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    Fulton County, Georgia’s largest, certified its election results on Tuesday. The county said 424,991 Fulton residents voted in the mid-term, the largest midterm participation this century. That equaled a turnout of 60.4 percent of the voting-age population.  The numbers were led by early voting, which totaled 224,998, said Rick Barron, the county’s director of elections and registration. That eclipsed voting the day of the Nov. 6 election, which totaled 180,086 people.  A total of 17,913 people voted absentee by mail.  “The early voting this time was close to a presidential (contest), Barron said. The news comes just a day after U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg  on Monday ordered the state to review provisional ballots to make sure none are improperly rejected and to delay certification of the midterm until Friday.  Fulton received 3,549 provisional ballots, 1,555 of which were rejected, Barron said. A total of 972 of the rejected votes were tossed because they were from “out of county” voters while 581 were from people who were not registered.  Two people who attempted to vote could not prove citizenship.  “We can’t count ballots that are voted out of county,” Barron said.  He said some voter registration drives on college campuses failed to turn in applications, leaving some would-be voters unregistered.  Barron said he did not think any of the judge’s ruling would affect Fulton’s count, but said he did not think this is the last he would hear about it.  “I’m sure because of that ruling we’ll get questions this week,” he said. 
  • Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an executive order rejecting any future ICE detainees from being held in the Atlanta City Jail. She is explaining her actions in a news conference at City Hall.  WATCH LIVE COVERAGE BELOW.
  • A proposed deal for practice soccer fields and a corporate headquarters for Atlanta United FC would cost DeKalb County an estimated $12 million, 41 acres of government land and tax considerations, according to a pending agreement. The $30 million soccer complex would be built near the intersection of Interstate 285 and Memorial Drive, behind the DeKalb Jail. In exchange, the team owned by Arthur Blank would build a 3,500-seat stadium, three outdoor practice fields and a corporate headquarters. Additional fields and an indoor training facility could be built later. Ownership of the land and facilities would revert to the county after 30 years. The proposed agreement, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, is scheduled for a vote of the DeKalb Commission on Tuesday. The $12 million contribution from the county includes an estimated $7 million paid to Blank so the county could locate its parks department in new offices in the stadium. Another estimated $5 million would be required for demolition and land preparation. In addition, Blank won’t have to pay property taxes, and all permitting fees for the soccer complex would be waived. The county would pursue funding for a pedestrian walkway from the complex to the Kensington MARTA station. Blank would pay the county 15 percent of revenue for naming rights and branded events held at the complex. The fields and the stadium could be used by the county when they’re not needed by Atlanta United, which will begin its first season in 2017. Atlanta United will share space with the Atlanta Falcons for its games in a new downtown stadium, which is under construction.
  • Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is calling for “restraint” in ongoing unrest in Baltimore and defended Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s handling of protests that quickly turned violent this week.Parts of the city erupted in chaos Monday night amid tensions over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died on April 19, a week after he sustained injuries during an arrest. An investigation into his death is ongoing. His death highlights an ongoing national discussion about policing tactics in minority communities.Rawlings-Blake has since faced criticism for her handling of the protests and ensuing riots, with some saying she was too slow to ask Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for military back-up on Monday.Reed, speaking to reporters after an event on Tuesday, expressed sympathy for Gray’s family and defended Rawlings-Blake.Reed said he knows the Baltimore mayor well, describing her as “competent, capable and passionate” individual. The two, who traveled to Panama together with Vice President Joe Biden in recent years, exchanged text messages Monday evening, he said.“I think that everybody in the country and everybody who cares about the people of Baltimore should encourage restraint and I think that we should leave it to local leaders to manage and handle,” he said, later adding: “I think they need to be given the time and space to work through what is clearly a very, very difficult time.”Reed said Atlanta has faced its own set of difficult civil protests, such as the Occupy Atlanta movement in Woodruff Park that lasted for several weeks in 2011.But none in recent years have resulted in the scenes that played out in Baltimore on Monday, when some of the protests turned violent. Several police officers were injured during the riots. Cars were burned and stores were looted.Reed said that unlike other cities, Atlanta has long benefited from the work of local civil rights icons including Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and C.T. Vivian.“I think that certainly influences the way that protests are handled in our city,” he said. “While I don’t deserve the credit for it, I think our city has shown an ability to navigate through pretty difficult times.”
  • MARTA maps out the route it hopes to take up Georgia 400 to extend rail service to Alpharetta.   Any expansion of rail service is years off, but MARTA's board approved the preferred route after input from residents.  It crosses SR 400 not once, but twice, to reach Alpharetta.   The first crossover will be above the North Springs Station south of Spalding Drive.  The second crossing will be above the Chattahoochee River, although the exact spot has not been selected.   MARTA has yet to secure funding.  The agency estimates heavy rail would cost two billion dollars.  A cheaper option might be to run rapid transit buses along the same route.   MARTA is considering other potential expansion projects include heavy rail along I-20 East and a light rail line from the Lindbergh station to Avondale.  MARTA General Manager Keith Parker tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the priority project is the one that secures funding first.  
  • A planned addition to the new Avalon development is looking to attract even more business to Alpharetta.  The proposed $100 million hotel would include a 74,000-square foot conference center.  David Belle Isle, mayor of Alpharetta tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle it would keep his city as the center of economic development in  north Atlanta.  It's just another addition to Alpharetta, which has already begun a revitalization of its downtown area.  The city council must still figure out how to pay for the boutique hotel. It'll vote on raising its hotel-motel tax later this month.
  • Packed with passengers and freighted with local and national expectations, Atlanta’s streetcar made its inaugural trip Tuesday as scores of political and community leaders cheered. The trip along Auburn Avenue to Woodruff Park downtown took less than five minutes. But its duration belied the sizable aspirations the trip represented. Atlanta officials are betting the $98 million project will reinvigorate tourism and encourage business investment along the route. Nationally, President Barack Obama’s transportation legacy hinges in part on his ability to move the nation toward rail. Atlanta’s streetcar is one of the first completed projects in that effort. Scores of invited guests packed the cars elbow to elbow for the trip, and several hundred people gathered at Woodruff Park for an official ribbon cutting. Check back for updates.
  • A judge today rejected a request to bar Fulton County from collecting money from a recent 17 percent property tax increase – a victory for the county in its ongoing battle with critics who say it spends too much.Senior Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley did not rule the tax hike is legal. But he declined to order Fulton to refrain from collecting about $1,300 in additional taxes that six current and former state lawmakers owe because of the tax increase.The judge did not explain his ruling. But the decision could indicate Brantley thinks the county is more likely to prevail in the litigation.That’s a setback for the lawmakers, who claim Fulton violated a 2013 state law that prohibits the county from raising its property tax rate until 2015. They’ve asked the judge to prohibit the county from collecting the new taxes and to declare the tax hike illegal.Fulton officials have argued the General Assembly overstepped its authority when it capped county tax rates until next year. They say the tax hike is needed to protect funding for Grady Memorial Hospital and popular services like libraries and senior programs.The tax increase will cost the owner off a $275,000 house an extra $140 a year. But with property values in some areas rising fast, some taxpayers are seeing much larger increases.
  • Some Fulton County judges say they don’t have to comply with county travel policies, and they’re willing to jail two Fulton officials to make their point. Fulton officials have asked the judges to provide more documentation to justify some travel expenses, and they’ve withheld reimbursements until the judges comply. The judges say they don’t have to, citing new state laws that give them greater control over their own budget. Now Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan has ordered County Manager Dwight Ferrell and Finance Director Patrick O’Connor to show why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating a recent court order to reimburse the judges. She’s threatened to incarcerate them if they don’t. A hearing on the contempt issue scheduled for Sept. 2, and a courtroom discussion of procedural matters in the case is set for Monday. The showdown is the latest fallout from a flurry of new laws aimed at limiting the authority of Fulton County government. County officials also are in court defending their recent decision to raise property taxes, which critics say violates a tax cap approved by the General Assembly last year. Tusan declined to comment on the issue because it’s a legal matter pending in her court. Superior Court Administrator Yolanda Lewis declined to answer questions, including whether the judges believe the county’s travel reimbursement procedures are burdensome. Lewis issued a statement saying Superior Court is “working collaboratively to resolve this matter with the assistance of the county manager and finance director for Fulton County. No further comment will be offered at this time to allow the collaborative process to move forward expeditiously.” Fulton officials declined to discuss the spat with the judges in detail. County Commission Chairman John Eaves said he believes the dispute is “resolvable.” Ferrell and O’Connor did not respond to requests for comment.
  • A judge has ruled the group that holds the title on the building at Peachtree and Pine Streets in Midtown Atlanta where hundreds of men, women and children bed down nightly can start the court process to evict the Task Force for the Homeless because it had not made a payment in years. Fulton Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall said in an order Friday that the removal process could begin, but his order did not say that eviction was imminent or even certain. The matter of whether the shelter can continue to operate is far from resolved. For years, the Task Force for the Homeless — led by Anita Beatty — has been at war with the city, Central Atlanta Progress and some of the business community because hundreds of homeless mill around and sometimes spill over into neighboring properties, vandalize and break into cars, businesses and homes nearby. Beatty has accused city officials and CAP of a campaign to cut off donations because they want the homeless out of sight. Once the large donors were dissuaded from helping the Task Force, it became impossible for the charity to pay its bills, including hundreds of thousands of dollars it owned the city for water, she said. The Task Force claims donations that once totaled as much as $1.7 million a year dropped to around $200,000, because the Atlanta business community had poisoned its reputation with donors. Without the Peachtree-Pine shelter, Beatty says, the homeless she serves will have nowhere to go. As many as 650 men, women and children sleep at the shelter each night but there are far more when the weather is bad or it’s cold. Over the years of the dispute, opponents of the shelter have insisted that no one will be left with nowhere to go if the Peachtree-Pine Shelter is closed. Richard Robbins, the attorney for Ichthus Community Trust, said the lender planned to “pursue dispossessory like any other owner in the state. If they (Task Force for the Homeless) want to fight it, they can fight it. However, they have to pay rent in the meantime. “This is not kicking out the homeless,” Robbins said. “It will be evicting the Task force. If the Task Force is evicted, we will transition the homeless to other shelters. If they don’t pay rent, they have to leave and we’ll bring in someone else to run the shelter.” Attorney Steven Hall, who represents the Task Force, said the charity will resist eviction efforts. “We have been fighting for years over the manner in which title was obtained and a foreclosure was conducted,” Hall said. “We’re hoping this will mean the court will hear all issues at one time and we will get a final answer.” The Task Force for the Homeless got into financial straits after it borrowed $900,000 in 1997 to make repairs on the building that it owned at the time. Ichthus bought the note in 2010 for just over $781,000 and soon began the removal process, which stopped, started and then stopped again because of legal issues.

News

  • A California man is accused of entering a home, where the residents said he was making scrambled eggs and eating flan while not wearing pants, authorities said. Carl Cimino, 61, of Desert Hot Springs, was booked into the Riverside County Jail on a charge of residential burglary Tuesday morning, according to arrest records. According to police, three people woke up at their home around 7:30 a.m. and heard banging and yelling in the kitchen. They found Cimino making scrambled eggs with bologna and ranch dressing and eating flan, The Desert Sun reported. According to deputies, Cimino was not wearing pants and refused to leave the residence, the newspaper reported. Deputies finally were able to remove Cimino after using a police service dog, according to the arrest report. Cimino was placed on a gurney and removed from the home by paramedics, according to The Desert Sun. According to jail records, Cimino was free on bail after being arrested Jan. 23 on a drug-related accusation, the newspaper reported. The home’s residents said they were not hurt and there was no damage. They believe Cimino entered the home through an unlocked door, according to The Desert Sun.
  • Nearly all the employees at Orlando’s religious theme park, Holy Land Experience, will lose their jobs this spring. A document sent to the city of Orlando on Monday shows that the theme park will lay off all its staff involved in its stage shows. The move comes after the park announced it will be “shifting the focus of the park away from entertainment and theatrical productions to focus on the Biblical Museum.” Park officials said the layoffs will take effect April 18. In total, according to the Federal Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification document sent to the city of Orlando, 118 jobs will be eliminated. The restructuring comes as a result of a “corporate wide ministry reorganization,” according to documents filed with the city.
  • A man with a metal detector made an explosive discovery when he found a live mortar from World War II Monday. Police said the munition was a remnant from when the area was used as a training ground during the war. The bomb squad determined the mortar was too unstable to be moved so it was detonated near where it was found. “The blast was heard from a distance, which caused alarm for many residents,” Lebanon police said on social media. “We appreciate everyone’s concerns and phone calls.” Authorities searched the area for more mortars before deeming it safe.
  • Ja’net DuBois, who played feisty neighbor Willona Woods on the 1970s television series “Good Times,” was found dead in her home Tuesday morning, according to a report. She was 74. The actress’ family told TMZ that DuBois died in her sleep at her Glendale, California, home. DuBois played the Evans family’s neighbor on “Good Times,” and also sang the theme song to 1970s sitcom “The Jeffersons,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. DuBois composed and sang “Movin’ On Up” for the show. DuBois won two Emmys Awards for her voice-over work on “The PJs.” She also appeared in movies including “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “Tropic Thunder,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. DuBois also worked on Broadway, performing in productions including “Golden Boy” and “A Raisin in the Sun.” TV Land, which has aired reruns of “Good Times,” tweeted a tribute to the actress, writing that DuBois “would be missed.”
  • A Florida woman died after a deer that went airborne Monday after being hit by a truck struck her vehicle. The passenger in the car, Edna Morgan Griffin, 81, died in the accident. The driver, Katharine Mills Comerford, 58, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, WDHN reported. Jessie Alton Barnes, 47, hit the deer while driving a 2018 Dodge Ram. The deer flew through the air before crashing through Comerford’s 2010 Ford Escape. Investigators said the deer crashed through the front windshield, striking both Comerford and Griffin before flying through the back window, WDHN reported. No one else was injured.
  • A Texas woman admitted to robbing Sonic Drive-In carhops at two locations; during one of the robberies, her two children were inside the car, authorities said. Monica Michelle Logan, 21, is accused of robbing two employees at two separate Sonic locations in Converse, according to arrest affidavits. Logan’s 8-month-old and 1-year-old children were in the car during one robbery, KSAT reported. Logan was charged with robbery, aggravated robbery, and two counts of endangering a child, according to Bexar County jail records. Her bail was set at $55,000.According to an arrest affidavit, the first robbery occurred Wednesday. The carhop told police she was delivering a drink to Logan, when Logan said she had a gun pointed at her and demanded the money inside her apron, KSAT reported. On Thursday, Converse police were called to a different Sonic, the television station reported. That carhop told police Logan demanded money after ordering an 80-cent drive, according to the arrest affidavit According to the affidavit, Logan told the employee, “If you look down I have a gun. I want the money inside of your apron. If not, I’m going to shoot you,” KSAT reported. The employee told police Logan had two children in the back seat of her car, according to the affidavit. Converse police tracked down the license plate and discovered the vehicle belonged to Logan, the television station reported. Logan later admitted to the robberies and said the children were in the vehicle, according to KSAT.