two new colleges.


Story 7:

Peter Biello: In sports, the Baltimore Orioles shut out the Braves 4 to 0 yesterday. The Braves wasted a leadoff triple by Michael Harris II in the first inning, and then with men on first and second in the top of the second, Sean Murphy hit a drive to left field that stayed in the park for a fly out, thanks to the tall, deep wall in that part of Camden Yards. It would have been a homer in all 29 other ballparks, according to Statcast. Atlanta faces the Orioles again tonight, having dropped four straight games, now, and they are currently 10 games behind the Phillies in the NL East.


Story 8:

Peter Biello: The historic Columbus baseball stadium Golden Park is getting a $50 million renovation and a new name. Officials celebrated the project at a ceremonial groundbreaking yesterday, introducing the name Synovus Park. The Columbus-based banking and financial services company bought the naming rights for the city-owned stadium. Details of that arrangement weren't disclosed. The Atlanta Braves are moving their Jackson, Miss., AA affiliate to Columbus for the 2025 season, bringing professional baseball back to Columbus for the first time in 17 years. And soccer's world governing body is considering Atlanta for a possible team training camp location for the 2026 World Cup. FIFA announced more details about the tournament today, including specific site matchups. Atlanta is one of 13 U.S. cities hosting World Cup matches.


Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit our website Remember to subscribe to this podcast. We'll be back tomorrow in your podcast feed with all the top headlines from Georgia. And if you've got feedback or a story idea, send it our way by email. The address is I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.


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